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Intelligence in Nature


Before discussing "intelligence" as in "intelligent design" it is appropriate to discuss consciousness because as the terms are used in our language, consciousness suggests something more general than intelligence to the metaphysical philosopher.

Materialist science asserts that consciousness is an "epiphenonomen" occurring inside our craniums. It is the result of neurons "firing". It is merely an effect of this very fancy, elaborate assemblage of hydrocarbons.

Of course more open-minded science is beginning to permit this subject of study. It is good that a phenonomen so obvious and so real to each of us as individuals may now, in some quarters, be studied.

In physics consciousness is now required to do what the physicists call "collapse the wave function". In simpler terms, in order to make sense of the equations of physics, a concept of "consciousness" is now required. I say that Consciousness is the unwelcome guest at the dinner table of physics.

Some argue that consciousness - quite outside our skulls - is necessary to resolve the paradoxes of quantum physics.

In softer sciences consciousness is being analyzed directly.

Now in presenting the ancient wisdom as a third alternative in the Darwinism/ID debate, it is relevant to introduce the role of consciousness in Theosophy. Before quoting Blavatsky's dense language in the original I should introduce a few words first.

Theosophy, as most readers will know, is the ancient wisdom as presented by Blavatsky as taught to her by her teachers in Tibet - flesh and blood human beings.

Theosophy has the Absolute, called Parabrahm in Hinduism, as the one reality. We can't even say it exists "for all time" because time is a subsidiary concept. The absolute is beyond time. But periodically a universe emerges from the Absolute. It does so in stages.

At an early stage is a duality of spirit and matter. From this in turn the universe manifests itself. But that spirit is also described as consciousness.

What this means to the debate at hand is that the Theosophical view places consciousness very fundamental to the nature of the universe itself. From this position "intelligence", a more worldly property, is seen as a natural underlying property of the universe. To see this intelligence as guiding and helping evolution is only a very natural concept.

What this means is that to understand the intelligence of "intelligent design", Theosophy asserts that consciousness, and intelligence are totally fundamental to the nature of the world around us. Intelligence is not something restricted to the inside of our skulls. Nor is intelligence something outside the cosmos that created that cosmos out of nothing. Instead consciousness is a fundamental aspect of nature.

Next is her rather condensed description. It is also notable because it says that the individual consciousness in each of us is derived from that consciousness that inaugurated the universe. - her words below "precosmic Ideation" is the source of "all individual consciousness".

And a key point for the purpose of this discussion, she then explains that this consciousness provides: "the guiding intelligence in the vast scheme of cosmic Evolution." Her words:

Parabrahm (the One Reality, the Absolute) is the field of Absolute Consciousness, i.e., that Essence which is out of all relation to conditioned existence, and of which conscious existence is a conditioned symbol. But once that we pass in thought from this (to us) Absolute Negation, duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or consciousness) and Matter, Subject and Object. Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute (Parabrahm), which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective. Considering this metaphysical triad as the Root from which proceeds all manifestation, the great Breath assumes the character of precosmic Ideation. It is the fons et origo [source and origin] of force and of all individual consciousness, and supplies the guiding intelligence in the vast scheme of cosmic Evolution. On the other hand, precosmic root-substance (Mulaprakriti) is that aspect of the Absolute which underlies all the objective planes of Nature. Just as pre-Cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual consciousness, so pre-Cosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation.

It will not be clear to the casual reader so let me try to explain. This "pre-Cosmic Ideation" evolves into what are called the Dhyan-Chohans. These represent the "intelligent" laws of nature. This intelligence in turn is the cause directing the underlying physiological variation of the species. In her words:

But even here the Darwinian Theory, even with the "expansions" recently attempted, is inadequate to meet the facts of the case. The underlying physiological variation in species - one to which all other laws are subordinate and secondary - is a sub-conscious intelligence pervading matter, ultimately traceable to a REFLECTION of the Divine and Dhyan-Chohanic wisdom. (SDii648)

One of her stated purposes for writing the Secret Doctrine as quoted above was "to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe; ..." So we see that objective has begun to be met in our pursuit of this debate. In the course of discussing the ID debate we encounter the idea that the consciousness within us derives from the consciousness that underlies the universe. In this light, the ancient wisdom gives humanity a distinct "place in the scheme of the Universe".

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