The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

If you are “young”, by that I mean forty years old or less, you have probably not read Charles Darwin’s signature work, “On The Origin Of Species”.  It was published in 1859 and was a record of his observations on how mankind and other species then living on planet earth had evolved from lower, less successful forms of life.

The work flew in the face of people of religious belief who held the view that mankind was Divinely created and was put upon this Earth, as is.  We had not descended from monkeys or anything else as Darwin claimed.

Darwin’s book was extremely controversial and Hollywood made a movie about it, “Inherit The Wind”. This was the story of the Scopes trial, in which a Tennessee school teacher taught Darwin’s theory to his High School students in violation of the laws of the state.

The movie was extremely well done and the cast included such Hollywood greats as Frederic March and Spencer Tracey playing the prosecuting and defense attorneys, respectively and Dick York, best remembered as Samantha’s husband on “Bewitched” playing the role of Bertram T. Cates, the movie’s version of John Thomas Scopes, the teacher who had been brought before the bar of justice.

Central to Darwin’s observations was the fact that weaker, less successful species either died off or evolved in order to withstand the brutalities of nature.  Some species were victims and others were their predators. The mere act of survival was paramount to everything else. There would be some logic in that on which we all might agree. After all, you cannot write a “Declaration of Independence” or “The Minute Waltz” or accomplish anything else if you have been killed by a stronger opponent.

The initial verdict in the Scopes trial was that the defendnant was guilty.  (That conviction was ultimately overturned on a technicality).    When the matter was finally resolved legally, it was loudly applauded as a victory for science. Those of a religious mindset were stunned that God’s Word had been legally nullified.  The case was tried in 1925.

In the nearly 90 years since the Scopes trial was heard and adjudicated,  those who are “progressives” (some of whom may actually have heard of this case or read Darwin’s underlying work) have labored hard to replace religion with science. Their efforts have not gone unrewarded. But there is a subtext to Darwin’s thesis that, ”successful species evolve to maintain their continuation.” It is the manner in which they accomplish that primary goal of survival. 

If you have ever watched Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, or read an issue of “National Geographic Magazine” you know that in any herd of animals, those who are weak or old, frail or young, are often sacrificed by the collective so that the strong may breed and pass on their superior genes to future generations. The weak and less efficient in the heard truly play a role in the collective’s well-being – as victims.

Is there a corollary between the survival techniques of other animals and mankind?  Are not those whose lives are dependent on government “entitlement” programs our weak and frail, our old and young? Would not many of these perish were it not for the beneficence of the collective?

But what if in our “brave new world” the majority were to view them as too plentiful in number and decided to cull the herd? This would certainly be rational Darwinian practice. They would be fed to the herd’s predators with no thought for the individual’s interests – keeping in mind only the objective of the collective.

When the last of the weak had been devoured, the collective might notice something that we have seen repeat itself throughout history. Their old enemies, and perhaps some new ones, will still be circling the fringes of the heard, waiting for their opportunity to fulfill their own mission of survival and looking for the weakest members among those who remain. The question that the herd must then address is, whom shall we select next as our sacrificial victims?

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Comments on: "DARWIN AND PROGRESSIVE THOUGHT" (8)

  1. Well said. My favorite is the old saying, “you don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than the guy next to you.”

    Taking care of the weak and old, is in the last analysis, a gift of God, one of the things that separate us from the rest of the animals. Without that heritage we become simply what you have stated.

  2. godsbooklover said:

    Just a clarification for your readers, from someone who’s NOT young. The so-called Scopes Monkey Trial was an historic event (and a manipulated one: Bertram Cates was asked to put his job on the line by teaching evolution, and provoking a lawsuit). The real-life attorneys were 3-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution, and well-known defense attorney and agnostic, Clarence Darrow. A Broadway play called “Inherit the Wind” was written in the 1950s, loosely based on the trial. This became the movie which you referenced above.

    Thanks for your post and for the moral and ethical questions you raise. These are issues which we must continue to explore. I hope that many will do so from a biblical worldview.

    • Thank you for fleshing out my post and expanding the material I presented with your insight. I know that I, and I am certain, my readers appreciate that.

      And most especially, thank you for taking your valuable time to offer a comment.

  3. I hadn’t heard that saying before – but it did make me laugh – and think. So tomorrow I’m going to go out and buy a new pair of running shoes.

  4. Some think we are already approaching the stage of Darwinism where you cite “sacrificing the frail, weak, old, and young” as evidenced by the new limits on health care imposed by the affordable care act and by squeezing further, the middle class like so much oozing jelly from a doughnut that occurs one bite at a time.

    I think it is also evident that there is some truth Darwinism in the dual nature of man. One the one hand, when left to his own devices in peace with the ability and the ambition to succeed, man can be very generous indeed. Even in those who are impoverished, a child well treated as it is raised will more often than not treat its parent well when that parent can no longer care for itself.

    But, as you know, there is a brutal side of man that will bring out the beast within when threatened, when provoked, when abused or when cast aside as if life in his or her case was meaningless. There are those dictators who demand compliance or death and who can convince their troops to fire on fellow citizens, family members and friends out of fear for their own lives should they fail to comply

    And then there is the mixed behavior that comes from out of sight, out of mind conditions. People used to be placed in sanatoriums for Tuberculosis until they were cured to keep them from spreading the disease. Often times, reports would emanate that they were being neglected and mistreated. Orphanages were set up to house, shelter and feed abandoned children [an act that speaks volumes to the cruelty of man all by itself] and the mentally ill were locked away and subjected to all sorts of experiments that the public did not want to know about. I find it hard to call this sort of care beneficence or proof of the divine creation of man – to me this seems to me more of a creation of a savage born of primordial ooze, but possessing the ability to learn, to grow and to take advantage of its surroundings like no other species born of the earth.

    The Scopes Trial is a great lesson in history that everyone should become familiar with regardless of which side of the argument one finds oneself. It is only through open minded investigation and a desire for truth over supporting ones preconceived notions that great things come.

    Some feel comfortable staying where they are in life as if fearing venturing too far and finding out the world is indeed flat. Others, in far fewer numbers want to know the truth even if it means risking everything to discover and venture out looking for proof that the world is not flat, but round and connected and full of both beauty and blood as man grows, hopefully, toward a moral species who values peace and comfort more so than war and suffering. This is a people who desire to live fully on a higher plane by shedding animal instincts and replacing them with intellectually guided rational self-interest and a mutually moral respect for the moral pursuits of others who seek neither war nor glory; only the happiness that comes from living a life where success is defined by fulfillment of purpose and creativity limited only by ability and personal desire to achieve.

    Thanks again for another thought provoking article in an informative and entertaining way.

    • Thank you, Rick for another thoughtful commentary. It is very gratifying that some of my posts evoke a person to take the amount of time, as you do, to respond. It makes me want to continue writing – and thinking.

      Despite the fact that we may disagree philosophically on some things, I think it is accurate to say that both of us ought to respect those in the Tennessee legal system who brought Scopes to trial. They believed that what he was teaching his classes on Darwin was untruthful – and they had the morality, (if perhaps self-righteous gumption) to stand up for what they believed.

      What our public school systems are teaching today, if you’ll pardon the euphamism, is a form of revisionist history that downplays, at every opportunity, the achievements that America has brought to the world. The Boston Tea Party was staged by “thugs”. The Constitution is “outdated”. Everyone is “equal” but those who are “more equal” should support those who are “less equal”.

      All of this “thinking” leads us to Beghazi and debt crises. And we are, with the exception of the small percentage of parents who take matters into their own hands, educating monkeys who will never evolve because they will not survive.

      • I agree with your perspective on schools, teaching and the majority outcome of graduating monkeys who have the ability to peel a banana, but lack the wherewithal and the ambition to obtain them on their own along with most other things. What is happening, in my view, is the very opposite of what Scopes attempted to prevent by introducing science beyond simple mathematics that demanded rigorous study, investigation and persistence in committing to problem solving even in the face of the unprovable – the very opposite of what religion demands and the manner in which public schools educate. In science the means are every bit as important as the beginning and the end: there is no place for faith as a sufficiently studied ending of understanding upon which more can be related, built or discovered.

        I agree that the people trying Scopes were acting in good faith displaying a both a strong belief in their faith along with what I view as a limited self-righteous perspective where passages of faith could be recited verbatim as a result of deep study. What I also see from that period was a state legal system, bound Constitutionally to weigh facts objectively, and without prejudice as it has been mandated to do since the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed and our freedom from England won.

        Ironically, to convene such a debate between Scopes/Darwin and Creationism, every witness was obligated to swear upon a bible – the very source of mysticism challenged by Darwin’s theories. Could that have been one basis for the appeal “technicality”? But beyond that, the court used a Christian bible and made no exception of Jew, atheist, etc. as one after another each was sworn in. In fact, no one was asked their religious faith but were presumptuously assumed to be Christian or subject to Christian law as well as the law of the courts. This is a process that should evoke the Middle Ages and the dual masters of Christendom – the Sacerdotium and the Regnum/Imperium. [the union of church and state where men answered to the King and the King [so long as he allowed it] answered through the church to God.

        So, while using a bible may not be endorsing a specific religion, eg. Protestantism, Catholicism, Mormonism, it is certainly endorsing a Christian philosophy to the exclusion of all other religious worldviews and remains a vestige of the philosophy of Christendom, at least in my view.

        What is wrong with swearing to tell the truth, etc, under penalty of perjury with one’s hand on the U.S. Constitution as opposed to a bible of any sort? And what of the jury and their ability to comprehend new scientific information that in its attempt to enlighten the world simultaneously brought conflict into play when science was lined up side by side with mysticism?

        I do respect the Christian right to believe whatever they choose to believe or what they believe they are directed to believe by a God as told through some the lips of some self-appointed or church anointed earthly mouthpiece. I prefer not to be told anything other than the rules that assure my right to live freely in the pursuit of my dream(s) that bring happiness to me and those I love or otherwise care about while respecting the same rules as they apply to others [personal responsibility]. I prefer to live a principled life based upon reality and fact in a way that demands I continually seek to learn and by learning continually, continue to grow as a person and as a contributing member of the community of freedom loving people everywhere. This is the source which drives me to serve my nation in time of war in whatever capacity I am needed to assure victory and the survival of our beloved Constitutional Republic. All I’ve ever needed was a belief in liberty and the guarantee of it embedded in the most sacred of all documents – the Declaration of Independence upon which was constructed the United States Constitution.

        How does one live, truly, as a free man when one either bows to another man or to an unseen, unheard and untouchable God allegedly speaking through a religiously garbed ventriloquist’s dummy who hears voices that no other can hear, who sees things no other can see, who can feel things no other can feel by virtue of baptism or ordination and yet possesses and acts out on the very worst of human traits? The standard answer is “by having faith”. However, I find less danger and a better path to be working hard to prove or disprove man’s evolutionary origins than to follow a religion or a religious leader whose heritage had been rewritten by Conquerors such as Alexander or Kings working in collusion with Bishops, Cardinals and Popes to manipulate laws such as those of marriage, annulment or divorce to suit their whims or their personal ambitions.

        Science is born of fact. Religion is born of man and no being on earth is more treacherous or ambitious than man; especially, any man in the eyes of the law with power over his neighbor. This is no more true than when a man of great influence on the law and the law givers holds power over them as well.

        You will not hear or see me demanding anything from those of faith other than to allow me to live unencumbered by the dogma of a faith when reality demands my commitment to the highest moral purpose; living as well as I can and understanding reality as best I can in order to find and enjoy the happiness that comes with living a principled and philosophically disciplined life to the best of my natural abilities without diminishing the opportunities of others to do the same.

        Time for bed. My CHF has been acting up; so, I’ve been trying to stay thoughtful and active while following orders to rest and allow the science of pharmacology to work its well monitored magic. My best to you and yours and to all who visit this wonderful blog.

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