Thursday, September 23, 2010
Distinguishing Darwin: how Darwinism is distinct from Calvinist work ethic
It has been argued that the language of Darwin in the origin of species is that of absolutes and is thus by definition, the language of extremism. Moreover it has been argued that this extremist language can at times analogous to that of religious dogmas such as the doctrine of Calvinism, or creationism. It is argued that such a charge would be terrifically ironic for Darwin, for he is attacking these doctrines for the very the same reasons. However, this charge is not a fair representation of Darwinism. Darwin includes in his theory a characterization of life as being a struggle full of suffering, and that life is to benefit from it. It has been argued that this is the same as the beliefs of Calvinism. Calvinism being a sect of Christianity which believes that individuals ought to live a life of hard work, and that salvation is earned through a life of hardship. While it may be that Darwin's characterization of life fits into the Calvinist work ethic, they are fundamentally different. Calvinism is making ethical arguments, of how one ought to live if one wishes to seek the salvation of Jesus Christ. Conversely Darwinism makes no claims of how one ought to live; that life is a struggle, and that this is ultimately to the benefit of life, does not mean that it is an ethical truth, or that it is how it ought to be. Thus, Darwinism and its position on the struggle of life, is fundamentally different from Calvinism, for while they share the position that life is a struggle which results in a benefit, they do so only superficially, for where Darwin is speaking of nature and what is, Calvinists are speaking of divinity and what ought to be, the virtues of a good life. They could not be further from each other.