Thomas Jefferson vs. Charles Darwin
Right. There's a theory called natural selection. But it's not really a theory, you see. Rather, it's a fact, like gravity, or the conservation of mass and energy. The fact of natural selection explains everything about the origin and nature of man, and excludes any non-physical causes. But to suggest that this has any moral or political implications is a slander and a libel!
Anyone who holds such a view is either stupid, disingenuous, or a liar. For the fact of the matter is that no question could possibly be more fraught with metaphysical, philosophical, moral, and political consequences.
For example, what if the "truth" of natural selection were known at the time of America's founding? Suppose that instead of being highly sophisticated Christian thinkers and biblical exegetes, they all believed the simplistic notion that man is nothing more than an accident of the genes, just an animal with no conceivable claim on truth, justice, or liberty.
Obviously, our founding creed would have been equally inconceivable, i.e., that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Or, I suppose a Darwinist could mouth such words, but he would be lying, because the formulation is strict nonsense on any Darwinian grounds. Clearly, unless you are very stupid, you must realize that Darwinism does not permit the existence of permanent truths or natural law accessible to man's reason. The very idea is absurd, and the Darwinist should come right out and admit it.
So don't tell me that Darwinism has no political implications, because it is not only directly at odds with America's founding principles, but renders them absurd and impossible. Furthermore, it provides the principles and the framework for contemporary leftist statism, or "progressivism." Make no mistake: in order for progressivism to even be "legal" -- that is, constitutional -- it must first carry out an attack on the existing Constitution. Most of what progressives have done and wish to do cannot be done unless they first reframe the Constitution in Darwinian terms as an evolving document.
At present, I'm reading an outstanding book that touches on this subject, Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence, and I'd like to spend at least a couple of posts discussing it.
As Watson explains, it never occurred to America's founders that they were simply affirming convenient or time-bound principles subject to later revocation by pettifogging mediocrities with law degrees, who are more "evolved" than they. Rather, their "understanding of law was structured around the idea of a knowable, unchanging moral order, to which human law and the Constitution -- and therefore constitutional interpretation -- were subservient." They would have fully endorsed the Socratic/Platonic principle that "law aims to be a discovery of what is," and that human law "cannot contradict the natural law that reflects the divine reason."
In other words, the metaphysics of the Founders is precisely the opposite of the contemporary Darwinist, in that they start at the top of the cosmos, with the One, the Absolute, the Divine Reason, not the bottom, i.e., matter and the random accidents of nature. A political philosophy derived from the latter is going to look very, very different, and will be irreconcilable with America's.
As misguided as they may or may not be, I am quite sure that the people who promote "intelligent design" are much more concerned with this aspect of Darwinism: that it is absurdly presented as a truth that renders everything else we know to be true -- everything above the plane of biology -- a lie or a fantasy. It is not the science that is troublesome, at least for me. It is the deceptive intrusion into higher planes about which it must remain silent.
Now interestingly, the Founders regarded evolution in precisely the manner I do, as movement toward a nonlocal attractor, i.e., a "permanent truth," thus reconciling time (or history) and eternity (more on which tomorrow). Remember, the idea of evolution was common currency for a century or more before Darwin's theory of natural selection, which was merely his attempt to account for evolution. He was hardly the first to notice that things evolve, but he was the first to imagine that it could be explained in a fully naturalistic manner, with no recourse to any principle beyond random mutations.
Watson does a fine job of describing the intellectual milieu in which Darwin flourished, and which then allowed the elites of the day to seize upon his theory as a kind of master key to legitimize progressivism. In other words, just as today, Darwinists do not actually arrive at their Darwinism through "logic," because that would be impossible. Rather, they have first internalized a certain implicit view of the cosmos that then permits them to seize upon Darwinism as an adequate theory. Without the underlying metaphysic, Darwinism is completely illogical.
To cite one obvious example, if one realizes that there are permanent truths or moral absolutes that are not strictly timebound, and that they are accessible to man's intellect, then one cannot possibly believe in reductionistic Darwinism, irrespective of what the science does or doesn't show. It's like when scientists try to tell you that free will doesn't exist. Right. Whatever. They are simply wrong, because they are wrong in principle, a principle that is a priori true and cannot not be true on pain of the very abolition of truth. (In other words, only a free being may know truth.)
Note that progressivism takes its cue from Darwinism, in that it "is characterized by a set of ideas that have at their core a marked historicism -- which is to say, a belief that truth is always and everywhere relative to its time and place" (Watson). Under Darwinism, the intellect cannot be a faculty that adequates itself to truth and therefore reality, but rather, is merely "a method of dealing with adaptation and change." In such a myopic view, our "minds" are adapted to the environment, not to truth. And "truth" would simply be a good fit between mind and environment. And a good fit means that it promotes survival and reproduction, or babes and power.
Thus, we hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are intrinsically unequal; and that they are endowed by nature with very different gifts and abilities; that among these are strength, intelligence, and the will to dominate; that to nurture these gifts, governments are are instituted by the vanguard of evolution, deriving their just powers from nature's iron will and from the New York Times editorial board; that whenever any government, constitution, or religion undermines these powers, it is the right of nature's elites to alter, abolish, or deconstruct it, and to institute a new government rooted in a Living Constitution, as to them shall seem most likely to effect the perpetual rule of the better sort.
To be continued...