More from Bennett on ‘evolution’ /2010/02/21/more-from-bennett-on-evolution/

More from Bennett on ‘evolution’

Continuing with some more stuff from Bennett: the treatment starts getting wild at this point, with talk of the ‘mind of the planet’ and outrageously teleological conceptions. It is of interest to go through this stuff anyway, because it does constitute a challenge, not to agree, but to be wary of our more reductionist views of evolution. Bennett is consistent and self-refuting in a way that most New Agers would not be, and there is little chance his views will spawn New Age dementia. They seem to dissolve into thin air as you think about them, leaving a genuine set of questions about Darwinian equal idiocy.
The footnotes will suddenly appear in the middle (originally at the end of a page)

Planets are improbable modes of existence. If our experiences were
associated with a star lacking a planetary system, we could scarcely
imagine that such bodies as planets could exist. If we were accustomed
to temperatures of tens of thousands of degrees and upwards-which,
contrary to popular ideas of hell-fire, would not incommode the soul-
we could not conceive matter in the solid state, nor bodies in any way
resembling those of plants or animals.
If we could place ourselves in imagination at the centre of our galaxy
and so enlarge our field of vision and change our time scale that we could
examine its structure, we should see two hundred thousand million
stars in complex motions, prodigious intensities of energy, and countless
millions of other galaxies spreading out through space. We should see
no solid matter, for planets would be too small and too dark to be
visible. What we find on one scale is quite unpredictable from another.
We would no doubt regard the hypothesis of planetary existence as
wildly improbable. As wildly improbable, perhaps, as the suggestion
that life could exist on a planet would appear to a visitor who happened
to alight upon a barren satellite. Remembering the conclusion we reached
in Chapter 42 that unexpectedness is a mark of the hyparchic future,
we are encouraged to look for an improbable and unexpected plan”
that might have entered the mind of our planet.
Th~_eatj:h’s ‘present moment’ a conception that we must now
explain. It embraces a range of energies extending beyond those orga-
nized in mind, for the earth is not only conscious, but creatively con-
scious. The earth can be conceived as a Higher Intelligence and so
associated with the notion of the Demiurgic Powers that are to playa
decisive role in the development of our theme. The ‘mind’ of the earth
is in process of evolution and this process may be said to have started
with the implanting of the ‘pattern’ of Life. Again, this ‘mind’ is a
‘greater present moment’ and the history of life is being enacted within
the Present Moment embraced by the Great Mind of our planet. Before
the plan was conceived, the mind of the earth slumbered: its conscious-
ness was not organized and its creative powers were exercised by the
superior Intelligence of the Sun.
Let us start then with the hypothesis that life appeared and developed
on the earth in response to a planjhat arose in the hyparchic future of
the earth’s mind. The plan was not produced in time; it was rather
a work of pure Illumination. t We said also that it must be an act of the
* Cf, jellaluddin Rumi, Mathnawi Ma’nevi, Book II, v. 1796: ‘How often will
they say when the cover is lifted: this, verily, is not what we expected.’ Rumi and other
great Sufi poets and mystics had, and gave expression to, intuitions of what we call
eternity and hyparxis that have been for the writer both signposts and encouragements
in pursuing these hazardous speculations.
t The term Illumination was introduced in Chapter 43, Section, to
designate the co-working of the Unitive and Creative Energies.
Creative Will of the Sun. As we have seen, the operations of the will in
the hyparchic state of non-potential virtuality have no power to bring
about their own realization in the present moment of time.” For this,
they must take shape as an eternal pattern. This transformation of the
solar act takes place in the mind of the earth.] The virtual pattern is
effectual only if it is associated with potential energy, thereby passing
into the eternity of the present moment.]
We have at this stage two elements. First, there is the Illumination of
the sun. We may even say that the nature of the sun is to be affirmative
since it is centred upon the creative energy (E 3). Second, we have the
Intelligence of the earth. This also is the very nature of the earth, which
is centred in consciousness (E 4). It still remains necessary to account
for the initiation of a causal process within the present moment of time,
corresponding to the first appearance of life.
Three entirely different explanations can be envisaged:
_ I. As we are concerned with history, we must have an element of
value as well as of fact. This immediately suggests the category of
contingency,§ the first in the scale of values and the one that corresponds
to dispersed energy (E 12) in the scale of energies. We can, therefore,
invoke an action that has some of the character of blind chance postulated
in the mechanistic theories. But we must introduce another element as
well. We can imagine that under the influence of an organizing pattern
of potentialities, the chemical combinations necessary for the auto-
synthesis of nucleic acids or whatever may have been the first self-
reproducing protein, could have taken place.] This suggestion has
II We recall here the third law of Synchronicity: the Law of Organization and Dis-
organization, Vol. II, p. 53. Reference is made there to the connection between this
law and the processes of life. ‘Life would have no special quality if it were wholly
determined by existential laws. It is the feeling for the essential quality of life that
touches us when we contemplate the struggle of organization and disorganization and
its outcome in the will-to-live.”” Cf. Chapter 42, p. 55.
t This is why we regard the earth as a sub-creative entity. Cf, Vol. I, p. 447. Vol. II,
t The reader must remember that these are not arbitrary statements, or the result
of an ‘inner illumination’; they follow directly from the character of the geometry of
six dimensions. It is true that the application of these results to the sun and earth are
suggested by observations unconnected with the geometry. Fechner in Tagesansicht
gegen Nachtsansicht made similar suggestions in 1877. Jaquetta Hawkes in Man and
the Sun describes the many beliefs associated with the creative role of the Sun God. She
does not venture to connect the ancient myths with modern science though she comes
near to it in the end.
§ Cf. Chapter 38, Section 14.38.2. I. The value involved here does not lie in the ran-
dom distribution of atoms and energies as such, but in the opportunity this randomness
offers for a constructive process to be set in motion.
nothing strange in the light of the theory of organizing force-fields
that some embryologists have postulated to guide the development of
the organism from the fertilized ovum. According to this explanation,
the energies of life remain latent and only enter step-by-step as
suitable material bodies develop.
2. We may invoke, on the contrary, a very high action. Assuming that
life is necessary for the Cosmic Harmony,” we may say that Divine
Compassion in order to permit the Creation to triumph in the War with
Time, enters directly into the material world as the Illumination
which brings about a mutual action of inert matter, wholly subject
to time, and the pattern of life, wholly virtual in eternity. According to
this hypothesis, Love acts as the Immanent Divinity that unites the
Creativity of the sun which the Intelligence of the earth.’]
3. We can also see the action in hierarchical terms, whereby Divine
Compassion releases the power of Illumination to awaken the Intelli-
gence of the earth to the task of providing itself with a Mind that is
eventually to arise in the Biosphere by the advent of Man. ‘Divine
Compassion’ here is to be understood as the highest operation within
the existing world; that is, the coalescence of Transcendent (E I) and
Unitive (E 2) energies with the Will of the Cosmic Individuality.
The Earth-Mind is in the Hyparchic Future and, as before, issues as the
potential pattern of Vital energies by which the evolution of the Bio-
sphere is directed.
Let us put the various suggestions into the form of a comprehensive
hypothesis. This can take the form of a series of propositions.
I. The existence of life on the earth is the realization of a plan, the
fulfilment of which is ordained out of time-past, present or future-
by the Creative Will of the Sun: an operation of the Supreme Will.
2. The Will of the Sun operating in the hyparchic future of the earth
conceives the plan of a self-reproducing mode of existence capable of
sustaining sensitivity and eventually organizing it to provide the earth
with a mind that could be transformed into Soul. The plan requires
that its realization should be progressively more and more self-directing,
‘” One of the main conclusions of Vol. II. Cf. p. 337: ‘We have reached the conclusion
that Life, in all its multitudinous forms occupies a central place in the pattern of all
t Love and Wisdom stand beside the Creator as His hand maids. Cf Proverbs 8.22:
‘The Lord made me His when first He went about His work, at the birth of time before
His Creation began. Long, long ago before the earth was fashioned, I held my course.
Already I lay in the womb, when the depths were not yet in being, when no springs
of water had yet broken’ (R. Knox translation). The whole of this passage gives an
almost uncanny picture of the situation we are trying to evoke.
and therefore the arising of beings capable of acquiring Individuality
was inherent in the plan.
3. The earth in a state of pure Intelligence, but without a mind,
accepted the plan and converted it into a pattern of life capable of
evolving from the simplest beginnings to become eventually its own
4. The three acts of will do not take place within Life’s own present
moment. They are entirely in the hyparchic future of the sun and the
earth. There is no actualization and no material event.
5. The present moment appears when the virtual pattern becomes a
potential pattern and so ‘begins to exist’. This requires a finite apo-
critical interval that varies according to the strength of embrace of the
earth’s Intelligence.
~ 6. The actualization begins at the lowest level of the material energies
and works its way step by step through the essence classes. At the start
there is the highest degree of consciousness-that of the earth-and the
lowest level of materiality-that of random motions. The actualization
gradually builds in the intervening levels. In this way the direction of
the event-that is, the appearance, development and realization of life-
passes into life itself .
. The hypothesis propounded in this form may appear to be the wildest
speculation if not simple fantasy. It must be said, however, that we have
constructed a scheme that accounts for the history of life on the earth
without invoking eith~r creation ex nihilo, or blind chance. It is neither
theistic nor atheistic, for it does not assert that life on earth comes
straight from the hands of a Supreme Being, Creator of the Universe,
nor does it deny that such a Supreme Being exists. The scheme allows
for the undisturbed operation of the laws of nature. This, from the
standpoint of scientific enquiry, is perhaps its most valuable feature. It
is not an invented notion, but a structure built up step by step from the
properties of the fundamental geometry of Vol. I. It allows for deter-
mination and causality wherever these are found in the material world,
and it also leaves scope for free choice and responsibility within the
world of life.
It is fair to emphasize that no such scheme could be constructed in
terms of classical notions of space and time. There would be no room
for the Illumination that is postulated as the initiating factor. Modern
atheism largely bases its case upon the contradictions between any
notion of a supernatural will and the obvious realities of nature, science
and commonsense. The suggestion that there could be a non-temporal
act of will appears to be either an absurdity or a misuse of language.
kind of objection has not the same force as it appeared to have
fifty years ago. Then it seemed as if natural science was riding home on
the tide of mechanistic explanations that eventually would include life
and consciousness, and set mankind free once and for all from the super-
stitious belief that there is a God. The successive crises in theoretical
physics and the belated recognition that no simple mechanical explana-
tion (i.e. one that invokes nothing but atoms and fields of force) would
work in biology, and perhaps also the prodigious achievements of
astrophysics, have made scientists cautious in asserting that they know
even the kind of explanation of natural phenomena they are looking for.
The principle we have followed is that the only kind of explanation
that can be accepted is a total explanation. We are very far indeed from
claiming to have found it; but at least we can say that by reasoning
from simple geometrical premises, we came to the conclusion that there
must be a condition-that we have called the hyparchic future-in
which the Will can operate without being involved in actualizations in
time and space.
The hyparchic future has hitherto interested us as the condition of
creative activity. It is also the condition that enables us to reconcile
conflicting elements in our immediate experience. In our study of the
War with Time, we saw how the present moment with its ever changing
content also contains traces of a past that does not seem to change at all.
We concluded that there is an hyparchic past that is in process of self-
realization; but this does not tell us what ‘self-realization’ means. We
.—-can partially interpret the traces of the past in terms of the structures
and regularities we observe in the present; but only partially, for the
present does not provide us with an integrative principle. Its very
nature is disintegral and we are driven to search outside the present for
an understanding of what it means. Hitherto, this search has been
confined to the traces of the past. We look for explanations of the past
within the past. Such explanations must invoke some kind of causality:
absolute, relative or statistical. The last implies that randomness is
ultimate and the first that there is a structure in the world that is
guaranteed by the past and known from the past. It cannot be satis-
factory to derive the notion of progress from the past alone and so we
return to the future-the hyparchic future-and look for a purpose and
a plan. We must not forget that purpose and plan have not meaning
unless they are projected into a future that exists. So we are brought
back to the hyparchic future as the region in which transformations are
independent of time and therefore can reconcile causal and purposive
accounts of one and the same situation.
shall, therefore, start our enquiry by postulating a structure that
es both purpose and plan. A plan implies a sequence of actions
rill transform a possible situation into an actual one.
can conceive a temporal process as developing continuously under
ifluence of pre-existing causes. When there is an eternal pattern,
will also be different levels of actualization; but not necessarily
ntinuities. When, however, the process is fully subject to hyparchic
itions, it will be impregnated with periodic or cyclic features. When
ected into time this results in the step-wise transition with which
lave become familiar in such diverse fields as quantum mechanics
genetics. The property of step-wise or discontinuous progress must
ainly be operative in the history of the earth, if we are right in our
position that it is predominantly conditioned by an overall hyparchic
n. Now everyone will allow that the traces of the past do show un-
stakable evidence of progress by stages and so we have at least an
.eed starting point. Nevertheless, though they can be known from
~ traces of the past, they can only be understood with regard to the
parchic future.
The stages will be studied in time-sequence and we shall need a
iitable nomenclature for distinguishing them. For this purpose we shall
Iapt and extend the terminology favoured by most geohistorians which
efers to forms of life rather than to rock formations. The following
cheme will suit us.

Stage Characteristics Starting Duration
(Millions of years B.P.)
1 Amorphous The Precrystalline 4,000 1,500
2 Azoic Crust, Oceans 2,500 800
Silt and Clays
3 Hypozoic Soil and Sexless Algae 1,700 600
4 Proterozoic Sexed Life 1,100 5°0
5 Palaeozoic Plants and 600 37°
6 Mesozoic Vertebrates and 23° 17°
Advanced Plants
7 Cainozoic Mammals and Birds 60 58t
8 Hyperzoic Mind It
Fig. 44.2. Eight Stages of Earth History
The meaning of the stages and the explanation of their characteristics
and durations will be developed in the succeeding chapters. The table
is set out at this point, for convenience of reference only. Stages 4-7
are recognized by geologists. Stages 1-3 are speculative as to duration,
but are in general agreement with commonly held views. The term
‘hyperzoic’ is used to indicate the entry of a factor that goes beyond
life itself: that is, consciousness.

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