A Conservative Defense of Darwinian Evolution

By definition, conservative opinion aims to conserve knowledge rooted in the past in order to better understand human affairs, particularly with a view to current decisions affecting the future. A corollary to this definition is the conservative insistence on realism in political affairs.

Realism, not political correctness, is supposed to guide conservative thinking. How anyone can call themselves conservative yet brush off centuries worth of accumulated scientific research, paleontological discoveries, or cosmological observations in favor of patently absurd ideas about the origin of life on earth (which are usually taken from a surface reading of English translations of the Bible without any appreciation for the nuances of theology or historical scholarship pertaining to the origins of the Bible itself) is simply astonishing. How any conservative can subscribe to unrealistic fantasy in order to explain life on earth and yet still insist on realism in international relations or economics is a puzzling paradox to say the least.

America’s founding fathers, so dear to conservatives on most occasions, were all men of science. That their physics were Newtonian and their biology pre-Darwinian makes little difference: many of our modern presumptions about what is scientifically valid may also be modified as future evidence and data becomes available. For their time, men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison subscribed to the scientific method as the surest way of securing knowledge about the world. And while scientific data will always lead in new directions, the understanding and appreciation for scientific methodology must remain the cornerstone of a good education. This is why the founders uniformly advocated for a broad scientific education for all Americans.

That this entire line of thought is politically incorrect goes without saying. The emerging consensus in the United States is that different opinions exist on the subject of the origins of life: Darwinian natural selection, intelligent design, and creationism. This consensus is no less an immoral travesty than the political consensus that emerged after the American Revolution and before the Civil War that there were different opinions on the subject of the nature of blacks: the idea that all humans are created equal and the idea that blacks are slightly more intelligent than horses.

The dehumanization of black people, so prevalent in nineteenth-century America, was not an opinion—it was an evil, ignorant, abhorrent view that caused untold damage to American democracy and almost led to the destruction of the United States when its advocates left the Union to found a slave empire.

Likewise, the idea that intelligent design and creationism are plausible explanations for the origins of life on earth are not simply opinions—they are ignorant, abhorrent views that threaten American democracy because their perpetuation as academically acceptable alternatives in any state or county misinforms rather than educates the next generation of Americans.

We can only tremble when we consider the fact that when it was widely accepted that all humankind are created equal, the United States of America was born; when it was widely accepted that blacks were inferior to whites, the United States almost died in a horrible civil war. There were many good statesmen of abolitionist predispositions who, prior to the Civil War, attempted to find a compromise position between freedom and slavery for the good of the country. As Abraham Lincoln rightly noted, “A house divided cannot stand”—America would either be free, or it would end in favor of slavery. John F. Kennedy made the same analogy, citing Lincoln, during the 1960 presidential campaign. Ultimately, one way or another, truth must triumph or perish in favor of lies.

If modern America continues on the path of a politically correct consensus wherein the scientific view (Darwinian evolution) is given equal standing in schools to the ignorant view, or where evolution is not taught so as to avoid the controversy altogether, we shall one day wake up to find that the vast majority of the voting public are rank idiots incapable of intelligent debate, prone to believe wild fantasies, and easily drawn into ideologies posing as religions. In the case of those who would use religious freedom as an excuse to cull scientific education from the American educational system, allowing them to do so is imprudent and unwise. No serious theologian or Christian scholar takes the Genesis account to be literal. The Catholic Church teaches it is not and that Darwinian natural selection is the best scientific explanation for evolution. Science and fact is not a matter of faith, and the scientific education of children is a human right that any reasonable and loving religion would immediately acknowledge. America cannot long continue in this consensus between the scientific and the ridiculous.

So while we are busy making America great again let’s not forget that a great nation is not one in which schoolchildren are taught pseudo-religious nonsense about the origins of the universe, then sent into the world to compete with those educated in China or India who learn math and science rather than politically correct rubbish like intelligent design and creationism.

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