In the last few months, in the run-up to the Republican primary, the press (and others) have made quite a bit of noise about the beliefs of the candidates on the issue of evolution. The goal of this post is to elucidate why the question of origins is important within politics at all. Even more so, my hope is that this will help parents understand and teach the practical consequences of our beliefs within everyday life.
It may seem to some people that the position of a political candidate on an issue like evolution is like asking them what their position is on quantum gravity. That is, certainly, that is an issue better left to the quantum physicists, and the politician’s views on the subject can’t possibly matter for the governance of the nation. The media is generally asking this question as a test of personal competence. Most in the media consider belief in Intelligent Design or Creationism to be de facto evidence of incompetence for a person in the 21st century.
I believe that the question is an important one, but for a very different reason. The foundation of politics is in the nature of humanity. One cannot govern humanity if one does not understand humans. Thus, one’s opinion on the nature of humans is very pertinent.
So what does that have to do with origins? There are some ways in which one’s theory of human origins is separable from their view of the present human nature. But there are other ways in which they are intricately linked. If someone believes, as evolutionists do, that humans developed entirely via material processes, then one doesn’t believe that humans are composed of non-material being, like a soul.
Likewise, if someone believes that humans are the result of the upward movement of biology from primordial goo on an ever-upward path, the goal of governance would be to accelerate that path upward. However, if one instead believes in original sin – that each human is born with an innate disposition that leads them towards evil, the goal of governance is to minimize the ability of that disposition to expose itself and cause harm.
Finally, if someone believes that the universe is part of an orchestrated plan, then understanding the plan should be a first principle of governance. On the other hand, if someone believes that the universe is essentially arbitrary, then there is no law but the one that we make. We have no boundaries but the ones we set for ourselves.
The question of origins is interconnected with nearly every foundational aspect of governance. While most people view the question of origins as an obscure theological, philosophical, or scientific topic, the fact is that the question is of utmost practical importance to how we order our daily lives, as well as how we order our society.