Expert consensus document
Panel - Michael Dowd, Jon Host, Tom Atlee, Per Kielland-Lund
This essay embraces all the ways evolution can be pursued consciously. It deals not only with the biological evolution that so many of us are familar with (which can become conscious with bioengineering and social selection), but also with individual, cultural, organizational, and technological evolution, and the evolution of consciousness, itself.
Note: "The evolution of consciousness" is controversial. Some advocates of conscious evolution believe it is central. Others see it as vague and "new-agey," saying we can't objectively define or demonstrate "consciousness." Since the field of conscious evolution includes many advocates of both views, this summary includes both.
On this wiki, the term conscious evolution refers to change undertaken intentionally as part of a larger progressive development -- especially informed by -- or as part of -- the epic of evolution or the Great Story of evolution.
Conscious evolution always involves intentionality, exercised with a degree of awareness of relevant factors (context, causative dynamics, possibilities, etc.). Some people believe it also involves wisdom, informing intentions with broader, deeper, more systemic, longer-term, and nuanced perspectives.
There is widespread concern that unconscious -- poorly understood, unwise, often unintentional -- developments in humanity's large scale activities are generating crises and potential catastrophes including extinctions, climate change, and unnecessary human suffering.
This has led to growing demand for more thoughtfully intentional development of social organization, technology, and even consciousness. The processes of nature, including the lessons of evolution, are rich with guidance for such development.
Our efforts to consciously develop life-serving, responsive, self-organizing human and natural systems constitute a new facet of the evolutionary process, itself. This conscious evolutionary activity is a natural expression of the universe’s developmental creativity and a milestone in its progress.
Some believe that this shift in evolutionary dynamics constitutes an "evolutionary leap." Specifically, the social systems, technologies, and consciousness that arose out of the processes of evolution are now -- for the first time -- being consciously applied to those evolutionary processes. In a sense, evolution -- in its human aspect -- can now consciously shape its own processes and direction. This is evolutionary news.
Furthermore, a civilization capable of conscious self-evolution would be a thoroughly new type of life form to add to the remarkable achievements of our alive, evolving universe.
A significant challenge in our conscious evolutionary undertaking will be, therefore, to learn more about evolutionary dynamics and how we might apply them to the development of ourselves and our lives, technologies, societies, and world.
The Problem of Choice
Intentionality implies choice. Much of what is unfolding in natural and human environments today is being generated by the choices of individuals and institutions -- but it is happening at a different level than the choices were made. We choose to drive our cars, but did not choose to generate climate change.
Furthermore, just as our choices affect the state of the larger systems we are part of, so the structures and conditions of those systems affect the the choices we make. We often choose to drive our cars rather than ride our bicycles because the places we need to travel to are so distant (because of our car culture) and there are so many highways in the way (because of our car culture) that using our bikes is very impractical.
Conscious evolution thus necessarily involves becoming aware of the various levels of reality at which our choices are (or could be) causing effects, and further becoming aware of the systemic (and other unconscious) factors affecting our choices. This awareness increases our ability to generate the effects we desire with the choices we make.
There are many realms in which conscious evolution can be pursued. Some are listed below. The dynamics, challenges and stories associated with each can be explored on the linked pages [links appeared in the original, but the pages linked are not part of the consensus document]. Furthermore, many of us have had epiphanies, revelations, and reflections regarding conscious evolution, which we can share through the "personal essays" links at the bottom of this page.
Tom Atlee's initial take on conscious evolution
Lion Kimbro on Conscious Evolution
Center for Human Emergence Synergizing the work of John Peterson, Don Beck, Ken Wilber, Andrew Cohen, and others.
Center for Conscious Evolution - Barbara Marx Hubbard's Gatway to Conscious Evolution website
Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential book by Barbara Marx Hubbard
Retrieved from "http://evolutionaryspirituality.wikia.com/wiki/Conscious_evolution" April 30, 2006