They’re regular contributors and panelists on Fox News, and they both regard the Discovery Institute’s “theory” of intelligent to be junk science. We wrote about that several years ago — see Conservatives and Intelligent Design. Their prominence drives the Discoveroids crazy. We discussed that a year ago — see Klinghoffer Attacks Tyson, Will, & Krauthammer.
If that’s unavailable, the same column is in the Washington Post: The foolish ‘theism’ of government enthusiasts. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Presidential campaigns inflate expectations that power wielded from government’s pinnacle will invigorate the nation. Thus campaigns demonstrate that creationists threaten the creative ferment that produces social improvement. Not religious creationists, who are mistaken but inconsequential. It is secular creationists whose social costs are steep.
Your Curmudgeon is delighted with that opening paragraph. Not only does Will describe religious creationists as “mistaken but inconsequential,” he also refers to “secular creationists.” This is the same thing we wrote about a month ago in The Folly of Economic Creationism. In fact, you’ll soon see that Will mentions the same book we did in our post — The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge (Amazon listing), by Matt Ridley, a longtime editor for The Economist. Our post made a lot of you unhappy — we’re used to that — but now you’ll have to contend with George Will. He says:
“Secular theists” — economist Don Boudreaux’s term — produce governments gripped by the fatal conceit that they are wiser than society’s spontaneous experimental order. Such governments’ imposed order suffocates improvisation and innovation. Like religious creationists gazing upon biological complexity, secular theists assume that social complexity requires an intentional design imposed from on high by wise designers, aka them.
Excellent! Let’s read on:
In “The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge,” Matt Ridley refutes the secular creationists’ fallacious idea that because social complexity is the result of human actions, it must, or should, be the result of human design. In fact, Ridley says, “Far more than we like to admit, the world is to a remarkable extent a self-organizing, self-changing place.”
What explains the reluctance to admit this? Perhaps the human mind evolved to seek a Designer behind designs. (“On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel,” Ridley says, “Adam and God touch fingers. To the uneducated eye it is not clear who is creating whom.”) Or perhaps people feel anxious if no one is in charge. Ridley’s point is that EVERYONE is in charge of social change. It is propelled by what Friedrich Hayek, echoing Darwin, called “selection by imitation of successful institutions and habits.” This is a broad-based, bottom-up process by which society, like Darwinian nature, is constantly experimenting.
Your humble Curmudgeon totally agrees. Will’s column is great, but we can’t copy it all Here’s the last paragraph:
No one, writes Ridley, anticipated that when Gutenberg made printed books affordable, increased literacy would create a market for spectacles, which would lead to improved lenses and the invention of telescopes, which would produce the discovery that the Earth orbits the sun. No one planned that one particular book’s argument for the fecundity of freedom would bolster the case for limited government the way Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” did when published in 1776.
That was a great Christmas gift from George Will. He’s our kind of conservative!
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