It is a fascinating history, perhaps too often traced, but never with sufficient irony. In addition to his campaign against slavery, William Wilberforce & his entourage had campaigned against domestic immorality, founding innumerable societies for the reformation of manners & the suppression of public vice. Not only slavery was outlawed, but through high-toned beseigement, Parliament was persuaded to pass various proclamations against “excessive drinking, blasphemy, profane swearing & cursing, lewdness, profanation of the Lord’s Day,” & other “dissolute, immoral, or disorderly practices.” (I am inclined to call this, “Christian Shariah,” reflecting as it does the old Koranic, if not also Presbyterian admonition, to “command the good.”) They installed the “nanny” in our Nanny State, with that heroic commitment to perpetual Reform & Improvement that seized the imagination of the Victorian Age — & which still echoes in the battle cry for Progress, long after their Protestant God was held to have died. (So that now I call it, “Progressive Shariah.”)
For through Darwin, Huxley, & their avant-garde, they also discovered Evolution, or perhaps more exactly, Evolution discovered them. What on the Continent was received as a tentative scientific hypothesis, full of holes, was in England — & then throughout the English-speaking world — taken for a refutation of Scripture. The Bloomsbury set were the vanguard of what became in effect a new secular religion. Darwin’s Origin of Species became the foundational document for the new scientistic faith — its replacement for Genesis. Evangelical religion was not so much abandoned, as transformed. By the more talented of Bloomsbury it was turned into aestheticism & “art for art’s sake.” The moral earnestness continued with polarities reversed. The old obsessions over sexual vice, for instance, flipped into sexual experimentation. Meanwhile, the science types assembled their New Inquisition, hunting down & eliminating from the possibility of employment those who strayed from Darwinian orthodoxy in the academic worlds they increasingly controlled.
"Progressive Shariah" and "New Inquisition" are not unfair descriptions, though both are still in their infant stages. The progressives rose to prominence for a time and continue to drive our culture off the cliff. But when they seize also the reins of government, we can expect worse things to come. They have done this, though not completely. Similarly with many of the other institutions--from the academy to the entertainment industry to the media--these are dominated by the Left, though it's fair to make a dichotomy between liberals (however misguided in policy and action) and progressives (however benign in intentions).
As for the New Inquisition, well, there's a reason why I am blogging here semi-anonymously as opposed to at my old blog under my own name. It's not the idea of the evolution of species that I disagree with per se, but the materialistic dogmas of scientism which are pervasive, and the fact that one practically has to swear by Godless "Progress" in the sciences and beyond as a condition of being a "scientist in good standing." I'm not an ID man, nor (worse!) a geocentrist (yes, they do exist, no, I will not provide a link).
However, I am a Catholic, and so I affirm that man's soul is not descended from the beasts, and I affirm that the world is in some sense the metaphysical center of the universe. I also hold all sorts of unpopular moral positions which are frowned upon by the scientific establishment: everything from the insistence upon a free will to the insistence that certain sexual acts can be evil in kind or degree; and from insistence that contraception (to say nothing of its dark spawn abortion) is evil to the fact that we can't solve all of the world's problems through science alone.
It is fascinating, in any case, to see how "Progress" has changed from an attempt to use social and even political power to curb man's vices, into seeing the use of the same power now to promote those same vices. The former might work in a good way with a society which largely accepts that it is good to curb man's vices, though using political power to so so for such things as swearing and profanation of the Lord's Day would be problematic, especially when ideas like subsidiarity are removed from the political equation.