on SuperBugs and the evolution of Man
Dec 08, 1997 12:37 PM
by jim meier
Some months ago, Bart wrote an interesting post on "superbacteria" as a
model-of-sorts for the exchange of information in groups speeding evolution
of the individual ("The New Adepts," Oct 11, theos-l digest 1279). His
post then started a thread on the role of TS, etc.
His comments reminded me of these from HUMAN DESTINY by Lecomte Du Nouy,
FREEDOM AND THE GROWTH OF MAN
"Unquestionably, when considering the majority of men, it is possible to
doubt the reality of the moral idea. The examples we see daily enable the
pessimist to ask himself if the chasm between the animal and man is as deep
as we thought. The answer is that we are still at the dawn of human
evolution, and that, if only one man out of a million were endowed with a
conscience, this would suffice to prove that a new degree of liberty had
appeared. Many important steps in the history of evolution started out as
a mutation affecting only a very small number of individuals, perhaps only
one. Similarly, the moral idea must have been sparsely distributed, and
was, in fact, so fragile that instead of conferring a physical superiority
upon those who harboured it, it constituted rather a hindrance. Indeed, at
the time of the cave man, sentimentalism, pity, fairness, charity, all the
budding qualities highly valued today in mankind, must have been a serious
handicap to those who had to face the unconscious cruelty and brutality of
the others. Such conflicts are not infrequent in our time. However, on an
average, and in spite of their weaknesses and subjection to ancestral
instincts, the masses are responsive to the great virtues which have always
enjoyed a surprising prestige even though they were not practiced.
Today, when large groups of men fail to react as we think they should, when
there is no collective response, there are nevertheless many individuals
who, without being themselves exceptionally virtuous, without having martyr
souls, spontaneously revolt and sometimes end by carrying away the crowd.
The history of humanity abounds in such examples and evokes the picture of
a climbing vine. If its prop is pulled up or broken, the plant creeps
along the ground, unknowingly seeking a new support, another occasion to
raise itself above the weeds, and as soon as it has found one it clings to
it in an unconscious but untiring effort toward the light. It is sometimes
mistaken; its choice may be bad; the branch it had adopted may be rotten;
that is not its fault. The human flock obeys an obscure order: it must
rise, and it cannot do so without a leader. Thank God, if there have been
evil influences, they have been couteracted, on an average, by that of
certain rare, privileged men, comparable to the transitional animals who
were in advance of their time. These men attained a higer stage of
evolution, and had a great part to play, a high duty to fulfil; namely, to
orient the march of humanity in the path which leads away from the animal.
Strange to say, in spite of their handicaps, of the fact that the doctrine
they taught was less pleasant and demanded sacrifice, it is they who gained
the higher prestige in history, and their teachings outlasted and outshone
all the others.
By giving man liberty and conscience, God abdicated a part of His
omnipotence in favor of His creature, and this represents the spark of God
in man ("God is within you"). Liberty is real, for God Himself refused to
trammel it. It is necessary, for without it man cannot progress, cannot
Consequently, any restriction to liberty of conscience is contrary to the
great law of evolution; that is, to the divine Will, and represents Evil.
If certain individuals make bad use of their freedom, so much the worse for
them. The test was unfavorable. They were not evolved enough to
understand. As far as they are concerned, the trial was a failure. In
nature, chance favors a small number of eggs out of hundreds of thousands
laid by one fish. As it is impossible to distinguish one egg from another,
it does not matter which one survives. In mankind, the individual is no
longer discernable, and each being had an equal chance to qualify as an
element of moral evolution. If man does not seize this chance, if he does
not understand intuitively or rationally the significance of his decision,
it denotes that he was not fitted to play his part. Others will assume the
responsibility of assuring the ascendant march of evolution.
We must, therefore, instruct men, and not blindfold them under the pretext
that society will lead them by the hand and guide them. Nobody has the
right to substitute his own conscience for that of another, for progress
depends upon *personal effort*, and to suppress this effort constitutes a
The whole will of man must be concentrated on this struggle in which he is
upheld by the newly acquired sense of his human dignity, from which he must
draw at the same time the necessary strength and the proof of his high
destiny. *It is in the intensity of this effort, and not it its form nor
in its result, that the true degree of humanization is revealed*.
In the telefinalist language, as well as in that of the Scriptures, liberty
was given to man by God. This is true in every realm, physical as well as
moral, and condemns certain doctrines on the same grounds as dictatorship.
*Liberty is not only a privelege, it is a test*. No human institution has
the right to exempt man from it.
The immediate conclusion is that liberty of conscience can manifest itself
constructively only if the individual has access to all sources of
information, if he is free to exert his judgement without hindrance. This
is equivalent to the confrontation of new animal species with its
environment, the test of adaptation. He must, therefore, be equally free
to gather the element he deems necessary for the formation of his
judgement. From the strict point of view of Genesis it is inexcusable for
a strange will to substitute itself for his and to effectuate a preliminary
choice capable of influencing him. So that his judgement may be healthy
and undeformed man must be free to cultivate his faculty of reasoning and
to instruct himself. Those who need to be guided are not quite free.
They must be enlightened and not compelled."
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