Darwinian theory of evolution is one of the longest standing scientific theories to have emerged from the brain of a mere mortal human being. Constantly under attack since it was first announced in 1859 it has been changed, expanded, evolved, refined, and further illuminated but never successfully refuted.
It bothers me immensely that it is often accepted and understood better by liberals than by conservatives. It should be the other way around.
Rush Limbaugh, whose radio show I am a devoted listener, likes to say, “You’ll never convince me that human life just happened by random chance, without God’s loving hand,” or something to that effect. Another popular conservative radio talk show host, Mark Belling from Milwaukee, is a “young earth” religious believer. To him Darwinian evolution is a crank idea.
Dozens of conservative writers and acquaintances share these opinions. Since these are people of high intelligence and remarkable intellectual skills, their stance is deeply troubling to me. They sometimes seek to resolve intellectual conflicts that will arise in the mind of any thinking person with buttery concepts such as “Intelligent Design.”
One great exception to all this that I happily found is Kenneth Miller, a Phd microbiologist firmly in Darwin’s camp and author of a wonderful book from 1999 called, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. I don’t know Mr. Miller’s politics but he has the answer on how to be a Christian believer and an evolutionary scientist at the same time. His book dispels the myth that one must be conflicted over religious faith and scientific reason, because both may exist together but in entirely different realms of our big homo sapiens brain.
Conservatives should be natural Darwinians because so much of what conservatives believe about the social organization of human life on this earth is based upon concepts surprisingly similar to Darwin’s thought. Evolution by natural selection does not mean that human beings arose on earth by random chance. The only thing that happens by chance is random mutation. The natural selection or rejection of random mutations is not random at all. It exists within a structured system of keeping what works and discarding what doesn’t. It differentiates between what is beneficial and what is detrimental, trashing the latter and saving the former. Thus evolutionary change can advance in incremental steps and need not occur in one fell swoop. A nerve ending does not become an eye all at once, but slowly over a long time saving every mutation that enhances survival of the organism’s progeny.
Human social institutions evolve the same way. The evolution of money allowed people who live thousands of miles apart who don’t know each other and might not like each other if they did to exchange goods that improve each of their lives. The appearance of the letter of credit and Rothchilds’s bank allowed such people to engage in trade with each other even if they didn’t trust each other, and Bitcoin may do the same thing only better and cheaper sometime in the future. Transportation in crowded urban environments was made easier by taxis and Uber has arisen as an improved alternative. No one designs these sorts of changes. They happen seemingly on their own, by the spontaneous momentum of millions, not from the plans of a few.
Conservatives approve of this sort of societal evolution because they instinctively understand that Frederich Hayek was on to something when he said that the purpose of economics is to show men how little they know about things they imagine they can design. It’s time for them to think that perhaps the God they believe in might work in the same way because it’s the best way.
Now there is another wonderful new book to show conservatives how wrong they are about Darwinian theory by Matt Ridley, The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge.