Without a Murmur

It is, of course, nothing but a truism, and not a scientific theory, to say that living systems do not survive if they are not fit to survive.

To postulate, as the positivists of the end of the 19th century and their followers here have done, that the development and survival of the fittest is entirely a consequence of chance mutations, or even that nature carries out experiments by trial and error through mutations in order to create living systems better fitted to survive, seems to me a hypothesis based on no evidence and irreconcilable with the facts.

This hypothesis wilfully neglects the principle of teleological purpose which stares the biologist in the face wherever he looks, whether he be engaged in the study of different organs in one organism, or even of different subcellular compartments in relation to each other in a single cell, or whether he studies the interrelation and interactions of various species. These classical evolutionary theories are a gross oversimplification of an immensely complex and intricate mass of facts, and it amazes me that they were swallowed so uncritically and readily, and for such a long time, by so many scientists without a murmur of protest.

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Any speculation and conclusions pertaining to human behaviour drawn on the basis of Darwinian evolutionary theories from animal ethological studies, and in particular ethological studies on primates, must be treated with the greatest caution and reserve.

It may be amusing for those engaged in the task to describe their fellow man as naked apes, and a less discriminating section of the public may enjoy reading about comparisons between the behaviour of apes and man, but this approach – which, by the way, is neither new nor original – does not really lead us very far.

We do not need to be expert zoologists, anatomists or physiologists to recognise that there exist some similarities between apes and man, but surely we are much more interested in the differences than the similarities. Apes, after all, unlike man, have not produced great prophets, philosophers, mathematicians, writers, poets, composers, painters and scientists. They are not inspired by the divine spark which manifests itself so evidently in the spiritual creation of man and which differentiates man from animals.

Ernst Chain, Social Responsibility and the Scientist in Modern Western Society, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Spring 1971, Vol. 14, No. 3, p. 366, 368.

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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