Evolution: The Highest Rule of Law
Through time, we can watch as the universe has grown and changed, creating a dizzying array of worlds and laws. It is difficult to see any unifying order, but after a comparison of all the steps, evolution comes through as the one guiding light. Evolution here is not Darwinian evolution. It is defined, in a rule, as that which tends towards higher order (the higher order being that which has a greater degree of complexity in its system). Think of this as the exact opposite of time, which tends towards entropy. Even though time, as it moves forward, tends to level all energies and structures to their least complex forms, there is this one tendency in the universe that goes in the opposite direction. That is evolution. On an evolutionary timescale, atoms became molecules that are governed by different laws than atoms, which become our world - the world of life, though there are many intermediate steps. Following each step, we can see how the degree of order has increased.
The unique evolutionary trait that distinguishes life was that it was a system preprogrammed to avoid its own destruction - namely death. Instinct has been that system for millions, if not billions, of years. But, when evolution created humanity, an entirely unique and wondrous system was devised: consciousness. The difference between instinct and consciousness, or awareness, is apparent to us, as we encompass that world as well as all our own; we still jerk our hand away from a fire without thinking about it. We can think, decide, muse, ponder, wonder, and even question whether we know or not. But why? Following just the one rule of evolution supposes that it must be an advantage towards preserving the order of our system. We are the result of the universe's next step in evolution: a system that is conscious of the possibility of its own destruction at any moment.
We call it mortality, and we call ourselves mortal. It is that ever present awareness that gives us the ability to progress within our own lifetimes. Up to this point, evolution in the system of life worked on the scale of generations of lifetimes. Here we sit at the pinnacle of it all. We can evolve in one lifetime. Of course, concessions must be made that we are not alone in this ability; we are simply the best at it. Intelligent animals such as dolphins and chimpanzees can also evolve in a lifetime (namely by that miracle of evolution that is mammalian motherhood). It is called learning - but it is not instinct as it is programmed into our DNA, but rather a memory or behavior that is programmed into our minds.
Art as a step in the Evolutionary Ladder
It is a degree of sensitivity towards reality that illicits the responses of some towards art. How can this be the universe trying to evolve? It doesn't seem practical as a means to propagate the species. Of course, that is not an actual rule of evolution. That is a rule of biology, which fits as one rung on the evolutionary ladder, and has laws that only apply to that rung. The single rule of evolution is to progress towards systems of greater degrees of complexity. Art may exist outside of the rules that govern the system of biological life.
Within our lifetimes we can love, hate, avenge, and create. It seems that these are the consequences of our unique evolutionary trait. We respond in ways that are completely our own. Could it not be that in art we are attempting to create another world above our own? It the same way that atoms came to create molecules so are we trying to create the world that will encompass (and include) us. Of course, let us not be short-sighted in our definition of art. Art is not simply visual art, or even music. Art includes all the wondrous creations of humanity. And don't underestimate the gravity of that word; creation, as in we have the will to create. One can look at a Rembrandt, hear Mozart, walk through one of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings, or even visualize the datasphere that our planet is becoming and know that they are astounding feats of humanity. That is art. It is our attempt to evolve, and because of that, it is the universe's attempt to evolve.
The Omega Point
The next question then becomes, 'what is the universe evolving towards?' There are many possible answers. Some would say god, some would say that the universe is merely attempting to get back to its original state before the Big Bang. With only the knowledge of human consciousness, and no data to prove if there is an evolution that has surpassed us, it is easy to say that the universe is attempting to gain sentience. It is evolving towards what some might consider a godhead. Or maybe a "god" outside of the universe was lonely, and the entire universe's existence is its attempt to create a companion that is on its same level. The truth of that is left to the imagination, but the principal truth of evolution is undeniable.