Many decry that we have no useful, motivating vision of our future (or of cosmos, life, or humanity), in these times of extreme crisis. Traditional religions appease the fears and concerns of those unable to comprehend the complexity of their discomfort. Spiritual beliefs give solace, but encourage escape from responsibility. Atheism has become a religion of skepticism. Contemporary science’s challenges tend towards fantasy, high tech futures, comfort, or a means to succeed in the present. We lack any useful narrative of our origins, the meaning of life, and a viable future. We intuitively deny ends, our own deaths and the possible extinction of our species. It is as if we are in a trance.
“Genesis” has become generic for a Story of Origins. Here I attempt to convey a new narrative of our origins and our path of emergence to the present. I don’t claim this narrative as objectively true or real; but it could be presented as a scientific hypothesis for testing. It presents a “positive” perspective on the otherwise negative history of humankind. The achievements of humankind have been contrasted with the continuous suffering and unnecessary death of so many persons throughout our short history; and how our dysfunctions are leading us to the edge of the abyss. Nu Genesis gives a positive twist to our story, that we humans are at the experimental forefront of Gaia’s attempt to survive/thrive and continue to evolve/emerge for millions to billions of years. Humankind was a risky experiment for Gaia, but necessary.
Imagine Gaia as a sentient being, capable of foresight and agency. S/he has experienced multiple grand extinctions from sources outside his/er self. His/er recovery after each grand extinction increased the complexity and beauty of Gaia. Gaia’s emergence has been “progressive”. Gaia has gained greatly in his/er competencies of forecast and agency during each recovery. Gaia now forecasts that the next externally caused grand extinction may reduce his/er complexity and beauty, stop his/er “progress”. Yet, Gaia is but halfway in the lifespan of his/er solar system.
Even without the threat of grand extinctions, the positive emergent future of Gaia will partly be a consequence of his/er creative agency. But, Gaia’s future is not pre-determined. Gaia is not a grand design set at it’s beginning to unfold deterministically. Gaia is more a self-organizing, creative “meta organism” emerging through a mix of evolution and emergence; a mix of “scientific constraints” and “creative freedom”. We find this mix within ourselves. Might it manifest at other levels in the holarchy of life?
Humankind is Gaia’s budding edge, for Gaia’s future emergence. But, in addition, Gaia had a special task for humankind: to develop “technologies” to protect his/er from the catastrophe of future grand extinctions. To this end, Gaia manipulated the emergence of humankind to radically accelerate the development of technological agency. Humankind was not permitted the “natural” time to integrate its older, mammalian (intuitive/emotional/fast) self with its new conceptual/rational/slow self. The accelerated development of the civilization mode of societal organization has achieved its objectives – supreme technological agency, but has put both humankind and Gaia at risk.
Gaia is not omnipotent. S/he doesn’t control, but s/he can influence – within limits. Humankind is a component/subsystem within Gaia. In facing the current challenge, Gaia must balance stopping humankind from destroying itself and scaring Gaia, and keeping the technological capacity of humankind viable to protect Gaia from future “natural” disasters and becoming the nu agency for the next phase of Gaian emergence.
This narrative motivates me to push on, and to attempt motivating others to join with me. Survival is not the whole story, although essential. Humankind is not fundamentally flawed; our potentials remain immense. This narrative is a prologue to my proposed strategies of UPLIFT and Societal Metamorphosis.
Even if Gaia has none of the traits I propose and the universe just plods along a determined path, who is to say that it is not determined for humankind to wake up and save itself and its multi-millennial future with Gaia. The radical changes that may be coming as humanity continues to liberate information from matter/energy embedment may still happen. The accelerated development of sci/tech, stimulated by a purely coincidental Earth-Moon-Sun configuration, may still have been real and a good reason for we humans to act, now.
Subsequent chapters will provide more information.