Thursday, March 12, 2009

Charles Darwin, Liberalism's Fair-Weather Friend

Ask any Liberal, and they will tell you that Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution are great boons to scientific understanding. His conclusions regarding the Survival of the Fittest are held in the highest of esteem.

Until it comes into contact with Humanity.

Noted paleontologist Robert Bakker described the introduction of the Utahraptor into North America from Asia as a disaster for the indigenous ecosystem in his work of semi-fiction, Raptor Red. The creature apparently "out-predatored" the locals and wreaked havoc on the prey. Fossil records have shown us that extinction is nothing new as all life continually competes with itself for domination and survival. Assuming that evolution exists, we find that lifeforms have been putting each other "out of business" since life began eons ago.

When discussed with your average Liberal, these observations bring nods of approval and a general exclamation of, "That's just Nature's way".

The proposed origins of man-kind have us falling out of trees and discovering that our hind legs support our weight quite well. We are supposedly monkeys who can use tools and talk. Nothing special, just a more intelligent animal.

Now, combine the two and suddenly, we lose our simple animal status and we assume a mental visage of pure evil. A veritable Odegra, Destroyer of Worlds are we. Mother Nature has been throwing species together for millions of years to distill a greater form of life, but now that we are on the scene, all that Natural Goodness must stop. Momma must have goofed, I guess.

The inevitable answer to the question of why should we care about the pandas and the polar bears?

Morals. That which separates us from the animals. Regardless of all previous statements to the contrary regarding our animal status, as soon as our interaction with the environment comes up, we cease to be "just smart monkeys", and take on a glowing image of protector and custodian of all life.

It is at this point that I ask, "If Humanity is 'evolving' past the need for the archaic superstitions of religion, don't you think that all the beneficial side-effects of that source will dry up as well?"

Morals are derived from religion, as are their officially adopted brethren, Laws. I am not sure as to the religious nature of Hammurabi's Code, but I am quite sure that the Ten Commandments are fairly well seated in "religious superstition". So too in varying degrees is our Constitution, Shari'a Law, the Magna Carta, and so forth.

Religion is connected to evolution. It's what gave us the will to live through the times that everything was out to get us. It is how we understood the incomprehensible, the mind-boggling, and the awesome. It granted us resolution and reconciliation with the other forms of life that killed us as we killed them in our turn. Yet now that we have arrived at the top of the food chain, we are expected by some to discard as useless the very thing that made it possible for us to achieve such greatness?

No respect for old friends, I guess.

Regardless of religion and morals, it would seem that Humanity is above the Laws of Nature when it is convenient to the argument. We are simply animals ourselves, descended from hominids in a discourse on evolution, we have a moral obligation to the ecosystem and all other forms of life on the subject of environmentalism, and we have no further use for religion when discussing philosophy.

Complicated little critters, ain't we?

I'll leave it to you to choose as to whether any of these things presents a conflict of interest, or constitutes cognitive dissonance.

One last aspect to cover I guess. A rather cold and dispassionate look at evolution within Humanity itself.

Consider the Aboriginal Americans (aka American Indians). It has been said in no small amount of veracity that the original pioneers of the Americas stopped their social and technological progress somewhere after the stone age. This is not a racist statement. This is the truth. While some cultures could work raw elemental forms of gold and silver and such, metallurgy was a largely unknown science to them as were most other forms of higher living.

The introduction of the European to the New World was an event on par with Armageddon. Whole cultures vanished almost overnight upon contact with the more civilized and technologically advanced intruder. I will not concede by the way, that the indigenous cultures were as civilized as their eastern cousins. I am speaking in terms of Ages of Civilization, by which the European had the Indian beat by many lengths.

The Aboriginal Americans were decimated within a few generations, and today in North America, they constitute a small fraction of the population. Some would argue that they had no choice, but I would point out that choices are always there to be made. Adaptation and assimilation are tools of any society to survive.

Look at the Japanese. Early Chinese and Korean records say that the islanders were living in holes in the ground when first encountered. They soon adopted the customs of their neighbors and became a local power. When encountering Europeans for the first time, they had the sense to expel them forcibly, and attempted an isolationist stance. When it was made apparent that this could not work, they officially adopted the western ways during the Meiji Era. Swords were exchanged for guns, kimonos for suits and dresses, and English was taught in schools. Today, they exist as a rather major player on the World Stage.

They bucked the odds and survived primarily because they could evolve into a competitive society that was not afraid to change or adapt, albeit with a strength of will that made outside influences their own in time.

Am I wrong for thinking that the Indian just refused to change to the point of genetic suicide? Is it preferential to admire the history of the Japanese and their adaptive culture? What would Darwin say about the comparison?

I realize that I have been "all over the place" with this post, but I believe that regardless of my rambling prose, these questions and ideas are still valid.

Ponder and judge as you will.

"All evolution in thought and conduct must at first appear as heresy and misconduct." ~ George Bernard Shaw