Darwinism and Spiritual Genocide
I suppose we'll get back to the Darwinist bashing in due time, but for the moment I want to return to our spiritual ascent to the top of the real Mount Improbable; or, to be perfectly accurate, Mount Impossible in the absence of grace, or the "vertical energies" that lift us by our own buddhastraps. We'll come back down and deal with the Darwinist stragglers later, as would any soph-respecting bodhisattva.
Then again, perhaps we will touch on Darwinist Man in this post, because he is always present as a kind of shadow or inverted version of the Real. People always ask me.... No, wait a minute.... no one's ever asked me. But one could ask, "why do you waste your time talking about these people? They're stuck. You can't change them."
I suppose for the same reason that a doctor cannot help talking about disease. It's just intrinsic to the work of a suburban shaman, freelance holy man, and coonical pslackologist. You cannot discuss wellness in the absence of the disease, and reductionistic Darwinism is definitely one of the central pneumapathologies of our time, partly because it permits and encourages so many others. It is not just "counter-cultural" but counter-civilizational. It is the penultimate spiritual corrosive, in that we should have the courtesy of reserving some space for the Evil One himself.
I don't think the corrosive Richard Dawkins would disagree about his own spiritual corrosiveness. After all, his explicit mission is to destroy human spirituality, which is to say, Man. Call it gene-ocide.
In fact, you could say that Darwinism is the quintessential pneumapathology, not just because it denies Spirit a priori, thereby eliminating what it needs to explain, but because it obliterates any understanding of the nature and purpose of human life, which is to say, of human normality. For if one is a reductionistic Darwinist, what, aside from homosexuality, abortion, and being a Cubs fan, constitutes "abnormal" behavior?
To put it another way, Darwinist tautology can normalize virtually anything. The Cubs fan says, "we'll win next year!," conveniently forgetting that natural selection does not plan for a future that will never arrive. But once you understand that truth -- not to mention, virtue and beauty -- are real and that man is free, you are no longer a Darwinist. Man is only free -- and intelligent -- to the extent that he is free to choose truth. If he is only free to choose error or stupidity... well, you figure it out. To quote my friend Baba Rum Raisin,
"Having causes is not synonymous with being determined. For example, adulthood is the final (i.e., telological) cause of child development, but it obviously doesn't determine it. Indeed, one may ignore it all together and remain a child or liberal for life.
"Man as such is composed of intelligence, will, and sentiment [paraphrasing Baba's friend Schuon]. To suggest that man has no free will is to say that he has no intelligence, as intelligence quintessentially involves discerning options and then applying the will toward achieving the ends determined by the intellect. Obviously there can be no freedom without the intellect and no intellect without truth, which is precisely why knowledge of the Truth sets one free.
"What Baba has just revealed to you is Absolute Truth, and therefore the foundation of real liberty (and liberation). Reject it if you like, but know that you only reject it to the extent that you are a slave and ardently wish (with the passions, not intellect) to remain one."
Thank you, Baba. Now, some people are so narrow-minded that they think this is a matter of Darwinism vs. Creationism, when it is really a matter of two competing visions of evolution, one of which is complete and consistent (that would be mine), the other of which is of necessity neither. Nor can Darwinism ever be consistent and complete, for reasons that are intrinsic to its erroneous metaphysical assumptions. If the Darwinist cannot see this... well, you figure it out.
When I or Baba or Petey speak of evolution, we don't really care all that much about a bacterium or virus that can learn a new trick. After all, isn't that why we need to get a flu shot every year? But if you transfer that reality to the human plane, you might gain a better understanding of why religion and spirituality must constantly "learn new tricks" in order to deal with their perennial Adversary, the Great Deceiver. Was that clear? No?
There is this thing called health which humans would like to preserve. But unfortunately, there are other beings with interests of their own -- such as the flu virus -- that are at odds with human interests.
Likewise, there is a thing called "spiritual health" (we'll define it later), and it so happens that there is a sort of "competition" with other beings -- let's call them principalities and powers -- on that plane as well. For example, in my book I talk about mind parasites, which operate precisely in the manner of a biological virus or parasite to advance their own interests at the expense of the host -- i.e., us. And I didn't go into all of the details, but these mind parasites are present on different planes of reality, from the material (i.e., genetic or dietary), to the emotional, to the psychological, to the cognitive, to the psychic realms.
For example, reductionistic Darwinism would be an example of a cognitive mind parasite -- being that it thwarts knowledge of truth -- but it could very well be rooted in genetic or developmental reasons located "below" or spiritual causes located "above" (or let us say, on the vertical plane).
Back to human normality. As Perry writes, "tradition is characterized by a normal constant; the saint or sage is none other than the culminating point, essence, pole or logical perfection of this norm" [emphasis mine]. To cite one obvious example, when Jesus says, "I am alpha and omega," he is trying to telos all about the point of human development.
Now obviously, in the Darwinist paradigm there can be no teleology, no transcendent normality, no culminating point of development, no essence, and no perfection. I would think this would be an uncontroversial statement, something with which we can all agree, even shrill and spiritually purblind lizards.
Guenon writes that flat-earth Western men indoctrinated into one-substance/one plane materialism simultaneously see the human individual as much more and much less than he actually is. On the one hand, they reduce him to his "corporeal modality, which includes but a small fraction of its possibilities."
But at the same time, it absurdly elevates the human ego to the last word on human evolution, as if that is where human evolution ends! In reality that is precisely where it begins. Again, to borrow a pithy formulation from Schuon, the Darwinist simultaneously makes man less than human and all too human at the same time. Either way, there is no exit from this dreadful state "from above."
In fact, this also reminds me of a pithy comment by Guenon, who said something to the effect that the 19th century closed Western man to the "above," while the 20th century opened him up to the "below." Is it possible for an observation to be both brilliant and a banality at the same time? Yes, to the extent that man needs to be re-minded of the obvious again and again.
So, here we sit in the 21st century, in a culture that is almost completely closed to the above, but continues to plunge with gusto into the below, being that it represents a kind of "Dionysian" spirituality that we really saw emerge on a widespread basis in the 1960s. This spirituality is radically subjective, passionate, narcissistic, and ego-driven, and thoroughly confuses the psychic with the spiritual plane proper. In other words, it is a leap into the murky swamp of the lower vertical in the guise of "freedom" or some other perversion of an eternal value. For again: there is no freedom in the absence of Truth, except the freedom to be essentially bad and stupid, but only "accidentally" good or intelligent.
Man in his wholeness is much more than a "replicating machine." As Schuon (in Perry) writes, "intellectuality becomes spirituality when the entire man and not only his intelligence lives in the truth" [emphasis mine]." Perry then cites D.T. Suzuki, who writes that from the perspective of Zen, the integrally intelligent man "thinks like the showers coming down from the sky; he thinks like the waves rolling on the ocean, he thinks like the stars illuminating the nightly heavens; he thinks like the green foliage shooting forth in the relaxing spring breeze. Indeed, he is the showers, the ocean, the stars, the foliage."
This description by Suzuki is precisely what I meant by the abstract symbol O-->(n). Again, as I explained in the book, this symbol can be thought of as an abstraction from the sort of statement made by Suzuki. Or, alternatively, it can be thought of as the archetypal preconception, or "empty category," that awaits personal experience in order to fill it with personal meaning. Either way, it must be experienced, or not known at all. One reviewer, who otherwise very much liked my book, thought that these symbols were a bit cold and abstract. Yes, that is the point. The word "love" is cold and abstract until you fall in love.
In the traditional view, man is the one being in all of creation who contains all levels of reality within him; he is the microcosm, an abridged edition of reality. For example, when we say that man was present at the moment of the creation of the universe, we mean this literally, as evidenced by our ability to place ourselves there with our mathematical abstractions. No other being can do this. So when the sophisticated Darwinist criticizes the "young earth creationist" for saying that man and creation arose at the same time, that is hardly valid. After all, the Darwinist is saying, "you're wrong, because I was there!" But if he was there "in spirit," then he cannot be a Darwinist.
As reader Wm. Shakespeare mentioned in a comment just yesterday,
And oftentimes, to win us our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray us
In deepest consequence.
Or, in the words of Schuon, "the apparent 'reality' of the sensible order and the passions which belong to it -- becomes 'negative' in the Truth, while what appears negative from the standpoint of sensible experience -- the transcendent and thus invisible Reality, with all the spiritual consequences which it entails for man -- becomes 'positive' in proportion as Knowledge transforms the mental and 'abstract' concept into spiritual and 'concrete' Life."
One man's O-->(n) is another man's Ø. What a waste of a lifetime.
If, after being born a human being, one gives no heed to the Holy Doctrine, one resembleth a man who returneth empty-handed from a land rich in precious gems; and this is a grievous failure. --Gampopa
Never, my son, can a soul that has so far uplifted itself as to grasp the truly good and real slip back to the evil and unreal. --Hermes
Brilliant essay by Roger Kimball. I haven't even had time to finish it, because I have to leave for work, but file reductionistic Darwinism under the heading of a "critical philosophy" -- or "criticism-ism"-- that destroys what it would attempt to explain, i.e., the phenomenon of Man.