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Darwinism and ideology

From the biography of Darwin by Jonathan Howard, published by Dvir, 1988

Darwin at different ages Illustration: darwin day website
Darwin at different ages Illustration: darwin day website

Jonathan Howard

The chapter was published in the first days of the science site. January 1998

The two main contenders in 1980 for the office of President of the United States of America, the most influential secular office in the world, also competed with each other in public statements about their belief in the literal biblical creation story. It was a sharp reminder of the fact that Darwin's theory of evolution has not yet won the general recognition it deserves according to its first followers. It is bad and bitter for the biologist to prove that almost a century ago T. H. Huxley had a quarrel over the same matter with Mr. Gladstein, the former and future Prime Minister of Great Britain.
In fact, it is to be feared that the situation will worsen further against the background of the ever-growing gap between scientific understanding and popular belief. Although it is true that the very matters that Darwin tried his hardest to explain, and whose explanation he was least successful in explaining, were clarified once and for all with the help of a new science called genetics, but even though the properties of genes explain a significant part of organic evolution with a mind-boggling simplicity, genes, unfortunately, are not understood easily in the mind of one who is not accustomed to recognize the reality of hidden objects from the naked eye.

Although Darwin's arguments imply that beings with the properties of genes will eventually be discovered, the theory of evolution does not depend on this additional analytical step in a way that cannot be avoided. If indeed many are reluctant to acknowledge the validity of the theory of evolution, the question arises anyway, what is it that usually causes a scientific hypothesis to be accepted by everyone? A common mistake is to think that scientists avoid agreeing to statements that claim to be scientific until something called "proof" is presented to them. In fact, scientists tend to believe any reasonable argument that appears to be scientific, until something known as a "refutation" is presented to them. However, there is an important difference between a scientific claim and deductive claims that are equal to it in the degree of logical precision, in terms of the relationship between the scientific claim and the real world: the real world does provide the possibility of refutation.
These things are supposed in Darwin's theory of evolution, the real world has so far failed to realize its refutation potential. There is a variation of organisms in nature, but a significant part of this variation is inherited, and not all variations are noble market adaptations. The natural selection and evolution of populations in the wild is directly observed, even among the Aramites. There is no longer any doubt that natural selection is the mechanism for evolutionary change. The debate that erupts from time to time is abandoned only by the question, if indeed this is the only mechanism. If another mechanism for evolutionary change is discovered, it will have to take its place in the framework of a renewed theory of evolution, alongside natural selection and not in its place.
The question may arise, why should we attribute scientific status to the assertions of the theory of evolution about what happened in the distant past. It is understood that such assertions are not open to refutation, and therefore they are not fundamentally scientific. But isn't it possible to get to the bottom of the past? The fossil evidence may have stopped at 4004 BC, but in fact it stretches back three thousand million years. It is possible that we could learn from the fossils that all the groups of organisms we know today already existed up to the most ancient rock layers, but we actually learn from them a continuous development, although here and there fragmented, from primitive and completely different forms to the existing forms. It is possible that man alone appeared among the fossils and is complete and complete, without any evidence of his pre-human ancestors, but the fact is that countless forms have been discovered that can be seen as representatives of our primitive, ape-like state. The truth has been given that geology does not provide the best evidence for the validity of the modern theory of evolution, but that rock excavations are not an experiment worthy of its name by today's accepted standards. In any case, as far as geology is concerned, all the opportunities she was given to disprove the Torah turned up a mess.
The question of using the theory of evolution to explain past events is the same question that arises in relation to any other scientific generalization. The scientific mind is satisfied with the fact that a law of nature is found to be valid whenever it is examined in order to assume that this law is equally valid in all other cases where the proper conditions are met. And since, as far as our knowledge is concerned, the passing of time when it is to itself does not detract from the validity of the fundamental conditions of the evolution process, and since all the facts that we manage to discover are in good agreement with the theory of evolution, and do not correspond with any other hypothesis that has a similar scientific tenor, we can only assume that the theory of evolution is basically correct. In fact, it is doubtful if the theory of evolution would not have been accepted by most scientists even if all the animals that died crumbled to dust and we had no evidence of fossils.
This is not the place to discuss the question of whether scientific thought - in the most general sense of this term - is entitled to trust in the regularity of the events in the external world, but in this matter of the theory of evolution it is difficult to find even one flaw. And if not everyone accepts the theory of evolution, it is only because not everyone knows the arguments at its foundation or because its conclusions are uncomfortable. More than any other scientific theory, the theory of evolution touches sacred areas of spiritual life.

Again, it is not easy to turn to a spiritual authority that will provide a satisfactory explanation for the most fundamental issues of human existence: why are we here? Why does the world act in such an impartial way? What is the meaning of the sublime? The Darwinian revolution was cruel, because it took away from man many of the accepted sources of comfort. Those who accept the claim that the structure of the human body and mind were created by processes that can be understood, such as the processes that created the ocean waves, may derive spiritual pleasure from his understanding, but this does not compensate him for the loss of a part of the supreme providence. Within the idea of ​​physical continuity between man and other life forms and lifeless matter, there is not even a thin crack in which man can find God's gift unique to him alone. And indeed, it seems that our astonishing intellectual skills and acute capacity for self-awareness are well adapted to highlight this very shortcoming. Because he drew attention to this obvious fact, even indirectly, Darwin was slandered for more than a century as the prophet of materialism and the forefather of moral degeneration.

The irony of this is that, although the believing Christian has difficulty, and may not even be able to accept Darwinism, it is theoreticians who are interested in society who have learned a moral lesson from the theory of evolution. When Engels said of Marx that his materialist conception of history is similar to Darwin's theory of evolution, it seems that he wanted to praise the relative scientific value of Marx's theory, to say that there is actually an equal side between it and Darwin's theory in content or use. Nevertheless, from Darwin's time onward, the idea of ​​social or moral karma has sought scientific respectability from the evolutionary theory. But just as Darwin did not receive his inspiration for the development of the theory of evolution from the progressive and active social movements of the beginning of the nineteenth century, he did not see any point in integrating the theory of evolution into the philosophy of evolution that prevailed at the end of his days. In 1879 he wrote: "What a strange view prevails in Germany, regarding the connection between socialism and evolution by way of natural investigation."

The other-Darwinian thought multiplied absolute ethical principles from the theory of evolution. In England at the end of the Victorian society, and even more so in America, a monstrous form of social perception, "social Darwinism", sheltered under Herbert Spencer's slogan "retention of the fittest", the law of evolution was interpreted as if it meant to say that the victory of the strongest is a necessary condition for progress. This Torah, when it was used as a prescription for social behavior, justified the worst aspects of the exploitation of workers in capitalist society, in terms of "savagery out of consideration" in the words of T. H. Huxley. Huxley tried in vain to strengthen Darwinism against the moral fanaticism of his supporters in the field of social science.
Even his grandson, Julian Huxley, a well-known evolutionary biologist in the XNUMXth century, did not resist the temptation of humanistic morality based on the theory of evolution.. According to Julian Huxley, the theory of evolution gave man - the assurance that outside of him there is a "power that works for justice"; that he is rowing in one direction are the blind evolutionary forces, which would have already shaped his planet eons and eons before he himself appeared: asked him to resist them, but to crown the natural order...

A similar artificial exploitation of Darwinian ideas can be found in platforms for the salvation of man without God, such as the "Diantics" of L. Ron Hebard, the philosophical father-mother of the Scientology cult. In his "First Law" Habard claims that "the dynamic principle of existence is: Survive!" Now we are facing the bitter onslaught of evolutionary sociobiology that believes in predetermined morality, even though it will be another century, as Edward Wilson said, until we know what remedies will rise to our moral harms.

What do we learn from the unbelievable heterogeneity of the philosophical Ariels, who used Darwin's theory of evolution to justify their principles? If socialism, capitalism, dubious humanism, and sociobiological fundamentalism, if all of these are able to find support in Darwin's writings, we have no choice but to assume that these writings are unbelievably vague and incoherent - and they are not - or that the theory of evolution has nothing to do with ethical concepts.

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