An Integral Interpretation of the
Scientific Story of Our Origins
Published by SelectBooks, New York
October 1, 2012
304 pages, Hardcover
Index, Bibliography, Graphics, 6×9″
Overview of the Book
The evolutionary story of our origins has tremendous cultural power that transcends the boundaries of science; it shapes the view of who we are and why we are here. Yet many of the scientific luminaries responsible for educating the public about evolution tell us that it is an essentially random or accidental process with no larger meaning. However, as the scientific facts of evolution have increasingly come to light, these very facts demonstrate that the process of evolution is unmistakably progressive. And as we come to clearly see how evolution progresses, this reveals evolution’s purpose—to grow toward ever-widening realizations of beauty, truth, and goodness.
McIntosh argues that the purpose of evolution is not pre-planned, “intelligently designed” or otherwise externally controlled; rather, its purpose is being creatively and originally discerned through the choices of evolutionary creatures themselves. This is especially evident in the case of human cultural evolution, which moves inexorably toward directions of intrinsic value, despite frequent setbacks and ongoing problems.
Although it is not always obvious, every presentation of the science of evolution, including cosmological, biological, and cultural evolution, is always accompanied by some form of philosophy or reality frame. And as McIntosh makes clear, the philosophy of materialism, which has been closely associated with evolution since the time of Darwin, has now been discredited by science itself. In response to the exhaustion of materialism, Evolution’s Purpose provides an updated philosophy of evolution that better accounts for what science has now revealed. Without relying on any spiritual authorities, McIntosh demonstrates evolution’s purposeful progression and shows how the scientific story of our origins is actually a profound and sacred teaching compatible with many forms of contemporary spirituality.
As biologist Terence Deacon observes, “To be human is to know what it feels like to be evolution happening.” This insight reveals how evolution is not outside of us or beyond us; we experience the impulse of evolution directly and regularly whenever we are motivated to improve our lives and help others. And because we can feel the evolutionary impulse within our own hearts and minds, we know accordingly from our own experience that evolution is inherently teleological and purposive. Thus, if we want to discover evolution’s purpose, we need only look within ourselves. Our purposes are its purposes.