Way back when I was writing the book and working on the Psychogenesis section, I was reading a lot of anthropology, trying to figure out exactly how and when we got here. At one point I became so enthusiastic about it that I considered returning to grad school to study it for real.
But then I had a brainwave -- or came to my senses and discovered a lazy man’s way out -- that whatever happened to us then has to happen now in every new human being, as we evolve and develop from Stone Age infant into mature adult -- or into progressive infant, as the case may be.
This is not the same as the old “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” gag, which says that “the development of the embryo of an animal, from fertilization to gestation or hatching, goes through stages resembling or representing successive adult stages in the evolution of the animal's remote ancestors.”
No. My reasoning followed from what I knew about purely psychological development in the context of early attachments: that certain very specific extra-uterine, extra-mental, and extra-neurological conditions are required in order to create an adult human. Conversely, anyone can make a baby, but the baby will not survive, let alone thrive, absent these conditions.
As mentioned in the book, when we think about the archaic environment -- or the mythopoetic past -- we tend to think of adult humans, when it turns out that the helpless and neurologically immature infant is the hinge and springboard of our vertical leap.
Every human being must negotiate and survive the exigencies of infancy, and both babies and adults evolved a host of behaviors and interior faculties to cope with it. Being a helpless baby is difficult, but so too is caring for one.
Long story short, the natural trinity of Mother-Father-Baby is the laboratory of the intersubjectivity that gives us access to both humanness and to God. This may sound like a Bold Statement, and maybe it is, but true intersubjectivity -- i..e, being members of one another -- could not have arisen in any other way. At least any other way we can imagine.
For a long time I assumed I was the only one who thought this way; as usual, no one I think is in my tree. But over the years I’ve discovered that the writings of Ratzinger and Balthasar in particular have echoes of Bob’s Grand Theory of Intersubjectivity, which, by the way, is ultimately anchored in the principle of Cosmic Personhood.
In other words, if we reverse imagineer the whole existentialada, the question confronting the Creator in the beginning is how to insert personhood into the cosmos. You might say that any old infinitely intelligent intellect can create a cosmos, but only a Person can create a person, because you can’t give what you don’t have. So, human creation (AKA special creation) is ultimately a person-to-person call, and let’s find out what that’s supposed to mean.
One key principle in all of this is that last in execution is first intention, in this case man. Although we are temporally last (whether in natural evolution or in Genesis), we are ontologically first. Which is why only man is in the image and likeness of the Creator, and why we potentially span everything from origins to destiny, Alpha to Omega.
For example, we may project our symbolic mathematical language back in time, all the way to the very beginning of time. Knowledge before that is above our pay grade, because there is no before before that.
Likewise, via metaphysical principles we may reason all the way up to our nonlocal source, but here again, knowledge of exactly what goes on in there is beyond our horizon absent a revelation.
Now, how does Bob know that man is first in intention, and cannot be surpassed by something better? Do you really think evolution is finished?
A question such as this is certain evidence that the questioner simply doesn’t know what man is. No, we are not the Absolute. But we know of the Absolute, because we are its reflected image herebelow.
In principle, nothing can surpass this, for there is no Absolute beyond the Absolute, so Darwin Man is at once too modest and too grandiose, whereas we are are fully aware of the grandeur of man but necessarily situate it in a profound humility.
They say there are no leaps in evolution, but why would you leap to that conclusion? Of course there are leaps in evolution. For starters, there is the leap from nothing to something, not to mention the leap from matter to life, which must occur in order for there to be something for natural selection to work with.
Afterwards there are additional leaps, but we are particularly concerned with the one from prehuman to human, because it is infinite. And if you don’t realize it’s infinite, reread the paragraph about knowledge of the Absolute.
Having said all these nice things about man, not so fast. There’s another inexplicable leap after the leap from prehuman to human (AKA hominization), and this is the leap from God to man (Incarnation and divinization). But this post has probably gone on long enough, so we’ll resume tomorrow.