Whence, Whither, Who?

A reader asks: I wish someone could explain to me the antipathy towards Evolution that is so common in religious circles, mostly among Evangelicals, but also some Catholics.

There are only three questions that no man escapes answering. For most people, the answer is shown rather than spoken, demonstrated in the way he lives his life. For most people, the answer is implicit rather than expressed.

The questions are whence, whither, and who?

From where do you come? Where are you going? Who are you?

I submit that the antipathy is not directed at the Darwinian model as it applies to biology. It is directed at the Secular Progressivism cult which claims (falsely) that Darwinism provides answers to these questions.

No one is livid over the idea that raccoons and bears may have had a common ancestors, or that the remote ancestors of whales may have been land mammals. The theory may be true or false as applied to biology, and there are philosophical difficulties with a theory that cannot be falsified, but that is not what causes the antipathy.

Nor is the antipathy necessary. The account of the origin of Man in Genesis disagrees with Darwin if and only if you makes assumptions not found in the wording either of Genesis nor in Darwin’s writings.

Genesis say man comes from dust by the will of the Creator. Darwin says man come from apes, who come from simper organisms, who come from simpler yet. Darwin says nothing about how life arose in the first place.

So if man arose from apes who arose from simpler organisms, who arose from dust by the will of the Creator, both are correct. One account says who created man. The other speculates as to a mechanism regarding how it was done.

Neither one contradicts the other. Neither one enforces the other.

Nor does Darwin say anything one way or the other as to the ultimate final cause of evolution. That is a question outside the realm of science.

While it is true that most secular progressives and many religious folk read Darwin to say that evolution is blind and purposeless, his writings do not support this conclusion. Darwin is writing an empirical theory. Talk of blindness and purposefulness is a teleological matter, that is, a metaphysical assumption.

If you find a pack of cards and all the cards are in order by number and suit, empiricism only tells you the arrangements of the cards. It does not tell you whether a hand deliberately put those cards in sequence, or random shuffles by happenstance arranged the sequence.

(It is a very remote happenstance indeed, but not technically impossible. In a multiverse of infinite parallel timelines, we happen to be occupying the one where random chance laid out the deck in perfect numerical order. If you find this kind of reasoning palatable — I confess I do not.)

Be that as it may, the question of whether something was done on purpose is a question of final causes, that is, a metaphysical question. The cards are in the same order either way.

So what causes the antipathy?

It is not an argument over the origin of species, nor even an argument over the origin of man. It is an argument over whether or not life is worth living, thought worth thinking, man worth being man.

Or, in other words, whence, whither, and who?

The Christian answers these question by saying Man is the creation of an omnipotent and omniscient father; due to our rebellion, we are headed for hell, but due to the creator’s incomprehensible benevolence, we have hope of paradise; we are the beloved children of God, the most wretched of animals, and the crown and glory of creation, set here on Earth to learn to love, serve, and glorify the Lord. Human nature is built to find lasting joy in no other service. We were made for love.

Whether true or not, whether flattering to human pride or not, these answers are certainly dramatic. Every tiny act of love or sin has eternal consequences.  No aspect of human existence, no matter how tiny, lacks a deeper, spiritual meaning. No one’s life is meaningless.

Indeed, by the Christian answer of who we are, the universe itself is less meaningful than the smallest human life history forgets, because that soul will outlast the universe by an infinite proportion.

 

Darwin himself, if you read ORIGIN OF SPECIES, makes no pretense of answering any such question. That book does not address these issues.

However, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, and an countless number of our modern version of Gnostics, the Secular Progressives, place a strained and unjustified interpretation Darwinism, and from it deduce philosophical, moral and political conclusions.

What Darwin does not say is that simpler, more primitive, and worse things always turn, by means of their own innate power, directed by the directionless outcome of endless conflict, into better and more complex things.

Hegel is the one who said the clash of opposite philosophical ideas leads to an ever increasing approach to the absolute truth.

Nietzsche is the one who said the superman, the next stage of human evolution, would overthrow Christian moral thought and erect an amoral suprehuman to whom categories of good and evil no longer applied.

Marx is the one who said that the clash of class conflict between economic roles (he conflated the two) would produce ever more efficient economic systems, culminating in socialism.

Darwin never said any of this nonsense.

It is nonsense because it is self refuting: if Hegel is true, anti-Hegelianism is also true, and a new truth will leap out of a synthesis of Hegelianism and Anti-Hegelianism, ergo Hegel by his own terms is not true; if Nietzsche is good, the progress from man to superman is not a good thing, nor evil, but pointless ergo Nietzsche by his own terms is pointless, that is, not good; and if the political theory of Marx is correct, political evolution is controlled by nonhuman factors of history beyond human control, ergo theorizing about it is in vain, ergo by his own terms, Marx is not correct.

Darwin never even said natural selection is a noticeable factor, or a factor at all, among intelligent toolusers.  There is certainly no obvious reason why it should be: instead of growing hair, the Eskimos hunt and trap seals for fur. Instead of letting the bookish people with poor eyesight dies out before mating, the European invents eyeglasses.

If natural selection were a noticeable factor among human reproduction, the Catholics, who forbid contraception, divorce, abortion, sodomy, feminism, and fornication (all of which hinder fertility and childrearing), should significantly outbreed other sects, and pass along the “religious objection to contraception” gene, assuming there is such a gene.

But even if natural selection were a noticeable factor among human reproduction, there is no reason to assume that the secular progressive notion that the past is always worse and the future always better would hold true.

Why Mother Nature would select for intelligence or artistic talent or beauty or any other quality we humans find desirable in mates is unanswered: the robust and fertile Morlocks or the docile and fecund Eloi are just as likely to be the inheritors of the human legacy, going simply by Darwinian natural selection, than the godlike superman of Nietzsche or DC comics.

So, Darwin himself is silent on the matter. Darwinism, however, the misreading provided by Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx and Progressivism does answer the questions, and has, with remarkable success, won the war of ideas and forced all other answers into silence.

 

 

According to Progressivism, we come in the long run from the unintentional by product of mindless chemical and atomic forces operating inside the mechanism of an animate but dead and mindless and indifferent universe. Blind chance blew us into being by mere happenstance, and not for any reason, nor to serve any purpose.

We come in the short run from beastlike ancestors, and through the heroic operation of genetic and social evolution, passed from cannibal savagery, to hunter-gatherer bands, to nomadic herdsmen, to farmers, to city-dwellers, domesticating the dog and horse, and learning the arts and sciences along the way.

We passed from primitive animism through polytheism, encountered a centuries long fever of monotheism, from which we have happily broken free, allowing us to create rigorous science, which in turn gives us the philosophical, moral and political doctrines of Hegelianism, Nietzscheanism, Marxism.

According to Progressivism, in the short run, the future holds a Green Energy world of solar powered rocketships to the moon, eugenics to wipe out all Jews, Catholics, and lesser races, diversity in all things but ideas, endless abortions to make sure there will be fewer persons to burden the planet, and those few will share all property in common. The laws of economic will vanish softly and suddenly away like the Boojam, and, without specialization of labor, there will suddenly and for no imaginable reason be no more original sin. An infinitely powerful Big Brother style government will bring us all into a walled garden of total thought conformity, and wipe all tears from our eyes, and there will be no pain, war, or sorrow in Utopia.

According to Progressivism, in the long run, we are heading for entropy and the heat death of the universe, the death of all we know, love and cherish, and nothing and no one will mourn, or even note, our passing. The atoms of which we are currently composed will enter other combinations as the winds of blind chance blow, and then also will decay.

According to Progressivism, you are nothing, your life is meaningless, there are no laws of morality, no truths for the mind to discover, nothing worth doing except that your willpower makes you will to do it. You are a meat robot.

Again, all these answers are nonsense, and refute themselves. Even a schoolboy can see the error in the statement, “the truth is that there is no truth.” If the Progressive account of the past is correct, then all of the contents of our brains, including the Progressive account of the past, is a mechanical by product of atomic and chemical forces, or of historical accident. If the Progressive account of the future is correct, then all human activity is vain, including the making of accounts of the future, Progressive or otherwise.

The Christian answer and the Progressive answer are diametrically at odds with each other in terms of the Three Questions. Darwin himself does not give the Progressive answer to the riddle of Human life, but the Progressive answer falls to nothing if Darwinism hence Hegel, Nietzsche and Marx fall to nothing.

Under the Darwinian answer to the Three Questions, you may live for physical pleasures until those pleasures pall.

After pleasure-chasing fails, the sad reality sinks in that nothing is worth doing because nothing has meaning. Even love, superlative love, has no meaning if there is no spiritual component to it, for them it is just a by product of chemicals in the brain affixing emotional responses to arbitrary objects.

Trying to reproduce or improve the species via polygamy and eugenics and genocide of inferiors might seem a fun goal, but, ultimately, it too is vain, and will go the way of the dinosaurs. Saving the environment is pointless. It is destined to go the way of the Archean Eon atmosphere.

Whether true or not, whether flattering to human pride or not, these answers are certainly undramatic to an ultimate degree. Every act of love or sin, howsoever gigantic, has no lasting consequences.  Every aspect of human existence, no matter how tiny, lacks any meaning of any kind, deep or shallow. No one’s life is meaningful.

Which means the answers to the questions are not meaningful either.

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