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I like the discernment here. (But the news is like a perpetual Lucy Van Pelt and we are Charlie Brown trying to kick that football - so my baseline gauge is that they are lying, so why even bother listening?)

Interesting considerations nonetheless, surprised he misses the elephant in the room, like having a president lacking in mental and moral faculties. But he never got to truly see that or at least speak on it…

I begin with the six standard questions that any good reporter is supposed to ask, and any good historian is supposed to ask: what, where, when, who, why, and how?

1. The conventional "what" is denied. The most stunning example I have ever seen of this is a suggestion that nobody was shot in Las Vegas. It was all faked.

2. "Where" is questioned. Probably the best example in recent years is this one: where is the plane that supposedly crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9/11? I mean, it's legitimate to ask this question. It would take a great deal of work to come up with an answer.

3. Then there is "when?" A good example here is this: when did Osama bin Laden die? Conspiracy theorists say that he did not die in Pakistan. He died a decade earlier.

4. Next is "who?" The most famous of all is Lee Harvey Oswald. The conspiracy historian says it must have been somebody else. A revisionist historian might make the suggestion that Oswald did not act alone. We do not find detailed revisionist books on who exactly the other shooter or shooters were. The same applies to the assassin or assassins of Martin Luther King, Jr.

5. The question of "why" is always the most difficult one to answer for all historians. It is difficult to get inside people's minds. They usually do not leave written records. Why did Sirhan Sirhan shoot Bobby Kennedy? Nobody seemed to figure out that one. It's not clear who else may have done it.

6. In the era of online videos, the question of "how" becomes more pressing. How did the supposed pilots of three of the four airliners execute maneuvers to crash into the buildings, especially the one who flew the plane that crashed into the Pentagon? Because this seems impossible, some conspiracy historians have asserted that no plane crashed into the Pentagon. But then what did -- a "what" question. Where did the other plane go? Similarly, how did Building 7 collapse on 9/11? No plane hit it. There are lots of "how" questions regarding the collapse of the other two buildings.

…Conspiracy historians can be useful in assembling preliminary information that a revisionist historian may use later on. But the conspiracy theorist should not be taken seriously without detailed supplementary investigations.

The more radical the conspiracy thesis, the less likely that anyone is going to take him seriously. The more radical the thesis, the more likely the person is drifting into a world in which there are no historical causes and effects. He doesn't acknowledge any of them. He only tells you why the official version cannot be true, but he is not willing to make the investment to find out what really did happen. He doesn't care what really did happen. He knows that if he ever comes to a conclusion, there will be other conspiracy theorists who write him off as an organ of the establishment.

I think you have to ask all of the six questions. But when it gets to a theory that the government is behind an event, I focus on the issue of why. I want to know the motivation. If there is no motivation that is sufficient to persuade a government bureaucrat, who is a safety oriented person in his career, to launch a conspiracy that could see him executed if he is discovered, then I am not going to believe it.

Why not? Because I am interested in human action. I am interested in the differences between free market entrepreneurship and bureaucratic management. I learned this distinction from Ludwig von Mises in his marvelous little book, Bureaucracy (1944). The longer the government has operated without any major resistance, the more likely that it is run by bureaucrats. They are risk-averse. Risk-aversion is the fundamental personal characteristic of a bureaucrat. Only under extreme circumstances can he be fired. He will get automatic promotions. The ones who have reached the top of the tenured pyramid have been screened in terms of their commitment to not rocking the boat.

I want to know what kind of motivation would lead such a person to risk being caught and convicted of organizing a mass murder or some comparable event. I doubt that the motivation is money. It is probably not power. Such a senior-level person already has power. Next: Who would persuade such a person to take such a step? What is the motivation for that person to get involved with the dark side of some Deep State bureaucracy? Next: Why would the Deep State bureaucracy pay any attention to somebody outside the bureaucracy? Why would the CIA risk exposure because somebody in some secret society for some reason unknown would like to see a mass murder?

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It’s interesting, and a little disheartening, to hear Christians cryptically endorse a form of cognitive dissonance. Just because certain realities will remain in the shadows, that doesn’t mean lies should not be discerned for what they are (or at least what they are not)…

“My father-in-law, R. J. Rushdoony, who accepted many conspiracy theories and who was a skilled revisionist historian, referred to these people as gravediggers…. *

Most people interested in public affairs sense the cost of abandoning the publicly held view of Big Events. The cost is very high. There is almost no positive payoff. In academia, there is none. The payoffs are negative.

So, for most Americans, seeing is not believing. Most Americans do not remember this event. The media do not mention it…”

*as opposed to free-thinkers?

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This is good….

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Of Course the Government Is Lying About 9-11.
Gary North

“This month, a campaign in Canada is challenging the government's 9-11 story. I am in favor of this, both as a professionally trained historian and as a believer in a general policy of examining official government positions…

Most people do not have time to re-think every government position. Even with the big positions, people do not have time to re-think them in detail. They sense the personal cost of such investigations. If they ever figured out that they have been lied to deliberately, they might lose faith in the government. This is like abandoning the religion of your youth. The costs are high. The older you are, the more emotional capital is invested in this "market." To abandon faith in the official line means admitting that you had previously fallen for a grand deception. You were played the sucker. You were, in Lee Harvey Oswald's now-famous term, a "patsy."

…Show why and how the government is lying. Show that lying is part of the government's underlying -- with the accent on "lying" -- agenda. That should be good enough for anyone.

It will surely be good enough for me.”

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Another truth bomb by Gary North. Why is this analysis important? Before you can diagnosis a response or a position or even a remedy/solution, you should know what you are dealing with, no matter how large and ruthless the levitation truly is. So cries for nationalism, natural law theories and theocracies are debate fodder in lieu of what’s really going on. Darwinists, eugenicists and neopagans are setting the course (and attempting to do so in coordination on a global scale) and have been for quite sometime, even under the guise of nominal Christianity. There’s nothing wrong with coming to a firm understanding that the system is rigged or at least controlled. Unless a theonomist like Rushdoony is afraid you’ll become a “gravedigger”? I’m just not sure why anyone would want to propose a solution (e.g., Christian reconstructionism) that flies in the face of a greater reality. That may work locally, but only for so long.

We are still waiting for the release of that evidence.

I ask the same about the weapons supposedly used by the alleged shooter in Las Vegas. (1) Do the rounds that killed and wounded all those people match the weapons in the shooter’s motel room? (2) Are there rounds that do not match, indicating more than one shooter?

The ballistics evidence would answer these questions.

This is technically easy to check. It just takes time, money, and the public’s willingness to hold the investigators’ feet to the fire.

There are other unanswered (and mainstream media unasked) questions. I have a Ph.D. in history. I know what to ask. I would ask what any reporter would ask: who, what, when, where, why, and how?

1. How and where did he buy the automatic weapons?
2. Where and when did he train to master them?
3. How did he get them into the hotel room(s)?
4. How did he shoot from two windows?
5. Was he registered in both rooms?
6. Why did it take the police 20 minutes to locate which floor and room?
7. Why did it take them 52 more minutes to get to the room?

All of this is easy to check.

If the authorities do not respond, this will add fuel to the fire of disbelief.

If the mainstream media do not keep demanding this information from the authorities, then they are in bed with the authorities.

If reporters in the mainstream media do not investigate these matters independently, then the media are in bed with the authorities.

If the authorities and the media stonewall on these issues…

As far as our current context, a political theory should see things for what they are. As per natural revelation, being creatures made in God’s image, the law is written on our hearts, but even that we fight against, especially the most hardened and depraved among us (including, and in particular, those in high places, regardless of public posturings/justifications).
I’m most interested in how we may convey and promote the 2nd use of the law in today’s “negative world”…? Discerning the moral order of objective reality against the “do what that wilt” nature of the subjective experience.

By coming to grips with the knowledge that there are powerful entities, not outside God’s providence, but hostile to all things commonly good, we can truly comprehend that human flourishing is purposely being thwarted and that the secular domain is not neutral, but is spiritually hostile to even a natural law theory that aligns with God’s creative and redemptive purposes.

Regardless, God is in control. Our best response is to live as people who understand that God is in control. Our Lord is risen, on the throne and will return. He is with us right now.

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The Significance of the Scopes Trial | Gary North

Although, I don’t agree with North’s political ideology, both him and Bryan were correct in the sense that Darwinism is a (faith-based) religion and a state-default one at that….
“Beginning with the publication of his book, In His Image in 1921, Bryan began calling for state laws against the teaching of Darwinism in tax-funded schools. What is not widely understood was his motivation. It was ethical, not academic. Bryan understood what Darwin had written and what his cousin Francis Galton had written. Galton developed the “science” of eugenics. Darwin in The Descent of Man (1871) referred to Galton’s book favorably. Also, Bryan could read the full title of Darwin’s original book: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. …

Bryan had read what Darwin had written, and he was appalled. He recognized that a ruthless hostility to charity was the dark side of Darwinism. Had Darwin’s theory been irrelevant, he said, it would have been harmless. Bryan wrote: “This hypothesis, however, does incalculable harm. It teaches that Christianity impairs the race physically. That was the first implication at which I revolted. It led me to review the doctrine and reject it entirely.” In Chapter 4, Bryan went on the attack. He cited the notorious passage in Darwin’s Descent of Man. …

Bryan had to be stopped.

…. The most famous reporter at the trial was H. L. Mencken. That Mencken was drawn to Dayton like a moth to a flame is not surprising. He hated fundamentalism. He also loved a good show, which the trial proved to be. But there was something else. He was a dedicated follower of Nietzsche. In 1920, Mencken’s translation of Nietzsche’s 1895 book, The Antichrist, was published. Bryan had specifically targeted Nietzsche in In His Image. “Darwinism leads to a denial of God. Nietzsche carried Darwinism to its logical conclusion.” Mencken was determined to get Bryan if he could.

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My casual interest in the debate between natural law enthusiasts and christian-nationalists has concluded with the futility of a discussion that fails to acknowledge the default belief system of mainstream society and the public square (most prominently, the secularist, the practical-atheist, and the christian-nominalist)….

Evolution's most ambitious and vocal conservative political scientist Larry Arnhart.
… Arnhart appeals directly to Darwin himself. In Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature, Arnhart argues that conservative thought has fundamentally misunderstood Darwin. For Arnhart, Darwin is not a biological materialist but a modern disciple of Aristotle. Properly understood, Darwinism proves that morality is rooted in human biology. Indeed, Arnhart claims that Darwinism can identify twenty biological desires that are common to all human societies. The fulfillment or frustration of these desires provides universal standards for judging the morality of human social behavior. Darwinian natural right consists of the “right” to have these biological desires satisfied. Arnhart recently argued in the conservative religious journal First Things that both secular and religious conservatives currently “need Charles Darwin.” By “adopting a Darwinian view of human nature,” both groups would be able to give a rational, non-sectarian response to the prevailing dogma of moral relativism. For Arnhart, the attraction of Darwinism is essentially practical: It provides a “scientific”–not “metaphysical” or “sectarian”–basis for “conservative moral and political thought.”

One has to question, however, the wisdom of evaluating any account of human nature primarily in terms of its political utility. But this does explain why, on every critical point, Arnhart lets his political concerns shape his theoretical defense of Darwinism. Consequently, Arnhart never really confronts conservatism's original charge that Darwinism reduces human beings to clever, biologically determined animals. But he does present natural lawyers with an intriguing and, by no means, inconsequential choice: Should they embrace Darwinism and give natural law conclusions the air of “scientific legitimacy,” or should they continue to defend an unfashionable but richer account of human nature that transcends human biology?

The Biology of Morality

Essential to the Darwinian defense of morality is the belief that social behaviors are “biologically rooted” in human nature. Darwinians such as Arnhart start from the premise that human beings are “hard-wired” for specific species-preserving behaviors. Darwinism explains all human societies, ranging from families to political communities, as unintended byproducts of the evolutionary process. Social behaviors and institutions came into existence as evolutionary responses to “species-threatening” changes in man's environment. Friendships, marriages, families, and even political communities, all of which are commonly seen as vital features of a meaningful human life, have their origins outside of the moral universe. Every society came into existence in a world where “species-survival” and “species-extinction,” not good and evil, were the fundamental human categories. Darwinism views sociality and morality as part of man's genetic inheritance–the adaptive means through which the species perpetuates itself. Contrary to popular belief, morality is really instrumental to the larger goal of individual and collective preservation.

Darwin's thesis that all species, including the human species, possess a biological drive for self-preservation is not novel. Arnhart, for example, frequently observes that Saint Thomas Aquinas, the natural law's classical exponent par excellence,makes a similar claim. And as Arnhart likes to note, Aquinas even once described natural right as “that which nature has taught to all animals.” Aquinas's strongest statement on this matter, however, occurs in the context of a wider discussion of natural law. Aquinas there states that the natural law's second inclination, which man shares with all animals, directs him to preserve the species. But as Arnhart shows, Darwin extends this insight substantially further than Aquinas does. In contrast to Aquinas, Darwin believes that those behaviors that are necessary for the survival of the species gradually become woven into human biology itself. Over time, human beings eventually come to view behaviors that are necessary for survival as both meaningful and moral.

The Darwinian defense of morality characteristically points to the end of the family as illustrative of how morality is rooted in human biology. Arnhart himself traces the family back to the strong sexual drive of young men. Rooted in their “biological nature,” this drive plays an important role in the preservation of the species, yet it also fulfills “the natural desire for conjugal bonding.” Once properly channeled (Arnhart conspicuously never explains how or why this occurs), the sexual drive allows for the kind of bonding that naturally occurs within the family. The preservation of the family and, ultimately, of the species itself are the result of the “biological drive for sexual mating.” Scrutinized from the Darwinian perspective, the biological desire for conjugal bonding is revealed to perform the necessary task of stabilizing society.

While Darwinism can defend the family as a natural institution, it is not a genuinely moral or spiritual defense. Wedded to biological materialism, Darwinism necessarily reduces the good to the useful–finally viewing the family as instrumental to evolution's larger goal of the preservation of society. While family life undoubtedly helps stabilize society, this clearly is not the only thing that is good about it. Arnhart's recognition of natural desires for “conjugal and familial bonding” shows that he is aware of this fact. But the logic of his position ultimately requires him to view the family in terms of its preservation of society.

The Morality of Biology

But is this really compatible with conservatism? Is it really possible to understand family life solely in terms of its role in the preservation of society? Setting aside for the moment any sacramental notion of marriage(not mere conjugal bonding) and family life, Darwinism would have one believe that a husband's self-conscious love for his wife or the personal sacrifices that parents willingly make for their children are byproducts of a primordial desire to perpetuate the species. Viewed from the perspective of human beings' lived experience, Darwinism's appreciation of the family is even more dehumanizing than modernity's view of marriage as simply a contractual arrangement.

Part of the reason for this flattening of the human horizon is Darwinism's systematic identification of the good with the flourishing of the species rather than with the self-conscious individual. There is then something fundamentally incoherent about the effort to defend the intrinsic goodness of morality on the basis of Darwinism. This incoherence, however, explains a number of oddities about the Darwinian defense of morality. The most obvious of these is its creative effort to present Darwin as a teacher of “evolution.” As surprising as it sounds, Darwin never uses this term in The Origin of Species. Rather, he speaks of “descent with modification.” The difference between these terms is not merely semantic. Darwin realized that evolution is a teleological term. To say that something evolved is to say that it has evolved towardsomething. Evolution implies the kind of purposeful change by which something unfolds according to a prearranged plan–precisely the understanding of evolution that the Roman Catholic Church claims is not necessarily inimical to Christianity. While often popularly misunderstood, what the Catholic Church consistently has opposed, from Pius XII's nuanced 1950 encyclical Humani Generis to John Paul II's recent statements, is not the idea of evolution per se but, rather, those materialist theories that reduce psychic humanity to biological animality.

Darwin, however, eschews such teleological thinking–going so far as to note in his manuscript not to use “hierarchical” terms such as higher and lower. For him, nature is intrinsically mechanistic. Change results from “natural selection,” the process by which species adapt to environmental changes by weeding out variations that jeopardize their survival. Far from acting towards an end, nature responds to external forces of chance and necessity. It is not difficult to see why Darwinians such as Arnhart try to gloss over the harshness of this teaching. By drawing attention to the fact that nature is a blind and continuous process, they effectively undermine their political defense of the intrinsic goodness of morality.

Darwinism's teaching on perpetual modification points to another problem with the idea of Darwinian natural law. For Darwin, the process of modification is, in principle, continuous. Contrary to what they may wish to believe, human beings are not the end of the evolutionary process. The Darwinian defense of natural morality, therefore, is not to be taken too literally. Lacking the fixity of any genuine end, the goods supported by natural law are useful only over long periods of time. Like nature itself, they are transitionally good. This explains why Arnhart places so much emphasis on biology, since it offers the only real source of “temporary fixity” in the world.

Natural Law and the Humanization of Biology

What is most striking about the Darwinian defense of morality is that it argues for one of the positions that natural law traditionally has argued against. Natural law historically has opposed any simplistic identification of the natural with the biological. Contrary to Darwinism's identification of the natural with the instinctual, natural law associates the natural with the reasonable. It seeks to humanize and transcend the realm of biology by incorporating it into the realm of reason–to view the low in light of the high, not vice versa. Whereas materialist Darwinians see human nature culminating in the biological instinct to perpetuate the species, Aquinas thinks that man's natural inclination directs him to seek the truth about God and to live in society. Rather than insisting that he be completely at home in the biological world, natural law realizes that his natural desire for transcendence ensures that man can only be ambiguously at home in the world. Psychically different from other creatures, the rational creature (not merely the calculating, species-preserving animal) somehow embodies all of the aspirations of the evolved biological world.

This natural desire to know does not negate the desire to perpetuate the species but, in fact, can explain why such perpetuation is desirable. Part of the attraction of natural law thinking, therefore, lies in its ability to show that human beings are not slaves to their instincts but, rather, that they possess the psychic freedom to make sense of these instincts. Over and against Darwinism's biological determinism, natural law theory is grounded in the all-too-human experience of wrestling with matters of conscience–of trying to do what one ought to do and not merely what one instinctively wants to do. Rejecting the reality of such an inner life, Darwinian-based defenses of morality are necessarily self-defeating. They replace relativism's belief that nothing can legitimately make a claim on the human soul with materialism's belief that human beings are biologically incapable of caring about their souls.

Near the end of his essay in First Things,Arnhart celebrates the remarkable recent advances of science in the areas of neurobiology and genetics. In light of these advances, Arnhart warns that “if conservatism is to remain intellectually vital, [it] will need to show that [its] position is compatible with this new science of human nature.” But what does Arnhart think Darwinism has to say to these new sciences? If there really are no natural limits on human beings, if nature really is in a constant slow state of flux, how can a Darwinian, even a morally serious Darwinian, oppose something such as the “new science” of human cloning? A self-conscious Darwinian such as E. O. Wilson realizes that cloning is simply the next stage of human “modification.” Faithful to the spirit of his Darwinism, Wilson looks forward to the day when cloning or “volitional evolution” will allow scientists to alter “not just the anatomy and intelligence of the species but also the emotions and creative drive that compose the very core of human nature.” Less consistent Darwinians such as Arnhart choose to remain blissfully unaware of this fact. Consequently, they fail to recognize that what they offer is not so much up-to-date moral guidance as the ultimate moral justification for the “brave new world.”

Darwin's Influence on Modern Thought

Great minds shape the thinking of successive historical periods. Luther and Calvin inspired the Reformation; Locke, Leibniz, Voltaire and Rousseau, the Enlightenment. Modern thought is most dependent on the influence of Charles Darwin…

A Secular View of Life

Darwin founded a new branch of life science, evolutionary biology…

…The truly outstanding achievement of the principle of natural selection is that it makes unnecessary the invocation of “final causes”—that is, any teleological forces leading to a particular end. In fact, nothing is predetermined. Furthermore, the objective of selection even may change from one generation to the next, as environmental circumstances vary. …

The Darwinian Zeitgeist

A 21st-century person looks at the world quite differently than a citizen of the Victorian era did. This shift had multiple sources, particularly the incredible advances in technology. But what is not at all appreciated is the great extent to which this shift in thinking indeed resulted from Darwin’s ideas.

Remember that in 1850 virtually all leading scientists and philosophers were Christian men. The world they inhabited had been created by God, and as the natural theologians claimed, He had instituted wise laws that brought about the perfect adaptation of all organisms to one another and to their environment. At the same time, the architects of the scientific revolution had constructed a worldview based on physicalism (a reduction to spatiotemporal things or events or their properties), teleology, determinism and other basic principles. Such was the thinking of Western man prior to the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species. The basic principles proposed by Darwin would stand in total conflict with these prevailing ideas.

First, Darwinism rejects all supernatural phenomena and causations. The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the adaptedness and diversity of the world solely materialistically. It no longer requires God as creator or designer (although one is certainly still free to believe in God even if one accepts evolution). Darwin pointed out that creation, as described in the Bible and the origin accounts of other cultures, was contradicted by almost any aspect of the natural world. Every aspect of the “wonderful design” so admired by the natural theologians could be explained by natural selection. (A closer look also reveals that design is often not so wonderful—see “Evolution and the Origins of Disease,” by Randolph M. Nesse and George C. Williams; Scientific American, November 1998.) Eliminating God from science made room for strictly scientific explanations of all natural phenomena; it gave rise to positivism; it produced a powerful intellectual and spiritual revolution, the effects of which have lasted to this day.

Second, Darwinism refutes typology. From the time of the Pythagoreans and Plato, the general concept of the diversity of the world emphasized its invariance and stability. This viewpoint is called typology, or essentialism. The seeming variety, it was said, consisted of a limited number of natural kinds (essences or types), each one forming a class. The members of each class were thought to be identical, constant, and sharply separated from the members of other essences.

Variation, in contrast, is nonessential and accidental. A triangle illustrates essentialism: all triangles have the same fundamental characteristics and are sharply delimited against quadrangles or any other geometric figures. An intermediate between a triangle and a quadrangle is inconceivable. Typological thinking, therefore, is unable to accommodate variation and gives rise to a misleading conception of human races. For the typologist, Caucasians, Africans, Asians or Inuits are types that conspicuously differ from other human ethnic groups. This mode of thinking leads to racism. (Although the ignorant misapplication of evolutionary theory known as “social Darwinism” often gets blamed for justifications of racism, adherence to the disproved essentialism preceding Darwin in fact can lead to a racist viewpoint.)

Darwin completely rejected typological thinking and introduced instead the entirely different concept now called population thinking. All groupings of living organisms, including humanity, are populations that consist of uniquely different individuals. No two of the six billion humans are the same. Populations vary not by their essences but only by mean statistical differences. By rejecting the constancy of populations, Darwin helped to introduce history into scientific thinking and to promote a distinctly new approach to explanatory interpretation in science.

Third, Darwin’s theory of natural selection made any invocation of teleology unnecessary. From the Greeks onward, there existed a universal belief in the existence of a teleological force in the world that led to ever greater perfection. This “final cause” was one of the causes specified by Aristotle. After Kant, in the Critique of Judgment, had unsuccessfully attempted to describe biological phenomena with the help of a physicalist Newtonian explanation, he then invoked teleological forces. Even after 1859, teleological explanations (orthogenesis) continued to be quite popular in evolutionary biology. The acceptance of the Scala Naturae and the explanations of natural theology were other manifestations of the popularity of teleology. Darwinism swept such considerations away.

(The designation “teleological” actually applied to various different phenomena. Many seemingly end-directed processes in inorganic nature are the simple consequence of natural laws—a stone falls or a heated piece of metal cools because of laws of physics, not some end-directed process. Processes in living organisms owe their apparent goal-directedness to the operation of an inborn genetic or acquired program. Adapted systems, such as the heart or kidneys, may engage in activities that can be considered goal seeking, but the systems themselves were acquired during evolution and are continuously fine-tuned by natural selection. Finally, there was a belief in cosmic teleology, with a purpose and predetermined goal ascribed to everything in nature. Modern science, however, is unable to substantiate the existence of any such cosmic teleology.)

Fourth, Darwin does away with determinism. Laplace notoriously boasted that a complete knowledge of the current world and all its processes would enable him to predict the future to infinity. Darwin, by comparison, accepted the universality of randomness and chance throughout the process of natural selection. (Astronomer and philosopher John Herschel referred to natural selection contemptuously as “the law of the higgledy-piggledy.”) That chance should play an important role in natural processes has been an unpalatable thought for many physicists. Einstein expressed this distaste in his statement, “God does not play dice.” Of course, as previously mentioned, only the first step in natural selection, the production of variation, is a matter of chance. The character of the second step, the actual selection, is to be directional.

Despite the initial resistance by physicists and philosophers, the role of contingency and chance in natural processes is now almost universally acknowledged. Many biologists and philosophers deny the existence of universal laws in biology and suggest that all regularities be stated in probabilistic terms, as nearly all so-called biological laws have exceptions. Philosopher of science Karl Popper’s famous test of falsification therefore cannot be applied in these cases.

Fifth, Darwin developed a new view of humanity and, in turn, a new anthropocentrism. Of all of Darwin’s proposals, the one his contemporaries found most difficult to accept was that the theory of common descent applied to Man. For theologians and philosophers alike, Man was a creature above and apart from other living beings. Aristotle, Descartes and Kant agreed on this sentiment, no matter how else their thinking diverged. But biologists Thomas Huxley and Ernst Haeckel revealed through rigorous comparative anatomical study that humans and living apes clearly had common ancestry, an assessment that has never again been seriously questioned in science. The application of the theory of common descent to Man deprived man of his former unique position.

Ironically, though, these events did not lead to an end to anthropocentrism. The study of man showed that, in spite of his descent, he is indeed unique among all organisms. Human intelligence is unmatched by that of any other creature. Humans are the only animals with true language, including grammar and syntax. Only humanity, as Darwin emphasized, has developed genuine ethical systems. In addition, through high intelligence, language and long parental care, humans are the only creatures to have created a rich culture. And by these means, humanity has attained, for better or worse, an unprecedented dominance over the entire globe.

Sixth, Darwin provided a scientific foundation for ethics. The question is frequently raised—and usually rebuffed— as to whether evolution adequately explains healthy human ethics. Many wonder how, if selection rewards the individual only for behavior that enhances his own survival and reproductive success, such pure selfishness can lead to any sound ethics. The widespread thesis of social Darwinism, promoted at the end of the 19th century by Spencer, was that evolutionary explanations were at odds with the development of ethics.

We now know, however, that in a social species not only the individual must be considered—an entire social group can be the target of selection. Darwin applied this reasoning to the human species in 1871 in The Descent of Man. The survival and prosperity of a social group depends to a large extent on the harmonious cooperation of the members of the group, and this behavior must be based on altruism. Such altruism, by furthering the survival and prosperity of the group, also indirectly benefits the fitness of the group’s individuals. The result amounts to selection favoring altruistic behavior.

Kin selection and reciprocal helpfulness in particular will be greatly favored in a social group. Such selection for altruism has been demonstrated in recent years to be widespread among many other social animals. One can then perhaps encapsulate the relation between ethics and evolution by saying that a propensity for altruism and harmonious cooperation in social groups is favored by natural selection. The old thesis of social Darwinism—strict selfishness—was based on an incomplete understanding of animals, particularly social species.

The Influence of New Concepts

Let me now try to summarize my major findings. No educated person any longer questions the validity of the so-called theory of evolution, which we now know to be a simple fact. Likewise, most of Darwin’s particular theses have been fully confirmed, such as that of common descent, the gradualism of evolution, and his explanatory theory of natural selection.

I hope I have successfully illustrated the wide reach of Darwin’s ideas. Yes, he established a philosophy of biology by introducing the time factor, by demonstrating the importance of chance and contingency, and by showing that theories in evolutionary biology are based on concepts rather than laws. But furthermore—and this is perhaps Darwin’s greatest contribution—he developed a set of new principles that influence the thinking of every person: the living world, through evolution, can be explained without recourse to supernaturalism; essentialism or typology is invalid, and we must adopt population thinking, in which all individuals are unique (vital for education and the refutation of racism); natural selection, applied to social groups, is indeed sufficient to account for the origin and maintenance of altruistic ethical systems; cosmic teleology, an intrinsic process leading life automatically to ever greater perfection, is fallacious, with all seemingly teleological phenomena explicable by purely material processes; and determinism is thus repudiated, which places our fate squarely in our own evolved hands.

To borrow Darwin’s phrase, there is grandeur in this view of life. New modes of thinking have been, and are being, evolved. Almost every component in modern man’s belief system is somehow affected by Darwinian principles.

Last edited by Anthony C.; Sun Mar 31, 2024 8:47 PM.

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