What’s An Evolutionary?


We are evolution become conscious of itself.       Julian Huxley

Recently I read Carter Phipps new book, Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea. If you need a shot of hope, order it today, it’s well worth it. I’m a voracious reader and often suggest to my husband that he read something I’ve particularly liked. Sam thinks most books should/could be articles but to his credit, he most often skims my recommendations. I know a book has grabbed him when it arrives in the mail. He wants his own copy because it deserves a closer read! Evolutionaries arrived a couple days after I recommended it and inspired Sam’s Lenten series entitled Evolution and Christianity.

I don’t really expect that you all will zip out and buy the book because Sam and I liked it so I’m writing a few paragraphs because the message is of critical importance. So what is an Evolutionary? Carter uses the word as a play on revolutionary because he sees the nature of evolution as revolutionary. In his own words:

Evolutionaries are revolutionaries, with all the personal and philosophical commitment that word implies. They are positive agents of change who subscribe to the underappreciated truth that evolution, comprehensively understood, implicates the individual. Evolutionaries recognize the vast process we are embedded within and also the urgent need for our own culture to evolve and for each of us to play a positive role in that outcome.

As we break the cultural spell of “solidity” and grapple with the reality that we are part of a 13.8 billion year process, the idea that we’re going somewhere is beginning to dawn on us. With it comes the realization that we are actually co-creating the future as those who came before us have always done. The past looks solid from our vantage point, however all of it was initially novel built by one creative move after another. Alfred North Whitehead, English philosopher, described this active principle within the manifest universe “the creative advance into novelty.” This active principle was Whitehead’s way of understanding God, the energy and intelligence of the universe. The fundamental cosmic urge toward newness, he said, was profoundly entwined with the processes of evolution, at all times calling the events of the world forward into ever-greater beauty, variety, and complexity. Ken Wilber calls it “the secret impulse of the universe.”

Recognizing that the creative impulse of the universe acts in us, through us, as us is the profound shift happening in the world today. No wonder Carter says it “implicates” us! To step up and see oneself as responsible for the evolving future is daunting. No longer can we rely on and/or damn a force outside of creation pulling the strings. To live into the fact that we aren’t merely observers of life’s unfolding is overwhelming yes, but it’s also exciting.

One of the qualities Carter ascribes to Evolutionaries is “a deep optimism and a profound faith in and commitment to the future.” This is not the naïve optimism of one who ignores the harsh facts of today’s world, but rather one whose experiential reality of connection with the creative impulse built into the fabric of the world motivates them to be a part of creating the “ever-greater beauty, variety and complexity” Whitehead describes.

This is why it is critically important to recognize the unique gifts we have to offer to the unfolding of the future. We are indeed “evolution become conscious of itself” and we each have something unique to offer that unfolding. No more shirking our responsibility, hiding behind false humility. It is time to see yourself clearly and offer yourself fully. For me Rumi says it best . . .

Gamble everything for Love if you’re a true human being.

If not, leave this gathering.


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