- Hits: 3304 3304
I distinguish between what spirituality meant to Alfred Wallace and what it means in most other instances.
Alfred Wallace's long embrace of spiritualism had a serious scientific intent. While he was convinced natural selection accounted in all respects for the evolution of all other species, he found it to fall short in the case of one--his own. Talents distinctive of civilization, particularly mathematics, art and singing, had arisen too rapidly to have been created by natural selection, yet in societies that had not become civilized these talents were not employed sufficiently for natural selection to have maintained them, even if they had been originally built into the species. Those talents he therefore believed had an independent origin. Spiritualism, a new fad in his day, might provide access to this other source. I see him paying attention to spiritualism as not much different from how we pay attention to study of the human genome today. I excuse him.
In most other instances, though, l think spirituality is a response to the decline of Christendom. Christianity, whatever its shortcomings, gave individual human life enormous meaning. One might for adequate reason abandon its doctrines but one could not so easily abandon the lofty expectations of meaning it left in its wake. The natural response is to attempt to come up with new meaning, harnessing to that attempt whatever source of authority remained, which for most of us science. As a result we have systems of auspices expressed in terms of vibrations and laws of attractions. And comforting new theories of evolution.
Theories of evolution that l categorize as human-tropic I see as designed more to elevate human status in the universe, to make us feel important as a species, rather than to account for the process of evolution itself. Theories involving spirituality are designed to give us new meaning in life, individually. An example is Teilhard de Chardin's Phenomenon of Man.
This category is intended for that and similar expressions primarily of a need for greater meaning in individuals lives, at the expense of observed fact and reason. This is not to say that theories of evolution that do observe fact and reason won't have implications for being alive, only that won't be the primary rationale for the theory.