Here is an excerpt from Chapter 12 of The Philosophy of Global Warming:
At some point in the evolution of life the ability of life to pursue alternative courses of action arose; this possibility might be thought of as ‘free will’, or ‘rational ability’ or ‘thought’ or ‘reflective awareness’. The evolution of this possibility for alternative courses of action meant that some life-forms, such as humans, might not be living in accordance with their inner feelings/inner wisdom. I should stress that this isn’t an either/or situation; living in accordance with one’s inner feelings is a matter of degree. I believe that the vast majority of humans have always lived to a fairly high degree in accordance with their inner feelings; for, to not do so leads to mental and physical illness and to numerous kinds of suffering. Doing so is what has propelled human culture from hunter-gatherer to globalised technological society. However, there is almost always scope for humans to live more in accordance with their inner feelings than they currently do.
The vast majority of humans live to a fairly high degree in accordance with their inner feelings without any conscious effort to be spiritual beings. The realisation that living more in accordance with one’s inner feelings is a good thing to do, and the consequent pursuit of this objective, results in what is known as a spiritual journey, or a path of spiritual development or spiritual practice. A spiritual journey typically includes meditation, which is a way of connecting at a deeper level to one’s inner feelings. Meditation and mindfulness are concerned with attempting to be present with one’s currently existing inner feelings, so that one is not ‘taken away’ from these feelings by thoughts concerning the past and the present.
The epoch of the technological explosion, which I outlined a little earlier in this chapter, seems to be simultaneously an epoch in which humans have become increasingly preoccupied with the external as opposed to the internal. In other words, it seems to be an epoch in which the spiritual journey has largely been neglected by the human species. However, this surely wasn’t a new phenomenon in the era of the technological explosion. In other words, for almost its entire history the vast majority of the human species seems to have been more external focused rather than spiritual journey focused. The epoch of the technological explosion simply exacerbated this pre-existing tendency and took it to its extreme. When you have reached the extreme there is only one way to go, and that is to the less extreme. Whilst we are still living in the epoch of the technological explosion we are also gradually moving into the epoch where there will be a spiritual explosion. The widespread switch from external states to inner feeling states will result in an increasingly vast proportion of the human species embarking on spiritual journeys. This is a slow and drawn out process, but it is the future.
So, one can think of the ‘technological explosion’ as a prerequisite for the ‘spiritual explosion’. It is as if once we have fulfilled our purpose as a species, once we have brought forth the technology that life requires, that then we will be rewarded. We have suffered immensely in order to fulfil our purpose, but a glorious harmonious future awaits; it is a future of increasing spiritual fulfilment.
I would expect such interplay between technology and spirituality to exist on any life-bearing planet. So, if we were to encounter a highly spiritually evolved species of alien life-form, then there is one thing that we could be fairly certain of: these alien life-forms come from a planet which is highly technologically advanced. Their planet has gone through a technological explosion which was followed by a spiritual explosion.
It wouldn’t be correct to say that spiritual development is a side-effect of technology. Yet, technology lays the foundations which enable spirituality to bloom. This is the reality of what occurs and unfolds on an evolving and ageing life-bearing planet. This whole process of intertwining between the evolution of technology and the evolution of spirituality – a very gradual evolution of both, leading to a technological explosion which brings forth a spiritual explosion – can be thought of as leading to the self-actualisation of the human species.