Here's a great article found in the popular press: Can Evolution Have a 'Higher Purpose'? by Robert Wright
Urantia Book readers will definitely be able to answer this question with a resounding YES! Evolution not only CAN, but it DOES have a higher purpose! See our blog below where we will explore this idea according to Urantia Book teachings, but here are some snippets from this interesting article. The author found the very idea "weird," and was very surprised that a distinguished scientist (William D Hamilton) could entertain such an idea:
"During the interview, I was trying to steer Hamilton toward philosophical topics, and at one point he went further than I had expected. He said, 'I'm also quite open to the view that there is some kind of ultimate good which is of a religious nature — that we just have to look beyond what the evolutionary theory tells us and accept promptings of what ultimate good is, coming from some other source.' That's an unusual thing for a great evolutionary biologist to say, but the most unusual part was still to come.
"[Hamilton continues:] He answered: 'Yes, yes. There's one theory of the universe that I rather like — I accept it in an almost joking spirit — and that is that Planet Earth in our solar system is a kind of zoo for extraterrestrial beings who dwell out there somewhere. And this is the best, the most interesting experiment they could set up: to set up the evolution on Planet Earth going in such a way that it would produce these really interesting characters — humans who go around doing things — and they watch their experiment, interfering hardly at all so that almost everything we do comes out according to the laws of nature. But every now and then they see something which doesn't look quite right — this zoo is going to kill itself off if they let you do this or that.' So, he continued, these extraterrestrials 'insert a finger and just change some little thing. And maybe those are the miracles which the religious people like to so emphasize.' He reiterated: 'I put it forward in an almost joking spirit. But I think it's a kind of hypothesis that's very, very hard to dismiss.' "
This is a good article and I recommend it for anyone who wants to see what modern science is saying regarding evolution and its purposes.
Click here to read it in its entirety.
What Does The Urantia Book Teach About Evolution?
In some ways, the scenario described above about the extraterrestrials who inaugurate life on planets and then watch as it evolves is pretty close to what we are taught in The Urantia Book. But instead of some "spooky" mad scientists, the beings who first introduced life on our planet are called, appropriately enough, "Life Carriers." They do not interfere once the process is started, but in other respects, the hypothesis in the article is pretty spot-on.
A Life Carrier speaks:
58:4.1 That we are called Life Carriers should not confuse you. We can and do carry life to the planets, but we brought no life to Urantia. Urantia life is unique, original with the planet. This sphere is a life-modification world; all life appearing hereon was formulated by us right here on the planet; and there is no other world in all Satania, even in all Nebadon, that has a life existence just like that of Urantia.
600,000,000 years ago the commission of Life Carriers sent out from Jerusem arrived on Urantia and began the study of physical conditions preparatory to launching life on world number 606 of the Satania system. This was to be our six hundred and sixth experience with the initiation of the Nebadon life patterns in Satania and our sixtieth opportunity to make changes and institute modifications in the basic and standard life designs of the local universe.
The Satania Life Carriers had projected a sodium chloride pattern of life; therefore no steps could be taken toward planting it until the ocean waters had become sufficiently briny. The Urantia type of protoplasm can function only in a suitable salt solution. All ancestral life—vegetable and animal—evolved in a salt-solution habitat. And even the more highly organized land animals could not continue to live did not this same essential salt solution circulate throughout their bodies in the blood stream which freely bathes, literally submerses, every tiny living cell in this "briny deep."
Your primitive ancestors freely circulated about in the salty ocean; today, this same oceanlike salty solution freely circulates about in your bodies, bathing each individual cell with a chemical liquid in all essentials comparable to the salt water which stimulated the first protoplasmic reactions of the first living cells to function on the planet.
But as this era opens, Urantia is in every way evolving toward a state favorable for the support of the initial forms of marine life. Slowly but surely physical developments on earth and in adjacent space regions are preparing the stage for the later attempts to establish such life forms as we had decided would be best adapted to the unfolding physical environment—both terrestrial and spatial.
550,000,000 years ago the Life Carrier corps returned to Urantia. In co-operation with spiritual powers and superphysical forces we organized and initiated the original life patterns of this world and planted them in the hospitable waters of the realm. All planetary life ... had its origin in our three original, identical, and simultaneous marine-life implantations. These three life implantations have been designated as: the central or Eurasian-African, the eastern or Australasian, and the western, embracing Greenland and the Americas.
500,000,000 years ago primitive marine vegetable life was well established on Urantia. Greenland and the arctic land mass, together with North and South America, were beginning their long and slow westward drift. Africa moved slightly south, creating an east and west trough, the Mediterranean basin, between itself and the mother body. Antarctica, Australia, and the land indicated by the islands of the Pacific broke away on the south and east and have drifted far away since that day.
Again, from a Life Carrier:
65:1.7 After the life patterns have been formulated and the material organizations have been duly completed, the supermaterial forces concerned in life propagation become forthwith active, and life is existent. Whereupon the Life Carriers are immediately returned to their normal mid-phase of personality existence, in which estate they can manipulate the living units and maneuver the evolving organisms, even though they are shorn of all ability to organize—create—new patterns of living matter.
After organic evolution has run a certain course and free will of the human type has appeared in the highest evolving organisms, the Life Carriers must either leave the planet or take renunciation vows; that is, they must pledge themselves to refrain from all attempts further to influence the course of organic evolution. And when such vows are voluntarily taken by those Life Carriers who choose to remain on the planet as future advisers to those who shall be intrusted with the fostering of the newly evolved will creatures, there is summoned a commission of twelve, presided over by the chief of the Evening Stars, acting by authority of the System Sovereign and with permission of Gabriel; and forthwith these Life Carriers are transmuted to the third phase of personality existence—the semispiritual level of being. And I have functioned on Urantia in this third phase of existence ever since the times of Andon and Fonta.
65:2.1 The story of man's ascent from seaweed to the lordship of earthly creation is indeed a romance of biologic struggle and mind survival. Man's primordial ancestors were literally the slime and ooze of the ocean bed in the sluggish and warm-water bays and lagoons of the vast shore lines of the ancient inland seas, those very waters in which the Life Carriers established the three independent life implantations on Urantia.
65:3.7 And in discussing the fostering of evolution, it would not be amiss to point out that, in the long future ahead, when you may sometime be attached to a corps of Life Carriers, you will have abundant and ample opportunity to offer suggestions and make any possible improvements in the plans and technique of life management and transplantation. Be patient! If you have good ideas, if your minds are fertile with better methods of administration for any part of the universal domains, you are certainly going to have an opportunity to present them to your associates and fellow administrators in the ages to come.
We are a "Life-Experiment World"
65:4.1 Do not overlook the fact that Urantia was assigned to us as a life-experiment world. On this planet we made our sixtieth attempt to modify and, if possible, improve the Satania adaptation of the Nebadon life designs, and it is of record that we achieved numerous beneficial modifications of the standard life patterns. To be specific, on Urantia we worked out and have satisfactorily demonstrated not less than twenty-eight features of life modification which will be of service to all Nebadon throughout all future time.
But the establishment of life on no world is ever experimental in the sense that something untried and unknown is attempted. The evolution of life is a technique ever progressive, differential, and variable, but never haphazard, uncontrolled, nor wholly experimental, in the accidental sense.
Many features of human life afford abundant evidence that the phenomenon of mortal existence was intelligently planned, that organic evolution is not a mere cosmic accident. When a living cell is injured, it possesses the ability to elaborate certain chemical substances which are empowered so to stimulate and activate the neighboring normal cells that they immediately begin the secretion of certain substances which facilitate healing processes in the wound; and at the same time these normal and uninjured cells begin to proliferate—they actually start to work creating new cells to replace any fellow cells which may have been destroyed by the accident.
What's the Purpose?
Evolution is tempered and influenced by the presence of mind and its associated growth in any living organism; evolution eventally produces beings who are capable of intuition, understanding, bravery, knowledge, social living, and lastly, of wisdom and of worship. All living beings possess one or more of these attributes, but the last two of these attributes of evolved beings separate man from a mere animal. The ability to recognize something higher than himself distinguishes man as the crown of creation. Man's ability to develop wisdom through learning is also part of man's unique accomplishment and again, is a hallmark of humanity that is not shared by any other animal-origin being.
Beings who are thus equipped to live in a material world and at the same time recognize the source of their very existence ARE the crown of creation; it is these beings, being like you and me, who are destined to gain eternal life and proceed higher and higher in the cosmos until once more being united with that Source. And that Source we call God.
There is little about evolution that is random or haphazard. The universe is a mechanism of mind and creation governed by law.
65:5.3 The universe of universes, including this small world called Urantia, is not being managed merely to meet our approval nor just to suit our convenience, much less to gratify our whims and satisfy our curiosity. The wise and all-powerful beings who are responsible for universe management undoubtedly know exactly what they are about; and so it becomes Life Carriers and behooves mortal minds to enlist in patient waiting and hearty co-operation with the rule of wisdom, the reign of power, and the march of progress.
The celestial supervisors of this planet express complete confidence in the ultimate evolutionary triumph of the human race and in the eventual vindication of our original plans and life patterns.
Evolution is God's infinite creation in finite time and space
65:8.3 The individual's yardstick for time measurement is the length of his life. All creatures are thus time conditioned, and therefore do they regard evolution as being a long-drawn-out process. To those of us whose life span is not limited by a temporal existence, evolution does not seem to be such a protracted transaction. On Paradise, where time is nonexistent, these things are all present in the mind of Infinity and the acts of Eternity.
As mind evolution is dependent on, and delayed by, the slow development of physical conditions, so is spiritual progress dependent on mental expansion and unfailingly delayed by intellectual retardation. But this does not mean that spiritual evolution is dependent on education, culture, or wisdom. The soul may evolve regardless of mental culture but not in the absence of mental capacity and desire—the choice of survival and the decision to achieve ever-increasing perfection—to do the will of the Father in heaven. Although survival may not depend on the possession of knowledge and wisdom, progression most certainly does.
In the cosmic evolutionary laboratories mind is always dominant over matter, and spirit is ever correlated with mind. Failure of these diverse endowments to synchronize and co-ordinate may cause time delays, but if the individual really knows God and desires to find him and become like him, then survival is assured regardless of the handicaps of time. Physical status may handicap mind, and mental perversity may delay spiritual attainment, but none of these obstacles can defeat the whole-souled choice of will.
When physical conditions are ripe, sudden mental evolutions may take place; when mind status is propitious, sudden spiritual transformations may occur; when spiritual values receive proper recognition, then cosmic meanings become discernible, and increasingly the personality is released from the handicaps of time and delivered from the limitations of space.
Please visit the following papers and studies to learn much more about evolution in The Urantia Book:
The Life Carriers
The Overcontrol of Evolution
Life Establishment on Urantia