You’ve seen the papers. You’ve watched the TV reports. You know how the debate on evolution is always framed. Darwin vs. God. Science vs. religion. Evolution vs. creationism. Reason and rationality vs. belief and faith. That’s the evolution debate we hear about in the mass media these days, the one that is causing consternation everywhere from Kansas school boards to Pennsylvania courthouses.
But even as the culture wars rage and endless straw men are sent to their graves, we at WIE would like to suggest a different approach. Because what is portrayed about evolution in today’s media more often than not implies a false choice, an artificial polarization between two extremes. In fact, there is another evolution debate going on behind the scenes, one that is broader, deeper, subtler, and much more profound. And it’s not just a debate between science and spirituality. It’s also about what kind of science and what kind of spirituality we are talking about.
So with that thought in mind, the editors of What Is Enlightenment? set out this past summer to uncover the real evolution debate—to chart those exciting evolutionary theories in both science and spirituality that are causing us to redefine the nature of the evolutionary process and to rethink our conclusions about where we come from, who we are, and where we might be going. Yes, there are still those who say it’s all a cosmic accident and that’s the end of it, and those who say it’s all perfectly planned by God and that’s the end of it. But somewhere in between, there are exciting new ideas that are destined to shake the foundations of the way we understand life in the twenty-first century.
So instead of two categories we have twelve, instead of black and white, we have a whole spectrum of colors. Together they paint a much more interesting, more challenging, and most importantly, more accurate picture of how evolution is being perceived in the spiritual, philosophical, and scientific circles that are helping define the leading edge of contemporary culture. And they show one fact unequivocally: At the beginning of 2007, how we understand the nature of evolution is itself evolving in ever-surprising ways. As it does, it continues to radically alter the way we perceive our world, and the world to come.
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