THE TOPEKA DECISION ON EVOLUTION | 1999-08-21
The school board of Topeka, Kansas, recently voted to stop requiring that students be taught evolution. I have always believed that parents should have the final say over what their children are taught, and to the extent that this is a victory for that principle, I am all for it
When I say "I am all for it," I am not merely saying that I give my MORAL support to parental rights. I mean I have been out on the streets, risking my neck and reputation, fighting for parental rights. I mean I have stayed up nights and done free press conferences and been denounced and risked my job for parental rights in education.
My tiny group -- three of us --arranged the first united march of anti-busing and textbook protestors in Washington, DC, in 1974. At that time, there were national protests against dirty textbooks, the biggest one of which was in Kanawha County, West Virginia. There were separate protests going on against busing, the largest of which was in Boston, Massachusetts. We joined these groups together in a joint march in Washington, a show of solidarity by parents against the educational establishment.
We did it, as always, free of charge -- even our costs were at our own expense, out of our own pockets. It cost little money and lots of work.
At the hotel the night before the march, the Boston anti-busing group was having some trouble deciding who would speak for them at the press conference. One of the Kanawha County parents joked, "Well, we don't have any trouble deciding. Whitaker speaks for us, and he's not even a hick!"*
West Virginia mountaineers very seldom let ANYBODY speak for them, so I was very flattered by this trust.
And when I mentioned to some West Virginia fundamentalists and Boston Catholics that my theology might not be same as theirs, someone said something like, "Listen, you stuck your neck out for us and you work your backside off for us. You can believe what you want to and keep our respect."
I am all for all for parental authority over what their children are taught. Given my history, that is a major understatement. Teaching children their particular version of creationism should be their parents' choice. But for grown men to HIDE behind a religious view of creationism is a wholly different matter.
Let me explain what I am talking about here.
In the seventeenth century, Newtonian physics challenged the Biblical view of the universe. Before Newton, it was held that the universe was kept moving by the direct, daily intervention of the Hand of God. Newton's theory said that gravity rather than the direct intervention of God took over the day to day movements of celestial bodies. Church after church beat its credibility to pieces against the Newtonian rock.
But now we find out that Newtonian physics ITSELF is fundamentally flawed. It has gaping holes in it. But the fact that Newtonian physics is wrong on some basic points does NOT mean that the seventeenth century churches were right in THEIR theories of the universe.
What would happen to somebody who said that, since the Newtonian theory is flawed, we have to go back to the direct intervention of God to explain every motion in the heavens? He would be horse laughed off the stage, of course.
There are gaping holes in the Newtonian theory. But no one would say this means that the planets can only move by the direct, daily movement of the Hand of God.
There are huge, gaping holes in the Darwinian theory that are as fatal as those in Newtonian physics. The book "Darwin's Black Box" exposes a lot of these failures of the Darwinian theory. The fact is that Darwinian theory does not explain many of the real jumps from animal to animal. For example, the eye is far too complicated to have been developed by tiny, marginal evolutionary changes, as Darwin would posit.
But you can't use the holes in Darwinian theory to get back to the six-day creation, any more than the holes in Newton's theory can get gravity out of the motion of the planets. You can BELIEVE in creationism, and you can BELIEVE that, as Genesis says, that the sun is just a light hung up in the sky. What you CANNOT do is act like you are being **scientific** in saying that. Many conservative spokesmen are using "Darwin's Black Box" to sound like they are making the six-day creation sound science.
Why does this bother me? It bothers me because many spokesmen for the right are using the holes in Darwinism as an excuse not to take leftists on where it is risky. They posture and try to look look brave by attacking evolution. Well, that's cheap and easy. To see why, let's take a quick look at the leftist reaction to this posturing.
If you say leftism is stupid, and none of its programs ever works, you are threatening the very lifeblood of leftism. You are laughing at it. And mark my words: LEFTISM WILL BE DESTROYED WHEN WE UNITE IN LAUGHING AT ITS ABSURDITY
"The Devil, proud spirit, cannot bear to be mocked."
Everybody knows that leftism is silly, but it is also very, very powerful. PROFESSIONAL CONSERVATIVES WOULD RATHER DO ANYTHING BUT TAKE ON LIBERALS THIS WAY. They will use any excuse to make liberalism look like something deep and intellectual rather than to expose it as simply ridiculous. Exposing leftism as just plain silly scares liberals, and that makes them nasty.
When you want to avoid hitting leftism where it hurts, religious posturing is a wonderful thing to hide behind.
By attacking evolution, you get to say, "I am really taking on these leftists. The leftists are a giant, highly intelligent conspiracy arrayed behind the Theory of Evolution. I am out there bravely attacking the archenemy, the Devil's Evolution."
That's fine with the liberals, because it is every bit as silly as they are. The public that would join you in laughing leftism out of existence is now quietly laughing at the professional conservatives who are hiding behind religion.
But nobody laughs in church. Nobody OPENLY laughs at some political columnist who is making a fool of himself as a religious nut in his columns. Everybody acts like he is saying something profound, out of respect for his religious views.
Except, as usual, me.
The bottom line is that you can be a professional conservative, take the religious nut line, and keep getting paid without taking any serious risk.
Liberals LAUGH at you for being a religious nut, but they will not DESTROY you for it. They will do their very best to destroy you if you expose the reality that THEY are the nutcases. They will do their best to destroy you if you expose the fact that THEY are the laughing stock.
But if you clown around as a Political Pope, they'll encourage you.
To repeat: PROFESSIONAL CONSERVATIVES WOULD RATHER DO ANYTHING BUT EXPOSE LEFTISM AS LAUGHABLE NONSENSE. Religious posturing, as in the case of evolution, gives professional conservatives an excuse not to attack liberals where it hurts.
Let me give you an example of this sort of religious posturing to please leftists. One of the biggest threats to leftism is the research psychologists like Arthur Jensen are doing. A lot of psychologists like Jensen have discovered that the differences between races and individuals shown on IQ tests cannot be explained away by evil white oppression. This is devastating to the fundamental bedrock on which leftism is based.
When The Bell Curve was published, discussing this kind of research, liberals went ballistic.
So unless you denounce The Bell Curve and Jensen, the liberals might destroy you.
So one rightist leader, whom I otherwise respect, used evolution as what he thinks is a Shrewd way to attack Jensen. When Jensen first published his findings, a liberal magazine, The New Republic, denounced him in a cover article that labeled his test results "Scientific Racism."
So this conservative leader says he opposes "scientific racism." "Scientific racism," he says, is based on the Devil's Evolution.
As always happens when a conservative gets Shrewd, he is totally, laughably wrong. We are talking about psychological tests here. Long before evolution was ever imagined, it was assumed that different races had different average intellectual abilities. Nobody ever actually believed that God created all men equal. Jensen has nothing to do with evolution, one way or another.
The reason this professional conservative is using the liberal label, "scientific racism," is so that he can attack Jensen as representing The Devil's Evolution. Needless to say, Jensen's findings have nothing to do with evolution.
But by pounding a Bible and shouting "Evolution!!!," yet another conservative who should be providing us with leadership is using religion TO ATTACK THE LIBERALS' ENEMIES.
As always, the resort to blasphemy ends up not only being evil, but also by being stupid.
Another problem: Using religion to avoid taking on the liberals frontally is very, very destructive. For one thing, it turns politics into a religious test. It insults and isolates people who are our natural allies against leftism. If parents want their children to be taught evolution, I get the feeling that our Political Popes would prohibit it.
Sorry, but I believe evolutionists have parental rights, too.
So, in that case, as William Rusher once wrote about me, "You will see Whitaker on the barricades."
* This guy never saw Pontiac, South Carolina in the 1950s. I AM a hick and I'm proud of it!