Friday, December 3, 2010

Chesterton on logic and reason

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) is an English writer who used his belief in the Christian orthodoxy to reveal how our world, today, is affected by the work of evolutionists. In Orthodoxy he states how the “Ethics of Elfland” are far more reliable and logical compared to what people have come to expect of the world. Chesterton believes that the “logic” scientists follow are based on false perceptions of cause and effect. To illustrate, just because the sun came up this morning, does not mean that it will return tomorrow. We have come to rely on the fact that the sun revolves around the Earth; but, what is stopping the sun from changing its course? When someone drops something, is the only option that it hits the ground? Chesterton would argue that because we cannot see any physical mechanism at work within the cause and effect relationship, we have no reason to believe that every action will have the same outcome. In stopping to think about this, you may be surprised to find that Chesterton has a valid point. How can we truly understand what we cannot see?

Chesterton instead relies on a logic that is grounded and reliable. He believes the only logic we should follow, the logic learned in Fairyland, is the one we can see: so if Jack is taller than Jill, then Jill is shorter than Jack; if there are four men then there are 4 heads. This is a “true law” he would say. Men such as Newton, on the other hand, believe in a “law of reason” (46). Chesterton understands that “certain transformations do happen” (he is not denying the work of scientists and naturalists); however, “we should regard them in the philosophic manner of fairy tales, not in the unphilosophic manner of…the ‘Laws of Nature’” (47). In essence, Chesterton is saying we should believe in magic.

For someone living in the twenty-first century it is quite bizarre to read these ideas on logic and laws. Most people nowadays do not challenge the laws of science because of the immense amount of detail and knowledge that scientists have about our physical world; but, what if we were to question these laws, like Chesterton does, and believe in magic? How would this change our view of life on Earth and what we take for granted? This is something to ponder but difficult to reason as we take for granted the scientific ‘facts’ that explain world we live in.

Darwin vs. Social Darwinism

A recent critique of Darwin is the use of social Darwinism and its negative effects on society. The basic argument is an application of the theory of natural selection to social, political, and economic issues. Social Darwinism follows the mantra of "survival of the fittest" including human issues. Social Darwinism has been used ever since to justify crimes like the holocaust, colonization, and Eugenics. Charles Darwin has in essence been used as the scapegoat for crimes against humanity. The first problem with this argument is that Charles Darwin did not come up the phrase “survival of the fittest”. This was Herbert Spencer doing some 30 years after the Origin of the Species was written. Furthermore, Darwin intentionally stayed away from writing and or extrapolating his theories to mankind. Darwin was strongly against slavery and "ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species" (Darwin, 1874). He also spoke about the mistreatment of Natives. Those who believe in Social Darwinism are twisting the words of Darwin's theory in order to support their own personal beliefs and views. There exists a large element of choice in representation of a concept. It is guided by political and ethical values. The decision of what information to include or leave out and the language used is all dependent on one's agenda. Social Darwinism completely goes against the principals of Darwin because they believe in the human race being higher or better that everything else on earth. Thus, they attack Darwin's theory and identify it as absurd. Darwin believed that we were all equal and there was no higher” or “lower” animal on earth. The belief in social Darwinism is a direct contradiction to Darwin theory because it takes nature out of the picture and instead forced us to “evolve” into the society that is deemed “fit” by a selected few in power.