It seems to me that all institutional explanations, no mater how well reasoned out and no matter how many subscribe to the view, have their shadows. Heavy shadows. Darwinism is no exception even as scientists claim an ongoing pursuit of truth. It would be healthy to take seriously the wise counsel of the Buddha who said that “one preserves truth by stating ‘this is my view.’” (Middle Length Discourses).
Scientists, economists, politicians, business community and citizens, are left with Charles Darwin’s shadow, namely a belief in competition, progress, survival, priority of self interest, and the Western mind as the pinnacle of evolution. Our schoolchildren are brainwashed into these views.
These Darwinian views are a long way from authentic biology which simply records changes taking place in the multiplicity of organisms – a genuinely worthwhile and helpful avenue of research. This branch of science records that impermanence and change features in every aspect of the sentient and insentient world. The complexity of organisms does not inherently prove progress, nor do changes in the organisms prove adaption to the environment, nor survival of the fittest.
To be alive shows no proof of adaption. In light of the state of our planet, we are surely failing to adapt to our environment. The belief in natural selection, survival of the fittest and the battle for life ignores the real possibility that, as a species, we are actually heading at a faster rate than we realise towards non-survival. Human activity has already ensured the non-survival of tens of thousands of other species.
Darwin wrote that he sincerely believed that “man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he is now.” In his biography, he wrote that it was for him an “intolerable thought” that humanity and all other sentient beings are “doomed to complete annihilation after such a long and continued slow progress.” Of course, it is an intolerable thought for Darwin since annihilation makes a total mockery of Darwinism. Evolution and annihilation are extreme standpoint supporting each other.
150 years after the life of Darwin, we are thinking the unthinkable – annihilation. I watched a thought provoking hour long documentary on Channel Four television titled “~A World Without People.” – on the theme of what will happen to the Earth one year, five years, 20 years, 100 years after our species ceases to exist. The unthinkable is upon us all.
Darwin takes the leap of observing changes in the biology of species on his trip to the Volcanic Islands on his voyage on the ship HMS. Beagle to pronouncements about the nature of life. He slips frequently in his writings into an overwhelming need to theorise and generalise including dividing humanity into civilisation and savages.
Remember that Darwin’s 19th century European ‘civilisation’ consisted of endless wars, widespread infectious diseases, frequent famines, desperate poverty, obscene levels of industrial and domestic pollution and a brutally punitive judicial system. We all know the major events of European ‘civilisation’ in the 20th century. We know too the impact of economic growth on the non-Western world.
Darwin unwisely used his research in changes in organisms to support his beliefs in a hierarchy of human beings from those who are civilised to those he believed are closer to apes. Today, we have softened the gap to the arrogant view of the developed nations and the developing nations, to a view of ‘emerging India’ and ‘rapid growth in China’ Political, social and economic ideologues have adopted these views, and continue to invest them with an assumption of reality. Western ‘civilisation’ still remains obsessed with imposing its will on others, and subjecting the world’s population to our pathological constructs of progress and growth. All shadows of Darwinian thinking.
It is not that we should reject insights into changes of organisms in plants and sentient beings. It is the emptiness of the beliefs, views and ideology that accompanies biology that needs to be acknowledged. Life is much more complex and interwoven than the claims of Darwinists about reality.
Rather than live in the dark shadows of Darwinism, we need to observe and respond to the here and now, to the state of the world. The powerful scientific cult of Darwinism has become blind with so called scientific ‘truths.’
We need to employ our minds to inquire into dependent arising situations, the cause and conditions for suffering in this world at every level and realise the intimacy we share with the varieties of sentient life and the elements. We need to keep trust in the exploration of ways to express selflessness, love, generosity, loving kindness, compassion and empathy. In this context, Darwinism seems largely irrelevant – a 19th century dogma based somewhat exclusively on a competitive view of reality. There are no savages and civilised people in the world. There is not a scrap of biological or genetic evidence to show that. We can all learn much from each other.
We need to explore consciousness and its content. We need to focus our attention on co-operation, not competition; selflessness, not the selfish gene, insights, not unresolved impulses; enlightened attitudes not evolutionary beliefs, wisdom not war, Dharma not Darwinism!