Tag Archives: archetypes

The Archetype of You

Posted by David

Earlier I defined evolution in one line: Evolution is the process whereby a natural system becomes its archetypal form. Let me go a bit further on this idea.

First, to see where I’m going with this we must realize that an individual is not independent. Nothing is independent. Everything is part of a greater whole. As John Donne put it:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…

The same goes for a species. To understand how a species develops a particular set of characteristics or a morphology, we must look at the broader organism: the species as an organism, the genera as an organism, the order as an organism, etc., the phyla as an organism, and even life as an organism. An not only do we need to look at a particular family or genetic grouping, we also need to look at the local and broader ecosystem as an organism. For example, the grasslands with all its organic and inorganic substances is an organism. The continent of North America with all its climatic influences and biomes is an organism. The earth is an organism. The universe is an organism.

I suppose I’ve gone far enough. You get the point. But here’s the clincher: each of these life forms grow just like you do, just like a dog does, just like a tree does. An apple seed becomes an apple tree. A baby dog, becomes a dog. A grassland ‘seed’ becomes a grassland. An earth ‘seed’ becomes the earth. You became you.

An earth ‘seed’ didn’t become Mars. A tiaga seed didn’t become a tropical rainforest. A rainforest may have once existed where the tiaga now exists, but it grew out of a different ‘seed’.

Each of these broader organisms is a form of life and has a particular specialness that is inherent to it. Each had a seed. Each, one might say, inherited a plan, much like the genetics written in your DNA. But the seed that grows a grassland, doesn’t look like a cashew nut. And the egg that grows an elephant species didn’t take just a 22 months to develop into an elephant. These ‘broader’ seeds took millions of years to develop interdependent the genera and biomes we see today.

What’s also interesting is that in the first few million years of growing into an elephant, the elephant didn’t look anything like an elephant. In fact, it probably looked more like rock hyrax. But, make no mistake, it became an elephant. It also became other things too: manatees, dugongs, mammoths and mastodons to name a few. But the ‘seed’ that grew the elephant species could not have grown a cheetah, a whale or a star. It simply couldn’t have. It couldn’t have no more than your mother’s egg could have produced a hummingbird instead of you.

One common misconception in evolution is the focusing on one-half of the process of evolution and missing entirely the other half of the process. The common notion is that the branches become more diverse as time progresses, call it an upside-down pyramid, or the phylogenic tree.

But the opposite is also true. There’s a right-side-up pyramid that deserves equal attention if we’re really and truly to understand how evolution works. This pyramid has to do with the evolution of broader ecosystems. It’s also known as succession.


Let’s take the example of a grassland. Over the years the correct climate and soils would drive the characteristics of the local ecology to take on the appearance of a grassland. This is the case for all biomes. It is also the case for you.

And there are only so many of these archetypal forms. There is not an infinite number of them. There may be a seemingly infinite number of successional steps within a paticular biome just as there are seemingly infinite number of steps between you as a fetus and you as an adult. But if you look around the earth, you will find a fixed number of these archetypal biomes. Each of them are slightly different, but in principle they are the same. Grasslands, forests, deserts, tundra are some of the primary ones on land. No matter what you do to these systems (unless you change the climate), inevitably in time, they will redevelop into their archetypal form. And what’s so totally amazing—from a personal and relational standpoint—the same is the case for you. You are an archetypal form.



Filed under evolution

The Pride and Prejudice in Evolution

Posted by: David

I’d like to look at evolution based on why it enflames human sensibilities rather than looking too much into the details of the phenomena. The reason why few understand evolution is because of pride and fear in the human heart. Let’s borrow from Jane Austen and call it a pride and prejudice.

Giraffe im Krugerpark in Südafrika

Giraffe im Krugerpark in Südafrika

First let me define evolution as I understand it in one sentence: Evolution is the process whereby a natural system becomes its archetypal form. For instance, the archetypal form for a grazing animal that feeds on the tree leaves is the giraffe morphology. The archetype exists prior to the existence of the giraffe. Throughout the ages, the giraffe morphology has evolved and disappeared from the fossil records from within different groups. We can apply the same principle to all biotic and abiotic forms of existence in the entire universe. It can be applied to you and your body. It can be applied to the earth. There is even an archetypal you and your evolution is the process of you becoming the archetypal you. You, the earth, and the giraffe were defined as archetypes before the beginning of time.

I’m sure I’ve already enflamed some of you, but bear with me. Without getting into more detail on the process, I’d like to look at the psychological response of two sides of the evolution debate. I’ll start with the Christians, since I’m a Christian.

Within some circles of Christians, there is an established group-think that if one doesn’t read the Genesis Chapter 1 and 2 literally, where it ‘should’ be read literally, then one is distorting the Word of God. When we think this, we are being prideful, because we are saying that my interpretation or my circle’s understanding is correct and this places us in a place of power over another, and ironically over God. We may be just going along with what we are taught, and that may not be prideful, but it is prejudice. In this case, we are evaluating (placing judgment) something based on our fears rather than what we know in our heart. The root of prejudice is always fear. It may be a fear of not belonging to a group or it may be a fear that God will strike us down for not thinking correctly. If it’s the former, then so be it. It’s vanity to want to be accepted by others at the expense of truth. If it’s the latter, then we need to get to know God better. We will find out that God is gracious and merciful, especially when we tell him that we don’t understand something. We are not judged based on things we don’t know. However, we are judged by the standards that we expect of others, or place upon others.

In other Christian circles, the opposite is going on in order to please society, “what scientists say is fact.” Their pride and prejudice is getting the best of them also in a similar vein: vanity of the ego and fear of being an outcast.

Now, let’s move on to the general atheistic Darwinian. Sorry about the long term here, I needed to specify the perspective as closely as possible; there are all sorts of variations amongst Darwinian perspectives. Generally, it’s easy to see the pride and prejudice in this group. The prejudice is the most clear. There’s a prejudice toward the exclusion of God as driving force behind the process and a reluctance to ascribe a plan to the outcome of process. The prejudice (once again, a ‘pre-judgment’) is that God is not the impetus, which colors the final analysis. I must add that I believe that the deeper motive here again is fear: “If there is a just God, then, oh, no,” says the unconscious, “I’ll be convicted of this or of that.” In this case, the atheistic Darwinian cannot add God to the equation or the ego would be squashed. But once again, if the atheistic Darwinian would try to get to know God, then he would find the God of grace and mercy.

The ego is also to blame for the pride within this perspective. Man and his innovation must be the first to contemplate evolution. The “it’s mine” concept. So, here again, pride colors and distorts truth.

Mostly though, the whole evolution debate is a red herring. It keeps us fighting and that’s the best way to obscure the truth. During any fight, each side obscures their individual error, and both sides also do an excellent job of concealing and burying the truth that the other does hold dear. Yes, both the atheistic Darwinian and the Genesis-literal Christian have truths to tell. The atheistic Darwinian is witnessing a process of unfolding within the natural world that is very true and very real. The Genesis-literal Christian understands deeply that God is the ruler of a just universe and that he has designed the archetypes before the beginning of time.

But by burying the other side’s truth in their pride and prejudice, each group limits the others ability to see the wonders of God’s creation. We are observing, feeling and perceiving beings. We can understand joy. Besides beautiful human relation, nothing gives me greater joy than looking closely at God’s creation. Why does it give me such joy to think about how ginger is related to a banana or how relatively unchanged a species of fern has been for millions of years or how I am evolving to become the “me” of God’s planning? I cannot fathom.


Filed under science