What has the Course to say about the concept of evolution?

Q. What has the Course to say about the concept of evolution, generally speaking?

A. The Course doesn’t have anything to say about physical evolution. Its sole concern is with spiritual evolution. Its perspective on this is expressed in the Course’s only reference to the word “evolution”:

Evolution [the original dictation said “The evolution of man”] is a process in which you seem to proceed from one degree to the next. You correct your previous missteps by stepping forward. This process is actually incomprehensible in temporal terms, because you return as you go forward. (T-2.II.6:1-3)

This brief passage affirms evolution while negating its ultimate reality. Yes, it says, we do progress spiritually, but this progress is actually just a case of undoing our “previous missteps.” Each forward step, in other words, is also a backward step, a step closer to the Source we left.

To say that each step forward is simultaneously a step backward is, as the passge says, “incomprehensible in temporal terms.” However, it is entirely comprehensible in spatial terms, if we imagine it as a ladder. When we separated, we started down the ladder. Our spiritual evolution, then, means going up the same ladder that we originally went down. In this image, the idea that “you correct your previous missteps by stepping forward” makes perfect sense. Every step up the ladder means an undoing of a step we took down the ladder.

The Course uses this very image. It says, “For you have barely started to allow your first, uncertain steps to be directed up the ladder separation led you down” (T-28.III.1:2), and also says, “Beginning here, salvation will proceed to change the course of every step in the descent to separation, until all the steps have been retraced, the ladder gone, and all the dreaming of the world undone” (T-28.II.12:7).

This makes the same point as the passage about evolution, only more clearly, I think. In our spiritual evolution, nothing ultimately new is emerging. Our true nature is not evolving. Reality is not evolving. Our approach back to the Source is merely an undoing of our earlier steps away from the Source, such that when it is all done, the ladder will be gone and the entire dream of separation will vanish with it. Evolution, then, is merely awakening from a sleep that we ourselves chose.

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