I know Allah would link this if he were here. It’s a rundown* of a debate within conservatism–NR’s gloomy gus John Derbyshire on one side, and religious conservatives on the other–about what Darwinism means for the conservative movement.
I think it means something very, very bad. Conservative Darwinists would like us to believe that because scientific evolution of species occurs, we must account for it in our political thinking. Nonsense. In matters of physics I accept the Theory of Relativity; it doesn’t follow that I accept Moral Relativism.
Conservatives, atheist and religious alike, believe that human nature and human interactions are, to quote Thomas Hobbes, solitary, poor, treacherous, dumb, nasty, smelly, sleazy, sleepy, Doc, and grumpy. Technology may change, but we do not.** The extent of those flaws and the reasons for them may be up for a little debate, but none of us see humans as perfectible. That is the hubris of Progressivism–in which a Gnostic certainty prevails among the ‘enlightened’ about the proper direction of mankind’s journey from the mud to the stars–and about their special obligation to get us there whether we want to go or not.
It was also the hubris of the eugenics movement and their nightmarish progeny.***
There is a point to be made here about the serious nature of this debate, with fundamentalists on both sides. I see it every time this subject comes upon blogs, especially here, as comment threads quickly degenerate into “If you would just READ the FOSSIL RECORD…” shouted back and forth. I’m SO SICK OF IT and it’s alienating a lot of people who ought to be conservatives and the New York Times is pointing and laughing at us. So please just stop it. Please, try to figure out what unites us and what people who call themselves conservatives have in common.
That said, though, I don’t think a love of social Darwinism should be a part of it at all.
* This was a pretty good job by the NYT of covering conservative news, I thought. Usually their coverage of conservative issues (as with much of the MSM) has a “Gorillas in the Mist” quality to it. Ironically this one didn’t, and on an issue about which there is so much left-wing blue state contempt; reporter Patricia Cohen simply reports both sides of the debate. It is appreciated.
** Maybe we do change, slowly, infinitesimally. I doubt it. I think the flaws in our nature are spiritual and are therefore immune to the ministrations of technocracy.
*** If you just click on one of these links, click that one.