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Проблемы Эволюции

A Devil's Chaplain

Dawkins R.

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Richard Dawkins


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Darwin was less than half joking when he coined the phrase Devil's Chaplain in a letter to his friend Hooker in 1856.

What a book a Devil's Chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature.

A process of trial and error, completely unplanned and on the massive scale of natural selection, can be expected to be clumsy, wasteful and blundering. Of waste there is no doubt. As I have put it before, the racing elegance of cheetahs and gazelles is bought at huge cost in blood and the suffering of countless antecedents on both sides. Clumsy and blundering though the process undoubtedly is, its results are opposite. There is nothing clumsy about a swallow; nothing blundering about a shark. What is clumsy and blundering, by the standards of human drawing boards, is the Darwinian algorithm that led to their evolution. As for cruelty, here is Darwin again, in a letter to Asa Gray of 1860:

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.

Darwin's French contemporary Jean Henri Fabre described similar behaviour in a digger wasp, Ammophila:

It is the general rule that larvae possess a centre of innervation for each segment. This is so in particular with the Grey Worm, the sacrificial victim of the Hairy Ammophila. The Wasp is acquainted with this anatomical secret: she stabs the caterpillar again and again, from end to end, segment by segment, ganglion by ganglion.'

Darwin's Ichneumonidae, like Fabre's digger wasps, sting their prey not to kill but to paralyse, so their larvae can feed on fresh (live) meat. As Darwin clearly understood, blindness to suffering is an inherent consequence of natural selection, although on other occasions he tried to play down the cruelty, suggesting that killing bites are mercifully swift. But the Devil's Chaplain would be equally swift to point out that if there is mercy in nature, it is accidental. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but indifferent. Such kindness as may appear emerges from the same imperative as the cruelty. In the words of one of Darwin's most thoughtful successors, George C. Williams,

With what other than condemnation is a person with any moral sense supposed to respond to a system in which the ultimate purpose in life is to be better than your neighbor at getting genes into future generations, in which those successful genes provide the message that instructs the development of the next generation, in which that message is always ‘exploit your environment, including your friends and relatives, so as to maximize our genes' success', in which the closest thing to a golden rule is 'don't cheat, unless it is likely to provide a net benefit.

Bernard Shaw was driven to embrace a confused idea of Lamarckian evolution purely because of Darwinism's moral implications. He wrote, in the Preface to Back to Methuselah:

When its whole significance dawns on you, your heart sinks into a heap of sand within you. There is a hideous fatalism about it, a ghastly and damnable reduction of beauty and intelligence, of strength and purpose, of honor and aspiration.

His Devil's Disciple was an altogether jollier rogue than Darwin's Chaplain. Shaw didn't think of himself as religious, but he had that childlike inability to distinguish what is true from what we'd like to be true. The same kind of thing drives today's populist opposition to evolution:

The most evolution could produce would be the idea that 'might makes right.' When Hitler exterminated approximately 10 million innocent men, women, and children, he acted in complete agreement with the theory of evolution and in complete disagreement with everything humans know to be right and wrong ... If you teach children that they evolved from monkeys, then they will act like monkeys.

An opposite response to the callousness of natural selection is to exult in it, along with the Social Darwinists and-astonishingly-H. G. Wells. The New Republic, where Wells outlines his Darwinian Utopia, contains some blood-chilling lines:'

And how will the New Republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with the black? ... the yellow man? ... those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency? Well, the world is a world, and not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go ... And the ethical system of these men of the New Republic, the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favour the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity - beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds ... And the method that nature has followed hitherto in the shaping of the world, whereby weakness was prevented from propagating weakness ... is death ... The men of the New Republic ... will have an ideal that will make the killing worth the while.

Wells's colleague Julian Huxley downplayed, in effect, the pessimism of the Devil's Chaplain as he tried to build an ethical system on what he saw as evolution's progressive aspects. His `Progress, Biological and Other', the first of his Essays of a Biologist, contains passages that read almost like a call to arms under evolution's banner:

[man's] face is set in the same direction as the main tide of evolving life, and his highest destiny, the end towards which he has so long perceived that he must strive, is to extend to new possibilities the process with which, for all these millions of years, nature has already been busy, to introduce less and less wasteful methods, to accelerate by means of his consciousness what in the past has been the work of blind unconscious forces.

I prefer to stand up with Julian's refreshingly belligerent grandfather T. H. Huxley, agree that natural selection is the dominant force in biological evolution unlike Shaw, admit its unpleasantness unlike Julian, and, unlike Wells, fight against it as a human being. Here is T H., in his Romanes Lecture in Oxford in 1893, on `Evolution and Ethics':

Let us understand, once for all, that the ethical progress of society depends, not on imitating the cosmic process, still less in running away from it, but in combating it.

That is G. C. Williams's recommendation today, and it is mine. I hear the bleak sermon of the Devil's Chaplain as a call to arms. As an academic scientist I am a passionate Darwinian, believing that natural selection is, if not the only driving force in evolution, certainly the only known force capable of producing the illusion of purpose which so strikes all who contemplate nature. But at the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs. My previous books, such as The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker, extol the inescapable factual correctness of the Devil's Chaplain (had Darwin decided to extend the list of melancholy adjectives in the Chaplain's indictment, he would very probably have chosen both ‘selfish' and `blind'). At the same time I have always held true to the closing words of my first book, `We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.'

If you seem to smell inconsistency or even contradiction, you are mistaken. There is no inconsistency in favouring Darwinism as an academic scientist while opposing it as a human being; any more than there is inconsistency in explaining cancer as an academic doctor while fighting it as a practising one. For good Darwinian reasons, evolution gave us a brain whose size increased to the point where it became capable of understanding its own provenance, of deploring the moral implications and of fighting against them. Every time we use contraception we demonstrate that brains can thwart Darwinian designs. If, as my wife suggests to me, selfish genes are Frankensteins and all life their monster, it is only we that can complete the fable by turning against our creators. We face an almost exact negation of Bishop Heber's lines, 'Though every prospect pleases, And only man is vile.' Yes, man can be vile too, but we are the only potential island of refuge from the implications of the Devil's Chaplain: from the cruelty, and the clumsy, blundering waste.

For our species, with its unique gift of foresight - product of the simulated virtual-reality we call the human imagination - can plan the very opposite of waste with, if we get it right, a minimum of clumsy blunders. And there is true solace in the blessed gift of understanding, even if what we understand is the unwelcome message of the Devil's Chaplain. It is as though the Chaplain matured and offered a second half to the sermon. Yes, says the matured Chaplain, the historic process that caused you to exist is wasteful, cruel and low. But exult in your existence, because that very process has blundered unwittingly on its own negation. Only a small, local negation, to be sure: only one species, and only a minority of the members of that species; but there lies hope.

Exult even more that the clumsy and cruel algorithm of natural selection has generated a machine capable of internalizing the algorithm, setting up a model of itself - and much more - in microcosm inside the human skull. I may have disparaged Julian Huxley in these pages, but he published a poem in 1926 which says something of what I want to say (and a few things that I don't want to say):

The world of things entered your infant mind

To populate that crystal cabinet.

Within its walls the strangest partners met,

And things turned thoughts did propagate their kind.

For, once within, corporeal fact could find

A spirit. Fact and you in mutual debt

Built there your little microcosm - which yet

Had hugest tasks to its small self assigned.

Dead men can live there, and converse with stars:

Equator speaks with pole, and night with day:

Spirit dissolves the world's material bars -

A million isolations burn away.

The Universe can live and work and plan,

At last made God within the mind of man.


Julian Huxley later wrote, in his Essays of a Humanist:

This earth is one of the rare spots in the cosmos where mind has flowered. Man is a product of nearly three billion years of evolution, in whose person the evolutionary process has at last become conscious of itself and its possibilities. Whether he likes it or not, he is responsible for the whole further evolution of our planet.

Huxley's fellow luminary of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, the great Russian-American geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky said something similar:

In giving rise to man, the evolutionary process has, apparently for the first and only time in the history of the Cosmos, become conscious of itself.

So, the Devil's Chaplain might conclude, Stand tall, Bipedal Ape. The shark may outswim you, the cheetah outrun you, the swift outfly you, the capuchin outclimb you, the elephant outpower you, the redwood outlast you. But you have the biggest gifts of all: the gift of understanding the ruthlessly cruel process that gave us all existence; the gift of revulsion against its implications; the gift of foresight - something utterly foreign to the blundering short-term ways of natural selection and the gift of internalizing the very cosmos.

We are blessed with brains which, if educated and allowed free rein, are capable of modelling the universe, with its physical laws in which the Darwinian algorithm is embedded. As Darwin himself put it, in the famous closing lines of the Origin o f Species:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed* into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

There is more than just grandeur in this view of life, bleak and cold though it can seem from under the security blanket of ignorance. There is deep refreshment to be had from standing up full-face into the keen wind of understanding: Yeats's `Winds that blow through the starry ways'. In another essay, I quote the words of an inspiring teacher, F. W. Sanderson, who urged his pupils to `live dangerously ...'

... full of the burning fire of enthusiasm, anarchic, revolutionary, energetic, daemonic, Dionysian, filled to overflowing with the terrific urge to create - such is the life of the man who risks safety and happiness for the sake of growth and happiness.

Safety and happiness would mean being satisfied with easy answers and cheap comforts, living a warm comfortable lie. The daemonic alternative urged by my matured Devil's Chaplain is risky. You stand to lose comforting delusions: you can no longer suck at the pacifier of faith in immortality. To set against that risk, you stand to gain `growth and happiness'; the joy of knowing that you have grown up, faced up to what existence means; to the fact that it is temporary and all the more precious for it.


Замечания автора сайта по поводу этого текста

(из моей переписки)

Теперь по поводу "Devil's Chaplain"... Удивительный текст, жаль, что нет русского перевода - хорошо бы его на мой сайт поместить.

Там совершенно справедливо говорится о "безнравственности" идеи естественного отбора. Трудно с этим не согласиться. На самом деле многие умные люди обратили внимание на закономерное появление дарвинизма в то время, когда происходила общая смена мировоззрения человека: религия стала стремительно терять позиции, на передний план вышел механистический материализм, детерминизм; природа как бы обезличилась и превратилась из чего-то осмысленно-божественного (и человечного) в механизм, машину, подобную тем машинам, которые как раз в это время получили такое распространение в производстве… Наука забыла о синтезе, увлекшись анализом. Вот что Шарден пишет об этом:

"В противоположность "первобытным" людям, которые олицетворяли все, что движется, или даже первым грекам, которые обожествляли все стороны и силы природы, современный человек испытывает потребность деперсонализировать (или обезличить) то, чем он более всего восхищается. Имеются две причины этой тенденции. Первая из них – анализ, это чудесное орудие научного исследования, которому мы обязаны всем нашим прогрессом, но который, распутывая один синтез за другим, упускает одну за другой все души и в конечном счете оставляет нас с грудой демонтированных винтиков и рассеянных частиц. "

В общем, мне кажется, что проблема не в самом механизме отбора, предложенном Дарвином, а в тех акцентах, которые делались им самим, его последователями, и теперь – сторонниками "синтетической теории эволюции". Если все свести к мелким "винтикам" (отдельным генам и их отбору) – эволюция теряет "душу". Такой подход – не то чтобы совсем неправильный, он очень односторонний и поверхностный.

Надо обязательно учитывать свойства целого, больших и сложных систем – это они эволюционируют, а не отдельные гены. В наиболее "чистом" виде отбор и борьба за существование как главные факторы эволюции действуют только у самых примитивных организмов – бактерий. Для них нормой является массовая гибель при любых изменениях. Чем сложнее организм, тем слабее действует отбор. Организмы постепенно вырабатывают средства снижать смертность, ослаблять действие отбора. Например: забота о потомстве (сопровождающая одновременным снижением смертности и рождаемости) – вполне "гуманная" тенденция. Совместная оборона, например, у каких-нибудь буйволов, когда в середину ставят самок, детенышей, может быть, больных. Развитие сообществ (экосистем), где все виды "подогнаны" друг к другу, создают друг для друга необходимые условия жизни и поддерживают их. Предельное развитие сообщества – это симбиотический организм, и роль симбиоза в эволюции огромна. Гораздо выгоднее "приручить" другое существо, помочь ему жить и размножаться, а взамен брать себе что-то от него – и так поступают далеко не только люди с домашними животными и растениями. Так же поступают лишайниковые грибы с водорослями, муравьи с тлями… примеров множество. И, главное, это никакая НЕ СЛУЧАЙНОСТЬ, как пишет автор текста, а проявление самой главной эволюционной закономерности: рост устойчивости и сложности живых систем (проявляющийся прежде всего в том, что жизнь постепенно побеждает смерть).

Поэтому автор совершенно прав, когда призывает к героической сознательной борьбе против естественного отбора. Только он напрасно думает, что это будет борьба "против природы" - как раз наоборот, точное следование ее законам. Вот спартанцы устроили у себя естественный отбор - всех слабых детей сбрасывали со скалы - и что? Выродились и пришли в упадок еще быстрее, чем другие греческие государства.

Естественный отбор и борьба за существование - только один из механизмов творческой эволюции, и при этом самый примитивный. Он постепенно уступает место другим, более совершенным, экономным и гуманным формам развития.

Удивительно, что это написал Докинз, один из главных сторонников "элементаристского" подхода. Вот к какому драматическому конфликту приводит этот подход: получается, что человек в одиночку противостоит законам природы. А с точки зрения "холистского" подхода (Вернадский, Шарден, Красилов, вся наша школа эволюционистов) человек вовсе не противостоит им, а продолжает единую общую линию эволюции вселенной, продолжает на новом, более высоком уровне эффективности.

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