Conservatives vs. Evolution

In late December, I happened to notice a caricature of a confused looking monkey on the cover of the American Spectator, a prominent conservative magazine recently come under new ownership. To my horror, the lengthy cover story, with associated articles, contained a strong denunciation of Darwinian evolution and advocated support for a version of “scientific” Creationism called “Intelligent Design.” ( This led me to submit an extremely strong-minded letter, which the editors have graciously now agreed to run in their forthcoming issue.

Although I generally see most of our public policy insanities as located on the Left—this is the reason I originally abandoned my liberal Democratic heritage and joined the party of Ronald Reagan— events like this lead me to wonder if such will always remain the case. To me, a significant concern is the growing number of conservatives who oppose Darwinian evolutionary theory.

As an example, in August 1999, the conservative Republicans who dominated the Kansas State Board of Education attempted to remove evolutionary theory from that state’s public school curriculum. Even more shocking than the vote itself was the deafening, cowardly silence that this act of aggressive ignorance provoked among nearly all prominent Republicans (and most prominent Democrats also for that matter). Our major media was scarcely able to locate any national political leader willing to defend a basic scientific doctrine accepted for over a century by nearly every educated individual everywhere else in the world.

In recent years, my casual conversations with seemingly well-educated and intelligent conservatives of the late baby-boom generation and younger have revealed a surprising number who doubt or actively reject evolutionary theory, and instead lean toward some form of “scientific” Creationism. I do not blame these misguided individuals themselves, since few have any scientific background or knowledge, and with their roots in the social sciences or the humanities perhaps don’t quite recognize that scientific truth is not subject to ideological disagreement.

Unfortunately, many of their elders among conservatives have been far too willing to suppress their own scientific views for reasons of coalitional or populist politics, and for this, such individuals do bear considerable guilt. American politicians who opposed the teaching of evolution in the schools of rural Tennessee during the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 1920s were ridiculous enough. For American political leaders to move toward similar positions in our 21st America of the Internet and genetic engineering is a farce and a tragedy.

I would hope that prominent conservatives—most of whom surely know better—will speak out against this rising tide of educational lunacy before matters go too far.

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