[Wanneer je de evolutietheorie naar voren brengt krijg je in de VS kritiek van fundamentalistische christenen die het creationisme verdedigen. Mensen als Dawkins en Dennett stellen zich keihard op tegenover creationisten. Terecht vind ik. Waarom zou je in discussie gaan met mensen die in god geloven en de bijbel vandaag de dag zelfs nog letterlijk nemen, en zo verder.
Bowler zegt een middenpositie in te nemen, maar als je ziet hoeveel woorden hij vuil moet maken aan religie, aan opvattingen die niet openstaan voor discussie, aan opvattingen waarvoor geen enkele andere onderbouwing bestaat dan geloof in een god en in een zogenaamd 'heilig boek', wat een tijdverlies is dat dan.
Veel van wat er over evolutie geschreven wordt is er op gericht om religie / gelovigen niet voor het hoofd te stoten of zelfs om de religie te redden. Daardoor wordt het moeilijk om zuiver te denken, zuiver te argumenteren. We moeten geen rekening willen houden met religie, religieus geloof, religieuze mensen en religieuze organisaties, gelovigen. Geloof is oncontroleerbaar en immuun voor kritiek. Religie is helemaal niet van belang wanneer we het over wetenschap hebben.
Neem bijvoorbeeld zo'n 'watchmaker'-argument (Paley op p.18): dat argument is werkelijk te belachelijk voor woorden. Een horloge is iets mechanisch dat door mensen is gemaakt en dat vergelijk je met de hele schepping en de biologische ontwikkeling van mensen waar niets mechanisch aan is? Niet te geloven. Letterlijk. Zie ook p.55: Hume zegt al hetzelfde.
Creationisten zijn zo typisch Amerikaans. Hun ideologie draait om vrij ondernemerschap, de markt, competitie - precies dat wat de basis vormt van het sociaal darwinisme, maar ze beschuldigen darwinisten van sociaal darwinisme - zie p.25. Creationisten zijn voortdurend bezig 1/ om andersdenkenden onderuit te halen zonder enige zelfkritiek; 2/ om verhaaltjes uit de bijbel als eeuwig waar te verdedigen. Met gelovige dogmatische mensen moet je niet in discussie willen gaan, want dat is zinloos. Dat krijg je gesprekken op het niveau van 'ik voel het zo' en dat is niet een niveau waar je samen kunt communiceren of argumenteren.
Natuurlijk is evolutie een veel complexer proces dan veel mensen dachten. We weten nog zo weinig van genen, etc. Maar dat is nog geen reden om niet-materialistisch te denken of ruimte te laten aan religie / geloof. En ook al is sciëntisme bekritiseerbaar, wetenschappelijke methoden en wetenschappelijke controleerbaarheid hebben mensen meer betrouwbare kennis, inzichten, keuzes te bieden dan geloof.
Mensen / onderzoekers hadden heel anders gekeken en geïnterpreteerd en veel sneller nieuwe inzichten ontwikkeld wanneer dat christendom niet de hele tijd op de achtergrond had gezeten en mensen niet gehersenspoeld had met de bewering dat de schepping pas bestaat sinds 4004 vChr.
Belangrijk in het hele verhaal is dat biologische processen toegepast worden op mensen en dan vervolgens economisch/sociaal/politiek geïnterpreteerd worden. Omdat populaties van konijnen bij wijze van spreken de 'struggle for existence' kennen geldt dat ook voor populaties van mensen - daar zorgen vrije ondernemingen en competitie voor armoede waaraan je niets moet willen doen want zo gaat dat nu eenmaal, dat is de 'struggle for existence' bij mensen. Maar mensen zijn veel meer dan een biologische populatie, in die opvatting hiervoor worden alle typisch menselijke mogelijkheden stomweg genegeerd. Bijvoorbeeld dat we ons tegen een trend kunnen verzetten, dat we in plaats van te concurreren zouden kunnen samenwerken, dat we aan geboortenregeling en aan gezinsplanning kunnen doen, en zo verder.]
De evolutietheorie is historisch gezien al vaker bestreden vanuit de religie.
"Even more famous is the clash between “Darwin’s bulldog,” Thomas Henry Huxley, and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce at the Oxford meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1860. As the Darwinists remember it, Huxley demolished the bishop and cleared the way for Darwin to obtain a fair hearing. But his efforts came to naught sixty-five years later in the so-called “Monkey Trial” of John Thomas Scopes in Dayton, Tennessee. The result of that trial demonstrated that advocates of traditional religion were determined to protect the youth of America from the evolutionists’ brand of materialism. Scoff as they might, liberals have been unable to hold back the tide of what soon became known as “creationist” opposition to Darwinism. And in some respects the opposition is quite justified, for modern atheistic Darwinists such as the biologist Richard Dawkins and the philosopher Daniel Dennett present the theory of natural selection as the final nail in the coffin of religious belief. They posit that if we are the products of blindly operating natural laws, any hope of seeing ourselves as the intended products of the Creator’s will is out of the question."(2)
"But like Michael Ruse, I disagree with Dawkins and Dennett over the tactics to be adopted when confronted with the kind of situation that exists in America, or in any other country where fundamentalist religion tries to impose rigid limits on what scientists can investigate. Ruse is a philosopher of science who has played a major role himself in the controversies of the last several decades, defending evolutionism against the creationists’ attacks. Yet in March 2005, he was reported as having disagreed openly with Dennett, who is perhaps the most aggressive Darwinist in modern America. Ruse argues that polarizing the situation further by stressing the most atheistic interpretation of Darwinism may put the whole enterprise of science and enlightenment at risk by inflaming the opposition. It may be better to oppose the fundamentalists by showing that they have oversimplified the response of religion to the quest for a science of origins."(3)
"For general reading on the relationship between science and religion, see the classic texts by Ian G. Barbour (1966, 1968). Surveys of the history of the interaction between science and religion include Brooke, 1991; Ferngren, ed., 2002, and Lindberg and Numbers, eds., 1986, 2003. For more detailed surveys of the debates over evolution see Appleman, 2001; Durant, ed., 1985; Greene, 1959, and Moore, 1979, and for recent surveys of the issues raised by evolutionism, see Ruse, 2005."(13)
"Modern proponents of Intelligent Design also see their rejection of evolutionism as based on scientific arguments, although some creationists deny any authority to the scientific approach, claiming that the scientists are just rival storytellers trying to convince the audience by mere rhetoric."(14)
"If we find a watch when walking through the countryside, argues Paley, we know that such a complex structure of springs, cogwheels, etc. cannot had been produced by the undirected forces of nature, and we presume that it is an artificial construct made by an intelligent person, the watchmaker.(...) By the same token, if we study the human or animal body and similarly find a complex series of structures all adapted to the end of keeping the body alive, we are entitled to suppose that undirected nature could not have formed it, and so here too there must be an intelligent designer, God."(18-19)
"The old idea of a ladder of creation with humans at the top allowed the religious believer to interpret evolution as the unfolding of a divine plan that had humanity as its ultimate goal. Darwinism turns the ladder into an ever-branching tree in which no one branch can be privileged as the main trunk, no final twig as the goal of creation."(24)
"Modern creationists often accuse Darwinism of encouraging us to behave brutally to one another. After all, the theory does tell us that we are no better than brutes, so we should not be surprised if it is used to argue that our behavior is programmed to include brutal instincts. They talk darkly of the horrors of social Darwinism, and point to Nazi Germany to illustrate what happens when political leaders glorify the struggle for existence. But the creationists are usually silent on the ideological origins of Darwin’s theory, which historians link to the free-enterprise culture of Victorian Britain. The political Left dislikes social Darwinism too—but its preferred example of unrestrained struggle is the competitive individualism of the capitalist system. By this standard, it is the free-enterprise ideology favored by most American creationists that counts as social Darwinism!"(25)
"By the time Darwin published the Origin, the basic idea of transformism was being widely discussed, although not necessarily in the radical form represented by the theory of natural selection. Some liberal Christians accepted that new species were modified from old ones, but did not see this as a foundation for a materialist worldview. They believed that if new species were created by natural law rather than divine miracle, the laws themselves were nevertheless established by the Creator. The outcome of the laws’ activity could still be seen as the expression of God’s will, with the human race as the goal toward which the whole process was aimed. This was the position advocated in Robert Chambers’s popular bestseller Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, published in 1844 (fifteen years before the Origin of Species)."(32)
"The assumption that the world has been created by an all-wise Creator was dominant in the seventeenth century. It remained popular into Darwin’s own time, although by then it had begun to face challenges both from the radical thinkers of the eighteenth-century “Age of Enlightenment” and by naturalists trying to make sense of the evidence revealed by the fossils and the complex rock formations of the earth’s surface. Despite these challenges, William Paley’s Natural Theology of 1802 was still presenting arguments very similar to those of John Ray’s Wisdom of God in the Creation published over a century earlier. The assumption that the structure of each species confirms the wisdom and benevolence of its Creator offered a powerful incentive for religious naturalists anxious to justify the application of scientific techniques to the structure of the earth and its inhabitants. By 1802, however, the assumption that the world had been created fairly recently was already beginning to lose its credibility."(33)
"In the course of the next century or so, the majority of working naturalists became convinced that the structure of the earth’s surface could not be explained by a single catastrophe even such as the flood. There was just too much evidence of major changes—earth movements and erosion—occurring after the older rocks were laid down."(42)
"Buckland’s vision was still bounded by the idea of divine creation, even if extended vastly beyond the traditional understanding of the biblical story. Most educated people of his time were not deeply concerned by the apparent undermining of Ussher’s timescale of earth history. Biblical scholars were already beginning to realize that the books of the Bible could be understood as historical records, whatever the spiritual message they conveyed. They were limited by the conceptual system of the people who wrote them, and thus spoke in allegorical terms when dealing with events outside human experience. The creation story did not have to be taken absolutely literally, as long as its spiritual message—that the earth is a divine creation—is respected.(48)
"In the decades before Darwin published the Origin of Species, the idea that the history of life might unfold by law rather than by a succession of miracles began to gain some degree of credibility. In one sense this paved the way for the reception of Darwin’s theory, but it also shaped—and perhaps distorted—the way in which the public perceived the message contained in his book."(52)
"In the meantime, Buffon could point to his experiments as evidence that unaided nature could spontaneously assemble living things from a loose collection of “organic particles.” If micro-organisms could be produced in the laboratory, who knows what nature might generate in the vast, warm oceans of the ancient earth? In his Epochs of Nature of 1778, Buffon postulated two major episodes of spontaneous generation, the first forming the fossil species that eventually became extinct, the second producing the ancestors of the major animal types of today. He hinted that exactly the same species would be generated on the other planets of the solar system when they reached the right temperature."(54)
"We can see watchmakers building watches, but no one has ever seen a species produced by a miracle, so how do we know that the same element of design is involved? Nature looks more like a gigantic living organism than a colossal machine, so any application of a model based on engineering is invalid. Hume offered no rival theory to explain how species became adapted to their environment, but some historians think that his philosophy of overall skepticism was an important influence on Darwin. Hume denied that we can see the underlying causes that operate in nature—all we observe are regularities in the phenomena we investigate. Those who claim to see clear evidence that there is a divine plan are thus deluding themselves. We need to look more carefully at what regularities actually occur in nature—and as Darwin found, the closer you look, the less secure the idea of the absolute stability of species seems to be."(55)
"The Enlightenment skeptics challenged the argument from design, but they can hardly have been said to have formulated a workable alternative that naturalists could use to explain the development of life."(55)
"Any suggestion that living species, including the human species, could be produced by natural means threatened the traditional interpretation of Genesis. The emergence of these early ideas cannot be understood except in the context of a radical intellectual movement that favored skepticism, materialism, and even atheism. But these were also ideas with social implications: the Church served as a bastion of the traditional social order based on rule by a monarch and an aristocracy. The social hierarchy was divinely established, so to challenge it by calling for reform was to challenge the way God had ordered the universe. Transformism undermined the credibility of Genesis, thereby threatening the claim that there was a divinely preordained structure built into the world. If nature could change, then why not society? Social thinkers such as the marquis de Condorcet appealed to the idea of progress to justify calls for reform. They argued that throughout history, society had been gradually changing as humanity developed better ways of exploiting nature. If progress had occurred from the earliest times to the present, then it was only natural to expect that it would continue into the future. Future progress, of course, meant reform of the existing social order. Expanding the idea of progress into the organic world merely extended this argument—progress was inherent in both nature and society. The improvement of society was an inevitable outcome of processes built into the very fabric of the universe. Many who favored reform welcomed the idea of transformism once it was linked to the ideology of progress (Ruse, 1996)."(56-57)
"Two figures are widely identified with the introduction of a completely transformist vision of how nature develops. In Britain, Erasmus Darwin is remembered both for his own pioneering contributions, and for the fact that it was his grandson, Charles Darwin, who conceived and popularized the modern version of evolutionism. In France, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published more extensive accounts of a similar view of natural development and founded a movement that preceded and for a while seemed to offer a viable alternative to Darwinism. Erasmus Darwin was a member of the new middle-class elite that was bidding for power and influence in the increasingly industrialized society of Britain. Lamarck worked at the restructured Museum of Natural History created by the revolutionary government in France. Both linked spontaneous generation with the idea that living things have progressed and adapted over vast periods of time to generate the variety of forms we see around us today."(58)
"Charles Robert Darwin conceived his theory of evolution by natural selection in the late 1830s and developed it in secret for the next two decades. When finally revealed in his Origin of Species of 1859, it reopened the issues already identified in Chambers’s Vestiges and provoked a new and equally bitter debate. But there were significant differences this time. Darwin was an established scientist and his theory was widely acknowledged—even by some who rejected it—as a legitimate hypothesis. As a result, the debate panned out very differently. The elite of the scientific community had stood firm against Vestiges, but now they slowly swung round to concede that evolutionism, in some form at least, was acceptable. Conservative religious thinkers continued to oppose the idea, but they were increasingly challenged. In the popular mythology created by Darwin’s supporters, the confrontation in 1860 between Thomas Henry Huxley and Samuel Wilberforce, the bishop of Oxford, symbolized the triumph of the Darwinians over their religious opponents. Soon even liberal theologians were jumping onto the bandwagon of evolutionism, while secularists applauded Huxley’s efforts to replace the argument from design with an explanation based on natural law."(79)
"This is evolution by trial and error, not by design. It produces species adapted to the environment, but there is no drive to perfection and no trend leading to humans as the goal of creation. As conservatives such as Wilberforce realized, this was a theory almost impossible to reconcile with traditional religious values, especially if the human mind is seen as a product of such an apparently undirected process."(80)
"Darwin now began to wonder if there could be a natural equivalent to this process of artificial selection. The breeder interferes with the natural process of reproduction, but could there be a natural form of selection that could similarly bias reproduction in favor of those with a particular character? Specifically, could there be something that would promote the breeding of those individuals that best fit the environment while suppressing the reproduction of those less well adapted?"(89)
"Darwin’s great insight was that any individual born with a slightly favorable variation (making it better adapted to the environment) will have a better chance of succeeding in the struggle for existence, and hence a better chance of reproducing."(90)
"If natural selection were the only mechanism of evolution, there was no guiding hand behind the process, no benevolent Designer, and no trend forcing life automatically toward higher levels of organization or toward humanity. Darwin was certainly aware of these consequences, but he also held back from publication because he needed more information to substantiate his theory."(91)
"Malthus challenged the reformers who thought that poverty and starvation could be eliminated by government action. He argued that poverty was not the result of an artificial social hierarchy—on the contrary it was both natural and inevitable. Given the “passion between the sexes” there would always be too many children born for the food supply to support, with the result that some must inevitably go hungry. State support for the poor should be abandoned, because it was better to let a few starve now rather than allow the population to expand unchecked to a level where mass starvation was inevitable.
Malthus thus endorsed free-enterprise individualism, the system of laissez-faire (the notion that the state should not interfere with the activities of individual citizens). The fact that Darwin drew upon Malthus to justify his claim that there would always be a struggle for existence lends support to the criticism that his theory merely projected capitalist values onto nature. Karl Marx commented on the close parallels between natural selection and the capitalist vision of competition as the spur to economic progress. The political Left routinely argues that Darwin’s theory is bad science—far from being based on a study of nature, it creates an artificial model of the natural world based on a particular value system."(92)
"Darwin built extinction into the very foundations of his thinking, thus undermining the optimism of Paley’s vision of divine benevolence."(100)
"Adaptation is bought at the price of the constant suffering of the unfit who must be eliminated in every generation."(101)
"Many of those who accepted evolution found it hard to go along with the claim that it resulted from little more than trial and error. If evolution was going to be the foundation for an ideology of social progress, it would help if something more purposeful were pushing things along."(108)
"The fact remains that many of Darwin’s contemporaries felt uncomfortable with the selection theory. This was in part because of the technical issues highlighted by Jenkin, but there was also widespread suspicion of the idea that a mechanism based on random variation, a process of mere trial and error, could reproduce the purposeful structures traditionally attributed to design. This was Wilberforce’s point in his debate against Huxley, and he was by no means the only person to feel this way at the time."(111-112)
"If Huxley and Spencer shared their opposition to a science in which nature and human nature were seen to be divine artifacts, they also shared the expectation that nature was a progressive system which would, in the end, work its way up to something like the human form. There was no explicit design in their systems, because neither believed in a supernatural agency controlling nature. Yet the assumption that evolution is inherently progressive allowed them to retain a sense of purpose in nature which could look remarkably similar to the natural theologians’ argument from design."(115)
"It was in America where the Spencerian form of self-help evolutionism made most headway among liberal clergymen—just as it was here that his form of social Darwinism became the public expression of capitalist values."(117)
"Evolutionism thus provided arguments used to defend the race theories of the later nineteenth century (Haller, 1975; Stepan, 1982). Those races conquered or exploited by the Europeans were regarded as relics of the past, retaining characters now surpassed by the triumphant whites. Modern creationists often argue that Darwinism played a major role in the emergence of racism, forgetting that the creationists of the nineteenth century also endorsed white superiority."(125)
"By the 1870s support for outright creationism (as we would call it today) had been marginalized within the scientific community, although it would be wrong to imagine that most scientists were materialists and agnostics. Many educated laypersons had also become willing to accept some form of evolutionism and might have called themselves Darwinists. But both in science and in the wider community, most people wanted to feel that evolution offered something more purposeful than the most materialistic reading of Darwin’s theory would imply. They wanted evolution as a mechanism of progress that laid the foundations for human progress in this world. For agnostics such as Huxley and Spencer, progress was simply a natural consequence of the laws that science was discovering. Humans had only to recognize and apply those laws in everyday life to ensure the future perfection of humanity. But since Spencer had shown how the values of the Protestant work ethic could be seen underlying the laws of nature, liberal Christians could also take this progressionism on board. Some still felt that evolution had to be seen as the unfolding of a divine plan, but others were prepared to accept that only the most basic laws of nature flowed from the Creator—all that was produced by their interactions was part of His intentions. Emphasis on Original Sin and the Fall diminished, although many religious thinkers still found it hard to accept that our spiritual faculties could be explained away by natural evolution from the animals.
In one sense, then, Darwinism had triumphed, but tensions remained that would define the ongoing debates of the next century or more. Conservative Christians such as Wilberforce had highlighted the materialistic character of natural selection, and they would have nothing to do with Spencer’s Lamarckian modification of the system."(131-132)
"Conservatives, who had seen the difficulties from the start and had always stressed the materialistic implications of evolution, would eventually rally their forces and renew their assault on Darwinism."(133)
"At first sight, it might seem that the outburst of fundamentalist opposition to evolutionism that led to the Monkey Trial of John Thomas Scopes in 1925 interrupted a period of relative calm in the debate. By the 1870s Darwinism had been widely accepted even by many religious thinkers. The more liberal approach to Christian theology had sanctioned the belief that evolution developed according to a divine plan. In science, the very restricted acceptance of Darwin’s theory of natural selection allowed more purposeful mechanisms of evolution to play a significant role. From a superficial viewpoint, this situation seems to have remained largely unchanged through into the early twentieth century, when the rise of fundamentalism at last galvanized resistance to the evolutionary paradigm. By 1925 this new element had led to the banning of evolutionism from some American schools and hence to the Monkey Trial."(134)
"For those who disliked the assumption that conflict-driven individualism was the sole mechanism of progress, Spencer’s version of Lamarckism was as distasteful as the selection of random variation.
The anti-Darwinian version of Lamarckism emerged as part of a wave of opposition to the whole materialist program with which Darwin, Spencer, and Huxley were associated (Turner, 1974)."(138)
"The opposition to materialism came as much from a philosophical and moral perspective as it did from formal religion. Some of the anti-materialists were indeed deeply religious people. But others opposed materialism because they found it morally distasteful, even though they had little time for conventional religion."(139)
"Cope was explicit about the moral and religious agenda behind American neo-Lamarckism. He had been brought up as a Quaker, and remained concerned with theological issues through- out his life. Although he did not study under Agassiz, his first ideas on evolutionism were very much intended to synthesize Agassiz’s vision of creation with the new evolutionism. For Agassiz, the parallel between the development of the human embryo and the progressive sequence in the history of life on earth was a sign that both were governed by the same underlying pattern, a pattern emanating from the mind of God."(145)
"An important shift of emphasis took place in the early twentieth century under the influence of the French philosopher Henri Bergson. His Creative Evolution (translated 1911) became a rallying point for those opposed to old-fashioned materialism both in science and in religion. Bergson was explicitly a vitalist: he believed that the life force, the élan vital, progressed by struggling to overcome the limitations of brute matter. Evolution had no preordained goal, because it was impossible to predict the various ways in which living things would triumph over these limitations."(147)
"The theory upon which so many scientists, moralists, and religious thinkers had based their rejection of Darwinian materialism was now in serious trouble. If anything, the combination of genetics and the mutation theory was even harder to reconcile with any hope of seeing purpose in evolution. Although it made no use of the struggle for existence, it presented the origin of new characters as the result of nothing more than disturbances arising in the material structure of the gene. In modern terminology, mutations were just copying errors, and for the early geneticists this alone was responsible for evolution."(154)
"This progressionist vision of human origins was exploited both by rationalists seeking to undermine religion and by liberal religious thinkers anxious to see evolution as the unfolding of a divine plan."(159)
"By 1930 Lamarckism was largely dead in science. If liberal Christians wanted to retain any credibility with the biologists, they were going to have to deal with the geneticists, and with the new generation of Darwinians who were reformulating the theory of natural selection. It turned out that Barnes had actually taught one of the architects of the new Darwinism, R. A. Fisher, when the latter had been a student at Cambridge."(171)
"The key question for most late-nineteenth-century Christians, at least within the educated classes, had been that of design. Darwinism threatened the argument from design, and that is why so many people preferred non-Darwinian theories of evolution, which left more room for order and purpose in creation. The idea of progress allowed even the origin of the human soul from a lower order of creation to be seen as part of the cosmic purpose. The return to traditionalism saw the argument from design pushed into the background. What mattered to those who saw the idea of progress as a threat were the traditional family values that, they felt, were bring eroded by the new ideas, and that could only be salvaged by a return to belief in a God who had established those values and would hold us to account if we did not maintain them. Humans were something more than animals, and it was religion which ensured that we would not be tempted to model our behavior on them."(176)
"The Monkey Trial of John Thomas Scopes has come to symbolize the first phase of the attack on Darwinism, paving the way for the creationist movement of the later twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. But this episode has become so surrounded in myth that it has taken a great deal of work by modern historians to expose a more accurate picture of what happened in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925. The trial was neither the start nor the climax of this first wave of opposition to the teaching of evolution in the schools, although it certainly got more publicity than anything else. The popular image of the fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan being demolished by the debating skills of the defense attorney, the agnostic Clarence Darrow, to the applause of all the big-city newspapers, is firmly entrenched in the popular imagination. Opposition to evolutionism was not defeated in the Monkey Trial and it continued to influence the American educational system until challenged again by the Darwinists of the 1950s and 1960s."(176-177)
"Over the next decade, twenty-three states would consider anti-evolution legislation. In the end only three actually enacted it—Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee (although Oklahoma forbade the use of textbooks containing evolution and Florida formally condemned the theory). Tennessee’s Butler Act forbidding the teaching of evolution in the state’s schools was introduced in January 1925 and passed into law six weeks later."(182)
"If only three states passed anti-evolution legislation, the schools nevertheless stopped teaching the subject. To avoid confrontation, publishers ensured that the textbooks used in the nation’s schools no longer contained references to evolution (Nelkin, 1977, 1983). For all intents and purposes, Bryan’s campaign had succeeded. People would continue to read about evolution and debate its implications, but children would not be exposed to it in the schools."(186)
"The 1940s saw a consolidation of the synthesis between genetics and the Darwinian selection theory. Julian Huxley’s classic Evolution: The Modern Synthesis was published in 1942, when the Second World War still hung in the balance. In the postwar decades it became clear that science would no longer tolerate the vaguely teleological theories of evolutionary progress which had flourished during the eclipse of Darwinism. The world would have to deal with the consequences of a fully materialistic theory of evolution, and increasingly there were radicals such as Richard Dawkins who would insist that such a theory made nonsense out of any form of religious belief. Humans are not the intended products of a divinely inspired progressive trend. We are just lumbering robots programmed by selfish genes. In Europe, where the trend of secularization continued apace, such views were resisted more for their ideological consequences than because they disturbed religious belief. But religion was still a powerful force in America, the ideal bulwark against the godless Marxism confronted during the Cold War. And what really disturbed religious traditionalists in America was that the implications of Darwinism were no longer confined to the intellectual world. Inspired by a new level of confidence, the Darwinists demanded the kind of access to the schools that they had more or less voluntarily abandoned in the aftermath of the Monkey Trial.
The compromise that had deflected the original fundamentalist attack had broken down. The backlash was not slow to emerge. Religious fundamentalists renewed their campaign against evolutionism and focused their attention on resisting its influence in the schools. But there was something new about this postwar campaign. Increasingly, the impetus behind the anti-Darwinian movement was provided by an extreme form of biblical literalism, the movement we now call young-earth creationism."(189-190)
"For these religious conservatives, the best way of sustaining the view that salvation can only come through the second coming of Christ was to deny not only evolutionism, but also the geological and paleontological foundations upon which the theory rested. The campaign for equal time to be given to what was called “creation science” in the schools eventually foundered on the ACLU’s ability to show that its tenets were inspired by Genesis and not derived from any reasonable interpretation of the evidence. If creation science was fundamentalist Christianity in disguise, then the first amendment to the Constitution —designed to ensure the separation of church and state — forbids its teaching in the schools. The later movement known as Intelligent Design (ID), which focuses instead on a modernized version of Paley’s argument from design, was introduced to bypass this problem, and its campaign continues unabated today. Much of the public support for ID stillcomes, however, from conservatives whose real position is based on the young-earth interpretation of Genesis. Meanwhile, creationism spreads around the world. Evangelical sects are active in Africa, South America, and even in Europe (which they see as being as much in need of missionary activity as the rest of the world was in former centuries). Islam too has its fundamentalists, as we are all now aware, and these have their own reasons for opposing an evolution theory that denies the creation stories embedded in a very different sacred text.
Here is the basis for the widespread opinion that evolutionism and religion must by their very natures be in a state of conflict. Yet if there is one message to be derived from the previous chapters of this book, it is that such a polarized debate has few historical antecedents."(190-191)
"Even in later decades there are biologists who have made major contributions to the development of Darwinism, but have retained a respect for religious belief."(196)
"This materialist strand of thought since developed apace, and two figures have emerged as the champions of atheistic Darwinism. The British biologist Richard Dawkins is a brilliant popular science writer who has put his skills at the service of the campaign to replace traditional views of nature and human nature with the Darwinian perspective. And the American philosopher Daniel Dennett has attracted the same level of praise and criticism with his efforts to apply the Darwinian approach, especially to the origins of the human mind."(198-199)
"Significantly, in recent years Dennett too has begun to stress the harmful effects of religion and to suggest that the corresponding memes should be rooted out from the foundations of Western culture (Dennett, 2006). We must create our own values, not rely on rigid prescriptions passed down by an imaginary God."(203)
"Creationism works because so many people see their commitment to the Bible as both a source of salvation and a way of preserving traditional American values. This is why the biblical literalism of young-earth creationism has become a dominant force in American society without undermining support for science as a practical activity linked to technology and medicine."(207)
"The scientific community continues to treat ID with contempt. In some cases, at least, Behe’s claims have been undermined by research which has shown that intermediate stages are indeed functional, often because processes are adapted from pre-existing ones that had a very different function. More generally, it is pointed out that there is no active scientific research based on ID. The movement’s arguments are always negative: it claims that here is something you will never explain—and the whole point of science is to identify a puzzle and to propose naturalistic hypotheses as potential explanations. If the ID movement’s argument is accepted in any one case, science simply has to give up at that point, so ID is not so much a form of science as an excuse for stopping science in its tracks."(213)