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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III


Part V

Part VI

Part VII



Part I: The Fall Was Down

Chapter 1

What is Wrong with Man?

     IS MAN REALLY of a piece with the rest of Nature, or is he an alien? And if an alien, has his alienation arisen merely because he acquired in the course of evolution a complexity of being which he has not yet fully learned to manage successfully? Or is he a rebel? What is the evidence? If merely unfulfilled, what is the precise nature of this supposed unfulfillment?
     History shows that since the Industrial Revolution when man suddenly began to achieve mastery over his environment in an entirely new way, he became increasingly encouraged in the hope that the new approach to the forces of Nature could and would be equally successfully applied to man himself. The Christian view of the world getting worse and worse until Christ returns in judgment in a dramatic way to set things right was replaced by the concept of the progressive righting of wrongs by man himself until the millennium was to be achieved by a kind of cultural evolution inspired by Christian ethics and to be capped only, as it were, by calling upon the Lord to come back and take over the kingdom made ready for Him. He was not coming to judge the world, but to dignify it by occupying the throne as a kind of constitutional monarch.
     Not a few Christian hymns came to reflect this triumphant but mistaken sense of world conquest. The Church was to grow until men everywhere praised their Creator while they also enjoyed good health and prosperity. Missionary-minded Christians sometimes saw this as a natural outcome of evangelism; others who were only nominally Christian seemed to feel that progress in every direction was part of God's promise to mankind and was automatically guaranteed. Thus in the nineteenth century Tennyson could write,

Move upward, working out the beast,
And let the ape and tiger die.

     pg 1 of 16      

     It is well to remember that this view of Tennyson's was not inspired by Darwin's Origin of Species," for his poem In Memoriam, in which these two lines appear, was written ten years before Darwin published his first volume on evolution. Tennyson, like many others, was caught up in the spirit of the times. Calverton pointed out this spirit: (3)

      The very simultaneity with which Darwin and Wallace struck upon the theory of natural selection and the survival of the fittest was magnificent proof of the intense activity of the idea at the time. Every force in the environment, social and economic, conspired to the success of the doctrine.

     Contributing very greatly to this spirit of the times was the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, as Vannevar Bush observed: (4)

     Eighteenth century philosophers commonly accepted progress as the normal course of history without, however, making a particular point of the idea until the Marquis de Condorcet, in the midst of the French Revolution, wrote his "Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind," explicitly setting forth the idea that human progress is continuous and will go on until human perfection is achieved.
     This became the common attitude of thoughtful people in the early years of the nineteenth century. It runs through the thinking of most of the Romantic and early Victorian poets, the scientists, and the philosophers.
     It drew strength from the Rationalists, Deists, Unitarians, and Universalists, who reacted with confidence in the perfectibility of man against the dour fatalism of the Calvinist teaching that man is essentially corrupt. . . .

     As the nineteenth century advanced, this pre-Darwinian, but none the less evolutionary philosophy, gained impetus from the pen of Herbert Spencer: (5)

     The inference that as advancement has been hitherto the rule, it will be the rule henceforth, may be called a plausible speculation. But when it is shown that this advancement is due to the working of a universal law and in virtue of that law it must continue until the state we call perfection is reached, then the advent of such a state is removed out of the region of probability into that of certainty. . . .
     As surely as a blacksmith's arm grows large and the skin of a laborer's hand becomes thick; . . . as surely as passion grows by indulgence and diminishes when restrained; . . . so surely must the things we call evil and immorality disappear; so surely must man become perfect.

     Darwin wrote with complete confidence: (6)

3. Calverton, V. F., The Making of Man, Modern Library, New York, 1931, p.2.
4. Bush, Vannevar, "Science and Progress," The American Scientist, April, 1955, p.242.
5. Spencer, quoted by C. H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1946, p.54, from his Social Statics.
6. Darwin, Charles, quoted by Bush, ref.4, p.242.

     pg.2 of 16     

     As all the living forms of life are the lineal descents of those who lived long before the Silurian epoch, we may feel certain that the ordinary succession by generation has never once been broken. . . .
     Hence we may look with some confidence to a secure future of equally inappreciable length. And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental environments will tend to progress towards perfection.

     Shaw, Galsworthy, Bennett, and Wells were all united in their belief in human perfectibility. Any undesirable aspects of human behaviour were due entirely to the incompleteness of the evolutionary process. In his Short History of the World, Wells painted a bright picture: (7)

     Can we doubt that presently our race will more than realize our boldest imaginations . . . in a world made more splendid and lovely than any palace or garden that we have known, going on from strength to strength in an ever widening circle of adventure and achievement? What man has done, the little triumphs of his present state . . . form but the prelude to the things that man has yet to do.

     Wells, like most of his literary contemporaries, was completely convinced that the evolution of man was an unquestionable fact. However, unlike some modern writers. he was completely logical in his deductions -- granted the premises. For he expressed a true theological insight when he wrote in his Outline of History: (8)

      If all the animals and man have been evolved in this ascendant manner, then there have been no first parents, no Eden, and no Fall. And if there has been no Fall, the entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason for an atonement, upon which current teaching bases Christian emotion and morality, collapses like a house of cards.

     But two world wars and the appalling evidence of Belsen and Buchenwald shook the confidence of such men as Wells to the very core. It seemed that the great promise of the future had been predicated on a very shallow veneer of civilization. Man was not merely an aggressive animal, which might have been accounted for as incomplete evolution, he was capable of a beastliness quite unknown in the animal world. Wells himself was completely disillusioned. He confessed: (9)

     Quite apart from any bodily depression, the spectacle of evil in the world -- the wanton destruction of homes, the ruthless hounding of decent folk into exile, the bombings of open cities, the cold-blooded massacres and mutilations of children and defenseless gentlefolk, the rapes and filthy humiliations and, above all, the return of deliberate and

7. Wells, H G, Short History of the World, Pelican Books, London, 1937, p.289.
8. Wells H G, Outline of History, new enlarged edition, edited by Raymond Postgate, Doubleday, New York, 1949, p.987.
9. Wells, H. G., The Fate of Homo sapiens, Secker and Warburg, London, 1939, pp.106-7.

     pg.3 of 16     

organized torture, mental torment, and fear to a world from which such things had seemed well nigh banished -- has come near to breaking my heart.

     In some ways Wells was more honest or more perceptive than humanists are at the present time, for he recognized and admitted a truth which is no longer admitted by many today who have apparently forgotten the lessons of those years. Not a few Christian speakers with liberal ideas are still fully persuaded that man needs only to be shown the way, and not a few scientists are persuaded that the real problem is a negative one -- lack of development. We are persuaded that we are after all, reasonable creatures. We are given adequate proofs that alcohol is a deadly poison or that tobacco smoke is carcinogenic, and what happens? The consumption of both steadily increases. The tragedy is not that men do not learn or that men are totally unreasonable; the real tragedy is that we still believe that man can be taught that reason is an effective guide to behaviour. All our therapy takes the form of educational programming on the ground that sin is merely ignorance.
     What is demonstrated is that man is totally irrational in his attitude and assessment of his own nature. He is a fallen creature with a heart that is desperately wicked above all else (Jeremiah 17:9) and a mind that has to be renewed (Romans 12:2). He
is in need of personal salvation in all his being, not merely some kind of assurance that he will not be punished if he feels sorry, as is so often presented as the Christian "gospel" today. Writing in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Clifford Geertz summed up what he was pleased to call "new understanding -- new evidence" under three evolutionary-based propositions regarding man's present position in Nature. The third was "the realization that man is an incomplete, unfinished animal." (10) In his A New Model of the Universe, Ouspensky held that while this is basically true yet man only advances his own evolution by deliberate action. (11) That is to say, that he tends by nature to regress, not to evolve. This is a little nearer to the biblical view of man, but Ouspensky was still persuaded that evolution will do the trick in time if man will only set his mind to it. And, of course, he has many supporters in this view, notably among the geneticists of whom Theodosius Dobzansky and Julian Huxley are perhaps pre-eminent at the present time.
     Reflecting very much the current evolutionary optimism, G. G.

10. Geertz, Clifford, "The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April, 1966, p.6.
11. Ouspensky, P. D., A New Model of the Universe, quoted by K. Walker in his Meaning and Purpose, Pelican, London, 1950, p.115.

     pg.4 of 16     

Simpson has been confident enough that man can improve himself, although he recognizes that it will require some effort. "Man has risen," he has said, "not fallen. He can choose to develop his capacities as the highest animal and try to rise still farther, or he can choose otherwise" (12) And Will Durant's conclusion, (13) as he summed up his massive History of Civilization (in ten volumes), was that "man's sins may be the relics of his rise rather than the stigmata of his fall." But on this point, Professor David Lack commented wisely, "The doctrine of the Fall is basic to Christian belief. The statement of Darwinists such as G. Simpson misses the point." (14) The fact is that man is a morally and physically sick creature whose sickness civilization has not relieved but armed more fearfully with every passing year. And Professor Paul Peachey, in an article significantly titled, "Toward an Understanding of the Decline of the West," observed, "The men of Dachau demonstrated in unmistakable terms how the fully autonomous human animal beneath a godless sky conducts himself." (15) There is little doubt that Dachau was in some sense a child of civilization. That it is possible to view the evidence of history in any other way only demonstrates that man is sick in mind as well as in heart.
     Christians are often accused of being quite unrealistic, of holding views about the true nature of man which are hopelessly outdated, of being kill-joys and pessimists, of holding a degraded view of "the natural goodness" of man, of denying that man has any innate nobility, in short that man is a totally depraved creature. This may be pessimism, but recent history has shown that it is the plain truth. In the article already mentioned, Geertz is quite prepared to admit that "culture is not just an ornament of human nature but an essential condition for it." He goes even further:

     Undirected by cultural patterns, man's behaviour would be virtually ungovernable, a chaos of pointless actions and exploding emotions, his experience virtually shapeless.

     In other words, man does not by himself and of himself behave well. He has to be hedged in and to some extent restrained by some artificial

12. Simpson, C. G., Biology and Man, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1969, p.148.
13. Durant, Will and Ariel, The Lessons of History, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1968, p.3.
14. Lack, David, Evolutionary Theory and Christian Belief, Methuen, London, 1957, p.10.
15. Peachey, Paul, in Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, vol.7, no.1, 1955, p.19. Under the odd title "In Bluebeard's Castle" The Listener, BBC, (March 18, 25 and April 1, 8, 1971), George Steiner deals at some length with the modern phenomenon of concentration camps in the light of the course of the history of civilization, pointing out that a people could be highly cultured without having a genuine sense of morality, and indeed while being totally indifferent or unaware of moral issues.
16. Geertz, Clifford, ref.10, p.6.

     pg.5 of 16     

means, otherwise he behaves very badly indeed. This surely does not speak very well for any basic goodness in human nature!
     William Temple, in one of his sermons in St. Paul's Cathedral (London), pointed out that war is not something that arises as an exceptional aspect of human behaviour but is, in fact, a genuine expression of human nature, of what is going on all the time within the individual. Man is only unnaturally at peace. Leon Eisenberg has rightly observed that although culture has brought some essential restraints to human behaviour, civilization has often had the opposite effect. Man's propensity for violence and aggression, which is chaotically expressed when governments break down, finds a kind of socially acceptable outlet when governments go to war. Hence war seems necessary every so often as a kind of safety valve. But it grows steadily worse as man's wickedness comes to maturity. "Progress" is still downward. He said: "Indeed, if we were to permit ourselves the argument that the more 'primitive' the society, the more true to man's original nature the behavior displayed therein, we should have to conclude . . . that war increases in intensity, bloodiness and duration . . . through the evolution of culture, reaching its culmination in modern civilization."
     How utterly unlike animal behaviour is human behaviour. It is not merely that man, like a domesticated animal whose instincts have been adulterated, behaves foolishly in the presence of threats to which he would have responded wisely in a natural state. Foolish behaviour can generally be corrected, and fools may become wise. But man apparently is not merely foolish. Even when he has behaved foolishly and suffered for it, he absolutely refuses to learn any lesson from it. He goes on making the same mistakes century after century, so that history repeats itself again and again. Toynbee has estimated that the world has seen twenty-one identifiable civilizations, each of which had a birth, youth, maturity, and final collapse. Essentially each of these twenty-one civilizations represents an unsuccessful attempt to make human selfishness profitable. Each society sought to manipulate circumstances so that the self-interest of each individual would be allowed maximum free play with minimum harm being done to the whole. Cooperation was not held up as an ideal which demanded sacrifice of self in the interests of others, but rather as an "intelligent" way of enabling each man to express his own nature to his own satisfaction to the fullest possible extent. This was "enlightened selfishness." It was contrasted not with unselfishness, but rather with selfishness which was so unenlightened as to interfere ultimately with any successful expression of self-will. Some restraints are necessary in order to allow everybody

17. Eisenberg, Leon, "The Human Nature of Human Nature," Science, vol.176, 1972, p.126.

     pg.6 of 16     

greater freedom. These restraints impel common men to behave, and to the extent to which they can be enforced men do behave. Thus, deceptively, civilization appears to set men in a good light, and people do not appear to be as wicked as they really are. When authority relaxes and the maintenance of these restraints is weakened, the fundamental wickedness of man begins to show up at once. So the goodness of man is apparent only.
     Herbert Butterfield, the English historian, was surely right when he said, "In some cases human nature looks better than in others because it can go through life without being subjected to the same test."
(18) People can be good by accident, and it often happens that accident favours those who have had better opportunity to be educated. In many parts of the world, and particularly in days gone by, the better educated were only so because they lived in more fortunate circumstances. So it came about that on a percentage basis more overt wickedness was likely to be found among those with less education. This led to the powerful but quite erroneous conclusion that education per se made better people. It may have made people better behaved but it did not necessarily make better people.
     The almost unending chorus of educators and sociologists extolling the essential decency of man if only given the proper environment and opportunity is so completely contrary to the real testimony of history that one can only account for it by assuming some form of mental block that has resulted, as Arthur Koestler suggests, from a defect in the circuitry of man's brain. Albertus Pieters was much closer to the truth when he spoke out of his own Christian experience:

     How this moral depravity seethes and boils beneath the surface of our outwardly orderly social life becomes instantly apparent when something happens to relax the restraining hand of civil authority. The Boston police strike, the San Francisco fire, the Galveston flood, the Tokyo earthquake -- on every such occasion, looting, stealing and murder sprung to the front at once.

     Had he been writing fifteen years later, he might have included the Watts Riot where people were shown on television driving up, nicely dressed, in their new Cadillacs, in order to load up their car trunks with loot from stores with broken windows. . . . None of us knows precisely what we are capable of doing if there is no danger of being found out and if everybody else is doing it. Misbehaviour seems to be the only kind of behaviour common to all men!
     This was interestingly borne out by the discovery by

18. Butterfield, Herbert, Christianity and History, Bell, London, 1950, p.44.
19. Pieters, Albertus, Divine Lord and Saviour, Revell, New York, 1949, pp.40, 41.

     pg.7 of 16     

anthropologists that the only universally observable patterns of personal behavioir which are essentially the same among all people are to be found among those who have rejected their own particular culture, due presumably to some mental defect. There was a search for basic human nature. The object was to find what man would be like if he did not have any particular cultural influences imposed upon him to mold his personality into conformity with some particular pattern shared by some particular group of people. What emerged from this search was the rather surprising fact that those who by their very abnormality have rejected their own culture (and would have rejected any other culture) tend nevertheless to be extraordinarily alike in their behaviour patterns, fantasies, and antisocial attitudes, no matter what part of the world they come from. In short, the only universal forms of behaviour appear to be those discoverable among people who are termed abnormal! These people behave in those odd ways in such a remarkably similar way that their behaviour patterns (whether harmful or harmless) can be treated descriptively in the same terms regardless of cultural background. Such people are acting, apparently, according to the true nature of man by having rejected all artificial restraints. Cultured man is not natural man. Natural man does not naturally behave in a cultured way. This is why Kroeber observed that the only discoverable forms of behaviour universally shared by men are not cultural at all. (20)
     It was once believed that much of man's misbehaviour was the direct result of the artificiality of civilized life, and certainly there is some truth in this. But men like Rousseau and not a few idealists since have held that if man would throw off all the restraints of civilization and return to a kind of idyllic nakedness within Nature, his life would be calm, peaceful, and full of beauty. Rousseau's idea of the "noble savage" was shared by many who had no first hand experience of primitive life. Unfortunately, because man is a fallen creature and not merely a backward one, his return to Nature is not a return to the beautifully informed and equipped natural life of the animals, but rather to the unrestrained condition of a creature essentially criminal

20. Kroeber, A. L., An Appraisal of Anthropology Today, University of Chicago, 1953, p.119. It seems to me that the universal categories of culture are unquestionably there but they are not cultural. . . It is important to recognize that things which underlie culture are not the same as culture. My own feeling is that these constants exist, but they exist on the subcultural level and that is why they are constant." The existence of universals in the symbolism of abnormal psychology is referred to by Dr. Ernest White, (Christian Life and the Unconscious, Hodder and Stroughton, London, 1955, p.18). The point is alluded to, interestingly, by Clyde Kluckhorn ("Universal Categories of Culture," in Anthropology Today, University of Chicago, 1953, especially, p.507).

     pg.8 of 16     

at heart. He becomes not free from sin, but rather free to sin. Clyde Kluckhohn put it this way: (21)

     When a person has surrendered much of his physiological autonomy to cultural control, when he behaves most of the time as others do in following cultural routines, he is then socialized. Those who retain too great a measure of independence are necessarily confined to the asylum or the jail.

     When the restraints imposed by a community are removed as in times of crisis (war or famine or disease on a large scale), then human nature is revealed for what it really is -- ugly. In his Christianity and History, Butterfield rightly observed: (22)

     The plain truth is that if you were to remove certain subtle safeguards in society, many men who had been respectable all their lives would be transformed by the discovery of the things which it would now be possible to do with impunity; weak men would apparently take to crime who had previously been kept on the rails by a certain balance existing in society, and you can produce a certain condition of affairs in which people go plundering and stealing though hitherto throughout their lives it had never occurred to them even to want to steal.
     A prolonged police-strike, the existence of a revolutionary situation in a capital city, and the exhilaration of conquest in an enemy country, are likely to show up a seamy side of human nature among people who, cushioned and guided by the influences of normal social life, have hitherto presented a respectable figure to the world.

     Butterfield concluded that "down below there slumbers all the time the volcano that lies in human nature." (23) In fact he suggested that the fundamental difference between civilization and barbarism is not that one represents inherently cultured man and the other uncultured man, but rather that in the former case there is a carry-over of social restraint which, tenuous though it is, prevents the natural barbarism that is in every one of us from rising to the surface. Undoubtedly civilization is a more pleasant condition and allows for the development in each individual of some expressions of goodness which might otherwise never occur. Yet in a sense it is a restraint imposed from outside of the individual even though he may by habit internalize it. Butterfield rightly warns against making the mistake of supposing that human beings are creatures "naturally civilized."
     One overt evidence that man is a fallen creature and not merely a highly organized animal whose evolution is at present incomplete, is the fact that without these cultural restraints, restraints which are not

21. Kluckhohn, Clyde, Mirror For Man, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1949, p.197.
22. Butterfield, Herbert, ref.18, p.
23. Ibid., p.31.

     pg.9 of 16     

known in the animal world (except in domestication), man behaves very much unlike the animals. It was thought once that "Nature was red in tooth and claw," a phrase coined by Tennyson ten years before Darwin published his Origin of Species. Darwin himself accepted this view of Nature and inoculated his readers with the same philosophy underscoring it by the terms "struggle to survive" and "survival of the fittest." It was, therefore, only to be expected that man should share this aggressive spirit to some extent and that when he acted violently he was merely "reverting to nature."
     In due course, lovers of Nature such as Prince Petr Kropotkin and others decided to see whether this picture of Nature was a valid one. They found precisely the opposite. Kropotkin wrote of this in his Mutual Aid in 1902,
(24) and since his time many others have underscored the truth of what he observed. One need only mention the works of L. Dice and R. Good, (25) Ashley Montagu, (26) W. C. Allee, (27) and many others. Again and again, with increasing frequency, students of Nature are insisting that animals in the wild are not aggressive in the human sense. A symposium "The Natural History of Aggression" at the British Museum in 1963 was reported on by D. Carthy and F. B. Ebling. The authors conclude: (28)

     Certain tentative generalizations can be made. The irrefutable and terrifying history of overt aggression appears to be essentially human. . . . Man's beastliness is not of the beast; to the anthropologist and the historian human, overt aggression may seem normal, but seen against the background of the animal kingdom from a point of view which cannot be avoided by the biologist, it appears pathological.

     M. D. C. Jeffreys observed also that "if man yields to the temptation to subside on to the 'natural' level, he 'makes a beast of himself,' but the beastliness of man is something quite different from the naturalness of the beast." (29) Man's aggressiveness, therefore, does not originate from an animal ancestry to which he is reverting. Sir Peter Medawar for example, observed: (30)

     Students of animal behaviour have described, analyzed, and then pieced together again a great variety of different kinds of instinctive

24. Kropotkin, Petr, Mutual Aid, reprint, Extending Horizon Books, Boston,1955.
25. Good, Ronald, reviewing "Natural Communities" by Lee R. Dice, in Nature, July 11, 1953, p.46.
26. Montagu, Ashley, On Being Human, Schuman, New York, 1951.
27. Allee, C., The Social Life of Animals, Beacon Press, Boston, 1958.
28. Carthy, J. D., and F. B. Ebling, "The Natural History of Aggression," Nature, Jan.11, 1964, pp.129-131.
29. Jeffreys, M. D. C., Glaucon, Pitman, London, 1955, p.5.
30. Medawar, P. B., The Uniqueness of the Individual, Basic Books, New York, 1957, p.137.

     pg.10 of 16     

action. Two conclusions which can be drawn from their work, though both are negative, have a profound bearing on human affairs.
     There is no such thing as an "aggressive instinct," and it is therefore altogether wrong to suppose that human beings can be its victims or its beneficiaries. There is no drive, no motive force in animal behaviour, that is discharged or gratified by the mere act of fighting.

     Medawar admitted, of course, that animals fight. They fight to establish territorial rights, to defend their young, to obtain a mate, and for a share when food is scarce. But it is evident that this kind of fighting involves no animosity whatever, for it ceases immediately when the point has been won, and the very concept of revenge appears to be entirely lacking. Animals play for fun, but they do not fight for fun.
     In his study of the prayer which Anglicans refer to as "The General Confession," D. R. Davies said:

     The most dramatic and easily understood demonstration of this quality of sin is war. Its falsification of intention is so obvious that it becomes visible to the most short-sighted. In this, as in everything else, war simply brings to the surface what is existing all the time during so-called peace.
     In war, a society's way of life comes to maturity. The mask is thrown off, so to speak, and processes hitherto camouflaged are exposed for what they are. . . War merely demonstrates, in a more concentrated form, what is happening all the time.

     In 1946 the Institute of Biology published a book entitled The Natural History of Aggression, edited by J. D. Carthy and F. B. Ebling. This series of Papers is an attempt to trace the evolutionary history of fighting behaviour in the animal kingdom. In his review of it, J. P. Scott, a psychologist, remarked: (32)

     As scientists began to make detailed and repeated studies of animal societies under natural conditions, certain general results begin to appear. One is that a well organized animal society in a natural habitat shows very little harmful and destructive fighting, even under conditions of great stress, as when attacked by a predator or subject to starvation. On the contrary, such societies exhibit behavior that would in human terms be called cooperative and even altruistic.
     Destructive fighting does appear when social disorganization is brought about by forcing strange individuals together and confining them in unfamiliar habitats.

     It may be that this latter circumstance is largely responsible for the mistaken picture of behaviour within the animal kingdom which is so widely held.

31. Davies, D. R., Down Peacock Feathers, Bles, London. 1942, p.52.
32. Scott, J. P., reviewing The Natural History of Aggression, in Science, vol.148, 1965, p.821.

     pg.11 of 16     

     In addition, of course, if an evolutionary philosophy is held as an alternative explanation to the Christian concept of sin, this particular view of Nature is likely to be seized upon as a basis for it. An interesting illustration of the effect of prejudice may be observed in the enthusiastic foreword which Sir Julian Huxley wrote to a book by Konrad Lorenz entitled On Aggression. (33) This volume was candidly reviewed by Sir Solly Zuckerman who found much to criticize in Lorenz' assumptions and conclusions: (34)

     Judged as a piece of writing, as a work of rich and compelling description, the book deserves all praise. But it is hardly a serious work of science, which one assumes is what Lorenz intended.

     Zuckerman's basic criticism hinges upon the fact that Lorenz has gone out of his way to try and explain what he considers are anomalies in animal behaviour as being demonstrations of natural selection at work. It is this same aspect of Lorenz' study that made Huxley so enthusiastic. A review of this same work by S. A. Barnett, which appeared in The Scientific American, is significantly subtitled, "On the Hazards of Analogies between Human Aggression and Aggression in Other Animals." (35) One wonders whether Huxley was at all aware of these criticisms, criticisms coming from men in essential agreement with the evolution of man but whose doubts on the sources of this particular aspect of man's unpleasant character bear all the more weight.
     J. L. Cloudsley-Thompson contributed an article in The New Scientist entitled, "How Aggressive are Wild Animals?"
(36) He was surprised after observing game animals at first hand, even carnivorous ones, "how little aggressive ferocity is to be found amongst them." He concluded by noting that "the concept of nature red in tooth and claw seems to be largely a figment of the imagination."
     Again, on the same subject, Leon Eisenberg in an article entitled "Can Human Emotions Be Changed?" wrote
recently in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists under the heading "Is Aggression Innate?" (37)

     The Freudian view generally has incorporated the doctrine of aggressive instincts in a timeless, unchanging, Unconscious. It can serve as the prototype of a prevailing doctrine of human nature. . . It is germane to our argument to examine the basis of Freud's views in some detail.

33. Lorenz, Konrad, On Aggression, translated by Marjorie Latzke, Methuen, London, 1966.
34. Zuckerman, Sir So!ly, reviewing "On Aggression," in Nature, Nov. 5, 1966, p.563.
35. Barnett, S. A., reviewing "On Aggression," in Scientific American, Feb., 1967, p.135f.
36. CIoudsley-Thompson, J. L., "How Aggressive are Wild Animals?," New Scientist, Marvh 26, 1964, p.822.
37. Eisenberg, Leon, "Can Human Emotions Be Changed?" Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Jan., 1966, p.29.

     pg.12 of 16   

To begin with, his doctrine assumes that the aggressive instincts are man's heritage from his biological origins; that is, such instincts are to be found in all animals and hence in man. . . The thesis is unsupportable. There is little in the way of documented evidence. . .

     He then pointed out that while the capacity for aggression is found in animals as it is in men, when animals are called upon to defend certain rights (mating, territorial, food), "there is no evidence that it is achieved by inner needs which require gratification per se." In short, man is an aggressive creature for reasons which do not appear to be related to what looks like a similar behaviour pattern among animals. History is filled with human atrocities which, as someone has pointed out, would make most animals ashamed to believe they had sired such a descendant. The record of man's behaviour throughout the centuries does not support the idea that he has merely relapsed. As Butterfield put it with cogency, "Those who do not believe in the doctrine of the Fall can hardly deny that human history has always been history under the terms and conditions of the Fall." (38)
     We have spoken much about war because it is in this situation that the artificial restraints of culture are lowest. If man really is getting better, more enlightened as the years go by, it should surely be reflected in his general behaviour as a warrior. But here we consistently meet with another setback to optimism, for although in centuries past wars were bloody enough and the heads of the enemy were piled up into pyramids, and children and babies were smashed ruthlessly, yet I think it is safe to say that in one respect modern wars have proved themselves even more barbaric. The enemy, in olden times, was summarily dispatched. It was not customary to torture people without provocation. What delight conquerors took in showing their superiority tended to be by displaying the overwhelming nature of their power. There was another way in which they showed their superiority, and that was by treating with great courtesy those who were their own peers among the enemy. Thus by an odd circumstance there were often two classes of people who tended to be spared, the princes and the paupers.
     With respect to the latter, the common people who were not directly combatants, there were as Davies has put it, what seem to us strange instances of long delays in arranging for the use of supplies accumulated on the spot until leave had been secured from the civil authorities to make use of them.
(39) Courtesy of this kind is noticeably absent in modern war.

38. Butterfield, Herbert, ref.18, p.106.
39. Davies, D. R., ref.31, p.92.

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     The same writer speaks of the chivalry and professional decency which characterized European wars in older times. He points out, for example, that at the battle of Fontenoy in the War of the Austrian Succession, when the English Guards came into contact with the French Guards, an English officer stepped out of the ranks and, bowing towards the French, said: "French Guards, will you please fire first." (40) As Davies says, "Can one imagine that happening today?" When the battle was over and the question who was the victor and who the vanquished had been satisfactorily settled, they all seem to have shaken hands and parted more like friends than enemies. In a work published from Athens in 1950 by the Christian Union of Professional Men of Greece, Towards a Christian Civilization, it is observed: (41)

     Considering how hostages were treated in ancient times, how Philip was treated when a hostage in the hands of the Thebans, we cannot help but compare such treatment, to our dismay, with that of hostages of the present times of which we have had so sad an experience.

     Toynbee in his Civilization on Trial pointed out how modern weapons have virtually eliminated nobility from war, recognizing the worth of persons which was one of the sole redeeming features of war in the past. The fact is that nowadays destruction can take place from such a distance and on such a scale that no one is any longer personally involved in the death of the enemy. This, of course, is unimaginably true of atomic warfare conducted with long range missiles. But Toynbee was, I think, mistaken when he then said: (42)

     If mankind is going to run amok with atom bombs, I should look to the Negrito Pygmies of Central Africa to salvage some fraction of the present heritage of mankind.
     The African Negritos are said by our anthropologists to have an unexpectedly pure and lofty conception of the nature of God and of his relation to man. They might be able to give mankind a fresh start and, though we should then have lost the achievements of the last 6,000 to 10,000 years, what are 10,000 years compared to the 600,000 or a million years for which the human race has already been in existence?

     Once again one detects a note of hope for the future based on some measure of confidence in human nature. The argument has taken an oblique direction. Man's aggressiveness, it turns out, has arisen from some unknown source: it is not evidently to be derived from the animals. However the feeling seems to persist that if animals are not aggressive as civilized man has proved himself to be, then more

40. Ibid., p.90.
41. Treatment of hostages: Towards a Christian Civilization, Damascus Publication, Athens, 1950, p.22.
42. Toynbee, Arnold, Civilization on Trial, Oxford University Press, 1948, p.162.

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primitive societies which are supposedly nearer to their animal ancestors than we are -- or so we have wanted to believe -- will not be as aggressive by nature as we are. Thus if all civilized people are eliminated and only primitive people are left to carry on, there is reason to believe, because they are different from us in this respect, that they will make a better job of preserving something for the future. This is the old appeal that misled Rousseau. What we know of primitive people leads us to suspect that they are just as wickedly bent as we are, but not provided with as many opportunities to express it nor armed with as effective weapons. When some of those social forms of behaviour which they still display towards one another and which we cannot help but regret having lost among ourselves, are really analyzed, it turns out that the motivation is, more often than not, very disappointing. I'm thinking particularly, for example, of their willingness to share with one another and their apparent unselfishness when supplies are low. It is somewhat disappointing to find how easily such admirable traits can be undermined, how very superficial they really are, how narrowly they are oriented, and how completely selfishly they are rooted.
     In their book Introducing Social Change Conrad Arensberg and A. H. Niehoff have made a study of some of the factors responsible for the breakdown of native culture in a society which is brought suddenly into contact with a much higher civilization:

     In all levels of society there are mechanisms for the individual to obtain the approval of his fellows. . . Most individuals seek approval which gives them prestige by methods which their society has defined. In cultures that are technologically simple, such as those of hunting and food-gathering peoples who do not produce a sizable surplus and a wide variety of goods, men are rewarded for generosity. This is probably the best way the individual can have his self-interest served. Where storage facilities are limited and inadequate, and where little beyond subsistence need is produced anyway, primitive people achieve a form of social insurance by giving to one another in time of need.

     Means of accumulation are no longer a temptation to make accumulation the symbol of prestige, so that giving rather than keeping becomes the rule, generosity serves more effectively than selfishness. In other words, generosity is not merely generosity for the sake of satisfying a neighbour's need, but for the sake of satisfying one's own. A cynic would probably say that most generosity is like this, and Ruskin went even further when he argued that "the rarest gifts of purest love are no self-sacrifice at all but merely self-indulgence." We thus have the anomalous situation in which a culture characterized by generosity

43. Arensberg, Conrad M. and A. H. Niehoff, Introducing Social Change, Aldine Publications, Chicago, 1966, pp.104, 105. 

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 may in fact be a culture dedicated to self interest -- an interesting switch!
     This possibility is surely reflected clearly in Paul's observation (I Corinthians 13: 2), "though I give all my goods to the poor, if I have not love, it profiteth me nothing." It may seem to profit a man in the judgment of the world, and in most cases the recipients profit or hopefully so, but without love it is doubtful whether the giver profits at all in the sense of being made a better person -- a fact which underscores the precision of statements like this in Scripture since the little word "me" is crucial to the truth of it.
     Wherever we turn, we seem to find the evidence always pointing in the same direction, always leading us to two conclusions, neither of which are popular, and both of which are either ignored or denied. The first conclusion is that whatever is wrong with human nature is not to be accounted simply as a throwback to his animal ancestry, for animals simply do not behave in the way that man does. Apparent parallels when examined carefully are not found to be true parallels at all. This first conclusion informs us that we must find the root of man's problem elsewhere. The second conclusion is that the sickness within human nature has a very positive character to it: it is not by default that he perpetrates his greatest barbarities, but rather as a rebel, as an act of defiance, often with a sense of delight at the time. We have the anomaly in Scripture of such a phrase as "the pleasures of sin." We sometimes put it, Vengeance is sweet. Surely this is something new in nature, a solecism.
     The Greeks thought that sin was to be defined as ignorance and that education was the cure. We all recognize perfectly well that we ourselves personally do the worst things that we do with the full knowledge that they are not the right things to do: knowing what is right, we still do what is wrong. Yet we pretend that other people do wrong things because they don't know any better. If human folly was the result of ignorance, history should show a gradual improvement of human nature. But, as we have already observed, even evolutionists themselves are a little less hopeful that the mere passage of time will any longer correct the situation. For example:

     That man is likely to develop his intellectual capacities in the direction of higher ethical standards and increased moral responsibility is more of the nature of a pious hope than a justified expectation.

44. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life, Arnold, London. 1953, p.181.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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