Add Ben Stein to the list of conservatives who have gone crazy over evolution. I've seen him ranting about Darwin on TV, and now we have this piece.
Stein believes evolution was a theory that arose due to the politics of the era, not due to any evidence. Here's a taste:
But it fell to a true Imperialist [Darwin], from a wealthy British family on both sides, married to a wealthy British woman, writing at the height of Imperialism in the UK, when a huge hunk of Africa and Asia was “owned” (literally, owned, by Great Britain) to create a scientific theory that rationalized Imperialism. By explaining that Imperialism worked from the level of the most modest organic life up to man, and that in every organic situation, the strong dominated the weak and eventually wiped them out.
Darwin offered the most compelling argument yet for Imperialism. It was neither good nor bad, neither Liberal nor Conservative, but simply a fact of nature. In dominating Africa and Asia, Britain was simply acting in accordance with the dictates of life itself. He was the ultimate pitchman for Imperialism.
Now I'm not going to argue science with Stein, since the few scientific arguments he makes are so laughable that I have to assume he hasn't the slightest knowledge of evolution. And I won't go into (as others have) how fascinating it is to see a conservative make such a post-modern claim--that's there's no objective truth, only the interplay of power structures.
But I will note that Stein doesn't even get history right. Darwin was no more or less "imperialist" than others around him, including opponents of his theory. (And if anything, he was less racist.) While we're at it, Alfred Russel Wallace, who came up with the idea independently, wasn't at all in Darwin's position, socially or economically.
No one needed Darwin to prop up British imperialism. It was doing fine and felt fully justified long before the theory of natural selection was around. The idea, in fact, that Darwin, consciously or otherwise, created evolution to support his nation's policies is bizarre. Darwin himself sat on his theory for many years because he knew how revolutionary and unsettling it would be. Most of the criticism of his work was--far from raising whites over dark-skinned people, or Europeans over Africans, or the British over other nationalities--that it brought us all down to the level of animals.
We still hear echoes of this argument today. What we don't hear is any rationality from Ben Stein.