Kingdom of Priests

A.N. Wilson goes into more fascinating detail about his return to religious faith from atheism in an essay in the New Statesman. Now isn’t this interesting: the literary critic, biographer and historian credits his gradual re-conversion in no small part to a counter-reaction to the “superstitious” materialism of Darwinian evolution and, yes, the dreaded Darwin-Hitler connection.
The latter in particular drives the Darwin Lobby bonkers — not least the always charming propagandist P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula, who alludes today to the “fallacious claim that Hitler’s crimes were built on a foundation of godless Darwinism.” It’s supposed to be only slow-witted “creationists” who swallow that claim.
I guess that makes Wilson a creationist. Excerpt:

One thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood.

Also this:

Watching a whole cluster of friends, and my own mother, die over quite a short space of time convinced me that purely materialist “explanations” for our mysterious human existence simply won’t do — on an intellectual level. The phenomenon of language alone should give us pause. A materialist Darwinian was having dinner with me a few years ago and we laughingly alluded to how, as years go by, one forgets names. Eager, as committed Darwinians often are, to testify on any occasion, my friend asserted: “It is because when we were simply anthropoid apes, there was no need to distinguish between one another by giving names.”

This credal confession struck me as just as superstitious as believing in the historicity of Noah’s Ark. More so, really.

Do materialists really think that language just “evolved”, like finches’ beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where’s the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? How could it have come about that groups of anthropoid apes developed the amazing morphological complexity of a single sentence, let alone the whole grammatical mystery which has engaged Chomsky and others in our lifetime and linguists for time out of mind? No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena — of which love and music are the two strongest — which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat.

And so what if Hitler’s worldview was shaped by Darwinism?

The very first question that the great medieval rabbinic commentator Rashi asked about the first verse in Genesis is why the Hebrew Bible, which contain so much law, is told as a story, a narrative instead of a legal case book. I think one answer is that stories frame values and worldviews more powerfully than laws do. And ultimately, presenting a picture of how the world works, and therefore how we should work in the world, is what Biblical tradition is all about.
The Darwinian idea of unguided evolution driven by accident and chance is primarily a story about how the world works. Ideas have consequences, and all the more so when they are encapsulated in a narrative.
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