Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | September 7, 2009

“It just doesn’t read well”

If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat. Life is a level of complexity that almost lies outside our vision; it is so far beyond anything we have any means of understanding that we just think of it as a different class of object, a different class of matter; ‘life’, something that had a mysterious essence about it, was God given, and that’s the only explanation we had. The bombshell comes in 1859 when Darwin publishes ‘On the Origin of Species’. It takes a long time before we really get to grips with this and begin to understand it, because not only does it seem incredible and thoroughly demeaning to us, but it’s yet another shock to our system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the Universe and we’re not made by anything, but we started out as some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey. It just doesn’t read well.

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Responses

  1. This brings to mind the fact that Darwin himself wasn’t comfortable with his work toward the end of his life, and was hoping to revise it. It is a shame the majority took it more as gospel than theory. It also brings to mind the lines of a song in which the author of the song realizes, after a college education, “I’m just a god’damned chain reaction!” and bewails his lot. (Primitive Radio Gods).
    Personally, I go for Adaptation, not linear Evolution, as a self-evident reality.

  2. Gwernen,
    Darwin was talking about adaptation. It was Herbert Spencer who was responsible for linear evolution, and that was to promote his own politics. Evolution by natural selection is certainly not linear, and Darwin recognized that.

    Please see http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2008/12/taking-evolution-seriously.html

  3. “not only does it seem incredible and thoroughly demeaning to us, but it’s yet another shock to our system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the Universe and we’re not made by anything, but we started out as some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey. ”

    Isn’t it a glorious demonstration of our essential connectedness with all the world and its continuous becoming? I think that, far from not reading well, it’s a glorious, uplifting, affirming, inspiring, rather majestic thing.


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