Our Place in the Universe

History has short term facets and details that can be analyzed in the microcosm, including current events, as well as a the perspective one can gain from the long view, which provides a greater intuitive grasp of the overarching patterns of humanity’s evolutionary process. When we consider the idea of history repeating or “rhyming” we are expressing the common themes of human nature. When we appreciate specialization and having under the microscope a grasp of particular subjects, but give precedence to holism and the telescopic grasp of the interconnectedness of all those subjects, then a greater Order emerges into view and one can use this heightened sense of things to better devise sounder and more objective value judgments on matters of the world.
To that end, we begin our mental journey zooming out, focusing on matters of physics and cosmology, for isn’t that the greater arena in which all other matters here on this microscopic spec of dust in the universe called ‘earth’ happens? To analyze politics and society and history is to analyze the psychology and doings and trajectory of a sentient biological species among countless other biological species in an ecosystem, evolved on a geosphere on a solar system within a universe of countless such solar systems unfolding in time physically according to timeless laws.
Therefore, you have a hierarchy. At the Origin are the timeless laws, immaterial fundamental to existence itself. Being pure Order, Mind and Mathematics, they are the eternal and a priori fundamentals of existence as the immovable mover, the Prime Cause. As of the Big Bang, these laws manifest into the laws of physics, which are essentially the mathematics of physical matter, and this dictates, after the Big Bang, how various forms of energy, force and matter in space interacted and coalesced through time. This physical universe interacted with itself by these laws, and the laws were dazzlingly such that they contained qualities that would allow the matter to congregate into stars, and as atoms fused into molecules, physics- the child of the immaterial mathematical laws, gave birth to chemistry.
Matter then complexified greatly as the elements fused and planets began to form around the stars, many of which “came to life” as they converted from dead rock in space to dynamic systems with atmospheres. These living planets converged their various elements, molecules, gases, solids and liquids in such a way that yet another new type of universal form emerged- biology- the progeny of chemistry, physics, and immaterial laws. This is the phase of universal evolution commonly called “life.” At this point, DNA-the great information carrier-comes into being.
As we are seeing, “evolution” in the classical Darwinian conception is a myopic one, as the process of life evolving is only a sub-category of an overall universal evolution. There are many preceding steps that led to life’s evolution and arguably no reason why there wouldn’t be evolutionary steps beyond biology.
As life evolves into the infinitely complex biosphere and ecosystem of the planet, greater and greater degrees of species complexity emerges with incredible features-for example, the flight and sonar of bats. Evolution refines life into adapting greater and greater methods of survival and action mechanisms. Intelligence grows and grows, brains evolve, and neurology determines greater and greater capacities for cognition. Biology is a vast subject, ranging from the simplest amoebas to the highest complexities of the brain. As the neocortex grows, a new threshold passes. Advanced brains now have become sufficiently suited for self awareness, advanced problem solving and complex future planning. As DNA evolved to carry information, brains evolved as the next step beyond DNA to carry information in a much more complex way.
As civilization (in other words, organizations of biological species whose minds transfer information inter-generationally) advances, so too does the human psyche. The realm of ideas begins to gain complexity in the minds of individuals. The great laws themselves have begun to come full circle now, to understand themselves, in essence. Lower mind begins to re-connect with higher mind as individuals unlock the secrets of the universe of which they themselves are comprised.
Due to the inherent polarities of the universe (hot-cold, light-dark, positive-negative, etc), the realm of ideas in minds too face polarities, in the form of individualism and collectivism, greed and altruism, justice and tyranny, dominance and submission. So then does history unfold. Just as the carnage, competition and raw will to power of predators and prey and natural disasters of the ecosystem carve out greater complexities in life forms through biological evolution, just as the forces of geopolitics pit nation against nation in competition with each other resulting in great wars, while also resulting in vast improvements in technology and societal organization, so too do these unforgiving forces of power dialectically carve out and refine the human mind, as generations of humans learn the lessons of their ancestors through myth and archetype, through lessons of the past. Thence does civility emerge from barbarity, reason from unreason and freedom from tyranny.
This ceaseless will to power manifests in many forms, from the restless curiosity and drive to discover and learn, to the invention of technology to overcome our environment, to the desire for control of resources to the brute forces of domination. In total, these forces evolve humanity. Eventually philosophies emerge that deconstruct the minutiae of existence, science and engineering control the forces of the universe to vast degrees, and complex, highly educated and altruistic societies emerge, speeding up the process of evolution further.
It should be noted that each paradigm of the universal evolution process, from immaterial laws, to physics, to chemistry, to biology, to brains and complex societies, each speed up the process itself in a feedback loop, since a more complex system produces faster results. It took many billions of years for proto-matter from the Big Bang to evolve into fully mature solar systems, takes a few billion years for single celled organisms to evolve into complex biospheres and complex animals, hundreds of millions of years for evolution of those animals into complex brains, and from the onset of the neocortex, only a few hundred thousand years for civilization to emerge. At this point, the logarithmic scale has compressed to a matter of thousands of years. The 250 years since the industrial revolution comprise an era unto itself, which brings us to today’s world where every few generations live in vastly unfamiliar worlds. Could we be then at the cusp of the most eventful moment on this planet’s history? Is planet earth on the verge of “waking up” as its most advanced life form is on the verge of mastering itself and gaining ultimate knowledge and power?
And so our journey of the universe leads to the present world. It would seem to be an optimistic vision but for one thing, the dialectic and various wills to power are still at odds. Great and vastly different ideas still battle for supremacy over the world mind. There are no guarantees. Forces of unreason exert their will over forces of reason, forces of selfishness exert their will over forces of altruism, forces of tyranny exert their will over forces of freedom.
There is a constant interplay between material progression and ideal progression. The philosophical culture of Ancient Greece, the idyllic spiritual societies of many Native American tribes, the high culture of the Italian Renaissance- these were societies of advanced ideal progression in one way or another, albeit relatively primitive material progression. Today, it is much in reverse. The marvels of machinery, automation, materials science, computing and the myriad other tools of the modern era exemplify a superior progression technologically. But with a vapid celebrity culture, swathes of ignorance, increasing unreason, resurgence of dogmatic religious purism and warlike leaders devoid of common empathy, are we even near the pinnacle of human potential in the realm of ideal progression? What’s more, the latter combination of material dominance but spiritual destitution is quite literally the most dangerous scenario possible for a species on any planet- bar natural disasters- as the level of consciousness is insufficient to responsibly manage the level of power that advanced technology affords. In other words, to live in a world run by pernicious superstitions, unreason, dominance, psychopathy, greed and shortsightedness in a world of nuclear weapons. It is an unholy pairing of the evolved with the less evolved. Surely, material progress is stupendous as it can not only make life more enjoyable and aid in the advancement of knowledge, but more importantly is a prerequisite to overcome the limitations of the universe and indeed create the vessels that will physically transport us off this planet across the universe for the next phase of our evolution. But the greater the degree of technology, the greater the stakes and need for a corresponding degree of cultural advancement.
Now, the reverse scenario, such as that of great golden ages or idyllic civilizations of the pre-industrial past is surely a benign combination. Indeed advancement in the cultures and ideas in the mind of man and woman is always better. However, our destiny is elsewhere. It is neither in idyllic or intelligent philosophical culture with primitive technology nor is it in the spiritual wasteland of shopping malls, dazzling electronic entertainment and nuclear weapons with the selfish and superstitious at the button.
Our true destiny-at least the prerequisite to pass this phase of universal evolution, is a technologically advanced and culturally advanced civilization.
It is neither the pristine air and water yet scientific ignorance and exposure to the elements, nor ecological destruction and waste yet advanced materials science and physical standards of living. It is a highly industrialized, fully clean and efficient society.
It is neither slow transport and vulnerability to diseases yet a high culture of art, reason and literacy, nor airplanes and the internet yet cultural destitution and ignorance. It is advanced science, spaceships, automated material production and communication systems, which, due to the level of knowledge available through such vast leaps in science and information technology, can allow for the most potent enlightened age all mankind has ever seen. Indeed, should the wisest philosophies and visions guide the trajectory and facets of society, technological advancement can be used to free people from the profane and the mundane. It can build a “living system” within the ecosystem, but while the latter is the realm of brute power dynamics, the former is the great equalizer, allowing mankind to transcend the miseries of the physical world and act in name of passions in comfort.
As technology increases power, we stand at the great fork in the road, which likely is the same fork most if not all species on planets littered across the universe must graduate. Will the greater technologies of the future be in the hands of the more or less mentally evolved? With the reasonable or unreasonable? With the empaths or psychopaths? The greatest moment in the history of civilization is riddled with the greatest risks, and everything is at stake.
Should the appropriate revolutionary changes that fundamentally upgrade the governments, institutions, policies and cultures of the modern gilded world not be made, then at worst the planet faces yet another in a line of many mass extinctions, only this time with a more dramatic crescendo preceding it, or at best case scenario, the forces of unreason, greed, dominance and superstition gain a nightmarish level of preponderance in the world.
Survival is not compulsory, and perhaps the stakes are so high because the rewards are so great. Should we truly see a fully enlightened world after a worldwide 21st century renaissance, we will finally have aligned everything to complete the final prerequisite for the truly exciting stage in universal evolution, the one whose surface humanity is currently outstretched, eagerly yearning, reaching to scratch.
There are 12 recurring notes, but an infinitude of melodies, there are 26 letters in the English alphabet, but an infinity of novels can be written. Similarly, the multitude of planets that develop complex ecosystems all follow universal law, but unfold in an infinitude of possibilities. Unfathomable species with exotic features must be abound in the universe on living planets, just as many of our species must be exotic to perceivers of alien worlds…yet all species, on any planet must go through some certain universal similarities.
They must all evolve through a ceaseless evolution of competing wills and powers. They must all achieve monumental evolutionary thresholds of information processing and transfer, the equivalent of our DNA and our brains and especially neo-cortexes. As species, they must all somehow deal with the dichotomy of individuals vs collectives, and by extension, selfishness vs. altruism, hence dynamics of domination and submission, tyranny and freedom. They must all figure out how to deal with scarce resources. They must all have spectrums of evolution in their minds- some individuals more intelligent than others, more reasonable than others, at odds with competing ideologies.
As the universe’s chronological timelines are multiple magnitudes of scale larger than any given civilization from the outset of brain evolution, by the time humanity came to the forefront on planet earth, should any species anywhere in the universe be simply a microscopic blip such as 500,000 years ahead of us evolutionarily, the difference would be immense. Given such geological time scales and differences, it’s reasonable that other species reached the status of civilization that we currently occupy, millions, perhaps billions of years ago, considering that the Big Bang was 13.8 billion years ago, earth was created 4 billion years ago and single celled organisms emerged on earth 1 billion years ago. Conversely there must indeed be countless planets nearly at or behind our current level. It would be unsurprising if the universe is teeming with at minimum bacteria-filled planets, with a sizable portion containing significant fauna and flora, with a smaller, but still astounding (given the sheer size of the universe and number of planets) amount of life that is self aware, in complex civilizations.
What we see then, is a scale, a macrocosm of the process on earth itself, with its various cultures ideally and materially advancing at various degrees, some faster than others, to the point where certain cultures send people into space while others are still hunter-gatherers. This scale manifests in the universe, with certain planets at greater degrees of advancement than others, and many imploding, resulting in “failed experiments” of advanced life, as avarice, carelessness and irrationality sow the seeds of destruction. A consideration of which is a dire warning to our own deeds.
Should less advanced cultures be suddenly shocked through exposure of a significantly more advanced culture, the disparity would be such as to merit a supernatural explanation, perhaps even that of gods. Do we not do now, through material advancement alone, what those in the past deemed as magic, such as flying? Indeed, the cargo cults of the south pacific attest to this fact. To accept evolution is to concede that we ourselves are merely on its trajectory, and certainly not at the pinnacle of its potential. And so, wouldn’t the capabilities of a species that evolved on another planet significantly earlier than us have the qualities, which we, even by today’s scientific standards, deem magical or supernatural? And if we too are on this same trajectory, subjected to the same universal laws, it is then in our destiny to become the gods themselves, and it is with this, if anything else, that we should derive our responsibility to ensure this next paradigm shift is one that we survive and thrive past.
As it is with Star Trek, a unified world of reason, meritocracy, higher values, material abundance and the drive to ceaselessly explore and create may lie in our future.
And so, we face the Hegelian “end of history” which is not as Francis Fukuyama so erroneously attributed to democratic capitalism, but to a world of utter Reason, a cultural Renaissance, rational, altruistic and sustainable government and economic systems still yet to come. Perhaps then, this end of history is then simply only the end of this phase of history, of history between the Neolithic revolution and of the invention of writing, and total human freedom, of intra-planetary history. Perhaps it is only an iterative end, one followed by a paradigm shift in which our history becomes part of the inter-planetary one.
Many argue that there has already been extra-terrestrial contact with the human race. Indeed, if our descendants construct wondrous spacecraft capable of effective space travel, would we not too be studying the multitude of other life in the universe? Would we not have an interest in their evolution? Considering, again, the time scales of life vs. cosmology, it seems to make perfect sense the universe is teeming with life forms of various degrees of advancement interacting. In a sense, it’s truly the natural dynamic. That said, extraterrestrial involvement in earth’s history is certainly a fascinating subject, but more importantly, our future inter-planetary history would be one of overt rather than covert interaction, since, as it currently stands, all potential extraterrestrial interaction is a covert one, otherwise such would be a matter of open history and discussion.
In Star Trek, a wonderful fictional allegory and intuitive insight into this dynamic, species are welcome into the community of inter-planetary involvement once warp-drive technology is discovered. This happens with a momentous occasion in each species’ history called first contact. As such, according the Star Trek cannon, the Vulcans made first contact with the human race after a Vulcan ship discovered a human warp drive ship, and thence landed on Earth for the great welcoming occasion. The famous Prime Directive is the credo that no evolving species may be tampered with in a way that would disturb their natural evolution. Only sufficiently advanced species may be interacted with in any significantly altering way.
And in a sense, is this not a wonderful explanation? Consider again that it is the very dynamics of internal pressures, the dialectic, the ebb and flows, the push and pull, the actions and reactions that carve our character, that teach us lessons as a species, that develop our wisdom, that incentivize us, that form us from the inside out. We must climb the dialectic to greatness, we cannot fall upon the mountaintop. For, if it is dangerous that we ourselves have invented such advanced technology with the danger of destroying or enslaving the human race in the hands of the spiritually and mentally unevolved, imagine if even higher level resources are suddenly given to a species unworthy of them? You can lead a horse to water, but cannot make them drink. You can teach and give an individual person all the resources you can, but ultimately their growth is a function of their own maturity, perceptions and choices. Likewise, on the next fractal scale of life upwards, humankind may have been given guidance from the advanced, but it is ultimately our own responsibility to develop the maturity, perceptions and choices reflective of our own evolutionary state.
And then beyond all this, as immaterial law became physics, then chemistry, then biology, then neurology, then psychology, sociology in tandem with technology, perhaps the great pattern is one of the totally ethereal, (the great laws) collapsing into the brute physical, raising up the scales of subtly to greater degrees of etherealization. Indeed, the universe is wondrous in its possibilities. Is there any sufficient reason why biology should be the final manifestation of universal order necessary for the manifestation of life and mind? Indeed, we are seeing greater and greater degrees of information and power with less exertion of energy, and computers exemplify a non-biological form of information storage and facilitation.
Considering it began with ethereal laws, but every step of the way since physics has become one of greater subtlety and complexity, we are simply striving to “reach home” again, to total etheralization once more, to become one with the Law, the Light. However, while the iteration at the Alpha point was one of notes and letters, the iteration at the Omega Point is one of great Symphonies and Literature.
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