De Santillana (Hamlet’s Mill, 68) on our the soporific of Darwin:

“Our period may some day be called the Darwinian period, just as, we talk of the Newtonian period of two centuries ago. The simple idea of evolution, which it is no longer thought necessary to examine, spreads like a tent over all those ages that lead from primitivism into civilization. Gradually, we are told, step by step, men produced the arts and crafts, this and that, until they emerged into the light of history. Those soporific words ‘gradually’ and ‘step by step,’ repeated incessantly, are aimed at covering an ignorance which is both vast and surprising. One should like to inquire: which steps. But then one is lulled, overwhelmed and stupefied by the gradualness of it all, which is at best a platitude, only good for pacifying the mind, since no one is willing to imagine that civilization appeared in a thunderclap.”

He observes grimly (71), “In later centuries historians may declare all of us insane, because this incredible blunder  [of applying evolution to history] was not detected at once an was not refuted with adequate determination. Mistaking cultural history for a process of gradual evolution, we have deprived ourselves of every reasonable insight into the nature of culture.”

More on: Evolution

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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