Survival of the fittest?
(The one on the left is dead, but the one on the right gives fitness a bad name...)
Although Charles Darwin has been both idolized and demonized, most of today's serious thinkers see him as a man of great vision and tremendous erudition. That's how I see him, too. This doesn't mean he had everything figured out, either biologically or philosophically, in spite of what some of his contemporary followers say. He was smart enought to realize evolutionary theory was a huge puzzle whose pieces had yet to be discovered before they could begin to be assembled. For instance, there was no general Darwinian theory of genes, much less a Darwinian biochemical theory that could even dimly foresee discoveries such as the double helix structure of DNA.
Furthermore, he didn't see his theory as incompatible with the Christianity he had been raised in. Palmer acknowledges this point, but does give the impression that, whatever Darwin himself might have wanted to believe, evolution and religion are actually incompatible. Ironically, Palmer and the Creationists are agreed on this point. My own view is that they are both utterly wrong.
My reasons for saying this can be boiled down to the claim that, if there is a God, there is reason to think he or she is probably at least as smart as Darwin. Were God to read The Origin of the Species he or she would (I imagine) have the same reaction that I do when I read a good examination paper after struggling with a lot of less than brilliant attempts to say what the course was all about. "Finally, someone gets it!" I hear God saying as he turns the pages of Darwin's scientfic work.
In other words, I think that Creationists have constructed God in their own image and likeness, which in this case is that of rather limited intellectual ability and virtually unlimited fear of the unknown. Palmer's case is only slightly different. Instead of constructing a rather low-IQ creator, he has deconstructed the very idea of a deity and -- as you must have noticed by now -- leans toward an agnostic position that borders on out-and-out atheism. But the God that Palmer doesn't believe in isn't much different than the one the Creationists do believe in. Surely we philosophers can do better than that, regardless of what religion if any we were raised in --and indeed, regardless of whether we are theists in any recognizable sense of that term.
|By the way...
You should head over to this chapter's assessment quiz.
Now that you've done your laundry, shouldn't you at least think about cleaning your room?