Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Backward Evolution

Backward Evolution
by Richard Cohen (Washington Post)
The fight over evolution is an odd and sad one. There is nothing about Darwinian theory that cannot be ascribed to God—Darwin himself referred to “the Creator” in his “The Origin of Species”—and back when I was in college and studying evolution, my teacher began the semester by saying, behold the world of God or behold something else: It is entirely up to you. Yet, 19 states are considering proposals that would require schools to question evolution, which are nothing less than proposals to inject religion into the curriculum. But why stop there? Why not introduce such skepticism into astronomy and have the sun revolve around the earth or have the earth stand still? These are questions that Clarence Darrow put to William Jennings Bryan at the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925. Amazingly, they still linger.

They do so not just because, as Darwin himself conceded, there are holes in the theory of evolution but because of an evolving political weakness in which intellectual honesty counts for less and less. Thus, you have political leaders from George Bush on down refusing to say whether they put any stock in evolution or believe, as apparently they think they should, that it is an affront to and assault on religion. Back in 1999 Bush was asked whether he was “a creationist,” and he responded by not responding: “I believe children ought to be exposed to different theories about how the world started.” In other words, it’s all the same: evolution, creationism and maybe something else from another religious tradition. This proves you can go to Yale University and learn nothing—not about evolution, mind you, but about intellectual integrity.

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