Michael Ruse 'perguntou': a evolução é uma religião secular?

sábado, março 27, 2010

Science 7 March 2003:
Vol. 299. no. 5612, pp. 1523 - 1524
DOI: 10.1126/science.1082968


Is Evolution a Secular Religion?

Michael Ruse*

A major complaint of the Creationists, those who are committed to a Genesis-based story of origins, is that evolution--and Darwinism in particular--is more than just a scientific theory. They object that too often evolution operates as a kind of secular religion, pushing norms and proposals for proper (or, in their opinion, improper) action. Evolutionists dismiss this argument as merely another rhetorical debating trick, and in major respects, this is precisely what it is. It is silly to claim that a naturalistic story of origins leads straight to sexual freedom and other supposed ills of modern society. But, if we wish to deny that evolution is more than just a scientific theory, the Creationists do have a point.

Laon Cathedral, Laon, France (top) and the Natural History Museum, London, U.K. (bottom).

The history of the theory of evolution falls naturally into three parts (1). The first part took place from the mid-18th century up to the publication of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection as expounded in his Origin of Speciespublished in 1859. Up until then, evolution was little more than a pseudo-science on a par with mesmerism (animal magnetism) or phrenology (brain bumps), used as much by its practitioners to convey moral and social messages as to describe the physical world. At the end of the 18th century, Charles Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus, wrote evolutionary poetry, hymning the progress of life from the monad to man--or, as he put it, from the monarch (the butterfly) to the monarch (the king). He derived this notion of biological progress from the successes of the Industrial Revolution and then used it in a circular fashion to justify the cultural progress of the Britain of his day. For example, in his Temple of Nature (2), Erasmus Darwin wrote:

Imperious man, who rules the bestial crowd,
Of language, reason, and reflection proud,
With brow erect who scorns this earthy sod,
And styles himself the image of his God;
Arose from rudiments of form and sense,
An embryon point, or microscopic ens!

The same sort of stuff can be found in the writings of other early evolutionists, notably in the Philosophie Zoologique, published in 1809 by the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

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