Theories Fund Recipient Report: Evolution
by P.B. Wombat
For such a devious theory, it was seductively straightforward: that
the diversity of species could be explained by the slow drift of natural
differences over time, and that this, combined with predatory activity
and availability of foodstuffs, would lead to pigeons, goats, rabbits,
and, eventually, to us. In its separation of divine intervention from
the development of humankind–clearly the universe’s most
blessed species–Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution epitomized
all that Rationalist, Atheistic Modernism stood for. It was the non
plus ultra of the reality-based paradigm, brashly seeking “answers”
and even “truth” from the fallen and debased mash of sin
and confusion that it so lovingly called “nature.”
Darwin’s theory dragged itself out of the muck in 1959 from the
scurrilous delusions of the churchman-turned-seaman recalling his 1831-36
ride around the world on the HMS Beagle (Burrow 25). At the
height of the mass hallucination that was this voyage, as far from God’s
green earth, England, as Darwin was to go, in the remote, heathen, godforsaken
Galapagos Islands, Darwin was inspired to see the divergence of finches
island-to-island as, not the clearly miraculous thing it is, but a “natural”
occurrence, what came to be known as the “island-effect”
But Darwin’s depravity did not end after the trip was over. He
spent the next twenty years “refining” his theory by inflicting
untold unnatural experiments on unsuspecting pigeons (Darwin 81). Such
“selective breeding,” the precursor to modern-day stem-cell
research, can be seen now, in a post-Postmodern, faith-based age, for
what it really was: pure and unadulterated witchcraft, a purposeful
abomination of The Lord’s clearly intended plan.
The theory took hold, though, despite the best efforts of the church
and right-thinking people everywhere, and by 1928, emboldened by the
Scopes trial, evolutionists went on to apply their notions to nearly
everything, from the origin of species to the creation of The World,
thus trudging farther and farther onto sacred ground. They were working
on tinkering with the finer points of their scheme to write God out
of science when the Cold, Hard Truth broke in and crashed their satanic
party. It came in the form of the Republican Revolution of 1994, ushering
in the New First Wave of Pre-Millennialist, faith-based government and
beginning to set to rights the arrogance and oppression of the Rationalist
(now Secular Humanist) program. In its latest incarnation, the first
rumblings of The Second Coming have succeeded in challenging the indoctrination
of evolutionary theory in schools from Pennsylvania to Texas–the
latter being the new model for a faith-based future in this, God’s
The great danger in evolution, in the end, was its near universal applicability.
But just that flexibility makes evolution useful in understanding, especially
Modernist, literary works. We see such evolutionary tendencies, for
instance, in the work of James Joyce, both across his oeuvre and within
given pieces. Take the following passage from A Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man:
Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming
down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. . .
His father told him that story: his father looked at him through
a glass: he had a hairy face.
He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne
lived: she sold Lemon platt. (7)
Simplistic and confused, this passage can be said to be primitive,
in a word, unevolved. As a presentation of character, Stephen Dedalus
has a long way to go before he is fully adapted to his environment.
His fitness, at this point, is in question–and therefore so is
his survival. Later, we get this:
The soft beauty of the Latin word touched with an enchanting touch
the dark of the evening, with a touch fainter and more persuading
than the touch of the music or of a woman’s hand. The strife
of their minds was quelled. The figure of woman as she appears in
the liturgy of the church passed silently through the darkness: a
whiterobed figure, small and slender as a boy and with a falling girdle.
Her voice, frail and high as a boy’s, was heard intoning from
a distant choir the first words of a woman which pierce the gloom
and and clamour of the first chanting of the passion:
–Et tu cum Jesu Galilaeo eras. (244)
By this point, Stephen Dedalus has not only evolved as a character,
he has evolved as a spiritual being, adapted and in tune with the ecclesiastical
surroundings, as well as gaining a nascent awareness of gender and the
subtle politics of the sexes.
Likewise, older works can be re-imaged using the scouring grit of evolution.
In A. Postolic Phervor’s “Darwin’s Winged Chariot”
he shows how Andrew Marvell foresaw evolutionary theory through his
“But world enough and time” sets the stage for the grand
illustration of dramatic change throughout the sweep of space and
history. Marvell continues with how his “vegetable love should
grow / vaster than empires, and more slow.” His time is sidereal
time; his notions of how love should be done, if done properly, are
on a cosmic scale. Marvell demonstrates an awareness that essentially
natural forces are at work, that universal law creates change by its
very nature, but that that change is monumentally slow . . . . Indeed,
it is only by forcing the matter through human intervention that any
but an evolution can take place: “Thus, though we cannot make
our sun / Stand still, yet we will make him run.” (345)
Even as modest a work as the chapter from Life on the Mississippi
titled “Two Views of the River” by Mark Twain (and reprinted
here in the freshman composition text I happen to be using) there is
revealed a Modernist movement toward extreme Rationalism and away from
a latent (but still decadent) Romanticism:
I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture.
The world was new to me and I had never seen anything like this at
home. But as I have said, a day came when I began to cease from noting
the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight
wrought upon the river’s face; another came when I ceased altogether
to note them. Then, if that sunset scene had been repeated, I should
have looked upon it without rapture, and should have commented upon
it, inwardly, after this fashion . . . .” (175)
Twain’s movement is especially instructive as it mirrors that
of his age. Coming as it does in the years immediately post-Darwin,
in 1883, his observations show how not merely a Romanticized notion
of the beauty of God’s creation began to fall away, but that even
the openly religious language with which one may describe experience
became passé: he describes his initial reaction as one of “a
speechless rapture.” This moves to being one “without rapture.”
He begins “like one bewitched,” acknowledging the frightful
deviltry warned against in the Old Testament. But Twain, as so many
in that age of Modernism, throws off his enchantment as he throws off
his entire belief system; the Supernatural falls as the base, the naturalistic,
takes its place. Twain’s brief piece serves somewhat as a warning
as well: “All the value any feature of [the river] had for me
now was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing
the safe piloting of a steamboat” (176). Take God out of the equation
and you remove all the moral right we had to the river; God’s
chosen species loses its domain, and man’s place is reduced to
merely reacting to the natural world. When man loses “His”
place, he loses “his” place as well, floating like a log
adrift amid the random laws of profane materialism without a moral compass
to guide him to his Final Destination. Without God there is no punishment
and no reward, mere passage through the river of life. There is no need
to judge the beautiful from the merely useful, the holy from the vile
and sin-sodden. I would hazard a bet that Twain lost his patriotism
then as well.
Indeed, I feel a bit like a medical researcher studying smallpox: we
feel we need it to further our knowledge, but wouldn’t it be much
safer for the good people of America if we decided to simply let the
last strain die? Just as there are Islamic terrorists whose dearest
wish would be to weaponize smallpox to further the ends of evil and
destroy this Shining City on the Hill, there are still Secular-Humanist
Atheists who would love to again promulgate evolution and infect the
purity of mind of innocent Christian babies everywhere. Granted, the
danger has been greatly reduced by the mobilization of Pat Robertson’s
700 Club Army which, through their vigilant defense of the
faith through offensive attack, has managed to harass the ringleader
of contemporary evolution, Stephen Jay Gould, right into his well-deserved
grave (which is no-doubt burning with hellfire even as I write). But
while the al-Qaeda of evolution is in retreat, it is not yet defeated.
Perhaps by controlling access to dangerous ideas like these through
the Foundling Theories Fund, we may be able to harness their power in
understanding Rationalist and Modernist texts so that the passing dark
age in the history of homo religio may never be repeated.
Burrow, J.W. Editor’s Introduction. Darwin 11-48.
Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,
or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
1859. New York: Penguin, 1985.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. 1916.
New York: Penguin, 1976.
Phervor, A. Postolic. “Darwin’s Winged Chariot.”
Possum and Cant 45 (2004): 340-65.
Twain, Mark. “Two Views of the River.” The Riverside
Reader 8th ed. Ed. Joseph Trimmer and Maxine Hairston. Boston:
Houghton, 2005. 174-6.