The End - Or the Beginning?
Whether or not this particular species on planet Earth will be able to blossom into full knowing is still an open question. We are an evolutionary seed cast into the winds of space and time. Whether or not we become all that we may be is up to us. We have been given every opportunity and facility. But we have also been given the reins of our own destiny.
We are facing an evolutionary exam -- a cosmic intelligence test. We have prodigious powers at our disposal -- enough to harm a planet -- and before we can continue our evolutionary journey we must prove that we have the wisdom to use these powers for the benefit of all.
This trial may not be unique to humankind on planet Earth. Any intelligent, tool-using lifeform will probably meet a similar test. A species that can modify its environment will almost certainly want to use its creativity to improve its chances of survival. Doubtless it would be delighted with a longer life expectancy, and might not, at first, see any need to curb its biological productivity. Slowly, imperceptibly at first, its population would begin to grow.
So also would its technological abilities. As with any other evolutionary process, each new advance would facilitate further advances. Its rate of development would accelerate, and if it were not careful it could find itself changing its world faster than its planetary biosystem could adjust.
Whether such a species would fall into the trap of self-centeredness is an open question. If it did not, it might develop the wisdom and the will to manage its growing powers and so avoid catastrophe. But a technological species whose psychological development followed a similar course to ours would probably find itself facing a parallel crisis of consciousness. If it were to survive, then it too would need to transcend its self-centeredness.
Any intelligent tool-using species enters what is, in effect, a window in time. The window opens with the emergence of self-consciousness. The species then embarks upon a dash through history. Can its inner evolution keep pace with its material development? Can it make it through to a full awakening of consciousness before the side-effects of misguided creativity force the window closed?
The window in time that opened when life on Earth took the leap into Homo sapiens sapiens is at the point of closing. We are in the last moments of our 50,000-year dash; a dash from emerging consciousness to full enlightenment. We are W.B.Yeats rough beast, our hour come round at last, racing against time itself to be born.
Mount Washington summit,
Date created: 3-Oct-03