Darwin Day: Kwanzaa for the Metaphysically Retarded
Again, to remind the pathetic victims of materialitis and reductionosis: you needn't bother commenting, because I have no objection to natural selection so long as it confines itself to the children's table, and doesn't elevate itself to a faux religion, a la Queeg -- i.e., metaphysical Darwinism, which is another thing altogether. Even less do I have a problem with evolution, which easily transcends anything Darwin had to say about it.
The minds of these people [the scientists] are too much accustomed to deal with physical things and things measurable by instruments and figures to be much good for any other provinces. Einstein's views outside his domain are crude and childish, a sort of unsubstantial commonplace idealism without grasp on realities. As a man can be a great scholar and yet simple and foolish, so a man can be a great scientist but his mind and ideas negligible in other things. --Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga
I'm going spend one more post wrapping up our discussion of Before the Dawn before moving on -- or in. And when I say "moving in," I mean that literally, for one of the interesting things about reading a book such as this is the exteriorizing effect it has on one's consciousness. Immersion in this kind of gross materialism really can destroy a soul. I do not mean that in the way that a spluttering creationist might mean it, but in a much more subtle way.
However, I do sympathize with the simple person of faith who objects to being bullied by this kind of ham-handed, totalitarian scientistic ideology. (I think this is the true meaning behind the surveys showing that most Americans "do not believe in evolution," for they probably mean the boneheaded and/or totalitarian kind.)
The uncorrupted soul naturally recoils at the idea that Matter is All. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I can well understand how a religious person might read just a few paragraphs of this book and dismiss it as "satanic," because in a very real sense, it is -- at least without the proper cognitive safeguards. It's very creepy to immerse oneself in this desolate, simplistic, and one-dimensional world that is so disproportionate to the beauty, nobility, and majesty of the human soul.
You needn't believe in the literal existence of satan in order to know that satan is a deceiver, and that the most dangerous deceivers are the terrible simplifiers -- i.e., Hitler, Stalin, and less radical but still extraordinarily dangerous demagogues such as Barack Obama (relax, troll, I am not comparing Obama to Hitler, even though his simplistically appealing radical agenda would destroy the United States as we know it). I forget who coined the term "terrible simplifiers," but I just googled it and came up with this relevant passage (on an unrelated topic) that gives a sense of what I'm talking about:
"The lack of a correspondence between abstraction and reality is all the more significant, since the real world is profoundly complex and contingent and an abstraction is inevitably simple. The terrible simplifiers who love abstractions cannot stand conditions and conventions muddling their perfect, clear theory. If life does not fit the theory, then it is life that has gone awry and must be made to fit. The terrible simplifiers are always perfectly willing, then, to embrace ideological crusades, violence and upheaval to better realise their 'principles'...."
The promise of violence always follows in the wake of the terrible simplifiers, but the violence to the soul actually occurs at the outset, and sets the stage for the physical violence or coercion. The physical violence is a consequence of the rebarbarization that goes hand in hand with the simplification which sanctions the violence by encouraging man to be less than he is.
[Just recently I have been reading a book by Charles DeKoninck which makes the same argument in a different way. In fact, it is similar to an argument I put forth in my book. That is, the scientist begins with the concrete human world (for where else could he begin?). Being that we are human, we are able to abstract things from this world. But the reductionist then makes the wholly unwarranted leap of taking his abstractions to be more real than the real world from which they are abstracted (similar to Whitehead's fallacy of misplaced concreteness). Metaphysical Darwinism is a fine example of this. Again: consciousness can explain much more about Darwinism than Darwinism will ever explain about consciousness. That is, unless you happen to be a terribly simple person.]
I am not accustomed to reading a book this simple and "mechanical." Although I breezed through hundreds of them in the course of writing my own, it's been awhile. Naturally, in order to complete chapters 1, 2, and 3 of One Cosmos, I had to familiarize myself with the latest findings in cosmology, theoretical biology, paleoanthropology, etc. But my specific concern in writing those chapters was mainly one thing: origins. What is the origin of the cosmos? Of life? Of the human subject? Existence, life and mind; or being, will, and interiority; and eventually freedom, truth and love. What is the nature of these things? What do they imply about the cosmos?
In posing these questions, my view was much wider than the scientist, for I didn't just want to know how life arose, but what it means that a supposedly dead cosmos can spontaneously come to life and then understand its own truth. What does this say about the kind of cosmos we inhabit? Is it just a meaningless and trivial fact, or does it cause us to rethink what sort of cosmos this is from the ground up (or top down)? Indeed, it would imply that that is the wrong question, for to the extent that we are able to understand it, the cosmos would have to be a form of the soul's sensibility, not vice versa.
Irrespective of whether humans became human 45,000 years ago or 15,000 years ago or 6,000 years ago, what does it mean that our cosmos has an interior horizon -- this calm, reflective center in the midst of swirling creation -- in which it may contemplate its deepest truths? For I can well understand how humans could change as a result of becoming better adapted to their changing environment. But the random change of natural selection can tell us nothing about our miraculous capacity for transcendence of everything, including ourselves, in the light of a priori truth.
Only man is built for transcendence. A man who fails to transcend himself sinks beneath himself. He is not a proper man, but a beast among beasts. What can it mean that the cosmos has produced a being who hangs halfway suspended between what he is and what he is to become, between is and ought, between our genetic blueprints and a transcendent blue prince?
For there is no humanness in the absence of the ought. But here again, subverting this reality is behind the agenda of the materialists, for there can be no "ought" in a purely material world. Rather, there is only is. With this brutal reduction, man, whose roots are aloft, is severed from himself and condemned to a narrow ideological prison of his own making.
It is instructive that one can rapidly skim a book such as Before the Dawn in one's spare time in a day or two, and fully understand it. There is nothing remotely difficult about it or about Darwinism in general. Queeg and his liztards are proof of this.
On the other hand, not only can one not skim, say, Meditations on the Tarot or casually enter the spiritual cathedral of Meister Eckhart, but it takes a lifetime of preparation and "interior work" in order to appreciate them at all. They will be entirely opaque to the uninitiated, regardless of what they think they understand. Furthermore, any work of a true spiritual master is infused with a light and a force that facilitates a direct transformation of consciousness, and mysteriously keeps their words both fresh and inexhaustible, so that one may return to them time and again for new insights. At different times in your life and at different levels of spiritual maturity, they will speak to different parts of you. This is axiomatic: "When I was a child, I understood as a child." (A fine example of the type of higher evolution routinely discussed in the Bible.)
Back to the terrible simplification of the modern Darwinian synthesis. This is it: Everything = Random Error + Environmental Selection (E = RE + ES). Got it? That is all you need to know because that is all you can know -- although just how you can know it is a bit of a mystery, since it too must ultimately be reducible to RE + ES.
Nevertheless, it easily answers all questions. Religion? E = RE + ES. Human groups that endulged in this fantasy somehow had more reproductive fitness, that's all. Language? E = RE + ES. Apes that spoke had more babies. Love? E = RE + ES. A trick of the genes. Just a way to get you to reproduce. Beauty? E = RE + ES. The creation of illusion in order to make the pursuit seem worthwhile. Intelligence? E = RE + ES. Intelligence implies progress, something which is strictly forbidden in the Darwinian view. Nothing is any more or less intelligent, only better adapted to its environment. Wisdom? Don't even go there. No, can't even go there.
E = RE + ES. Got it? Now that you've got it, please bear in mind that you are not permitted to have any other thoughts about reality, because this is the answer that exhausts all questions. It is the graveyard of real curiosity, which is now rendered a pointless hindrance to your reproductive fitness.
Ironically, this satanic reductionism cannot avoid carrying a sacred ought of its own, as reflected in the anti-religious jihad of the obligatory atheists -- the simple Dennetts and even simpler Queegs. Yes, The Gospel According to Darwin (Tail wiggle: Walt) insists that the good news of E = RE + ES should be celebrated on Darwin Day, February 12, the day our scientistic savior was born. For this is the day that the word -- the only word there actually is, E = RE + ES -- became flesh. Naturally, before that, the word existed -- it cannot not exist -- but no one knew it.
But why a celebration, unless it is a funeral, since E = RE + ES spells the end of our humanness as such?
Because it's built into our genes, silly. Celebration increases social solidarity and therefore reproductive fitness. Pretty pathetic way for these beta males to try to meet women, if you ask me.