revised Wednesday, October 19, 2016
A Satire or parable in which the Creationist Curmudgeon rescues Mr. Darwin, almost
Evolution – symbolized by Darwin, he owns it, Darwin™ -- has evolved from credible science into a clone of religion, hard to tell them apart nowadays. Ergo, Darwin’s™ got religion!
Really? Even religionists who anathematized Darwin at the beginning never accused him of being one. He was an atheist, sometimes covertly, sometimes openly. And it is likely that a strong underlying motivation for Evolution was to eliminate religion by replacing God by randomness and eons as the origin of life, an aspiration of philosophers since Plato. But now all of a sudden he’s got religion? The Creationist Curmudgeon (me) is skeptical.
Evolution was a product of the 19th century, in many ways the Golden Age of Science. Judged by the newly established criteria of the scientific method, notably how only experimental data could lead to conclusions, and calling a theory a theory and nothing more, plus fluency of laboratory vocabulary and talk, Darwin was a certifiable scientist, though of lesser status, hardly comparable to Mendel. But judged by the impact he made on history, culture, and civilization, the academic mind, even our own courts, he was the greatest scientist of the century or of all history, the greatest game-changer since Plato – as academia and the intellectualized clerisy, formerly the God-centered clergy, soon proclaimed and still does, even more loudly, ever more loudly.
An army of “Evolutionary scientists,” some in proudly Evo-epilated lab coats, soon were roaming the Gobi Desert seeking fossils, the Grand Canyon for strata, obscure islands for odd flora and fauna, and pea patches and fruit flies for genes, trainloads of bones and fossils, geodes and Antarctic ice cores, electrophoretic patterns and genome maps, a bounteous harvest sufficient to fill whole 8-story buildings, museums, libraries, labs, and servers to the gills, surely enough to fill the embarrassing missing links on Darwin’s tree of life, and the data gaps that from the outset had riddled Darwin’s theory, as Darwin himself acknowledged. But somehow the gaps have remained gaping. Recent years have seen, partly thanks to the secular Intelligent Design movement, an influx of even more objectively obtained data that are not very consistent with, or downright inconsistent with the Darwinian process. So Evolution was having to rely less and less on data. Meanwhile, Creation/Intelligent-Design emerged by default, so to speak, as the uninvited, certainly unappreciated champion of data-driven science. Rather than being accorded due prestige, Intelligent Design science was smeared, scorned, dissed, hauled off to court.
It was lucky for Evolution that Evolution was born during the 19th century or it might never have caught on. Now in the 21st century Darwin™ should be in free fall. It is not.
Evolution is nothing if not adaptable. In an ideal world of science only the fittest theory survives; now, in the New Age, the most promoted. Having essentially liberated itself from data dependence, Evolution has ceased calling itself a mere theory, and mutated into a thundering certainty, a mathematical given, the law of nature and of the land. If data couldn’t certify Evolution, the Courts did. Once naught but a theory served by the sundry sciences, Darwinism is suddenly the magisterial science, yea the uber-science to which the old ones – and culture, and all people -- must bow, by law. Evolution is the new correctness. It has evolved into the Monolith slab in the Kubrick film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Charles Krauthammer, the epitome of print and web intelligence, takes time out from politics to essay the silliness of creationism, even intelligence. On campus Evolution has become the looming Kubrickoid Rosetta stone, unhackable password, and subcutaneously implanted security chip for obtaining doctorates, tenure, research funding, peer review, and publication, with the mandato1y conclusion already plugged in. If sermons and Grand Canyon travelogues once reverberated with the name of God, nature documentaries now abound in eons, like Julie Andrews made the hills alive with the sound of music. On screens large and small Evolution has stolen the show. Have you ever heard a Nat Geo or Attenborough nature documentary that hasn’t resounded with Evolution?
Darwin’s theory, carrying the trademarked logo Darwin™, has swelled into Big Darwinism, Big Evolution. By comparison Big Oil is a drop in the bucket.
Evolution, you’ve come a long way, baby! So has everything else. It’s the 21st century, the New Age, the New Wave – an attitudinal sea change atop a tsunami, of Noachian magnitude – inundating, destroying, burying our familiar world, and sweeping in a new world and world-views, misshapen, crud-besot, alien, jaw-dropping. Of all this the Creationist Curmudgeon will target but two aspects, two biggies: 1) definitions of familiar old words. “Liberation” and “compassion” are hardly recognizable any more. But I need to focus on the new revised version of “religion.” 2) Evolutionary Science, it’s nature and personality and purpose, has emerged from, so to speak, the plastic surgeon’s office, its face radically made-over.
Aso the definition of religion, if once God was the crux and core of it, now the overarching and underlying conceit, almost universally proclaimed, by secularists loudly, by seminarians sub rosa, is that He’s not there any more. If not deceased He has resigned, in any case irrelevant. Reformation religion, encountering turbulence, has been lightened of all ballast -- by ejecting God. He has been nudged aside and replaced by platonic ethics or baptized social justice or some other hashtag. God is as extinct as a dinosaur. Good old Theosurus Rex, good riddance. So now the working New Age definition of religion, having dumped God and the easy yokes of faith and doctrine, is simply that a ton of faith and another ton of dogma, at bottom another exercise of faith (relabeled ethos, or legal precedent or, why not, heuristics) are required. This is the revolutionary, upended updated definition of religion.
Why the new religion should even be called “religion” is mystifying to me. It’s a downright misnomer. It bears the family looks and personality of ancient platonism. Nevertheless, to the powers that be, the strange new Godless thing is still “religion,” and any objection is blasphemy, or maybe racist.
Now about science. What can be more widely known than how bogglingly technology has changed science? But Evolutionary science has evolved in even more mysterious ways! Start with, of all things, faith. If there’s one thing Science has struggled to eliminate absolutely it is faith, and done an impressive job of it, though the graph showing the rate and degree of elimination is asymptotic (it never quite touches zero). A dram or two at every point is still required, especially in proceeding from data to conclusion. Vintage Evolution with it's rather mushy data required a kilogram or two. Despite expectations and desperate plugging, those gaps were never adequately plugged, and more have cracked open that are heavier drains on faith by far, more like black holes. Plus the awkward encumbrance of court-ordered dogmas. If old-time Darwinism's couple of kilograms of necessary faith strained the limits, New Age data-free Evolution needs a ton or three, way beyond what science (but not the court) allows, well into what religion requires.
So by the new criterion for religion, faith, Darwin™ has got religion. It’s become faith-based with a vengeance.
The Curmudgeon scratches his grayed head. But hey, if nowadays two guys can be married, in church yet, why not a little holy water be sprinkled on Darwin™?
At which Darwin™ manages, despite the weight he’s gained, to rise up and, shaking holy water out of his mane, shouts, “Preposterous! I won’t stand for it!” Naturally Darwin the atheist isn’t able to tolerate the thought, neither can campus or court or culture!
But seriously, my dear sprinkled Charles, calm down, your savior is here. No, not the ACLU. Up steps yours truly, the Creationist Curmudgeon -- senile, outdated, doddering old me! Why not? Everything on the planet has gone giddy crazy, why not a Victorian creationist curmudgeon rise to the defense of a Darwin accused of slouching into religion? It is because I still insist that God is crucial to the definition of religion that I can -- and now do -- defend Darwin. Ergo, Darwinism, or Darwin™ cannot have religion. The Creationist Curmudgeon won’t stand for it!
As an old doc I can, however, say that Darwin™ has picked up a bug all right, but it isn't religion. What Darwin has really got is, by my diagnosis, is philosophy! He’s got platonic philosophy fresh from the Golden Age of Philosophy 3 millennia ago. Alas, my famous patient doesn’t seem any happier having philosophy attributed to him than religion.
I can see why. Philosophy, fully matured and nosily pawing the ground and bellowing mating calls that would reverberate down the ages, had the jungle to itself three thousand years ago. But frail amoeboid protuberances began to sprout from the body philosophic, which, after eons, would evolve into the sciences, but at the beginning these nubbins, of which mathematics was the most developed, were collectively known simply as natural philosophy. Even today your PhD in chemistry or genetics, or mathematics, is a doctorate in … philosophy.
For the last 500 years, like a rebellious child gathering strength and bulk, science has tried to separate and distance itself from its overweening platonic patriarch. Finally in the 18th and 19th century science declared its liberation from, even incompatibility with, fossilized philosophy, and for good measure, religion. As a bumper sticker, the manifesto of science would read: Science Shall Live By Data Alone, Neither by Religion Nor by Philosophy! Thus the Golden Age of Science roared in. Darwin was part of it. And wants no part of either religion or philosophy.
But the New Age beholds with wonder the face of the Evolution that has emerged from the plastic surgeon’s knife – and lo, it looks as much like Plato as God. And furthermore, Mr. D, wasn’t your compulsion to come up with Evolution as much inspired by your Platonic desire to invalidate religion as by Galapagosean iguanas?
But if Mr. Darwin is offended at being identified with philosophy, his modern progeny aren’t. They’re flattered. Many modern scientists, e.g. Climate Change Scientists, don’t at all object to being, to use Plato’s expression, reabsorbed back into the womb of philosophy, the ideal liberation of the transcendent soul from the evil human body in which it was imprisoned at conception, another of his inventions and scenarios. Now Evolutionary science is privileged to have all those new Plato-accredited PhDs in the Philosophy of Science, plus everybody with a blog, and Krauthammer with a syndicated column, on board.
Now I call that a happy ending. Apparently Darwin™ doesn’t. Well, evolution never claimed to proceed according to design.
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