MOSCOW, March 24, 2012 – My last piece – which called into question Richard Dawkins’ self-description as an African ape – drew extensive response, a great deal of which was hostile and angry.
One reader wrote that the article was an “embarrassment to humanity.” Apparently, he was quite unaware of the paradox in his statement. What talk of humanity can there really be if we indeed are all apes? Perhaps ape-manity would be a more fitting term to use.
The hostility came as something of a surprise given that all I tried to do was to affirm the humanity of Professor Dawkins and human beings in general. One would think that such an effort would earn the approbation of most people, but this evidently is not the case. Judging by the response many even find such an effort outright offensive.
One cannot but wonder about this, since in the past calling someone an ape was considered a serious insult. It would seem that today for some it is almost a badge of honor.
Richard Dawkins himself said he was proud to be an African ape. But what is there to be proud of in being an animal? Do not most of us try to fight and suppress ape-like tendencies when they arise in us? And aren’t we at our very best when we try to raise above, leaving behind the animal element within?
It is indeed a strange commentary on our culture when a person gets attacked by those whose higher nature he strives to affirm. How ironic that today religious people seek to uphold the humanness of man while secularists – those who like to call themselves humanists – try to place man on the same plane as animals.
In a way, however, this is not so surprising. If we deny that there is a God, then man can indeed be nothing else than a highly evolved animal. But those who hold this view should not call themselves humanists but rather animalists. An animalist, then, would be someone who insists on the animal nature of human beings and resists any evidence or suggestions that points to the transcendent in his nature.
Be that as it may, I can only say this to the critics: Claim what you will, but in my eyes you will never be animals or apes. When I look at people I see beings made in the image of God who exhibit wondrous capabilities whose existence cannot be explained by means of evolutionary or materialistic theories.
Every year tens of thousands of people from all over the world flock to St. Peter’s in Rome to gaze at an astounding creation by Michelangelo known as The Pieta. Anyone who takes some time to contemplate this sculpture cannot but marvel at the incredible skill of the hand which transformed a piece of cold, shapeless marble into the shining wonder it now is. If a trip to Rome is not practicable, we can easily listen to one of Bach’s cantatas, read Tolstoy’s War and Peace or consider the mind-staggering reflections of Immanuel Kant. What ape has ever produced something even remotely so sophisticated or beautiful? What ape has ever produced anything beautiful or sophisticated at all?
To say that Michelangelo, Bach, Tolstoy or Kant were apes just doesn’t make sense. Occasionally people so talented are dubbed divine and in a certain sense this is true: Their skills are indeed from above. They could have not arisen out of the matter of which their bodies and brains are composed. Neither Richard Dawkins nor any other scientist in the world can show how such a thing could ever happen. Matter in itself cannot think or possess intelligence. Matter in itself is dead – it has no will and no abilities. Nor could dead, will-less matter bootstrap itself to produce a Shakespeare, or an ape for that matter. Something more was obviously involved.
In the final analysis, the whole discussion comes down to the materialism espoused – whether consciously or not – by most evolutionists. They believe that the whole realm of existence can be ultimately reduced to the physical. They confuse perceptual reality – that which can be observed, measured and quantified – with ultimate reality. To put it another way, they think that the changing world of measurable phenomena is all there is.
This form of reductionism, however, eventually becomes entangled in insolvable conundrums and contradictions. It cannot, for example, explain the existence of consciousness, since the human mind cannot be accounted for by electromagnetic impulses of the brain. It is simply impossible for materialism to explain how electromagnetic currents translate into mental phenomena.
Physical and mental are two wholly different and separate realms which materialistic dialectic cannot bridge. The only way out is to realize that the mind is not the product of the brain, but rather it is the user of the brain.
C.S. Lewis once famously remarked, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” This, however, is something evolutionists cannot come to terms with, because it implies the primacy of mental, and this idea goes against the foundational presupposition of their worldview.
Nevertheless, this is the only possible solution to this and other difficult problems which resist materialistic attempts at explanation. Everything is ultimately the expression of Mind, an infinite, disembodied Mind which is usually referred to as God. “All things were created by him and for him,” a wise book tells us. God is the ultimate reality that undergirds the phenomenal world in which our physical bodies reside. But our real existence is elsewhere. It is in the sustainer of all who holds “all things together by the word of his power.”
Born and raised under communism, Vasko Kohlmayer is a naturalized American citizen. He has lived in several countries under various forms of government, but he still marvels at the goodness of God and the wonder of life.
He has written for a number of newspapers, magazines and internet journals. Vasko currently lives in Europe with his long-suffering wife and two beautiful daughters. He is the founder of The Christian Writers Foundation.
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