Meet Elisabet Sahtouris, Evolution Biologist and Futurist

Elisabet Sahtouris is an evolution biologist and futurist. She’s been featured on ConsciousTV, and is the author of EarthDance, a wonderfully fascinating journey through the history of EarthLife (biological evolution) and then through the history of humanity to see how we humans have seen ourselves in relation to our living planet and what that means for us now. In her book Sahtouris asks, “Will we learn from Nature’s amazing four billion years of experience in creating healthy living systems to give ourselves the future of which we dream?”

Among other topics, Sahtouris is known for her vision of the evolutionary “growth”cycle of the Earth, a journey that leads from competition to cooperation, over and over again. On her website, Satouris shares the wonderful story of the butterfly as a metaphor for what’s happening on the Earth right now:

A caterpillar can eat up to three hundred times its own weight in a day, devastating many plants in the process, continuing to eat until it’s so bloated that it hangs itself up and goes to sleep, its skin hardening into a chrysalis. Then, within the chrysalis, within the body of the dormant caterpillar, a new and very different kind of creature, the butterfly, starts to form. This confused biologists for a long time. How could a different genome plan exist within the caterpillar to form a different creature? They knew that metamorphosis occurs in a number of insect species, but it was not known until quite recently that nature did a lot of mixing and matching of very different genome/protein configurations in early evolutionary times. Cells with the butterfly genome were held as disc-like aggregates of stem cells that biologists call ‘imaginal cells’, hidden away inside the caterpillar’ all its life, remaining undeveloped until the crisis of overeating, fatigue and breakdown allows them to develop, gradually replacing the caterpillar with a butterfly!

Such metamorphosis makes a good metaphor for the great changes globalization, in the sense of world transformation, is bringing about, as Norie Huddle first used it in her beautiful book Butterfly. Our bloated old system is rapidly becoming defunct while the vision of a new and very different society, long held by many ‘imaginal cell’ humans who dreamt of a better world, is now emerging like a butterfly, representing our solutions to the crises of predation, overconsumption and breakdown in a new way of living lightly on Earth, and of seeing our human society not in the metaphors and models of mechanism as well-oiled social machinery, but in those of evolving, self-organizing and intelligent living organism.

If you want a butterfly world, don’t step on the caterpillar, but join forces with other imaginal cells to build a better future for all!

Click here for a YouTube interview with Elisabet Sahtouris

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by Staff