Split Emerges as Conservatives discuss Darwin
I read this article today with some interest. It opens with this two paragraph quote:
I guess it's good that these three politicians are honest about their beliefs, and I guess I am not necessarily surprised about the Kansas connection here, but it is disappointing when political leaders don't want to accept knowledge about biology that has led to improvements in our understanding of disease, and thus has prolonged their own lifespans.Evolution has long generated bitter fights between the left and the right about whether God or science better explains the origins of life. But now a dispute has cropped up within conservative circles, not over science, but over political ideology: Does Darwinian theory undermine conservative notions of religion and morality or does it actually support conservative philosophy?
On one level the debate can be seen as a polite discussion of political theory among the members of a small group of intellectuals. But the argument also exposes tensions within the Republicans’ “big tent,” as could be seen Thursday night when the party’s 10 candidates for president were asked during their first debate whether they believed in evolution. Three — Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado — indicated they did not.
I'm definitely not surprised about the views of "the Decider", as I've heard them before. It is nice to see other conservatives come out in opposition to these views. These conservatives I believe can be classified as the classical fiscal conservatives, who became conservatives because of economic thinking and not religious thinking. There is a split within the Republican party in the US between these two camps that has long been papered over.Debates over Darwinism became more pointed in 2005, however, as school districts considered teaching intelligent design, and President Bush stated that it should be taught along with evolution. The conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote in Time magazine that to teach intelligent design “as science is to encourage the supercilious caricature of America as a nation in the thrall of a religious authority.” George F. Will wrote that Kansas school board officials who favored intelligent design were “the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people.”
I'm definitely not surprised about the views of "the Decider", as I've heard them before. It is nice to see other conservatives come out in opposition to these views. These conservatives I believe can be classified as the classical fiscal conservatives (my term), who became conservatives because of economic thinking, and not religious thinking. There is a split within the Republican party in the US that has long been papered over, between these two camps.
In principle I do agree with the "nature is morally neutral" comment. I'd hate for us to be getting our morality from the praying mantis, or to structure our societies like bee colonies. This idea, discussed in the article, that conservatism can use Darwinism to justify its positions, seems off-base to me. One should base one's political philosophy, it seems to me, upon what one thinks, or believes, or establishes is better for society, in terms of structure and flow.To many people, asking whether evolution is good for conservatism is like asking if gravity is good for liberalism; nature is morally neutral. Andrew Ferguson in The Weekly Standard and Carson Holloway in his 2006 book, “The Right Darwin? Evolution, Religion and the Future of Democracy,” for example, have written that jumping from evolutionary science to moral conclusions and policy proposals is absurd.
Nevertheless, the debate is a healthy one. Perhaps American society, and by parental association western society, is preparing itself to lift its eyes back up towards the horizon. One can always hope.