Culture & Ethics
Thanksgiving in the Light of Darwin’s Vision
Happy Thanksgiving — that is, in case you are planning to celebrate Thanksgiving in the way that we were accustomed to doing before 2020. For most of us, the holidays with friends and family from outside the confinement of your home are canceled this year. Like so much of our lives have been in the past year, they are locked down. With the COVID pandemic as an accelerator, we are seeing society shifted on a scale and with a speed no one could have imagined a year ago.
I first heard of what’s being called a Great Reset just a couple of weeks ago. It sounded like a conspiracy theory, but it’s far from that. It is spoken of openly by the likes of the World Economic Forum, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who explain that COVID was just the right occasion for redesigning society. Some put a time frame on it: a new world by 2030. As a Member of Parliament, Ida Auken, from Denmark explained on the WEF website, she expects by that year to live on a transformed planet: “Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city — or should I say, ‘our city.’ I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes.”
It’s all about the retraining of men and women in a way that we previously associated with — what? It reminds me of our own pets.
Animals have no property. We give them toys to play but they don’t own the toys. They have no have no privacy either. We don’t have much of that left ourselves. They are confined to our homes, for the most part, and trained to obey, much as we have been this past year. Dogs have their crates, their form of quarantine, for their own good! If need be, they are muzzled — again, as we now take for granted on social media and with other censorship. We make all needed decisions for our cats and dogs. In the language of our increasingly technocratic culture, we are their “experts.” We control their interaction with other animals, except when we bring them to the fenced-in “dog run.” For them, it’s all routine. For us in 2020, it’s increasingly so.
Our Discovery Institute colleague Wesley Smith has written trenchantly about the Great Reset (see here and here), observing, “When I was young, the watchword of the left was ‘question authority.’ Today, it is “‘obey authority.’” This vision, where humans are reframed in an extraordinary new light, may appear to have come over the horizon suddenly. In fact, it’s been a long time on its way.
Origin of an Idea
Where did the idea of people as animals come from? It may be the single profoundest consequence of the thinking of Charles Darwin. Darwin, ironically, stepped out onto the world stage, with the publication of the Origin of Species, on the day that would in the future be celebrated by all Americans as Thanksgiving: the last Thursday in November, 1859. He outlined a world of life without a source of design to which we could owe thanks. In later writing, he inveighed against the idea of a unique status or nature for humans. In the Descent of Man he asserted, “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties.” In the future, he wrote, people would find it “wonderful” — in other words, shocking — that anyone should ever have thought that in our origins we are anything but animals:
The time will before long come when it will be thought wonderful, that naturalists, who were well acquainted with the comparative structure and development of man and other mammals, should have believed that each was the work of a separate act of creation.
If humans are not exceptional or designed in a divine image, reflected in our own faces, it makes a certain sense to control and mask us.
This will be no ordinary Thanksgiving and it won’t be an ordinary Christmas. Locking down the holidays may well be vital. I don’t claim expertise about public health. It is, though, without doubt in line with the Reset. There’s no conspiracy but, instead, lines of thought in our culture, and prominent people openly wishing to act on what they see as in the world’s best interest. And when did pets need occasions for reverence, thanks, or worship, anyway? Darwin, I think, would understand.