New Age History – Introduction
Marilyn Ferguson gives us a great perspective on New Age history, “For the first time in history, humankind has come upon the control panel of change—an understanding of how transformation occurs. We are living in the change of change, the time in which we can intentionally align ourselves with nature for rapid remaking of ourselves and our collapsing institutions.”1
When it comes to history, the New Age trusts cosmic evolution to guide humanity unswervingly toward perfection. In a very real sense, members of the New Age movement place their faith in evolution as humanity’s savior.
Faith in evolution causes the Cosmic Humanist to view human history as an ascent—a development from lower to higher levels of consciousness. Evolution is upward because the God-force within the universe pulls it upward. Benjamin Ferencz and Ken Keyes explain, “We have seen that humankind is not simply moving in a vicious killing circle; it is on an upward climb toward completing the governmental structure of the world. We are inspired by our great progress toward planethood.”2 Elsewhere they declare that their “optimism is justified by the facts.”3
In the New Age worldview, history is progressive because of the force of evolution. Even the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not discourage their optimistic view of history. Indeed, physicist Paul Davies writes, “Far from sliding towards a featureless state, the Universe is progressing from featurelessness to states of greater organization and complexity. This cosmic progress defines a global arrow of time that points in the opposite way to the thermodynamic arrow.”4
New Age History – Irrelevance of Christianity
According to New Age history, part of “cosmic progress” is the evolution from religion to religion. Certain religions, according to the Cosmic Humanist, were beneficial for the evolution of humanity at certain times in history—until humanity “outgrew” them. Thus, the Christian worldview might have helped us in our quest for godhood a thousand years ago, but today it is hopelessly outdated. Joseph Campbell says, “The old-time religion belongs to another age, another people, another set of human values, another universe. By going back you throw yourself out of sync with history.”5 In order to continue evolving, we must abandon biblical Christianity.
The New Age movement is quick to ascribe a number of faults to Christianity. Its most serious failing, of course, is its dogma—the Christian insistence that Christ is the only Savior (John 14:6). Various Cosmic Humanists also attack Christianity on the grounds that it is nationalistic, racist, or promotes feelings of guilt. These failings among others “disqualify [Christianity] for the future,”6 according to Campbell. Christianity is no longer relevant, let alone true. Cosmic Humanism is the only appropriate religion for our modern age and it alone can foster an evolutionary leap into higher consciousness.
New Age History – The Future of Mankind is Evolutionary Godhood
Evolution guarantees that everyone will eventually embrace Cosmic Humanism and usher in the New Age. Faith in this sustained progress into the New Age has been demonstrated by a number of Cosmic Humanists, most notably M. Scott Peck, who says, “God wants us to become Himself (or Herself or Itself). We are growing toward godhood. God is the goal of evolution. It is God who is the source of the evolutionary force and God who is the destination. This is what we mean when we say that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”7
Evolutionary Godhood describes the historical trajectory of Cosmic Humanism. Human history began because of the actions of an Ultimate Cause and it has been marked by a reliable, though bloody, evolution toward the New Age. In the New Age, all humanity will achieve a unity of consciousness with God. Marianne Williamson believes, “When love reaches a critical mass, when enough people become miracle-minded, the world will experience a radical shift.”8 This shift has been revealed through the channeled work A Course in Miracles. Every person will be absorbed into a “Divine Abstract,” where there are “no distinctions, where no words are communicated, and where there are no events—only a static, eternal now.”9
Some members of the New Age movement, unsatisfied with the concept of evolution as the redemptive force in history, have postulated the appearance of a spiritual Savior who will guide humanity to higher consciousness and utopia. Thus, Donald H. Yott suggests that a “Savior appears every two thousand years (more or less) for the different ages. Each Savior brings the tone or key-note for the age.”10 A spirit channeled by Levi H. Dowling proclaims, “But in the ages to come, man will attain to greater heights. And then, at last, a mighty Master Soul will come to earth to light the way up to the throne of perfect man.”11
These predictions are not intended to deny the influence of evolution on our development. Rather, they simply add a “supernatural” dimension to human progress. While not every Cosmic Humanist would agree with the idea that a new Savior will appear in the future, all would agree with the assertion that throughout history humanity evolves from lower to higher consciousness.
New Age History – Conclusion
A New Age history perspective that embraces evolution as the vehicle for change—that expects it is only a matter of time until humanity achieves perfection—might be expected to lean toward complacency. If we believe that the evolutionary process will determine how and when we achieve godhood, we should not bother working toward godhood in our lifetime. Cosmic Humanists circumvent this apathetic attitude by stressing that we have already achieved a level of consciousness that allows us to work in harmony with evolution to hasten the advent of the New Age. This view not only encourages Cosmic Humanists to act on their beliefs but also allows those with a higher consciousness to catapult the “backward” part of humanity into godhood.
Shakti Gawain explains, “Every individual’s consciousness is connected to, and is a part of, the mass consciousness. When a small but significant number of individuals have moved into a new level of awareness and significantly changed their behavior, that change is felt in the entire mass consciousness.”12 This is the goal that all Cosmic Humanists work toward in an effort to hasten the full-blown evolution of all things. David Spangler describes this as the “individual’s sense of being a co-creator with history, of being involved in a process of conscious and participatory evolution.”13