03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Beyond 2012 Hype, A Scientist And Mayanist Faces The Evolution Question

Two-thousand-and-nine is drawing to a close. We’re at the end of the decade and inching towards the culmination of the ancient Mesoamerican Mayan calendar...nearing the epoch of who knows what?


Literally, philosophically, pop culturally and sociologically, the zeitgeist points to the fate of the world hanging in the balance. The Hollywood disaster flick du jour 2012 (which grossed $165.2 million in its international debut), brought to light the doom and gloom position on the end-date. Interestingly enough, this year was also the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s modern science-shaping work On the Origin of Species


Great timing for Swedish biology expert/ Ph.D and leading Mayan author Carl Johan Calleman who just released The Purposeful Universe, his latest tome on human evolution and Mayan cosmology. As Calleman explains in his book, the Greeks held two understandings of time: Chronos (literal clock time) and Kairos (synchronous mystical time, or ‘the right time’). In light of this and the relevant millennial mindset concepts he covers, one might say the author has it both ways--in synch with Chronos and Kairos. 
This isn’t the only manner in which he has it both ways, so to speak. Early on in his book, Calleman talks about the age-old feud between the die-hard Darwinist mainstream scientific community, and religious zealots/ new Creationists. He sets forth on a bold mission--bound to ruffle feathers on both sides -- systematically building his case: the scientists and the creations are both wrong ... and right.


This wouldn’t be the first time Calleman had introduced a revolutionary but contentious theory. In his previous books The Mayan Calendar and The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness he presented his belief that, based on his calculations and research, the end date is not December 21, 2012 (as most believe) but October 28, 2011. Furthermore -- at odds with another leading Mayanist John Major Jenkins -- he explains that the Mayan Long Count was not a calendar of physical planetary/galactic alignment and movement (Chronos) but a calendar of increasing energy pulses of evolution (Kairos) which would reach a zenith on 10/28/11.


The fact that Calleman’s findings predicted the month and year of the global financial collapse (almost a decade before it happened), among other assertions, has helped his work gain merit and respect....unless of course you’re one of those hard-nosed scientists who believe in separating your peas (science) from your carrots (spirituality). Albert Einstein, incidentally wasn’t. He was famously quoted as saying: “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” 


So, how can Darwinists and Creationists both be right and wrong? Calleman’s core theory, implied by the title The Purposeful Universe, is that evolution is no accident. In some circles the culturally problematic term “intelligent design” might seem to apply. One of the core points for Calleman--a spiritual but not religious scientist--is that evolution does not happen gradually but in quantum leaps. He points out, “the lack of survival value for an organism to have a nonfunctional organ, such as half a wing.”


The author admits that an unfit and weaker species can be phased out, but does not view survival as the driving force behind evolution. Its catalyst, says Calleman, is consciousness. In other words, God, or the energetic current behind life itself or however you choose to dub it, is driven to evolve because it wants to know itself. 


His aim in the book is to show how the quantum leaps in evolution actually follow a pattern based on the Mayan Long Count calendar (ending in 2011). The Mayans came up with some advanced cosmological concepts (like the precession of the equinoxes) without the use of sophisticated technology and tools. 


Calleman leads the reader through a theory of holographic resonance--which incidentally has been to some degree written about by venerated scientist scribes like Rupert Sheldrake (who Calleman mentions in the book). Sheldrake sought to explain how a bird, for instance, could learn a new behavior and suddenly that same species of bird, on the other side of the world, would adopt this behavior with no contact to the original animal, via morphogenetic fields. 
After the Big Bang -- the moment of ‘takeoff’ -- these fields (or in Calleman’s book ‘halos’) allegedly began forming as an ascending interconnected system which has progressed consciousness from simpler life forms through to today’s highly complicated human beings. 


Calleman’s theory is called the “Tree of Life,” and it ties in the archetype present in many cultures’ mystical roots -- Judaism, Norse religion, Hinduism, Mayan culture, etc. In the book, he also discusses esoteric topics like the Golden Mean, the Fibonacci Sequence and sacred geometry while referencing mainstream science journals like Nature, and archeologically verified facts about the Mayan civilization and calendar. 


Calleman is not alone in mixing ancient knowledge with science and spirituality. One might argue that this hybridization really took off during the early Millennial years. In the environmental science field, James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis (‘the earth is a single organism’) was initially scoffed at but today it seems to have proliferated, resonated and gained new ground. 


Yet, his writings seem more aimed at swaying the rigid and uncompromising members of the old guard scientific community than at selling books to questing New Agers. However, Calleman smartly begins his journey of science and consciousness on a philosophical note before getting into the hard data.


The core of the book is however largely scientific -- including theories that something other than DNA acts as ‘chief organizer’ in higher organisms. This can of course put off the science and math-challenged. But the native Swede -- whose English writing is excellent--conveniently sums up many of his points in italics. 


Calleman’s methodology recalls for me the meticulousness of Leonard Shlain’s The Alphabet Versus the Goddess (another great philosophical/spiritual evolution book by a member of the scientific community). Both writers and thinkers were keenly aware of how their out-of-the-box theories were likely to be received. They therefore went to extremes to leave no stone unturned. 


So laymen need not be afraid to read The Purposeful Universe even if they are not predisposed to science. As deep and challenging of a read as this book might be for the Average Joe, it’s well worth the effort. Calleman is a large part of the zeitgeist of symbiosis between science and spirituality that I suspect will only increase with time. 


The nay-sayers can cross their arms, shake their heads, sit back and call it pseudo-science because it doesn’t fit into the their box. But it takes a real scientist (and evolved human) to look beyond the tried and true and shed meaning on the unknown and unquantifiable. It is, after all, the age of ‘dark matter’ and quantum physics.


Calleman, in my opinion is that true scientist who has intelligently intuited the meaning behind the chaos. To paraphrase the Einstein quote, 'God does not play dice with the universe.'