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I almost forgot! Today, Feb 12, is Charles Darwin’s birthday. And an illustrious day it is.
Why should I, a committed believer in the Gods and the Sacred, support a guy who has been used by atheists to debunk the existence of a sacred realm of any sort?
It’s actually pretty easy.
Because Darwin showed first that nature does not need a Divine Craftsman somewhere up above to bring forth the wonderful diversity of life we are blessed with on this planet. For the ‘modern’ mind, until Darwin the world was just a mechanical object, creativity being lodged elsewhere, in a transcendent deity and in the human mind to the extent it shared more in common with that deity than with the world. After Darwin, the argument among informed parties is between those of us who see the Sacred in the world, and those who attribute it’s abundance and beauty to chance and determinism. We advocates of Divine Immanence can at least hope for a seat at the table.
Second, Darwin situated us in the world, as its products every bit as much as butterflies, redwoods, and nematodes. We could no longer argue a deep and unbridgeable gulf separated and elevated us above everything else on this planet. That even scientists who accepted evolution still long argued that animals could not think or have subtle emotions, or even consciousness, says volumes about how deeply this disease of transcendent human uniqueness had afflicted even reasonably rational men (and some women).
It says much about the weak character of those who said because Darwin had argued for our emerging from the apes, he had eliminated any reason for moral principles applying to human beings. Darwin himself thought otherwise, that it would lead to extending moral principles to embrace our distant relatives.
In this very important regard Darwin was a much more spiritually wise man than a geat many of his critics. Not much has changed