Evolutionists used to be hard-boiled theorists who maintained that nature, including man, was based only on the impersonal plus time plus chance. They coolly asserted that the fittest survive, that some species die off and others thrive because of natural selection. All enduring creatures, great and small, have mutated and adapted to their environments.
The new breed of evolutionist is just as firm on these “orthodox” positions, but insists on blatantly interfering in nature. They justify their propping up endangered species who can’t cut the mustard by citing a natural transcendence—something that sounds very similar to the Christian transcendence they have despised so much in the Christian “myth.” Face it: the new evolutionist is a blubbering sentimentalist.
Tune in to just about any animal program and you can see: a National Geographic wildlife special. Nature, Animal Kingdom, NOVA, a documentary on Jane Goodall at the Gombe Stream chimpanzee reserve in Tanzania, or just about any post-Tarzan era animal flick will do. Hear how over millions of years these endangered animals have evolved, and that we mustn’t let them simply die out in an epochal fortnight. Hear how man’s conquest of nature is an immoral act. Watch noble and enlightened conservationists on a romantic rescue effort to save pandas, elephants, blue whales, snail darters, Bengal tigers, rhinos, baby seals—saving everything but the human fetus (people needn’t apply for protection because they are, after all, doing all the environmental damage, and there are too many of them anyway).
These weak-kneed evolutionists, apparently in need of a cosmological crutch, have discovered pantheism. They’ve replaced monotheism and the “antiquated” creation model with a romanticized nature. Speciesists, they project human feelings and thoughts onto nature. Cynthia Moss has lived with elephants since 1972, and has written the recently published Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family. Moss offers revealing insights like, “Elephants are experiencing joy,” and, elsewhere, the elephant “mostly dreamed, perhaps of vast swards of sweet new grass and clear, cool hill streams.” She believes that elephants may have intimations of mortality. Even the reviewer at Newsweek, her former employer, confesses that elephant mysteries “sometimes entice Moss into an anthropomorphic twilight zone.”
Moss (isn’t that a great name for a conservationist?) is wholly sentimental. Touchy-feely evolutionists like her deduce thusly: since humans are only animals, animals easily attain human status. Albert Schweitzer, the famed Alsatian theologian, musician, and medical missionary, developed a system of ethics called “reverence for life” which required a profound respect for the lives of all other beings. One of Schweitzer’s co-workers observed that the more reverence he had for “life,” the less he cherished people. The tsetse fly buzzing into Schweitzer’s African hospital and threatening the life of a recuperating patient has just as much right to live as the human.
When we hear evolutionists talking about morality, it is, shall we say, “a leap of science.” Does the impersonal plus time plus chance evolve into right and wrong? Is swatting a tsetse fly or clubbing a baby seal really murder? Evolutionists cannot grin and nod in agreement with Ogden Nash: “God made the fly and then forgot to tell us why.” They must conclude: “Chance made the earth, so it has no inherent worth.” If poachers slaughtered all the remaining elephants for their ivory, the serious evolutionist would be forced to admit, after his immediate emotional reaction, that under the rule of survival of the fittest his tears are irrational.
The sentimental evolutionist, however, justifies his mourning by preaching about the “chain of life.” If the California condor dies out, he reasons, the ecological balance, you know, the ecosystems, will get screwed up. We won’t survive if nature doesn’t survive. The condor is a part of nature, a part of the whole, a part of us. We must save it to save ourselves.
Doctor Doolittle is in need of a refresher course in elementary evolution. We will survive without the condor because we can adapt. That’s the evolutionary challenge. And who needs the condor anyway? Remember the Cambrian disasters? Some “500 million” years ago the trilobites disappeared from the sea and the world didn’t end in a whimper! Time called the Permian cataclysm of “248 million” years ago “the biggest of extinctions”; up to 90 percent of all marine life died. Nobody knew they were even gone until this century. The late-Cretaceous event of “65 million” years ago finished off the dinosaurs and many groups of species. The evolutionary process includes incredible destruction and waste, but, says hard-liner physicist Richard Muller from the University of California at Berkeley, “in wiping the slate clean, these catastrophes opened up ecological niches and prevented stagnation.”
Some species can adapt, some can’t. Tough luck. That’s natural selection. The California condor is butt ugly, feeds on carrion, has a cue ball head atop a Modigliani neck, and vomits whenever it is mildly frightened. This is one bird that is clearly a result of the impersonal plus time plus chance. Why get choked up about its demise? Why work for 61 and a half hours with a pair of tweezers to aid the baby condor out of its shell, into an incubator, and out of the endangered species column? Its time is up. Better luck in the next Big Bang! The universe is going to collapse on itself eventually anyway, and the sun will burn out sooner or later. Have a nice day, that’s the important thing. Nature knows what it is doing. Don’t be a busybody.
One group of environmental meddlers recently received a sentimental ovation from Life. The George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center near Bartlesville, Oklahoma has been responsible for hatching 99 Southern bald eagles. “We’ll be running an eagle factory here,” says Director Steve Sherrod. Cost: $500,000 a year. These benevolent birdbrains have devoted their lives to building up the numbers of this waning species and for half a year they perform the basic function of eagle parents.
“People ask me why we are doing this,” says Sherrod. “It’s simple. We consider eagles as works of art that can never be replaced. It’s like someone slashing a Rembrandt. Once the birds are gone, they’re gone. Then it will be too late.”
The Rembrandt analogy is the old watch and watchmaker trap. Evolutionists need to beware of design/ designer reasoning. Obviously these sentimental conservationists have been subverted by creationists. Each Rembrandt painting, remember, was made or “created” (if you must) by a painter, for a purpose, with pleasure, ex nilo, in the likeness and image, to some extent, of the painter. (In some of Rembrandt’s paintings he even painted himself, incarnate, into the story.)
If you are a hard-line evolutionist, the eagle was not made. It evolved out of chemical reactions by chance. It has no raison d’etre, and no inherent beauty or purpose. If the golden eagle can soar for long periods searching for a prey and can spot a hare from a distance of 6,560 feet, it is not a timeless treasure or a work of art. It is merely an empirical fact. If the eagle species perishes, this, too, is as plain a fact as the nose in the middle of your face. We are, aren’t we? all brute facts of no intrinsic aesthetic worth. The evolutionist who believes nature, and man, is purposeful, moral, inherently beautiful, and important will find himself at odds with every jot and tittle of evolutionary theory.
The evolutionist who holds out for intrinsic beauty, truth, purpose, and compassion, even though his theory has prescribed moral relativity, blind chance, and savage instincts, is like an atheist who, although he doesn’t believe in the existence of God, goes to church “religiously” and does “Christian” things because it makes him feel good. It may look nice, it may feel nice, but his behavior is inconsistent. The poor fellow is unable to live as he believes, or can’t truly believe as he lives. In the same fashion, the compassionate or sentimental evolutionist is nothing more than a scientific oxymoron.
So why should an evolutionist save condors, elephants, and eagles? After all, is he his brother’s zoo keeper?
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