Stages in the Evolution of Gaia

The Jesuit paleontologist and philosopher Teilhard de Chardin distinguished the following four stages of planetary evolution.:
  • geosphere - the inanimate Earth
  • biosphere - life on Earth
  • noosphere - human consciousness
  • Omega - collective divinisation
Teilhard saw these as successive stages, and most philosphers have followed him in this regard.  In contrast I would suggest that all these stages co-exist, even though they may not always be obvious.  Thus life and consciousness inhere even within inanimate objects, as the animistic/shamanistic paradigm asserts, and ultimately all things are Divine, expressions of the Godhead.

To build on the insights of Teilhard and of his contemporary (who he never knew of) Sri Aurobindo: the evolution of Gaia - and indeed of embodied consciousness - can be defined in terms of five stages - geosphere, biosphere, noosphere, and theosphere.  These do not have to be sequential, nor do all of them have to be realised.  The following gives an outline of Earth's evolution according to the paradigm of these five stages or planetary metamorphoses.



The following speculative table attempts to summarise these evolutionary stages of the development of life and consciousness on Gaia (vertical axis) against geological and future time (horizontal axis).  For the former I use the standard geological time-scale, apart from moving the Holocene epoch from the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic to the Quinternary period of the "Homozoic:" (don't you just love inventing new words?  ;-)  ).  For future eras I've had to invent a new set of periods which describe the supposed changes that could take place (emphasis of course placed on the word "could").

The table also integrates the evolutionary classifications of different writers, who are here listed according to colour (key at bottom).  Of course, evoluton is not a simple ascent, and to use a single series of hypostases is over-simplistic anyway.  Nor does it necessarily mean that each should follow in strict sequence.  So what follows should be understood as nothing more than an extremely tentative generalisation of the evolution of consciousness in the Physical plane.
evolutionary 
grade:
Astronomic
planetary nebula
Primitive Geosphere 
inorganic molecules; 
chemistry
Advanced Geosphere 
prebiotic; 
organic molecules;
Immature Biosphere
organic evolution; 
Gaia
Primitive Biosphere 
sex 
variety
beginning of complex evolution
Complex Biosphere 
complex ecosystems, multicelluar &  colonial  organisms
Mature Biosphere Mature Biosphere Mature Biosphere Mature Biosphere Primitive Noosphere 
self- consciousness; civilisation
Immature Noosphere 
developed self- consciousness; 
spirituality
Advanced Noosphere 
tending to 
Omega 
(technological omega)
Omega 
(spiritual-divine omega)
Eon Solar Nebular Precambrian Eon Phanerozoic Eon Nooarchian Eon Theognostic Eon
era Hadean Era Archean Era  Proterozoic Era Paleozoic Mesozoic  Cenozoic Homozoic Technozoic Theozoic
period (early) (late) Early Cambrian Mid Cambrian  to Permian Trias Jura Cret Tertiary -
Paleogene
Tertiary -
Neogene
Quaternary
(Pleistocene)
Quinternary
(Holocene)
Nanotechian Supramentalian
Theosphere
Omega 
actualisation of Godheadic consciousness in matter
supramental enlightenment
Noosphere
symbolic expression 
(conscious mind)
thinking mind
  "neo- mammalian" 
(primate) brain
complex societies; myths,
abstract archetypes
reflexive mind
self-reflexive mind 
paradigms
world of ideas, language. books, media, the Net
bionically enhanced or transcended
consciousness
supramental enlightenment
early mental functioning
vital mind
divisions of labor social bonds,  "paleo-
mammalian" 
brain
 " paleo-
mammalian" 
brain
vital mind vital mind bionically enhanced or transcended 
consciousness
supramental enlightenment
primitive mental functioning
ritualistic behaviour
physical mind
behavior patterns; developed brains mean greater consciousness "reptilian" 
brain
"reptilian" 
brain
"reptilian" 
brain
physical mind physical mind programmed neural  responses supramental enlightenment
Biosphere
complex organisms 
physical consciousness
genotypes; specialized capabilities Cambrian explosion
multicelluar organisms
(phenotypes)
subconscient
development of higher nervous systems
(vertebrates, cephalopods)
social insects, higher vertebrates, 
archetypes
subconscient
somatic archetypes
(symbolic self-expression)
subconscient
organic body consciousness - the somatic psyche
body consciousness
physical body consciousness  agriculture biotech supramental enlightenment
Biosphere
genetic infomation 
subconscient
genes 
exchange of genetic material
eukaryotes  
ECOSYSTEMS 
subconscient/
Inconscient
instinct
subconscient
instinct/ atavistic subconscious instinct/ atavistic subconscious instinct/ atavistic subconscious genetic subconscious - the Collective Unconscious of Jung Collective Unconscious artificial selection
eugenics,
genetic engineering;
biotech enlightenment of the cells - bodily immortality
Biosphere
simple_organic_life 
subconscient/
inconscient
informed biomolocules 
inconscient
prokaryotes  
archeobacteria  
subconscient/
inconscient
Endosymbiosis; chemically and thermally self-stabilising_biosphere 
subconscient/
inconscient
organic macromolcules
metabolism
nanotechnological
bionics (celluar level)
enlightenment of the cells - bodily immortality
Geosphere
non-linear thermodynamics
inconscient
 non-linear thermodynamics Anorganic chemical and physical macrodynamics dissipative structures self-reproducing hypercycles simple technology
(Paleolithic)
development of succesively more advanced technology
(neolithic through to computer age) 
very advanced to god-like technology
AIs as independent evolutionary streams.
matter existing consciously and luminously in harmony with the Divine
Geosphere
inconscient
nebular & planetary formation RIGIDIFYING OF CRUST planetary and stellar engineering all matter becomes radiant?

 key

Sri Aurobindo - levels of consciousness & Mirra - enlightenment of the cells & bodily immortality
Erich Jantsch - The Self-Organizing Universe,  fig.43
Paul McLean - "three brian" theory of evolution of consciuousness
Black - additions suggested by myself


Ages of Gaia page

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page uploaded 21 July 1998
modified 3 November