WINCING WITH DARWIN

 

Like Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb, Darwin was uneasy with what he had wrought, so uneasy he took to bed and was unable to bring himself to publish his book for two decades.  Some say it was psychoneurosis.  So naturally the first question is, at what point in the eons of Evo did psychoneurosis mutate in hominids? As the psychoneurosis fossil has yet to be found scientists can only speculate.

 

And the next question is, why did Darwin chance to come down with it?  It can’t have been because of worry that his theory would be challenged by skeptical fellow scientists, or tweaked, updated, meddled with, maybe a lot.  Such challenges and permutations are what science is all about, or was.  A good scientist himself, Darwin would know all that and relish or at least accept it.

 

A lot of people say it was the thought of hitting the religious fan that rattled him.  But whether he was remorseful or gleeful about damaging religion is curiously hard to determine.  Evoeans like to say Darwin was brought up dumbly devout and only when faced by facts de-converted, in tears.   Go thou and do likewise, the religiously inclined young student is counseled. But Darwin’s own autobiographical writings suggest he had always disbelieved, though covertly, a classical way of avoiding overt conflict at the cost of inner turmoil.

 

But what could have really sent him running for the covers was the prospect of being sucked like a pigeon into the monster philosophical jet engines he himself would engineer, like a frail quark into the black philosophical holes he would generate, and what his theory would look like coming out the other side -- not just modified or permutated but transmogrified -- and his own words warped, kinked, kinky; disavowed, disgorged, simply nowhere, gone.

 

In any case, Darwin was in bed when he could have been out having book-signing parties, the hors d'oeuvres, broccoli, cauliflower, chardonnay.

 

But when he finally got up and went public, the survival of the fittest part – the lynchpin of the whole theory, the engine of both Evo science and the Evo metaphysical cosmos -- was an encouraging and immediate hit all around.  Fittest fetish, if we may call it that, fitted Capitalism exquisitely, although at the beginning it was Scripture that Capitalists cited.  Like Scripture, fittist-ism was all purpose and also worked even more famously, and forthrightly, for Scripture-eschewing Marx and Communism.

 

Fittest-ism also was just the ticket for original “Social Darwinism,” which licensed imperialism, even fascism.  For naturally if there are fittest individuals there must be fittest races, Europeans, as it happened.  As Darwin himself explained, Europeans “immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors and stand at the summit of civilization.” And furthermore, “...the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”  Fittest-ism also suited slave owners and Nazis, the fittest of the fittest of the fittest.  But that was a regrettable turn and extinguished primitive Darwinist exceptionalism as neatly as dinosaurs, and nobody sheds a tear.

 

Now it’s called Eurocentricity and racial bigotry, the gravest sins known to the planet, repented of in sackcloth and ashes, with restitution in dollars.  Who gets blamed bemuses us.  That only the fit survive, or only the righteous are blessed, were once precious promises for Darwinists and Christians respectively, but absolutely foundational to Darwinism.  Yet it’s the Darwinist types who now most loudly, and accusingly, and piously, denounce it.

 

To reverse the always bad mutations Evo always delivers left to her own devices, Eugenics was devised to give Evo a hand in getting the gene superiority selection right, good logical practical Darwinism.  Greatly esteemed back then, it isn’t so much now, though there are still residual nidi of it -- stem cells thriving secretively on the haute culture plate.  We recently saw an ad in an airline (not adult or humor) magazine for human eggs gleaned from doctorate holders and grad students, superiority guaranteed.

 

Calling any human or race superior to another is not currently allowable, but even calling humans the superior product of evolution is politically incorrect, probably a hate crime.  If Darwin gave us monkeys as ancestors, Darwin’s (and the monkeys’) descendants have propelled those hominids forward (or us humans backwards).  Monkeys aren't ancestors -- they are our siblings, only of a different culture.

 

But taking evolution an altogether and self-evidently contradictory direction, just recently a famous columnist proclaimed that intelligent life is exactly what shall surely exterminate all life on this planet, as it surely has on the other planets, which explains why intelligent life out there hasn’t returned our SETI calls.  There's nobody still out there.  Survival of the fittest (surely intelligence renders a creature the most fit, except in the case of advocates of Intelligent Design), the pivotal feature of Darwinism, turns around and ensures its destruction.  Now is that irony or what!   Click: Black hole humor

 

But it was the feminist fan that Darwin really hit.  Without ducking (he sure would now) he announced: “The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man attaining to a higher eminence in whatever he takes up, than woman can attain—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands.” “...the average standard of mental power in man must be above that of woman.”  Fast-forwarded into Evoean hyper-equality, this species of females holds news conferences to announce how sick to the stomach they are made by Darwin’s stupid bigotry.   For a much more delicate valentine the president of Harvard recently got ex-ed. Abed with ice bags to his head, Darwin and the ex-president now know Evo hath no fury like a feminist made sick to her stomach.

 

If Darwin’s arbitrarily, self-designated reigning heirs are embarrassed by Darwinian racial, taxonomic, and gender bigotries, and by capitalism or Marxism, and imperialism and fascism and Nazism, by slavery, by eugenics, by his Euro- and other eccentricities, they aren’t by postmodernism, the ultimate Evo Frankensteinian mutation, but Darwin surely would be.  The most advanced philosophy Darwin ever fathered wheels around and, like Oedipus or a big boomerang, whacks him: Postmodernism insists that inasmuch as everything is the Darwinistically random product of chance, there is no such thing as absolute truth, only momentary fancies like all other molecular conflations, and therefore -- ergo -- no science.  Postmodernism is as straightforward about this as Darwin was about European and male superiority.  Ergo, even Evo isn’t true either.  It’s just another chance whimsy.  It also follows, but mercifully few do follow it or even catch the whimsy --  if Evo is science so what? Science is whimsy.

 

But meanwhile in the Jones Court Evo is suddenly the ultimate truth and the ultimate science.  By law.  Really stretching it, the court adjudges Evo as Science Itself, capitalized, italicized, the measure of science, no appeal.

 

Looking at fossils and drawing a conclusion, Darwin called Evo a theory, only a theory.  That’s the scientific way.  The court goes the opposite direction and proceeds from Evo as a given, like the Constitution -- only much more sustainable.  Evo, the product of mutation, is immutable.  That’s authoritarianism, fit for court but hardly science.  Either Darwin or the court doesn’t know what science is.  They can’t both be right.  Darwin was an exemplary scientist; what does that make the court?

 

In the Grand Canyon as in Court, both places recently remodeled as theme parks for academic echo tourists, science reverberates among the pillars and strata.  We’ve long been used to folks venturing into the Grand Canyon and rhapsodizing Creation or Intelligent Design – and getting swatted for expounding bogus science.  But now an E.R. doctor, on leave from his E.R. imperturbability, rafts in rapture down the Colorado River Grand Canyon ejaculating, "Evolution is the basis of biology, biology is the basis of medicine,” therefore Evo is the basis of medicine.  We’re an old doc and that’s news to us and, we suspect, to Darwin, as well as Koch, Pasteur, Virchow.

 

And hHow's Darwinism working out for you, Mr. Darwin?ere’s the Evoean who equates teaching of Evo with the US standing in science among nations (TIME cover story, August 15, 2005).  And in my once-favorite journal, Journal of the American Medical Association,  I found a piece, not by an MD, but a professional ethicist exercising a novel sort of ethics that connects Evo with “the very integrity of American democracy." Once famous for fighting quackery, the AMA itself now sells snake oil.  Darwin at least confined his excesses to Europeans and males.

 

 “Now that’s what I was afraid would happen!” moans our friend, his torments twisted by his disciples into raptures or retchings; his mere theory neo-Darwinised, neo-ed out of sight, given extreme makeovers; the gaps photoshopped and special-effected away.  All this while simultaneously apotheosized as the soul of science, the hallowed pillar of orthodoxy, the core of law, hyped like a Hollywood docudrama, adulated and litigated, worshiped elaborately and bandied off-handedly.  In name only – the name has market value – is his theory still his.

 

 

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Wesley Kime