Research Item – J.E. Kennedy
ABSTRACT: According to the prevailing view in biology, the driving force for biological evolution is self-serving enhancement of reproductive and associated material success through competition and struggle for existence. However, the evolution of consciousness in humans has resulted in symbolic thought and culture that can disengage from the instinctive self-interests underlying evolution. This evolution of consciousness includes the emergence of spirituality, and motivations for transcendence and ethics beyond self-interest. Experimental parapsychology has assumed that psi is directed by needs and motivations based on self-interest. However, both experimental and spontaneous case findings suggest that psi is generally not guided by conventional motivations and needs. The parapsychological assumptions have not produced significant scientific progress and the experimental results appear capricious and actively evasive. On the other hand, paranormal phenomena tend to inspire an enhanced sense of connectedness, meaning in life, and spirituality, and have had a major role in most spiritual traditions. Psi appears to have the function of drawing attention to spiritual matters. The instances of striking psi draw attention away from the material world, and the capricious, actively evasive characteristics of psi thwart efforts to use psi for material self-interests. Enhanced consciousness can be viewed as the self-evident result of biological evolution, the ultimate goal of spirituality, and the primary effect of paranormal experiences. Interest in spirituality and related paranormal phenomena appears to be associated with personality traits that have significant genetic components.