19
二月

探索達爾文(續篇)

作者 : 雅帆   在 國際視野 A Global View

雅帆跟進網誌118《探索達爾文》,再敍述在舉行達爾文冥誕200周年紀念活動期間,所引發各界的一些有趣反應和討論,包括以下三個主題:

(1) 進化論的「物競天擇、適者生存」理念,如何引伸合理解釋人類社會的經濟活動;

(2) 達爾文與「活體解剖辯論」 (vivisection debate;vivisection–scientific experiments with live animals);及

(3) 進化論面臨人類活動由「生理性優勢」(Physiological victory) 趨向強調「社會性優勢」(Social victory) 所帶來的新挑戰。

首先,專欄作家「艾波雅」(Bryan Appleyard) 在今年1月11日《星期日泰晤士報》 (Sunday Times) 發表一篇文章,題為〈For God’s sake, have Charles Darwin’s theories made any difference to our lives?〉,評論達爾文進化論的「物競天擇、適者生存」理念,認為自然世界中「弱肉強食」的殘酷現象,若可從自然科學角度提供符合人類道德的辯解,則德國納粹魔頭希特勒 (Hitler) 透過毒氣大屠殺 (Holocaust),來實踐其種族優生 (Racial hygiene) 計劃,是否亦不過協助人類進化的一種體現?進化論的適者生存理論,早已習慣成為人類社會經濟活動中貪婪和互相殺戮的藉口。達爾文主義證明了人類並非大自然的主人;相反地,人類卻已成為服從大自然的僕人。這項另類觀點,值得多花時間深思。上述文章的英文版,節錄重點如下:

“ …… Almost from its first appearance, the Darwinian idea has been used to justify appalling behaviour. Herbert Spencer, the Victorian philosopher, seized on ‘survival of the fittest’as scientific evidence that there was a moral injunction for the fit to defeat the unfit. From this, many thinkers drew the idea that we could help evolution along by eliminating or allowing the death of ‘inferior’races or individuals.”

“This reached its deathly climax, via the work of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel, in Hitler’s statement of intent, Mein Kampf. From there it was but a short step to the Holocaust, which, among other things, was an attempt to aid evolution. Any hopes that we have escaped that dreadful phase are vain. How many times did the masters of turbo-capitalism of the past 20 years plead evolution and survival of the fittest as the justification for their cult of greed and cultural destruction? THE question nobody can really answer is: outside science, what difference did Darwin make? It is reasonable to answer: none whatsoever. Religion is as powerful a force in the world as it ever was, perhaps more powerful. Our rape of nature, our one true home, has accelerated. In the 20th century, technology extended our capacity for slaughter beyond imagination. Man still thinks he can be the master of nature, yet the one thing Darwinism shows more clearly than anything else is that we are its servants.”

讀者如有興趣參閱全文,可到訪《星期日泰晤士報》的相關網頁,網址是–
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article5488488.ece

雅帆反思,自然界的獅子撲兔,弱肉強食;戰爭中的毒氣殺人,暴戾不仁,兩者都是禽獸行為;人類為了生存和私利,日常生活的偷呃拐騙,經濟活動的爾虞我詐,難道就是文明社會的必然行為?再者,香港不過彈丸小地,資源缺乏,人口卻超過七百萬;假若人口繼續膨脹,則生存空間的有限,生活競爭的激烈,殘酷行為的出現,可以預見。香港人應該如何自處?週中互相詆譭排擠,週末教會誦經告解,便可心安理得,繼續「欺騙兼欺負」的自欺欺人?

進化論的「物競天擇、適者生存」理念,是否可以為所有這些行為合理解說?現今世界,捨仁義的變成強者,適合生存;講道德的淪為弱者,遭受淘汰,是否人類所樂見的進化結果?進化論的理論,是否適用於現代文明社會?欠缺的制衡又是甚麽?這是一個大課題,若然達爾文再生,恐怕亦要傷透腦筋。

其次,專欄作家「麥金泰爾」(Ben Macintyre) 在今年2月12日《泰晤士報》發表一篇文章,題為〈Animal rights – and wrongs〉,敍述達爾文曾被狠批褻瀆宗教及無神主義 (blasphemy and Godlessness),他於1881年與一名愛爾蘭裔女權主義和保護動物權益倡議人「考伯」 (Frances Cobbe) 各持對立意見,爆發激烈的「活體解剖辯論」。「活體解剖反對者」(Anti-vivisectionists) 提出抗議:既然人類與動物關連密切,則人類憑籍何等權力,要以其進化動物近親作實驗犧牲品?另一方面,「活體解剖支持者」則強調:由於人類與動物的進化近鄰關係,以動物作實驗,卻可為科學研究帶來禆益。

達爾文與考伯當年的爭辯沒有結論,自此128年來,兩大陣營代表在這個古老問題的辯論,從未間斷。然而,彼此仍不過堅持當年達爾文與考伯的原本論據,多年來爭議的觀點既缺新意,亦無妥協和解方案。上述文章的英文版,節錄重點如下:

“…… On April 18, 1881 a letter appeared in The Times under the headline ‘Mr Darwin on Vivisection’. It was an emphatic, wholehearted statement of support for the practice of experimenting on animals, but it went farther, accusing anti-vivisectionists of crimes against science. ‘I know that physiology cannot possibly progress except by means of experiments on living animals,’ Darwin wrote. ‘And I feel the deepest conviction that he who retards the progress of physiology commits a crime against mankind.’”

“Darwin insisted that he had always been ‘a strong advocate for humanity to animals’, but declared that experiments on them had already brought‘incalculable benefits’ to man and ‘the lower animals’. ‘Let it be remembered how many lives and what fearful amount of suffering have been saved by the knowledge gained of parasitic worms through … experiments on living animals,’ he wrote. Scientists like Louis Pasteur, he predicted, who had experimented with animals, would one day be recognised as ‘benefactors of mankind’.”

“The vivisection debate had been brewing for some time, in the wake of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Anti-vivisectionists argued that if man and animals were so closely related, then by what right did man experiment on his close evolutionary relatives? Supporters of vivisection countered that the very evolutionary proximity of man to animals meant that animal experimentation offered vast scientific benefits. ……”

“ …… Although almost forgotten today, Cobbe was an immense figure in Victorian Britain, both physically and intellectually, and the leading pioneer of animals right activism in Britain …… Cruelty to animals in the name of science was immoral, she insisted, eroding man’s natural sympathy and compassion: ‘What shall it profit a man if he gain a whole world of knowledge and lose his own heart and his own conscience?’ Like latter-day anti-vivisectionists, she also challenged whether vivisection really produced the medical breakthroughs its practitioners claimed. …… ”

“ …… The argument grew so acrimonious that The Times felt obliged to comment on the matter, noting that Darwin and his opponents had‘rekindled a controversy which is always sure to be intemperate’. The newspaper’s leader writer came down, with reservations, on the side of Darwin and the vivisectionists, arguing that, although inflicting pain on animals was shocking, individual scientists should be left to weigh up the importance of research against the suffering involved. …… ‘On the heart and conscience of physiologists rests the responsibility of deciding when and how the importance of the problem they are solving excuses the infliction of suffering upon beings without choice in the matter,’ this paper concluded. …… ”

讀者如有興趣參閱全文,可到訪《泰晤士報》的相關網頁,網址是–
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5711579.ece

其三,專欄作家「米奇利」(Carol Midgley) 在今年2月12日《泰晤士報》發表一篇文章,題為〈It’s obvious…. If Darwin were alive today, he’d be Simon Cowell〉,指出現今社會的人類行為,亦有進化論所未能完全解釋。譬如進化論強調弱肉強食,形體上優良的生存因素代代承傳。但現今已發展國家的經濟強者,卻放棄生理性優勢的追求,改為爭取社會性優勢。他們為保持優美體態,選擇節食瘦身,甚或整容改造;又選擇節育、拒絕生育、或改為收養下一代。相反地,經濟弱者卻可飽餐經濟強者留下營養豐富的食物,因而身強體壯,生育健康的下一代。

當現代社會人類活動的焦點,從生理性活動轉向社會性活動的新趨勢,則進化論的基本生物學理念,或許需要重新檢視、延伸及改寫。上述文章的英文版,節錄重點如下:

“ …… In centuries past it was easier to believe in concepts such as the survival of the fittest. If you had good-quality food to eat and a decent gene pool you flourished and lived, and if you didn’t, you withered and died. Simple. The ascending breeds were recognisable from having plenty of fat on their bones and a glass of fine port in their hand, denoting wads of money and a place high up the chain. The weakling underclass, too, were easy to spot because they were the ones with sunken eyes, stumpy teeth and xylophone ribcages who died at 25 because they had to last an entire winter on three turnips.”

“But not any more. Oh no. If we look again through the demented prism of the 21st century, we’ll see that the reverse applies. It’s not about survival of the fittest now but the triumph of the thinnest. Today, the second that people – especially famous, Western, female ones – acquire wealth, the first thing they do is stop eating, or, alternatively, gorge themselves on chocolate and regurgitate it all into their lavatories. Then they flaunt their skeletal frames in OK! and Heat magazine, usually with an oversized Birkin bag, looking just like the starving peasants of yore, for which they are roundly admired and envied.”

“Living through an entire winter on cabbage soup is not a sign of bereftness any more but of abundance:‘I’m so successful I can afford the time to starve myself!’ The more money you have the fewer offspring you tend to produce, lest you pollute the planet and are unable to afford that extra skiing holiday.”

“Meanwhile, it’s the very poor who have become fat, piling on calories with cheap BOGOF pizzas and fizzy cola and being followed round by TV documentary crews so that we can all sit back and gawp at the lardbuckets.”

“ …… Now that there are vaccines, medicines and life-support machines to help us to combat disease, the fight to survive, in the developed world at least, has become a bit too easy-peasy. So we have switched our fight from prevailing physically to prevailing socially. Having your toes straightened to fit into designer shoes or a couple of ribs removed to facilitate a waspish waist may weaken the body and make you not such a dab hand in the wild but, hey, think of the social victory. …… ”

讀者如有興趣參閱全文,可到訪《泰晤士報》的相關網頁,網址是–
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/carol_midgley/article5710513.ece

現代人類社會生活方式的改變與文明進步,導致我們必須對進化論的理念重新檢視和定位,才可透過不同範疇,解釋人類活動新趨勢,從而改善人類生活。達爾文進化論的概念容或尚有錯誤和不足之處,卻能激發後世學者的不斷討論與研究;再者,他勇於探索交流、創新求知,並推崇科學實證與維護思想自由精神,早已為世人樹立楷模。

備註:本文引述節錄自三位專欄作家「艾波雅」(Bryan Appleyard)、「麥金泰爾」(Ben Macintyre) 及「米奇利」(Carol Midgley) 分別刋載於《星期日泰晤士報》及《泰晤士報》的文章,謹此向三位作家及兩份報刋鳴謝。

這篇文章發表 於 星期四, 二月 19th, 2009 7:16 下午 在 國際視野 A Global View. 你可以回應這篇文章透過 RSS 2.0 feed. 你可以 留下回覆, 或 引用 從你的個人網站.

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