“The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin Review

Introduction / Thesis

The extent, to which Christianity has rooted itself into the public consciousness, is best illustrated by the fact Gregorian calendar has the birth of Jesus Christ as its starting point. This is the reason why people who study Greek and Roman antiquity, often get to experience a certain psychological discomfort, related to dealing with counter wise conception of time, which popular imagination associates with launches of missiles and tests of nuclear weapons. The knowledge of historical facts strengthens this impression even further – whereas; people usually think of antiquity in terms of continuous scientific and cultural progress, the millennia that followed the birth of a ‘savior’ in year 0 is now being commonly regarded as Dark Ages.

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Fortunately enough, Christianity can longer be thought of as active religion, as opposed to what is the case with Islam, for example. And, the reason for this is simple – ever since early 16th century, the conceptual validity of Christianity has been progressively undermined by European philosophers, engineers, astronomers and even by those who were supposed to act as this religion’s guardians – the professors of theology, such as Jan Hus and Martin Luther. However, it was named the publishing of Charles Darwin’s revolutionary book “The origin of species”, which had produced the deadliest of all blows upon Christianity. Therefore, it is not by coincidence that Western intellectuals refer to nineteenth and twentieth centuries as the golden age of science – after having freed themselves out of Christian imprisonment, empirical sciences had received a powerful developmental boost, which lasted up until comparatively recent times.

Thus, the actual importance of “The origin of species” can hardly be overestimated, because of sheer universality of ideas, contained in it, which explains why this Darwin’s book did not only revolutionize biology, but also philosophy and political science. In his book “The selfish gene”, Richard Dawkins articulates the same idea even more dramatically: “Living organisms had existed on Earth, without ever knowing why, for over three thousand million years before the truth finally dawned on one of them. His name was Charles Darwin” (1976, p. 3). In its turn, this explains the utter hostility, on the part of Christian clergymen, which continues to define their attitude towards the name of Charles Darwin even today – ever since the time when Darwin had published his revolutionary book, it will always be religion trying to adjust its outdated notions to science and not the other way around, as it used to be the case during the course of Dark Ages. This paper will aim at exploring different aspects of earlier articulated thesis statements from atheistic perspective.

Analytical part

Despite the fact that nowadays, scientific Creationists are trying their best to reconcile the notions of biological evolution with the notions of religion, they will never be able to succeed with it, simply because evolutional theory explain different degrees of biological complexity among species as result of these species being subjected to the process of natural selection. In its turn, this implies the absence of creator, within a context of how living organisms came into being, in the first place. In his book “The origin of species”, Darwin state: “It may metaphorically be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good” (1859, p. 70). In other words, it is the fact that some species were able to take advantage of being continuously affected by spontaneous genetic alterations, which allowed them to ensure their biological survival.

During the course of his trip on H.M.S. Beagle, Darwin used to observe an extensive biological variety among representatives of single species, such as Galápagos tortoise, for example. Yet, it was not until the time when Darwin had applied a great deal of effort, while classifying Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla), that it had dawned upon him that variations in these birds’ appearance directly corresponded to particulars of natural environment. In its turn, this allowed Darwin to conclude that the very notion of biological variety is functionally purposeful and that we cannot refer to it as simply the consequence of God’s desire to please Adam and Eve’s eyes.

Being a true European intellectual, Darwin was able realize that organisms’ biological diversity is nothing but the result of beneficial genetic mutations assuming genetically dominant subtleties. What Christians traditionally used to refer to them as the great mystery of creation, while talking about seemingly intelligent design of different plants and animals, has nothing to do with the concept of creation, in the first place, but rather with the concept of life’s continuous biological evolvement from simpler to more complex forms.

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However, the fact that Darwinian Theory implies non-existence of Jewish tribal God Jehovah does not provide Bible-thumpers with a good excuse to refer to it as evil and ungodly. Had these people familiarised themselves with Darwin’s theory, they would know that its theoretical premises directly relate to the issue of divinity – whatever the illogical this statement might sound. After having realized that, despite genetic mutations’ incidental nature, these mutations do serve the purpose of increasing living organisms’ biological complexity, Darwin had unwillingly established metaphysical preconditions for religion to be eventually replaced with biology, as purpose-giver for idealistically minded individuals.

Therefore, is not simply an accident that in “The origin of species”, there is implicit evidence as to the fact that, while writing it, Darwin never ceased experiencing awe towards the works of nature: “We see these beautiful co-adaptations most plainly in the woodpecker and mistletoe; and only a little less plainly in the humblest parasite which clings to the hairs of a quadruped or feathers of a bird… we see beautiful adaptations everywhere and in every part of the organic world” (1859, p. 51). The reason why Darwin referred to the process of living organisms adapting to natural environment as beautiful is not only that it reassures these organisms’ physical survival, but also because it creates objective preconditions for their biological complexity to be increased, as time goes by. And, the more biologically complex the representatives of a particular species are, the more they are capable of resisting the forces of energetic entropy.

According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the amount of entropy in the universe increases in arithmetical progression to the flow of time. However, the biological and ultimately the intellectual complexity of life (anti-entropy) increases in geometrical (exponential) progression to the flow of time, which is why the process of evolution is essentially divine – its ultimate purpose appears to be the creation of a God-like species, the members of which will be able to bend the physical laws of nature – thus, ensuring the continued existence of universe. It is important to understand that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is not simply a by-product of one’s strive to undermine the fundamental tenets of Christianity, but an organic synthesis of Western natural-philosophical ideas. The context of Darwinian Theory implies that the species of Homo Sapiens continues to be subjected to objectively existing biological laws. The fact that Darwin was able to substantiate the validity of this suggestion in the eyes of scientific community, had automatically deemed many previously dominant historical discourses outdated. In fact, Darwin’s theory had removed any remaining doubts as to the nature of man as being only the fully legitimate topic for philosophical discussion.3 Given the fact that the species of Homo Sapiens remains in the state of constant evolutionary transition, it would only be logical to assume that different emanations of contemporary man’s existential psyche have spatial subtleties.

One of these emanations is religion. As Darwin had rightly pointed out in his another book “The descent of man”, there are no good reasons to think of people’s religiosity as thing-in-itself: “There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God” (1871, p. 25). The idea that people’s religiosity serves purely functional rather than metaphysical purposes, was revolutionary-innovative to such an extent that, ever since late 19th century, the growing number of European intellectuals would increasingly refer to “The origin of species” as the source of their philosophical inspiration. In his famous work “Thus spake Zarathustra”, Friedrich Nietzsche utilized Darwin’s biological insights to reveal the actual driving force behind human history is rather allegorical manner: “What is the ape to men? A laughing stock or a painful embarrassment. And just so shall man be to the Superman – a laughing stock or a painful embarrassment” (1891, p. 75). Whereas; sub-humans do not need religion yet, super-humans do not need religion already.

Therefore, it is quite impossible to agree with suggestions that it was namely Darwin’s insistence on apes being people’s biological predecessors, which resulted in representatives of Christian clergy adopting strongly negative attitude towards Darwinian Theory. The actual reason why even today’s Christians hate Theory of Evolution with utter passion, is because this theory exposes religiously minded people as such that is being incapable of developing, in biological and intellectual sense of this word, just as it is the case with representatives of specialized races that can only enjoy tolerable standards of living for as long as they maintain close contacts with representatives of continuously evolving White race. This is exactly the reason why many even seemingly intelligent individuals often have a hard time, while recognizing the sheer validity of Darwin’s socio-biological insights. As it always been the case, throughout history, people do not become overly thrilled, when it comes to dealing with particularly innovative scientific and philosophical ideas, especially when these ideas challenge people’s psychological weaknesses.

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Apparently, there are many citizens who intuitively feel that the theory of natural selection directly applies to them, which in its turn endow these people with a variety of psychological insecurities, in regards to their own existential inadequacy. This is exactly the reason why, instead of continuously trying to keep their bodies and minds fit, to be able to qualify for evolutionary fitness, these people refer to Darwinist outlook onto surrounding reality as immoral. In its turn, this provides them with a legitimate excuse to think of their beer bellies and their inability to score higher than 70, during the course of IQ testing, as such that signifies their uniqueness rather than their unfitness for life.

While understanding perfectly well that the fundamental tenets of Evolutionary Theory simply cannot be effectively argued with, Bible-thumpers usually resort to the trick of applying labels of racism and immorality to just about anything that they perceive as being associated with Darwinism, while taking advantage of people’s psychological weaknesses. Michael Rose’s book “Darwin’s specter: Evolutionary biology in the modern world” represents a fine example of such intellectual sham. In it, author had gone a great length while promoting essentially nonsensical ideas, such as this one: “Darwinism tends to have a pernicious effect on debates about biology and polity for two reasons. The first is that it emphasizes patterns of common descent as defining biological lineages. Fish are fish because their ancestors were fish; frogs are frogs, and so on (?). The second problem with Darwinism is even worse – it suggests that human evolution was bound up with the competition of the races” (1998, p. 142). Thanks to people like Rose, the suggestions that representatives of different races might not necessarily be equal have now become a taboo, just as it was a taboo to suggest that Earth revolves around the Sun and not vice versa, during the time when Christianity was as its strongest.

Apparently, even today, many people simply lack the intellectual courage to admit to themselves that most of their wishful ideas, concerned with equality, multiculturalism and celebration of diversity, are conceptually fallacious, which in its turn causes these people to chose in favor of living the lives of ignorance. The hardest thing for many religious individuals to accept is the fact that religion-based notions of morality are utterly subjective, which means that they do not correspond to objective reality.

As of today, the number of America’s Catholic colleges alone accounts for 37. Thousands and thousands of students enroll in these colleges annually to study how to sprinkle holy water and how to indulge in sophistically sounding but utterly meaningless rhetoric about morality, while exploiting believers’ naivety to make a good living, without being required to contribute to the actual well-being of a society to which they belong. Thousands of Protestant televangelists extort millions of dollars from senior citizens, while threatening them with the prospect of being cast into the ‘lake of fire’, if they fail to ‘donate till it hurts’. Throughout history, moralists’ activities accounted for bringing much more misery into the world, as compared to the activities of racists, sexist and male chauvinists, combined together. And yet, it would only take one to read Darwin’s “The origin of species” thoroughly, to realize that the notion of morality is nothing but myth. Therefore, it makes perfectly logical sense for people who specialize in morality to pour dirt upon Darwinian Theory – this is all about money, as usual.

Nevertheless, during the course of recent decades, Christian moralists have realized that they would not be able to exploit people’s ignorance for much longer if they do not alter their tactical approach to religion-based money extortion, because of the rapid progress in the field of informational technologies automatically results in rising people’s awareness as to moralists’ true agenda. This is why the most sensible Christians now position themselves as Creationists. While understanding perfectly well that, within the context of religion opposes science, the latter will always have an upper hand, these people now strive to endow their religious nonsense with pseudo-scientific pretense.

Creationists strive to avoid discussing Bible’s accounts of Sun standing still in the sky, donkeys talking to people, or frogs raining upon Egyptian pharaohs. However, once they have heard of Big Bang theory, they started to talk about it as such that proves the validity of the Biblical story of creation. There are countless Creationists with diplomas from Christian universities and colleges, who enjoy a considerable success, while dispelling the myth of evolution before the audiences of housewives. Their main argument can be simplified to sound as follows: living creatures appear intelligently designed; therefore, Jewish God Jehovah is their actual creator.

In his article “Creationist viewpoints”, John W. Klotz provides us with the insight into the quality of argumentation, utilized by Creationists, when it comes to defending their point of view: “What about the hand of God in the natural world? Let us turn our attention to this. God has arranged that the plant should turn toward the sun so that its leaves may receive an adequate amount of light. I know you can explain this on the basis of feedback mechanisms. I know that you can develop a mechanical explanation involving the synthesis of auxins, but I believe that behind this process is the hand of God” (1968). In other words – Christians think of extensive scientific evidence that proves the validity of Evolutionary Theory as irrelevant, simply because they have chosen to believe. While being aware that such their stance can hardly win them, new supporters, among intelligent people, they do their best to add an artificial plausibility to their theory by referring to science, in cases when new scientific discoveries seem to support the Bible. However, it is practically impossible to combine science and religion into a stable compound, because – whereas; science continues to open up new horizons for people, religion’s main task is to close these horizons down, due to their immorality.

Conclusion

Nowadays, only utterly ignorant people would argue the fact that Western post-industrial societies have grown secularized to such an extent that the death of God in these societies has long ago become the part of objective socio-political realities. The higher the living standards in a particular Western country, the fewer such country features truly believing citizens. For example, the number of practicing Christians in such countries as Denmark and Sweden accounts for only 2%-3% of population. Even in America, it is primarily older White people who attend Christian churches on regular basis. On the other hand, even in such comparatively secularized Muslim countries as Egypt and Turkey, people get down on their knees to pray to Allah five times a day, regardless of where the time for prayer finds them. For the duration of 1500 years, Muslims have been living by the word of Allah, without even trying to adjust Koran to contemporary realities (they still require women to wear a black cloak over their faces, while in public); whereas White people have been continuously trying to reinterpret Bible, so that this book would make more sense in their eyes. This serves as yet another proof as to Darwinian Theory’s complete validity and universality – the fact that more and more Whites feel themselves being spirituality alienated from Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, simply indicates that, as representatives of continuously evolving race, they stand on the threshold of a new evolutionary (transhuman) jump.

Therefore, the fact that Charles Darwin had conceptualized the Theory of Evolution in late 19th century was not an accident – the emergence of this Theory was dialectically predetermined. Homo Sapiens is not the final product of biological evolution. Those who continue confronting Darwinism simply do not qualify as humans, in full sense of this word, because by defying the Theory of Evolution, they defy their own biological essence – thus, acting as the agents of energetic entropy. Whereas; Semitic religions imply the existence of a non-existent God up in the sky, the Theory of Evolution implies humans being nothing short of Gods-in-making themselves. Ever since the time of “The origin of species’” publishing, world’s religions had instantly lost their status of discourse signifiers, while becoming the last refuge of intellectually marginalized individuals. This suggestion resonates rather well with the paper’s initial thesis.

Bibliography

Darwin, C. 1859 (1996). The origin of species. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Darwin, C. 1871 (1981). The descent of man. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fothergill, P. (1961). Evolution and Christians. London : Longmans.

Klotz, J. (1968). Creationist viewpoints. Creationism.Org. Web.

Mayr, E. (2002). Darwin’s influence on modern thought. Scientific American Magazine, 13(2), 320-335.

Nietzsche, F. 1891(2003). Thus spake Zarathustra: A book for all and none. New York: Algora Publishing.

Rose, M. (1998). Darwin’s spectre: Evolutionary biology in the modern world”. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Thagard, P. & Findlay, S. (2009) Getting to Darwin: Obstacles to accepting evolution by natural selection. Science & Education.

Von Sydow, M. (2005). Charles Darwin: A Christian undermining Christianity? in Knight, D. & Eddy, M. Science and beliefs: From natural philosophy to natural science, Ashgate: Aldershot.

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