Did life evolve by purely natural processes? Could random mutation and natural selection really generate the human brain or the electrosensory system of the duck-billed platypus? Or did an intelligent force shape our universe?
Am I a total retard for asking?
As of April 20, Tennessee teachers will be allowed to address these nagging questions without fear of reprisal. Gov. Bill Haslam reluctantly allowed HB 368—known to sneering progressives as the “Monkey Bill”—to pass without his signature. The law will permit teachers to
help students understand, analyze, critique, and review…the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories…[such as] biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning.
For secularist busybodies, the law’s innocuous wording translates to brazen promotion of Young Earth creationism, climate-change denial, and (I’m guessing here) the imminent genocide of android clones. The prevailing fear seems to be that kids will devolve into superstitious, knuckle-dragging homunculi if they aren’t fed a strict diet of unquestioned Darwinian evolution.
With every new story, I imagine some lisping liberal trying to pronounce “creationists” without biting off his own tongue:
CBS News reports:
…the thrust of the proposed law would elevate creationist theories about human evolution to the same status accorded by most educators to Darwin’s research.
It hardly matters that the bill clearly states:
This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs….
Hand-wringing intellectuals aren’t buying it, and their opinion pieces imply a theocratic conspiracy. The same buzzwords appear in article after article: anti-evolution, anti-science, creationism. Tennessee’s students will lack scientific literacy, they warn. High-tech industries will be repelled from our state. Disparaging “redneck” jokes will be told at snooty cocktail parties. (Why can’t Tennesseans jerk off?…Because they haven’t evolved opposable thumbs yet!) Only an inbred mongrel would question neo-Darwinism’s materialistic assumptions.
Valerie Strauss writes in The Washington Post:
The problem is that there is no important “scientific weakness” in the theory of evolution that could scientifically undermine its essential truth.
What insidious cabal is behind the brain-withering “Monkey Bill”?
Tennessee’s HB 368 takes its language from the model “Academic Freedom Bill.” This legislative template was originally drafted by Seattle-based conservative think tank the Discovery Institute, the leading proponent of “intelligent design” theory.
Intelligent-design theorists have tried to disassociate their movement from biblical literalism and its bastard stepchild, Young Earth creationism. Judging from the headlines, their attempts have failed.
In its purest form, intelligent design offers no specific religious claim. It does not rule out universal common descent, natural selection, or macroevolution (i.e., the evolution of new species).
ID theorists argue that complex organ systems and cellular machinery could not have originated from known natural processes. They claim the most plausible alternative is intelligent design—presumably by benevolent deities, demonic demiurges, extraterrestrials, or clockwork elves. Just as archaeologists distinguish man-made arrowheads from stones or SETI astronomers scan space noise for intelligent patterns, so biologists can detect intelligent causes in organic structures.
Via email, senior fellow Casey Luskin insisted that the Discovery Institute does not intend to stifle the teaching of evolution:
We oppose teaching religious views like creationism. Although ID is a science, we oppose mandating it in public schools. What we DO SUPPORT is teaching the scientific evidence for and against evolution in public schools. (This is not the same as teaching ID.)
These alleged gaps in neo-Darwinian theory include frustrated attempts to reconstruct life’s origins, the fossil record’s discontinuous progression, and the inability of natural selection acting upon random mutation to create functional adaptations.
Perhaps we should be suspicious of such skepticism. After all, Casey Luskin is a Christian, as are many Tennessee biology teachers. Can religious folk be trusted to mold the malleable Play-Doh inside teenaged skulls?
Richard Dawkins famously accused anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution of being “ignorant, stupid, or insane,” and maybe he’s right. Yet he joins Francis Crick in proposing extraterrestrial intelligence seeding the Earth as a plausible explanation of life’s origins—which sounds like a green Intelligent Designer wearing spring-loaded antennae.
If iconic atheists entertain sci-fi creationism, why should supernatural conjecture be met with such derision?
It seems that the greater part of this mainstream condemnation is rooted in intellectual one-upmanship and humanist snobbery. In highfalutin circles, being called a “creationist” is just one step up from being labeled a “racist.”
Darwin’s On the Origin of Species laid down the unifying concept in biology and revolutionized the field. But as elite scientists’ ideas trickled down to worldly bandwagoneers over the last century and a half, pop evolution became the new evangelicalism. Academics and self-styled sophisticates float placidly in watered-down Darwinian notions. For them, evolution is a matter of faith, superior to all others by virtue of infallible science. Any public dissent toward their fashionable orthodoxy is met with ridicule and ostracism, as with the present outcry over Tennessee’s “creationist Monkey Bill.” Like the biblical literalists they hysterically criticize, many lay evolutionists are grossly ignorant of their own intellectual roots and mentally incapable of a nuanced worldview.
Dayton, TN hosted a persecution similar to the one against intelligent design nearly 90 years ago during the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. Playing into an ACLU-orchestrated media spectacle, the young John Scopes was charged under the Butler Act for teaching evolution. Back in those days, Darwinists could still maintain a rebellious swagger. Self-congratulatory progressives continue to identify with Scopes as a right-thinking hero and deride the populist William Jennings Bryan as a sweaty, boneheaded villain.
I paid a visit to the courthouse in Dayton a few months ago. One item in the display cases immediately caught my attention. It was a copy of George William Hunter’s A Civic Biology—used by John Scopes in his class—opened to page 195. One passage reads:
Although anatomically there is a greater difference between the lowest type of monkey and the highest type of ape than there is between the highest type of ape and the lowest savage…there is an immense mental gap between monkey and man.
How many culturally sensitive shmoes have read that page with a mixture of smug approval and pious distaste for the word “savage”? Of course, the next page is safely hidden:
At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure…the highest type of all [are] the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.
Had they been able to turn to page 263, they would find even more juicy tidbits from the evolutionary perspective:
Just as certain animals or plants have become parasitic on other plants or animals, [biologically inferior humans] have become parasitic on society…corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease….If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading.
In 1925 the ACLU financed a world-famous lawsuit to protect the right to teach human evolution from A Civic Biology. Today, they would call the textbook (listen carefully for that hissing lisp) a rabid racist screed. But the only alternative to evolving group differences is human exceptionalism—either human populations somehow evolved uniformly or all men and women of all races were created equal. How ironic that the ACLU now leads the fight against the only conceivable alternative to genetic determinism: nonmaterial causes.
Politically correct science writers insist that innate racial differences have long been discredited, yet they steadfastly deny intelligent design. To them, evolution is a fact—except for human biodiversity. It’s like a stud-hungry nympho who tells her diminutively endowed boyfriend that size doesn’t matter.
These guys must have evolved a digestive ability to have their cake and eat it, too.
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