I found one book that deals rather well with the perceived struggle between Christian fundamentalist religion and the science of Evolution. The book is Why Darwin Matters by Michael Shermer. Shermer started as a creationist, was educated in the sciences, and is a strong advocate of not only the undeniability of the theory of Evolution but also for the way natural selection is perhaps a better supporter for religious or spiritual interpretations of life on this planet than revelation and faith.
As Shermer writes: Evolution Makes For Good Theology. His discussion of the evolution of morality is especially convincing and in no way negates religion but rather shows that religion has a firm purpose in our lives .. a purpose that developed naturally along with the other cultural developments that defined the early humans. And Shermer makes his case convincingly using logic, reason and clear evidence, never requiring magic or miracles.
As a corollary to this, Shermer also shows how elements in the history of the evolving species we call man can provide an insight into man’s propensity for violence and brutality, lying and cheating, and still allow for sharing and altruism, loving and nurturing.
Shermer discusses how Evolution enhances and validates many elements of our cultural growth. Here is an example of this in Shermer’s chapter on Evolution and the Conservative Theory of Free Market Economics:
“Political conservatives can also find explanations—and foundations—in the theory of evolution. Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection is precisely parallel to Adam Smith’s theory of the invisible hand. Darwin focused on showing how complex design and ecological balance were unintended consequences of individual competition among organisms. Smith focused on showing how national wealth and social harmony were unintended consequences of individual competition among people. The natural economy mirrors the artificial economy. Conservatives embrace free market capitalism, and they are against excessive top-down governmental regulation of the economy; they understand that the most efficient economy emerges from the complex, bottom-up behaviors of individuals pursuing their own self-interest without awareness of the larger consequences of their actions.
Adam Smith was a professor of moral philosophy who posited a theory of human nature with competing motives: We are both competitive and cooperative, altruistic and selfish. There are times of need when we can count on the humanity of strangers to help us, but daily trade in a marketplace is founded on the lesser angels of our natures. As Smith explained in The Wealth of Nations, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” By allowing individuals to follow their natural inclination to pursue their self-love, the country as a whole will prosper, almost as if the entire system were being directed by . . . yes . . . an invisible hand. It is here that we find the one and only use of the metaphor in The Wealth of Nations:
Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. . . . He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.
Compare this to Darwin’s description of what happens in nature when organisms pursue their self-love with no cognizance of the unintended consequences of their behavior:
It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life. We see nothing of these slow changes in progress, until the hand of time has marked the long lapses of ages, and then so imperfect is our view into long past geological ages, that we only see that the forms of life are now different from what they formerly were.”
So conservatives want a bottom-up approach to government, positing that giving the individuals freedom will trickle up to the higher forms of organization but they continue to insist that wealth will trickle down from the millionaires and billionaires to the individuals far far below them on the economic scale. Is this confusing? Government should be bottom-up but business should be top-down; freedom and independence should be bottom-up but faith and religion should be top-down.
Finally, this graphic doesn’t speak highly of American Exceptionalism when it comes to mature thinking: