The Dragon Who Bites His Own Tail — by George Elerick
The following is a guest post, written by George Elerick…
“It is always possible for a nonconformist thought to think in the century. This is what a subject is. It is he who maintains the universal, not conformity” — Badiou
There is a narrative that erupts out of the 3rd century that tells the story of the visions of Zosimos who was an Egyptian alchemist and mystic. In one of his visions he records an encounter shared here:
“(He) encountered a man who impales himself with a sword, and then undergoes “unendurable torment”, his eyes become blood, he spews forth his flesh, and changes into “the opposite of himself, into a mutilated anthroparion (a Greek alchemical concept of a being somewhat similar to a golem but possessing a sense of will and intelligence), and he tore his flesh with his own teeth, and sank into himself”, which is a rather grotesque personification of the ouroboros, the dragon that bites its own tail, which represents the dyophysite nature in alchemy: the balance of two principles.
Zosimos later encounters several other homunculi, named as the Brazen Man, the Leaden Man, and so forth. Commonly, the homunculi “submit themselves to unendurable torment” and undergo alchemical transformation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homunculus)”.
For evolution to progress it must violently oppose itself. Just as light can only occur if there is dark, and good can only arise out of bad so must evolution continue its journey toward salvific self-destruction.
Let me explain.
One of the major notion’s behind the philosophy of evolution is progress. But progress has to emerge out of regression for it to be progress. Simplistically speaking, this idea originates in the Eastern religious expressions where the Ying Yang is one of the central tenants.
The Apostle Paul once told a church in Rome to overcome evil with good, prior to that he encourages them to not let the evil consume them. In this letter he assumes that evil has the power to consume and that the only way to win over evil is to consume evil with good. But to do so, evil has to be consumed by good.
This means the good has to embrace evil to consume it. This isn’t very far from Jesus’ injunction to love one’s enemy. To overcome this supposed enemy, one has to consume the enemy as the enemy with love. It is not a matter of changing the enemy prior to the event of love, but it is rather the embrace of love that transforms the status of the enemy to the beloved. This is the same with evolution, for it to progress it must embrace that which is regressed. Fundamentally for progress to happen in any manner it must recognize that where it is must emerge out of what was and what is currently experienced and offered. For Evolution to continually evolve it must regress.
For Christianity to emerge out of its former self it must seek out resurrection.
But to do so, it must embrace its death to the fullest. Ideologically speaking Evolution is about progress, but what is progress but only one step forward into a future version of self. It is a radical impediment and negation of the former. The evolution of nature presupposes a structural change of some sort that occurs internally to the being going through the process. I initially think this is the hope of those who deem themselves as participators in Emergent/Progressive Christianity is that not simply some sort of nominal change will occur, because, let’s be honest that is not evolution. But rather the hope is that the open-ended conversation will change the structure.
That something new will emerge.
Much like the Huxley’s thought on the origin of birds. Change is only inevitable if we embrace it. In the world of spies and clandestine operations one of the features of such a dangerous role is the possibility that one might be asked to be a double-agent. So, initially they might appear to be against the very thing they are for. I think this is why some Christians fear a partnership between evolution and christianity because they have yet to discover that one cannot survive without the other. That in the very appearance of betrayal is the act of fidelity toward the same cause. That evolution can only make Christianity better and vice versa.
I think the cohabitation of Evolution with Christianity can assist the progress of faith.
What is faith? The belief in something that has yet to appear. Evolution is the promise of that object’s eventual appearance. Although the object that appears might not be what we anticipate it and so evolution prepares us for the possibility of an unknown emergence. Evolution gives us a sort of shrouded hope that enables us to continue in faith. The knowledge of evolution equates to the inborn ability to wait in hope for something else to emerge even within ourselves.
That self-transformation will and can occur.
Sometimes Christianity seems to not make such a promise, especially if we feel so inclined to rest on that which is behind us to compel us forward. Evolution then in this light is not some mere scientific strategy to simply explain our origins but then becomes an agent toward a deeper expression and discovery of self through the Christian experience.
Evolution then ultimately is saviour of a new kind of Christianity.
George Elerick is a cultural theorist, speaker, human rights advocate, and author of Jesus Bootlegged: Recapturing the Hijacked Message of Jesus for the World. He blogs for Huffington Post and his website is http://TheLoveRevolution.org.uk