Friday, August 5, 2011

"The secrets of evolution are time and death."

The title of this post quotes Carl Sagan in "Cosmos," as it occurs in a lovely autotune remix.  Hearing this quote, I realize that for me it contains an additional layer of meaning beyond what Dr. Sagan intended: spiritual evolution, as well as physical evolution.  This reflection brings conflicted feelings.  Time and death are great enemies, but time introduced mutations and environmental changes into life, and death refined its ability to survive and manipulate its environment.  Time and death made our ancestors crawl out of the ocean, stand on two feet, and pick up tools; they made us contemplate our ends and our end.  I've often wanted nothing more than to "smash the clock," to destroy that awful Moloch ticking away deadlines; yet with time I matured, and the thought of death makes me value every moment.  So yes, the secrets of evolution are indeed time and death.
The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire. 
-- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ, "Toward the Future," 1936, XI, 86-87