A Western Mysticism 4

Script for class four in a series of classes presenting new thinking in evolution and a new natural philosophy based on it.

Summary of classes one to three:

The new wisdom is built around ways to improve and enrich conscious experiences over the course of our lifetimes. Here are ideas basic to the new thinking:

We can enrich future conscious experiences by what we make ourselves aware of today.

For us to control what we’re conscious of we must have free will.

The new thinking allows for only two kinds of processes: physical forces acting on things made of matter that make them physically determined, and processes special to living creatures that give them some degree of free will. In the new wisdom, living creatures are not entirely determined by physical forces.

Consciousness runs on meanings. To learn how to enrich conscious experiences we must understand meanings.

Meanings originate in how we evolved so we need to understand how we evolved. In the new thinking it’s the genome that evolves. Once the genome evolved to become intelligent, conscious, and creative it could create us. To understand meanings we need to study both how the genome evolved, and why it created us.

Genomes of living creatures act as a distributed intelligence, directing life at every scale from the millisecond to billions of years, and from the single cell to entire living kingdoms. The meanings living creatures are born with are wisdom the genome embeds in its creatures.

Today we’ll look for ways to apply the new thinking in our own lives. First, let’s look for resources we can use to continue to enrich our future conscious experiences.

Resource one—continual reminders of evolution’s wonderful powers. That can be easier to appreciate in other creatures than us, such as the spider I mentioned last class. Today let’s turn to insects. In us everything except our eyes lies hidden under our skin but most of an insect’s wonders springs out from its skin. Its skin is the skeleton that most of its muscles are attached to and pull on. Its skin has holes in it for air to diffuse through a network of passages throughout its tissues. Skin covers its antennae and makes up the lenses for its eyes. Every so often insects that molt shed that skin, and regrow it, along with attachments for muscles, new holes for circulating air, coverings for its antennae and the lenses covering its eyes, all its bristles and hairs, even its wings and attachments for the muscles that power them. At first the new skin is soft and the insect can’t move or breathe but in a few hours the new skin hardens and works just like the old skin. That’s like a swiss army knife every so often shedding all its tools and blades and growing a new set, larger but otherwise exactly the same.

In some insects a caterpillar transforms into an adult with fully-formed legs and wings. Those legs and wings were already defined in the larva as small disks that carry, in a series of concentric circles, all the information needed to form a leg or a wing. When they’re needed those disks move to where they belong and elongate from the center out to one side to form all the segments of a leg or a wing. That’s like a vanilla ice cream coming as a small disk like a dime with a brown center and a white surround, you’d make the ice cream by pulling the brown center out to become a cone, followed by the white surround expanding to become the ice cream. It’s a wonderful piece of engineering. We’re full of engineering even more wonderful than that. Just think back to how complicated our eyes are.

Information telling us how wonderful we’ve evolved to be is in short supply in the old thinking. To learn it we need to occupy ourselves with new kinds of information like this.

Once we appreciate how wonderful evolution has made us we can be proud to be members of our species, even just to be alive. But we need to bear in mind that, although we evolved to be conscious with some meanings already embedded in us when we’re born, that consciousness is very primitive. It’s like those disks in caterpillars, it holds wonderful potential but it still needs to be pulled out and expanded to full size. Except, in our case, we don’t know how a consciousness like that would feel. We won’t know until we try it. That’s the mission behind the new thinking.

We’d start by expecting more of ourselves, of what we’re conscious of. But that’s the easy part. More important, we’d have to recognize that everyone around us is just as wonderful as we are. We’d aim to become part of a community of people all knowing how wonderful we are. Our shared goal would be to expand the consciousness we’re born with into a new skin to attach new mental muscles to. We’d collaborate to gather the new mental resources we’d need so our own conscious experiences became as wonderful as those parts of us that come wonderful already, like our eyes.

Like those flat disks in caterpillars, this new thinking has all along lain in the discovery that we evolved. Because it contradicted modern science it got covered up in favor of purely physical and chemical theories. But suppose we insist that what we value is enriching our own conscious experiences in our own lifetimes, rather than progress in physics and chemistry. Then we should focus attention away from science for its own sake to the meaning in our own lifetimes of having evolved.

I’ve said several times that I base my new thinking on science and reason. So why, in the title of my course, do I call this new thinking a new Western mysticism and not a new science? I call it a Western mysticism because it ended up reconnecting us with Ancient Greek and Roman wisdom, in particular Ancient Roman Stoicism. Here’s Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome: “take care all through life to think only of what belongs to an intelligent animal and a member of a civil community… Reverence the faculty that produces opinion [rational consciousness?]. On it entirely depends whether your judgment will be consistent with nature and the constitution of the rational animal.”

When I say the new thinking isn’t science what I mean is, I don’t care whether it can be proved true, I’m more concerned with how to enhance conscious experience. But I think Marcus Aurelius would call that science. He writes “Noting is so productive of elevation of mind [future conscious experience?] as to be able to examine methodically and truly every object which is presented to you, how it illustrates what kind of universe this is, the use of everything in it, and what value everything has both with reference to the universe as a whole and to individual human beings. Look to see what each thing is, what it’s made of, how long its value to me will endure, and what virtue it call to in me, such as gentleness, manliness, truth, fidelity, simplicity, contentment, and the rest.”

Most of all I call this new thinking a mysticism because the point of it is the lifestyle it implies. First, it call to us to maintain what used to be called integrity—that what we think and do matters not for religious reasons but for how it will shape our future conscious experiences. We owe it to our future selves to maintain our integrity, however we conceive of it.

How we conceive of it should emerge from what we learn about the wisdom that four billion years of evolving has built into the genome. Almost all of that wisdom still remains to be discovered, along with figuring out how to study nature so as to reveal that wisdom.

Recovering that sense of integrity could help us trust one another again. Then we could practice the new wisdom communally. Here’s how congregational meetings might go. Part of it would consist of dividing into pairs and holding hands while giving testimony to each other about the new wisdom. Holding hands is a powerful channel for insight, only possible when we trust each other enough. Part of the meeting would consist of meditating together on lighted candles--fats and waxes in a candle were laid down by living creatures in their tissues to serve the urgings of their intuition, something unique to living creatures. Meditating together on a burning candle could be the shared sacrament in the new mystique.

The meeting would include an address, perhaps about how historical figures such as Marcus Aurelius enriched their conscious experiences, or about resources useful for enriching conscious experiences drawn from natural history, perhaps like the examples I gave about spiders and insects. A collection might be taken to fund nature study aimed at identifying various forms of intelligence implicit in various aspects of evolution, contrasting the evolution of the trilobites with that of sharks, for example or the intelligence implicit in how the bones of mammals differ from those of dinosaurs.

Between meetings members would continue their quest for integrity. By the standard of Marcus Aurelius most of us have a long way to go.

What I’ve tried to do in this course is suggest how we might enhance lifestyle by combining what scientific discovery tells us about the outside world with what conscious experience tells us about ourselves from the inside. I suggest we allow for only either physical processes or those that come from us being living creatures, and only as we could apply those processes to enriching conscious experiences over the course of a lifetime. To me, this should be the foundation of our shared wisdom. From that will come the civilizations of the future, that will date a great advance in their wisdom to the discovery a couple of centuries ago that the origin of all living creatures, including us, is, we evolved.


A Western Mysticism 3

Script for class three in a series of classes presenting new thinking in evolution and a new natural philosophy based on it.

Summary of classes one and two:

The new wisdom is built around ways to improve and enrich conscious experiences over the course of our lifetime. Here are ideas I’ve covered so far.

We can enrich future conscious experiences by what we make ourselves aware of today.

For us to control what we’re conscious of we must have free will.

The new thinking allows for only two kinds of processes: physical forces acting on things made of matter that make them physically determined, and processes special to living creatures that give them some degree of free will. In the new wisdom, living creatures are not entirely determined by physical forces.

Consciousness runs on meanings. To know what will enrich conscious experiences we must understand meanings.

Meanings originate in how we evolved so we need to understand how we evolved. In the new thinking it’s the genome that evolves. Once the genome evolved to become intelligent, conscious, and creative it could create us. To understand meanings we need to study both how the genome evolved, and why it created us.

That brings us up to today’s class. I’m going to start by asking, how wonderful are we? This matters because the new thinking has us trying to enrich our conscious experiences. How rich can we imagine making them? I think that’ll depend on how wonderful we think we are, in general. What were we taught in school? According to the scientific theory of evolution, we’re the result of two purely physical processes: first, our genes are continually being damaged at random, then the worst damage gets eliminated as our struggle with one another to survive weeds out losers. If that’s how we evolved, it’s hard to imagine us being wonderful at all. If we can make consciousness only as wonderful as we think we are I think we need to think of ourselves differently. To do that we’ll need new meanings, and I’m going to say we can look for them in the genome. That’s today’s agenda: how wonderful we really are, and how that reveals to us meanings lying in the genome.

So, first, how wonderful we are. Compared to other animals we don’t look very wonderful. Besides a lot of skin and a little hair there’s not much to see from the outside except our eyes. So let’s see how wonderful they are, and assume that everything else about us is just as wonderful.

Mostly the eye is filled with a kind of jelly and light goes straight through it. For light to form an image at the back of an eye it gets bent twice, once at the cornea at the front of the eye, and again by a lens inside the eye. Amazingly, although all this is living tissue it’s all transparent. That’s amazing for a start. Then, although images made by a glass lens have colored fringes, because the lens in the eye grows more dense in the center the image it makes has no fringes, it’s sharper. The lens grows as we age, but as it grows it becomes less dense in the center so the image it forms remains sharp. That’s also amazing. The body constantly replaces most of the chemicals in consists of and the cornea, which does most of the bending of light, gets replaced every few days, yet our vision stays sharp. This is all wonderful.

But something even more amazing involves fine muscles that run from the rim of the lens to the inside surface of the eye. By the tightening and relaxing of these muscles the lens becomes more bunched up or flatter, changing how close or far away the lens focuses. And what I find most wonderful of all is, we have conscious control of these muscles. As we consciously shift our attention from one object to another, these muscles tighten or relax, bringing what we’re paying attention to into sharp focus. Something physical in our bodies, these fine muscles, all the time track and respond to what we consciously make ourselves aware of. Our physical bodies have evolved to respond to how we make ourselves aware of things. The processes of evolution know about consciousness, they make us able to be conscious, and they’ve equipped us with bodies responsive to what we make ourselves conscious of. Free will results from a fusion of body and mind.

This response of the muscles around the lens of the eye to our conscious attention illustrates another principle of the new wisdom we’ve already hinted at—the processes of evolution “know about” consciousness. We see it in how these muscles respond as we consciously choose what to look at, moment by moment. And we see it in how creative evolution is over billions of years. Nothing could be more creative than the evolution of new kinds of living creatures, for example in a few million years a creature like a cow evolved into an ocean-going whale.

So this is another reason why we have to abandon the scientific theory of evolution. It leaves us no room for imagining ourselves to be wonderful. Unless we find ourselves wonderful in some ways we’ll struggle to imagine being able to make our conscious experiences wonderful.

So now let’s turn to how wonderful we could be if our origin consisted of, first, the genome evolving to become intelligent and creative, and then it deciding to create us.

Last class I supposed the genome to actually consist of a mind like ours supported, as our minds are, by a physical organ. In our case that organ is our brain, in the case of the genome it’s the strings of DNA molecular units that make up the genes along our chromosomes. Could molecules support a mind? Well, our brains are made of molecules yet it supports a mind.

The genome isn’t as complex as our brains. But it’s been evolving for a thousand times as long as our brains have, so it’s hard to set a limit to how complex it can have become. The genome is just long strings of molecules, could they be intelligent? Well, they’re extremely long. If you translate the units of code in our genome into a necklace of beads strung eight to an inch it would stretch from New York to Tokyo in Japan. 6000 miles. It’s hard to imagine how much information that could code for.

Is it all useful information? Doesn’t most of it vary at random? Some of it varies over time, but some of it, such as definition of the spine, is reproduced with 100% accuracy. Whatever variation there is may exist because the genome lets it happen, or because the genome makes it happen.

The human genome codes for 20,000 proteins. Proteins are made by translating stretches of genes into corresponding strings of amino acids. How could a process like that, each unit of DNA being translated into the corresponding amino acid, code for something like consciousness?

Let’s look at what we know the genome does code for, in other species. Take a web-spinning spider. It comes into the world knowing about gravity—it knows it has to drop down on a line of silk but to get back up it has to climb up that line. It knows about space—it has to locate point all lying in a single plane to place attachments points for its web. It already knows how to spin the web distinctive of its species, and how to hide, and then rush out when it detects movements in the web indicating it has trapped some prey, and how to inject it with poison and immobilize it with a silk wrapping. It knows how to recognize members of its opposite species, and what to do to mate and have its eggs hatch. All this information must be coded for in its genome, it has no other source of information. So the spider comes into the world knowing a great deal about the world that it’s hard to imagine being coded for in linear strings of amino acids.

How is this information coded for in the genome? Science doesn’t yet know. I conceive of the genome consisting of a one-dimensional hologram, from which some reading process can harvest complex information as it slowly advances over the genome. The same gene may participate in many readings of the hologram. That’s no more than a mental crutch but something like that has to be true for living creatures to be as wonderful as they are.

I talk about “the genome.” Which genome? The one in a certain cell of a creature’s body? Logic suggests to me instead that genome’s can work together, reading each other’s “minds” and arriving at decisions at every level from a single cell, up through entire organisms, to species and all the way up to entire Kingdoms of life. Why can’t we read their minds? We can’t even read each other’s minds, why should we expect to read theirs? It seems highly implausible at first. But it solves some knotty problems. As a whale grows from an infant to an adult 100 feet long it stays in perfect proportion. What else but a community of genomes could do that, could maintain its two flippers in perfect symmetry across a distance of many feet? And they must, else we’d see whales swimming in circles. Mammals and crustaceans have developed very similar eyes, how could that be unless information could be exchanged between the entirely different branches of the tree of life? The living world can be imagined as directed by a community of intelligence operating at every level of living Kingdoms. Given our time frame, our own lifetimes, we may have to assume such a theory as I’ve described, to make sense of meaning in our conscious experiences.

Next week, how to extract meanings from the new thinking we can use in our own lives.

Session 4.



A Western mysticism 1

Script for the first in a series of classes presenting new thinking in evolution and a new natural philosophy based on it. The series will end with suggestions for practices leading to a lifetime of enriched consciousness.

I’ve a new way of thinking to share with you. It can help you feel a great deal better about yourself, and a lot more at home in the world. Like a religion, it can add meaning to your life and connect you more meaningfully to other people.

What I’ve done is take what we already know, pull it apart, and put the pieces back together in a new way. That is, I’ve taken what we know about ourselves, what we’ve learned from science, what’s obviously true, and arranged it all in a new way so it tells us something different from what we’ve used to.

What we’re used to comes from asking, what’s true? What could be better than that? I ask instead, what matters most? I think what matters most is the effect something has on a human consciousness over the course a lifetime. It’s saying, what matters most to each of us is how each of our conscious experiences can enrich those that follow. This isn’t simply narrow self interest--worrying about what’s going to happen to future generations can enrich our own consciousness over time.

Let’s start with ways we’re special. How is a person different from a rock, for example? Here’s one way—how we respond to surprise. A rock’s response is just a matter of physical changes between one moment and the next. But our response involves time. How we respond is affected by all our past memories. We carry all our past moments with us as a living legacy, to refer to. The rock doesn’t.

Our present moment too is different from that of a rock. Conscious experience comes as moments. A present moment lasts around a second, during which we can register changes from one instant to the next. And in that present moment we can draw on our past memories and use intuition to decide what to do next, to affect what will happen in subsequent moments. The rock, by contrast, doesn’t have a present moment, it’s just yields passively to the physical forces acting on it in each instant.

And we can anticipate the future in ways rocks can’t, both mentally and physically. When we’re surprised we respond by figuring out how to deal with similar surprises in future. And we respond physically by laying down fat so when we’re surprised in the future we’ll have free energy, more than we may be able to generate on the fly. Purely material things can’t store fat. They don’t need to. They can’t choose how to react to things as we can.

So human existence differs from that of a rock by involving memory, intuition, and anticipation. And what that says about us is, while what happens to the rock is determined by the laws of physics, what happens to us must be partly up to us. We can choose, we must have free will. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have evolved memory, intuition and anticipation. They can make a difference only to creatures that aren’t determined, that can choose what to do next.

How did we come by memory, intuition, and anticipation? They evolved in us. To understand ourselves we need to understand that, how we evolved. There already is a scientific theory of evolution but it doesn’t work within the new thinking., we’re concerned only with how conscious experience can change in the course of our own lifetimes. The scientific theory of evolution involves how living creatures can change over millions of generations. So we need a theory to stand in for it, that we can apply within the present-lifetime context.

This can help us make sense of another way we’re different from a rock. It involves meanings. Our thinking is full of meanings. We ask, “if” something will happen, or wonder “why” it happens, or we say it’s “because of” something. We hope for something, or fear it. These are all meanings. A rock can’t experience meanings like these, it isn’t equipped to. But we are. And once we have them we can associate them with other thoughts and experience to make a host of new meanings. This also make us different from other animals. We can be conscious of a much wider range of meanings than they can because we make meanings from history and culture. Over a lifetime, as we gather more and better meanings, our conscious experiences can become deeper and richer. So central to the new thinking is how meanings become available to consciousness.

Meanings are what conscious life runs on. When we understand something, it’s in terms of the meanings we associate it with. Meanings are for us what a periscope is to a submarine commander, they’re our window on the world. Without meanings we’d experience the material world around us as a mere jumble of impressions.

To manage meanings we’ll have to appreciate how they evolved. Our theory will involve the genome. Run any train of thought back to where it started and it will involve the senses. Our senses are programmed into us by the genome. We can’t hear any sound, see any color, feel anything, unless the genome’s equipped us to experience it.

That equipment isn’t a matter simply of physics and chemistry, as the scientific theory implies. Our experiences of red and green do begin with chemicals in our eyes that responds to particular wavelengths of light. But there’s no chemical corresponding to our experience of yellow, it’s what we experience when the chemicals responsible for us seeing red and green both respond at once. Instead of experiencing some mixture of red and green we see a completely different color. The genome created a new meaning for us simply by giving us a new experience. And that true not only of our senses, but of ways we think. We come equipped to reason, to practice intuition, to reach conclusions and make decisions. They all originate in equipment, like our impressions of color, that the genome’s built into us. How evolution works must involve the genome. In future classes we’ll account for meanings as originating primarily in the genome.

I’ve just demonstrated where some of the new thinking comes from. Partly it’s from logic. It’s logic that tells us we have free will—if we were determined by the laws of physics, like the rock, we wouldn’t have benefited by evolving memory and intuition. And partly the new thinking comes from science. It’s from science that we’ve learned about the genome. So partly the new thinking is based on logic applied to what we’ve know about ourselves and what we’ve learned from science.

We’ll learn we’re vastly more marvelous than we currently suppose. How wonderful that makes us we’ll deal with in future classes, along with the nature of consciousness, and our relationship to the genome. Our final classes will involve coming up with practices helping us to increasingly appreciate ourselves and each other in the light of this new thinking.

Session 2.


A Western Mysticism 2

Script for class two in a series of classes presenting new thinking in evolution and a new natural philosophy based on it.

Summary of class one:

We’re exploring a new way of thinking. The new thinking says, what matters to us most in life is what we’re aware of. We can be aware only of what passes through consciousness.  According to the new thinking, wisdom lies in making ourselves aware today of what’s most likely to enrich consciousness tomorrow.

For us to choose what we’re aware of, we must have free will. Findings of modern science tell us we do.  Memory, intuition and anticipation could have evolved only if they were useful, and they’re useful only if we have free will. Since they did evolve we must have free will. Having free will means we can shape our future conscious experiences by what we make ourselves aware of today.

Also covered last week, consciousness is made up of meanings. We make up new meanings out of old ones. From the meanings “mother” and “father” we made up the words “Motherland” and “Fatherland.” Motherland is where we were nurtured, Fatherland is the territory whose borders we defend. Eventually all meanings can be traced back to meanings evolved in us, such as what our senses tell us and the mental impressions and talents we’re born with. Part of the new wisdom consists of where these meanings come from.

Today I’m going to focus on meanings needed for the new thinking itself. One is free will, it’s essential to the new thinking, without it we can’t choose what to be aware of today.

My new thinking allows for only two kinds of processes. First there are physical processes like combustion and gravity that apply to anything that consists of physical matter. Part of our nature is that we consist of matter, we can burn, we can fall down. But second, taking place only among living creatures, there are evolutionary processes. One example is new species appearing. They appear where the existing species most similar to them already lives. Species appear to give rise to each other.

Today’s scientific theory says evolution of new species is a purely physical process. If so, then the process of evolution would be determined by the laws of physics. But this wouldn’t allow for us evolving to have free will. So for living creatures like us we need a different kind of theory.

What is there that could have supported evolution, that’s been around for as long as living creatures have existed? All Darwin could think of was the physical environment so he wrote that evolution was a purely physical response to the environment. But we now know of something else that’s existed since life first began and that’s the genome—all our genes strung together. There’s a copy of our genome in every cell in our body. Individual living creatures all die but the genome’s stayed alive from when life first began by being passed on by each generation to the next.

The genome is all the information an embryo needs to grow another whole creature that eventually can make embryos of its own. All the processes needed for creating a living creature must be coded for in the genome. And those processes must include not only evolution operating over millions of years but processes needed for managing every cell in a creature’s body moment by moment. Darwin was probably wrong to think of evolution as a special process, it’s probably just one among many processes maintained in living creatures by the genome.

The new way of thinking involves what we’ve discovered through science, like the genome. It also involves reason. Sometimes it will generate ideas different from what you’re used to. Bear in mind, though, that what you’re used was probably arrived at through reason, too, then we just got used to it. How this new way of thinking uses reason could lead us to ideas as good as those we’ve already got, and even more fruitful. At every step of the way, work with me to check whether my ideas are reasonable.

Here are some ideas I arrived at by applying reason to what we know about the genome. Among the processes maintained by the genome is each of us becoming conscious and able to think. If we have free will, meaning those processes aren’t entirely physically determined, then for the genome to be responsible for us having free will it’s probably not entirely physically determined either. It may have something corresponding to thinking and having free will. It may be able to be creative, just as it makes us able to become creative. How else can you account for us evolving to become creative, conscious, having free will? If we can be creative, conscious, and have free will, we’ve no logical reason to deny they exist somewhere else in the universe

Do the steps in this logic seem sound? How do they compare to the logic behind today’s scientific theories? At the thirdwayofevolution.com 50 of today’s most eminent evolutionists question that logic. We may not have any theory of evolution that everyone agrees to. The logic behind the new thinking may be as sound as any other current theory about the nature of life.

Let’s turn the handle of this logic machine a few more times.

Just now I suggested the genome may have something corresponding to our thinking, our having free will, our being creative. We can just as logically turn this around and say, we get our thinking, our having free will, our being creative from whatever they correspond to in the genome. Looked at this way round, evolution is mainly something happening to the genome. First the genome evolved to become intelligent, conscious and creative. Then it “deliberately decided” to “create” us with some of those talents embedded in us. We didn’t evolve, we were thought up and made by something else, the genome, that did evolve. If that logic is sound then we won’t learn much about evolution by studying creatures like us, crafted by the genome, we’ll learn more about evolution by studying the genome itself. And about that, about the genome as an intelligent, conscious, creative being, we know almost nothing. It hasn’t occurred to us to find out.

Knowing so little about the genome is a problem because that’s where our meanings come from.  Our meanings originate in scraps of wisdom the genome built into us for us to think with, like Lego blocks an adult gives to a child for it to play at constructing something.

Remember I said that in the new thinking there are only two types of processes: physical processes and process of evolution. What then is our thinking? The ideas I’ve arrived at through my logic furnish us with materials for a series of speculations. If thinking in us isn’t a physical process then it can only be evolutionary. Which suggests, thinking is our thoughts evolving. One thought evolves into another. And what is consciousness? It could be something we experience as our thoughts evolve. Not all our thoughts, that would be too confused, perhaps only thoughts running through a channel in our brains that’s responsible for us arriving at our decisions about what to do.


This suggests a new theory of evolution. If thinking is our thoughts evolving, what happens when the genome thinks? When we think--when we remember something for example--we make changes to brain cells. Later from those cells we can recall the memory. Suppose something like that was true of the genome—when it thought it would make changes to its “brain.” But it’s brain must be the genes it’s made of. Then just by thinking the genome can rewrite the genes it consists of. But genes are what define a species. So merely by thinking the genome can make changes to the genes it corresponds to that bring new species into existence.

All this time I’ve been talking about the genome as if it was a mind, a mind like ours, about to think and create. Now we have a new origin of species. Species turn out to be, in essence, thoughts in the mind of the species’ genome.

My new thinking has become so wildly speculative that it may seem pointless. But notice, it can account for everything we experience—how life is different from non-life, where species of living creatures come from, what thinking and consciousness consists of, and the source of our meanings. And notice, all these are aspects of our experience that science has the most difficulty accounting for. The new thinking is much better than science at furnishing us with ways of talking about them. And having an explanation may in reality be all it means to “understand” something. Science may give us greater understanding of the physical world, this new thinking may give us greater understanding of the living world.

In the next class we’ll look at the genome in more detail. The point is not to know more about the genome itself, but to identify in it the sources of our own meanings, wisdom we can apply to enrich our own conscious experiences.

Session 3.