If Darwinism is True, it Can't Be
Naive Darwinism is a subset, or variety, of scientism. Only an immature mind could believe it, since it requires the simultaneous gullibility and grandiosity of a child. Or, to turn it around, if you can believe that, what won't you believe? For it is pure magic, the kind of magic that always rushes in to fill the void where a coherent metaphysic should reside as an anchor and axis for the intellect. In the absence of real adult religion, people become either superstitious or substitious, but either way they miss the mark, for scientism is just a more sophisticated way of being stupid. It is primitivism for sophisticates, neopaganism for urban barbarians.
Now, I haven't seen Ben Stein's new film on the theory of intelligent design, Expelled, and I probably won't unless it shows up on TV. However, I understand that he makes some rather controversial claims, one being that there is a direct connection between Darwinism and fascism. Let's look at this question in a dispassionate manner, and see if there is any truth -- or even the possibility of truth -- in it.
As a prelude, let's remind ourselves that there is nothing that is more horrifying to the postmodern skeptic (who is really a nihilist) than to be made to look foolish, and that is apparently what Stein did in the film. For example, he made Richard Dawkins look like an ass, so Dawkins is leading the charge against the film while openly playing the victim card -- as if he were somehow duped into appearing in it. Even if that were true, on what basis can he object in a world of pure selfish genes? There are no rules in a Darwinian naïf fight. You can't cry "foul" when a snake eats your birdbrain. There is no "ought" in Darwinism. There is only survival. He just has to realize that "he who hesitates is lunch" and concede that Stein had a free one at his expense. He'll just have to evolve and move on.
As David Berlinkski writes, these folks are just upset because they "seriously overestimated their own ability to think nimbly before a camera. They are as result appalled either by how they look or by what they said.... Without ever once realizing that he is about to topple into the badlands of absurdity, [Dawkins] allows Ben Stein to force him into the acknowledgment that life as it appears on earth may well have been designed by space aliens."
Now, Berlinski is an important voice, being that he is a secular scholar who is one of the most articulate critics of reductionistic Darwinism. Like me, he rejects it because it is absurd and illogical, not because he is religious.
This itself should eliminate the charge that intelligent design is merely a trojan horse for creationism. Undoubtedly it can be, just as Darwinism is obviously a trojan hearse for the intellectual corpse of atheism, but that is utterly beside the grave I'm attempting to dig for it here. We need to examine a theory itself and determine whether it can be justified on its own basis, not whether or not it is warranted on the basis of some a priori belief system. I would agree that if you do that, you are no longer doing science.
But the point is that the simplistic believers in scientism engage in this leap of faith no less than do the believers in creationism. Both interpret the data through the lens of their paradigm. If they would just acknowledge this at the outset, it would actually eliminate the hostility, for then it would not be a question of whether or not natural selection is true in itself, but what it means in the larger cosmic context. Again, in my view, reductionistic Darwinism is absurd on the face of it, and cannot possibly be true.
Among other reasons, Darwinism cannot be true, for if it were, humans could not know it. In the darklight of Darwinism, the human intellect -- the light that shines in the darkness of existence -- is an absolute miracle.
Now, I am hardly opposed to the idea that miracles occur, but they nevertheless require an explanation. In fact, given the structure and economy of existence, miracles must occur. But for the scientist (again the believer in scientism), miracles not only cannot occur, but must be explained away as statistically rare random events. You know, monkeys + typewriters. And if you could see what Scatter did to the liberatory the other day after Dupree forgot to bolt the monkeydoor into the house, you would appreciate the absurdity of this contention. What was once an intelligently -- albeit sloppily -- designed office was reduced to a manifestly unintelligent absence of design. I'm still looking for my cattle prong, but that's another story.
So, what is a miracle, anyway, and why must they occur? Schuon writes that miracles "denote an interference of the marvellous in the sensory realm." In itself, a miracle has "nothing mysterious or problematical about it: the so-called natural laws of a lower degree of Existence can always be suspended through the intervention of a higher degree, whence the perfectly logical term 'supernatural': but this degree also has its laws, which means that the miracle is 'natural' on the universal scale, while being 'supernatural' on the earthly scale." (Indeed, the manifest existence of human free will exerting its top-down influence on our neurology is a daily miracle.)
Now, there are several well known ontological gaps in existence, each of which betrays existence of the miraculous. This is not to be confused with any ad hick "God of the saps" theorizing; rather, these are the inevitable gaps of God which can only be explained by recourse to the vertical ingression, or involution, of the higher into the lower, or greater into the lesser, or center to the periphery. If viewed from the "bottom up," then the existence of these gaps -- or, more precisely, the realities that bridge them -- is a miracle in the profane, colloquial sense of the word, and we are back to the primitive magic of scientism.
One unbridgeable cosmic gap is that between consciousness and matter; extended to its ultimate expression, it is the gap between Truth and falsehood, and more generally between light and darkness, the latter being merely the shadow cast by the former; in itself it has no ontological reality, any more than do falsehood or evil. Viewed in this context, a Truth-bearing monkey is more than a miracle, it is a strict impossibility -- not a statistical impossibility, mind you, but a metaphysical one. As Schuon explains,
"The miraculous is that which is due to a direct, thus vertical intervention of a heavenly Power, and not to a horizontal progression of causality. If one extends the notion of 'nature' to all that exists, miracles too are 'natural,' but in that case words would become meaningless, as it would then be impossible to make the essential distinction between blind or unconscious causes and the supra-conscious Cause, the source of all consciousness and of all power. Scientists confuse the miraculous with the irrational and the arbitrary."
Amen. Not amonkey.
Now -- being that they must explain away everything specifically and uniquely human -- Darwinists must explain away the quintessential miracle of religion that binds man to the Absolute. But if they were to ever succeed in this demonic endeavor, I do not see how Stein could fail to be correct in his apparent belief that it eventually leads to fascism, or at least something similarly nasty. For as George Gilder writes, it's pretty simple, at least if you have the courage of your absence of convictions:
A: If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.
B: If scientism is true, then God does not exist.
C: If scientism is true, then everything is permitted.
Could someone please tell me where this argument fails? And please do so without reference to any transcendentally true moral obligations. Rather, on what strictly scientistic basis is it untrue, in particular, once all religious ideals are successfully swept aside by a triumphant scientism, and no one is constrained by them ?
In Truth, science cannot begin to address the question of "how the ordered physical, moral, mental, aesthetic, social world in which [we] live could ever have arisen from the seething anarchy of the world of particle physics" (Berlinski). No. In order to understand how that happened, you must read the Coonifesto at least once in your lifetome. Or at least buy it. You don't have to read it. Petey will give you an indulgence just the same.
Scientism is, as Gilder notes, "the dominant religion of the intelligentsia." As such, "its religious claims far overreach its scientific content," but knowing much about one tiny portion of reality gives these "barbarians of specialization" the "confidence to pontificate about other subjects to which their expertise is irrelevant" -- or to elevate what little genuine knowledge they do possess into a crude "grand unified theory." But as they say, nothing can be that simple -- let alone everything.
Again we must insist: if a Darwinian monkey were capable of arriving at a true unified theory of existence -- which he is, by the way, except that it is not a "scientific" theory but a realization -- then he cannot be the mere monkey Darwinists make him out to be. Rather, he is something quite apart from anything else in all of existence, a luminous bridge that stretches between matter and spirit, appearance and reality, time and eternity, the one and the many. Why, he is a bloody Raccoon, dammit!
I'm just getting warmed up. To be continued....