Reflection 1, On Human Evolution

When humans are conceived, all their potential is contained in the DNA they get from their mothers and fathers. That DNA has evolved over many centuries and countless generations. The earth has co-evolved to enable that that unique human creation to realize its potential in this world.  Of all creatures on earth, the human being alone has been endowed with the genetic material to enable it develop some level of rational thought, altruistic love and free will. These faculties also seem to be imprinted in our innate being and to have co-evolved with our bodies, brains and earth.  Our intellectual, social and moral systems have developed as these faculties reach higher states of development.

In physical creation, evolution is manifested according to the level of material complexity. Atoms unite to form different molecules and chemicals. Cells of living creatures multiply and grow. Animals achieve greater complexity with the integration of all these features with the addition of sensory and physical capacities. The human being combines or incorporates all of these qualities plus transcends their limitations with the non-material abilities of mind, heart and will.

Just as our physical being goes through stages of growth, so does our non-material or spiritual being. These stages can be seen in the individual and are mirrored in collective growth as well. This ontogenetic and phylogenetic  development has been and continues to be studied, both in its physical and its abstract. For example, there have been several species of humans who have become extinct. One of the most recent of these species to die out was the Neanderthals almost 40,000 years ago. Some scientists believe that the Neanderthals were physically better suited to their environment than modern Homo sapiens who superseded them, but that the Homo sapiens were better equipped intellectually and technologically. Evolution has largely been a process of intellectual, social and moral progress in recorded history. This progress has manifested itself through scientific, technological, political, social, economic and moral systems and structures.

The human being is in process, both individually and collectively. Individually it is easy to see and measure the developmental process from conception to death. These developmental stages have studied physically, psychologically, socially, morally and otherwise. Collectively we have seen similar stages of growth in societies and civilizations. Each stages building on the preceding one, incorporating some aspects of it, transforming others and transcend yet others.

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About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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