Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beyond Darwin

Charles Darwin raises hackles to this day. Check out the bumper-sticker fish, and the fish with feet. But the whole issue remains a lot more interesting than that.

In the lectures I'm watching by Oxford University's Daniel N. Robinson, the professor wraps up his discussion on Darwin by noting that modern humans no longer find it possible to think in terms that "are non-Darwinian, let alone anti-Darwinian." But he adds that the question may be asked "whether this theory can tell us finally who we are and how we should live."

Well, of course not.

That's like asking a fish that recently "walked" out of water whether it would vote Democratic or Republican. Evolution, obvious as it is through genetics, geology, etc., may clarify many things, but it is totally silent about ethics. As Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-founder of evolutionary theory, said - abstract thought, aesthetics and ethics remain quite beyond the theory of evolution.

People interested in "intelligent design" and such silliness are mistaken in worrying about how humans have come to be. Now that we are here, however, they should be worrying about how we should act. That hasn't exactly been cleared up yet.

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