Sunday September 16, 2012

Special to The Eagle

Despite a subtitle that reads "Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science's Greatest Idea," I had a misconception going into "Evolutionaries" by Carter Phipps of Lenox.

I thought the text would
be predominantly a "can't
we all just get along," white-flag-waving text on the debate between creationists and evolutionists.

As it turns out, Phipps does not aim to appease either side. Instead, he presents a philosophy that uses science and evolution to provide plausible explanations for the psychology of spirituality.

In "Evolutionaries," the spiritual are not wrong and the evolutionists are not wrong. Phipps maintains that the human mind has evolved with a drive to search for meaning, to make sense of
it all.

For some, he says, translating remaining mysteries into spiritual faith can be the result of a natural inclination to fill in the blanks, to serve as a placeholder until confirmed scientific facts unfold.

"Evolutionaries" is not for the philosophical faint of heart. Rather than a single take on very complex beliefs, the book is an in-depth compilation of countless philosophers and theories that support the author's ideas.

Be forewarned: Those ideas are humbling, no matter what one chooses to believe. Phipps acknowledges upfront that science has an inarguable claim on the explanation of evolution. But he daringly suggests that adhering only to Darwinism is akin to a religious movement, because it accepts one aspect of evolution while discounting other scientific explanations.

He further backs that claim with instances of Darwinism's failures, showing it to be true, but flawed; not the perfect theory many assume it to be. In other words, it is merely a piece of the puzzle and not the absolute answer to
evolution.

For those who think our present level of consciousness is the pinnacle of human awareness, guess again.

Phipps describes the relatively young age of measured human consciousness, and strongly argues that as the brain evolves, our present-day thought processes will likely appear rudimentary to more highly evolved humans of the future.

Take note how that idea also parallels the questioning of any religion. Intentional or not, Phipps has a knack for demonstrating the similarities of thought in opposing belief systems. While beliefs differ, he sees the passion behind those beliefs as the same.

"Evolutionaries" can, at times, get overwhelming. Phipps has filled his pages with sometimes-distracting, rapid-fire, substantiating information. But the key points are there, and when made clearly are highly thought-provoking.

And when provoked, the reader may feel inclined to veer from the book itself and research theories separately, making some of the distraction valuable, if honed properly.

While it is not light reading, "Evolutionaries" serves an important purpose in helping clarify the evolution not only of physical matter, but also of the changes in spiritual belief that are necessary in order to fully embrace scientific realities.