More Warfare Thesis MythologyA common misconception is that the origins debate is politically aligned, with those on the political right supporting creationism and opposing evolution, and those on the political left taking the opposite positions. But the origins debate is more complicated than this and here again it is helpful to understand the history of evolutionary thought and its religious foundation. A naturalistic origins narrative was advanced by 17th and 18th century Christian thinkers, who found divine intervention and miracles to be theologically awkward and unacceptable, not by atheists or political revolutionaries. Only much later did the left find evolution to be politically useful. The bottom line is that today evolution cuts across political boundaries, enjoying strong support from the political right, as well as the left. George Will and Bill O’Reilly are examples of center right commentators who believe the biological world spontaneously arose. So is Kevin Williamson whose piece in today’s National Review Online is yet another painful example political punditry gone wild.
Williamson’s article is on the seemingly never ending and controversial textbook selection process in Texas. But the piece is short on detail and long on generalities. As political pundits often do, Williamson judges the debate from afar with apparently very little knowledge of what its participants are actually saying. Those who doubt the reality of evolution are anti-science Evangelical knuckleheads, pseudointellectual dopes making misguided assaults, fraudulent and up to no good.
In case you didn’t get the gist, Williamson is all about the same old mythical Warfare Thesis. Science is slowly but surely discovering the truth such as, err, that the world spontaneously arose. Religion opposes such advances until it becomes enlightened and figures out how to deal with them. Today most religious people are confident enough in their faith that such minor bumps in the road do not shake their beliefs. They simply adjust their sights accordingly. But there are those few oddballs, such as the literalists, who just won’t to get on board. Their anti-intellectualism fights the tide of truth and makes us all look bad. They do not realize that there is no intrinsic conflict between science and religion or between evolution and theology.
The nineteenth century’s false history of science and Warfare Thesis myth, as advocated by conservatives such as Andrew Dickson White, is today’s truth. As Republican Judge John Jones of Dover fame explained, “I understood the general theme. I’d seen Inherit the Wind.” The Lawrence and Lee script has codified the myth for us.
Evolution is not a left-wing or atheist enterprise. It is a pervasive religious theory that has strong appeal across the political spectrum, regardless of the facts.