As the world continues to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Darwin'sOrigin of Species, which to many people also signifies the origin of the idea of evolution itself, it seems worth noting—as we did in our article "A Brief History of Evolutionary Spirituality"—that the general concept of evolution began cooking in human consciousness long before Darwin's time:
Sixty years before Darwin brought the scientific world to its knees with his theory of biological evolution by means of natural selection and "random variation," Friedrich Schelling and some of his closest friends... were already claiming that reality as a whole was going somewhere. Nature—and humanity—had a purpose and direction, aligned with a purely spiritual drive, and the striking implications of this idea for humanity's most basic conceptions of life and God did not pass these men by. In the spring of 1800... Schelling pulled out his latest manuscript-in-progress, System of Transcendental Idealism, and inscribed a simple summation of his budding evolutionary thesis: "History as a whole," he concluded, "is a progressive, gradually self-disclosing revelation of the Absolute." It wa the clearest formulation yet of a vision—an evolutionary spirituality—that would rock the foundations of philosophy and mysticism for centuries to come.