The scientific paradigm is empirical materialism. And we’ll return to that in a moment.
The prevailing social paradigm for perhaps the last 150 years has been Social Darwinism.
What are its tenets?
Social Darwinism is the view that life is a struggle for existence. It sees there as being scarce resources for which we compete. And it predicts that only the fittest will survive.
It sees nature is red in tooth and claw. That is, nature is neutral and favors the strong. Whether that tenet is true or not, its implication is that the social environment is also red in tooth and claw.
Predation does exist in nature. To that extent it may be red in tooth and claw. But even nature is weighted toward the good and the benevolent. That is, while life forms may prey on each other, the natural order, the universal law, etc., though impartial, tends to favor the good. Here is Lao Tzu making this important observation:
“Impartial though the Way of God may be,
It always favors good men.” (1)
The fact that the natural order, or divine order, can be impartial and yet favor the good is a mystery that the spiritual student needs to solve. For free will to be allowed, impartiality has to be the case at the level of the Divine.
But for the purpose for which life was created to be served – for us to travel from God to God – the Good must also be favored. If life were not purposeful, this tendency toward the Good might not be the case.
So the mere fact that nature may on some level and in some ways be red in tooth and claw does not invalidate its pointing and tending towards the Good.
And the mere fact that the animal world features predation is no reason for the human world also to do so. Spiritual evolution lays down that it not be so. The human level of existence is there, I believe, to promote the ability to love one another, not to promote the ability to prey on one another.
The notion of spiritual evolution is what’s missing from the Social Darwinist interpretation. It emphasizes the physical but leaves out the spiritual.
Life forms evolve to higher and higher levels of divine existence. Human society is not and never was intended to be red in tooth and claw. That applies to its first tenet.
Its second tenet is that only the strongest survive. The weakest go to the wall. This tenet has never been observed in human society, although there have always been people who’ve tried to make it prevail.
Any kind of care-giving in our society – care of the young, the sick, the disabled, the poor, the old, and the dying – is a refusal to live by this merciless interpretation of life.
The weakest seldom go to the wall. The young are protected. The sick are tended to. The disabled are assisted. The old are cared for. And the dying are made comfortable.
If we knew that the dead live on in circumstances much preferable to the living, we might give them a joyous send-off. (2) I certainly ask for one myself.
I predict that access to the medical and hospital care system based on wealth is not a system that will last. Universal medicare is practised in many countries and is seen as an “enlightened” social approach. All citizens who live under such a system, when general economic conditions are not limiting, would never live under any other.
Education, roads, bridges, electrical, telephone, and water systems – all manner of projects are in whole or in part paid and provided for by society at large. If not these projects, then others.
The elites of society preach rugged individualism and free enterprise only as long as they’re winning. When they’re losing, they look to government to bail them out.
The bank bailout of former years is one example of this “free enterprise” while the rich are winning and “government assistance” when the rich are losing. They extract wealth from society while attempting to pass the costs along, which is one way the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Until now.
(To be continued tomorrow or preview in Part 2.)