While Pope John Paul II recently endorsed much of Darwinism’s biological underpinnings, the theory is drawing some sharp attacks from American neoconservative writers, academic anthropologists and social theorists.
The libertarian Reason magazine (July) reports that such American neoconservatives as Irving Kristol are asserting that human society must rest on the permanent moral foundations found in religious faith. Darwinism’s assumption of the lack of a permanent, God-given moral order, undermines the basis for civilization as we know it. The article notes that that this position is a marked reversal from earlier forms of conservative thought that championed free enterprise and rugged individualism as part of “survival of the fittest.”
Within the academy, postmodernist theorists point out that the foundation that scientific research, and particularly Darwinian biology, rests on is the brainchild of white Victorian males. Writing in the leftist magazine The Nation (June 9), Barbara Ehrenreich states that Darwinism is no more scientific than any other well known school of science. Since there are no grand explanatory theories that are permanently `true’, and since no innate human traits exist linking all people and that gender, class and race are determinative factors in reaching scientific interpretations, Darwinism is no longer a satisfactory way of understanding the origins of the planet.
As the debate continues, one Darwinian of considerable stature, Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard writes in the New York Review of Books (June 12) that research into evolutionism, and its social and religious consequences continues to unearth important new discoveries. Gould suggests that Darwin himself would be happy to see his ideas continuing to draw such attention.
(Reason, 3415 Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90034; The Nation, 72 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011)
— By Erling Jorstad