Bon appétit!

Posted: April 22, 2007 in Intelligent Design, Theo/Philo

darwin_charles.jpg  “There is mystery in the universe, beguiling mystery, but it isn’t capricious, whimsical, and frivolous in its changeability. The universe is an orderly place and, at a deep level, regions of it behave like other regions, times behave like other times.There is an appetite for wonder, and isn’t true science well qualified to feed it?” 

“The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living it is finite.” 

I’m convinced that we are hard wired to worship. Every Human being is compelled to worship, In fact the compulsion to worship is; among other traits, a defining characteristic of humanity. Apes, Dolphins, cows and amoeba do not worship, as far as we can tell. 

The two quotes above are from Dawkins, who exclusively mentions an ‘appetite for wonder’ but doesn’t explain why that appetite exists, what it provides –what competitive advantage did the ancient appetite for wonder provide those who initially mutated a sense of wonder, why does it persist?

You do not need to ascribe to a particular belief involving non-materialistic causalities in order to worship, even professional atheists such as Dawkins et al worship.Worship is ubiquitous, defines everything we do at any time of day, it is not just about religious expression, it colors everything. Worship involves giving devotion to, ascribing qualities of worth to, giving reverence to, admiring, giving esteem to a subject.

G.K.Chesterton:

When we “cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything”

Richard Dawkins recognizes the appetite for wonder that we all have, nature it seems beguiles us and fills us with a sense of wonder, we worship it when we adore and reverence it.

The new atheists such as Harris, Dennett and Dawkins are busy replacing the very thing they despise; the New Scientist clarifies in this piece regarding a recent meeting:

‘It had all the fervor of a revivalist meeting. True, there were no hallelujahs, gospel songs or swooning, but there was plenty of preaching, mostly to the converted and much spontaneous applause for exhortations to follow the path of righteousness. And right there at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts was God Yet this was no religious gathering – quite the opposite. Some of the leading practitioners of modern science, many of them vocal atheists, were gathered last week in La Jolla, California, for a symposium entitled “Beyond belief: Science, religion, reason and survival” hosted by the Science Network, a science-promoting coalition of scientists and media professionals convening at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.’

Along with a sense of wonder and a need to collective worship, is the compulsion to personalize, Charles Darwin wrote of natural selection:
‘It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation. Even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever opportunity offers. As the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life’

It’s as if Natural selection were some type of person working covertly on our behalf.We all worship, what is distinctive is the object of that worship.

Richard Keyes in his chapter ‘The Idol Maker’ from the excellent book ‘No God but God’ considers that the human condition tends towards two basic idols, always working in pairs; they are characterized by the need for control and the need for trust. Neo Darwinian Evolution provides an over arching narrative through exclusively methodical naturalism that worshipers trust .Neo Darwinian Evolution also provides a means of autonomy and control through unbridled manipulation of genetic material, unbridled in the sense that ultimately what is there to stop us except our technology ? 

The trouble with this worship is, frankly, that it is blinkered, the final end of the atheist who enjoys Dawkins ‘awed wonder of the highest experience’, the poetry of nature is a little more disturbing,The last word goes to Bertrand Russell:

‘That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving: that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms: that no fire , no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling , can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction…that the whole temple of mans achievements’ must inevitably be buried – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built’. 

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