Charles Darwin’s legacy (he turned 197 years old last February 12) may have already lost the ideological battle that his theory of evolution had instigated since he turned fifty in 1859, the year he published “The Origin of Species”. Today, the world, troubled by religious fundamentalism, seems to have already found a steady disheartening premise in defense of faith.
The traditional challenge of religion is still around, and although science has helped secularized the modern world, religion re-aligns its battle against evolution by entering the backdoor of science, even successfully recruiting a number of converts from the scientific community. Some of these converts, incidentally, have lost their confidence in politics to advance the interests of scientific progress as politics has found in organized religion a dependable ally of ballot and patronage. When truth is shaped by the urgencies of political concessions, science is the most badly damaged, dividing its ranks in ideological phyla.
Did we really evolve? is a question that strikes at the heart of any religion, and a premise on which a science of origin finds itself based. For all its worth as a legitimate body of knowledge, the argument of evolution could not be decisively won by science without gaining the affirmative prejudice of politics that alone guarantees enlightened enforcement. Religion, meanwhile, also gains from politics by an effective conversion: politics in the modern secular world has become the decisive moral arbiter of truth. Indeed, religion learns its lessons well; it has become in itself a political leverage of arbitration.
Religion and science, while each in its exclusive function has proved enabling in various facets of existence, yet are both made inadequate, if not incapable of realizing the goal of justice that every knowledge ideally aspires to. What this goal of justice is maybe be roughly understood as that potential for change that could address the problems holding back the progress of humanity. But as potential, change could only be effected by purposive action. However, modern political regimes have simply lacked a vision to achieve change with goals that transcend survivalist aims (wrongly imputed to Darwin) borne of the human propensity for acquisition and greed. Politics has deviously mimicked evolution—it has legitimated a form of justice that is yoked to the values of competition. Justice devolves into fairness, fairness into a discreet erosion of equality where truth and goodness are fought out in tactful but insidious terms. Meanwhile, the proliferation of different religions reveals the same competitive outlook. The ill-equipped and those disadvantaged by chance and circumstances become second- or third- class human beings, dispensable in the face of privation and death. They are the ones brought to line by politics to serve religious ends or the experimentation of science, in some worst cases of political treatments where both religion and science are made to toe the official line.
During Darwin’s last years, he vacillated between atheism and agnosticism while he continued to produce further discoveries and kept revising his theory of natural selection. Darwin epitomized the scientific spirit, despite the pressures in his personal life, and the public censure heaped on him by established religion. His was an attempt in science to achieve justice in epistemological terms. Meanwhile, Darwin also proved that politics could, at best, decide in spite of itself. Since evolution has been accepted in legitimate sciences, there has never been a political act to ban the teaching of evolution under the pressure of the sacred, at least, in competent academies worldwide. Meanwhile, as humanity has never get hold of firm answers, life is rapidly familiarizing itself with the material laws of physics and nature, despite ourselves, in just about the shape of a religiously stoic permanence.