Conscious Evolution: A Theory We Can Thrive With by Bruce H. Lipton, PhD

 Excerpt from Our Moment of Choice

Conventional science formerly thought the gene-containing nucleus was the cell’s “brain,” but new research points to the membrane as the infor­mation processor that controls a cell’s fate. Molecular switches built into the membrane translate environmental information into cell behav­ior and represent the basic physical units of perception, the building blocks of consciousness. Epigenetics recognizes that the environment, and more importantly, our perceptionof the environment, controls genetic activity and behavior and thus shifts the focus of evolutionary theory to the role of the nervous system and consciousness.


Modeling membrane evolution using fractal geometry offers pro­found insights into the origin and influence of consciousness and the role of cooperation within and among species. Because conscious evolu­tion theory elucidates the fact that cooperation, rather than competition and struggle, is the driving force of evolution, it can support the survival of human civilization. “Survival of the fittest” is giving way to a more scientifically accurate and more positive theory of evolution, one that emphasizes the role of cooperation, interaction, and mutual dependence among all life-forms. In the words of Lynn Margulis, “Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.”


Today’s world crises are precipitating a major evolutionary upheaval that will profoundly alter the fate of human civilization. The chaos produced by global crises, symptoms of our unsustainability, is desta­bilizing the structure of civilization and its institutions. While the current system is collapsing, new insights, understanding, and visions offered by cultural creatives (individuals seeking alternative solutions to today’s problems) from every field of human endeavor are pointing the ways to reorganize human civilization so we may thrive into the future. The theory of conscious evolution was first offered by John Baptiste de Lamarck, in 1809, and provides the blueprint for a more enlightened future, as does our new understanding of cell evolution.


Analysis of the development of the cell membrane as the primal ner­vous system has revealed, as just outlined, a previously unobserved repetitive pattern of evolution with two phases: Phase 1 starts with the origin of a new organism and proceeds to create the most conscious version of that organism. This phase ends when physical limitations prevent further enhancement of the organism’s nervous system. Phase 2 advances evolution by increasing consciousness through the assem­bly of individual organisms into cooperative information-sharing communities. This phase ends when the most conscious communal organization transforms into a new organism. The presence of a new organism initiates the repeat of phase 1, this time expressing a higher level of evolution.


Interestingly, this progression represents the same evolution pattern observed in creating a computer:

Phase 1: Make the smartest chip.

Phase 2: Assemble the single chips into a cooperative information-sharing community (in other words, a computer).

More interesting, a cell is a “programmable chip,” and their assembly into a cooperative information-sharing community creates the most powerful “computer” in the solar system: the human brain.

Humanity as a Butterfly

We can get to that higher level of evolution but only if we change our rapacious ways. The potential positive future our species can be likened to is the metamorphosis of a butterfly. A caterpillar’s body comprises several billion cells. In the body of the growing caterpillar, the econ­omy is booming and the cellular community is actively employed. This organism’s voracious appetite leads to it devouring the leaves of the plant on which it is living. Caterpillar growth slows and eventually comes to an end as the available resources are consumed. Within the pupa, the cells are out of work and their highly structured community begins to fall apart. Specialized imaginal cells within the ensuing chaos provide organizing information and direction to create a different, more sus­tainable future. Metamorphosis is complete when the unsustainable caterpillar civilization transforms into the ecologically sensitive butter­fly civilization.


The parallels are clear. By behaving as a caterpillar, human civiliza­tion’s voracious appetite to grow and consume has undermined the environment. The global crises we face today are Nature’s wake-up call for humans to realize that civilization itself needs to undergo a metamor­phosis, so our current incarnation as the environmentally destructive “caterpillar” must transform into a new, sustainable organism: human­ity. The looming fall of civilization as we know it is a necessity; we simply cannot build a future for humans to thrive on the unsustainable foundation supporting today’s world.


Will human civilization survive its metamorphosis? We’re balanced on the knife-edge of extinction or conscious evolution. Our uncertain future is dependent on the actions we engage in today.

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