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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

STEPHEN BROWNE: EVOLUTION - TWO VIEWS

A few years back when I was the world’s oldest intern at the Human Events office in Washington, I got into a flame war with an Internet troll.

Usually I don’t bother with that kind of thing. Life is too short to spend time in slanging matches with yahoos. And besides, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Trolls are generally semi-literate hysterical neurotics too cowardly to insult you under their own name. If you keep your cool it’s just too easy to wage a war of wits with the half-armed.

But every now and again when I have time on my hands I allow myself the guilty pleasure. As we say in Oklahoma, “I know it’s wrong – but I’m weak.”

At any rate, in one exchange the troll charged, “You conservo-tards don’t believe in evolution.”

Gleefully I shot back, “Wrong again Buckwheat. They don’t give advanced degrees in anthropology to people who don’t believe in evolution. I’m qualified to teach evolution. Care to debate classical Darwinism versus Punctuated Equilibrium?”

Nevertheless, in the very diverse conservative movement I know there are people who don’t believe in evolution. I cringe a little whenever I hear advertisements for the “Creation Science Center” on AM 1100 the FLAGG as I’m driving down the highway.

I don’t wish to belittle anyone’s religion and I have no patience for militant atheists. If it’s true as they claim, that religion is a crutch, then what do you call someone who goes around kicking crutches out from under people? A fearless seeker of the truth, or a bloody sadist?

But most of Judaism and Christianity has become comfortable with evolution. Indeed, many religious thinkers have welcomed the expanded vistas of science, revealing a universe unimaginably vaster and older than previously thought, and what this creation says about its Creator.

So when Leftists make fun of religious conservatives I have to agree that I find denial of evolution in the face of the available evidence perverse. And it distresses me that few seem to realize that evolution is a vindication of the conservative world-view.

What nobody seems to realize is while it’s perverse to deny the reality of evolution, this belief is harmless. The Left view of evolution is an equally false, and anything but harmless. It is in fact responsible for untold suffering and misery. On the Left the common belief is that evolution happens, but that it doesn’t matter and has no consequences.

The most destructive tenet of Marxism, gospel on the Left, is that there is no fixed human nature. That the mind of Man is a tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which anything can be written.

We now know this to be false, confirmed by genetics, anatomy, and those behavioral scientists who are still sane and unafraid. Though to be sure, all thinking men have seen this for a long time. The Old Testament writers may not have known about what we now call evolutionary psychology, but they had a deep understand of its consequences. What I call a “pre-scientific intuition.”

What they knew and what we moderns have confirmed, both in the laboratory and through the disastrous social experiments of the past century, is:

1) There is a “human nature” common to all men and women. That nature is rooted in the adaptation of our species to the environment, and is expressed as behavior that best ensures our survival as a species.

JIM’S TRUCKS

 

 

Among other things people are naturally acquisitive. They want to acquire property and power. They favor kin over strangers and want to pass on their property and privilege to their children. They fall in love with all the baggage, pleasant and un- that that implies, etc.

2) Human nature evolved over a very long time and does not change through relatively brief historical time.

3) Within the broad parameters of our common humanity, there are a lot of different ways to be human, affected by our personal heredity, respective cultures, social environment, and individual choices.

4) That nature is expressed differently in men and women, i.e. there is a different statistical distribution of inherited physical and mental attributes between men and women. (Keep in mind I said “statistical distribution.” Saying that men are generally taller and stronger than women does NOT mean there are no tall strong women and short feeble men. And wouldn’t it be stupid to design a species with two sexes and a drive to pair up, and give them the exact same skill set? Who would you want to partner with in life? Someone with the same strengths and weaknesses as yourself, or someone who’s good at what you’re bad at?)

This is drawn very broadly, and of course every statement can be qualified. To begin with, there is such a thing as free will. We know this because we are obviously capable of acting in foolish and contra-survival ways. Chief of which is the denial of these elementary facts.

Think of all the horrors of the 20th century. Nazism was based on a denial of the common humanity of all, the idea that mankind could be divided into a “master race” and “sub-humans.”

Communism was based on the idea that a new kind of human being could be made by destroying all traditional social connections and controlling every aspect of the social and economic environment.

And the watered-down Marxism of Political Correctness holds that we can erase the inherent differences between men and women, such as the natural aggressiveness of young boys and nurturing drives of girls, by re-programming their behavior and language, resulting in idiotic social and educational policies that are both tragic and comic.

Worse, if one accepts that it is both possible and desirable to change human nature through government action, it follows that government must have all power necessary to do so - and use it ruthlessly.

I once heard a young man deride conservatism as the belief that “nothing should ever change.” This is ridiculous on the face of it. The founding of the American nation was the single most revolutionary change in the history of civilization to date.

What lies at the heart of conservatism is the realization that some things never change. Human nature, the inborn drives and motivations for both good and evil that make us human, can be disciplined but does not change, and cannot be changed by pious hopes and wishful thinking.

The modern Left inherited the 18th century utopian notion that Man is born good, and corrupted by society – which must be destroyed and rebuilt anew.

The inheritors of the American Revolution realize that Man is what he is, and to create a reasonably free and just society, we must work with human nature, not against it.

 

Stephen Browne has a Masters Degree in Anthropology and has worked as a bar tender, sewage treatment plant operator, English teacher, freelance writer, journalist, and is currently in truck driving school.

 

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