When we hear the word “fundamentalism,” we usually think “religious extremism.” But people can be extremists in their beliefs without being conventionally religious. This is especially true for evolution.
Certainly there’s good evidence for evolution—who can deny that organisms have changed over time? But what we’re talking about here is the claim that natural selection, an unguided material process, is the main driver of evolution. This is Darwinian evolution.
It turns out that Darwinian evolution is as fervently held by many of its adherents as religious fundamentalism. Michael Ruse, himself a Darwinist, has even written a book declaring as much, with Oxford University Press no less: Darwinism as Religion. Ruse is a Darwinist, but not a Darwinian fundamentalist.
The problem with Darwinian fundamentalists is that they pretend that they are the defenders of reason and truth when they are as much in the thrall of an ideology as any religious fundamentalist. If the evidence for evolution as such is overwhelming, the evidence for Darwinian evolution as a totalizing philosophy of life is in fact underwhelming.
Fundamentalism is always about overzealously held beliefs. A fundamentalist is not only certain about knowing the truth but is also convinced that dissenters have no legitimate voice and must be silenced. Fundamentalism is about who’s in, who’s out, who’s right, who’s wrong, and it leaves no room for negotiation.
Darwinian fundamentalists are as bad as any fundmantalists in this regard, perhaps more so, because most fundamentalists finds themselves marginalized in subcultures that have little clout in the wider society. Darwinian fundamentalists, on the other hand, are thoroughly entrenched in elite society. All the biology textbooks, for instance, follow their lead. Unlike Church-state separation, there is no Darwin-state separation.
Fundamentalism in any guise is bad because it shuts down discussion, demonizes opponents, and pretends to a knowledge it does not actually possess. At TheBestSchools.org, we addressed religious fundamentalism with our Fundamentalist Belief Inventory. As an equal-opportunity fundamentalist deflater, TheBestSchools.org now offers its Darwinian Fundamentalism Index.
Please note: 1) this quiz is a forced choice test, meaning there are deliberately uncomfortable choices to make, and 2) the quiz does not offer psychological advice, nor is it intended as proof of biological orthodoxy.
Click here to take the 40-question Darwinian Fundamentalism Index.
You might also like: The Fundamentalist Belief Inventory.