Sebastian Junger is the author of “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.”
Many people balk at the idea that we are a product of evolution. On some level, they acknowledge that humans are social primates with a particular evolutionary heritage, but if you drill down far enough into their personal preferences — Why do you have a sweet tooth? Why do you vote a certain way? — their explanations veer into self-determination. They like sugar or vote Republican because they choose to — it’s what makes them them.
Given how natural selection works, it’s entirely possible that an aversion to evolutionary explanations is in itself a product of evolution. In a hostile environment, wouldn’t a belief in self-determination be adaptive? But no matter, the point is that anti-evolutionary bias makes rational discussion of the human race far more difficult.
This particular bias is prevalent at both ends of the political spectrum for different reasons. Cultural conservatives often reject the theory of evolution because it elbows aside the proposition that God created humans in his own image. Secular liberals, on the other hand, have a different agenda. They are comfortable with a godless universe but can balk at the prospect of living in a society that is deeply influenced by biological realities. Worldwide phenomena such as aggression and warfare are ascribed to culture — rather than genetics or biology — because to do otherwise would be to give up, as it were, on the struggle for social justice. […]