Backwards Ignorance of Evolution

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The truth most needed today is that the end is never the right end. The beginning is the right end at which to begin. The modern man reads everything backwards. He is like a blind man exploring an elephant, and condemned to begin at the very tip of its tail. But, he is still more unlucky; for when he has a first principle, it is generally the very last principle that he ought to have. He starts, as it were, with one infallible dogma about the elephant; that its tail is its trunk. He works that wrong way round on principle, and tries to fit all the practical facts into his principle. Because the elephant has no eyes is its tail-end, he calls it a blind elephant; and lectures on its ignorance, superstition, and lack of education. Because it has no tusks at its tail-end, he says that the tusks are a fantastic flourish attributed to a fabulous fanciful creature. Because it does not as a rule pick up things with its tail, he dismisses the magical story that it can pick up things with its trunk. He probably says it is plainly a piece of anthropomorphism to suppose that an elephant can pack its trunk. He becomes a pessimist; the world to him is not only an elephant, but a white elephant. He does not know what to do with it, and cannot be persuaded of the perfectly simple explanation; which is that he has not made the smallest real attempt to make head or tail of the animal. He will not begin at the right end; because he happens to have come first on the wrong end.

Having arrived at the wrong end, we have a problem: the problem of induction. The inductive method, this superstitious belief in the unchanging repetition of the universe as we know it, continues to see its own reflection as it glances at the history of the world. Perhaps we should call this tendency to see its own reflection “Inductomorphism”. The scientist has grasped evolution by the tail because that is the only thing he can grasp; and has declared, by the power of Inductomorphism, there were no “eyes” in its beginning. He sees no purpose at the end and declares the same for life’s beginning. He has grasped his ignorance and called it intelligence. Now, only the religious man keeps the scientist in check because the religious man has always started at the beginning.  It is the religious man who sees the world rightly as being backwards. He is not afraid to give modern intelligence its rightful name: ignorance. Only when we look backward in time without our modern spectacles do we see how much younger is the Tree of Knowledge than the Tree of Life.

(Much of this is an adaptation of Chesterton and Barfield.)

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