Although most modern cosmologists take non-existence for granted (that is, they want to get the Universe out of nothing), I am not willing to do so, nor was Teilhard. The question then arises: what would remain if we take existence for granted but leave out space and time, i.e., what could exist in the absence of a universe?
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity suggest that the world which we see in space and time is apparitional. Einstein's 1905 equations show space and time as a pair of opposites. We see events at a distance by seeing them in the past, and in just such a way that the real separation (the four dimensional separation) between the seer and the seen remains at zero. Einstein also showed in 1905 what Swami Vivekananda had asked Nikola Tesla to show ten years earlier, namely, that what we see as matter (mass) is just potential energy. And by 1926 Heisenberg had pointed out that there is a necessary uncertainty associated with seeing things in space and time. The more we can know about where and when something is, the less we can know about what it is. All this suggests that the world which we see in space and time is apparitional.
Now if the world is indeed apparitional, then underlying it there must exist something which is not in space and time, and which must therefore be changeless, infinite and undivided (not in time, and not limited or divided by space). And since it must underlie the apparition, it must show through (just as the length and diameter of a rope show through in the snake for which it is mistaken). What I am suggesting, then, is that the underlying existence must show through as attraction, repulsion, and inertia in the physical world, and as attachment, aversion, and the clinging to life in the world of the living.
I am therefore suggesting that the primordial hydrogen, of which the entire Universe appears to be made, shows the changelessness of the underlying existence as inertia, and that it shows the infinitude as the electrical repulsion, kinetic energy and radiation, and the undividedness as gravity and the attraction between opposites. And also, since the hydrogen is apparitional and must therefore represent zero change in the changeless, we have the conservation laws. And finally, since the Universe is seen in time and must therefore be changing, even the particles themselves (the protons and electrons) have spin. So the question here is this: Will the nature of the underlying existence , through a process of automatic complexification, pull the atoms and molecules to life, and will the underlying existence showing through in living organisms as attachment, aversion, and clinging to life, pull the saints to final beatitude?
First of all let me point out that sentiency is in this from the word "go." All matter discriminates up from down. And the electrical particles discriminate plus from minus and spin up from spin down. There is always a perceiver and a perceived, and sentiency is in it from the word "go."
Now even if the Universe started as nothing but hydrogen, it would nevertheless fall together by gravity to galaxies and stars. And, by processes thoroughly understood, it would complexify to other chemical elements in the stars, and in the stellar explosions which scatter the chemical elements far and wide. Then, through the discrimination of plus from minus and spin up from spin-down, in the interstellar clouds and on the surfaces of planets these chemical elements would complexify to molecules. And once again by processes which are thoroughly understood.
Subsequently, through molecular discrimination on the surfaces of planets (and by processes not thoroughly understood), the molecules appear to complexify to life.
Now at this point we have a very interesting threshold, as Teilhard would call it, between the non-living and the living. A living organism must direct a stream of negative entropy upon itself to stay alive, and that requires an egoistical discrimination quite unlike the discriminations built into the hydrogen.
As I said, this process is not well understood, but it is easy to see that egoism is a genetic invention to keep a living organism alive, and that the genetic discriminations of the ego are required for the direction of a stream of negative entropy upon the organism. It is these discriminations that take the form of attachment, aversion, and clinging to life.
If attachment, aversion, and clinging to life are simply the genetic equivalents of the attraction, repulsion, and inertia seen in matter, (because the undividedness, the infinitude and the changelessness of the underlying existence must show through), then the genetic complexifications may also be considered to be automatic.
The complexification of the genetic organisms is driven by changes in the environment and imposes complexification on the genetic discriminations.
The complexification of the genetic discriminations of the single celled organisms makes possible the genetic invention (if you like) of poly-celled organisms. And this is another Teilhardian threshold, but one which is fairly well understood.
It is important to bear in mind at this threshold, that for simple poly-celled organisms like the sponge the complexification of the poly-celled organism itself is primitive compared to the complexification of the individual cells of which it is composed. It is also important to bear in mind that the response of the poly-celled organism to gravity, kinetic energy (temperature), radiation, electricity and magnetism, depends on the responses of the individual cells to these same forms of energy. And also, that the responses of the cells depend in turn on the responses of the atoms and molecules of which the cells are made. As I said earlier, sentiency is in this from the word "go."
It is also important to notice at this point that for poly-celled organisms like ourselves the ego of the poly-celled organism shows no recognition of the egos of the individual cells of which the poly-celled organism is composed. And this, in spite of the fact that at the time of conception each of us was a one-celled organism without a brain.
Over a rather long period of time, environmental changes have complexified the poly-celled organisms and therefore the genetic discriminations which they are required to make.
And one of the reasons that poly-celled organisms have become so enormously complex is that the "improved" genetic programming is usually built on top of the previous programming without an "eraser," i.e. without a mechanism for removing what went before. This leads automatically to complexification. It may be possible through neoteny to cancel the last things written in the genetic programming and replace them with new programming, but usually the new programming is superimposed on top.
Through what has come to be called "natural selection," the environmental changes on the surface of this planet have imposed bewildering sequences of genetic complexifications on the poly-celled organisms.
It appears to me that both memory and intelligence must arise through the complexifications of the egoistic discriminations of which are driven by natural selection. And the question which arises here is, whether the genetic complexifications, like the atomic and molecular complexifications before them, are driven simply by the nature of the underlying existence showing through in space and time.
I have also to wonder whether it might not have been this same mystery which raised in Teilhard's mind the notion of the Omega Point toward which he felt divinity was pulling us as a race.
Through the penetrating insights of the late Sir Alaster Hardy, Desmond Morris, Elaine Morgan and others, this mystery has recently been largely cleared up. It appears now that some five or ten million years ago our jungle-swinging ancestors were probably marooned on an island in Northeast Africa by the rise in ocean level consequent on the melting of the polar ice caps.
This rather sudden and severe environmental disruption, if you like, when we exchanged the jungle for the seashore, imposed on our chimp-like ancestors the need for rapid genetic complexification, because the food was underwater at the beach. Not only was it underwater, its availability depended on the phases of the moon.
One of the complexifications which we built in at that beach was what is called neoteny, the carrying over into later life of juvenile characteristics. And I sometimes wonder whether it might have been because the adults showed more willingness to carry the juveniles on their backs when they walked out into the water at feeding time if the juveniles showed more pronounced juvenility. At any rate, neoteny allowed us to prolong and thus extend the growth of the frontal lobes of the brain. This extension would have been furthered by the use of tools and language; tools for breaking shells and speech because body language failed in the surf.
It is perhaps a presumption on my part that once neoteny, braininess, and speech became species characteristics, they would have been picked out at mating long after we returned to mainland Africa a few million years later.
It may also be a presumption on my part that these complexifications were built in rather quickly because the population was very small.
And neoteny allows a sort of eraser if the new programming is put in before the operation of the complete adult programming.
Perhaps at this point I should point out that juveniles do not follow the prime directives of the genetic programming; they neither direct streams of negative entropy upon themselves nor pass on the genetic line. The parents do it for them. I believe it was the extension of this immunity through neoteny, along with the extension of our juvenile curiosity, which was largely responsible for the growth of science and religion and our human state.
Most complex organisms such as ourselves follow headlong the suggestions of the genetic programming. But in our case, through neoteny and the complexification of the brain, we have the ability to say no to a genetic impulse. And partly because each of us has a history of childhood, when the prime directives of the genetic programming were inoperative, we have the ability to see through the genetic apparition to the underlying existence.
We have the ability, while following the genetic promptings, to notice that the fulfillment of a genetic necessity does not confer on us the fulfillment of the yearning that drives it.
Through marriage we do not reach the undivided, nor through sleep, the changeless.
As I see it, this discrimination between the promptings of the genetic programming and the fundamental yearning for the changeless, the infinite, the undivided which drives them is the beginning of religion.
If this discrimination between the underlying existence and the genetic apparition can take the saints to final beatitude, we may not need to invoke the personal interference of divinity.
However, it has been found, that among the saints there are two prevailing points of view: some see the underlying existence as impersonal, and some see it as personal.
If the underlying existence is seen as impersonal, the complexification may appear automatic. Whereas, if the underlying existence is seen as personal, this entire series of complexifications may be seen as directed.