The first column I wrote on the subject of evolution may well have been the first column I wrote, period. You see, I didn't just walk into the old offices of Boise Weekly 19 years ago and announce I was their new columnist. No, before approaching them, I banged out 15 columns, each approximately twice as long as those I write now, and submitted them in a batch. I needed to prove to them I could do it, and having never written a column in my life up to that point, I also felt some need to prove it to myself, as well.
I have no recollection of which subject I banged out first, only that the evolution column was the 12th one published. I called it "And On The Eighth Day... " (BW, July, 27, 1995) and in it, I proposed the idea that there were two strains of humanity: those who have evolved from less intricate species, and those who were created as is.
Obviously, they were created... just as they are now, from mud and ribs. What they are now, they have always been and will always be. A certain level of pity is called for. Unlike those of us who would rather be related to an ape than Jimmy Swaggart, the Createes will never feel a kinship with the rest of nature--that fecund swamp from which we Evolvers climbed--any more than a bronze bust of Elvis can love the foundry where it was forged. They can take no comfort in knowing that evolution can carry our children into a hopeful future just as it has floated us out of a savage past--that in spite of momentary evidence to the contrary, over the long run we are getting better.
I've written many more columns on evolution--roughly speaking, one for every time the controversy popped up. And it's one of those controversies that pops up a lot, isn't it? It's rare for a year to go by without some dumbass--usually Southern and usually running for something--declaring his conviction that Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution were spawned in the Pits of Hell, or that the teaching of the subject to our vulnerable youth has resulted directly in such horrors as the Columbine shooting and the election of Barack Obama, or that unwed girls are getting pregnant by the busload because thinking they evolved stripped them of any sense of morality. Or some such hillbilly nonsense.
And up it pops again. Recently, one of my favorite human beings, Bill Nye The Science Guy, defended evolution in a high-profile debate with Ken Ham, an Aussie transplant who seems to support himself by hawking the Creationist line to rubes. This debate coincided with the release of a poll showing that 46 percent of Americans don't believe in evolution, and an HBO documentary, Questioning Darwin, which explores the crisis of faith the great naturalist endured, intermingled with interviews with Christian fundamentalists, all of whom insist they are special in a way no monkey can share.
I have seen post-debate interviews in which The Science Guy explained that in spite of being exasperated and dumbfounded by the level of ignorance he finds when he encounters Creationists such as Ham, he can't help but admire the passion they have for their position. I can't tell whether Nye is sincere or not in that admiration; he always has one of those perpetually bemused expressions on his face which could be interpreted either as honest wonderment or subtle disgust.
But if he means it, that he respects the Creationists for their passion, then I have to respectfully disagree. Passion has, as often as not, led humanity into as much tragedy as triumph. I have no doubt Hitler was passionate about his positions. Charlie Manson, too. And every Klansman, ever.
Beyond that, I question whether much of that passion Nye found commendable is even real. In fact, in the 19 years since proposing the "We evolved/They were created" thesis in that old column, I have come to suspect there may be a third strain of human beings. And if I am right, we may be witnessing, without realizing it, a creature so calculating and sociopathic that it matters nothing to this beast whether humanity rises or falls, learns or stays ignorant--or even survives--not as long as it can make a buck from the turmoil that it, itself, nurtures.
Yes, I am talking about the prospect of a breed whose members are plenty smart enough to understand that evolution is indeed the guiding biological principle in the natural world, but care so little about the truth that they would make a great show of denying that same truth for the sake of exploiting the bedimmed, the uneducated, the stupid, all for personal power and pelf.
Yes, I'm talking about a parasitical adaptation which deposits its eggs in the weakest of minds, then sits back and waits for the donations, the attention, the votes to come pouring in when the eggs hatch and those voracious little lies start feeding on the gullibility of the frightened flock.
Yes, I'm talking about a vampire of sorts, which wraps itself in a cloak of piety and faux science, knowing good and well it is preaching a false faith, then sucks these most vulnerable of souls empty of thought, of knowledge, of logic and, of course, of money.
Scary? Oh my yes... that monsters so cold and cunning could be hiding in plain sight. Hiding in our political offices. Hiding in our pulpits. And doesn't it follow that such predators could not possibly believe in the God they so passionately preach? For if they did, how could they not be fearing for their immortal souls?