A Mystical Look at Evolution

Difficulty    

This Text Can Be Found in the Book,
The Evolution of Consent: Collected Essays (Vol. I)


This was composed for a speech given to the People’s Arcane School
on February 24, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas.
____________________________________

 Limits to Empiricism

Understanding the process of evolution is crucial to human progress. Everything changes according to rules, and to know the rules is beneficial for the player. Knowing the characteristics and potentials of things allows us to develop them to our liking.

Empiricism and science have much to offer the world, but they cannot provide all of the answers that humanity needs to progress. Before we knew that leavened bread was made with the ingredients it was, for instance, bread was eaten unleavened, flat, and chewy. It was by leaving it out in the open air— neglect— that yeast was able to gather in the dough to make it rise. Though this was undoubtedly an accident, before it happened there was no empirical proof that it was possible— empirical proof would be unable to show its potential unless it had already occurred—, and yet it still happened.

Empiricism, while often providing truth about what is possible, seems limited in its ability to tell us what is im-possible. If only that which has happened is possible, everything that takes place in a chronological order is impossible after the point of one. This limit is due to the direction in which empiricism looks, though it won’t admit it as a shortcoming. Empiricism looks to the material past for its information and possibility, while rationalism looks to the ideal future. Empiricism relies on proof, rationalism relies on intuition. Empiricism is positive, rationalism is normative.

Though they didn’t have empirical proof, if primitive people had thought that yeast would make dough rise before it had been proven, they would have intuitively predicted the future without need for empiricism. Though most inventions, like the discovery of leavened bread, are created by accident, this is not true of all of them. Some are dreams made reality. Take, for instance, the automobile, which was the dream of many. Numerous people worked long and hard to make the automobile function, without any empirical proof of functioning “horseless chariots” in existence before. Yet, they prevailed despite the lack of empirical proof (though, certainly making use of smaller empirical truths), because they had strong ideas, and faith they could make them work. These were ideas which were rooted in, but not restricted entirely by, past reality. They did use empirical knowledge about the characteristics of the material they were using, and basic forms, but they used that knowledge in new application, creating ideal forms and functions, making use of both empirical and rational, and other contradictory forms of knowledge.

New species, in a way, are like new inventions. All of the energy of the system has always been, ever since the Big Bang and before, but, as this energy interacts, new combinations are formed, such as freshly developed nucleic acid structures that lead to new organisms.

We, human beings, are not excluded from the processes of evolution, but, unlike the examples of bread and combustion, and like all other biological organisms, we evolve complexly, rather than simplistically, as chemical reactions generally do. This is true enough that Albert Szent-Györgyi, famous for discovering vitamin C, said,

Inanimate nature stops at the low level organization of simple molecules. But living systems go on and combine molecules to form macromolecules, macromolecules to form organelles (such as nuclei, mitochondria, chloropasts, ribosomes, and membranes) and eventually put these all together to form the greatest wonder of creation, a cell, with its astounding inner regulations. Then it goes on putting cells together to form “higher organisms” and increasingly more complex individuals […] at every step, new, more complex and subtle qualities are created, and so in the end we are faced with properties which have no parallel in the inanimate world.[i]

We have internal (as well as external) methods for initiating processes, called will or spirit, and this will, which springs from consciousness itself, can be hard to study in any empirical manner, making psychology a rather “soft” science. The beliefs and feelings of humanity, our personal views and shared culture, which dictate our reactions, fluctuate and develop much more quickly than simple physical processes, causing new reactions to old environments. In many ways, organic change spawns from the future rather than the past.[ii] Study of this is rather non-empirical in nature.

Epistemologically speaking, knowledge occurs when truth and belief overlaps; that is, when the truth is believed. What if the truth could be anticipated? What if someone were to have faith in, perhaps even intention behind, a hypothesis that ultimately works out?[1] At the time of continual success in testing, it becomes a scientific, or empirical, theory, but before this time it is regarded as a hypothesis. Can it be useful to act on a hypothesis? Mysticism is a working hypothesis, treated with faith that unity with the divine shall ultimately occur, because we already see its manifestation here on Earth. In many ways, hypothesis and proof are dialectical, are both divided and one.

At times the relationship of hypothesis and proof may work in reverse, as with the organism, which provides the solution in itself (life must live) without an equation (life must keep living, but how did it get here to begin with, so that we may know what it must do to continue in the process?). It is necessary in other times, particularly those circumstances of which we may be a part, to have faith in order to hold to our hypothesis and to create empirical evidence from it with our own behavior. This is particularly so when it is outcomes of self or society that are being studied, which must include in their causation the aspect of will, self-determination. If I have a hypothesis about the outcome of a group of humans, the result of my testing depends entirely on their behavior, which can change at various moments. If I have a hypothesis about my own abilities, I must have at least a hint of faith, a hope, that I can accomplish the task, or I will be unable to even attempt it. Indeed, William James remarks, “there is some believing tendency wherever there is willingness to act at all.”[iii] This, however, does not mean that my faith is well-warranted; I may desperately fail. My faith is to thank, still, for all of my successes.

I’m not intending to repudiate or contradict empiricism or materialism as a whole, but to compliment such views with rationalism and idealism. Empiricism and science explain the physical world with great accuracy, while rationality and spirituality explain the world of the mental. They cannot fully explain the world without each other. We will be looking at how natural selection functions from a materialist perspective and connecting this with a spiritual view of evolution. My goal is to piece together a realist’s empirical view of evolution with an idealist’s rational view.

Nothing exists without context, and, in the case of life, it exists and interacts within, and as a part of, a Universe that is much larger than itself. Therefore, in order to fully understand evolution, we must understand its context. Our human experience is one of a physical Universe in constant motion, change, and flux. Biological evolution itself is a part of this process of development and change.

Aristotle named four causes of change in our Universe: the first, final, material, and formal causes. The first cause is the origin of disruption, such as the cause of a ball’s motion, the kick. The final cause is the destiny of the change, as when the ball stops moving and rests again. The material cause is what a thing is made of, such as the plastic and rubber of the ball. The formal cause is the shape the thing takes, being the ball itself, rather than a heap of material. These four causes and their related characteristics can be used to explain just about everything in our Universe.

Empiricism falls short in describing final causes, while it stands strong on first causes. It can explain where matter comes from, but not where life is going. Though we have not yet experienced it, the future exists, and empiricism stops short at describing it. It is just as real as the past, but we are greatly restricted to our understanding of it. Any experience of the future relies not upon physical sensory information, but upon intuition and gut feeling, a priori faith in an outcome. This is much more spiritual. We are yet to fully develop as spiritually as we are materially, so we are restricted to knowing our material past and from knowing our spiritually fulfilling future. Nonetheless, this does not change the fact that the future exists, for in order to have motion one must have a beginning and a destination. That is, in order to move from point A, point B must exist, and vice versa.

Dimensions of the Universe

In the beginning the material Universe was a dimensionless singularity, a single point[2] (A), demonstrating no length, width, or height. If another point (B) is placed beside our first and a line segment is drawn to connect them we get our first dimension, length. A third point (C), if not placed in a series, gives us our second dimension, width, creating a plane. A fourth one (D) completes our physical dimensions of volume, by adding height. We now have all three spacial dimensions, but lack our fourth dimension of time.

4dWhen we add our fifth point (E), which is the first point that can occur internally, it gives us a hyper-tetrahedron, conics, and our fourth dimension of time.[3] Time is treated as the fourth dimension, like the physical dimensions of volume, and must be considered interconnected with them, though it is entirely non-physical. It is thought in M-theory that there are seven more dimensions, which are tightly rolled up and unable to be experienced. To my view, these dimensions may be present in the human psyche and in our emotions. They are likely internal dimensions.

As Carl Sagan points out in a famous segment of Cosmos, a two-dimensional being would experience a three-dimensional interruption as an internal, or at least highly-subjective experience, which would be unable to be proven to other two-dimensional beings.[iv] He then goes on to describe the fourth dimension.

Empiricism tends to deal with the first three dimensions of physical space and extension, while rationalism tends to deal with the fourth, and the emotional and temporal dimensions of consciousness. That is, science and empiricism look to the past for their information, the dimensions of the physical which have already occurred, while spirituality and rationalism look to future possibility, and dimensions which can be made to occur (on the larger scale) only in the time to come, by means of will.

We get our three physical dimensions of volume from having four points and intersecting lines, and our fourth dimension from having a fifth point, which is internal and causes conic sections and motion.[4] Five was considered the number of life by the ancients, because life is peculiar in its ability to regenerate, its relationship to the golden mean,[v] and its capacity to perceive and interact with time. It is able to determine a future outside of purely physical causation. That is, in creating goals, and in having desires, life is caused by the future as well as the past, and not by the past exclusively. The future already exists, and it affects the present.

The fourth dimension of time is not all that the number five brings to life. The sacred geometry of the number five, the pentad, can be associated with phi, the golden ratio, the Fibonacci sequence, spirals, fractals, and more mathematical relationships that are oftentimes intimately tied with life and becoming. This is oftentimes used as an argument for an intelligent designer or creative force that works separately from, or independent of, the usual deterministic and empirical laws of science. The shapes and ratios inherent in life, such as spirals, stars, and Fibonacci sequences show a common pattern of development toward the biological future. For some reason, organisms that stray much from this basic framework have been found more hard-pressed for survival. Organisms that are disproportioned, asymmetrical, or face other inconsistencies tend to be screened by natural selection. This creates a future that is more symmetrical, proportioned, and consistent. That is, a future with better functioning and more attractive individuals. In this way, mutations have a direction to their success, toward beauty and complexity.

 Random Mutation

Darwinism is a school of thought that stresses an empirical, scientific, and material view of evolution by natural selection. This is not to say that Darwinism is wrong, just that it is incomplete in its analysis, because it looks to one direction in time alone. I will not only be including traditional natural selection by way of isolation and adaptation, but also parapatric, and other forms of speciation, in my loose definition of Darwinism, perhaps better regarded as neo-Darwinism. In order to understand the process of speciation, let’s first take a look at the process of evolution by natural selection according to neo-Darwinism (which I may refer to as Darwinism in general, for simplicity’s sake).

All living organisms have DNA, which holds their genetic code, and which is later read by RNA in order to construct the body. If a gene in the DNA changes, the RNA reads the code differently, and a new bodily form is developed. The changed DNA is known as a mutation. Sometimes mutations, or sets of mutations, can be so drastic as to create an entirely new species. This often works through a process of isolation, mutation, adaptation, selection, and speciation. When a new set of genetics arises, or is mutated, these new genes can easily be spread to all of the species sexually, or by way of horizontal gene-transfers, changing it altogether. If this occurs favorably, and a species survives selection, a species has gone through an adaptive process. That is, the species is more capable of survival. Entire species can change in this manner, but if parts of a species are isolated from one another, populations can change without affecting the larger body, creating new species when diversity starts to impede on sexual reproduction. When genes are selected into a population within a larger species, this can lead to new subspecies and, if enough changes occur and drastically enough, it can lead to speciation. Genetic drift, which is not due to new mutations, but separation of older ones into different populations, may also lead to speciation. One of the easiest examples of how speciation occurs according to natural selection can be found by looking at a ring species.

In a ring species, aring species will develop subspecies (A-D) along an environmental cline, such as alongside a river basin, around a mountain, etc. As the subspecies adapt differences, they become less likely to reproduce, sometimes making members within the same species unable to reproduce. The thing that keeps them from speciation is subspecies between which may bridge them. For instance; in a species with subspecie populations A-D; A and D themselves may be unable to reproduce, but a bridge may be created if A can mate with B, B with C, and C with D, or in a number of other combinations. If this bridge is broken, however, speciation occurs.

So far as natural selection describes physical processes and what is possible, it makes a strong argument. Biology is not entirely physical, however, and there is much to learn in the way of spiritual truth and application in regard to evolution.

Darwinism is the standard philosophy of evolution, but it was certainly not the first. Before the release of The Origin of Species, Lamarckism was the main game in town. Instead of being based in materialism, Lamarck based his philosophy of evolution in ideals. For Lamarck, evolution occurred through the exercise of will, and was not simply a physical process, but a process of the mind, or spirit. In Lamarckism, changes of mindset and will are passed down to the offspring. What is interesting is that neither Lamarckian idealism nor Darwinist materialism is wholly correct or incorrect, but both are rather complimentary forms of evolution that occur on different scales. That is, Darwinist natural selection occurs on the scale of the organism, while Lamarckian acquisition of traits occurs on the scale of culture, or society. Cultural and societal selection deal most with learned behavior, while other forms of selection tend to deal with forms and limits of physical being. As Gerhard Lenski and Patrick Nolan, authors of the macrosociology textbook, Human Societies, point out;

In recent decades, our understanding of biological evolution and sociocultural evolution has advanced dramatically. It is now clear for the first time that both types of evolution are based on records of experience that are preserved and transmitted from generation to generation in the form of coded systems of information. In the case of biological evolution, the record of experience is preserved and transmitted by means of the genetic code. In sociocultural evolution, the record is preserved and transmitted by means of symbol-systems. Both the genetic ‘alphabet’ and symbol systems provide populations with the means of acquiring, storing, transmitting, and using enormous amounts of information on which their welfare and, ultimately, their survival depend. Thus, symbol systems are functional equivalents of the genetic alphabet.[vi]

They later continue…

Lamarck, Darwin’s most famous predecessor, argued that if an organism continually repeated a certain action, not only would this produce structural change in the organism, but the change would be inherited by its offspring. It has long since become clear that biological evolution does not work that way: Giraffes do not have long necks because their ancestors stretched day after day to reach high leaves, but because short necks were a liability in their ancestor’s environment; animals with the genes for short necks were unable to survive and reproduce. In the cultural world, however, a kind of Lamarckian evolution does occur. Just about anything that a population learns and considers worth preserving can be incorporated into its cultural heritage.[vii]

[…]

Moreover, sociocultural evolution does not require that every society go through step-by-step sequential stages of development, as in biological evolution. Rather, a society may compress or even skip stages.[viii]

When Darwinism is particularly strong is when it describes physical processes of selection. It describes quite well how genetic drift may occur, or how species become selected in and out by their environments. Darwinism faces a particularly hard challenge when it comes to describing mutations and their directions, or other actions exemplified by free will, such as social and sexual selection (which will be discussed later), or forms of learned behavior. Indeed, Ken Wilber remarks,

The standard neo-Darwinian explanation of chance mutation and natural selection– very few theorists believe this anymore. Evolution clearly operates in part by Darwinian natural selection, but this process simply selects those transformations that have already occurred by mechanisms that absolutely nobody understands.[ix]

Genetic mutations are generally externally caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, chemicals, or radiation, or are internally caused by “mistakes” in the structure of the DNA, such as the way chromosomes are wrapped in meiosis. Though these causes can be named, mutation is still put into the category of “random,” due to its unpredictability. This randomness, however, poses great problems for scientific determinism, as randomness is not a trait of empirical evidence. Is randomness not instead an example of freedom, of will, in contradiction with determinism? Is it not the immeasurability and unpredictability of human and other organic behavior that has led us to classify the social and living sciences as “soft” and works of a spiritual nature as completely non-scientific? Mutations, then, are where Darwinism breaks down, and where evolution by natural selection goes “soft” or “spiritual.” Again, this does not mean that the process of natural selection is invalid or unsound, I happen to find it quite plausible, as there is much evidence to support the idea of evolution by natural selection. However, evolution by natural selection relies on this notion of randomness in mutation, which greatly limits its empirical and deterministic claims, and demands use of complimentary forms of knowledge considered less scientific, perhaps more spiritual. Ulisse Di Corpo and Antonella Vannini remark,

Naturalism tries to overcome [the] entropic vision by providing negentropic properties to chance, random mutations. According to naturalism, life originated and evolves thanks to chance, that is without any apparent cause.[x]

We are told we are part of a Universe where everything has physical causes that can be measured in force and magnitude, and that science can one day provide all of the answers. And yet, even science sets itself atop mystical premises such as randomness of mutations in biology, uncertainty of particles in physics, accidental origins of the Big Bang.

In many ways, science itself has become a tool of coercion, an answer reserved for elites in white lab coats who have earned degrees from a state-protected, accredited university. We have been taught not to think for ourselves, or use our own potential, in order that the elite can maintain their true science, the manipulation of culture. The elite conduct society as an orchestra, being well-versed in the ancient philosophies of rhythm, seeing themselves as demigods and, in many ways, being correct. Yet, they cannot determine our desires, which will forever remain internal, rational, away from the external world of scientific, empirical knowledge. They do not want us to understand the limits to determinism, control, because, in many ways, we are those limits, dare we choose to express ourselves as such. Free will is the limit to determinism, and we are the strongest example of its existence on our scale.

Life in Context

The randomness of mutations seems to express a kind of free will. What is free will, but the expression of difference, undetermined? Humans are said to have free will, and the social sciences are considered soft sciences, because of the inability to fully predict human action and behaviors. Unlike the laws of physics, which are very straightforward and able to predict future outcomes, psychology, sociology, biology, and other living and social sciences do not enjoy the same predictability. Data strays easily from hypothesized outcomes, and living things express multitudes of differences. When different individuals are affected by the same stimuli, their reactions may differ. This unpredictability is especially true as one approaches humanity in the evolutionary chain. The same cannot be said for physical events; if you curse at a human, they may react in a number of ways, but a chair will always just sit there. Our free will—that is, difference—is the result of our mutations, but our mutations themselves tend to show a great degree of free will, or differences to be expressed. Could it be that the free will of mutations finds its home on the quantum scale of existence, where free will runs rampant?

Many biologists, philosophers, and quantum physicists believe precisely this. They point to the indeterminacy of mutations as examples of quantum effects, believing mutations to take place on the quantum scale of existence. Take the philosopher, Ken Wilber, for instance, who says Darwinism “can’t explain macroevolution at all!”[xi] or Amit Goswami, the Hindu quantum physicist, who says,

Such ideas [as Lamarckism] give importance to the organism and open biology to causation at the level of the organism, such as autonomy and free will, which cannot be reduced to materialist upward [genetic to morphologic] causation.[xii]

How does syntropic, or “downward” causation (from the morph to the genes), work? Well, there are different proposals, and I would be quite upset if ever anyone felt they had the hard answer, because any such proposal must be based in retro-causality, and I know the future is one of shared-truth, unable to be known without a breach of self. [5]

Life seems special in the fact that quantum affects create its free will on a larger scale, while there remains much inanimate matter in the Universe. Much of this could arguably be due to the fact that life is composed mostly of water, and water has been shown to have interaction with the quantum scale by way of the hydrogen bridge. Ulisse Di Corpo and Antonella Vannini, visionary syntropians, elaborate:

The anomalous properties of water are a consequence of the hydrogen bridge mechanism: instead of creating a tie with the oxygen atom, the hydrogen atom links to the electrons, forming in this way a bridge between the subatomic level (electrons) and the atomic level (hydrogen atom). This bridge between the inner level of the atom (micro) and the outer level of the atom (macro) allows syntropy to flow from the micro to the macro level.[xiii]

In this way, life, by being made from water, is able to exhibit signs of quantum indeterminacy or free will on a larger scale. Just as subatomic particles are unpredictable, so too are the behaviors of living organisms. As Di Corpo and Vannini point out, the hydrogen bridge allows free will, consciousness, to flow into life from the quantum scale.

Goswami, building on Rupert Sheldrake’s view of morphogenetic fields,[xiv] points out that if mutations occur on a quantum level they are due to such quantum effects as wave-particle duality, meaning that the particles making up the DNA are not only existent in particle form, but also in wave form. That is, they are in superposition, being specifically in one location as a particle, but generally everywhere as a wave, at the same time. What we see as the physical being is actually multitudes of particles that are in superposition, with both a wave-existence and a physical position caused by the observer affect, or being viewed. Mutations are not excluded from this process! Goswami remarks,

It is a fact that mutations […] are quantum in nature. They are mere superpositions of possibilities before consciousness has collapsed them. Suppose the quantum superpositions of mutated genes wait in limbo until enough of them accumulate to give rise to a phenotype trait leading to new form. Not only the gene mutations are quantum processes, but also the making of form from genes (morphogenesis). Both evolution (of the mutated genes) and morphogenesis of the new trait wait in limbo as superpositions of many possibilities, from among which consciousness can see a pattern that is just right for mapping a meaning-blueprint contained in its vital body.

Why should a form that occurred in the past be chosen? The answer is that forms are conditioned as part of the developmental history of Life.[xv]

As demonstrated by the double-slit experiment, it is observation that causes the wave-function to collapse into particle form. Amit Goswami suggests, and I am in agreeance, that God is the ultimate observer. He says, “Now, do you see why, without God, we couldn’t see anything?”[xvi]

Quantum indeterminacy, or free will, is neither indetermined nor free, but has the illusion of being so by having causes which we are unfamiliar with. That is, causes from the future, from higher dimensional being. In a world where causality is measured from the past, giving us empiricism and determinism, because of our own limited perspectives as humans, anything outside of this limited paradigm is considered mystical, faithful, or idealistic. Well, this is a mystical look at evolution.

Morphogenetics

Natural selection is not enough to provide a direction or answer to mutations on its own, though it certainly plays a role in screening genes once they are in place. The very nature of life’s order goes against known laws of science, and relies completely on “chance” and “luck.” The integral psychologist and holist philosopher, Ken Wilber, remarks on the nature of mutations and the role they must play in evolving functional wings:

Take the standard notion that wings simply evolved from forelegs. It takes perhaps a hundred mutations to produce a functional wing from a leg—a half-wing will not do. A half-wing is no good as a leg and no good as a wing—you can’t run and you can’t fly. It has no adaptive value whatsoever. In other words, with a half-wing you are dinner. The wing will only work if these hundred mutations happen all at once, in one animal—and also these same mutations must occur simultaneously in another animal of the opposite sex, and then they have to somehow find each other, have dinner, a few drinks, mate, and have offspring with real functional wings.[xvii]

The chances of a random mutation improving the development of the species are incredibly low. Improvement of order goes against the very nature of the second law of thermodynamics, increasing entropy. There must be a complimentary law to entropy, and this law must play a role in the direction of mutations. Lamarckianism may no longer be limited to cultural evolution. Morphogenetic fields, as popularized by Rupert Sheldrake,[xviii] may provide a syntropic answer to the limits of selection, by incorporating nonlocal attractors from the future. This is demonstrated by Ulisse Di Corpo and Antonella Vannini,[xix] among others. These fields, which are really just a range of possibility, provide a number of basic forms which organisms may express themselves toward, providing us directions in mutations, but these forms are then screened against their surroundings for success.

Morphogenetic fields may be viewed as an organism’s possibility waves rooted nonlocally and in the future. An organism has so much general possibility, because its genetics are constructed from subatomic particle-waves, but only one of those possibilities is actualized into a physical position in our Universe. This is true of everything, but life excels in carrying quantum free will up to the classical scale, where most other material forms are incapable. That is, life decides for itself (relative to classical determinism), to limited but growing degrees, the coordinates in which its waves will collapse. In reality, this is not free will, though we must treat it as such; it is, rather, retro-determinism.

A morphogenetic field may be understood as a range of genetic possibility. If taken outside the realm of genetics, a field may also be applied to one’s larger being. For instance, my possibility wave, or field, is composed of all of the possible scenarios that can physically occur. My possibility wave includes me sitting at my computer as I type this, getting up and grabbing some food, letting the dog out, amidst a number of other, very doable scenarios. Only one will happen physically in this Universe, though; that reality which I decide to realize, to collapse. Similarly, one’s genetics are capable of a number of mutations, caused by the superposition of particles involved in the molecular structure, but only a fraction of mutations actually occur in this Universe.

A mutation occurs when a substantial change happens in a gene. No longer should we view mutations in the confines of determinism, leaving them to the realm of “random” (a cop-out, at best). Instead, this indeterminism and free will should be viewed as what it really is, not truly free, random, or indetermined, but determined by concepts, ideals, and goals of the future. The problem with admitting any amount of idealism comes with admitting the importance and validity of others’ feelings and goals, and acknowledging that only communication and compassion can allow us to understand truths that are inherent within individuals that are not ourselves; an idea which many materialists, looking externally for all of their solutions in the physical, are incapable of accepting. The future is known intuitively only, as future dimensions are found within, and to know others’ intuition we must communicate with them.

Darwinism is given a particular problem when it comes to form-making, because every cell in your body has DNA with the ability to produce any part, which is read by RNA. That is, your arm tissue has the genes needed to make a brain, and your brain tissue has the genes needed to make the arm, and the same is true of the RNA. All of your cells maintain your code and the reader of the code. When you are growing, your cells express themselves in particular forms, some becoming bone or cartilage, others muscle, and, still more, fat, as well as many other modes of substance. Even still, bones take different forms, as skulls and femurs, and the same is true of most other kinds of flesh. How does the RNA in the arm tissue know to create proteins for arm tissue, when it can also be brain tissue, eye tissue (and vice versa)?

Instead of looking for a structuralist answer to this problem, in defining things by what they are, such as a cell with all the genes necessary to be any tissue, we must look to the poststructuralist definition of what something is; that is, by defining it in terms of relationship, or what the thing is not, defining it externally rather than internally. For example, if a cell is not in the proper coordinate to function well as an arm, regardless of its genetic ability, it should not express itself as arm tissue. The tissue in the arm may very well, intrinsically speaking, be of a material that is capable of being expressed as any tissue, including brain tissue, but it derives its value in expressing itself in relation to the brain, following a common structure that is not based on intrinsic value, but on relational value. That is, the arm can relate to the brain best as an arm because of its position, which is in a different coordinate within the morphogenetic field, being lower than, and off-center from, the brain.

The morphogenetic field provides a contextual relationship of coordinates for the genes to be expressed within; telling the RNA in the arm it is an arm. The RNA read the DNA code for arm construction and start synthesizing proteins, but the goals of construction cannot be intrinsic, as RNA and DNA throughout the body are both homogenous, in accordance with its function (there is mRNA, rRNA, and tRNA). When genetic waves are actualized from probability waves into physical particles they are actualized in the patterns of their being, or essence, according to their coordinates in the morphogenetic field and subfields. That is, genes are expressed according to their placement in relation to one another. Rupert Sheldrake tells us,

Thanks to molecular biology, we know what genes do. They enable organisms to make particular proteins. Other genes are involved in the control of protein synthesis. Identifiable genes are switched on and particular proteins made at the beginning of new developmental processes. Some of these developmental switch genes, like the Hox genes in fruit flies, worms, fish and mammals, are very similar. In evolutionary terms, they are highly conserved. But switching on genes such as these cannot in itself determine form, otherwise fruit flies would not look different from us.

Many organisms live as free cells, including many yeasts, bacteria and amoebas. Some form complex mineral skeletons, as in diatoms and radiolarians […] Just making the right proteins at the right times cannot explain the complex skeletons of such structures without many other forces coming into play, including the organizing activity of cell membranes and microtubules.

[…]

I suggest that morphogenetic fields work by imposing patterns on otherwise random or indeterminate patterns of activity. For example they cause microtubules to crystallize in one part of the cell rather than another, even though the subunits from which they are made are present throughout the cell.[xx]

Mutations are changes in relation to the morphogenetic attractors that affect patterns of growth. They may be enacted physically and externally, but they are expressed according to idealistic and internal will. That is, mutations may oftentimes be caused by external, local stimuli, but it is not possible to pre-determine mutations by repeating the stimuli, leaving the reaction, the direction of the mutation itself, to nonlocal effects of free will or indeterminacy. What is the relationship of morphological and genetic determinism? Sheldrake illustrates for us morphic resonance:

The fields organizing the activity of the nervous system are […] inherited through morphic resonance, conveying a collective, instinctive memory. Each individual both draws upon and contributes to the collective memory of the species. This means that new patterns of behaviour can spread more rapidly than would otherwise be possible. For example, if rats of a particular breed learn a new trick in Harvard, then rats of that breed should be able to learn the same trick faster all over the world, say in Edinburgh and Melbourne. There is already evidence from laboratory experiments that this actually happens.[xxi]

Future Freedom

Free will, indeterminacy, randomness, etc. are all just descriptions of human inability to calculate physical causation. As a specific, humanity is unable to fully comprehend the general. Our inability to calculate consequences to their fullest extent relies on space, or room within the general for the specifics to play. Free will is rooted in the room that future possibility creates. When one is confined, restricted in their motion, they are unable to cause change to their surroundings. They lack in free will.

From past singularity, expansion spilled out into the future plurality. The material future is big and expansive and its past is small and contracted. The terrain that strict empiricism and determinism have to offer is stagnation, uncompromising sameness, built only upon past successes with no room for dreams. If only victories of the past may be properly used to demonstrate possibility, further change is made impossible. The space needed in order for particles to play and for form to change, mutate, and evolve must be rooted in the world of the unknown, ideal future, yet to be actualized. As time moves on, space physically expands, but it was ideally, conceptually, already there. The same is true of all future possibility.

The difference between physical and spiritual processes isn’t hard-cut between pure materialism and pure idealism, but by tendencies. Physical processes tend to have archetypes that can be clearly actualized using external causation, while mental processes tend to internally actualize archetypes. This, of course, is relative to the human experience, giving us an apparent dualism within a monadic Universe.

Our desires, rooted in the future, cannot be changed, but our reactions to them can be adjusted with the accumulation of practical knowledge about the past. The future we affect is simultaneously created by our past-based actions and pre-determined by our future-based desires. That is, it is pre-determined by our ideals and goals of the future so far as we can affect them as a physical mechanism. Not all causes are organic in nature or put into effect by humanity, however, so many of our goals are hampered by the material and external.

If scientific evidence is the only measure of what is possible then we have already reached the pinnacle, the best we can be; but this cannot be so, as we are driven to do better, and humanity daily progresses in its scope of knowledge and capacity.

Science is not incorrect to be skeptical, and idealists the world over would do themselves a favor to accept science, even if to understand its limits. It remains the duty of the idealist to demonstrate the evidence for their hypotheses, but oftentimes the hypotheses of the idealist includes the participation of multitudes of conscious beings, as idealism is a philosophy of mentality. This is both the strength and limit of idealism. To test their hypotheses, the idealist must find willing participants. Indeed, there are many beautiful ideas for the future, but so few willing to apply them.

 Purpose and Meaning Ascribed in Evolution

We’ve established that our free will lies atop the free will of the quantum scale, and its effects on mutations, and have analyzed the free will of both the quanta and the mutations they compose. Quanta expresses free will in uncertainty, our inability to tell both speed and direction, and mutations express a reflection of this free will by being dissimilar, and random. The effect of this free will, screened by laws of materialism, has been progress. The freedom of quanta has led to the creation of matter, and the freedom of organic matter to mutate has led to individuality, and even speciation. What, though, are the effects of our own freedom, on our scale? If mutations are constructed by the freedom of particles, and we are constructed of the freedom, or randomness, of those mutations, what is it that our freedom is constructing? We’ve viewed the effects of freedom, difference, change, uncertainty, on the scale of the quantum and the molecular levels, but what of our own scale? Do our choices create a bigger picture, something perhaps even potentially alive?

Humans are constructed of many cells, which are interdependent beings who have united to construct our bodies. Just the same, humans have united on a larger scale to create society. What has made this possible? What is the binding force that has allowed humans to create an organism larger than ourselves, capable of responding to stimuli, and composed of specialized and interdependent units which, on their own, could not exist? It is our ability to socialize, which is due further to our freedom of will, and our ability to think, plan, and organize toward the accomplishment of future goals.

It is true that our physical form has given us function, and this should not be ignored. Function cannot be given value by the past, but only what it can provide to the future; a shovel, for instance, doesn’t have value as a shovel because it was previously raw material, or because it had been used in the past to shovel dirt (though this may suggest it will be able to be used in the future as well), but because its form provides a function that can be used to accomplish tasks. What is unique about humanity, exalted animal-practitioners of free will, is that we maintain a form which can, within limits, decide our own function. Our level of free will, consciousness, is unique in this way. It is this level of consciousness, the ability to do what we want, that has allowed us to construct society.

We are the building blocks of society, but what is the glue? What holds us together? Ethics, the shared understanding of what is right and wrong, is what has allowed us to trust one another enough to construct a complex society. How did ethics come about?

Ethics came into play by way of genetic and memetic mutations screened by social and sexual selection. That is, by the choices that organisms made in their patterns of association. To put it simply, people who aren’t nice have a hard time making friends and lovers. People who have a hard time making friends have a harder time surviving, and those who cannot find lovers will never pass on their genes. That is, they are socially selected out through the lack of friendships, and are sexually deselected by lacking willing partners. Their current position will be unfavorable, and they are unlikely to pass on future copies of their DNA. The ability to make choices based on ethics is due to our conscious ability to plan the future. Forethought allowed ethics to develop. When we think about taking action, we think about the consequences of those actions, based on past experience, external knowledge, or intuition.

In selecting friends and sexual partners, we project archetypes, ideas, or concepts, of what we are looking for or desire, and try to find the nearest match. In so doing, we are screening based on our ideal future, and not just accepting reality for what it is. Unlike other forms of natural selection, where inanimate and purely material effects take precedence externally, sexual and social selection are mechanisms of selection determined by the internal desires of ourselves and other organisms. Sexual selection is used to explain such evolutionary paradoxes as secondary sex-characteristics. Take the male peacock’s tail, for an oft-used example, which, materially and externally, makes no sense to us, as its bright colors mean it will be more vulnerable to predation. It only makes sense in the context of sexual selection, because the female peahen has an ideal and internal reason to choose the mate, separate from environmental suitability; she holds it aesthetically in high regard. She simply likes the colors, and is sexually pleased by them. Richard Dawkins elaborates on the “sexy son hypothesis”:

In a society where males compete with each other to be chosen as he-men by females, one of the best things a mother can do for her genes is to make a son who will turn out in his turn to be an attractive he-man. If she can ensure that her son is one of the fortunate few males who wins most of the copulations in the society when he grows up, she will have an enormous number of grandchildren. The result of this is that one of the most desirable qualities a male can have in the eyes of a female is, quite simply, sexual attractiveness itself.[xxii]

According to the “good genes hypothesis,” in choosing sexual partners for their plumage, they may also be selecting in traits of fitness, such as immunity, that correlate with the beauty of the plumage. In other words, the genetics that allow the male peacock’s plumage to be so elegant may be tied to the genes that express strong immunity in him. As a consequence, in choosing males for their plumage, the female may be selecting them based on the strength of their immunity. Selection would dictate that any tendency toward fitness would be selected in, meaning that, if the plumage is tied to other traits of fitness, females that choose to mate with the most elegant males will consequentially produce offspring with those traits of fitness, such as strong immunity. Still, selection has a hard time describing the origins of mutations, and of consciousness, though it does well at describing the physical pressures those mutations will face, and under which decisions must be made in order to continue. Consciousness, or desire, is also expressed through mutations, which empiricism clearly fails to describe. Empiricism describes quite strongly, however, the selective pressures the mutations, once in existence, must endure to continue. It just doesn’t describe origins.

Another example of the effects of consciousness on evolution is to look at the function of artificial selection, where humans directly involve themselves in the selection of traits that are expressed in other organisms. Dog breeds are a great example. Humans had ideas, archetypes, for ideal dog forms, capable of performing specific human functions. By selecting between already existing mutations, being unable to produce their own purposefully, humans mimicked genetic drift, creating different kinds of dogs.

Unlike artificial selection, where we directly involve ourselves in the sexuality of other species, human social and sexual selection, like the choice of wild pea-fowl, is internally directed, based on our own decisions, goals, and desires. Humans tend to screen one another based on the ability to get along, share values, and remain healthy. We also tend to screen one another sexually based on such modes as the golden ratio, symmetrical relationships, among others. No single person meets the requirements of perfection, being physically and emotionally perfect, but it is the immaterial idea of perfection that still drives our decisions, and evolution, toward it. Perfection does not exist for us, but that does not mean that it never will, just that it is becoming. We are constantly judging reality around a notion of perfection, screening those parts of reality that stray the furthest from it, and accepting those parts that are nearest (as in genetic drift). It is in this way that we choose the form, but not the substance, of the future.

Empiricism, materialism, and science have many strengths, especially when it comes to describing what we have and where it came from. However, the schools break down in many important areas when it comes to biological evolution, because life is not a purely material phenomenon, but is also composed of spirit, ideals, and intentions, which are of an immaterial nature placed in the future. That is, they will be material, but are currently conceptual. This may be hard to understand, but it is crucial. If I am standing in a room, and want to be outside of it, I presently exist materially only inside the room, but conceptually outside of it. I exist outside of the room materially in the future, but currently as concept alone. It is the idealist component of consciousness that gives physicists a run for their money when describing life, and leaves them to categorize such things as mutations and sexual/social selection as “random,” a category determinists should be ashamed to be using. It is the inability to predict mutations and the desires of organisms that keep living phenomena from being restricted to purely physical and chemical processes, and which highlights their spiritual direction toward final causes, higher goals, which are physically non-existent, but exist in the future, in the world of archetypes and forms, should we do the work to actualize and become them.

What I hope you have gained from this is an appreciation of free will and a desire to express your unique contributions. There are many times that we are told that our ideas can’t work because they have never been done before, but a mentality of this sort only serves to stifle progress and innovation. Though the future possibility is a mystery, it is not impossible, just yet to be done. Besides, even physics and biology rest atop freedom of will, apparent indeterminism, describing its affects rather than its limits.


Notes

[1] Say, for instance, mathematical equations which have played-out in reality as actual events after having been proposed.

[2] Defined by Euclid as “that which has no part.”

[3] A Hyper-tetrahedron, when turned correctly, presents a pentad-star.

[4] Motion must occur within something larger. Of course, when I say “causes” motion, this is from a purely subjective standpoint. As argued in “The Journey of Realization” and “The Duality of Perspective” past, present, and future already exist from any truly hard objective position.

[5] Having said that, I do think there are many compelling thought experiments which may open our minds to the nature, or tendency, of hidden but immeasurable processes, and which may help lead to emotional and spiritual fulfillment.


References

[i] Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 14.

[ii] Ulisse Di Corpo1

[iii] William James

[iv] Carl Sagan

[v] Michael S. Schneider, 97.

[vi] Patrick Nolan and Gerhard Lenski, 60.

[vii] Ibid., 61.

[viii] Ibid., 61.

[ix] Ken Wilber, 20.

[x] Ulisse Di Corpo and Antonella Vannini3

[xi] Ken Wilber, 276.

[xii] Amit Goswami2, 141.

[xiii] Ulisse Di Corpo and Antonella Vannini1

[xiv] Rupert Sheldrake

[xv] Amit Goswami1

[xvi] Amit Goswami2, 266.

[xvii] Ken Wilber, 20.

[xviii] Rupert Sheldrake

[xix] Ulisse Di Corpo and Antonella Vannini3

[xx] Rupert Sheldrake

[xxi] Ibid.

[xxii] Richard Dawkins2, 158.

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