[An expanded, corrected and illustrated update of this article appears in The Lost Inventions of Buckminster Fuller.]
According to a 1991 Gallup poll, 5% of all scientists in the United States are creationists. R. Buckminster Fuller was a member of that elite group. All quotes followed by a number in brackets are from Fuller’s book Synergetics.
Fuller claimed Darwin’s theory of evolution was false. Fuller described Darwin’s theory of evolution as “going from simple –> complex; amoeba –> monkey –> man” [229.02] and “survival of only the fittest species (and individuals within species)” [000.108]. Fuller also described Darwin’s theory of evolution as “an illusion that as yet pervades and debilitates elementary education.” [229.02] “My speculative prehistory has assumed (since 1927) Darwin’s evolution of life from the simple to the complex, accomplished through progressive agglomeration of single-cell amoebas, to be in reverse of the facts.” [Critical Path, page 7]
Instead of Darwin’s theory of evolution, Fuller supported a Lamarckian style of creationism (he did not use those terms). Lamarckism is the theory that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring. Creationism is the theory that humanity was created by God to fulfill a purpose. Fuller claimed that by Lamarckism physical characteristics could be bred into humanity but mental characteristics could only be bred out of humanity. Fuller also claimed it was possible for porpoises and whales had human ancestors who were particularly good swimmers.
It is easy to breed out metaphysical intellection characteristics, leaving a residual concentration of purely physical proclivities and evoluting by further inbreeding from human to monkey. (Witness the millions of dollars society pays for a “prizefight” in which two organisms are each trying to destroy the other’s thinking mechanism. This and other trends disclose that a large segment of humanity is evoluting toward producing the next millennia’s special breed of monkeys). [229.04]
We can comprehend how South Sea-atoll, lagoon-frolicking male and female human swimmers gradually inbred pairs of underwater swimmers who held their breath in their lungs for ever-longer periods, and after many inbreedings of largest lungers and as many outbreedings of general adaptability organic equipment, the progeny evolved into porpoises and later into whales. [Critical Path, pages 8-9]
Darwin was influenced by Lamarckism. After reading Robert Chambers’ 1884 book supporting Lamarckism, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, Darwin determined to put more care into his work than Chambers had put into his. Lamarckism claimed that animals gradually changed over long periods time, that different species had common ancestors, and that one of the forces that caused change in animals was the environment. But while Darwin claimed that animals unable to adapt to changing environments perished, Lamarckism claimed animals able to adapt flourished. While Darwin claimed the agent of change in animals was random mutation, Lamarckism claimed the agent of change in animals was a drive toward perfection. The fossil record and contemporary observations confirm the theories of Darwin and discredit the theories of Jean Baptiste de Lamarck. In mistaking the non-random survival of random mutations as a drive for perfection (“Evolutingly we always acquire the means to come closer to the truth” [542.06]), Fuller was mistaken.
Whales and porpoises and humans are all mammals. Whales and porpoises have an ancestor that walked on land, as do humans. But the last common ancestor between these sea creatures and one that walked on the land died out fifty four million years ago. Humanity has existed for less than two hundred thousand years. It is not possible that whales and porpoises evolved from humans.
Fuller claimed we could guide Lamarckian change through applying our intellect to problem solving. He claimed humanity exists because the universe wants us to solve problems.
Since experience is finite, it can be stored, studied, directed, and turned with conscious effort to human advantage. This means that evolution pivots on the conscious, selective use of cumulative human experience and not on Darwin’s hypothesis of chance adaptation to survival nor on his assumption of evolution independent of individual will and design. [502.23]
Humans were included in the cosmic system’s design to fulfill critical functions in respect to maintenance of the integrity of eternally regenerative Scenario Universe. To arrive full-blown and functioning in its cosmic role, humanity has been given the capability to inventory its tactical resources progressively and to reorient its functioning from an omniautomated behavior to a progressively more conscious and responsible behavioral pattern.” [ 265.01]
“Principles are entirely and only intellectually discernible. The fundamental generalized mathematical principles govern subjective comprehension and objective realization by man of his conscious participation in evolutionary events of the Universe.” [220.02]
Darwin’s theory of evolution is an explanation for why humans (and all other life forms) exist that does not include a supernatural element. Humanity exists without any particular purpose and without any claim to be special among all other life forms. Fuller disagreed, and in so doing is a creationist. Fuller claimed that humanity exists because an anthropomorphic Universe / cosmic system / God created us. We may have been placed on the Earth by this cosmic integrity Fuller also claimed humanity among all living things exists because we have a function, and that function is problem solving. To reject this destiny is to guarantee that humanity will die out. Fuller claimed humanity was discovering the principles of Universe / God and is therefore able to evolve.
So it could be that human beings, wherever they occur in Universe, may be introduced as a means of coping metaphysically with the most complex kinds of local Universe problems, so that each one of us is where the problem-solving of Universe is being transacted. If we were to think of ourselves as things – as china dolls, as kinds of china dolls that would just get smashed up or would just get worn or eroded away – that wouldn’t be very good thinking. It would be much closer to actual Universe to think of ourselves as an absolutely continuous complex process. We are quite possibly the most complex of the problem-solving challenges of the invention that is eternally regenerative Scenario Universe. In this way each of us might be a department of the mind of what we might call god. [311.14]
Generalized design-science exploration is concerned with discovery and use by human mind of complex aggregates of generalized principles in specific-longevity, special-case innovations designed to induce humanity’s consciously competent participation in local evolutionary transformation events invoking the conscious comprehension by ever-increasing proportions of humanity of the cosmically unique functioning of humans in the generalized design scheme of Universe. [165.00]
Science must be seen as a tool of fundamental advantage for all, which Universe requires that man understand and use exclusively for the positive advantage of all of humanity, or humanity itself will be discarded by Universe as a viable evolutionary agent. [826.05]
Humans, like the honeybee, are born ignorant, preprogrammed with hunger, thirst, and respiratory drives to take in chemical elements in crystalline, liquid, and gaseous increments, as well as with procreativeness and parental-protectiveness drives. With their directly programmed drives humans inadvertently produce (what are to them) side effects, which results in their doing the right cosmic regenerative tasks for all the wrong reasons – or without any reason at all. This preliminary phase of preconditioned human reflexing, while lasting millions of years, is a gestative-phase behavior that becomes obsolete as humans’ metaphysical mind discovers the principles of precession and discovers – only through vast, cumulative trial and error – the pattern experience of both terrestrial and cosmic ecology; whereafter humans will progressively recommit their endeavors in support of the recycling and orbitally regenerative effects, precessionally interproduced by all independently orbiting cosmic systems. This abrupt 90-degree reorientation constitutes the evolutionary stage through which humanity is now passing, wherein humanity will progressively exchange its exclusive preoccupation with self-preservation for that of supporting omni-inclusive, cosmic integrity. [326.13]
As noted in the present author’s essay Inefficient Nature, Fuller was an advocate of teleology. Teleology is the interpretation of apparent order as deliberate design. The observation of apparent order in Universe is interpreted as evidence of an ordering agent, apparent design interpreted as evidence of a designer.
Fuller might have resisted the title creationist. He resisted most titles, unless they were titles he coined for himself. He might have been uncomfortable with the company of fellow creationists, or proud to be seen again as an outsider to mainstream scientific thought. How much being a creationist is a mark for or against Fuller is left to the reader. But the fact that Fuller was a creationist is demonstrated in his own words.
– Trevor Blake
Trevor Blake is the author of the Buckminster Fuller Bibliography, available at synchronofile.com
Fuller, R. Buckminster: Critical Path. New York: St. Martin’s Press 1981.
Fuller, R. Buckminster: Synergetics. New York: Macmillan, 1975.
Fuller, R. Buckminster: Synergetics 2. New York: Macmillan, 1979.
Isaak, Mark: Index to Creationist Claims, Claim CA111. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA111.html
Wikipedia: Cetacea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetacea
Wikipedia: Human. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human
Wikipedia: Lamarckism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism
Wikipedia: The Ancestor’s Tale. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ancestor’s_Tale
Wilkins, John: Darwin’s Precursors and Influences. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/precursors/precurstrans.html
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