Evolutionary Pathways in an Unfolding Universe



    By the dawn of the 21st century, humankind has already made remarkable strides in unraveling both the secrets of the minute constituents of matter and the mysteries of colossal galaxies in the vast expanse of the universe. Rapid advances in the biological sciences, in particular in the fields of molecular biology and genetics, have brought insights into how living organisms work, and yielded many secrets of life itself. The mutual interplay of science and technology has revolutionized our way of living and reduced our planet to a ‘global village’.

    Still, as the billions of people across the world are brought ever closer together in a very short span of time by sweeping changes out of their control, the world has become a stage for ethnic, racial, political, economic and ideological conflict and subject to an ever-deepening anguish and despair.

    If we are ever to be free from our present predicament and achieve a peaceful and just global civilization, we need both a common understanding of our past and a united vision for the future. Such understanding and vision demand a philosophical basis or worldview that is both in agreement with our scientific knowledge and in accordance with the facts of history and the aspirations and deeper shared experiences of mankind as a whole. .....

    Part I: An Unfolding Universe

    1. Introduction
    2. A review of evolutionary processes
    3. Advancement in science and our conceptual worldview
    4. Systems and processes in an unfolding universe
    5. Unfolding social order and emergence of a world civilization

    Part II: Evolutionary Pathways

    1. Birth of the universe and formation of cosmos
    2. Geological transformation and the evolution of life
    3. Social development and the rise of human civilizations
    4. Development of philosophical and religious thought
    5. Advancement of scientific knowledge

    Part III: Systems and Processes

    1. Many particles and complex inanimate systems
    2. Man-made complex systems
    3. Complex animate systems
    4. Common features of evolutionary systems and processes


    Those of us who live in larger cities are deprived of experiencing the beauty and tranquility of the countryside. The glare and noise of a busy metropolis prevents us from hearing the sounds of nature. Far from the confines of the city, however, the rolling hills and green pastures, the flowing rivers and the roaring of the ocean waves can fill our souls with joy and wonder. The gleaming orb of the sun setting over the azure sea leaves us in a reflective mood, and as the darkness of night envelops us, the profusion of stars inspire awe into our hearts.

    That every point of light in the night sky is a planet, a star, a stellar cluster or even perhaps a galaxy of billion stars, with its own creatures - teeming with motion, commotion and life - gives us a sense of the magnificence of our world and its profound organization. At the same time the enormity of space can make us feel insignificant: we are a speck in a dust storm; a drop in a vast ocean. Insignificant as we may feel in this immensity and vastness of the heavens, in our absence, all things would fade into a shadowy existence, an elusive reality. The plains and the hills, the vast oceans and multitudes of scintillating stars would be reduced to wave-particle plays of the quantum world or the waltzing of multi-dimensional strings - as described by science. In fact the physical universe bears no resemblance to what our senses perceive or our minds apprehend.

    Perhaps it is the human mind that interprets, or even in some sense, creates the world and its spatial dimensions, the flow of time, spectrum of colors, songs and melodies, the senses of smell and touch, and beyond that, joy and sadness, love and resentment and a vast multitude of feelings. We are the ones that create a history of the past and anticipate the future, delve into the workings of nature with science and search for meaning through philosophical debate. In recognizing the enormity of space, we do not need to feel insignificant. In our possession is a most precious gift, our human brain. Held as a collection of neurons in a box of minuscule size - it receives, it stores and it retrieves a staggering amount of information at every moment. It assigns color to an incoming electromagnetic wave, sound to vibrations of air, taste to chemical substances, smell to a vapor and sense to a touch - an interface between external reality and the realm of our consciousness. .....

    Yet as with the unfolding of the physical universe, the social evolution of humankind will move forward and unfold. The forces of history will bring us together and a global civilization will dawn, a civilization that seeks to bring to fulfillment the infinite human potentialities within every member of the human society.