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Haught, John F - The next step - deeper consciousness and deeper freedom, deeper capacity to love and feel



Type of Spiritual Experience


According to the scientific view, the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.  Life first appears on the earth about 3.5 billion years ago, not long after the crust of the earth had cooled and water was available.  The atmosphere at that time had no oxygen in it. 

The first step of life on earth formed anaerobic bacteria which converted water to oxygen.  The second step produced a new cell with far more complex DNA and including plants such as algae.  These could survive when oxygen was present (the bacteria can’t) and carried on producing oxygen until the atmosphere stabilised at about 21% oxygen – optimal for the life forms created - anymore oxygen and some life would simply combust. 

Both of the processes and the cell forms with their DNA are sufficiently complex for a number of scientists to consider that the process cannot have been random – instead it was directed.

The third step 543 million years ago within the span of only 10 million years was the creation of plants, animals – teeth tentacles claws etc.  In a burst of creativity like nothing that had gone before or since this ‘supreme being’ (or nature) appears to have sketched out the blueprints for virtually the whole of the animal kingdom and this occurred all over the world at the same time. 

Many scientists are coming to agree that both genus and species had to have been ‘invented’ although the refinement of the species may have taken place by evolution.  In effect, however, evolution is simply the tweaking of something already invented, much in the same way we breed and ‘improve’ plants or animals or tweak car designs.


A description of the experience

Dr. John F. Haught [Landegger Distinguished Professor of Theology at Georgetown University] talking about  priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s  idea that evolution is ongoing.

… because there are fourteen billion years that preceded our emergence in this universe, we are too likely to say, “Okay, finally nature has reached its goal in producing us.” But there’s no reason for us to think that we’re anywhere near the end of the cosmic journey. I believe with Teilhard that the goal is not us—the goal is “more being.”

The universe has a tendency that is almost silly for us to overlook. Ever since the beginning, it has been in the process of more being or, as Teilhard puts it, of bringing things of a higher degree of value into existence. By anybody’s standards, there’s a real difference between the human brain and human culture, on the one hand, and the primordial radiation that the universe began with.

Something is working itself out in this universe. What is that? At the very least, it is this process of becoming more and more complex in its mode of organization. But more than that, it has been in the business of producing higher degrees of awareness, of sentience, of feeling, of enjoyment, and especially of consciousness and freedom.

But anybody who lives on this planet knows that we haven’t become fully conscious, that we still haven’t become fully free. We still get lost in our feelings and dull our senses; in other words, we live in an unfinished universe. And if the universe is unfinished, then that means it has a future. We don’t know exactly what that is, but it enjoins us to care for the natural world environmentally, for example, so that it does have the opportunity to have a future.

Right now what we’re doing is closing down life systems all over the planet, and that’s because we have assumed that we’re IT, that this is all, that this is the end of the journey.

But if we consider that we are fellow travellers with nature and not the end of it all, then I think we would be more willing to take care of nature and to allow it to have the future that perhaps God has some vision of but we do not.

We should leave ourselves open.

We can’t describe or predict the evolutionary developments in the world’s future with any great accuracy, but maybe they would take the form of even deeper consciousness and deeper freedom, deeper capacity to love and feel, and so forth. At the very least, we should leave ourselves open to those possibilities.

The source of the experience

Haught, John F

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps