The most recent title of my book is The Evolution of the Holy Spirit. When reading Carl Jung inspired me to become a psychiatrist and a philosopher of human nature “on the side” in 1971, not in my wildest dreams did I conceive that I would write a book with such a title. The mechanism that I have conceived as initiating our six million year hominid family had the effect of transforming the laws of the jungle into the rules of right and wrong. This is a conception of a “strong” form of selection acting at the level of monogamous groups. Apes were dying off when our hominid line arose and monogamous groups were favored because monogamy is the most productive of all social systems.
Morality can be defined as the rules that are necessary to maximize the productivity of a group of monogamous pair-bonded mates and their offspring. It is my thesis that the persistence of this foundation of morality has become the source of all of the unique aspects of human evolution, listed here. In addition, by virtue of the fact that this inclination for morality was evolved at the level of the group, it resided in a relational, group-space that can easily be conceived of as spiritual. This entity possesses not just a will, separate from that of individuals, for morality and justice, but life itself, which is the capacity to replicate. It began to dawn on me that this is a biological explanation for the Christian concept of the Holy Spirit.
Of course there have been many difficulties in integrating a patently religious concept into a theory about human evolution. I was told that no one in the New York publishing establishment would touch a book with such a title, and I have found that to be the case. There is simply too much political baggage in the secular mind to consider such a notion. I have gone back and forth on this for several years, but basically have come to the conclusion that the religious dimension is simply too obvious not to mention, and that, of course, people of faith are more interested in science than the other way round.
So what is the Holy Spirit in Christianity? I only had the vaguest idea that it is God in man. Most recently, I woke up one night and wondered whether Christian theology considered the Holy Spirit to have predated the life of Christ, as opposed to Jesus bringing it to us.
I was thus very pleased to find out that Pope John Paul II had issued an Encyclical in 1986 on the very topic of the Hole Spirit. In it, he pronounced that, “…we cannot limit ourselves to the two thousand years which have passed since the birth of Christ. We need to go further back, to embrace the whole of the action of the Holy Spirit even before Christ – from the beginning, throughout the world…” He further stated in an address in 1998 entitled “The Holy Spirit Acts in All Creation and History” that, “there is no corner of creation and no moment of history in which the Spirit is not at work.”
In my book, I do not deny that the Holy Spirit is an eternal force, but that this force has physically evolved a specific form in the hominid family over the past six million years whereby each and every one of us has been thrown into an existential relationship with God, whether or not you believe in Him, by virtue of our very biology.