Stranger Fruit

Conservatism and Evolution

As part of the Panda’s Thumb series debunking Jonathan Wells’ latest dreck (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design), Tim Sandefur, himself a self-avowed conservative libertarian Republican, argues that Wells’ work offers “no helpful contribution” to any debate about the compatibility of conservatism and evolution. Tim ends his piece:

The bottom line is this: the genuine conservatism of people like Russell Kirk and Richard Weaver really is fundamentally at odds with evolution, not because of anything having to do with the free market or evolution’s alleged links with racism and whathaveyou–all of which are superficial issues relative to what conservatism is about. Evolution undermines the conservative ambition for an eternal order where each person knows his or her place in the “beautiful pattern”. On the other hand, many, if not most, of those who call themselves “conservatives” are actually libertarians–believers in individual liberty, free markets, small government, and so forth–who do not believe that we should live within a “beautiful pattern” of outwardly-enforced order. For these people, evolution presents no serious threat. Morality, aid to others, political freedom, and the rest can all be perfectly well defended from a Darwinian perspective, and Arnhart has done a very good job of doing so. Wells’ book offers no helpful contribution to this debate.

Read the complete article here.


  1. #1 Reed A. Cartwright
    November 29, 2006

    Tim is a libertarian and not a conservative, and ironically his article makes the point that the two shouldn’t be confused or joined.

    You could go with “Republican” if you wanted.

  2. #2 John Lynch
    November 29, 2006

    Thanks, Reed. Fixed.

  3. #3 coturnix
    November 29, 2006

    Libertarianism is a radial deviation from the conservative core. What Weaver describes as libertarianism is actually liberalism, and what he describes as liberalism is a cinservative stereotype strawmen built over decades of electoral lies and slanders.

  4. #4 Timothy Sandefur
    November 29, 2006

    Reed, you will be happy to learn that last month I finally vomited up my Republican party card, and left the GOP.

  5. #5 John Lynch
    November 29, 2006


    Now I have to go and edit again!

    Not that I mind you leaving the fold …

  6. #6 Reed A. Cartwright
    November 29, 2006

    So Tim, does that mean that you are now a registered “unaffiliated” like me.

  7. #7 Timothy Sandefur
    November 30, 2006

    No, I registered Libertarian this time, because you get all sorts of interesting junk mail that way.

  8. #8 coturnix
    December 1, 2006

    Why are comments closed on Sandefur’s entries, both on PT and on PL, on the relationship between cosnervatism and evolution? I wanted to leave a comment and there is no place to do so. How can we have a conversation without comments?

  9. #9 Timothy Sandefur
    December 1, 2006

    I don’t allow comments because the trouble of policing them for abuse and obscenity is not worth my time. So I never allow comments at Positive Liberty. However, other members of the Thumb crew have urged me many times to allow comments, so out of deference to them, I’ve done so in a few of my latest entries. Unfortunately, once again, commenters got abusive and degenerated into personal attacks within 24 hours of my latest Thumb post. So I closed the comments. Readers who wish to have a conversation with me are encouraged to email me instead at, and I will respond when I have time and will blog the more interesting conversations (with the correspondent’s permission, of course).

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