Creationists are back in the news with their outcry over the new Cosmos series. But creationists are fighting something much bigger than the science of evolutionary biology—they are fighting against the future. For twenty-first-century technology—especially nanotechnology, genetics, artificial intelligence and robotics—will transform reality beyond our imaginations. Humans may become post-human; our descendants may evolve to resemble us about as much as we do the amino acids from which we sprang; humans and their post-human descendants may understand and control matter, life, and mind. These developments are part of cultural evolution which itself is a part of cosmic evolution–processes that produce more complex forms of life and mind.
However at the moment, the above is science fiction and subject to trillions of variables; contingent factors beyond our imagination will lead to some unimaginable future. Thus technological progress is not inevitable, and in no way does our view entail optimism–technology can be used for good or ill.
But even if our technology can lead to a glorious future, it could be halted by terrestrial or celestial disasters, or by dogmatists, zealots, religious fanatics, and others who oppose progress. Such individuals may have legitimate fears about the repercussions of future technologies, but they may also dream of a past paradise, fear what they don’t understand, believe they possess a monopoly on the truth or think humans subservient to super beings. But for whatever reasons, they oppose change, preferring stasis and stagnation to dynamic, progressive evolution; they delay or prevent the groundswell of initiative, inventiveness, perseverance, and hope that drive evolution forward. They are fearful that the new world will render them, and their beliefs, anachronistic. They are the enemies of the future.
But if the surge of cosmic longing presses forward, then higher forms of being and consciousness will emerge. In the process, the universe will become increasingly self-consciousness. This is after all the story of cosmic evolution, of a universe becoming self-conscious through the creation of conscious beings. Humans are not an end, but a beginning. They need not fear imaginary gods, but need instead to have the courage to create minds more powerful than the gods. Let the dark ages not again descend upon us; rather, let our most fantastic longings be realized. Let us have faith in the future.