My friend and fellow author, Larwence Rifkin M.D., frequently writes about cosmic evolution and the meaning of life, a primary focus of my own research. His articles have appeared in: The Huffington Post, Scientific American, Contemporary Pediatrics, Free Inquiry, The Humanist, Medical Economics, and The New Humanism, among others. His piece, “A Matter of Trust,” was the Grand Prize Winner, of their 2008 Doctors’ Writing Contest.
Dr. Rifkin has just produced the following video, “Evolution Will Change How You See The World.” It may be the single most beautiful and profound video I have ever seen.
Here is a recap of the main ideas.
Every living thing owes its existence to evolution; thus every living thing is connected to other living things and to the world. So we are not strangers in this world, but products of it. Evolution has produced the human consciousness which seeks meaning, imagines the future, and which knows truth, beauty and goodness. Our ideas and actions transform the world, which makes us “the most wonderful and the most despicable animal on earth.” We are significant, but we should be humbled by the fact that we are cosmic accidents. The odds that we were born at all are astronomical.
Still we are part of something larger than ourselves, born into a universe which precedes us, and which will live on after we are gone. And while it is astonishing that any one of us exists at all, we will determine the future course of evolution; we are the protagonists of the great evolutionary epic to which we all past, present and future life depend. As Rifkin concludes, “We perform our solos with passion, but we are playing in nature’s grand symphony.”
What Rifkin sees clearly is that cosmic evolution provides the only true narrative that may give our lives meaning. I don’t know if life is ultimately meaningful, but if we do exist as links in a chain leading upward toward higher levels of being and consciousness, then cosmic evolution will have made our lives meaningful.
I would like to publicly thank Dr. Rifkin for his most moving video. It provides a vivid contrast to the vacuous, petty and mean-spirited discourse that dominates so much public discourse in America today.
John G. Messerly, Ph.D taught for many years in both the philosophy and computer science departments at the University of Texas at Austin. His most recent book is The Meaning of Life: Religious, Philosophical, Scientific, and Transhumanist Perspectives. He blogs on issues of futurism and the meaning of life at reasonandmeaning.com