The Narrative Thread of Cosmos: The Evolution of Intimacy Through the Four Big Bangs

By Dr. Marc Gafni

This is an early draft of an essay, written by Dr. Marc Gafni. It is part of Volume 2 of a forthcoming six-volume book series, The Universe: A Love Story, by Dr. Marc Gafni & Dr. Zachary Stein with Barbara Marx Hubbard. The essay was edited and prepared for publication by Kerstin Tuschik. We welcome substantive feedback as we prepare a more advanced version of this essay.

Download the Essay as PDF

It is the new information of the sciences that opens us to the most profound realization that the essential nature of Cosmos itself is Story. This narrative view of Cosmos informs what we briefly termed above as cosmological, biological, and cultural evolution. It is only now that the leading edges of modern science are beginning to realize that there is a direct throughline, a narrative thread, if you will, beginning with this current Universe at the Big Bang and moving all the way from matter (chemistry, physics, and cosmological evolution) to life (biology and biological evolution), to mind (spirituality, psychology, and cultural evolution).

Before we turn to the Four Big Bangs, which we will unfold as the narrative arc of Cosmos, the core of the Universe Story, and particularly of Evolution: The Love Story of the Universe, some crucial contextual notes are in order.

Evolution as Crisis and Invitation: The Context for the Four Big Bangs

In other writings on CosmoErotic Humanism, we will unfold six plotlines of the Intimate Universe. To simply state them here, evolution evolves to more and more Eros. The plotlines of Cosmic Eros include

more and more complexity,

more and more uniqueness,

more and more consciousness,

more and more creativity,

more and more care and concern,

more and more intimacy, and

more and more story.

For the sake of this writing, however, let’s just focus on the evolution of intimacy as the overarching vector of evolution’s progression. Eros and intimacy evolve within a narrative arc. The narrative arc of the evolutionary plotline—the evolution of Eros and intimacy—is what we have termed the Four Big Bangs. They form the crux of the narrative thread of Cosmos. Central to the emergence of Conscious Evolution is our very recent ability to discern precisely this narrative thread.

To grasp the narrative arc of Cosmos more fully, we need to place our discussion of the Four Big Bangs in a larger context. One common feature of all evolutionary theories is the idea that evolution is hard, painful, crisis-prone, and existential—a matter of life and death. It is clear that, at key moments, evolutionary crises occur—cataclysmic events that bring into the Universe something that is totally new and truly unprecedented.

As we have already discussed in Volume One of this series, there is little doubt in the minds of those thinking seriously about evolution that we are in the midst of an evolutionary meta-crisis. This is the first totalizing crisis of the Anthropocene, as humanity and the planet itself are forced into what we have termed a reconfiguration of intimacies toward higher-order evolutionary emergence.[1] This is a moment of crisis, and yet, such a crisis is perfectly in sync with the narrative structure of Reality. Everything we know about evolution suggests that, precisely at such a moment of breakdown, we are poised for breakthrough.

But our choices matter. That is exactly what Conscious Evolution means. It is the movement to the pivotal role of conscious human choice—evolution in person as us—in both ensuring that there will be a future and in designing the quality of that future. Our choices are the leading edge of evolution itself. We are the verbs in the arc of evolution. This narrative arc will become clearer, as we outline the Four Big Bangs below.

This meta-crisis must shift not only our physical systems and exteriors (infrastructure and social structure), but also our interiors—our consciousness—or Eros itself (superstructure). And this evolutionary leap will be catalyzed by the meta-crisis that we are in the midst of, right now. This crisis has not only to do with the geo-history of technology and the limits of the biosphere. It is not just about the complexity of the planetary stack. It is, more fundamentally, a crisis of self-understanding. Or, as we frame it in our writings, virtually every crisis, at its core, is a crisis of intimacy. We are not intimate with ourselves, and our world, and as such, we are not in love with ourselves, or our world.

But the two are related. We need to be in love with our world, our planet, and with our Cosmos. It is because we are not, that we are naturally not intimate and in love with each other or ourselves. Or said slightly differently, we need a Universe Story, in which we can locate ourselves. We need a Universe Story that meets the depth of our longing and the depth of our knowing—the truth of the interior and exterior sciences.

One of the core sentences of CosmoErotic Humanism is:

Evolution is Love responding to need.

It is the depth of this need, emergent from the meta-crisis of this moment that can generate such a new Universe Story. Our CosmoErotic Humanism is one model of precisely such a new Universe Story. Only from the depth of such a new Universe Story can we articulate a narrative of identity, in which are literally in love, in which we participate in the very fabric of Reality’s Eros.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented species-wide identity and relationship crisis (and this is happening during the very decades when the self-inflicted extinction of our species has become a potential reality for the first time). Our Universe Story and its derivative narratives of identity, power, desire, and community have collapsed on themselves, no longer able to claim alignment with any genuine features of Reality beyond the surface structures of what postmodernity calls social construction. We no longer know what it means to be human.[2] And for the first time we are aware of this ignorance, collectively.[3] Dogmatic materialism coupled with postmodernism and superficial evolutionary psychology, the conventional narratives of the age, have de-story-ed Reality. Together, they reject the notion that we have any intrinsic purpose on the planet.

And yet, at the very same time, the leading edges of post-dogmatic and post-conventional thinking in the sciences, both interior and exterior, have begun to tell a new Story. At the leading edge of thought, there is a growing understanding that consciousness, and the Eros that animates it, as well as our own core self-understanding, are not epiphenomena. Eros and consciousness are not side effects in our lives. They are the main event. Eros, consciousness, our Universe Story, and narrative of identity are not merely supervening or reacting to a more basic bio-technological base. Rather, human Eros or its lack and its desire for greater intimacies, consciousness, and self-identity (or their lack) are at the core of everything. It is because of Eros’s fundamental and central nature that failures of Eros are driving the global crisis on all levels. We cannot live without Eros, for it is our fundamental nature and the nature of Cosmos. Reality is Eros.

As we point toward in other writings of CosmoErotic Humanism,[4] when Eros breaks down, pseudo-eros in the form of every kind of substitute gratification seeks to fill the void. Pseudo-eros is the direct cause for the collapse of ethos. Formalized succinctly, we can say: All failures of Eros lead directly to a breakdown of identity, which in turn engenders a collapse of ethics.

Our generation is in an unprecedented position to take responsibility for participating in profoundly generative and destructive evolutionary crises. The question is: Can we understand our crises in a Cosmic Context, as opportunities for the emergence of the unprecedented, and as invitations into a higher form of life?

The only effective response to the meta-crisis is, in fact, the movement from unconscious to Conscious Evolution. And Conscious Evolution means, as we noted at the outset, not only the structural realization that we are a direct emergent of and expression of evolution. It is not enough to know that evolution lives in us and that the evolutionary impulse beats in our hearts. Conscious Evolution means that we have gathered new information from the sciences, integrating its interior and exterior disciplines. In doing so, we have realized that evolution itself is love in action. And as Conscious Evolution, we are, quietly and literally, evolution as love in action in person. Indeed, this is the impulse that moves the project of CosmoErotic Humanism itself and all likeminded meta-projects.

What moves us to gather all the fragments of information—myriad separate parts—into a new larger whole, weaving strands from all the diverse disciplines into a larger embrace, is none other than the same Love that moves the Sun and other stars: Evolutionary Eros itself. And the primary action of Evolutionary Love is the evolution of love itself.

That evolution has now awakened to itself inside of our own identities. That is what we refer to as Conscious Evolution. We now realize that we are personal incarnations of the Force of Evolutionary Love pulsing fiercely and tenderly in us and as us. So, it is Conscious Evolution from here on out: We are able to know and do too much to pretend otherwise; we must consciously orchestrate the future of the planet and the biosphere. And as we have begun to unpack above, the next step in Conscious Evolution is the realization of the Universe: A Love Story.

The interior sciences remind us that the inside of consciousness is Love, or what we are calling Eros, which is defined by an incessant drive for ever-deepening intimacy and creativity. And, as we have begun to point towards,[5] and will deepen future writings, intimacy and creativity are the same movement of Cosmos.

As we began to unpack earlier, new intimacy is created by fostering ever wider and deeper shared identities in the context of (relative) otherness. Separate parts allured together to foster new wholes is the essential movement of both intimacy and creativity. It is the movement of becoming, which characterizes the Story of the Intimate Universe.  (more…)