New book: Darwinian Conservatism by Larry Arnhart

From: <>
Date: Tue Aug 30 2005 - 18:44:04 EDT

From the US press release:

Ever since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859,
political and religious conservatives have had an uneasy relationship
with Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Many conservatives accept the Biblical doctrine that human beings were
specially created by God in His image. And some conservatives believe that the
living world shows evidence of being the product of an “intelligent designer.”
Many of these conservatives fear that the idea of humans evolving naturally from
lower animals denies their moral dignity as special creatures of the Divine
Intelligent Designer.
Across the United States, religious conservatives have argued that Biblical
creationism or “intelligent design theory” should be taught in public school
science classes as an alternative to Darwinian evolution. For many
conservatives, this is one of the major battles in the culture war between moral
traditionalists and atheistic materialists.
Going against this movement, Larry Arnhart aims to persuade conservatives
that Darwin is their friend and not their enemy. The author is a professor of
political science at Northern Illinois University and claims that a Darwinian
science of human nature supports the moral, political, and religious ideas of
Darwinian biology confirms the conservatives’ realist view of human nature
and denies the leftists’ utopian view of human nature as perfectible.
Arnhart sketches twenty natural desires that are innate in human beings as
shaped by Darwinian evolution. And he shows how the conservative commitments to
traditional morality, family values, private property, and limited government
satisfy the evolved natural desires of human beings.
For example, he indicates how the social bonds of marriage and family life
defended by conservatives satisfy the natural human desires for sexual mating,
sexual identity, and parental care. By contrast, those on the left tend to see
marriage and family life as artificial cultural constructions that can be
changed, or even abolished, by social engineering directed to absolute sexual
Arnhart has engaged in public debates with conservative proponents of “
intelligent design theory” such as Michael Behe, William Dembski, and Jonathan
Wells. In this book, he presents his arguments for why these conservatives are
wrong to fear Darwinian biology and why conservatives should see Darwinian science
as supporting their values. Darwinian evolution is open to a religious belief
in God as the First Cause of the evolutionary laws of nature.

From the intro:

First objection: Darwinism subverts traditional morality by promoting atheism.
Religious conservatives often object to Darwinism because they
think it necessarily assumes a scientific atheism that is morally corrupting.
In Chapter 6, I will answer this objection by arguing that Darwinian
biology is compatible with religious belief in God as the First Cause of
the natural universe. I will also argue that Darwinism recognizes the
social utility of religion in supporting morality, while recognizing as
well a natural moral sense that stands on its own independently of religion.
Darwinian conservatism can thus satisfy both religious conservatives
and skeptical conservatives.

posted by: rich faussette
Received on Tue, 30 Aug 2005 18:44:04 EDT

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