Darwin's Nose

It would seem that Charles Darwin was not particularly fond of his own physical appearance.  In what sounds subtly like a self-deprecatory gesture, he once wrote to his staunchest supporter and highly devoted Christian pen pal, the respected American Botanist Asa Gray, "Will you honestly tell me that the shape of my nose was ordained and guided by an intelligent cause?"

The question mirrors a standard protestation from those who do not believe in a creator; if God - a perfect being- really exists, how could he have made so many mistakes? Which begs the question: if He does not exist, then who exactly does one lodge the former complaint with?

Regular observations of the world we live in reveal that in spite of the preeminent dispensation of evolution's ‘survival of the fittest' motif, nature is still plagued with sundry "imperfections" and "weak links"; but this objection is seldom raised in Darwinist circles against this glaring discrepancy between the actual empirical evidence and what is claimed to be accepted scientific fact, for that would be a challenge to the hereto undisputed Darwinian model. Still its adherents prefer it - and justifiably so - to what is typically presented as the other alternative: the existence of a creative but somewhat impotent and apathetic deity.

Granted Darwin may not have intended for this to sound like a gripe with a presumed divine designer, but more a comment made in jest, intended to mock the very concept itself.

In the world Darwin describes he may have envisioned an impartial observer being able to discern beauty in a universe detached from the focused intent of a creator's initiative; but in a world which comes about at random and with no particular meaning or purpose, there can be no serious allusion to a value judgment such as beauty, unless it is a strictly subjective -and worthless -assessment of the beholder.

In a similar vein, a follower of Darwinism will uncritically accept a worldview that portends to apprehend moral values without a moral lawgiver; to be guided by the shifting imperative that prompts any skeptic to convince himself that without an absolute standard he can still be good towards others, but has only to answer to himself; and should he fail to meet the benchmark which he has erected in order to lead a "moral" life he can always readjust it as the need arises; it is a lot better than having to admit to our shortcomings in the face of a standard set by divinity, and humbly come and ask for absolution from someone other than ourselves.

Darwin's self-vilifying remark also speaks to the notion that we do have a built in intuition of what proper design is. Wherever we see deformities we understand them to be the perversion of the "normal" or "ideal". In fact, to become conscious of the notion that there is something fundamentally askew with the way things are arranged (in this case Darwin's disproportionably large nose) is an implicit acknowledgement of a deep seated desire to apprehend a certain order in a world which has appeared thus far to be so meticulously crafted. This search for a framework that somehow makes sense of what appears as non-sense is central to the pattern of our moral psyches, and is not of our own making, but rather it is something which has been planted in our hearts.  

In his own estimation Darwin must not have thought of himself as a particularly attractive person, and in his case he may have though of evolution as perhaps having failed in yielding a physically acceptable specimen. This principle is at the center of the ascendancy of the eugenics mindset of the Third Reich; to facilitate the development of a perfect race by cleansing the population of physically undesirable elements contaminating the gene pool; a man made version of the process of natural selection.  

But in essence what Darwin and others are saying when they complain of God's bloopers  is that if there were a God, he should be more like them; in other words, if I were the supreme designer, things would be a little different when it comes to the order of creation as I see it, not to mention that I would have paid a little more attention to what in the grand scheme of things I consider to be a serious cosmetic mishap, such as the shape of my nose.  

It would seem that Charles Darwin was not particularly fond of his own physical appearance.  In what sounds subtly like a self-deprecatory gesture, he once wrote to his staunchest supporter and highly devoted Christian pen pal, the respected American Botanist Asa Gray, "Will you honestly tell me that the shape of my nose was ordained and guided by an intelligent cause?"

The question mirrors a standard protestation from those who do not believe in a creator; if God - a perfect being- really exists, how could he have made so many mistakes? Which begs the question: if He does not exist, then who exactly does one lodge the former complaint with?

Regular observations of the world we live in reveal that in spite of the preeminent dispensation of evolution's ‘survival of the fittest' motif, nature is still plagued with sundry "imperfections" and "weak links"; but this objection is seldom raised in Darwinist circles against this glaring discrepancy between the actual empirical evidence and what is claimed to be accepted scientific fact, for that would be a challenge to the hereto undisputed Darwinian model. Still its adherents prefer it - and justifiably so - to what is typically presented as the other alternative: the existence of a creative but somewhat impotent and apathetic deity.

Granted Darwin may not have intended for this to sound like a gripe with a presumed divine designer, but more a comment made in jest, intended to mock the very concept itself.

In the world Darwin describes he may have envisioned an impartial observer being able to discern beauty in a universe detached from the focused intent of a creator's initiative; but in a world which comes about at random and with no particular meaning or purpose, there can be no serious allusion to a value judgment such as beauty, unless it is a strictly subjective -and worthless -assessment of the beholder.

In a similar vein, a follower of Darwinism will uncritically accept a worldview that portends to apprehend moral values without a moral lawgiver; to be guided by the shifting imperative that prompts any skeptic to convince himself that without an absolute standard he can still be good towards others, but has only to answer to himself; and should he fail to meet the benchmark which he has erected in order to lead a "moral" life he can always readjust it as the need arises; it is a lot better than having to admit to our shortcomings in the face of a standard set by divinity, and humbly come and ask for absolution from someone other than ourselves.

Darwin's self-vilifying remark also speaks to the notion that we do have a built in intuition of what proper design is. Wherever we see deformities we understand them to be the perversion of the "normal" or "ideal". In fact, to become conscious of the notion that there is something fundamentally askew with the way things are arranged (in this case Darwin's disproportionably large nose) is an implicit acknowledgement of a deep seated desire to apprehend a certain order in a world which has appeared thus far to be so meticulously crafted. This search for a framework that somehow makes sense of what appears as non-sense is central to the pattern of our moral psyches, and is not of our own making, but rather it is something which has been planted in our hearts.  

In his own estimation Darwin must not have thought of himself as a particularly attractive person, and in his case he may have though of evolution as perhaps having failed in yielding a physically acceptable specimen. This principle is at the center of the ascendancy of the eugenics mindset of the Third Reich; to facilitate the development of a perfect race by cleansing the population of physically undesirable elements contaminating the gene pool; a man made version of the process of natural selection.  

But in essence what Darwin and others are saying when they complain of God's bloopers  is that if there were a God, he should be more like them; in other words, if I were the supreme designer, things would be a little different when it comes to the order of creation as I see it, not to mention that I would have paid a little more attention to what in the grand scheme of things I consider to be a serious cosmetic mishap, such as the shape of my nose.