Evolution and the New Gnosis - My Thesis
The principal argument in my book Evolution and the New Gnosis, written with the aid of Robert Zimmer, concerns the logical contradiction which must of necessity arise when we use intentional and metaphorical language, the language of intelligent human creativity, to describe how nature might work if it possessed no creative intelligence of its own, i.e. if all that nature is and does were merely the unintentional (accidental) outcome of blind and purposeless physical forces.
My thesis is that if this were in fact the case, if nature were in its
innermost reality a blind and purposeless process, then it entails an
outright contradiction (is logically untenable) to use the language of
intelligent and purposeful design to explain how it works and how it
got to be the way that it now is. And yet, as matters stand, the theoretical credibility of materialism in general, and Darwinism in particular, depends upon our making just such an error in logic, and upon our willingness to continue to ignore what it is that we have done historically in this regard and still continue to do, or to pretend that it does not matter. I have posited that this contradiction exists at two levels within science: In the physical sciences, as demonstrated most clearly in quantum physics (see essay #13), it manifests primarily as paradox; whereas in the biological sciences, and especially in Darwin's theory of origins (essays 3,4,8,11, & 21), it is manifest as a contradiction so complete that the theory must be termed irrational.
I have suggested that this error in logic began in an unconscious
manner, several centuries ago, when in the physical sciences, which had earlier adopted the idea of 'mechanism--with God the Designer as its source--as an aid to explaining how the world worked, gradually
dropped God from the picture while retaining the language of conscious design, and specifically the use of the of the word 'mechanism' which then slowly became a dictionary-sanctioned synonym for materialistic
thought. I have suggested that there were very good reasons, connected with the evolution of human consciousness itself, for our making this great mistake, but that a mistake it most surely was and must now be
rectified; either that, or we must abandon completely the requirement
that rationality underlie scientific and philosophic thought--because
we cannot have both. We are either rational beings or we are not, and if any theory has an irrational foundation it must be abandoned.
If my argument is correct, and so far no one has shown it not to be,
then it must mean that during the past several centuries the development of materialist philosophy, and the Darwinian theory in particular, are all the result of a gigantic but largely unconscious linguistic error, the underlying reason for which is to be found in the nature and origin of language itself, suggesting that language per se, perhaps because it conceals a spiritual source, simply cannot legitimately be used to explain the existence of a purely material and designer-less universe without giving rise to a hidden but extremely serious contradiction in causal logic.
The possibility that language is spiritual in origin is clearly pointed to in the works of Owen Barfield, Rudolf Steiner and others, who claim that it did not evolve upwards out of animal grunts, as Darwin and others have suggested, but downwards from an already Intelligent source. It is only when we ignore this possibility, or treat it as being false, that we fall into the hidden irrationality of which I now speak.
Under what set of circumstances might it be permissible for us to
continue to ignore this contradiction? I suggest only one: it would
need to be shown conclusively and without the use of linguistically-flawed argument, that materialism is a completely true theory, so that its being an irrational one does not matter. I submit that this cannot and never will be possible, so that the time has come in the name of simple rationality to abandon philosophic and scientific materialism (a Monism of matter) and to put in its place a Monism of Mind. These arguments, and the reasons why we need to reject all dualist compromises, are gone into in much greater detail in the above work.
Note: in the five years since I first began arguing this thesis I have only gradually awoken to the enormity of what it is that I am saying, which is that a very large part of the Western world's intellectual tradition, and most if not all of the great minds connected with that tradition, have made a very serious error in logic, one which could invalidate nearly their entire work. To suggest that it requires the thought of a nonentity like myself to bring this to the world's attention, now appears, even to me, to be a claim of unparalleled audacity if not downright foolishness.
Nevertheless my argument seems to be true one, because none of my
intelligent friends and acquaintances, and I am it touch with quite
few, have been able to counter what it is that I am saying. Whenever they come to truly understand it, they either agree with me or they simply fall silent.
I don't think of myself as paranoid, but to my considerable surprise,
perhaps because by nature I tend to be a little unworldly, I have found that these ideas have also led to something akin to character
assassination, coming from what I would have thought a least likely
source. Perhaps shooting at the messenger would be a better way to put
it. At first I was greatly troubled by this, but I have gradually come
to accept that it goes with the territory, because discrediting me
makes it easier, even for sophisticated minds, not to have to deal with the very uncomfortable problem that I am raising. People who do this are perhaps unaware of how very much I would prefer, if my thesis is false, for it to be proven so=8Bthough I must add that muddled thinking will not accomplish this task. On the other hand, if my thesis is true then someone needs to strongly represent it, and it seems that I might have been given that task, perhaps because I have no career at stake. If my thesis is untrue then clear and forceful counter argument, based upon a thorough study of my work, is the preferred way of dealing with it.
What needs to be argued is, I think, clear from the contents of my
book, and I would welcome any rational debate concerning it.
PS: Concerning my book, I have just received a very positive letter
about it from Prof. John Polanyi, a Nobel Laureate whose father's work
figures strongly in it.
Ed. Note: The book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble on-line.