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Darwin's Conservatives: The Misguided Quest

John G. West

Discovery Press Institute, 2006

Item# B122
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Should Conservatives embrace Darwin? Conservatives such as George Will, James Q. Wilson, and Larry Arnhart have mounted a vigorous defense of Darwinian biology, even urging other conservatives to draw on Darwin’s theory for support. In this small but incisive book, Dr. John West argues that the quest for “Darwinian conservatism” is misguided and fundamentally flawed. Contrary to claims by Darwin’s conservatives, Darwinian evolution promotes relativism rather than traditional morality. It fosters utopianism rather than limited government. It is corrosive, rather than supportive, of free will and religious belief. Finally, and most importantly, Darwinian evolution is in tension with the scientific evidence.

Table of Contents

1. Does Darwinism Support Traditional Morality?
2. Does Darwinism Support the Traditional Family?
3. Is Darwinism Compatible with Free Will and Personal Responsibility?
4. Does Darwinism Support Economic Liberty?
5. Does Darwinism Support “Non-Utopian Limited Government”?
6. Is Darwinism Compatible with Religion?
7. Has Darwinism Refuted the Challenge from Intelligent Design?
Appendix: Brief of Amici Curiae Biologists And Other Scientists In support of Appellants in the case of Cobb County School District v. Selman

“John West rolls through the arguments for a pro-Darwin conservatism like an Abrams tank leveling a street barricade: methodically and irresistibly. If you are on his side, it’s an aesthetic joy to watch the survival-of-the-fittest line crunch and crumble. If there are any conservative Darwinists left after this rout, it’s only because they won’t stand and fight.”
— George Gilder, author of Wealth and Poverty and Telecosm

“Whenever someone says a debate is closed or beyond-the-pale, you can be sure something is amiss. John West courageously takes up the taboo of challenging the received wisdom and avoided implications of Darwinism. In doing so he demands we think anew about hard questions involving the nature of humankind, progress, and the ground of moral right. No one can consider themselves fully acquainted with the issue of intelligent design without confronting the serious critique in this book.”
—Steven F. Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980 and F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

“John West’s book provides a concise, precise, and convincing refutation of those commentators who have urged conservatives to endorse Darwinism in the mistaken belief that this theory provides a biological underpinning for conservative values of moral character and individual freedom.”
—Phillip E. Johnson, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial.

“Conservative pundits all too often have a blind spot for that outdated Victorian creation myth known as Darwinism. Thinking Darwinism the best thing for conservatism since sliced bread, they make a hash of both. Finally, here is a book that holds their feet to the fire and sets the record straight.”
—William A. Dembski, author of The Design Revolution.

“John West makes a strong case that the attempt to derive the moral law from materialist premises is a project that, by the very nature of the objects assessed, cannot succeed. He persuasively argues that our knowledge of the good, the true, and the beautiful cannot be accounted for by the philosophy of materialism.”
—Francis J. Beckwith, Associate Professor of Church-State Studies, Baylor University and author of Law, Darwinism and Public Education.

“Why is it so difficult to have a rational discussion of Darwinism? Because Darwinism today functions more as an ideology than as a scientific theory, distorting the counsels of both the Left and the Right. In this calm, intelligent, and eminently readable book, John West shows clearly that Darwinism is not a source of conservative insight into human nature, but only a source of confusion. With a few more fine books like this, it may become a good deal easier to hold a conversation.”
—J. Budziszewski, professor of government and philosophy, University of Texas, author of What We Can't Not Know: A Guide.

About the Author
Dr. John G. West is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute. Formerly the chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, Dr. West has written, edited, or co-authored ten books, including Traipsing into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Decision and The Politics of Revelation and Reason. Dr. West holds a Ph.D in Government from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington and is a member of the American Political Science Association, Pi Sigma Alpha (the national political science honor society), and Phi Beta Kappa.

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