The Intelligent Universe: A New View of Creation and Evolution
Hoyle (Fred)
Source: Hoyle (Fred) - The Intelligent Universe: A New View of Creation and Evolution
Paper - Abstract

Paper SummaryText Colour-Conventions


Foreword (Full Text)

  1. Everybody must wonder from time to time if there is any real purpose in life. Of course we all have immediate aims, to succeed in our careers, to bring up our children, and still in many parts of the world simply to earn enough to eat. But what of a long-range purpose? For what reason do we live our lives at all?
  2. Biology, as it is presently taught, answers that the purpose is to produce the next generation. But many of us are impelled to persist in wondering if that can be all. If the purpose of each generation is merely to produce the next, does the overall end result achieved sometime in the distant future have any purpose? No, biology answers once more. There is nothing except continuity, no purpose except continued existence, now or in the future.
  3. If that is so, what is the use of that unique feature of our species, the moral code present in all human societies? Its use lies in promoting our continued existence, the biologist replies. Because humans achieve more by working together in groups, a concern for the welfare of others besides ourselves promotes community survival.
  4. Even if we grant for a moment that this proposition is true, so what? There are many things that would assist our survival which we do not possess. Throughout the history of man it would often have been an advantage in moments of great danger to be able to run like a hare or to soar away from the danger up into the sky like a bird. But we can do neither. These examples show that the logic is back-to-front. Just as desire does not automatically generate that which is desired, so advantage does not automatically generate that which would be an advantage, either in biology or elsewhere.
  5. Man's moral sense is a fragile affair. We have to bolster it with a tangle of laws because in itself virtuous behaviour is not predominantly advantageous to survival. In many cases in our daily lives cheating is more profitable than truthfulness, while brutality and aggression are all too often profitable to the survival of nations. Instead it would be easy to build a considerable argument to show that the moral sense in man persists despite all the temptations which constantly work against it.
  6. I came across the difficulties with which the moral sense in man has to contend quite early in life. My father was a machine-gunner in the First World War, surviving miraculously in the trenches of northern France and Flanders over three long years. He was one of the few who came through the immense Ludendorff attack of 21 March 1918. His machine-gun post was overrun, not by the usual few hundred yards but by miles, so that he found himself far within the enemy line. My father told me afterwards that this was his worst moment of the war, because of his ever-present expectation of encountering a lone German, with the prospect that, without the possibility of verbal communication between them, the two would be committed to fight it out to the end in armed combat.
  7. It was some years later that I saw the solution to my father's problem. If you were alone in no-man's land, faced by a German with whom you could not talk intelligibly, the best thing to do — unless you had an unhealthy taste for combat to the death — would be to remove your helmet. If the German then had the wit to do the same you would both perceive the fact that, hidden deliberately by the distinctive helmets, you were both members of the same species, almost as similar as two peas in a pod.
  8. Ever since this early perception I have believed that wars are made possible, not by guns and bombs, not by ships and aircraft, but by uniforms, caps and helmets. Should the day ever come when it is agreed among the nations of the world that all armies shall wear the same uniforms and helmets then I will know for sure that at long last war has been banished from the Earth. So far from there being any prospect of this happening, the first thing that every emerging nation does with its army, even ahead of acquiring physical weapons, is to clothe its soldiers in distinctive uniforms, thereby artificially, creating a new "subspecies" of man, sworn to destroy other artificially created "subspecies". Such then are the odds against which the moral sense in us all has to contend.
  9. The modern point of view that survival is all has its roots in Darwin's theory of biological evolution through natural selection. Harsh as it may seem, this is an open charter for any form of opportunistic behaviour. Whenever it can be shown with reasonable plausibility that even cheating and murder would aid the survival either of ourselves personally or the community in which we happen to live, then orthodox logic enjoins us to adopt these practices, just because there is no morality except survival.
  10. If I were called on to defend orthodox science against this unpleasant accusation, I would argue that it is not so much a case of biology influencing the state of society as it is of the state of society controlling the thinking of biologists. I could begin by demonstrating that the ideas of Darwin's theory were already in place by 1830, almost a third of a century before the publication in 1859 of Darwin's book The Origin of Species. But while the ideas were there already, the state of society was not yet ripe. An important change was needed before the ideas were called forth.
  11. It is easy to see what this change was. By the 1860s, the industrial scene had burgeoned. Companies were competing fiercely in the production of similar products, railways were competing for traffic, nations were competing for Lebensraum. While the latter was not particularly new, the cut-and-thrust of commerce with its threat of ruin on a grand scale certainly was. Improvement of products was the key to survival. From practical experience in commerce it was then a short step to the concept of an improvement of species through natural selection — the Darwinian theory.
  12. Except for a very few scientists, everybody overlooked a crucial step in the analogy between commercial and natural selection. Commercial selection works only because at the back of it there are human intellects constantly striving to improve the range and quality of their products. Commercial selection is therefore very far from the purposeless affair natural selection is taken to be in biology.
  13. In reality, natural selection acts like a sieve. It can distinguish between species presented to it, but it cannot decide what species shall be sieved in the first place. The control over what is presented to the sieve has to enter terrestrial biology from outside itself — not just from outside the living world, but from far outside the confines of our planet.
  14. There is nowadays a mountain of evidence for this view. We shall explore some of it in the first five chapters of this book. Once one admits that terrestrial biology has been spurred on through evolution by a force outside the Earth itself, then the purposeless outlook of orthodox opinion becomes threatened. For just as the human intellect driving commerce is purposeful, so too may be the driving influence in biology.
  15. This indeed is just what orthodox scientists are unwilling to admit. Because there might turn out to be — for want of a better word — religious connotations, and because orthodox scientists are more concerned with preventing a return to the religious excesses of the past than in looking forward to the truth, the nihilistic outlook described above has dominated scientific thought throughout the past century.
  16. This book is as vigorous a protest against this outlook as I have ever launched. Frankly, I am haunted by a conviction that the nihilistic philosophy which so-called educated opinion chose to adopt following the publication of The Origin of Species committed mankind to a course of automatic self-destruction. A Doomsday machine was then set ticking. Whether this situation is still retrievable, whether the machine can be stopped in some way, is unclear — a question I shall return to at the end of this book.
  17. The number of people who nowadays sense that something is fundamentally amiss with society is not small, but sadly they dissipate their energies in protesting against one inconsequential matter after another. The correct thing to protest, as I propose to do here with something approaching mathematical precision, is the cosmic origin and nature of man.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2017
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



© Theo Todman, June 2007 - August 2017. Please address any comments on this page to theo@theotodman.com. File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page