Spiritual Lessons From Evolution INo matter which side of the evolution debate you listen to, you get the feeling that there is nothing spiritual about evolution. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are several spiritual lessons that we can take from evolution. If you are uncomfortable with the word spiritual, you can substitute maturity if you want. One common misunderstanding of evolution is that has some kind of notion of universal progress. Somehow one species is 'better' than another and mankind is the end result of all the battles for survival of the fittest. That view fits very well with a childish view of the world; everything revolves around a child. As he or she grows, the circle grows to include in succession: family, neighborhood, city, country, tribe and world. At least we hope it grows; there are some people who seem to get stuck along the way. I'm sure you know some who still think everything revolves around them. Some days, I'm the one stuck. But that is not what evolution says. When it talks about survival of the fittest, it is talking about survival in a given environment, a 'niche'. The fittest organism for the North Pole is unlikely to be the fittest organism for an African desert. Kind of makes comparisons difficult. Which is better, a polar bear or a sand flea? The polar bear might look more cuddly from a distance, but I'm not sure I want to be near either one when they're looking for food. It is too easy for me to feel I am better than you because I rate higher on a given scale than you. The most common scales are wealth and intelligence. I make more money than you, so I'm better. I have more education than you, so I'm better. With kids you can throw in strength; my father can beat up your father. But how can you compare the achievements of say Warren Buffet and Leonard Bernstein? Bill Gates and J. K. Rowling? Or even two painters with different styles like Norman Rockwell and Picasso? You can't. And therein lies the spiritual idea. Everyone has something to contribute given the right environment. It's enshrined in the founding documents of the United States: "All men are created equal". I'm better off treating you with the respect due an equal no matter the perceived disparities between us. That works whether the I and you are people, families, neighborhoods, cities, countries, tribes or nations. At this point we only have one world with sentient people, but the idea extends to different worlds and species as well. There are more spiritual ideas buried in evolution; stay tuned.
25 Jan 2020; 31 Jan 2009
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