"I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover," announced Pat Robertson , speaking of the Pennsylvania town that has just kicked anti-evolutionists off its school board, "if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God. You just rejected him from your city."

Every time I read something like this, I grow increasingly uncomfortable with the battle over evolution, and the Intelligent Design movement comes to seem more and more one of those things better in the theory than the practice.

There are a bunch of reasons to like the goals of the Intelligent Design crowd. To read, for instance, Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box , is to see that he is very smart and very sensible¯which is why we have published him in FIRST THINGS. The popular writer on science, David Berlinski, is someone of obvious sense who has brought himself around to a generally favorable view of Intelligent Design. Phillip Johnson and William Dembski are people I’d rather have on my side of a fight than against me.

Then, too, the movement has the right enemies. Scoffers and mockers like Richard Dawkins accuse their opponents of substituting theology for biology¯and then make exactly the same category of mistake, trying to get a science to stand in for a philosophy of science. Every science, Aristotle pointed out, has its own starting points, and the pure practice of biology does not need the hypothesis of God. But you can’t move from there to the notion that somehow the necessity for God has been eliminated from the philosophy that allows science to be intelligible in the first place. The Intelligent Design movement has been quite good at pointing all this out, as it has been at demolishing the myths of Inherit the Wind and all the fudged and question-begging examples by which evolution was sold to generations of school children.

At the same time, the opponents of the movement have a point: For someone like Pat Robertson, Intelligent Design clearly is a stalking horse for young-earth creationism. In some people’s hands, Intelligent Design is merely a pretty scientific-looking gift wrap that covers an anti-science package. On its own terms, Intelligent Design is an interesting but narrow philosophical point about the incapacity of any science to explain its own principles. But far too often these days, Intelligent Design is inflated to become the symbolic issue by which believers express their broad discontent with secularizing modernity.

Some people close to FIRST THINGS have pointed out that the Intelligent Design movement is one of the places where the real "ecumenism of the trenches" is happening, serious evangelicals and Catholics joining together to defend biblical religion against its cultured despisers. Maybe so. But it is a very small and incidental front, compared to, say, the co-fought abortion battle. And the banner of anti-Darwinism seems an odd flag for modern believers to rally under when they go marching as to war.


United Methodist pastor Ignacio Castuera explains, "The closer Jesus got to the cross, the smaller the crowds got. This is pretty close to the cross because people have to take derision, ostracism, all that." Ah, me, yes¯it’s so true. And the particular cross that Pastor Castuera has to bear is that nobody wants to talk to him. As the fine blog Mere Comments notes , Castuera is national chaplain for Planned Parenthood, and he’s traveling the nation looking for evangelical clergy to join his organization’s campaign for legalized abortion. Down in Kentucky , however, he just couldn’t get any of the local clergy even to, as they say, dialogue him. Hence the whole Jesus-close-to-the-cross thing, a metaphor for his travails. You don’t have to go looking for egregious misuses of biblical themes and passages; they come looking for you. But the self-congratulation of Pastor Castuera¯"As Christ was for the world, so I am for Planned Parenthood"¯deserves at least a nod.


In the Guardian , Ian Buruma bemoans¯and remoans and demoans and every other kind of moans you might think of¯the failure of music to provide any anthems for the left since the young Bob Dylan. The website Right Wing Bob is run by a mad Dylanologist (who, in his mild-mannered disguise, helped make the recent changes to FIRST THINGS’ website), and his account of Buruma’s column shows what was wrong in the first place with the left’s attempt to claim Dylan as its chief message-maker. "Myself, what I’m going to do," as Dylan told Nat Hentoff back in 1966, "is rent Town Hall and put about 30 Western Union boys on the bill. I mean, then there’ll really be some messages."

But the question of the contemporary failure of anthems is still an interesting one. Buruma, naturally, wants to ascribe it to commercialism, the power of capitalism to co-opt anything , even protest, and make money out it. That’s not going to fly, of course¯there was plenty of commercialism to start with in the early days of the folk movement: The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul, & Mary weren’t exactly against making money.

The failure of anthems is broader than the left’s sad retreading of early 1960s material. Where are the anti-abortion songs by which people can march? The hint of a movement winking from a set of top-40 lyrics? I noted recently that there ought, by rights, to be more anti-abortion poets. Forget for a moment the truth of the pro-life cause, and consider baby slaughter just for its poetic purposes. What else do you want? Moral urgency, death, blood, the fruits of sex, outrage, political consequence, and on and on.

Well, in the same way, the failure of popular songwriters to attach themselves to the pro-life cause seems inexplicable to me¯except as the triumph of extra-artistic politics over the artistic endeavor.


When the professionals let us down, the amateurs are free to step in. I think I’ve talked a well-known pro-life journal into printing music and lyrics for pro-life songs¯so send me your ideas at ft@firstthings.com . Meanwhile, here’s a little trip down Apocalypse Lane that I wrote for one of the traditional tunes that is used for the ballad "The Golden Vanity." You can hear the tune here , and my new words go:

The Rain and Wind

Have you seen the stars that fall?
Have you touched the dead that rise?
For I woke in the night to a rage that filled the skies,
and I heard the captains call
through the rain and wind,
and I saw the world begin to end.

There’s a fire upon the sea,
and a fury in the deep.
There’s a storm that has called great Leviathan from sleep,
and he hears the sailors plead
through the rain and wind,
and he hungers for the world to end.

All the children slain unborn,
all that Herod had struck down,
oh, they’ll rise up in red as their blood cries from the ground,
and they’ll sound the horseman’s horn
through the rain and wind,
and they’ll hunt with death until the end.

Surely God will break this world
like a stick across His knee,
and the ends He will feed to the fire that He decreed.
And the spears the angels hurled
through the rain and wind
will bring justice to this world and an end.

And there’ll be justice in this world
through the rain and wind,
and there’ll be justice in this world at the end.

Articles by Joseph Bottum

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