The problem with Creationsim, Evolutionary Theory, and Intelligent Design is that they let humans off the hook from taking full responsibility for a better world and a peaceful and sustainable future for humanity by co-creating more goodness, truth, beauty and functioning, and by having children, and thus can lead to devolution (see Why Relationships Matter.)

Based on the level of consciousness development, spiritual realization, and cultural backgrounds, people may express a mix of the three broad theories about our existence; Creationism, Evolutionary Theory, and Intelligent Design (driven by Eros or Evolutinary Impulse with a Telos). For example, a scientist at an Orange level who advocates for evolutionary theory may still subscribe to Amber religious moral values. A proponent of intelligent design at an Integral level may see through the magical thinking that the pre-trans fallacy creates and stay open to new findings from evolutionary sciences as they become available. A creationist may accept evolutionary theory while maintaining that his particular mythic God is behind it all by arguing “who created evolution and its theories??? My God/Spirit did!”

The Integral Relationship model proposes a fourth alternative of a co-creative impulse as the underlying cause and drive for the emergence of the universe, life, and human consciousness. This co-creative impulse has no “intelligence” or telos in itself. It rather is the force that drives the ongoing combining of entities which lead to novel forms through emergence as described by evolutionary theory.

The notion of a co-creative impulse is loosely related to German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s (1788 - 1860) idea of The Will, which he described as “an aimless pure energy that is without any inherent intelligence or consciousness, and has no driving direction, and yet is responsible for everything that manifests itself in the phenomenal world.” Like Kant, Schopenhauer believed that space and time belong in the phenomenal world of the senses and immediate experiences, meaning that they are conceptions within our minds, not things outside of them.[i] Hence, the Will of the universe does not mark time, or follow causal or spatial laws, and must therefore be timeless and indivisible. It follows then, that the Will of the universe and individual human will are one and the same, and the phenomenal world is driven by this vast, timeless, and motiveless Will.[ii]

In other words, emergent properties are the consequence of dialectical relationships or “love” between whole parts (or holons) that are driven by the co-creative impulse to create new wholes with entirely different properties, which in turn become parts of more complex holons. In this way, “more comes from less” as long as co-creation appears. This process, as Integral Theory maintains, goes “all the way up and all the way down.”

Wilber writes: “Even insentient material systems have an inherent drive to self-organization. When physical systems get pushed ‘far from equilibrium,’ they escape this chaos by leaping into higher-level states of organized order—as when water that is chaotically rushing down the drain suddenly leaps into a perfect downward swirling whirlpool—referred to simply as ‘order out of chaos.’ If nonliving matter inherently possesses this drive to self-organization and order out of chaos, living systems certainly do—and that definitely includes evolution—a drive that philosophers often call ‘Eros,’ an inherent dynamic toward greater and greater wholeness, unity, complexity, and consciousness.”

Robert Laughlin (Nobel Laureate and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University) suggested that “emergent properties arise even at the level of relationships [emphasis added] between subatomic entities and that the very ‘laws’ of nature may indeed prove to be emergent.”[iii]

So even though we cannot know why entities from subatomic particles all the way up to all living things, including humans, are driven by a co-creative impulse to relate with each other, and to co-create/procreate with certain other entities they feel drawn to or love, we can see the phenomena all around us, and feel it inside of us in the form of our desire to love and procreate.

The late Roy Bhaskar (1944 – 2014), the initiator of the philosophical movement he termed Critical Realism (CR), points to the fact that we cannot directly know why there is a co-creative impulse and the underlying dynamics, but observe and study the resulting phenomena (such as human love) by dividing the world into three realms:

The Real (essence): Representing the underlying generative (causal) mechanisms or structures or fields (or powers) that co-create the flux of phenomena (events). These are themselves depth-stratified or layered (e.g., mechanisms of the inorganic world, the biosphere, and the sociosphere).

The Actual (expression): Representing events, whether observed or not by humans (e.g., Big Bang, the French Revolution, a human action).

The Empirical (experiences): Representing empirical observations of events (e.g., what one sees through a microscope or in historical documents).

Critical Realism holds that The Real is “bursting forth to actualize its inexhaustible possibilities and potentials and unfold its creative fecundity[iv] on a level that eludes our human dominion and control. That is, for CR, the being or essence of an object is always so much more vast, superabundant, and charged with potential than any patterns of events manifested and experienced on the level of the actual and empirical or even the sum of those actual and empirical qualities.”[v]

In other words, there is a natural and social world in which events manifest according to causes and the nature of entities, independent from and beyond human understanding. Their existence can only be known indirectly through The Actual, which humans can experience, observe, think of, feel, analyze, evaluate, categorize, compartmentalize, stratify, etc.

Another element of CR (or to be precise the later Dialectical Critical Realism) which is relevant for our exploration of the co-creative impulse which leads to living our purpose and argument in Part 4 why co-creation and procreation matter is the concept of being, (as individual humans) absence of a love relationship, offspring, or more good, truth, beauty, or functioning, and becoming, such as couples, children, families, or a better world.

Bhaskar explains that there are not only changes in nature, like trees losing their leaves in the Fall to make room for new ones to grow in Spring, but there are also changes in the fabric of human-created social and cultural worlds. These changes involve the passing away through negation or sublation[vi] of being (what is), so that new structures can become or emerge that were absent before. In philosophical terms, this is called “the absenting of absences,” or “negation of the negation”. Bhaskar writes: “The tacit assumption is that the negative can always be analyzed away in purely positive terms. [But] the world, including the natural world, contains absences, omissions and liabilities, just as much as presences, commissions and powers.”

In other words, the absence of couples, families with children, communities etc. cannot be “analyzed away” in positive terms, as the absenting of their absence (through co-creation and procreation driven by the co-creative impulse) is fundamental to our human existence. We are called (or dammed) to love, to co-create and procreate, and to make the world a better place. As we will see below, it is in our nature.

So even though we cannot directly understand how and why there is a co-creative impulse and co-creation, we can say that the purpose of subatomic particles is to relate or “love each other” to co-create atoms, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create molecules, whose purpose is (among many other things) to “love each other” to co-create DNA, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create genes, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create proteins, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create cells, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create tissue, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create more complex organisms and organs, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create organ systems, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create mammals, including humans.

Holmes Rolston pointed out that below the threshold of subjectivity—below our conscious mind—which is located in the neocortex of our brains and allows for conscious thoughts, observations, and experiences—life remains.[vii]

We humans experience this life force as the deep instinctual will of our constituent parts, such as cells and organs (and hence us, as they are not separate from us), to co-create and to survive,[viii] and through our sex drive or Eros to co-create and procreate with other humans. Our entire organism (including our cells) suffers when we are lonely for too long. Consider the tortuous negative effects on one’s emotional state and health when a human being is kept in solitary confinement for an extended period of time.[ix] In contrast, consider our yearning to love and be loved, and our desire to give meaning to our lives through significance in the eyes of others.[x]

Schopenhauer stated that there is only one item in the entire universe which we can know from the inside, and that is our own body. Only in the case of our own body is it possible for us to turn within and know its fundamental inner nature. And when we do turn inward and try to feel or understand what it is at its central core, what we encounter there is pure life drive, what the philosopher Henri Bergson termed Elan Vital, the life force; the pure energy, drive, and urge that is at the center of all life.[xi]

This is the empirical content of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics, which hypostatizes The Will as the ‘essence’ of nature or as the thing-in-itself. If one puts the metaphysical speculations on hold, the significant insight remains that the anonymous will to live is the authority responsible for personal identity: “At bottom it is The Will that is spoken of whenever “I” appears in a judgment. Thus it is the true and final point of unity of consciousness, and the bond of all its functions and acts; it does not itself, however, belong to the intellect, but is only its root, source, and controller.” For Schopenhauer, “This clinging to life can only be founded in the subject of it. But it is not founded in the intellect, it is no result of reflection, and in general is not a matter of choice; but this willing of life is something that is taken for granted: it is a prius [that which comes before] of the intellect itself. We ourselves are The Will to live, and therefore we must live, well or ill.”[xii]

This led Schopenhauer to the rather pessimistic view that humanity is at the mercy of this mindless, aimless, universal Will that lies behind our most basic urges and desires, creating constant suffering. As a student of Eastern religions, and especially Buddhism, he saw the only solution for ending human suffering in a path of self-transcendence and awakening to one’s (Transcendental) purpose. According to him, The Will to live can never be broken, but it can be governed by a higher form of knowledge. “For if the will to live is there, as it is the only metaphysical reality, or the thing-in-itself, no physical force can break it, but can only destroy its manifestation at this place and time. It itself can never be transcended except through knowledge.” For Schopenhauer, the only way to salvation is to allow The Will to manifest unhindered. The manifestation of The Will appears in its purest form as intuition, which is itself not a servant of The Will. In intuitive realization The Will becomes conscious of itself. What emerges is “the idea” (creativity) which is as real as The Will. Then, the realizing “being-consciousness” supersedes the need-based “desiring consciousness.” Only as the result of this knowledge can The Will transcend itself, and thereby end the suffering which is inseparable from its manifestation.

Fellmann expands on Schopenhauer: “When we expand our will to live to sexuality, the image changes, because it includes a partner. The existence of the other is not based in a rationalization, but in the joys and sorrows that lovers share. Compassion is the state through which we realize the existence of another human being. The will to live that manifests through our sexuality focuses on another human, usually the opposite sex. Forming of individuality and identity is related to the exclusive relationship between man and woman [or same sex couple]. Ultimately, the self-image is only then not a solipsistic fiction—the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist—if it holds up to the gaze of the beloved, who cannot be replaced by any other instance. The human who experiences himself as the maximum of reality considers others to be mere objects. This conceptualization changes by focusing specifically on sexuality and love relationships. Because sexual desire is [usually] concentrated on one partner in paired love, the principle of individuation—the manner in which a thing is identified as distinguished from other things—becomes the principle of reality. The presence of the other is not expressed in rational knowledge, but in the pain and joy the lovers experience together.”[xiii]

Thus, the ILR model maintains that the co-creative process and co-emergence do not end at the level of the individual, and neither puts individual humans, nor a higher being such as a spirit or God at the top. It rather proposes that the purpose of individual humans is to relate or “love each other” to co-create (absent the absence of) couples, whose purpose is to have sex to produce (absent the absence of) offspring and co-create loving functional nuclear families, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create (absent the absence of) thriving communities, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create (absent the absence of) peaceful societies, whose purpose is to “love each other” to co-create (absent the absence of) a peaceful and sustainable future for humanity.

As we will see throughout the remainder of the book, our bodies and minds, as well as the culture and society that we are an intrinsic part of and co-create, are in a constant process of inter-becoming that is driven by the co-creative impulse. Even though we humans are the only species who have developed enough consciousness to overwrite our natural impulse to co-create and procreate in love relationships, developing the capacities to live our Biological and Transcendental Purpose in healthy Integral relationships, instead of spiritually or otherwise bypassing or repressing it provides the deeper meaning to our lives that so many are seeking, even if we cannot directly know why we are called to do so in the first place. All we know is that it leads to suffering in the long-term for ourselves and others if we don’t live out Biological and Transcendental Purpose and healthy and sustainable ways.


That our lives have meaning beyond the fulfilling of our Biological Purpose and beyond the serving of magical spirits or a mythic god or gods is an idea that emerged with existentialism in the nineteenth century and with humanistic psychology in the twentieth century.[xiv]

Søren Kierkegaard,[xv] the father of existentialism[xvi] proposed in the mid-nineteenth century that each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely, or "authentically". Existentialism became widely popular in the years following World War II, and strongly influenced many disciplines besides philosophy, including theology, drama, art, literature, and psychology.

Jean-Paul Sartre[xvii] stated in his 1945 lecture Existentialism Is a Humanism that a central proposition of existentialism is that “existence precedes essence.” What does this mean? It means that the most important consideration for humans is that they are independently acting, responsible, conscious beings (which he called “our existence"), rather than whatever labels they may wear, roles they may play, stereotypes they may suggest, or definitions or other preconceived categories they may fit (which he called "essence"). As an atheist, he believed that if there is no God to have conceived of our essence or nature, (referring to existential philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who had famously pronounced “God is Dead” in the late nineteenth century), then we must come into existence first, and then create our own essence out of interaction with our surroundings and ourselves. With this insight came serious implications of self-responsibility for who we are and what our lives mean. For this reason, he said, meaning is not imposed from without, i.e. from others. It is something truly unique to each person—separate and independent. The actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called their "true essence"; the individual’s essence is not defined by others and attributed to him arbitrarily. Accordingly, human beings, through their own consciousness, create their own values and determine the meaning of their own lives.

Similarly, Viktor Frankl’s,[xviii] Logotherapy was founded in the mid-nineties upon the premise that the primary motivational driving force of an individual is to find meaning in life. In his world-famous book Man's Search for Meaning he wrote that we have the freedom to find meaning in what we do and in what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering. We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering. During his time in Nazi concentration camps he realized that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances. For Frankl, if humans can’t find meaning through the first two creative possibilities, the reason lies in their anxieties, neurosis, depression, obsessive compulsive behavior, and other personality disorders.

Abraham Maslow wrote in his landmark 1954 book, Motivation and Personality: "The science of psychology has been far more successful on the negative than on the positive side.… It has revealed to us much about man's shortcomings, his illnesses, his sins, but little about his potentialities, his virtues, his achievable aspirations [emphasis added], or his psychological health." He later popularized the terms “peak experience,” “self-actualization” and “synergy” to describe individuals who discovered their purpose and worked together with others to maximize their personal strengths to produce results in which “the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.”

Integrating creationism, evolutionary theory, and intelligent design

Our Biological Purpose and Transcendental Purpose both stem from the co-creative impulse. As we shall see, this idea of the co-creative impulse manifesting itself in the world retains the enduring truths expressed in the theories of creationism, evolutionary theory and intelligent design, while transcending their limitations.

It does not require the Creation Myth, as it does not need a mythic God or multiple Gods, Spirits, or Powers to explain our existence. It allows for personal freedom, choice and responsibility, while adopting some of religion’s moral tenets around putting our lives in service of a greater good (not God), and acknowledges the importance of co-creation and procreation in committed, healthy love relationships (marriages), as well as mindful laws that promote stable and peaceful communities and societies.

The idea of the co-creative impulse negates the naturalist existential nihilism of evolutionary theory that human life has no meaning (other than what we may give it individually) by arguing that humans are the result and embodiment of a long history of purposeful physical, biological, cultural and social co-creative emergent processes that are alive in all of us, all emanating from the co-creative impulse. Even though we cannot scientifically explain—to speak with Hawkins and Bhaskar—why there is a co-creative impulse in the first place and how exactly entities co-create so that the universe can “burst forth to actualize its inexhaustible possibilities and potentials and unfold its creative fecundity,” and even though we humans can override the impulse to co-create and procreate, the ILR model argues that living our Biological Purpose (including procreation) as all other living entities do, and our Transcendental Purpose that is unique to humans is actually the meaning of our lives. Not doing so creates immense suffering on an individual and collective level, because it goes against our human nature. On the other hand, the idea of the co-creative impulse allows for the integration of all current and future knowledge from all scientific disciplines.

And lastly, the proposed idea of a co-creative impulse without any inherent intelligence or consciousness differs from ideas of intelligent design, Vitalism,[xix] Élan vital,[xx] Orthogenesis,[xxi] Evolutionary Purpose, and other New Age thought. All of these state in one way or another that living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities, and that they are somehow animated, guided by, or infused with some form of a separate, higher intelligence, soul, or spirit. In all these other theories, this animating spirit inevitably directs living organisms “upward” or “forward” towards an ultimate Omega Point (God etc.) as proposed by Teilhard de Chardin,[xxii] or Hegel before him, who claimed in the most extreme point of absolute idealism that philosophy ‘has no other object but God and so is essentially rational theology.’ Similarly, Steve McIntosh argues subtly and implicitly in his book Evolution’s Purpose that evolution inherently progresses toward ever-widening realizations through dialectical processes between beauty and truth that lead to more goodness, “even though not intelligently designed or otherwise externally controlled [in a creationist sense], but creatively and originally discerned through the choices of the evolutionary creatures themselves.” While profound and very close to the idea of the co-creative impulse, McIntosh’s theory assumes ongoing evolutionary progress in human consciousness and culture, even if most humans at modern and higher stages of development stop co-creating and procreating at sustainable rates.

The major problem, which we try to remedy throughout this book, is that proponents of intelligent design tend to give individuals who align themselves with this “higher intelligence” or “evolutionary purpose” the highest value or “depth” and put them into the center of the universe, and don’t see that cultural evolution or the emergence of higher stages of consciousness requires co-creation and procreation in healthy love relationships.

As we will cover in more detail in Part 4, proponents of intelligent design often miss the fact that we are relational rather than individual, spiritual, unique, authentic, or evolutionary beings, and thus ignore or even deny the importance of co-creation and procreation between humans who live their Biological Purpose and co-create more goodness, truth, beauty and functioning by sharing their Transcendental Purpose. Adherents of intelligent design often conveniently overlook that the raising of consciousness and furthering of cultural evolution are intrinsically interwoven with biological evolution in the form of producing and raising offspring in functional nuclear families.

On the other hand, the ILR model acknowledges that at least all organisms show certain functional preferences for ease of life and well-being that look like intelligent choices. For example, the E. coli bacterium can digest lactose by cleaving it into glucose and lactose, but prefers to eat glucose first when both are present and consumes the latter only once the former is gone.[xxiii] Plants seemingly “value” light over dark and “choose” to direct their roots towards water; animals “value” certain habitats, foodstuffs, and qualities in mates over others and “choose” accordingly. Even though it may look from a human “anthropomorphic”[xxiv] perspective as if they are acting consciously, their “choices” are hardwired, instinctual, involuntary responses to their environment that operate through genetic programs, signaling transductions,[xxv] biochemistries, and stimulus-response mechanisms, over which the agents don’t have conscious control, because there is no self-conscious subject.

Ultimately—and this is the main point here—it does not matter for the validity of the co-creative and procreative ILR model if you believe that a mythic God, the purely physical “four fundamental forces,” or an intelligent evolutionary impulse, spirit, or other unknowable intelligent force or creator brought the universe into existence, as long as you are open to the idea that the meaning of life is to follow our genetically predispositioned Biological and Transcendental Purpose that is driven by the co-creative impulse to procreate and to co-create more good, truth, beauty and functioning with a compatible life-partner, instead of repressing co-creation and procreation in the name of nihilism, rationalism, hyper-individualism, or New Age narcissism, and pursuing a childless, single, hedonistic life-style.

In Part 4 of the book we will take a closer look at why living our Biological and Transcendental Purpose in healthy, committed, lifelong love relationships matter for the evolution of consciousness and a better world.

[i] Kant wrote in his book Prolegomena (1783, two years after his Critique of Pure Reason): “Space and time, along with what they contain, are not things, or properties of things, in themselves, but belong merely to the appearances of such things; thus far I am in agreement with the previous idealists. But these idealists, and among them especially Berkeley, saw space as a merely empirical representation, a representation which, just like the appearances in space together with all of the determinations of space, would be known to us only by means of experience or perception; I show on the contrary, first, that space (and time too, to which Berkeley gave no attention), along with all its determinations, can be cognized by us a priori, for space, as well as time, inheres in us before all perception or experience as a pure form of our sensibility and makes possible all intuition from sensibility, and therefore all appearances.”


[ii] Adopted from The Philosophy Book page 188.

[iii] The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science Page 855

[iv] In demography and biology, fecundity is the actual reproductive rate of an organism or population, measured by the number of gametes (eggs), seed set, or asexual propagules. Fecundity is similar to fertility, the natural capability to produce offspring.

[v] See Nicholas Hedlund in Metatheory for the Twenty-First Century page 195

[vi] Translation of the German word “Aufheben” meaning to negate or eliminate (as an element in a dialectic process) but preserve as a partial element in a synthesis.

[vii] Even the simplest life-forms, like single celled bacteria, co-create by generating genetically identical cells through cell division. They also show certain functional preferences for “ease of life” and “well-being”. For example, the E. coli bacterium can digest lactose by cleaving it into glucose and lactose, but prefers to eat glucose first when both are present and consumes the latter only once the former is gone. Plants seemingly “value” light over dark and “choose” to direct their roots towards water; animals “value” certain habitats, foodstuffs, and qualities in mates over others and “choose” accordingly. Even though it may look from a human “anthropomorphic” perspective that they are consciously acting, their “choices” are hardwired, instinctual, involuntary responses to their environment that operate through genetic programs, signaling transductions, biochemistries, and stimulus-response mechanisms, over which the agents don’t have conscious control, because there is no self-conscious subject. Holmes Rolston pointed out that below the threshold of subjectivity—below our conscious mind—which is located in the neocortex of our brains and allows for conscious thoughts, observations, and experiences—life remains.

[viii] The (human) will to live is a psychological force to fight for survival, and is seen as an important and active process of conscious and unconscious reasoning. This process comes to the fore when one’s own life is threatened by a serious injury or disease. Someone who is on the threshold of death may consciously or unconsciously try to stay alive motivated by a deep-seated belief that they have a reason to live, something to live for. There are significant correlations between the will to live and existential, psychological, social, and physical sources of distress. The concept of the will to live can be seen as directly impacted by hope. Many who overcome near-death experiences with no explanation have described concepts such as the will to live as a direct component of their survival. The difference between the wish to die versus the wish to live is also a unique risk factor for suicide.

While the will to live is considered a very basic drive in humans, it is not necessarily the main driving force. In psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud termed that force “the pleasure principle”, which is the seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain. Viktor Frankl, after spending time in a German concentration camp, developed a form of psychotherapy he called logotherapy, or the will to meaning. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs highlights the innate appetite that people possess for love and belonging, but before all this there is the very basic and powerful will to live.

[ix] Loneliness has been linked to everything from heart disease to Alzheimer's disease. Depression is common among the lonely. Cancers tear through their bodies more rapidly, and viruses hit them harder and more frequently. In the short term, it feels like the loneliness will kill you. A study suggests that's because the pain of loneliness activates the immune pattern of a primordial response commonly known as fight or flight.

[x] See Carlo Strenger's book The Fear of Insignificance in which he outlines that no matter how much people achieve, they live in persistent doubt that their lives are of significance. He calls for a deep, intellectual engagement with basic existential questions that can provide many with a road towards a more stable sense of meaning.


[xii] A. Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea. Dover Publications, Vol. 1 page 518.

[xiii] Fellmann, The Couple page 140.

[xiv] Jordan B. Peterson writes in Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief page 17-18: “Prior to the time of Descartes, Bacon and Newton, man lived in an animated, spiritual world, saturated with meaning, imbued with moral purpose. The nature of this purpose was revealed in the stories people told each other – stories about the structure of the cosmos, and the place of man. But now we think empirically (at least we think we think empirically), and the spirits that once inhabited the universe have vanished. The forces released by the advent of the experiment have wreaked havoc within the mythic world. Jung states:

“How totally different did the world appear to medieval man! For him the earth was eternally fixed and at rest in the center of the universe, encircled by the course of a sun that solicitously bestowed its warmth. Men were all children of God under the loving care of the Most High, who prepared them for eternal blessedness; and all knew exactly what they should do and how they should conduct themselves in order to rise from a corruptible world to an incorruptible and joyous existence. Such a life no longer seems real to us, even in our dreams. Natural science has long ago torn this lovely veil to shreds.”

Even if the medieval individual was not in all cases tenderly and completely enraptured by his religious beliefs (he was a great believer in Hell, for example), he was certainly not plagued by the plethora of rational doubts and moral uncertainties that beset his modern counterpart. Religion for the pre-experimental mind was not so much a matter of faith as a matter of fact – which means that the prevailing religious viewpoint was not merely one compelling theory among many.”

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[xv] Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (5. May 1813 – 11. November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology, and the philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual,” giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment.

[xvi] Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice. It is the view that humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions despite existing in an irrational universe. It focuses on the question of human existence, and the feeling that there is no purpose or explanation at the core of existence. It holds that, as there is no God or any other transcendent force, the only way to counter this nothingness (and hence to find meaning in life) is by embracing existence. While the predominant value of existentialist thought is commonly acknowledged to be freedom, its primary virtue is authenticity. In the view of the existentialist, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude," or a sense of disorientation, confusion, or dread in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.

[xvii] Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (21. June 1905 – 15. April 1980) was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism. His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines.

[xviii] Viktor Emil Frankl (26. March 1905 – 2. September 1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of existential analysis, the "Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy". His best-selling book Man's Search for Meaning (1946) chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate, which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones, and thus, a reason to continue living. Frankl became one of the key figures in existential therapy and a prominent source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists.

[xix] Vitalism is a theory that has roots going back to ancient Egypt and gained prominence in the 17th century. It states that living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical, unmeasurable, intelligent force or energy that is governed by different principles (such as a spirit or soul) that sustains and explains them.

[xx] Élan vital is a term coined by French philosopher Henri Bergson in his 1907 book Creative Evolution, in which he addresses the question of self-organization and spontaneous morphogenesis of things in an increasingly complex manner.

[xxi] Orthogenesis, a term first used by the biologist Wilhelm Haacke in 1893, and also known as orthogenetic evolution is an obsolete biological hypothesis that organisms have an innate tendency to evolve in a directional, goal-driven, unilinear fashion due to some internal mechanism or "driving force".

[xxii] In “The Phenomenon of Man,” Teilhard de Chardin, a leading proponent of orthogenesis, sets forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos and the evolution of matter to humanity, to ultimately a reunion with Christ. In the book, Teilhard abandoned literal interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of allegorical and theological interpretations. The unfolding of the material cosmos, is described from primordial particles to the development of life, human beings and the noosphere, and finally to his vision of the Omega Point in the future, which is "pulling" all creation towards it.

[xxiii] In its natural environment, the lac operon allows for the effective digestion of lactose. Lactose permease, which is embedded in the cytoplasmic membrane, transports lactose into the cell. β-galactosidase, a cytoplasmic enzyme, subsequently cleaves lactose into glucose and galactose. However, it would be wasteful to produce the enzymes when there is no lactose available or if there is a more preferable energy source available, such as glucose. Gene regulation of the lac operon was the first genetic regulatory mechanism to be understood clearly, so it has become a foremost example of prokaryotic gene regulation. It is often discussed in introductory molecular and cellular biology classes at universities for this reason.

[xxiv] Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities and is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology. Personification is the related attribution of human form and characteristics to abstract concepts such as nations, emotions and natural forces like seasons and the weather. Both have ancient roots as storytelling and artistic devices, and most cultures have traditional fables with anthropomorphized animals as characters. People have also routinely attributed human emotions and behavioral traits to wild as well as domestic animals.

[xxv] Signal transduction is the process by which a chemical or physical signal is transmitted through a cell as a series of molecular events, most commonly protein phosphorylation, which ultimately result in a response.