Darwinocracy: The evolution question in American politics
Amanda Read is a columnist for the Communities at The...
OHATCHEE, Al. September 3, 2011 — In Going Rogue: An American Life, Sarah Palin recounts the vetting process she experienced before she was selected to be the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008. While being interviewed as a potential candidate for the McCain campaign, all went smoothly until something made the McCain staffers wince.
“I had just dared to mention the C-word: creationism,” wrote Palin, the daughter of a science teacher. “But I felt I was on solid factual ground.”
During the Delaware senate race of the 2010 midterm elections, Chris Coons ordered Christine O’Donnell to “come clean” with voters during a debate. When O’Donnell insisted she had already come clean on every position, Coons mustered up the most devastating, scandalous, humiliating, skeleton-in-the-closet-detecting litmus test he could think of: “Do you believe in evolution?”
Recently, a woman parroted the same query over her little boy’s shoulder to Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. The Texas Governor dared to affirm some skepticism of evolution, calling it a theory that has “got some gaps in it.”
(That same day, Jon Huntsman, the Obama-appointed ambassador to China and moderate Republican candidate, quickly disassociated himself from that perspective by telling the world via Twitter that he believes in evolution.)
Atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins promptly scolded Perry and the Republican Party for its lack of intelligence, particularly in having the audacity to not swallow Darwinian evolution hook, line and sinker.
He told The Washington Post that “the ‘evolution question’ deserves a prominent place in the list of questions put to candidates in interviews and public debates during the course of the coming election.”
Dawkins, ever the political scholar in touch with America’s needs, also criticized the American political process: “There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.”
I’m not aware of any historically successful Darwinocracy, so there is no telling what substitute system the professor would prefer.
On the Origin of Species had not been written when the American system was being crafted, so the American founders didn’t have to kiss the ring of the British theology-student-turned-naturalist who wrote it.
Various studies conclude that a well-sized slice of the American public doubts “evolution”. If that is true, I don’t find it too surprising coming from an American society that descends from revolutionaries who were skeptical of establishments. We could easily be wary of scientific or academic as well as political and religious establishments, if any start looking authoritarian enough.
But for some, the Darwinist establishment is very desirable – and questioning it is virtually a crime.
When Chinese paleontologist Jun-Yuan Chen’s criticism of Darwinian predictions about the fossil record was met with dead silence from a group of scientists in the U.S., he quipped that, “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government; in America you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.”
In the book God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? by Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox (whom I interviewed a few months ago), Lennox observes how interesting it is that Darwinian evolution has become an inextricable aspect of some worldviews:
“In the contemporary scientific world we thus have the very unusual situation that one of science’s most influential theories, biological macroevolution, stands in such a close relationship to naturalistic philosophy that it can be deduced from it directly – that is, without even needing to consider any evidence, as the ancient arguments of Lucretius plainly show. This circumstance is extraordinary since it is very difficult to think of another scientific theory that is in a similar position.” (Page 98)
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