Andrew Ferguson is probably the funniest journalist in America now, but sometimes he waxes serious, as he did in a Weekly Standard article last month, "The Book That Drove Them Crazy."
In it Ferguson describes the reception of Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, published 25 years ago. Ferguson praises Bloom's "sly wit and the torrential energy of his prose," but also notes that "Bloom wrote a moment before the population of modernity's Holy Trinity-Marx, Freud, and Darwin-decreased by two-thirds. Marx lost his allure, at least nominally, after the collapse of the murderous regimes that had been built from his ideas. Freud was demoted from scientist to cultural observer, and an unreliable one besides. Only Darwin survives, undiminished and if anything enlarged, as the font of a new materialism."
Bloom did not really take on Darwin-and his thinking is at the core of today's regnant materialism. Materialists needed Darwin. Before, they had no way of explaining how the world around us and humans ourselves came into being without God's action. Afterward, it became common to explain everything that happened as the result of physical causes.
Darwin ate up Freud: Psychiatrists generally stopped putting patients on couches and started giving them pharmaceutical cocktails designed to change their brain waves. Darwin even ate up Marx: The hope that changing class relationships would quickly change human nature could not stand up before sociobiology's emphasis on nature over nurture.
If Darwinism is right, the result is what Bloom called "the civilized reanimalization of man." Ferguson points out, "Nowadays, if we seek insight into the mysteries of the human heart (not high on the academic agenda in any case) we are far more likely to consult a neurobiologist or a social psychologist than Tolstoy or Aristotle. This is not progress." He's right, but Tolstoy-although his "What Men Live By" is my favorite short story-and Aristotle cannot by themselves stand up against Darwin's surge.
That's why the brave souls who fight for intelligent design in the face of furious opposition deserve support. That's why reading the Bible, and embracing biblical objectivity rather than materialism, is so important. That's why the cross is crucial, because it shows us that the battle is not nature vs. nurture: Grace trumps all.