Darwin, Christianity & Education
Concerning the not-only-negative global influence of western reformation, the subsequent enlightenment and western colonialism on the rest of the planet. In this article (Part 1) we start with a short preliminary discourse about a basic, anti-natural-selection tenant of Christianity, which has shown remarkable results, that should make a confirmed skeptical hard-core materialistic Darwinist pause, and take a deep breath before continuing on with his/her skepticism! Further on we talk about the great beneficiaries of mankind, the European missionaries, predominantly the English. If we find secular NGO'S and non-profit organizations widespread today and without ties to religious institutions, it should be kept in mind, that there have been standards implementing exemplary instances of older Christian institutions proceeding them almost everywhere. And Gandhi was no less immune to their influence; as Prophet Muhammad was immune to influence of his cousin Semitic Jewish people. And lastly we conclude this chapter, with the unfortunately in disrepute and not fully appreciated work of many dedicated missionaries, most of all the school teachers, who worked in mission schools, even when they did not hold they same religious views or were quite often of other religious denominations but nevertheless dedicated to enlightenment and dispersal of the ignorance, darkness and fear! Furthermore, we will give even more examples of these missionaries, when we compare them with the western tourists of the new age, who are surprised, when the waiter in the restaurant does not speak their language! Some of these missionaries knew more about the local language than an average native, and some preserved the languages, writing grammar books, when the natives were sometimes only too glad to throw their lingo into the dustbin of history! These missionaries sometimes showed more respect and interest for the peoples and their traditions than any modern tourist. Same for the local flora and fauna. Some of their work, did contribute to the great classification by Carl von Linné of the animal and plant kingdom, and to the general encyclopedic information, that stood at the disposal of Wallace and Darwin. It should not be surprising therefore, that the theory of evolution came from merry old island!
Freud, Darwin & English Teachers
Many of Freud's students, seemed to shy away from certain overtly reductive conclusions of their Master. They came up with many different new perspectives concerning the nature of our self. Freud saw the self as an socialized object, with a lot of karmic inheritance of not necessarily evolutionary-acquired characteristics, full of instincts and energies but nevertheless as an helpless object. It is however quite plausible to think that an infant can become a dangerous foe to reckon with, its crying can chase hunt away, invite predators, nibble away your precious calories in times of stress. So what do you do? Infanticide? Doubtlessly that is what many did and do in the animal kingdom.* But mother nature does not like it! Mother nature paid infant care, not infanticide! Such mothers left little or no progeny!
For human mothers, it meant learning the infants babble responding to it and creating a mix of a sounds that both could understand. Mother nature did not reward it just with survival but with a sense of sublime pleasure, that we can still relive when we babble in intimacy with our loved ones. The infant was not a passive object, but a subject looking for intimacy, care and a good feeling. It too determined the course of evolution! Also maybe in the emergence of speech and song _ Motherese or infant directed speech; as the linguist call it. We may also find here the roots of the evolution of the specific human feeling of falling and being in love!
Freud actually should have been able to see, especially in view of the fact that his theory explicitly recognized an intrinsic relationship between the infant and the parents, especially the mother, that the emergence of the unmediated awareness of self and the ego and the superego (as he distinguished the primary attributes of our mind) were in fact a result of an active participation of both the parties, not just one! An infant or a child is not just an object with busloads of destructive instincts but can hold lots of things up its sleeve, capable of manipulating the world right from its birth. Some infants do look more cuddly than others, some exhibit more infectious and disarming smiles than others, some elicit aversion in strangers, some cry appealingly some horribly! Some are willed, some appear at the wrong moment! And some are born as stars, more so in our age, allegedly free of primitive divinities. Our reactions to infants maybe based both on behaviour but no less on their looks. And those looks may not be just evolutionary inheritances but platonic ideas (for instance: symmetry and proportions, eh those a priori givens!). For Freud it was always the child, who had to learn, to adapt itself to the adults, learn how to manipulate others for one's needs. Unfortunately this is and probably never was a universal fact. Some decidedly need it more than others, some need to learn very hard but some don't need it much, they are given silver spoons right from the birth and elicit very specific reactions in us!
Christianity at its grass root levels has explicitly counteracted against this disparity regarding these a-priori explicit Givens (for Darwinist we may use instead the term inherited-traits, for Marxists Class-Enforced-Humbug, for the humanist Natural-Injustice). Mother nature seems to have rewarded them in certain ways. They surely are the dominant cultures of the present world. A frail looking girl or boy maybe capable of finding the vaccine for an infection, that can otherwise kill millions, but if left to die the society may be full of healthy looking individuals however all succumbing to the first virus that got around. Their contributions to culture being the foot prints of Hercules and Rustum in the desert sands of Namibia. Societies with greater variations in the phenotype will doubtlessly have a richer reservoir of genes up their sleeve. This is not meant to propagate some religious ideology, nor to disparage a profession, but to show the lopsided prestige system that seems to appeal to masses all over the world and a glimpse of how Nature may operate. Despite Darwin we are today no less in spells of charismatic characters than at times of Max Weber or Alexander or Akhenaton. In fact rock, film or sport stars maybe substitutes for local Baals or divinities that foster Durkheim's Solidarity amongst fans. Ethics and Darwinism and Religion may all be different faces of one coin, provided you are willing to turn it multiple times. Other religions also preach equality at birth for all, but have taught their populations only the gibberish of their well-fed clergy and left them otherwise fully illiterate. The preaching is however all there in their text-books!
India has to thank the English school teachers (most of them Christians!) for its rapid progress in the last decades. China and Japan, the Greek and the Christian Civilizations that made them catapult into 21st century, for good or bad! The high Priests of the Muslim countries have to thank the doctors and surgeons in Paris where they go for treatment or exile and for using the antibiotics and other inventions of the otherwise rival Christians instead of trusting their omnipotent God to cure them and thereby allowing themselves privileges denied to their folk!
All this means that they have to take over some basic tenants of Christianity, even if in a different guise. Like communists they may foster education of the masses, not for Christian reasons but of an evolutionary demand that western (Christian) civilization has imposed on them! Those Muslims, who are overtly trying to reject them ad hoc, don't mind making use of fruits of this civilization, the priests more than the sundry!
Education was and will remain one of the greatest weapon of dominance, not resources! And no one has contributed more to global education than the Christians, even if for varied reasons. In fact, Plato and Aristotle were brought to Europeans by the Arabs, but they did not bring them to their own people! Christians spread the word of God and with it (perhaps unintentionally!) the Latin & Greek Script (prerequisite for development of modern science) and Greek Enlightenment to the simpler folks and lower classes (one time serfs) in far flung areas of Europe and the world. Even as late as 1990, the only hospitals I found in certain regions of the globe (including the ones with communistic governments) were those from the Christians, and many disappearing "native" tongues were recorded or written down by the missionaries_ their involvement in these societies were considerably more genuine than those of the tourists and some well-paid managers of modern world, who are often basking in the sunshine of a past glory or Currency-Power, and the good reputations of these old pioneers! Busloads of tourists who completely disregard with mind-boggling callousness, the etiquettes of the "lower" natives, doing things they would never ever do at home, things no missionary school-teacher would have ever done. I think the rather one sided and very negative view of Christianity and the European Colonization and the involvement of the missionaries in the spread of European Civilization, that has been fashionable in the European Intelligentsia in the last century has fully overseen the work of some of these men and woman, who were serving neither the Pope nor Caesar but Jesus and the downtrodden! They may not been the majority but they have achieved small wonders on a large scale.
Eh, the English School Masters! Begging apologies Roger Waters, some of mine were harsh too, maybe at home a few of them too got thrashed by their psychedelic wives, but I know some great souls, unsung and never received at the Downing Street or in the Elizabethan Court. Yes those hidden gems of the Empire, who carried Plato, Martin Luther & Gray's Anatomy in their sea-chests and not blunderbusses or opium and who opened up schools and hospitals for the poor, the underprivileged and sometimes for the fully downtrodden and the disenfranchised. And did they not even take over some of the burden off the shoulders of the Mullah and the Brahman, when their Muslim and Hindu flock could read their scriptures or sign those elaborately formulated official forms and affidavits themselves, without the need for an exclusive class of the educated? Did not these Priests that way gain more time to attend to higher activities and communion with God? These wayfaring Englishmen certainly helped the needy! And today when the big corporations are running after the meek inhabitants of the earth and not the other way round, it too is the fruit of these Christian missionaries and teachers and savants of other cultures. Thank you all! Your work was and is not worth discussing in the sterile halls of power, almost always decorated with kitsch or smoky saloons of fame full of McLuhanic-delusions but truly from a different dimension! Maybe not of this earth!
- * Many of the more recent works of contemporary linguists, ethnologists,
anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have brought to light congenial facts, notably Dean Falk in his
article; Prelinguistic evolution in early hominins: Whence Motherese?
Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2004) 27, 491-541