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                 The Reactionary Utopian
                     February 5, 2008

by Joe Sobran

     I have never been able to believe in Darwin. He 
tried to deny the essential difference between man and 
beast, a difference I can only regard as irreducible, and 
I have known plenty of both.

     To put it simply, animals have brains, but man also 
has a mind, a very distinct kind of soul. Man can 
calculate, imagine, moralize, form abstract concepts, and 
perform many other mental operations of which no animal 
is capable. Animals have sensation and memory -- the 
power of association -- and not much else. They may be 
very beautiful, but they lack the sense of beauty.

     The difference is so vast and profound that Western 
man used to take it for granted. Of course man was 
immeasurably superior to any animal! Each had its own 
excellence, but man had no rival for intelligence in any 
"beast that wants discourse of reason," as Shakespeare 
puts it: he was indeed "the paragon of animals." If our 
furry and scaly friends were still evolving, none of them 
appeared to be gaining on us.

     It was only in fairly recent times, in an age of 
revolt against the divine, that a materialist philosophy 
arose to argue that the human and the subhuman are the 
same in principle, that life emerged from raw matter by 
sheer chance, and that over eons the simple amoeba 
developed (or "evolved") into "higher" life forms. 
Charles Darwin found a receptive audience for this 
dubious idea among educated humans who were weary of the 
Christian faith.

     Darwin's theory of evolution, of man's descent from 
more or less simian ancestors, now has a stranglehold on 
Western intellectual life despite its obvious falsity. 
The notion of a continuity betwixt man and beast has a 
powerful appeal to people who seek the false but clear 
explanation for countless phenomena.

     Like its contemporary fallacy, Marxism, Darwinism 
had a mighty impact on history, except that Marxism has 
all but expired and its Darwinist twin is still going 
strong. The Marxists made the fatal error of predicting 
events in the (historically) short term; whereas most of 
Darwin's avatars wisely confine themselves to making 
prophecies over such long periods as to be virtually 

     So it is that Christopher Hitchens, a verbally 
brilliant man, has managed to prosper in two separate 
careers: first as a highly plausible Marxist, and then, 
when the Marxist creed bit the dust in our time, as an 
equally facile apostle of Darwinism. I respect his rare 
genius and have no doubt that he could flourish just as 
well in any other environment -- Muslim or Mormon, let us 

     In his classic EVERLASTING MAN, G.K. Chesterton gave 
atheism and Darwinism the refutation they really deserve: 
hilarity. St. Anselm had a point: man is the only animal 
that worships! What does that tell us? That all the other 
animals have more sense than we do? For that matter, man 
is also the only animal that believes in evolution; what 
are the implications of that fact? What's more, man seems 
to be the only animal that has a sense of irony, though 
Hitchens insists that atheists have a keener sense of it 
than believers do. I'll have to think that one over.

     To put it another way, why is there an absolute and 
impassable gulf between creatures who get a collective 
kick out of Red Skelton and Benny Hill, and those who 
just don't? I know of no signs that clams have even the 
most rudimentary sense of humor. Correct me if I'm wrong. 
Maybe I've missed something. It wouldn't be the first 

     And by the way, do the females of other species, 
some of which are monogamous, point out their mates' 
annoying errors, foibles, and bad habits, or is this too 
a human trait? And do they take hours getting ready for a 
big night, such as an anniversary? Do any of them have 
the equivalent of a beauty shop or a manicure salon? I 
didn't think so. Other animals' females, frankly, are not 
very feminine. Ours are. =Only= ours are, if you ask me. 
We are, after all, the only species that bellows, "Vive 
la difference!"

     Iguanas and snails may know, and in their way enjoy, 
"la difference," but not the way we do. Even chimps, 
supposedly our evolutionary next of kin, don't seem to 
cultivate the gallantry that for us (excepting feminists, 
of course) is normative.

     I could go on and on, but let's just say that Darwin 
was, well, out of his tree.


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