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How Is Darwin’s Idea Dangerous? John West Counts the Ways

John West

It amazes me that people who are otherwise smart and sensitive can treat the impact of Darwinism on our culture as an afterthought, if that. One of the best book titles on evolution is atheist Daniel C. Dennett’s 1995 book, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Of course Dennett meant that evolution was dangerous in good ways as he sees it, “eat[ing] through just about every traditional concept, and leav[ing] in its wake a revolutionized world-view, with most of the old landmarks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways.” 

You could hardly put it better. In an excellent new print and podcast interview with World Magazine, Discovery Institute vice president John West details the landscape of the cultural, moral, legal, even medical “landmarks” that have been worn away under the influence of evolutionary thinking.

First and foremost, the impact has been on faith: “Darwin’s theory wasn’t just about change over time — it was that we’re part of an accidental process.” How could this not have a corrosive affect? West also discusses the sexual revolution, racism, reductionism of the human being to a meat machine, and more. The last point brings an observation, deserving of more attention, about the rush to medicate young people. A purely material process of origins naturally means a purely material person as its product:

Psychoactive drugs are a great benefit to society — I’ve had family members who have benefited from them. But I think it should concern people that in some schools in America, 40 percent or more of the young boys are put on Ritalin for ADHD. Ritalin is pharmacologically related to cocaine, so it is going to affect your concentration whether you have ADHD or not. This idea that we’re just these material creatures leads to a psychoactive-drug-first mentality.

Advice for Parents

And Dr. West adds other helpful counsel for parents, who should be proactive in how they allow their kids to be educated. Don’t just farm it out to the schools, whether secular or religious:

Be responsible for those in their own circles of influence. Don’t fret if you don’t have 100,000 people listening to you on YouTube or Facebook. Pay attention to your own kids. Pay attention to the kids of your friends. Even in evangelical churches, parents often farm out the raising of their kids. You can’t cede your parenting to schools — public or Christian. And you certainly can’t cede it to the internet, social media, or video games. If you feel ill-equipped, there’s good news: Various groups have produced lots of great resources to help you talk about these things with your kids. You don’t need to be an expert. Just watch a video with your kids each week and engage them in discussion around the dinner table.

That is great practical advice. I would say, if parents do not take such an active role, then religious schools may be the most risky option. If those schools are spineless in surrendering to what the prestige voices in the culture say, then they have given your own faith’s imprimatur to the theory that humans arose by accident. If they are faithful yet unsophisticated in how they teach, then your children are in for a disturbing surprise when they get to college.

Why does it matter so much what your own family thinks about biological origins? To find out, read the rest of the interview here and listen to an excerpt here.

Photo: Package of Ritalin tablets, by Adam from UK [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



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