Thursday, 11 February 2021

How the developmental evolution of consciousness might work (in more detail)

My current best guess is that what mostly happens has to do with the nature of the pre-mortal spirits ("souls") who are incarnated into mortal life; and their different needs from mortal life. 

The development of consciousness is a kind of 'mass effect' of the preponderance of broad human types. Through human history; society has been developed by divine destiny to provide a range of experiences to enable these spirits to get the experiences (make the choices) they most need. 

It happens primarily on an individual basis: specific individual souls are 'placed' - by God - into specific circumstances: family, class, nation, era etc. But as well as such individual tailoring of circumstances to souls; God has also developed 'the world situation' through history by means of placing types-of-souls at different eras. 

Thus, the placement of different types-of-souls at different times through history (as well as different races and nations) itself creates different social conditions - providing different experiences for those who live in them. 

So the primary cause is the type of souls placed in mortal life; and a secondary effect is to make different societal conditions in which souls can be placed.  

Such linearity of world development continues to provide life-experiences that have never before been seen in human history; and therefore new and qualitatively different possibilities of learning. This is the development (or 'evolution') of consciousness. 

This is the merest hunch; but I think that many of the currently incarnated spirits were 'a bad lot' in pre-mortal life; by which I mean with innately a low chance of accepting salvation.

Our present cultural situation - i.e. 'things coming to a point' - the separation of Good from evil, the increased evilness of evil evident from explicit value-inversions - makes the choice between God and the Devil clearer than ever before. 

Such moral clarity is, perhaps, the special and new quality of these present times: even more obviously so over the past year. 

This current (and still-developing) world-situation probably means that that at least some of these 'hard cases' among contemporary incarnated souls will make the choice of salvation that God so much wishes. 

It may not be a high percentage of the people of the modern world who choose to be saved, but it may nonetheless be a higher percentage than would have happened a hundred/ thousand/ ten thousand years ago - at times when good and evil were much more mixed.

Speaking for myself - I am certainly one of those 'hard cases' who was incarnated with a strong innate tendency to refuse salvation. I became an atheist as soon as it was cognitively possible (about age six) and remained an atheist until my late forties. 

It was only the increasing corruption of the world that - eventually - drove me to abandon my atheism; as I realized it provided no resources to resist the increasing dishonesty, short-termism and dysfunctionality of my world; and that it encouraged in myself the most horrible and manipulative selfishness and hedonism. 

So, recognizing the moral bankruptcy of my atheism; I chose consciously to become first a theist then (soon after) a Christian - and from that decision much followed. 

But it was a near thing, and might very easily not have happened; had not 'things' in my world (of science, education and medicine) been getting worse so rapidly.

And had not - therefore - the gulf in motivation between Good and evil been so increasingly obvious.

...I still recall a dream on the eve of my conversion (this would probably be in 2008) in which I saw a globe being covered by darkness; with the darkness being added like black pieces of jigsaw to cover the nations and oceans. 

(I knew what was implied by this darkness from my own life and work.) 

I saw that Good and evil are sides in a war. And I realized that I had to choose one side or the other: either that Life which was valuable, or incrementally-expanding darkness and spiritual-death. 

At last I recognized that the we either take the side of Good - or else we are evil. 

And I knew that I personally wanted to take the side of Good. 

I suppose that dream was the 'moment' of my conversion to be a Christian; and from then onwards it was (and remains) just a matter of trial and error, and logistics...


Dr. Mabuse said...

This reminds me of an old WWII movie, 'Twelve O'Clock High', where a dysfunctional bunch of airmen are grouped together as punishment, and their plane is dubbed 'The Leper Colony'. It's a punishment for their sloppiness and incompetence, as well as a strategy for reducing the harm they can do to other units, but it's also their opportunity to prove their worth, which they do by the end of the film.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DM - The usual explanation for how the 'evolution of consciousness' (e.g. Rudolf Steiner, Owen Barfield) works involves multiple reincarnations - with the reincarnating spirit learning and changing a bit with each incarnation. So it is the same soul that develops across many generations.

I can't accept this because I don't think that happens at least not for Christians. Christians choose to resurrect to eternal incarnate life after death - and since resurrection is eternal, reincarnation is not possible.

On the other hand, I do not rule-out reincarnation among non-Christians, and before Christ. Since reincarnation (of one sort or another, and the types vary a lot) is a common belief among Men through history and in many (culturally separate) places - it seems likely that reincarnation was once 'normal', and still may be in some places and peoples.

Dr. Mabuse said...

I don't think a Christian can believe in reincarnation, either. I'd never thought that it could be a possibility for non-Christians, such as Hindus, who DO incorporate it as part of their religion. Perhaps in the next world, they discover that they were wrong about that, yet God takes into account the beliefs they carried with them in this world and mitigates the damage that could arise from the errors. In any case, as C.S. Lewis wrote, since we're Christians ourselves, whatever MAY be the case for non-Christians isn't relevant for us.

I didn't mean "punishment" to refer to bad acts in a previous life; just that God, as the Commander of the Universe, might be inspecting the troops of souls available to be born and St. Michael the Archangel could say, "A pretty poor lot, this bunch, Lord. They're going to be a drag wherever you send them." And God could say, "Well, I don't want to give up on them right from the start. I think I'll keep this group in reserve for a special assignment. It's tough, more like a forlorn hope, having to go in at the end of the world, but somebody's got to do it, and a few of them could get through after all. It's their best chance of doing something worthwhile in life."

agraves said...

It seems that your conversion in 2008 regarding spirituality,politics, etc. coincides with being "red pilled" or awakening out of the matrix. 2008 was a time for many people to be shocked awake with what goes on in the world. It appears that the awakening has ended and those who would wake up have done so and the the rest won't, so the battle lines are being drawn tighter. However many in the matrix think they are enlightened and will continue to cancel those seeking to escape from matrix. In terms of what kind of experiences come to people in life,most are negative, and for these to have evolutionary value one must be reminded that that these experiences are valuable even if they don't understand the reason why. That struggle to understand why things happen is important I think.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DM - I don't agree that one cannot be a Christian and believe in reincarnation - not least because several of those Christians I most respect do believe in reincarnation (or one sort or another - there are many versions) - but I do think they are mistaken!

I am used to this situation - being in a minority of one with my Christian views.

There are what seem to be references to reincarnation in the Gospels - including what I regard to be the premier Gospel - The Fourth ("John")

John 1:[19] And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? [20] And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. [21] And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. [22] Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? [23] He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. [24] And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. [25] And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

The pre-Jesus Jews did not, apparently, believe in reincarnation as a usual thing (all souls, good and bad, alike went to Sheol) - but do seem to have regarded it (or something like it) as a possibility for a 'chosen few' who had some kind of special mission from God. The point with the above passage is that reincarnation was entertained by priests and Levites as a *possibility* for John the Baptist - not that he actually Was reincarnated (which he apparently denied).

Bruce Charlton said...

@ag - It would probably be misleading to say I was redpilled. For a start it was internal rather than a choice offered me. But also because I was nearly-always redpilled, for what it was worth. At least if you look at my writings going back to the late 80s/ early 90s - for much of the time I was countercultural, antiestablishment, arguing against the trend - from a variety of (unsatisfactory, incoherent!) alternative positions.

I did, also, have periods of being pro-Establishment and briefly taking or seeking positions of some 'responsibility' - e.g. Aged 17 I was a Labour Party delegate to the local council; and aged about 40 I was for a year or two an elected trades union representative and member of the university academic governing board (Senate); and my interest in Systems Theory (including scientometrics) in the middle noughties was mostly pro-Establishment and reformist rather than 'radical' - in effect, if not intent. But other times I was also absolutist and radical from a 70s environmentalist and (c 2000) anarchist perspective.

That was mostly to do with my innate personality, since I was always getting into one kind of hot water or another due to being a difficult kind of individual (in a negative sense) and from being very endogenous in my motivations (in a positive sense).

Consequently, although I was 'successful' at various times, and became pretty widely known (if not 'respected') - I kept changing fields and only once got promoted - so my (non-)Career was for a couple of decades a sequence of sideways moves, and then decline. Becoming a Christian was qualitatively different from being redpilled - at least how that term is usually used.

Gorgias said...

Hi Bruce! I recall Valentin Tomberg stating in Meditations on the Tarot that there is a fashion in which reincarnation is true that is not contradictory with the Christian schema of the afterlife and of eternal judgment--but that knowledge of it being unnecessary for the salvation of souls, it is an obscure phenomenon.
It occurs to me that the soul may have 'parts' or a person may have, for lack of a better term 'multiple souls' or 'spiritual organs'; the Immortal Soul is THE soul; by its nature, it is capable of receiving the Beatific Vision and thus is subject to judgment and eternal reward after death. But likewise there may be an 'Animal Soul' (or 'Sensitive Soul' if we feel like copying notes from Aristotle) which is connected to the material body in some way, and is a spiritual reflection or spiritual part of it; this soul may replicate itself or perhaps even be directly shared in through familial ties of blood, and 'reincarnate' up and down bloodlines.
In a day-to-day sense this could explain in part the intuition that blood relations often have about one another--'just knowing' each others' minds in a way not sufficiently explained by mere exposure. Likewise 'twin ESP', the often startlingly similar temperaments of family, and similar things--the animal soul of each is attuned to one another, or one animal soul of the bloodline is commonly shared in or incarnated in each, or otherwise commonly experienced.
In Scripture, this would add clarity to the weight given by the ancients to bloodlines, even beyond the mere valuing of familial ties for their own sake (a sentiment increasingly alien to the modern mind), and of the tendency to value the descendent as a viable stand-in for the ancestor--because a shared blood means the same spiritual essence. Our Blessed Lord had to be of the House of David, not merely for sentimental reasons* of symbolic inheritance, but because of the spiritual component of participation in the House of David's 'animal soul'.

Just as an aside, after I had thought of all this I a conversation with a Hindu fellow who said that part of a person's duty to have a family and children is to continue the bloodline, as one's ancestors are reincarnated as their own descendants. So if my pet theory is directionally correct (which I think it can only hope to be *directionally* correct), we see this phenomenon of the animal soul intuited by various religions.

Anyhow--I've been a reader of your writings for a hot minute, but this is the first time I've been able to say "Hey, I've thought about this sort of thing!" I hope my musings may be of some interest, and all the best.