Darwin and la Difference

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I have never been able to believe in Darwin. He tried
to deny the essential difference between man and beast, a difference
I can only regard as irreducible, and I have known plenty of both.

To put it simply, animals have brains, but man also has a mind,
a very distinct kind of soul. Man can calculate, imagine, moralize,
form abstract concepts, and perform many other mental operations
of which no animal is capable. Animals have sensation and memory
– the power of association – and not much else. They may
be very beautiful, but they lack the sense of beauty.

The difference is so vast and profound that Western man used to
take it for granted. Of course man was immeasurably superior to
any animal! Each had its own excellence, but man had no rival for
intelligence in any “beast that wants discourse of reason,”
as Shakespeare puts it: he was indeed “the paragon of animals.”
If our furry and scaly friends were still evolving, none of them
appeared to be gaining on us.

It was only in fairly recent times, in an age of revolt against
the divine, that a materialist philosophy arose to argue that the
human and the subhuman are the same in principle, that life emerged
from raw matter by sheer chance, and that over eons the simple amoeba
developed (or “evolved”) into “higher” life
forms. Charles Darwin found a receptive audience for this dubious
idea among educated humans who were weary of the Christian faith.

Darwin’s theory of evolution, of man’s descent from more
or less simian ancestors, now has a stranglehold on Western intellectual
life despite its obvious falsity. The notion of a continuity betwixt
man and beast has a powerful appeal to people who seek the false
but clear explanation for countless phenomena.

Like its contemporary fallacy, Marxism, Darwinism had a mighty
impact on history, except that Marxism has all but expired and its
Darwinist twin is still going strong. The Marxists made the fatal
error of predicting events in the (historically) short term; whereas
most of Darwin’s avatars wisely confine themselves to making
prophecies over such long periods as to be virtually unfalsifiable.

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Sobran (1946–2010), conservative turned libertarian, was one
of the most significant American writers of his time. See his
and his
intellectual journey

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