George Monbiot
 "A life with no purpose"

 最初に、「インテリジェント・デザイン」論を称揚するアメリカの"Christian Taliban"について、

All is not lost in America. When George Bush came out a couple of weeks ago in favour of teaching "intelligent design" - the new manifestation of creationism - the press gave him a tremendous kicking. The Christian Taliban have not yet won.

But they are gaining on us. So far there have been legislative attempts in 13 states to have intelligent design added to the school curriculum. In Kansas, Texas and Philadelphia, it already has a foot in the door. In April a new "museum of earth history" opened in Arkansas, which instructs visitors that "dinosaurs and humans did coexist", and that juvenile dinosaurs, though God forgot to mention it, hitched a ride on Noah's Ark. Similar museums are being built in Texas and Kentucky. Some 45% of Americans, according to a Gallup poll last year, believe that "human beings did not evolve, but instead were created by God ... essentially in their current form about 10,000 years ago".

And not just in America. Last month Vienna's Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, asserted that "any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science". He appears to have the support of the Pope. Last week the Australian education minister, Brendan Nelson, announced that "if schools also want to present students with intelligent design, I don't have any difficulty with that". In the UK, the headmaster of one of Tony Blair's new business-sponsored academies claims that evolution is merely a "faith position".

The controversy fascinates me, partly because of its similarity to the dispute about climate change. Like the climate-change deniers, advocates of intelligent design cherry-pick the data that appears to support their case. They ask for evidence, then ignore it when it's presented to them. They invoke a conspiracy to explain the scientific consensus, and are unembarrassed by their own scientific illiteracy. In an article published in the American Chronicle on Friday, the journalist Thomas Dawson asserted that "all of the vertebrate groups, from fish to mammals, appear [in the fossil record] at one time", and that if evolution "were true, there would be animal-life fossils of particular animals without vision and others with varying degrees of eye development ... Such fossils do not exist". (The first fish and the first mammals are in fact separated by some 300m years, and the fossil record has more eyes, in all stages of development, than the CIA).

 Monbiot氏がダーウィニズムに見出したものは、生存競争でも自然選択でもなく、寧ろ"Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that - for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims - have developed the ability to speculate. After a few score years, the molecules disaggregate and return whence they came."ということである。曰く、

As a gardener and ecologist, I find this oddly comforting. I like the idea of literal reincarnation: that the molecules of which I am composed will, once I have rotted, be incorporated into other organisms. Bits of me will be pushing through the growing tips of trees, will creep over them as caterpillars, will hunt those caterpillars as birds. When I die, I'd like to be buried in a fashion which ensures that no part of me is wasted. Then I can claim to have been of some use after all.

Is this not better than the awful lottery of judgment? Is a future we can predict not more comforting than one committed to the whims of inscrutable authority? Is eternal death not a happier prospect than eternal life? The atoms of which we are composed, which we have borrowed momentarily from the ecosphere, will be recycled until the universe collapses. This is our continuity, our eternity. Why should anyone want more?

 ところで、エッセイの後半で言及されているDaniel Everettという人類学者*2が調査した南米アマゾン流域に生きるPiraha人の言語というのはちょっと凄いようです*3

"Life without numbers in a unique Amazon tribe" http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040820/NUMBERS20/TPScience/

Diane Dobry
"Study of obscure Amazon tribe sheds new light on how language affects perception"

Mark Liberman
"One, two, many -- or 'small size', 'large size', 'cause to come together'?"


 Giles Fraser
"The idolatry of holy books"


Even so, Islam already resembles a reformed religion a great deal more than Rushdie acknowledges. Reformation pamphleteers railed against the papacy as the whore of Babylon, yet there is no equivalent centralised authority in Islam. Nor is there a hierarchical clerical establishment. The sober dress of Muslim leaders and the absence of fancy vestments to mark them out as special are clearly reminiscent of post-Reformation austerity.

Iconoclasm is at the heart of the Abrahamic faiths and is as old as the Ten Commandments. Long before Marxists such as Georg Lukacs started warning about reification - turning something living into a thing or commodity - the Abrahamic faiths knew that God necessarily remains beyond the reach of human formulation and therefore sharp and circumscribed descriptions are bound to mislead. Making God into some sort of thing, giving God a definite shape and category, is to supplant the essentially mysterious with a dangerous human fabrication, a golden calf.
このようなことは、例えばウェーバーの『古代ユダヤ教』とかバーガーの『聖なる天蓋』を読んだことのある人にとっては〈復習〉に属する事柄だろう。縮めて言えば、"The moral of iconoclasm is that we must distrust our images, even our treasured mental images, of the divine"ということになる。だから、宗教改革の中で、多くのステンド・グラスが破壊されたが、それは(少なくとも主観的には)"an act of cultural vandalism"ではない−−"they wanted to warn against falling in love with our images of God - infused as they are with our own political and social agendas - rather than with the utterly mysterious God who can never be captured in paint or statue or concrete." Fraser氏は、こうした偶像破壊的な態度が「宗教的テクスト」に適用された場合、「宗教的確信の中に」「謙虚さ(modesty)」が芽生えるのだという−−"No true iconoclast could ever believe he knew God's mind sufficiently to plant a bomb on a tube."というわけである。しかし、実際のところ、宗教改革者たちは「テクストは偶像破壊的な脱構築を要請する」ということは認めなかった*5。つまり、「イメージ=偶像の崇拝」が「書物の崇拝」に替わったのである。そうすると、ラシュディの呼びかけは、"dangerously reinforces the tendency for religions such as Christianity and Islam to make a fetish of the written word - presumably hardly Rushdie's intention at all."という逆説的な帰結をもたらしてしまうことになる。では、如何にして「書物の崇拝」を相対化するのか。



*1:"the Creation Truth Foundation"のG Thomas Sharp会長の言葉が引用されている−−"if we lose Genesis as a legitimate scientific and historical explanation for man, then we lose the validity of Christianity." 超越的であるある筈の宗教的真理が経験的な真理である自然科学に依存してしまうというパラドックス

*2:Monbiot氏は「人類学者」としているが、Geoffrey K. Pullum"The Straight Ones: Dan Everett on the Piraha"によれば、専攻は音韻論と音声学で、大学の所属も「言語学・英語学科」である。

*3:Everett氏の論文はCurrent Anthlopologyに掲載されているようだ。

*4:See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/uk/4140540.stm