They Are A-Changin’
I do not believe that the editors of the New York Times purposely design their newspaper to please me, but during this spring, the contrast between two stories gave me much delight. On April 15, the brilliant columnist David Brooks provided an essay titled “The Age of Darwin.” Brooks was referring, not to Darwin’s original theory of how favorable variations spread through pre-existing populations, but to the ambitious gene-centered Darwinian worldview of today, which aspires to explain virtually everything we do as a direct or indirect product of variations in the genes we have inherited from pre-human ancestors.
Brooks gives a summary review of modern intellectual history: “Once the Bible shaped all conversation, then Marx, then Freud, but today, Darwin is everywhere.” He notes that “scarcely a month goes by” when Time or Newsweek doesn’t have a cover story telling us that something we had once attributed to choice is actually controlled by our genes, be it diet, sexual orientation, or religion.
For instance, the November 13, 2006 cover article of Time consisted of a debate titled “God versus Science.” Time’s introduction to that debate observed that “brain chemists track imbalances that could account for the ecstatic states of visionary saints or, some suggest, of Jesus.”
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Phillip E. Johnson is Professor of Law (emeritus) at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Darwin on Trial, The Wedge of Truth, The Right Questions (InterVarsity Press), and other books challenging the naturalistic assumptions that dominate modern culture. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.
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