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Monday, June 13, 2005

The Evolution of Charles Darwin

Darwin’s evolutionary doctrine was just a product of the evolving deformation of Western political thought.

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The doctrine of biological evolution did not spring full-blown into the mind of Charles Darwin out of the blue.  Social and political evolution was a pervasive faith in the climate of opinion during the Victorian age.  Public support for political and social reform measures was manifested in a general belief in Progress.  To the Victorian mind, the world, as the result of modern science, was evolving into a better and better place.

Discoveries of ancient fossils suggested that the earth was far older than Bible scholars believed it to be and made geology a popular public pastime. It was the one subject that captured Darwin’s enthusiasm when, as an undergraduate, he studied under Charles Lyell, one of geology’s big guns of the day.  Darwin applied the prevailing paradigm of progress to biology in a way that removed the social and political constraints of religion and morality, leaving the way clear for the collectivist doctrines of secular and materialistic socialism.

The impetus for Darwinian evolutionary doctrine started with new understandings about the physical world in the 17th century.  Breakthroughs in mathematics and the physical sciences led political philosophers to presume that analogs of the laws of physics could be discovered in the realm of human conduct.  Political philosophers conceived of human society as an entirely physical process that would be subject to laws of motion and physical forces in the same way as the movement of planets described by Newton’s equations for the forces of gravity and the laws of motion.  Applying those presumed laws of social dynamics as the the ordering principles of political society necessitated junking thousands of years of civilization based on spiritual religion and morality. 

To justify such a radical deformation, political philosophers concocted theories about the evolution of human societies, aiming to demonstrate that the new scientific and materialistic age of political governance was the end-point in an inevitable historical process.  Darwin’s doctrine of biological evolution neatly complemented that theory, postulating an atheistic, materialistic, and purely mechanical process for creation of living species.  Moreover, the implicit bias of Darwin’s hypothesis of biological evolution was that life forms were evolving toward ever higher levels of complexity and perfection, at the same time that the materialistic forces of history were moving human society toward earthly perfection.

This process, in which Darwin was to play his part, commenced with the stunning breakthroughs in mathematics and the physical sciences during the 17th century, when Galileo, Descartes, Leibnitz, Newton and others began to quantify the laws of physics and to describe physical processes in mathematical terms.

Political philosophers in the 18th century made the unfounded assumption that the activities of humans in political society could be analyzed in the same fashion as the motion and properties of the physical world.  They expected to find laws of human conduct that could be applied to govern in ways that would make human life harmonious, benevolent, and more productive.

The critically different view arising from that presumption was the doctrine of materialistic determinism.  From that perspective, what matters in harmonizing and perfecting human society are the material factors relating to how people live, work, and earn their sustenance, and, more particularly, the government structure and regulations that control those factors. 

The driving force inherent in the laws of social dynamics, according to the so-called Enlightenment, was simply avoidance of sensual pain and pursuit of sensual pleasure.  Man, in short, was just another animal who, in the mass, could be controlled by intellectuals who perfected political methods of administering pain and pleasure calculated to channel human conduct into patterns that the intellectuals believed to constitute social justice.

Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution as a Godless process and his proclamation of the descent of man from brute animals fit the needs of this materialistic, pleasure-pain determinism admirably well.  Hence its immediate appeal to socialists of the day, from followers of J. S. Mill to followers of Karl Marx.

Needless to say, a world created by God and subject to God’s laws of morality had to be destroyed, because it stood in the path of evolutionary progress.  Beginning in mid-18th century, French Revolutionary philosophers identified God, religion, and the Catholic Church with ignorance and oppression.  Liberty, equality, and universal brotherhood, they declared, lay with secularity and materialistic determinism.

In the opening decades of the 19th century philosophical historians constructed theories about the progress of humanity as a succession of ages of human enlightenment.  Hegel laid out the pattern, but based it upon unfolding spiritual awareness, culminating in German Protestant Christianity.  At roughly the same time France’s post-Revolutionary philosophers, principally Henri de Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte, defined three distinct ages in the evolution of human understanding.  The last and highest of these ages, the scientific period, was the the 19th century’s evolution away from Christianity and its acceptance of atheistic and secular doctrines in which intellectuals were to define the new catechism of public morality under the rubric of social justice.

In the next three decades, Karl Marx combined Hegel’s ideas with those of Saint-Simon and Comte to create his philosophy of scientific socialism, based upon exclusively secular, atheistic, and materialistic forces.  As did his models, Marx projected an evolutionary force that was part of history itself, evolving inevitably toward the final stage of social justice under communism.

As noted in More on Darwin’s Sand Castle:

“Had it not been for J.S. Mill and others around 1859 who looked favorably upon the doctrines of Saint-Simonian and Comtean socialism, and advocated them so effectively, Darwin?s ?On the Origin? would probably never have found much of a following.? Even his idol and early mentor Charles Lyell initially rejected it on scientific grounds.? Absent the evangelical-style preaching of Thomas Huxley extolling the gospel of secular materialism, poor Darwin would have remained an obscure, but decent and kind gentleman retired in ill health.”

The unbearable burden of Darwinain evolutionary doctrine is its justification of collectivist totalitarianism.  Only in a world in which humans are just one species among the Godless brutes could the oppression of socialism be welcomed as Progress.  Only in a world no longer governed by spiritual religion and morality could intellectuals support the mass murders of Lenin and Stalin, because they were seen as simply necessary evolutionary steps toward the perfection of humanity.


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