John Gray in New Statesman:
A mutating virus is destroying a world-view that has ruled governments, business and popular culture for a century or more. A model in which humankind was achieving ever higher levels of control over the planet has shaped much of modern thinking. Evolution has been understood as the ascent from primeval slime to unchallengeable human dominance over all other forms of life. Fundamentally at odds with the theory of natural selection, this was never more than pseudo-science. Yet from the late 19th century onwards it became a ruling paradigm, captivating generations of thinkers and inspiring world-changing political movements. Today the myth is crumbling. For the first time in history, using genomic sequencing, natural selection is being observed, in detail and real time, at the level of genes. Evolution is continuing, rapidly, with the virus as the chief protagonist.
The disintegration of a near-ubiquitous world-view presents a curious spectacle. While science is providing a clearer picture of evolution at work than ever before, the impact of the pandemic is to reinforce archetypal fantasies in which evils and misfortunes are blamed on hidden forces and secret cabals. If there is evolution in ideas, it works to propagate some of the worst human beings have conceived. With the aid of growing scientific knowledge, human beings can protect themselves from the virus and renew a reasonably secure way of life. Heroic dedication by doctors, nurses and other defenders of public health has been vitally important in coping with the pandemic. But adjusting to the irreversible changes the pandemic brings will demand clear-headed realism. Clinging to a cod-scientific view of evolution is a hindrance to the task ahead, which is adjusting to a world in which the virus is endemic.