Home » Culture, Darwinism » Darwin matters far more in politics than your history teacher ever let on

Darwin matters far more in politics than your history teacher ever let on

marvin olasky

Here, Martin Olasky, editor-in-chief of World tells us how “Darwin matters” (June 29, 2011):

Politics.Woodrow Wilson started federal government expansion in 1912 by opposing the “Newtonian” view that the government should have an unchanging constitutional foundation, somewhat like “the law of gravitation.” He argued that government should be “accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. . . . Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.” Wilson was the president who started the modern pattern of disregarding the Constitution, and in the 2012 election we will either start a second century of governmental expansion or yell, “Stop!” 

Economics. Evolutionary thinking influenced not only Social Darwinists but socialists like H.G. Wells who thought it was time to advance beyond competitive enterprise. (Karl Marx in Das Kapital called Darwin’s theory “epoch making” and told Friedrich Engels that On the Origin of Species “contains the basis in natural history for our view.”) Many books and articles have linked Darwin’s thought to Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, and Hitler: Darwin is obviously not responsible for the atrocities committed in his name, but evolutionary theory plus his musings about superior and inferior races provided a logical justification for anti-Semites and racists.

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Infanticide. I debated Princeton’s Peter Singer in 2004 and had several conversations with him about his defense of infanticide. That year* he said, “All we are doing is catching up with Darwin. He showed in the 19th century that we are simply animals. Humans had imagined we were a separate part of Creation, that there was some magical line between Us and Them. Darwin’s theory undermined the foundations of that entire Western way of thinking about the place of our species in the universe.”

* Horror at his own earlier views may be catching up with Singer now, but not necessarily with the people he influenced. Any more than John Lennon’s real views on evolution have ever caught up with the yuppies who listen to his music.

World awarded two ID books a joint first prize this year for getting real about why this Darwin stuff matters – prompting speculations that it is the new Christianity Today.

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8 Responses to Darwin matters far more in politics than your history teacher ever let on

  1. Dear News,

    Apparently, great minds think alike. Our posts seem to have crossed paths in the mail. :-)

  2. 2
    CannuckianYankee

    I noticed that too. Now I’m so confused, I don’t know which post I should respond to. :)

  3. If News’s “minimal group mind” had known that the story was scooperoo’d, News would have just written something else. What make YOU of the recent John Lennon revs? – :)

  4. 4

    Darwin matters if the decision makers use him as a foundation for decisions.
    I don’t see Darwin/evolution as responsible for the actual motivations in WW 11. yet they did lay a plausible foundation for the upper classes to accept the rhetoric.

    Woodrow wilson is not seen as a good guy or president because he went to a war without a good reason.
    Not to kill in order to stop unjust killing but instead to stp wars or make peace.
    only war is justified to defend human life.

  5. It’s one thing to be “modified by … environment, necessitated by … tasks, shaped to … functions by the sheer pressure of life.” But that is not necessarily Darwinism. In fact, in the case of government, or business, or really anything involving intelligence, that it is universally NOT Darwinian in nature. That would imply making random changes and then “see what sticks”. Roll the dice for every decision that can be made. That is not how humans operate, and also it’s not how life evolves. New environment leads to rapid, highly specific and well-suited changes. That is not Darwinism.

  6. I think darwin can be held responsbile for the results of his ideas…he knew exactly what the implications were…

    “The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilised races throughout the world.” (Darwin, Charles R. [English naturalist and founder of the modern theory of evolution], “The Life of Charles Darwin”, [1902], Senate: London, 1995, reprint, p.64).

  7. In fact, in the case of government, or business, or really anything involving intelligence, that it is universally NOT Darwinian in nature. That would imply making random changes and then “see what sticks”. Roll the dice for every decision that can be made.

    Ah! Like FDR and the New Dealers?

  8. Oh. So THAT is what was meant by the new deal. Like from a deck of cards.

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