James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has been getting a lot of press coverage in the UK lately for his recent remarks that the British government has allowed the BBC to become dominant to the point where it’s threatening independent journalism. In doing so, he has invoked the conflict of evolution versus creationism to describe the economic struggle.
We’ve previously discussed the theory of evolution in connection with free-market economics. For example, see: Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand and Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection. This too: Economics, Intelligent Design, and Evolution.
It is pleasing, therefore, to see the same ideas being expressed elsewhere. The Adam Smith Institute is a UK think tank that seems to have had some influence on the thinking of Margaret Thatcher. At their website they have this article: Evolution and creationism, which is about James Murdoch’s speech. The speech itself is well-worth reading, for example:
It argued that the most dramatic evolutionary changes can occur through an entirely natural process. Darwin proved that evolution is unmanaged. These views were an enormous challenge to Victorian religious orthodoxy. They remain a provocation to many people today. The number who reject Darwin and cling to the concept of creationism is substantial. And it crops up in some surprising places.
For example, right here in the broadcasting sector in the UK.
The consensus appears to be that creationism — the belief in a managed process with an omniscient authority — is the only way to achieve successful outcomes. There is general agreement that the natural operation of the market is inadequate, and that a better outcome can be achieved through the wisdom and activity of governments and regulators.
We’ll let you click over there to enjoy that on your own. Here are some excerpts from the Adam Smith Institute’s article, with bold added by us:
As in so many things the confusion over beliefs is more extreme in the US than the UK but it still exists here. Creationism itself is more associated with sects on the right, even while such loudly abhor government planning of the economy. But those who are most strident in their insistence that the natural world is simply a result of random chance filtered thought survival of the fittest also seem to be those who insist that the economy is not such.
Exactly! We’ve mentioned this intellectual inconsistency before. See: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Barack Obama. Let’s read on:
All of which is really rather puzzling. It would seem logical that believing that one huge, chaotic and extraordinarily complex system has arisen without planning would lead on to the acceptance that if it can happen once it can happen twice. If humans are simply the result of competition in spreading gametes for 4 billion years, then it should be easier to accept that an economy is a result of similar if subtly different competition.
This has been strikingly obvious to us, but we’re always amazed that so many science types just don’t get it. We continue:
Yet, as above, it just doesn’t quite seem to work out that way. Perhaps it is just that the human brain is uncomfortable with quite so much randomness: if we are planned to be here than we can accept the random nature of the world, while if we are randomly here then there must be planned order in the world?
Never underestimate the ability of the people to entertain two contradictory notions at the same time. Here’s the end:
Or perhaps it’s that those who accept both Darwin (correctly) and planning (incorrectly) are not quite so free of religious desires as they think themselves to be. There still needs to be a caste to protect them from the vagaries of the universe, to intercede against randomness, but they’ll term them planners instead of priests?
Well said! We applaud the Adam Smith Institute for the same reason we applaud Darwin’s theory of evolution — both promote ideas that are supported by the evidence of the real world. Therefore, we shall never tire of pointing out that free enterprise and unguided Darwinian evolution are entirely compatible. Acceptance of one should lead to acceptance the other.
Alas, it doesn’t often work out like that. Life is strange.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.