Ayako Wada-Katsumata and Andrew Ernst
"The head of a male German cockroach.
The insect's taste hairs, which extend from its face,
antennae and mouth, contain sweet and bitter detectors
that help some cockroaches avoid traps baited with glucose."
New York Times
New York Times
Wily cockroaches have been receiving tremendous press coverage (see this piece, for example, in the New York Times: Wily Cockroaches Find Another Survival Trick: Laying Off the Sweets). It turns out they no longer find themselves attracted to sweet poison bait common in roach insecticide traps. In fact, they appear to have evolved a repulsion for the stuff. What was completely missing from this news piece is the insinuation that this is a response by the cockroach species to the human threat of sweet poison bait. Is that really so? Most readers would conclude this.
There is a little problem with that, however. Cockroaches are not geneticists. How do they change their own DNA? Since conventional science does not have a plausible answer to this, and for fear the only alternative is "God did it," the predominant view in evolutionary biology is that such mutations must be random. If and when they happen to be advantageous to the survival of this species (evading dangers, improving chances of reproduction), then this species is quite lucky. This process of natural selection has no room for a living being causing mutations in order to adapt.
However, this hypothesis of bíos, Life itself (or consciousness if you prefer) creating changes in its own genetic make-up, updating its informational map, its holothosene (Waldo Vieira), its morphogenetic field (Rupert Sheldrake) is what biologist and consciousness researcher Sheldrake coined theory of formative causation, whereby individual members of a species can tap into an information "field" or memory or map that contains memory from past experiences, how to behave, and what to look like. This information can spread quite quickly and across vast distances, allowing monkeys in distance islands to learn a new way of washing sand off of potatoes; or blue tit birds "copying" new behavior they could not have seen because they were too far away (opening milk bottles). Our super cockroaches are not alone.
Sheldrake on the blue tit bird phenomenon and
the cross-word puzzle experiment
the cross-word puzzle experiment
Not only can they read this collective field of information, learning from their ancestors and even new knowledge from contemporaries, they can also change their own color, beak shape, taste for certain chemicals... whatever changes are required to reach their desired outcome: evade a predator, become a better predator, to adapt to a sudden change in their ecosystem, share a new trick for getting food or for finding or building shelter. And so do humans. It shows that life or consciousness can effect outcomes without detailed knowledge of the intermediate steps or process.
The biologist essentially points out the '80,000-pound gorilla' in the biology room: the study of individual causal, physical processes, the study of parts or substances does not explain how there is order, pattern, or meaning in nature, let alone where those come from. Physical systems are inherently entropic, whereas consciousness that animates living organisms is, as Italian mathematician Luigi Fantappiè described, syntropic (reducing entropy or increasing negentropy per Erwin Schrödinger), introducing order, increasing complexity, through its influence upon reality, exerted at an elementary level with a basic drive to adapt in order to survive, later through thought, intention, will, desire...
We know what DNA does: it codes for proteins; it codes for the sequence of amino acids which form proteins. However, there is a big difference between coding for the structure of a protein - a chemical constituent of the organism - and programming the development of an entire organism. It is the difference between making bricks and building a house out of the bricks. You need the bricks to build the house. If you have defective bricks, the house will be defective. But the plan of the house is not contained in the bricks, or the wires, or the beams, or cement. Analogously, DNA only codes for the materials from which the body is constructed: the enzymes, the structural proteins, and so forth. There is no evidence that it also codes for the plan, the form, the morphology of the body.
- Sheldrake, Morphic Resonance
Some of the earliest evolutionary biologists saw a role for consciousness, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who put forth the first coherent framework for biological evolution in the West. Everyone's heard of Darwin, but not too many study Lamarck. However, there is a rising neo-Lamarckianism trend in the field (see MIT's Technology Review article A Comeback for Lamarckian Evolution? Two new studies show that the effects of a mother’s early environment can be passed on to the next generation).
Another genius marginalized by science history is co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection, Alfred Russell Wallace (See JofC 30 for a bibliographical analysis). Wallace, who developed an active interest in psychical faculties, thought that natural selection cannot account for other faculties as well like mathematical, artistic, and musical genius, wit, humor, and “metaphysical musings.” He also believed that the raison d'être of the universe was the development of the human spirit, very much like conscientiologists today. Little wonder he has been forgotten, and the more agnostic Darwin is celebrated.
Another related precedent comes from theologian and paleontologist Pierre Theilhard de Chardin, author of the classic The Phenomenon of Man.
Teilhard describes consciousness as an ultimately collective identity that develops as separate entities but go on trading and transmitting information. Knowledge accumulates and is transmitted in increasing levels of depth and complexity. This leads to a further augmentation of consciousness and the emergence of a thinking layer that envelops the earth. Teilhard called this field “noosphere” (from the Greek “nous,” as in Noetic, meaning mind or soul), The noosphere is the collective consciousness or holothosene or morphic field of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which all are immersed.
This conscientiomotor or consciential Lamarckian hypothesis is a natural extension of the consciential paradigm, which sees consciousness as the animating, complexifying, evolving principle or "force" behind biological evolution from the simplest virus to the Homo sapiens serenissimus. The biological system, body or soma is simply one that is suitable for the complexity of the consciousness itself. Waldo Vieira, Wagner Alegretti and other conscientiology thinkers have advanced for decades that as consciousness evolves, so does the physical "gear," somas or vehicles of manifestation (Waldo Vieira) or technology of consciousness as coined by Psyleron's Adam Curry.
The consciential paradigm, aided by out-of-body and other observations, reveals that pre-human consciousness, just like us, survives physical death and is in a continual process or series of existences (existential series theory, reincarnation). We also observe, we can sense, control, read a medium that could host this information, that is not limited by space and time in the same way as physical fields, but that instead is stronger where affinity is stronger: bioenergy or biofields. We also discuss paragenetics that transcend the physical body, allowing us to evolve through multiple lifetimes and the periods in between. What remains a mystery is how consciousness can effect these changes in physical systems. This is a similar scientific enigma to the one IAC researchers like Wagner Alegretti and Nanci Trivellato are exploring: how does the consciousness communicate with the brain? We see that it involves this intermediary substance/field we call bioenergy. The details of the process still evade us, but we are learning more all the time.
In my IAC research and course Phyto- and Zoo-Consciousness, I stitch together past thought, newer related evidence from psi research, mathematics, physics, biology, conscientiology and other fields for how consciousness, how life is able to do this from something as simple as a virus to humans who are uncovering the body's genome. In a nutshell, there is evidence that the consciousness can affect the outcomes of physical events, without necessarily being aware of the intricacies of the affected processes. A simple example is raising your arm. A more exotic one would be electronic voice phenomena (EVP) or other physical effects like tele-kinesis where the consciousness isn't aware of how they manifest, but do nonetheless. Even those who have trained to intentionally mobilize and intensify their bioenergy and to achieve the projection of the consciousness may overlook that they are not aware of the intricacies of the processes. They "just do it."
At the Princeton PEAR laboratory, individuals affected random-number generators, random mechanical cascades, and other distinct devices in similar ways, affecting the probability distributions of the outcome events, without understanding the quantum physics processes underlying them that are inherently stochastic (truly random) . This ability is not reserved to humans, as shown by Rene Peoc'h in his experiment with chicks that attracted a randomly-moving robot toward them (the robot had been imprinted on them as its mother). This kind of evidence supports the idea that the consciousness can, in fact, update itself and its manifestations, in an acausal, resonant way, by injecting order or direction into random systems toward its desired outcomes: a fortuitous genetic mutation in DNA, a neuron firing in our brain, a digital bit on a robot, a meeting a friend through a series of synchronicities.
After all, as advanced by Alegretti and other conscientiologists evolution involves change in the informational makeup (memory, whether conscious or not) of consciousness, and it is difficult to understand consciousness without memory and its evolutionary drive for change, for the new, to upgrade or improve itself, to thrive. Consciousness learns, creates, wills, desires, orders, changes, unlearns, evolves... and as it evolves, so does its outer manifestation.
Alegretti discusses consciousness and memory
Nelson Abreu is an educator at International Academy of Consciousness based in Los Angeles. He is a contributing author of Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality (ICRL Press, 2009). His research has encompassed consciousness and biological evolution, consciousness and physics/engineering, out-of-body experience, subtle energy and psychometry.