Culture

The birds and the bees

Culture | Pop culture's evolutionary message: I'm an animal, you're an animal, wouldn't you like to be an animal too?

Issue: "Back to no future," April 22, 2000

If you're concerned about what kids are learning about evolution in the public schools these days, wait 'til you see what they're learning outside the classroom.

In a new song by The Bloodhound Gang, teens hear a graphic description of mammalian mating-except the ones doing the mating are humans. Titled "The Bad Touch," the song punches out a refrain over and over: "You and me baby ain't nothin' but mammals; So let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel." The rest of the lyrics are "extremely offensive" (to quote the CD's warning sticker).

Teens seem to like the biological theme, and the CD has soared to No. 17 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart. MTV regularly airs the video, which features band members dressed as monkeys simulating sex with one another.

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It's all a "joke," band members say. But the parody relies on the wink-and-nudge assumption that Darwinian evolution tells us not only where we came from but also what behavior is natural and normative for humans. Which is: Whatever other mammals do.

Critics of Darwinism have long argued that the theory implies a materialistic view of human nature that undercuts morality. Put in simplistic terms, Teach kids they are animals, and they'll act like animals. It now appears that, simplistic or not, the critics were right.

Perhaps even more influential than raunchy songs are respectable products that parents and teachers are likely to buy-like a new paperback for children aged 9-12 titled The Beast in You. Full of catchy cartoons, the book introduces children to evolution through their own bodies, adducing such "evidence" as the existence of fingernails (proof that they evolved from claws) and goosebumps (proof that we once had fur). "With the evidence so close at hand-so personal-the concept of evolution becomes ... something kids can instantly relate to," enthuses an editorial review on Amazon.com.

But what happens to children's sense of morality when taught they are "beasts" inside? Today even many evolutionists acknowledge that the theory undercuts morality in the traditional sense. For Darwinism implies that the human mind is the product of natural selection, which preserves only those ideas that enhance evolution, says Robert Wright in The Moral Animal. Thus morality is merely an idea that evolved in the human mind as a tool for increasing reproductive success.

"There is definitely no reason to assume that existing moral codes reflect some higher truth apprehended via divine inspiration," Mr. Wright says. Instead, we tend to believe things "that lead to behaviors that get our genes into the next generation.... What is in our genes' best interest is what seems 'right'-morally right, objectively right."

And if morality is nothing but a trick of the mind produced by natural selection, then our true nature consists in primitive animality. According to Mr. Wright, both men and women are biologically programmed to be unfaithful to their spouses (though for somewhat different reasons). "Wanderlust is an innate part of [our] minds," Mr. Wright says. "Lifelong monogamous devotion just isn't natural."

The logical conclusion of such a theory is that we ought to live in accord with our natural impulses. Thus the most consistent evolutionists aren't necessarily academic scientists; they're band members in monkey suits simulating sex.

Christian parents and teachers who hope children will aspire to something higher need to teach them about the scientific flaws of Darwinism and the case for design in nature. An excellent resource is a supplemental textbook for high-schoolers titled Of Pandas and People, published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics in Richardson, Texas.

And just out from InterVarsity Press is a delightful cartoon book titled What's Darwin Got to Do With It?, aimed at 10th-graders taking biology. Modeled on earlier highly successful cartoon guides to such subjects as physics and genetics, this book, by Robert Newman and John Wiester, uses humor to explore the factual and logical gaps in Darwinian evolution. The issues unfold as a conversation between two college professors: Professor Teller, a Darwinist, and Professor Questor, a proponent of intelligent design (who is female-a nice politically correct touch).

Both books are suitable for public-school use, since they rely not on religious texts but on inferences from scientific data alone to build a case for design in nature. With resources like these, parents and teachers can give students the intellectual tools to resist the pervasive message that they "ain't nothin' but mammals"-and to support a higher moral vision than what they see on the Discovery Channel.

Nancy R. Pearcey
Nancy R. Pearcey

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