Darwin and Galileo. A metaphysical digression.
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The flap over evolution is basically an extension of a controversy that began way before Darwin. The controversy is between to particular points of view. The first point of view says that we as a species are special and as stated in the Bible we are madein the image of God; any deviation from this position is heretical. The other world view looks to what can be observed and measured as the scripture from which we infer explanations about how the world operates. The effect of this world view is to remove humans from having any sort of special status. This was first done at the level of astronomy, removing our planet from any special position in the universe. Galileo Galileii is but one of the astronomers who furthered this process. Now we know that Earth is not the center of our solar system, but further, our sun is but one of billions in a Galaxy that is in turn but one of millions in the Universe. Charles Darwin and began the process of bringing this controversy closer to home. Evolution suggests that from a scientific point of view how we got here as a species is due to processes that do not have purpose behind them. Evolution does not operate in any planned manner. Thus from a physical point of view we are not in the center of some sort of divine plan; instead we are products of an evolutionary process from other animals. What we call moral truth, is not revealed absolute truth at all but rather relative and changeable.
This I believe is really the crux of the conflict. It would seem that science requires us to jettison thousands of years of belief in revelation as the source of moral truth. We should then base our understanding of morality on empirically based scientific principles. Evolution would provide the basis either directly or indirectly for our ethical sytems. But does the understanding that all morality might have a materialistic basis rather than a basis in revelation necessarily gain us anything? Is it possible as Julian Huxley suggested to really have religion without revelation?
The answers may very well turn out to be no and no. First of evolution is a population process and does not tell us as individuals how we ought to behave. Now, evolution would seem to tell us to maximize our individual fitness so as to spread more copies of our genes. Yet we as individuals are really quite removed from our genes and it is not at all clear that we can as individuals negotiate the complex fitness land scape thrown up by our social structures. Second as has been noted many times by many philosphers what 'is' is not what necessarily what 'ought'. So just because some social condition exists or war exists does not mean that it ought to be. Just because we may have destructive emotions such a hate, that does not justify hate or suggest that it ought to be. So what are we to do if it should turn out that revelation is not scientifically tenable and yet empiricism does not really satisfy us?
Perhaps there is a middle way here. Perhaps we need to view revelation as a way of knowing, what may have an empirical basis but is too complex for rational calculation. Morality might then be viewed as revealed truth, but revealed from inside rather than outside. Or perhaps there really is some larger outside order that we apprehend, what many call God. True religious experiences and truely religious people then navigate the fitness landscape in a very deep way, while the rest of us see just faintly. Maybe there is a God 'outside of time', apprehendable through our well evolved intuition and consciousness. Would not that be ironic to my relevationist friends: the very materialistic processes they decry such a evolution are the very processes that enable is to intuit what is 'ought' and perhaps grasp something of the intentions of God.