I read with what would be despair if I cared enough that the courts, this time in Pennsylvania, are again getting their knickers in a knot over Evolution. Oh help. There must be another planet somewhere upon which to hide. Oprah, Rush Limbaugh, singing commercials, delayed flights, and Evolution. Anyway:
Why, oh why, are the curricula of the schools the business of the courts? If Pennsylvania wants to mention Creationism, or to require three years of French for graduation, it seems mightily to me that these things are the business of parents in Pennsylvania. Yes, I know: In practice, both freedom of expression and local government are regarded as ideals greatly to be avoided. The desire to centralize government, impose doctrine, and punish doubt is never far below the surface, anywhere. Thus our highly controlled media, our hate-speech laws, our political correctness and, now, Evolutionary Prohibition. The Catholic Church once burned heretics. The Church of Evolution savages them in obscure journals and denies them tenure and publication. As a heretic I believe that I would prefer the latter, but the intolerance is the same.
I note that Compulsory Evolutionists are fellow travelers of the regnant cultural Marxism, though I don’t think that they are aware of it. They display the same hermetic materialism, the same desire to suppress dissent by the application of centralized governmental power, the same weird hostility to religion. They do not say, I think Christianity is nonsense and will therefore ignore it, but rather These ideas shall not be permitted. The justification often is pseudo-constitutional: the separation of church and state. Neither the phrase nor the idea is found in the Constitution. If, for example, it is unconstitutional to have a nativity scene on a town square, why did no one notice this, certainly to include the Founding fathers, until at least 1950? One might point out, fruitlessly, that Creationism, communism, Christianity, and capitalism are all major intellectual currents and therefore ought to be explained to the young. Not likely. The free market of ideas applies only to one’s own ideas.
Now, what grave consequences are thought to await if children hear briefly in school an argument that they have heard a dozen times in the course of ordinary life? Will the foundations of civilization crack? The birds of the air plunge, appalled, to earth? The planets shudder in their orbits and fall inward in dismay? Surely everyone short of the anencephalic knows of Creationism.
Or is it thought that kids attracted to the sciences will abruptly change their course through life and enter the clergy? That applications to graduate school in biochemistry will cease? Children learn (or did) of the Greek gods and goddesses, and that ancient people believed that the earth rode on the back of a giant turtle. I have not heard that they now sacrifice oxen to Athena.
One plausible explanation for this rigid evolutionary monotheism, though I think an incorrect one, is a fear that the children might come to believe in Creationism. Unlikely, but again, so what? A belief in Creationism does not prevent one from working in the sciences. A goodly number of scientists, to include biochemists, are in fact Christian and, some of them, Creationists. Others presumably are Buddhists or Hindus. The only thing for which acceptance of Creationism renders one unsuitable is Evolutionism.
A more likely explanation is a fear that children might realize that a great deal of Evolution, not having been established, must be accepted on faith, and that a fair amount of it doesn’t make a lot of sense. While Creationism is unlikely to convert children into snake-handlers, it does suggest that orthodox Evolution can be examined critically. Bad juju, that.
Now (and I hope this doesn’t bore those who have read me before on the matter), an entertaining way to study the politics is to ask the Evolutionists questions that a scientist would answer (since scientists are not ashamed not to know things), but that an ideologue can’t afford to. They are simple. (1) Has the chance occurrence of life been demonstrated in the laboratory? Yes or no. (2) Do we really know, as distinct from guess, hope, or imagine, of what the primeval seas consisted? Yes or no. (3) Do we know, as distinct from guess, pray, wave our arms, and hold our breath and turn blue, what seas would be needed for the chance formation of life? Yes or no. (4) Can we show mathematically, without crafted and unsupportable assumptions, that the formation of life would be probable in any soup whatever? Yes or no.
I once posed these questions in a column and, in another place, to a group of committed evangelicals of Evolution. A tremendous influx of email resulted. Much of it was predictable. Many Christians congratulated me on having disproved Evolution, which I had not done. The intelligent and independent-minded wrote thoughtfully. Of the Knights Templar of Evolution, none — not one — answered the foregoing yes-or-no questions. They ducked. They dodged. They waxed wroth. They called names.
This is the behavior not of scientists but of true believers. I have spent countless hours as a reporter talking to scientists, as distinct from zealots with a scientific background. Without exception that I can remember, they were rational, honest, and forthcoming. Yes, they were often trying to establish a pet theory. But they said, I think this is so, and here’s the evidence, and I think it’s pretty solid, but I still need to show this or that, and no, we haven’t, but I hope we will. If I expressed doubts, they either showed me clearly and civilly why I was wrong, or said, Good point. Here’s what we think. Parenthetically, my impression, based on a small sample, is that the more incensed of the Evolutionists tend to be either of the hard Right or the hard Left: those who need to believe one thing categorically seem to need to believe other things categorically. Which means that if they are wrong, they are unlikely to notice it.
And this is what disturbs me about them. I do not object to the content of Evolutionism. Some, all, or part of it may be correct. I would like to know. A more fascinating question does not readily come to mind. But dispassionate discussion with them is not possible, anymore than it is with Gloria Steinem or Herbert Marcuse or Cornell West, and for exactly the same reasons. They are the same people. How sad.
Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well.