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How Much of Today’s Anarchic Nihilism Can Be Laid at Darwin’s Feet?

Photo: Another night of rioting in Portland, by Tedder / CC BY-SA (

There’s a pervasive sense afoot that something has gone wrong, in a very serious way, in our culture. Just in 2020, problems that were of, let’s say, an outpatient nature in their gravity have gone to full-scale emergency — a cytokine storm of trouble, is one way of putting it. But why? I’ve watched the once-beautiful city where I live, Seattle, pummeled by violent protests, the police undermined by those above them in the government. The city watches endless chaos as the mob rampages, and no one in authority seems willing to stop it. Neighboring Portland is worse. Such things are happening across the country. It is anguishing. 

What Is Going On?

We’ve seen things that were previously unheard of. A random example: as others have pointed out, you may have noticed from the videos of urban anarchy that it’s now women, not just young men, who are assaulting police officers and otherwise creating mayhem. It used to be that males had a monopoly on protest violence. Not anymore. What drives the astonishing anarchism, the nihilism of the young? What has drained the confidence of the adults, who should be the ones acting to assert order?

I’m not sure anyone knows the full truth. But watch this striking three-minute video from Discovery Institute:

That there might be something unique, exalted, and worth defending about human lives, about our traditions of moral and spiritual belief, about institutions like marriage or the family or about property, about our freedom or our equal dignity, about our privileged place in the cosmos — all these ideas, once agreed on across the culture, are eroding, with a gathering speed, before our eyes.

A Powerful Myth that Shapes Us

Of course I’m not saying everything can be laid to Darwin’s feet. But see how much nihilism has been justified and advocated by some very smart and influential people in the name of evolutionary theory. This is not just a scientific theory of biological origins. It’s a powerful myth. That observation alone doesn’t make Darwinism false science. A myth could be true. It only means that Darwinism conveys a vision of reality that can’t help but shape us deep within. The malignancy of it has been building for more than a century and a half. Something wrong in the way Americans are shaped reached a critical threshold this year.

If you want to understand how that happened, because you want to know how it could be reversed, it’s not possible without considering the role of evolution advocacy, which begins in school and continues to bombard us into adulthood. Take three minutes and see if you agree with me.

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.



anarchyCharles Darwincosmosculturecytokine stormDarwinismeducationevolutionfamilyhuman lifemalignancymarriagemythnihilismoutpatientpolicePortlandpropertyriotingSeattle