Monday, July 17, 2017

Misreadings Of Evolution

I once had an interaction with a man on the Internet who called himself Danimal. He was a firm evolutionist, yet he believed that the problem with the world was that “the freaks do not know their place.” As an evolutionist he would have known that the evolutionary process – if there is an evolutionary process – is driven by mutation. In human world what this means is that the people whom he regards to be “freaks” are the ones who come up with all the innovation that moves the world forward.

Now evolutionary theory can be used for all sorts of things, many of them not good at all. There are some in the Nazi movement who think that races have evolved for their place in the ecosystem and should not mix. They are dead wrong about that. When races mix they give each other their best genes, and the children inherit the best of both races involved in the mix. The most beautiful populations in the world – Ethiopians and Venezuelans – are products of racial mix.

Still more wrongdoing we see with people who think that only the strong survive. There are people in rural Mexico who believe this, so they've worked out an arrangement toward that effect. A man would come home and beat his wife, and she would make him super-spicy food and tease him when he would tear up. To the best of my knowledge, rural Mexico does not run the world. In fact many people in such situations complain about the gringos and the multinationals; and complaining is not a behavior of strong people. The correct response to that is that the world requires contributions of all sorts of people, most of whom would be strong in some ways and not in others. That Bill Gates cannot defeat Mike Tyson in a boxing match does not mean that he is not fit to live.

Another bad use of the evolutionary theory has been Social Darwinism – that a population that conquers another population is superior. That is not always the case. They may simply have better weapons or better military practices but be light years behind in other respects. Genghis Khan and his descendants were able to conquer cities in China and Russia that were far ahead of Mongols economically. The Spanish conquered the Incas; but the Incas had architecture, agriculture and infrastructure far superior to that of the Spanish. Having better weapons does not mean that you are better. You are better in one pursuit. It does not mean that you are better in all of them.

More important is an argument that, to the best of my knowledge, has not been made before. There is the power to destroy – as we see in Genghis Khan and the Spanish above – and there is the power to create. It takes one bullet to kill a person. It takes trillions of cells to make one. Power to destroy can become power to subdue others, but it does not become power to create others. Not even the people who know how to build nuclear bombs can create a human body or an Amazonian rainforest. Until one can create things of such nature, not even the power to destroy them gives one the right to see oneself superior to them. The power to create is far more important than the power to destroy. And it is time that it be recognized and rewarded accordingly.

A person who parses the evolutionary theory correctly will draw much different conclusions. One will be that the process is driven by mutation; which in human society means that it is the “freaks” that contribute the most original things. Another is that the process requires contributions of all sorts of people, and weakness in one area does not preclude being valuable in any number of others. Finally, life requires all sorts of things, and having destructive power is not comparable to having creative power.

So it is time that wrongful implications of evolutionary theory be reversed. Support ingenuity and innovation; support diversity; and support the power to create. And as a result of this see the human species advance beyond all its previous limitations and build on its genius and its efforts to achieve the heights never thought possible.


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