Limits of Darwinian Liberal Education

To the Editor:

Professor Arnhart [“Darwinian Liberal Education,” volume 19, number 4] presents to us “Darwinism” as the unifying theory of human endeavor for use as the keystone of liberal education. He discusses this as if we are all agreed as to what it is without ever defining it in his article. The same was true in the capstone evolution course I took and received an A+ in as a biology major. A hodgepodge of possible mechanisms hardly qualifies as a unifying theory. The chief deficiency of this hodgepodge is its inability to predict future changes. If, to be Humean, all of the billiard balls are lined up in such-and-such a way, past experience should tell us where they will go when struck. Arnhart’s facile solution to such difficulties is to call upon “emergent evolution,” but this is no more than a materialist’s “god of the gaps,” and if natural materialists are free to invoke such, I would think that creationists or ID theorists ought to be so privileged as well, to be intellectually honest and fair.

Terms like “internal teleology” seem to be self-contradictory. They only seem to have meaning when used in reference to a transcendent telos. Without maintaining such a point of reference they lose their rhetorical punch. Unless they can stand on their own they have no future.

The “evolutionary paradigm” presumes that progress springs from diversity. Paradoxically, “Darwinian Liberal Education” does away with diversity. I would not expect much more progress from minds so cloistered.

Greg Walker, M.D.

Bloomington, Indiana

Academic Questions welcomes comments and reflections. Send letters to the editor to Academic Questions/National Association of Scholars, 221 Witherspoon Street, 2nd Floor, Princeton, NJ 08542-3215, USA; or contact us online at [email protected].

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