The Western concept of progress is problematic in the scheme of the Afrikan worldview. This notion is connected to the larger concept of evolution. Evolution implies more than growth, but a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. In fact, this definition of evolution is nearly synonymous with the idea of progress.
In anthropology, these two concepts are especially inseparable. Progress is demonstrated apart from physiological structure, but in the ability to make tools. In this sense, the human being is the animal that transitioned from the animal that used (objects) tools to the animal that made them. According to anthropology, the simplest definition of the human being is an animals that has the ability to make tools. But this definition is materialist. Western science as a discipline only acknowledges the physical or material component of any thing as “real,” including the human being.
However, many cultures of the world define human beings as consisting of two fundamental components: matter and spirit. By the inclusion of spirit, we have introduced a metaphysical construct. Western man deals with measurable quantities, which means when viewed in a wider sense, he only addresses a part of the human being; his definition fails to incorporate spiritual qualities.
We must ask the question: how would one measure the spiritual capacity of humanity? Can we assess it through fossils? Unfortunately, we cannot, but we can learn about the human spiritual capacity through existing societies. More importantly, if material/technical achievement is the main indication of being “civilized,” then unwittingly, we have accepted an argument for white supremacy.
Unquestionably, Western man has built his civilization upon the foundations of Afrikan and Asian civilizations. We understand that all people have contributed to modern technological development, but Western civilization has created its rationale and has been its motivating force. Western man has a legitimate claim to superiority if we use his definition to define man because he has excelled all others as a tool-maker. So Western man can argue since I am the best tool-maker, I am the most evolved, therefore I am superior!
I believe Western man’s technical wizardry is undeniable; but at the same time, his spiritual destitution and “social barbarism” is equally undeniable, especially when we review the annuals of history. Or just ask the people who have suffered at his hands. According to various spiritual traditions, humanity is measured by its level of compassion toward its fellow beings, with likely measurements being the respect accorded the aged, women, children, and the degree of physical violence within society. You can add to this, the society's harmonious interaction with the environment. These are possible reflections of a society’s spiritual development. Though Western society claims it is making unprecedented “progress” in these areas, it continues to fail miserably in each category.
If you look at the state of the world can we say it is progressing. There are ecological problems such as Global warming, rising Sea levels, release of Greenhouse gases, Ocean acidification, environmental impact of the coal production, species extinction and endangered species, environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, air pollution, health impact genetically modified food, overgrazing, farming monoculture, pesticide drift, land pollution, desertification, soil erosion, contamination, and salination, Alkali soil, Nuclear fallout and meltdown, Nuclear weapons, Nuclear safety, radioactive waste management, biological effects of UV exposure, noise pollution, water pollution, Acid rain, Marine pollution, Ocean dumping, Oil spills, Thermal pollution, Mercury in fish, exploitation of natural resources, Cyanide fishing, Deforestation, Toxic waste and Toxins, such as chlorofluorocarbons, PCB, Dioxin, DDT, Herbicides, Pesticides, Electronic waste, Litter, and Medical waste, the extinction and near extinction of species. Then there are societal ills such as racism, neo-imperialism, horrific wars, numerous genocides, whole scale poverty, plagues and other maladies. This is progress? What confuses people is that technology is advancing, but can this alone constitute progress?
Progress, an idea based on a linear conception of time, implies time moves forward only and things will improve as time passes. Applying the Two Cradle Theory, we can see the notion of progress has an implicit pessimism, reflecting dissatisfaction with the present world and seeking relief in an unrealized future. The idea things will necessarily improve as they go on, ignores the fact that despite technological advancements, humanity will always be confronted with its human uncertainties, which produces anxieties. Anxieties over childbirth, sickness, aging and death will always exist. Additionally, human beings must always confront their “animal nature.” By this we mean, the excesses of his negative emotions, i.e., envy, hatred and the violence they can produce. This is the human dilemma: the constancy we must confront whether we live in space or beneath the sea. Material progress alone fails to deal with these very human concerns.
Looking to the Future
Since ongoing pollution and the depletion of Earth’s resources continues unabated, the West is in the initial stages of establishing colonies in the “final frontier”— outer space. Unfortunately, the same worldview, geopolitics, and leadership that despoil Earth will saddle space. Like Earth, outer planets will be plundered for material gain. And unlike in most sci-fi movies where racism and sexism are conspicuously absent, these societal maladies will undoubtedly persist. How can they not be “exported” when Western man has made little progress developing human beings and human relationships, here? Technology has exploded but human relationships have not blossomed similarly. To think that as humans “evolve” our behavior will instinctively improve, allowing us all to live more harmoniously, or that technological progress alone will eliminate existing system-wide inequality, and thus humans will become less selfish and more egalitarian, is erroneous. Only self-knowledge and human effort can improve individuals; not a supposed evolution or material progress.
If Western civilization cannot rid the world of the various "isms" it has created, then there will be no progress no matter how much technology advances. And because of this, progress, and for all that matter, evolution, is a fraud. Why is evolution a fraud, because it is the application of the concept of progress to species changes. If anything, evolution is a figment of the Western imagination, which its sciences are in desperate pursuit to corroborate and confirm.