Ernst Mayr's One Long Argument - Creationism vs. Evolutionism
Length: 853 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)
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Challenging the accepted order of society always brings a wave of criticism and contempt. In Ernst Mayr's One Long Argument, he aggressively brings to the forefront of debate the notion that his predecessors had heatedly argued for years, that man is not a divinely created creature, but rather just another animal in a state of constant change. Examining the path Charles Darwin, had followed in his attempt to better understand the evolutionary path of man, noted biologist Ernst Mayr explains Darwinian theory in respects to not only evolution but also in respect to the belief that man is somehow a creature made of a higher divinity than all else. And it is this challenge of man's role as something divine that caught me as being quite profound.
It has been the belief of man since the dawn of civilization that somehow he was created above all other creatures, and that life for him, existed outside of the natural world. The interesting perspective Mayr brings to the topic of man and God is that, man may not be so divine as to be able to stand outside the natural order of evolution. Yet despite anthropological evidence, such as fossils, the public has a difficulty in accepting that man and animal had a common ancestor: that man had to evolve to his present state. But in contrast many are not be so surprised to believe that animals underwent and still undergo a constant change.
Further still Mayr makes the attempt at understanding the phenomena of why man cannot agree to having evolved from the same common ancestor as the wild animal the chimpanzee. It may seem that, according to Mayr, that man's own inability to come to terms with his own evolution, stems from a feeling of not wanting to be reduced to just another animal in the chain of life. For hundreds of years, as Mayr examines, religion after religion has always placed man on some sort of pedestal, superior to all other species. And when Darwin confronted the world with possibly another truth, he shattered man's perception of himself. Even today, a hundred years after Darwin first challenged the accepted order of man as a divine being, Mayr still raises controversy in the debate over man as being just another animal undergoing a constant evolutionary change like all other animals.
Taking on this argument in chapters three and five in One Long Argument, Mayr forces skeptics to at least reexamine the principles that give man the notion that his species is above any natural order.
Though the controversy over the evolutionary theory has been subject to an extensive debate since the topic first came under study, Mayr contests that scientifically, the debate between evolutionary and creationary theories have hinged, largely in part, to the scientific world's need for factual proof of the existence of an all powerful being that simply "created the world." Also on a morality question Mayr questions that : How could a wise and good Creator permit the unspeakable cruelty suffering of slavery? How could he instigate earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that killed thousands or tens of thousands of innocent people? (p.13)
It is this fundamental ethical question that Mayr, and many other biologists find discrediting to the notion of a perfect Creator. Because if this perfect Creator is responsible for the creation of what is perceived as a "perfect creation," by staunch supporters of Creationism, why would this Creator kill many innocent people and let such brutal practicing's as slavery exist?
In dealing with scientific and philosophical principles that can turn the accepted way of thought upside down, it is a relief to many minds, of whom believe science is without a conscience, to see scientists going further into study than just the facts but also in why humanity would want to believe a falsehood. Because biologists demands proof, facts, and data, to read about the scientific study of evolution from both a factual and philosophical point of views delivers a sense of security in that the future is not entirely in the numbers of computer printouts and charts. Mayr's take on not only science and religion but on man's perception of himself in these areas, lends to the credibility of science pursuing truth for the betterment of mankind.
With such a varied coverage of science from several different takes, Ernst Mayr's One Long Argument brings the ego of man to a humble perspective. Appreciating this challenging stance on man and evolution in the face of staunch opposition, I was able to extrapolate the biologists' view on the fossil record pertaining to man and evolution. In his understated approach at unraveling the mysteries of Evolution and Charles Darwin's role in the development in this new field, Mayr goes further than transcribing facts to more of a subtle incorporation of why man has a difficulty in accepting such facts. And it seems evident that according to Mayr, after examining not only Darwin's path to the acceptance of evolution but also the path most others take, that man has trouble humbling himself to nature.