Apparently, today is the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.
While I cannot say that I have ever made much of an effort to keep track of this date, whether during my days as an Atheist or now as a Theist, the significance of this occasion has been foisted upon me zealously for the better part of this week.
Be it the giddy efforts of local clergy in my community, or the numerous forwarded editorials being carried in mainstream periodicals; hard-line Skeptics and earnest young Baptists alike are celebrating this event… Darwin, it seems, has a Posse.
Charles Darwin is credited with providing the groundwork for modern evolutionary theory: that all species of biological life evolved over time from a common ancestor through a process he termed Natural Selection. In essence… that only the “strong” survived. Of course, the strong could be whatever organism propagated the most abundantly or aggressively.
Essentially, Darwin’s research did much to usher in an innovative Naturalistic paradigm, wherein the diversity of all living organisms could be retroactively delineated to an origin of singularity.
I do not “hate” Charles Darwin, nor am I “afraid” of Darwinian Macro-Evolution. To be perfectly honest, I have some rather romantic notions of the sort of man he was and I suspect that (ideological differences aside) we would have gotten along rather famously. I have read The Origin of the Species in its entirety at least three times in my life, and I find it to be a highly impressive work of profound scientific scholarship.
My own disagreements with Darwin have everything to do with his philosophy and the necessary implications that follow. For all facts are interpreted facts, and every idea has consequences… whether unintended or not.
Ideas seldom flourish in the frigid vacuum of theory, they flow with the people and the time in which they are borne; the history of man is a living and bleeding thing.
When I think on Evolution, Natural Selection, and how quickly they became interwoven within the socio-political consciousness of the British Empire… a fearful symmetry emerges.
There could not have been a better time for a wealthy Englishman to deduce that the particular “manifest destiny” of English Imperialism was not the unjust imposition of overreaching economic avarice or even an irrational nationalistic prejudice, but simply the natural outworking of the biological imperative to dominate.
Man’s baser instincts to magnify himself at the expense and domination of those that they perceived to be weak, found a fresh new paradigm to rationalize their actions.
We find such manifestations of this is the abhorrent practices of eugenics that followed, as well as certain other vile practices that continue with us to this very day.
On a personal note… I love Science. I do, I have always loved studying about the natural world.
When I was a boy, I memorized constellations and wanted to “know everything” about outer space. I remember how I wanted to “know everything” about Dinosaurs one Summer and then I wanted to be a Marine Biologist (that “worked with Dolphins”) the next. I would sit with my father in his Greenhouse, enchanted by his rambling dissertations of one aspect of horticulture or another.
Even to this day, I find a glorious wonder to the natural world… yet such savagery as well.
There must be more than this… there must be.