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I Don’t “Fear” Evolution

Paul Nelson

Conservatives Shouldn’t Fear Evolutionary Theory,” writes Razib Khan for National Review, as noted already. Interesting about the title of the piece: conservatives shouldn’t “fear evolution.” I don’t fear evolution. I’ve studied it professionally for nearly forty years, and regard large parts of the theory as generally sound.

I am skeptical of many claims of evolutionary theory, however. Ironically, the sound or well-supported parts of evolutionary theory are readily incorporated into a design perspective, and really only make sense from that perspective (see Michael Behe’s new book, Darwin Devolves).

What’s worrisome to me about Khan’s article is its quasi-hagiographical tone: evolution, he writes, is “a crowning achievement of Western civilization.” The unspoken corollary: anyone who expresses skepticism about evolution is an enemy of civilization.

Khan wants sensible conservatives to get on board with evolution. The problem is, unanswered questions, such as the origin of adaptive complexity, will NOT go away because everyone is “on board.”

As I said 11 years ago, in my interview with Ben Stein for the movie Expelled, the funny thing about scientific questions that haven’t been properly answered is they refuse to go away. Nature herself will not cooperate, and it doesn’t matter what WE think. She will continue to talk back to us, until we learn to listen to her.

Photo credit: Dušan Smetana via Unsplash.

Paul Nelson

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Paul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.

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Ben SteinconservativesDarwin DevolvesevolutionExpelledfearMichael BeheNational ReviewnatureRazib KhanWestern civilization