Ernst Haeckel introduced the ORP concept in 1866. Modern biology disproved his theory that all species progress from simple cell to complexity in a straight line, but they provide credible evidence that all life shares similarities until branching leads to different species. Each branch may differ from another branch. For example, the branch leading to humans and apes shows greater similarity than the branch leading to dogs and hogs. The embryonic stages of species are most similar but differ as they mature and “branch” into maturity. Genetics and molecular biology show there is greater similarity between species as we approach the base and roots of the tree of creation.
A modern interpretation of ORP introduced by English philosopher Herbert Spencer is that culture conforms to recapitulation theory. He said Education is the repetition of civilization in little. The ORP principle is expressed in our continual refinement of civilization, morality, and our religious and political ideologies. Learning conforms to the following progression: genes ⇨ trial-and-error ⇨ mimicking ⇨ mental rehearsal ⇨ self-initiation. Our first “education” is provided by the directions encoded in a succession of genes that go back millions, even billions of years prior to the 9 months of our gestation. All life is hardwired at birth to repeat the life cycle within the constraints provided by nature’s authority - fate and circumstance. As the most complex earth creatures, only we have been gifted a newer segment to our animal brain with sufficient intelligence to create sophisticated symbols, and manipulate them to create imagination and phenomena original to nature - bombs and buildings, religious and political ideologies, and moral values such as forgiveness. We create the skills we call humane by discovering the universal rules of cause-and-effect and applying common sense to identify universal values such as “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Treat others as you would have others treat you.” “Share for mutual benefit.” Common sense based on knowledge is an elective skill. Most individuals passively allow themselves to remain partially developed, stuck in rules demanded by the hardwired authority of our animal brain: “Eat or be eaten”; “My way, or my tribe’s way - the only way!”; “The Aryan race is the superior race.”
The gods and idols of the earliest religions served only their tribe; they provided magical power to dominate “the other side.” Such giant leaps of faith based on wild assumptions led to bizarre rituals, such as burning “witches” at the stake, are being replaced as our advances in science direct us to more universal assumptions supported by knowledge of cause-and-effect. Darwin’s concept of evolution is a contemporary example of a disputed confrontation between those who believe God magically created everything including human beings and then rested after six days, and others who assume the creative force that explains humane becomings required billions of years and is still progressing within the universal laws of cause-and-effect.
Nature has gifted us its latest model “human” brain containing a sophisticated cerebral cortex. It is the seventh of a series of specialized brains2, each of which has erupted from prior specialized segments. The six segments to first develop have been referred to as the “animal” brain. Humankind represents the leading edge of creation because this seventh segment uses symbols to provide us the power of interpretation. Only we grow and pass knowledge of cause-and-effect forward from generation to generation to attain the mental freedom to create godlike power. We now determine who survives and who becomes extinct. The ORG principle helps us understand that nature has thrust us into unchartered waters and is providing us both the opportunity and the danger to assume responsibility for our own destiny and that of all about us.
2The medulla, pituitary, pineal, pons, cerebellum, thalamus, and cerebral cortex are one of many classifications.