In the second decade of the 21st century, God is no longer "up there," ready to save us. Until very recently, that creative principle was something that we would ask for help from. But I believe we have reached a time in history when God, which I would describe as the energy and intelligence that initiated the creative process, is now completely dependent upon us -- upon sentient life forms that have evolved to the point where they are blessed with the extraordinary gifts of complex cognition, self-awareness, and freedom of choice. At this critical juncture, our own future and the future of our planet will be determined by the conscious choices that we human beings make, rather than by the whim of a higher power or according to some predestined plan.
The mythical god has fallen out of the sky, and as more and more of us awaken to this fact, it begins to dawn on us that the future is literally in our own hands. Our power and our impact have never been greater. It has even been suggested that at this point in the evolutionary process, what Darwin called "natural selection" has been superseded by human choice. The decisions that we are making, either consciously or unconsciously, have become the primary force directing our planet's future. Indeed, we have become gods. In pre-modern times, gods were revered as supreme beings who had the power to create and destroy life. Who has that power now? We do. We can create life in a laboratory. And we have at our fingertips the power to destroy all life on earth. Our unique capacity to innovate and our drive to create have brought forth unimagined potentials and simultaneously have carried us to the very brink of self-destruction. Because our technological development has outpaced our spiritual and moral development, we find ourselves in an environmental crisis of unparalleled proportions. And there is nobody "up there" who can help us now, no supernatural power guiding everything from on high, no God that is separate from our very own consciousness.
For the human being who begins to realize this, the implications on a personal level are profound and overwhelming. When we awaken to the infinite panorama of evolution, in fact, we realize ourselves to be nothing less than the very leading edge of a 14-billion-year cosmic process. A cosmic process that gave rise to the vast matter and energy that created galaxies, planets and stars. That process created the conditions that made it possible for biological life to emerge around 4 billion years ago. And then, from biological life, 200,000 years ago mind burst forth as the dramatic beginning of human consciousness and culture. Now, the energy and intelligence that initiated that process and has been driving it all along is dependent upon you and me. Indeed, our responsibility for where evolution is going, at the level of our shared culture, is much bigger than most of us are aware of. We tend to not be very conscious of the enormous context in which our own choices and actions are occurring.
For the mature human being in the second decade of the 21st century, this is what I see as being the ultimate purpose of higher spiritual development in a nutshell: to liberate the miraculous power of human choice from being unconsciously trapped in a cultural epidemic of narcissism, materialism, and existential apathy. Our moral, spiritual, and cultural evolution -- if not our very survival -- really do depend on it. God has indeed fallen out of the sky. Now it's up to each and every one of us to realize that the energy and intelligence that created the universe and is creating it right now is depending upon us to take the next step.
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This post was originally published on Andrew Coheh's BigThink.com blog, The Evolution of Enlightenment.
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