I found a New York Times article, A Split Emerges as Conservatives Discuss Darwin, that has an interesting take on the relationship between conservatives and Darwin. It relates to some degree to Prof Bob's post yesterday crooksandliars.com - the leaders of the free world - Bob, in that it mentions that only three of tne Republican candidates said they did not believe in evolution. While for some time conservatives have opposed evolution and embraced intelligent design instead, some conservatives now believe that evolution may be well suited to their needs. In part, this shift is due to the fact that intelligent conservatives realize that the focus on intelligent design leads to a focus on creationism and makes conservatives and their ideas seem out of touch with science and the real world.
Conservatives arguing for evolution claim that Darwin's ideas of natural selection can be used to back up conservative ideas like checks and balances and traditional gender roles. Evolution has also been used by conservatives as explanation for morality. Another factor in the conservative shift is that some conservatives realize that they will have no control over what happens with biotechnology if they do not embrace the biological mechanisms that led to it.
The article mentions a book, Darwinian Conservatism, that claims that conservative social institutions always embrace evolution-conservatives use institutions that have evolved over time and have worked in the past. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to try to start anew by thinking out the best possible plan, rather than using systems that have evolved.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, if conservatives embrace evolution, it will be more commonly taught in schools. On the other, using evolution to claim that we should not rethink our institutions because they evolved to the way there are and are therefore good could be counterproductive. Granted, these conservatives do not want to be associated with Social Darwinism, so they probably will not come up with anything that atrocious.