Creationism Lives!

by Don Boudreaux on December 1, 2004

in Myths and Fallacies

Creationism apparently is natural to the human mind, for so many people find it impossible to think of the world in any way other than as if it and all that is in it are the products of a single force – a single, intentional uncaused cause that creates our world.

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When creationist thinking today is applied to the astrophysical, geophysical, and biological parts of the world, almost all members of the “reality-based community” (as modern American leftists are now fond of calling themselves) reject it as simplistic, baseless, and thoroughly at odds with scientific thought.  “Only red-state yokels blinded by religion believe in creationism and reject natural selection!”

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But the bluest blue-state left-“liberal” atheist oughtn’t be too quick with the self-congratulatory praise of his or her own rational faculties.  Most left-liberals are pure creationists when it comes to society and social order.  For them, government is the creator of order – of high wages, of safe working conditions, of safe food and drink, of fair prices, of good education, of trustworthy physicians, accountants, and butchers, of peace, commerce, culture, and civility itself.

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The modern American scholar most clear about his creationism – although he doesn’t call it that – is University of Chicago Law professor Cass Sunstein.  In his new book, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever, Sunstein consistently applies his long-espoused faith that sovereign power is the only – indeed, the only possible – source of rights and social order.  Therefore, in Sunstein’s canon, everything that happens in society is ultimately the doing, the responsibility, of the state.  Ultimately, all order is created by the threat of official violence.  If the state is good, the order it creates will be extensive and good.  If the state is evil, the order will be less extensive and the society will be plagued with avoidable ills.  But good or bad or in-between, the state is the necessary creator of society.

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Bah! Humbug!

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From David Hume and Adam Smith through Hayek to Anthony de Jasay and Randy Barnett (among many others), the true reality-based view of social order is that it is the product of spontaneous, undesigned, and undesignable evolution.  The state has its consequences, to be sure, but it is emphatically not society’s Creator.  Nor could it possibly be.

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Tom Palmer of the Cato Institute brilliantly demolishes Sunstein’s antediluvian world-view in this essay in the Dec. 13 issue of National Review.

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Several years I penned my own analysis of this sovereign-creationism view.

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