My father, the Old Curmudgeon, sent me Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s current article for The New Republic, “Charles Darwin, Conservative? Two hundred years later, the right still misunderstands him”. From which (with a few links I’ve added):
Polls, particularly in the United States, tell us that many conservatives still distrust Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The bicentennial of his birth should be a fitting occasion for the right to take another look at a man who contributed immensely to some ideas that it holds dear.
Darwin was not an atheist but a Victorian believer. He was not a proto-Marxist but a liberal, which in 19th-century Britain meant someone who favored individual liberty over big government. Darwin was an admirer of John Locke and Adam Smith, two of the greatest thinkers of freedom. And although he was influenced by Malthus, whose writings on overpopulation were later used by critics of capitalism to justify collectivism, Darwin used that political economist’s ideas in biology, not political economy.
Darwin did not set out to deny God. Anyone who has read The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man or his correspondence is immediately struck by how careful Darwin was to avoid what we would today call an “ideological agenda.” But this diligent student of nature did make one shattering discovery: not the theory of evolution itself, which had been proposed many times and can be traced back to the Greeks, but the fact that evolution is a random process of natural selection whereby certain variations that become well-adapted to the environment are gradually preserved through hereditary transmission. Ultimately, all species have a common origin.
This finding posed a cataclysmic challenge to the established church, comparable to the re-examination of Aristotle in the 12th and 13th centuries or the displacement of the Earth from the center of the universe in the 16th and 17th centuries. But unlike the teachings of Aristotle, which were absorbed by the church through Thomas Aquinas, and the findings of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton, which were reconciled with religion by rational Christianity and Deism, Darwin’s books have remained anathema to many believers. The pope finally accepted his teachings in the 1990s and the Anglican Church recently apologized to him. But for millions of Christians, Darwin remains unacceptable. …
Read the rest here.