Tuesday, February 6, 2018

“Assisted Inevitability”

It isn't fair at all to say that most supporters of "old school" Darwinian evolution are not religious.

They ARE religious, highly religious in fact.

It is just that they unconsciously converted the belief in a beautiful and 100% perfect God found in most supporters of our major religions into the belief in the beautiful and 100% perfect biological mechanism of evolution.

But for both groups of believers, awkward questions still remain and indeed remain the same for all of them.

Why are there then so many un-beautiful and un-perfect beings in this world ?

If God and Evolution are capable of gradually improving Life ever upwards to a new, bigger, more complex, more beautiful perfection, why has progress been so slow ?

Why are the tiny, primitive and ancient microbes still here, parasites living off of the bounty of OUR world ?

Why are defective human beings still being born, and again, living off the taxpayer bounty extracted from all of us by some foolishly tender-hearted humans ?

Now some of us could take faith in the words of our elders, that the disappearance of both is naturally inevitable, if taking a fair bit longer than expected.

But many of us are too impatient to let Nature takes its inevitable course, gradually extinguish these imperfections in a perfect world for all time to come.

We give lip service to the sacred notion that a perfect God/biological mechanism will of course inevitably extinguish these blemishes in time, but we all agree that God and evolution could use a little assistance : assisted inevitability as it were.

One could see the working out of this thought in a whole host of horrific tragedies of the 20th century.

The Nazi Holocaust of Jews & Romas together with their Aktion T4 plan to remove all mental moral and physical "defectives" from the German population.

The Communist attempts to wipe our entire economic and intellectual classes. George Bernard Shaw defended the execution of the older cadre of Russian communist leadership as the mere gentle tugging at the ankles of individuals hanging at the end of the rope of historical inevitability.

In the liberal democratic societies, where Shaw actually lived, eugenic fans like himself, talked muchly of 'gassing' the physically, mentally and morally unfit.

But perhaps the most widespread "assisting of the inevitable" (and notable because so many people coached in exactly those terms) was the deliberate neglect-onto-early-death of aboriginal populations around the imperial world.

So in Canada, aboriginals were rounded up and stuck in reserves much too small and too poor to adequately feed house and warm the population.

Inevitably (that word again !) this results in disease and death followed by individual and societal breakdown which led to yet more death.

For supposedly, hunter-gatherer societies were seen as inevitably disappearing before the advance of modern urban industrial societies but they refused to go quietly or quickly.

Still through the deliberate denial of basic humanitarian support, gratifyingly high number of deaths among the aboriginals of child-bearing years, together with even higher deaths among their babies and small child did ensure that while the non-native population of Canada and other like-minded liberal democracies got greater every decade, their absolute numbers of aboriginals "inevitably" went down down down every decade.

Before 1945's revelations about the Holocaust made humanity start to question Modernity and Eugenics, the indigenous population of Canada was down to about 1/10th of its peak before whites arrived.

It too was Genocide, slow but but steady and without any morally messy gunfire and gas chambers.

Today, of course, the indigenous, the microbes and the mentally/physically challenged are still here.

Clearly, we can see that God and our evolution does permit them to survive and we need to ask why ?

We can start by re-casting those bacteria holding the genes that create antibiotic resistance as being "defective" bacteria, creating and holding costly assets that are rarely needed and that weaken their ability to compete in the race to reproduce.

However, evolution is not perfect and fails, in the short run, to sweep up and out all the defective microbes.

These defectives continue to exist, in few numbers in among the fringes, and continue to give their antibiotic resisting genes to a very few other bacteria via HGT , horizontal gene transfers.

Bacteria are always entering an existential crisis for survival, or so it seems to us humans.

But actually, in terms of generations, considering we humans reproduce every 20 years while bacteria can do so in as little as 20 seconds, it probably feels to a bacteria as if a huge survival crisis emerges in the same time frame as one big existential crisis every 20,000 years does to a human.

Suddenly the hitherto useless and costly antibiotic resistance gene is a literal life-saver and is spread by HGT to an ever bigger population of fellow bacteria who in turn become "defective" in the narrow sense and indeed only survive to reproduce because of it.

The crisis passes and the need for this useless costly asset falls and the defective population once again falls down to almost invisibility.

We can see this explanation at work in many cases in humanity where a seemingly useless genetic defect proves life saving in some circumstances — sickle cell being only the best known example.

But many humans are born physically and mentally challenged with no strong genetic explanation behind their condition : it is simply an accident of existence and will always happen - evolution can not foresee it or prevent it.

But why then does a perfect and all-powerful God permit it ?

Why does God permit us to be born weak and helpless and frequently to die weak and helpless - why indeed must we physically die at all ?

It could be that God soon got bored with physical perfection, Barbie & Ken forever, and changed —— now wanting to enjoy a huge kaleidoscope of variety.

To the extend we are made in God's image, we too have to learn to enjoy all the unusual and unlikely varieties of existence.

There is no inevitability of progress to a universe filled with barbie and ken and no point in assisting that progress....

michael marshall

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