Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Meditations: Addressing Evolution’s Error

Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California

Addressing Evolution’s Error

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a paleontologist and Jesuit priest who believed humankind represents a milestone in an ascending evolution of all life. His work is a touchstone for thinkers on the meaning and future of humanity. Rarely has a thinker been so right and so wrong at the same time.

Given the madhouse that the world has become, Teilhard’s notion of humankind being a “thinking layer,” or “noosphere,” covering the planet seems like a bad joke. On the other hand, his reflections on evolution as being more than just a random, mechanical process are gaining more serious attention, even by scientists who have long derided his poetically expressed ideas.

Here is an example of Teilhard’s boundless optimism about the human condition and prospect: "A glow rippled outward from the first spark of conscious reflection. The point of ignition grows larger. The fire spreads in ever-widening circles, till finally the whole planet is covered with incandescence."

Even 30 years ago, as a young man passionately pursuing studies in what philosophy calls “theories of human nature,” I found such pronouncements wildly off the mark. My inquiry began with the question: Given that nature moves in a dynamic order, and that humans evolved along with all other life, how is it that humankind could become such a force of disorder and destructiveness to the entire planet?

At a time when our wired world instantaneously carries the information that hundreds of children have been shot in the back in an escalating “global war on terror,” the idea of the incandescent glow of human consciousness is beyond absurd. And yet, the darker things get, the closer human consciousness may be getting to a breakthrough.

At best, Teilhard totally missed a step in evolution—the misstep that is ‘man.’ But how could nature make such a mistake? And is understanding and resolving evolution’s error potentially part of the process of breaking through to the next stage of consciousness?

The contemplative in me agrees with Teilhard when he says that there is an intrinsic intent within all matter and energy to evolve a brain capable of awareness of Mind. However human consciousness as we know it, based on memory and thought, is increasingly destructive and unsustainable. In order to awaken the awareness of Mind, content consciousness has to be negated by the individual through undivided observation of its movement within one.

Human chaos is of a completely different character than chaos in nature. The latter is inextricably part of an infinite order that includes a high degree of randomness. The former is marked by an increasing degeneration and deterioration, culminating now in a planetary crisis that only a transmutation in consciousness can resolve. Obviously this insight, if true, turns the entire idea of human progress with regard to civilization (as opposed to science and technology) on its head.

Consciousness as humans have known it for over 100,000 years (with very few exceptions) has reached its life-threatening and logical end. Humankind is imperiling not only itself, but also the very viability of the biosphere. In addition, the logical end of content/information consciousness is the computers that we are making as analogs of that consciousness.

There is another kind of consciousness altogether available to the human being, but it isn’t just going to drop into our heads. Each person has to do his or her own spadework to make the breakthrough. Content consciousness is derived from and turns on memory; insight consciousness derives from and turns on direct perception of what is, which illuminates what is.

Teilhard’s notion of a “noosphere” as a “thinking layer” of the biosphere now seems almost willfully naïve. Humankind represents a deep error in evolution, which only we, by awakening insight within ourselves, can put right.

Evolution’s error is not ‘man’ or ‘higher thought’ per se, but the inherent tendency of symbolic thought to divide, grow like a cancer, and fragment the world all to hell. Progressive evolution is therefore an illusion of the highest order.

It follows that the computer and the Internet aren’t more layers in “the ascension of inner sap spreading out in a forest of consolidated instincts,” as Teilhard turgidly put it. Rather, together they are the ultimate expression of content consciousness, which threatens to engulf everyone in a ‘matrix’ of information control.

The alternative to the real and present danger of losing one’s humanity is radical change through self-knowing, which frees the brain to be aware of, and even participate in ongoing creation. What a time to be alive!


- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news