Sunday, 2 August 2015

Has belief in evolution benefited mankind?

       It was the ’must-have’ book of the Century. Everyone who was anyone felt duty-bound to buy, read and comment on this game-changing tome.
       To say Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ rocked the earth is putting it mildly. Since its publication in November 1859, Darwin’s theory has been more fiercely debated than almost any other subject. Although creationists viewed the concept as blasphemous, evolution has rapidly become one of the world’s fastest growing belief systems.
       But has its worldwide acceptance benefited mankind? Or could it actually have caused, or at the very least exacerbated, many of our problems?
       Twenty-five years after the book hit the shelves, an illustrious group of European statesmen sat down together at the Conference of Berlin and systematically carved up Africa, with catastrophic effect. To what extent did Darwin’s theory influence this conference?
       Surely, the appalling arrogance of these men - who referred undiplomatically to their theme as the ‘Burden of Africa’ - was at best Imperialistic and at worst downright racist. The delegates held that, as Africans were ‘uncivilised’ by European standards, they were therefore inferior - an implicit assumption which Darwin’s book  -  “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” to give it its full title – did nothing to dispel.
       The same assumption helped fuel the Holocaust, with Nazis viewing non-Arian minorities, such as Jews and Romanians, as sub-human - to such a degree that mass extermination of these groups could be carried out with no qualms whatsoever….all to further the Master Race!
       At the other extreme, Stalin and his cronies found the godlessness of Darwin’s theory extremely useful. One of his first policies was to dismantle religion, that ‘opiate of the masses’, forcing Eastern Bloc residents to regard communism as the only acceptable way to think.
       And, generally speaking, belief in evolution has done little to make us nicer, kinder or less selfish. The ’Me’ generation flourished all the more in the belief that this life’s all there is - “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!” as the Stoics would say. Meanwhile, the absence of accountability to anyone but oneself and one’s own desires has led to casual relationships, unwanted children, broken families, gratuitous violence, greed, selfishness and pride.
       Lack of belief in a Creator has also caused psychological problems. No matter how many refuse to accept it, every human has a spiritual need which we neglect at our peril.  When this need is unaddressed, people will do one of two things: Live for the moment, focusing purely on physical pleasures and goals, or search for some purpose and meaning to their lives, a search which can sometimes lead to occult practices, exploitation, religious fraud and unscrupulous cults.
       With its poor track record, world religion as a whole has turned many sincere people away. But, like the Emperor’s New Clothes, evolution also bears a heavy responsibility for the evils we face.

Watch out Dads! The Runaway Children are in danger!

       He couldn’t have been more than 2 years old, a golden-haired cherub in a superman outfit, hopping, skipping, jumping and taking flight in his imagination. From our vantage point on a bench outside Morrisons, my friend and I watched his  antics with that soppy look certain women of a certain age tend to get when kittens, puppies or persons under 3ft tall drift into view.
       Within seconds, however, those ‘ahh how cute’ expressions disappeared and strangled cries of terror took their place!
       “Stop!” I cried, my eyes focused on the kerb to which the tot was hurtling. “Little boy, stop! STOP! STO-O-O-OP!” By now he was travelling at warp speed, oblivious to the traffic, and I leapt forward hoping against hope I could make the kerb in time. 
       Whether he heard me, or perhaps had a supersonic radar system built into his brain, the boy stopped - millimetres from a rapidly approaching Range Rover. I started breathing again and flopped back onto the bench just as Daddy sauntered by, with nothing to burden him besides his plastic Morrisons carrier bags. He turned towards me briefly with a bemused smile on his face, wondering no doubt why this strange woman had been shrieking at the top of her voice. By the time he joined his son at the kerb, he’d obviously forgotten the incident and strode purposefully across the road, leaving the boy to follow in his wake.
       Now, some Dads will wonder what I’m rabbiting on about. If that includes you, ask a Mum. No mother I’ve ever known would let a toddler either run ahead or lag behind. Even if loaded down with bags, trolleys or other youngsters, the average Mum will try to keep her children by her side, either by holding their hands, putting them  in reins, or gluing them to the pushchair.
       Take holidays, for instance. You rarely see Mum with her nose in a book, or snoozing on a sunbed, texting their friends or going for a solitary walk along the sands. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re on a beach, watch how Mums stay focused on their children. “Don’t go too far” she’ll warn if they’re paddling in the sea. “Don’t wander off” “Put your hat back on, you’ll burn” “You need more sunscreen” etcetera. Constantly on the alert. 
       Then watch the Dads. See how relaxed they are. It’s not that they don’t care, you understand, or that they’re not prepared to lend a hand when necessary. After all, who pumps up the rubber arm-bands? Or gets the gas-stove working? Or catches fish for tea?
       And, of course, Dads love their children. It’s just that, unlike Mums, they’ve no imagination. They never seem to see the DANGERS! (It’s the same when driving, but that’s another blog)
       Whenever I see a Dad out with his children, there’s always one who’ll be running ahead, out of sight, skipping on and off the pavement, wobbling perilously near busy main roads, tumbling down river banks, climbing up trees or over railings or balancing on walls. Activities that give Mums mental breakdowns are mere adventures where Dads are concerned. 
       So Dads, if you ever feel Mum is being over protective, just remember this proverb: “Shrewd is the one who has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself”. In other words, think ahead, assess the dangers and please, please, please keep an eye on the children!