Man’s emergence from the Paleolithic is both his entrance
into history and his attempt to discover the meaning of that transition. The
search for the significance of history and the resolution of its enigma is the
most existential commitment of man and his most ancient of legacies, the
question of Gilgamesh
himself. The quest for some pattern
in the surface incoherence of historical events takes form with the birth of
civilization and the invention of writing
, and inspires the traditions of sacred history, reborn in the secular
philosophy of history
, then challenged and recast by the idea of evolution.
The discovery of evolution
is the gateway to its greater
significance, the great clue, yet in revealing the unknown the idea of evolution
is still confronted by the mystery of the known, man in history. The idea of
evolution seems destined to fulfill the ancient hope in its new form by its
revolutionary transformation of our perspectives of deep time. Indeed it is a
precondition and foundation for any enquiry into man’s origins And yet this
ambition to claim man’s view of his nature by the very invocation of universal
evolution at first merely compounds the enigma and demands the answer of one and
the same riddle, as universal history, that has always accompanied the chronicle
of kingdoms, states, and empires.
Even as evolution yields one part of the riddle of history,
it is history, ironically, that yields us a further clue to evolution, and to
the unobserved drama of man’s transition from the lost world of his
evolutionary infancy. As we observe the eonic effect, we begin to see, or
detect, an ‘evolutionary’ process in the ‘rolling out’ of emergent
civilization. This effect is too massive, and too high-level to coexist with
what is currently claimed as explanation, even if we grant the possibility of
confusing cultural and biological evolution. In many ways, history is a crucial
test for any theory of the descent of man, the only record at close range, at
the level of centuries that man has of the evolution of anything. The reason
lies in a subtle contradiction in our thinking concerning the relationship of
history to evolution, with particular regard to our freedom and ideas of that.
The eonic effect highlights a discrepancy. Although man at the beginning of
history has a clear dimension of ‘freedom’, this is limited, and the overall
development of civilization shows a clear ‘helper’ evolution. Can we suppose
that much earlier men succeeded without this?
Current thinking on the subject of evolution derives, of
’s Origin of Species
with its theory of natural selection
, and this has become the source of many controversies. The basic Darwinian
viewpoint was always open to severe challenge on this issue of natural
selection. The problem is that the mechanism of natural selection
is pushed to extremes as a total
explanation, unwittingly provoking a disguised metaphysics.
In general, theories of evolution suffer the inherent limitation of
insufficient evidence, and generalize inferentially about great eras in the past
that are not the result of direct observation, our hurricane argument. This lack
of evidence makes theory subject to unconscious derivation from prior
assumptions about what constitutes naturalistic explanation. And these tacitly
foreclose the range of mechanism discoverable.
One such assumption is that no rapid acceleration of change
can occur in the intervals in the fossil record. Here the controversies over
mechanism become acute, in the difficulty of resolving the great unknown, deep
time, to a fine grain. What constitutes naturalistic explanation cannot be
specified in advance, for we might expect to discover new extensions that were
unforeseen in the basic assumptions. Let us note that the processes seen in the
are easily seen to be present at
earlier stages of evolution. We are to assume natural selection
is the key, but it doesn’t take
much to find evidence resembling what we see in history. We can use the evidence
for a ‘Great Explosion’ to provoke a stalemate with Darwinists.
Great Explosion Evolutionary theorists have longed puzzled over the sudden
advance complete by ca. 50000 (?) years ago at the point man seems to have
crossed a threshold to become the recognizably human cultural being that he is
in terms of language and culture. This is often pegged as high-level cultural
evolution, with or without a mutation claim, visible in language, art, and
technical achievement. At one and the same time this data is matched with claims
for an earlier breakthrough for the ‘anatomically modern man’, e.g. ca.
–150000 (?). The speculative misuse of such data understandably creates
caution in (otherwise incautious) Darwinists, and clarifying the relation of
slow to sudden evolution requires far more data that we have at present. But
these two factors together suggest a quite tantalizing case of something like
our relative transformations, which reconcile the chronic debate over
slow versus sudden change. None of these claims has any data at the level of
centuries, while we can see now that that is likely to be crucial. Our eonic
pattern is probably double the size of its visible five thousand year range.
This is a huge segment of history, but virtually nothing in the scale of deep
Our method shows us the dangers of speculation without
data at the level of centuries for minimum five thousand year intervals. We
are not going to speculate here, but since
did speculate and thought natural selection (the issue of sexual selection
apart) is the key, we can equally well wonder if earlier evolution resembled the
The eonic pattern shows the ability to focalize rapid
evolutionary change in isolated geographical regions, and to stage distributed
evolution from that source. Further this ‘evolution of some kind’ is
primed to ‘evolve’ all the factors of culture comprehensively. This
seeding process can, within several centuries, ratchet flagship populations to a
new stage of culture on the spot. The nudging eras of fast change are followed
up several millennia later with successor periods.
We should note the compressed timeframe for some very big
advances. We can simply consider the data of the eonic effect beside this
spontaneous claim for a ‘Great Explosion’, as a rival challenge seeking
, and can demand that Darwinists not assume therefore what they have not proven
when their own data suggests something different.
Anyone who considers current literature suspects fudged
timing here, quite apart from the near total absence of decent data. It is
almost impossible to conclude anything from skeletal or genetic remains. In
fifty thousand years since the putative Great Explosion man’s evolution by
genetic drift is considerable, but in no sense fundamental. A mere doubling of
this time period gets us back to the dawn of anatomically modern man. It is hard
to assess these intervals, but one thing is sure, Darwinian thinking doesn’t
add up. Everything in the data suggests we are missing a highly compressed
period of rapid transformation, this not being contrary to slow change in the
intervals in between. It is impossible to argue with Darwinian true believers.
But let us at least not be browbeaten into their dogmatic thinking.