There is no contradiction between Darwin and creationism. The Catholic Church accepted him a century ago—seven days, seven eons, big deal (no more Galileos for them!), and the Big Bang makes a majestic Fiat. The Tree of Life tells the story that way (a tedious experience), and it’s what most interviewees in the street more or less believe.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a good pop-culch movie. The prison sequences drag a bit, and it’s a little too much like watching a cartoon, but dramatically it held me. And its emotional strength derives from a sense of our identity with the apes, and with all animals.
But no. While we can't ignore the fossil record, it won't afford such glib conclusions as Darwin wants to sell. The Theory isn’t really a theory, in the proper sense of the word, because scientific method requires that a theory be testable. Nothing in Darwin is testable.
“Science,” said Paul Valéry, “means simply the aggregate of all the recipes that are always successful. The rest is literature.”
Fundamentalists reject the Theory because they think the world was created 6000 years ago like it says in the bible. I reject it because it’s not science.
What it is is the medieval Great Chain of Being—rising from minerals to fish to animals to men to angels to God—stood on its side and extended in time. The "missing link" should be found any day now—a day that ever approaches but never arrives. It is an article of faith in this religion that the missing link will, perhaps in tomorrow's news, arise like a redeemer, for we yearn for continuity with something, even if it's monkeys.
Am I from Mars? Well, maybe.
But I’m glad to note that there are others like me. Stanley Kubrick satirized the Theory in 2001. In a gesture of victory an ape throws his bone-club, the first tool, into the air and, leaping the longest gap ever in a piece of editing, it becomes a space module. No explanation needed—our myth, and therefore invisible. But if being the fittest were just a matter of incremental brain circuitry the computer HAL (read IBM) would win. (See also Some Thoughts on Stanley Kubrick.)
The theory is a tranquilizer to enable us to handle the astounding fact of our existence.
So who are we? What are we? There are two possibilities.
Either we are creatures of a deity we disappointed, sinners in the hands of an angry God, as Jonathan Edwards put it—this is David Lynch’s view on the thing (see Greece versus the Puritans); or we entered this labyrinth on our own bat, with no guarantee of the value of anything in it, including ourselves.
Two possibilities? They’re endless. We’re in a state of play with our existence. Like Caesar the chimp, we don’t know who we are.
And that’s the scientific answer—and one reason Caesar is the most human person in the film. The others assume they know who they are.
Certainly he’s smarter than my own characters.
So rather than do a dance I’ll give you a poem:
The accidental monkey
‘S a metaphysics junkie
With bothersome abysses on his mind;
Preoccupied with dying,
To turn around and glimpse his own behind.
His finger in his yin-yang
He contemplates the Big Bang,
The earliest ancestor he can find,
Unless it’s all that room
The Bang had to go boom—
Or does it create space as it unwinds,
A spreading dance of gravity
In a potential cavity
Like that in which his finger is entwined?
A cosmos so anonymous,
How can it but be ominous
That such vast masonry was left unsigned?
Reality extrudes him.
Its structure still eludes him,
His probing finger warmer but confined.
Enigma born of distances
And exquisite resistances—
Too seamless not to seem that way designed.
Theisms, whether mono
Or other sorts of guano,
Have left his spirit largely unaligned.
Perusing Darwin’s Theory
He feels a little leery
Of sepia-toned free-market states of mind.
Amino acid soup-erman
Whose wake-up call so overran
’S the one myth all the apes have not maligned;
But too unscientific
To offer much specific,
As willing as he is to be resigned.
The spiral strands of rubble
He surveys through the Hubble
May possibly bear others of his kind.
Would that be any better,
To get an email letter
From some strange breed of orphans just as blind?
Abject on a conveyor,
Hunched over as for prayer
He’s hummed through life bowed down by double bind.
The horizontal motion
Admits no meta-notion,
His view cut off both forward and behind.
A bas with this banality!
He opts for verticality—
His heart leaps up and stands in him star-high!
A fallen god no longer,
Already he feels stronger,
Astral banana peeling off the rind!
Abyss-wise up is down though
And starry heaven’s clown so
Has raised his head it’s lodged in his behind.
Divine but rather stupid,
Of Morpheus and Cupid,
And to this grosser matter self-consigned,
The accidental monkey
At least is his own flunky,
And buoyed by this he hop-turns to the grind.
Also by Robert MacLean:
The President's Palm Reader: A Washington Comedy at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon DE, AmazonIT, AmazonES;
and the Toby books:Foreign Matter at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon DE, AmazonIT, AmazonES and Smashwords;
Total Moisture at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon DE, AmazonIT, AmazonES and Smashwords;
The Cad at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon DE, AmazonIT, AmazonES and Smashwords; and
Will You Please Fuck Off? at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon DE, AmazonIT, AmazonES and Smashwords.
And they're at Sony, Nook, Kobo, Diesel, iTunes—the whole street.