Cosmological Evolution

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One of Science of the Noosphere’s central goals is to update Teilhard’s vision of the Noosphere with scientific discoveries that have been made since his death in 1955. Most of that will involve new knowledge from fields such as evolutionary biology, anthropology, human history, cultural evolution, and technology. However, Brian Thomas Swimme, an evolutionary cosmologist on the graduate faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies and an advisor to Human Energy, brings his unique expertise to that pursuit.

Brian reminds us that it’s not only the life and human sciences that have advanced since Teilhard’s time. In his forward to a new edition of “The Human Phenomenon”, Brian writes of an experience when he was visiting New York, and decided to go to the Jesuit cemetery where Teilhard is buried. His memories of that occasion speak of advances in astronomy and cosmology that validate and update Teilhard’s conception of the deep human connection with the universe itself:

I stood there reflecting on the bones a few feet below me in his grave, and suddenly found myself thinking of the expansion of the universe and of how much Teilhard would have loved learning what we now know about this fiery birth. Had the expansion been even slightly different the universe would not have blossomed forth with such beauty: a slower expansion would have ended in a massive black hole; a faster expansion would have quickly become cold hard dust. Even after many discussions at scientific conferences organized around this amazing discovery and others like it, we do not yet know what to make of all this so-called “fine tuning” in the universe. Some physicists are even weary of discussing the matter. Teilhard, on the other hand, would be thrilled. The universe is about something. Thirteen billion years ago it was about giving birth to an expanding elegance that could stabilize the baryons and knit together hydrogen and helium. Twelve billion years ago it was about giving birth to galactic structures capable of fashioning the complexities of matter necessary for organic life and intelligence. In each moment the universe is about something new, something that had been but a dream until this moment now when the necessary conditions have been created for a new and stunning transformation.

That passage serves as a perfect introduction for Brian’s conversation with David Sloan Wilson. David, an evolutionary biologist, tends to look at life as a watershed moment in cosmological evolution, and states this early in their talk. Brian explains why he thinks the universe has been, in his terms,“ aiming at” life and human consciousness since its fiery birth. Brian makes a fascinating case in this conversation.

Brian Thomas Swimme Transcript