Another “Darwin Day” Has Come and Gone

Every year around this time I like to post a section from a Salvo interview with John G. West, author of the book Darwin Day in America. Some highlights from the interview:

So why is your book titled Darwin Day in America?

“Darwin Day” is Charles Darwin’s birthday, February 12. As I explain in my book, there is a growing movement around the world to turn the day into a kind of secular holy day, complete with its own rituals to honor Darwin. These Darwin Day celebrations expose just how much Darwinian evolution is like a secular religion for many of its proponents.

At the same time, Darwin Day provides a metaphor for how our public policy and culture have been influenced over the past century by Darwinian biology and similar kinds of reductionist science. In many respects, Darwin Day is every day in America right now, because Darwinism and scientific materialism have reshaped virtually every area of our culture and politics.

. . .

The subtitle of your book asserts that “our politics and culture have been dehumanized in the name of science.” How so?

At the dawn of the 20th century, leading scientists and politicians giddily predicted that modern science—Darwinian biology in particular—would supply solutions to all the intractable problems of American society, from crime to poverty to sexual maladjustment. A new generation of “scientific” experts began treating human beings as little more than animals or machines.

. . .

How do you respond to those who may claim that your book is anti-science?

Actually, I regard it as pro-science. My critique is directed against ideologues in the scientific community who manipulate science for their own ideological agenda and then demonize those who disagree with them rather than respond to their criticisms. In my view, the real anti-science zealots in our society are the dogmatic materialists who are trying to misuse science as a bludgeon to attack traditional religion and morality.

Your book criticizes the role of scientific experts in politics. But shouldn’t public policy be based on the consensus view of science rather than fringe science?

The consensus view of science is important, and it merits respect. But the consensus view can be wildly wrong. That’s why policymakers need to listen to thoughtful dissenters on major scientific questions—whether the issue is Darwinian evolution, the extent of global warming, or embryonic stem-cell research. As my book recounts, throughout history the “consensus” of the scientific community has often embraced what today would be regarded as junk science—from eugenics to lobotomies to Kinsey’s junk research on sexual behavior. Dissenters in the scientific community have been invaluable in exposing the scientific majority’s blind spots and promoting genuine scientific progress.

Read the entire interview here. For further reading on this subject, see this article by the brilliant Dr. Robert P. George on the famous Scopes Trial.

 

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