Essay:Why I Love Evolution

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One theme common to the Abrahamic religions is their viewpoint of man as a being that is only capable of degeneration. That it is only by the grace of God that we have accomplished anything. The whole Garden of Eden thing is about this—that humankind is this fallen, imperfect thing that can never hope to achieve the heights he attained in the Beginning. Christianity, with its Original Sin doctrine, probably obsesses over this the most. Possibly, this is a result of Christianity's surroundings in its formative years. The glorious Roman Empire had just fallen, and all of their technological accomplishments would never be matched until hundreds of years later. Add to that the Pyramids and Stonehenge, and you can maybe see why people held this belief that in the past, mankind was a greater being than he is now, and we can never attain such heights again. Call it "pessimistic romanticism", if you will.

For all of the crap evolution gets for producing Social Darwinism, it was really this pessimistic romanticism that enabled Social Darwinism: fascism (the most fervent purveyor of Social Darwinism) worships a romantic, nationalistic creation myth, the myth of glorious past heights, and an implied fall from grace by embracing modernity. These ideas drew heavily, though perhaps only subconsciously, from the Biblical idea of degeneration following a glorious beginning. All that really had to be done with these Biblical ideas was mix them with ultra-nationalism and racism, and fascism naturally followed.

These views also lend themselves to the near-pathological fear of change by religious social conservatives. They fear that every step society takes will only take us closer to the inevitable (short of God's help) doom, and that only by closely adhering to the past can we rise to great heights.

This is why I love evolution. Not just the theory, but the idea, the ideal that it embodies: We can only get better. There was no fall from mythic heights. Evolution shows that life, from almost nothing, is steadily attaining them. Mankind has not degenerated, we are better than ever. Civilization can only get better. We, life, all such things, are only going to get better, get smarter, happier, and achieve things that the ancients couldn't even imagine. I find the idea inspiring. What's not to love about that?