July 14, 2006
Someone posted this excellent article from Reason magazine (July 1997). It describes how agnostic neo-conservatives are arguing against Darwinism in favor of creationism, aka intelligent design. They believe that religion is a powerful force for keeping society under control (I agree). They believe that Darwinism undermines some core religious themes, particularly natural moral laws (I agree). Without religion, most people will degenerate into selfish, immoral behavior (I disagree). Therefore, these self-appointed kings will push the “Noble Lie” that Darwin is wrong and God created man in his image. Essentially, they agree with Marx that “religion is the opiate of the masses” and want to keep us hooked on that drug. They want a small group of intellectuals who know the truth (them, of course) to control society. It all sounds like “The X Files”, doesn’t it?
Although I’m an atheist who doesn’t believe in God-given moral laws, I still live like a devout Amish grandmother. I believe “The Golden Rule” makes sense even without a divine force to keep you honest. It’s like a non-aggression treaty: you don’t hurt me, I won’t hurt you; you’re kind to me, I’ll be kind to you. In practice, the godless Europeans have a stronger social ethic than America’s religious capitalists (“dog eat dog!”). So while I agree that religion was important to create a cohesive social order, I don’t think we need it much in modern times. But I don’t think we could have gotten to this point without religion, so it was crucially important to human development. And Darwinism is the best scientific explanation for the development of life on Earth.