Magazine article Tikkun

A CALL FOR SACRED BIOLOGISTS: Please Announce Yourselves

Magazine article Tikkun

A CALL FOR SACRED BIOLOGISTS: Please Announce Yourselves

Article excerpt

IF "THE EVOLUTION OE SPECIES IS THE GREATEST SACRED drama of all time," as Art Green claims in his beautiful essay, then we need sacred biologists to help us witness and interpret it.

We can certainly appreciate Charles Darwin for his insight into the existence of evolution, but we must also recognize how much his view of the evolutionary process itself was cramped by the so-called "scientific method" and its despiritualized way of apprehending the world. The scientific method seeks its limited truths by standing back from phenomena and grasping the world "objectively" through what it imagines to be neutral observation, but what is in reality a biased way of looking at things with an eye devoid of spirit. Thus it was understandable that Darwin, as a practitioner of this method, would conceive that evolution could be explained by natural selection-by the idea that the species evolve through accidental adaptive changes from a common ancestor, changes across generations that favor the material fact of survival. If there is more going on- for example, a sacred drama in which Being is seeking to make itself manifest through love incarnated through potentially infinite historical forms- Darwin would not have been able to see it. His neutral observation rendered the spiritual dimension invisible because it neutralized the "living things" he observed.

Natural selection is certainly part of the story- namely, the part that pertains to mere material survival in the face of transformations in climatic and other material conditions. But if we understand the radiance of life as Art Green does, we must newly attend to the Being of plants and animals, to the extraordinary unfolding of their interior presence manifested across the generations, to the meaning of the plant's branches outstretched toward the sun, to the meaning of the panda's long and eventually successful struggle to grip bamboo with an opposable thumb, and to the meaning of the emergence of selfconsciousness in humans like ourselves as an upward movement of historical awareness, of Being itself becoming aware of itself. To say it's all natural selection in the service of survival is analogous to Bill Clinton and now perhaps Barack Obama believing that "it's the economy, stupid" when it comes to the longings of human beings, human beings who in truth want not merely to survive but to become fully present to each other through love and recognition. It's a way of seeing that fails to apprehend what Teilhard de Chardin called "the within of things," the beautiful effort of the soul to manifest itself more and more fully through the unfolding of historical forms. …

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