I Am Darwin Man, Destroyer of Worlds!
I'm not talking about empirical reality, which is an entirely different matter. No future discovery of science will obviate the need to get out of the way of that hurtling bus. There is no machine that will ever reverse the flow of time, since time is irreversible by ontological necessity.
In contrast to science, if you adapt your mind to religion, you are adapting it to the timeless, the unchanging and the eternally true. Indeed, that is the whole point. I can commune with, say, Denys from the 6th century or Eckhart from the 14th, and both of them speak to me in a way that most 19th century science -- which was the pinnacle of material reductionism and mechanical determinism -- does not. The Ten Commandments still apply over 3000 years later, while countless scientific theories have come and gone.
This is why in my book, I tried to rely more on philosophy of science than science per se -- e.g., people such as Whitehead, Polanyi, and Robert Rosen. Or, if I did rely on more specific findings, I tried to do so in such a way that the overall vision would not stand or fall based upon them.
For example, in my account of human evolution, I endeavored to use the most up-to-date findings, knowing in advance that they were subject to change. One of the most helpful books was Steven Stanley's Children of the Ice Age, which was published just eleven years ago. But now the latest discovery of that old broad in Africa completely overturns Stanley's narrative.
But it really doesn't matter to me, any more than it matters whether human infants spend 9 or 9.5 months in the womb. The main point is that we come out neurologically incomplete, which is the evolutionary prerequisite for the acquisition of humanness. Nor will any finding of science ever alter my view that natural selection alone cannot account for the human station. For if it does, then we really know that everything we believe is wrong, and that there is no reason whatsoever to believe it except for pure pragmatism.
This actually goes back to the previous book we were discussing, Living Constitution, Dying Faith. In it, Watson points out that what we know of today as "progressivism" is grounded in a combination of Darwinism and philosophical pragmatism, which render the whole notion of timeless truth null and void. The elimination of timeless truth is both the origin and goal of progressive thought, just as timeless truth is the origin and goal of our liberal Founders (and which again makes genuine evolution possible).
As mentioned yesterday, we are not in any way trying to be polemical. In fact, Watson cites abundant sources in support of his assertions, and Sowell dispassionately covers some of the same ground in A Conflict of Visions. As Watson explains, "Social Darwinism began to dominate American thinking just as transcendentalism was on the wane" in the late 19th century. And if you want to know what "social Darwinism" is, it is simply Darwinism drawn out to its inevitable ontological, epistemological, and ethical implications. It is Darwinism with no apologies, and no recourse to Judeo-Christian principles and other so-called "eternal truths." Among other things, it is the tyranny of the ephemeral.
For the herd of self-appointed elites of the time, "natural selection was seen as an all-purpose explanatory tool that could put the human sciences, especially politics and jurisprudence, on a parallel track with modern natural science" (Watson).
Thus, with a single stroke, these anti-intellectual mediocrities such as John Dewey and Charles Sanders Pierce were able to elevate themselves above the Founders, and affirm that "there are no fixed or eternal principles that govern, or ought to govern, the politics of a decent regime." Rather, all truth was situated in a strict historicism, meaning that "truth" was simply what was believed to be true at the time, and nothing more. With the passage of time, we'll arrive at better truths, just as natural selection has produced better eyes and more clever apes. But there is no truth that is true for all time -- no annoying natural rights to interfere with the prerogatives of the state.
Again, this view begins and ends in change as opposed to permanence. But anyone who has studied a bit about dissipative structures knows that organisms change in order to remain the same, and remain the same in order to change. Well, forget about that. Under the new Darwinian regime, there is only change. Yes, it's absurd, since change can only occur in relation to the unchanging, but no one ever accused Darwinists of being philosophically coherent.
Armed with this new philosophy of eternal stupidity, the goal "is no longer to search after absolute origins or ends," only the reduction of everything, both subject and object, to ceaseless change. Thus, "in the absence of fixity, morals, politics, and religion are subject to radical renegotiation and transformation."
From this false premise the left pulled off the ultimate fraud, by identifying the liberating belief in absolutes with authoritarianism, and the acceptance of radical relativism with "liberation." Yes, it is a sort of liberation -- into nihilism on the one hand, and the omnipotent state on the other. For if there is nothing but change -- "permanent change" -- this is just another way of saying "absolute relativism" and pure subjectivity, which is a self-refuting metaphysic that elevates Will over Truth. Truth becomes a function of raw power and eventually pure, unredeemed tenure.
Under Darwinism, there can be nothing special about human beings, no vertical intersection with the eternal. Rather, all is horizontal. The ontological divide that separates human and animal is completely effaced, as is the bright line between matter and life. Ultimately this reduces to Atoms in the Void, just as Whitehead said some eighty years ago. Or Adams in the Void, as Petey said just a few seconds ago.
The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the power of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. --Hayek