Considering the innumerable unique and semi-random environmental variables that came to shape our species on Earth, it was not a foregone conclusion or inevitable that we humans would be as we are now. It was not inevitable we would be here at all, at least not in our current form.
If the asteroid which randomly struck Earth 66 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs had not happened, humans would almost certainly not be here today, but there would likely be some form of more evolved dinosaurs still roaming the planet now, but perhaps far more intelligent and self-aware. Mammals would not have radiated and diversified into primates at all, or at least not in the same way.
It is possible (even probable) that a similar asteroid could again strike Earth, or another similar mass extinction event, perhaps even of our own making, and wipe out humanity. Other creatures would then radiate and diversify in the ecosystems that are vacated by humans. Those creatures will then be the way God is evolving here and growing in Self-consciousness. As the modern Buddhist sage Thich Nhat Hanh has recently said:
All civilisations are impermanent and must come to an end one day. But if we continue on our current course, there’s no doubt that our civilisation will be destroyed sooner than we think. The Earth may need millions of years to heal, to retrieve her balance and restore her beauty. She will be able to recover, but we humans and many other species will disappear, until the Earth can generate conditions to bring us forth again in new forms.
Humans are not the end of the story, nor are we the central characters of it, nor was it the preconceived plan that we, specifically, would be here, even if we are currently the most intelligent and “self-aware” life on the planet (although if we cause our own extinction, future creatures may doubt just how intelligent and “self-aware” we were). We are all part of this evolving paradigm, this evolving God, this evolving consciousness on this planet and in this cosmos.
And, we don’t have to be as we are now. We are still changing, evolving, progressing, growing, determining what we will be tomorrow. We are being shaped even now by factors beyond our control, as well as those we do control. The evolving God does not know the end from the beginning. We are the present manifestation of God, and it does not yet appear what we will be, but we know that when it appears, we will be it, because consciousness will see through its “eyes” (1 John 3:2).
When we realize ourselves at-one in That all-encompassing evolving One, even Consciousness itself, then That is what we are, our deepest Divine identity, and not any particular species or lifeform or specific expression of consciousness. We are not even human in our depths. We are larger than our current form, our primary identity is prior to and beyond human or homo sapiens (transhuman or transpersonal), and it is certain that we will become something in the future far different than we are today, perhaps not even descended from the humans of today. Thich Nhat Hanh continued:
Once we can accept the impermanence of our civilization with peace, we will be liberated from our fear. Only then will we have the strength, awakening and love we need to bring us together. Cherishing our precious Earth–falling in love with the Earth–is not an obligation. It is a matter of personal and collective happiness and survival.
Through contemplative practices we may come to realize ourselves in this greater identity in the depths of consciousness itself, in the depths of the soul. This perhaps liberates us from our fearful concern for ourselves in particular, for our mortality, and yet also helps us to see the larger process that is going on here on Earth. Until we see this larger interconnected pattern, this world-centric or cosmic perspective, we may not see what we must do in order to come together as a species to survive.
We are not separate from all the other creatures here, or even the Earth itself, and we must begin to think holistically, as a Body, if we humans are to evolve into the future. But regardless of whether humans are here or not, it seems certain that God will continue to evolve, and that is what we really are. Earth will bring “us forth again in new forms.”