George Will

Still, many people of faith find Darwinism compatible with theism: God, they say, initiated and directs the dynamic that Darwin described. In the end, Darwin, in spite of perfunctory rhetorical references to "the Creator," disagreed. As a scientist dealing with probabilities, and with a profoundly materialist theory, he had no intellectual room for a directing deity that wills a special destination for our species.

Darwin's rejection of premeditated design helped to validate an analogous political philosophy. The fact of order in nature does not require us to postulate a divine Orderer, and the social order does not presuppose an order-giving state. As a practical matter, we cannot expel government from our understanding of society as Darwin expelled God from the understanding of nature. But Darwinism opens the mind to the fecundity of undirected, spontaneous, organic social arrangements -- to Edmund Burke and Friedrich Hayek.

Speaking of government, in 1973 Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. It said that when identifying an "endangered" or "threatened" species, the government should assess not only disease, predation and threats to its habitat but also "other natural ... factors affecting its continued existence." Natural factors?

Four years later, the act held up construction of a Tennessee dam deemed menacing to the snail-darter minnow. Ed Yoder, a learned and sometimes whimsical columnist, noted that it was under Tennessee's "monkey law" that John Scopes was tried in 1925 for teaching biology in a way considered incompatible with "Genesis." While not equating Tennessee's law with "a measure so enlightened" as the 1973 act, Yoder noted:

"Both measures involve legislative interposition in the realm of biological change; and which will have involved the greater hubris is yet to be seen. Tennessee's ambitions were comparatively modest. It sought only to conceal the disturbing evidence of natural selection from impressionable school children. The Congress of the United States, one is intrigued to learn, intends to stop the nasty business in its tracks."

Having accomplished that, it should be child's play for Congress to make the climate behave. Pick your own meaning of "child's play."


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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