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Kanye Imagine? “Scientists Don’t Have to Be Darwinists”

David Klinghoffer

Kanye West

Thanks to Kanye West and Chance the Rapper, an idea has sprung on the culture like a thunderclap: “Black people don’t have to be Democrats.” This would appear to be beyond dispute. No one has to affiliate with either major political party, by virtue of race, ethnicity, sexuality, or anything else. Only the chairman of the Republican or Democratic party has to be a Republican or a Democrat, respectively.

Yet such is the power of group identity and groupthink that it comes as a shock to hear this common sense expressed aloud. Or in a tweet. I believe this is the first time we’ve cited Kim Kardashian in a post at Evolution News. But good for her when she endorsed her husband Mr. West as a “free thinker.” Even though she herself holds other political views, she says, “I believe in people being able to have their own opinions.” Can you imagine?

Whether the ripple in the news over these statements is an occasion to celebrate or not I leave to you to decide. But think about this. Imagine the shock if, say, some academics and scientists were to announce what’s equally obvious: “Professors don’t have to be evolutionists.” Or “Scientists don’t have to be Darwinists.”

Much as race and ethnicity, in some people’s eyes, oblige members of certain groups to affiliate with certain political views, the magnet-like pull of evolution on academics and intellectuals is even more powerful. Because the truth is, African Americans, including prominent ones, who are conservative or Republican existed before Kanye West or Chance the Rapper came along. These black people took major abuse for it, not least from white liberals. And they still do. But I don’t think any have stood to be punished with total career ruin or equivalent reprisals. At least, not outside of Hollywood, which would punish and ostracize whites for this offense with just as much alacrity as it would blacks.

The situation for scientists vis-à-vis Darwinism is considerably more severe and constricting. On most campuses, voicing doubts about Darwinian theory or, worse, support for intelligent design is flat-out career suicide. Scholars know it. I’m currently trying to help a prominent scientist who wants to announce his rejection of orthodox evolutionism to find an appropriate public forum for doing so. The guy has guts. He’s also very rare. And has tenure.

I remember several years ago sitting in the office of a Nobel Prize winner, in a relevant field, who confessed to doubts about evolution but refused our entreaties to put his name on his view publicly. Brian Josephson and Charles Townes are two Nobel scientists whose coming out for ID took courage. Even at that exalted level of accomplishment and recognition, Darwinists can still hurt you. And they will if they get a chance. See my comments here yesterday, “Intelligent Design’s Witness Protection Program.”

Will the situation change? Every scientist who stands up to the bullies and censors is like a giant green light, indicating to colleagues that they can at least consider thinking their own thoughts. There is the potential of a tipping point here. Remember, it wasn’t overnight, but the Berlin Wall did fall in the end.

Photo: Kanye West, by rodrigoferrari [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.