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Of Men, Monkeys, and Jared Diamond

Of Men, Monkeys, and Jared Diamond

For the twenty-first-century disciple of Darwin, man, although he possesses no important, intrinsic value that separates him from his chimpanzee cousins, has confirmed himself a handiest destroyer of that very mom nature who advanced him into his current type…

The Third Chimpanzee, by Jared Diamond (432 pages, Harper Perennial, 2006)

Of the three founding fathers of modernism—Freud, Marx, and Darwin—solely the third stays unscathed within the halls of academia. During the last three many years, scores of secular humanist teachers have criticized, if not discredited the theories of Freud and Marx. However not Darwin. He’s the untouchable one: the one who should not be dethroned, deserted, or questioned. For on his shoulders rests the fashionable world. Even probably the most clear- and open-minded of modernists discover themselves unable to assume outdoors of the Darwinian paradigm . . . or to flee the implications of that paradigm.

The reality of this assertion was introduced residence to me once more as I learn a e-book by Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer Prize profitable writer of Weapons, Germs, and Metal (1997). In that best-selling guide, Diamond, a professor of geography at UCLA, famously argued that the West’s conquest of Africa, Australia, and the New World was as a consequence of geographical fairly than genetic variations. His argument is a compelling one, however it was not till I learn his earlier work, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Way forward for the Human Animal (1992), that I noticed how completely grounded his thought is in Darwinism.

I select to focus right here on Diamond quite than Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, or Sam Harris, for Diamond is an irenic, non-combative individual with no axe to grind. In contrast to the brand new atheists, he doesn’t search to tear down the spiritual beliefs of his readers or forestall them from passing on these beliefs to their youngsters. There’s a deep humanity and empathy to Diamond, a ardour to realize knowledge about his world and his fellow man that may assist protect our species. But, he too proves unable to flee the foundational beliefs and logical penalties of Darwinian survival of the fittest.

In what follows, I’ll present how Diamond, in his in any other case fascinating and entertaining Third Chimpanzee, proves unable both to think about a world that isn’t run by the random, purposeless forces of pure choice or to keep away from the lastly anti-humanistic view of man that’s pressured upon him by his evolutionary presuppositions.

Diamond Clings to Darwin

From the outset of The Third Chimpanzee, Diamond makes no secret of his absolute allegiance to a principle that has gotten weaker, not stronger, because it was proposed in the midst of the nineteenth century. “Since Darwin’s time, fossilized bones of hundreds of creatures variously intermediate between apes and modern humans have been discovered, making it impossible for a reasonable person to deny the overwhelming evidence. What once seemed absurd—our evolution from apes—actually happened” (Harper, 2006, 2). A century and a half of paleontology has not solely did not substantiate Darwin’s branching tree; it has proven it to be false. Removed from overwhelming, the fossil proof from amoeba to primates contradicts Darwin’s tree whereas the “evidence” from ape to man merely doesn’t exist. The touted “missing link” continues to be simply that—lacking.

The one purpose why it’s “impossible” for a “reasonable person” to disclaim man’s evolution from apes is that “reasonable” individuals like Diamond who refuse—on philosophical moderately than scientific grounds—to simply accept the likelihood that we have been created are left with no different choice than Darwin to account for their very own existence. Simply because the partisan politician should spin each new reality, regardless of how contradictory, to favor his aspect, so Darwinists like Diamond won’t ever query the “fact” of evolution, solely the easiest way to drive the proof to suit widespread descent via pure choice.

Think about the 2 sentences that comply with instantly after those quoted above: “Yet the discoveries of many missing links have only made the problem more fascinating without fully solving it. The few bits of new baggage we acquired—the 2 percent difference between our genes and those of chimps—must have been responsible for all of our seemingly unique properties” (2). Observe that Diamond was not anticipating to seek out “many missing links”; the paleontological proof shouldn’t be behaving. Regardless of, just a little extra finessing of the “facts” will clear up any and all discrepancies.

Observe much more his use of the phrase “must” within the second sentence. That a two % distinction in DNA between man and chimp might account for the huge, qualitative variations between the 2 species is as absurd because the notion that we might have advanced from apes, however that doesn’t matter. That distinction should have completed it, for Darwinism says it should, and if Darwin is fallacious, then we’re left with no choice however a supernatural creator. Properly, not precisely.

Paradoxically, the one actual proof Diamond gives for our evolution from chimps is that two % distinction in our DNA. I name it ironic for the invention of DNA and the way it works has exploded any risk that life might have advanced solely by Darwinian means. The tactic by which DNA replicates itself, a way that permits for mutations, may cause some evolutionary modifications—although on the micro fairly than the macro degree—however the DNA itself, frontloaded with info and evincing a specified and irreducible complexity of the very best order, couldn’t have advanced by Darwinian means. New atheist Richard Dawkins and the equally Darwinian, anti-theistic Francis Crick, co-discoverer with James Watson of the double helix construction of the DNA, are properly conscious of this; that’s the reason they’ve each proposed our DNA may need been seeded by aliens.

Diamond, to his credit score, doesn’t search refuge in science-fiction, although he does pull a intelligent sleight of hand by which he “proves” the chance of Darwinian evolution by claiming that the immense measurement of our universe would certainly have led to the evolution of different rational species on different planets—and then assures us that, although these alien species should exist, they might have destroyed themselves earlier than they might contact us! As an alternative, refusing to think about that the 2 % DNA distinction between man and chimp is equally in line with evolution as it’s with a standard creator/designer of all life on earth, Diamond tries to point out that a minor evolutionary adaptation some 40,000 years in the past to our tongue and larynx anatomy may need provided us with the vocal functionality of speech, a modification that led to language and all these different parts that separate man from the remainder of the animal kingdom.

Diamond devotes a lot of the first half of The Third Chimpanzee to discovering animal precedents for sexuality, artwork, and agriculture. Although most of his findings conflate animal intuition with human selection, the larger drawback together with his just-so tales is that they’re inconsistent. Every time he’s unable to discover a parallel amongst the chimpanzee ninety-eight percenters (which is more often than not), he blithely turns to birds or ants for a parallel—claiming that, when it got here time for man, nature/pure choice miraculously rediscovered a technique she had “forgotten” because the time of the ants. Even when we ignore Diamond’s tendency to take a position nature/pure choice with company—a bent he shares with Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, and all the opposite popularizers of Darwin—it certainly stretches the bounds of cause and logic to assume a useful adaptation technique would lie dormant between the evolution of ants and the evolution of people.

Absent the paleontological proof for widespread descent by pure choice, and given what we now know concerning the specified and irreducible complexity of the DNA and the micro-machines that run our cells, a lot of the proof Diamond amasses for evolution is best accounted for by a standard creator who endowed every species with its personal adaptation methods. That such a creator would make use of the identical adaptation technique for various species throughout the spectrum of life makes far more sense than random, undirected nature “forgetting” a technique for tens of millions of years and then conveniently “remembering” it throughout Diamond’s hypothetical Nice Leap Ahead 40,000 years in the past.

Darwin Clings to Diamond

In response to Karl Popper’s influential falsifiability filter, one of many traits of a real, scientifically legitimate system is that it may be refuted by empirical proof. If Popper is right, then Darwin’s concept of evolution, at the least as it’s held by such thinkers as Diamond, Dawkins, and Dennett, is non-falsifiable. There’s merely no sort or quantity of proof that would budge Diamond from his absolute allegiance to what he considers the self-evident, scientific fact of Darwinism.

Nonetheless, I applaud Diamond for at the very least trying to persuade his readers, and himself, that the Darwinian mechanisms that birthed and formed us needn’t rob us of our free will. In The Third Chimpanzee, and once more in Weapons, Germs, and Metal, he insists that the aboriginal peoples of Africa, Australia, and the Americas weren’t genetically disposed to being defeated and subjugated by the West. It was solely as a result of their respective climates didn’t permit them to domesticate grains and home animals with the identical success as the lads of Europe and the Close to East that they have been unable to defend themselves from the colonizers and the conquistadors.

On the floor, this feels like an affirmation of human dignity, however it’s a hole one. For all his makes an attempt to say the important equality of all races and all peoples, Diamond can’t evade that incontrovertible fact that the Darwinian assumptions on which his theories relaxation are reductive and deterministic. He works onerous to free us from genetic determinism solely to exchange it with geographical determinism. His ethical fervor is robust and admirable, nevertheless it loses all which means if we’re nothing greater than a chimpanzee whose advanced vocal chords allowed us to invent speech, language, and civilization. By breaking down the dividing line between man and animal—somewhat because the movers and shakers within the fields of transhumanism are presently dashing to interrupt down the barrier between the natural and the inorganic—Diamond deconstructs the idea of our uniqueness, our dignity, and our standing as conscience-bearing free-will brokers accountable to a normal that transcends each us and the pure world.

For all his ethical seriousness, Diamond has come to play a task amongst Western elites that’s analogous to that of Bart Ehrman. Simply as Ehrman’s flippant, seemingly-scholarly dismantling of the authority and reliability of the Bible has been wolfed up by wealthy white liberals who need to have the ability to keep the respectable label of Christian whereas evading accountability to a holy God, so Diamond’s much more sober and admirable try and disassociate Darwinian (survival-of-the-fittest) genetics from the European conquest of Australia, Africa, and the Americas has been wolfed up by those that need to embrace Darwinian evolution with out having to additionally embrace its needed racist implications. (Allow us to not overlook the complete title of Darwin’s manifesto: On the Origin of Species by Technique of Pure Choice, or the Preservation of Favoured Races within the Wrestle for Life.) The road from Darwin to Dachau is as agency as that from Marx to the Gulag.

There’s an unsettling paradox on the coronary heart of The Third Chimpanzee, as there’s on the coronary heart of all trendy books that champion freedom, tolerance, and equality whereas concurrently advocating Darwinian macroevolution. Diamond’s noble try within the second half of his ebook to interrupt down human inequality is rendered impotent within the wake of the primary half of his e-book, the place he traces our evolution from the chimpanzee.

With a view to assist resolve, or at the very least unpack this central paradox of the fashionable world, I want to supply up a passage from a Spanish Catholic thinker who deserves to be higher recognized in America: Julian Marias (1914-2005). After mapping out the theological, philosophical, and anthropological imaginative and prescient of actuality that energized medieval and renaissance Christendom, Marias, in The Christian Perspective, pauses to place his finger on a wierd aspect in trendy Europe’s hostility towards Christianity.

Behind the deep anti-clericalism and the avoidance of accountability to a divine commonplace that motivates this hostility, writes Marias, lies one thing subtler and extra troubling: “an odd will to degrade the idea of humanity, as if human excellence were irritating. This has been tried from very different approaches. One of them, under the mantle of ‘modesty,’ has been to deny the importance and dignity of mankind and to disavow any ‘central’ position for humankind within reality. . . . Throughout history, and uninterruptedly so since the eighteenth century, a succession of teams have devoted themselves to the task of ‘reducing’ man to what, properly speaking, is the non-human. A series of such replacements has eradicated the personal nature of man. They have looked on human beings as ‘organisms’ subject to the mere natural laws of physics, biology and economics and lacking the decisive attribute of freedom and the responsibility that arises from it” (Halcyon Press, 2000, 109).

Regardless of its compassionate remedy of the victims of colonialism, The Third Chimpanzee is shot by way of with that very “odd will” that Marias so keenly and succinctly identifies. Diamond topics and reduces mankind to the identical pure legal guidelines and organic urges that drive and decide the animal kingdom. Not solely human excellence however the very concept of humanity itself loses all energy and substance when the variations between man and animal develop into quantitative relatively that qualitative, a matter of diploma relatively than sort. Marxism was liable for making a lowest-common-denominator world by which revolutionaries did all they might to tear down the excellence that they envied of their betters. However Darwin began us down a good darker path, a Peter Singer world the place unborn youngsters, and even newborns, are to be afforded much less personhood standing than full grown chimpanzees.

Diamond, fortunately, harbors a better view of humanity than Singer; but, an in depth studying of The Third Chimpanzee reveals Diamond as a disciple and champion of Paul Ehrlich’s The Inhabitants Bomb. Halfway by way of his guide, Diamond has this to say of historic farmers: “Forced to choose between limiting population growth and trying to increase food production, we opted for the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny” (190). This theme returns within the remaining chapter the place he complains that “many people who should know better dispute the need for limiting our population” (365).

For the twenty-first-century disciple of Darwin, man, although he possesses no important, intrinsic value that separates him from his chimpanzee cousins, has confirmed himself a only destroyer of that very mom nature who advanced him into his current type. Not a particular creation of a loving Creator, man de-evolves into an infestation, a parasite, a harmful animal who excels solely in his potential to put waste his pure habitat.

Humanitarian beliefs apart, plainly the Darwinian Diamond believes, with Ehrlich, that individuals are the issue.

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