Home » Darwinism, Evolution » It’s a happy Darwinian world after all …

It’s a happy Darwinian world after all …

Every now and again when I want to feel good about our shared humanity, I curl up with Darwin’s DESCENT OF MAN and read passages like the following:

The reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal ‘struggle for existence,’ it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.”
– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man, Great Minds Edition, 123

What a great mind, indeed. What a wonderful human being. What a marvelous vision of the human family.

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39 Responses to It’s a happy Darwinian world after all …

  1. This sounds horrible, but isn’t there some truth in this? Less educated people do have less children. Obviously this doesn’t make them a lesser race. But it is true. If intelligence was purely genetic and materialistic, the trend would be for humanity to get stupider as time goes on.

  2. I beat a puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power

    Charles Darwin
    Autobiography

  3. It’s quite obvious from this selection that Darwin has no effect whatsoever on the eugenics movement. There’s no connection here. ;)

  4. Every now and again when I want to feel good about our shared humanity, I curl up with Matthew 5: the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes.

  5. I resent Darwin’s attitude towards the Irish. I do not believe there is any truth to it. The Irish I know are briliant and I admire their family values.

    Here is another great quote from Darwin’s Descent of Man:

    “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the mained, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. (pg 133)”

  6. There is no problem: Marx solved it for us. Lenin brought us the reality of the earthly paradise. Equality the savior of man.

  7. Oops, just missed St. Patrick’s day by a couple of days with this post. :)

  8. 8

    In an ugly-quote duel, I’m certain that the Old Testament would beat all of Darwin’s works, hands down.

  9. Please pass the whiskey and Guinness.

  10. Yes, and I always thought Paul Johnson should have put Darwin front and center in his Intellectuals. If you’ve read the book you’ll know what I mean and maybe also you’ll not feel too good about sharing your humanity with the founders of materialism.

  11. DanielJ @ 1
    This sounds horrible, but isn’t there some truth in this? Less educated people do have less children.

    No they don’t. The whole reason why the eugenics “field” popped up in the first place was because of the fecundity of the poor and its implied consequences, as you state so succinctly:

    If intelligence was purely genetic and materialistic, the trend would be for humanity to get stupider as time goes on.

    Obviously, Darwinists and thus eugenicists believe this very thing. Otherwise, nobody would have listened to Goebbels or Margaret Sanger, nor would horrid legal precedents like Buck v. Bell have been set.

  12. But on the positive side, ‘ole man Darwin did find a positive correlation between morality, faith, and intelligence!! And I thought the Materialists argued a non-correlation or a negative correlation??

    “… stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence.”

  13. Michael Tuite,

    What’s the link between Darwin and OT ?…

  14. Sladjo,

    One is allowed in a classroom, the other is not.

    It’s a good thing that we’re past that whole Scopes nonsense.

  15. The other link between Darwin and the OT is that in one, God created finch beaks along with the finches and other creatures; in the other ‘ole man Darwin made the astute observation that they come in different sizes, and therefore wisely concluded that they got their start in a warm pond, a few intermediates later. And that the take away prescription to humanity is that we need to start breeding only those who are fit. So, taken to its natural conclusion, we hire cattle breeders to implement his plan. Magnificent.

  16. For the sake of full disclosure, here is the rest of Darwin’s writing on beating a puppy.

    “but the beating could not have been severe, for the puppy did not howl, of which I feel sure, as the spot was near the house. This act lay heavily on my conscience, as is shown by my remembering the exact spot where the crime was committed. It probably lay all the heavier from my love of dogs being then, and for a long time afterwards, a passion. Dogs seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing their love from their masters.”

  17. Let’s compare the relative moral system of Jesus Christ vs. Charles Darwin.

    Here is Jesus teaching in Matthew 25:34-40

    ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

    Two thousand years later Charles Darwin argued that the teachings of Jesus Christ were harmful to the human race.

    “{W}e build asylums for the imbecile, the mained, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

    Charles Darwin is required teaching in public schools but Jesus Christ is forbidden.

  18. Here is another interesting discovery. In Chapter 5 of descent of man, Charles Darwin actually quotes Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics and the vile British Eugenics Society.

    The men who are rich through primogeniture are able to select generation after generation the more beautiful and charming women; and these must generally be healthy in body and active in mind. The evil consequences, such as they may be, of the continued preservation of the same line of descent, without any selection, are checked by men of rank always wishing to increase their wealth and power; and this they effect by marrying heiresses. But the daughters of parents who have produced single children, are themselves, as Mr. Galton has shewn, apt to be sterile; and thus noble families are continually cut off in the direct line, and their wealth flows into some side channel; but unfortunately this channel is not determined by superiority of any kind.

    Of course, Darwins’ admiration of his cousin Francis Galton’s work should not be a surprise. Galton’s successor as head of the British Eugenics Society was none other than Charle’s Darwin’s son.

  19. “Our starting point is not the individual, and we do not subscribe to the view that one should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, or clothe the naked…our objectives are entirely different: we must have a healthy people in order to prevail in the world.”

    –Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda. 1938

  20. Michael Tuite wrote:
    “In an ugly-quote duel, I’m certain that the Old Testament would beat all of Darwin’s works, hands down.”

    Ah, but the OT is just a collection of fairy tales from the minds of men. Darwin, on the other hand, is the greatest scientist to ever live in this universe. Surely, we cannot compare the OT to “science” and the immortal words of a scientist? All kidding aside, Darwin looks like a man with an agenda to me – a perfect example of how our ideas, no matter how crazy they may be, have real consequences.

  21. Darwin:

    “It probably lay all the heavier from my love of dogs being then, and for a long time afterwards, a passion. Dogs seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing their love from their masters.”

    What a psychological insight! Did he also want to have mankind worship him instead of God? You see my point?

  22. 22

    I’m fairly sure that statistically poorer people have more kids than those who are wealthy.

    I could be wrong. ??

  23. (Re: #2)
    Found in perusing the Autobiography:
    Darwin’s grand-daughter, Nora Barlow, in The Autobiography of Charles Darwin:

    True portraits of great men in their settings are specially needed at this time; for two schools of thought incline to take the figures of history and mould them into demonstrations of their own doctrines. To the Marxian the individual man is made by his economic environment; the revolutionary, the artist, the inventor, is pushed up like a bubble out of the seething economic need. The Freudian likewise, though on very different grounds, puts the genetic endowment at a discount, and sees a man’s achievement from the point of view of his adjustment or maladjustment to his particular experience. Doubtless both aspects have their validity, for there is no development for man without environment, both of the body and the mind. Self-portraits have the merit of disclosing the influences as well as the man. There may be some to whom the Autobiography will prove what Charles Darwin was not—a metaphysician or profound thinker beyond the scope of his world-wide subject…

    [Another instance of the unholy trinity, lest anyone accuse ID of inventing it...]
    __________
    WmAD: “What a great mind, indeed.”

    The Education of Charles Darwin, in His Own Words :-)

    I have heard my Father say that he believed that persons with powerful minds generally had memories extending far back to a very early period of life. This is not my case for my earliest recollection goes back only to when I was a few months over four years old…

    Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than Dr. Butler’s school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught except a little ancient geography and history. The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank.

    I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my Father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my deep mortification my father once said to me, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.”

    My father’s mind was not scientific, and he did not try to generalise his knowledge under general laws; yet he formed a theory for almost everything which occurred. I do not think that I gained much from him intellectually… [Hmmm.]

    …I was nick-named “Gas.”

    [A classmate] one day, when we were walking together burst forth in high admiration of Lamarck and his views on evolution. I listened in silent astonishment, and as far as I can judge, without any effect on my mind. I had previously read the Zoönomia of my grandfather, in which similar views are maintained, but without producing any effect on me. Nevertheless it is probable that the hearing rather early in life such views maintained and praised may have favoured my upholding them under a different form in my Origin of Species. At this time I admired greatly the Zoönomia; but on reading it a second time after an interval of ten or fifteen years, I was much disappointed, the proportion of speculation being so large to the facts given.

    During my second year in Edinburgh I attended Jameson’s lectures on Geology and Zoology, but they were incredibly dull. The sole effect they produced on me was the determination never as long as I lived to read a book on Geology or in any way to study the science. Yet I feel sure that I was prepared for a philosophical treatment of the subject… [Quite so.]

    If the phrenologists are to be trusted, I was well fitted in one respect to be a clergyman. A few years ago the Secretaries of a German psychological society asked me earnestly by letter for a photograph of myself; and some time afterwards I received the proceedings of one of the meetings in which it seemed that the shape of my head had been the subject of a public discussion, and one of the speakers declared that I had the bump of Reverence developed enough for ten Priests. [The Church of Darwin...]

    During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time was wasted, as far as the academical studies were concerned, as completely as at Edinburgh and at school.

  24. H’mm:

    Why not look at this quote too, from a letter to William Graham dated July 3, 1881:

    I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago, of being overwhelmed by the Turk, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! 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 civilized races throughout the world.

    And, this one, from his second major book, on the evolution of man:

    The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies-
    between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae- between the elephant, and
    in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna,
    and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked,* will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon,
    instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    ________

    * Anthropological Review, April, 1867, p. 236

    I’d say the two quotes speak directly to genocide — not just eugenics [which here appears as a "kinder, gentler way" . . . reduce/eliminate unwanted births through "controlled" breeding] — as a direct inference fromt he underlying theory, and the latter underscores a very racist view of man. Indeed, can we read the above in the light of the following history without a sinking, chilling feeling in the soul?

    It is worth pointing out that the private letter in the first quote is significant as it underscores the inner attitudes and views of a man who was known to shield his personal views in his public statements.

    I note, also, just how hard these two quotes are to find online, too; and just how many defensive writings appear in web searches for this content, often trying to divert attention to convenient strawmen.

    GEM of TKI

  25. Oh,

    I see I inadvertently omitted citation details for the second quote:

    Descent of Man [ 1871 ]
    Charles Darwin [ 1809 - 1882 ]

    Chapter VI – On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man

    I took this from the etext at Infidels.org, and made sure to set the whole context, including the fact thatthis was an incidental inference while addressing the still very persistent “missing links” problem.

    GEM of TKI

  26. (Re: #2)
    Found in perusing the The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (1958):
    Darwin’s grand-daughter, Nora Barlow:

    True portraits of great men in their settings are specially needed at this time; for two schools of thought incline to take the figures of history and mould them into demonstrations of their own doctrines. To the Marxian the individual man is made by his economic environment; the revolutionary, the artist, the inventor, is pushed up like a bubble out of the seething economic need. The Freudian likewise, though on very different grounds, puts the genetic endowment at a discount, and sees a man’s achievement from the point of view of his adjustment or maladjustment to his particular experience. Doubtless both aspects have their validity, for there is no development for man without environment, both of the body and the mind. Self-portraits have the merit of disclosing the influences as well as the man. There may be some to whom the Autobiography will prove what Charles Darwin was not—a metaphysician or profound thinker beyond the scope of his world-wide subject…

    [Another instance of the unholy trinity, lest anyone accuse ID of inventing it...]

  27. WmAD: “What a great mind, indeed.”

    Also from The Autobiography:
    The Education of Charles Darwin, in His Own Words :-)

    I have heard my Father say that he believed that persons with powerful minds generally had memories extending far back to a very early period of life. This is not my case for my earliest recollection goes back only to when I was a few months over four years old…

    Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than Dr. Butler’s school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught except a little ancient geography and history. The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank.

    I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my Father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my deep mortification my father once said to me, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.”

    My father’s mind was not scientific, and he did not try to generalise his knowledge under general laws; yet he formed a theory for almost everything which occurred. I do not think that I gained much from him intellectually… [Hmmm.]

    …I was nick-named “Gas.”

    [A classmate] one day, when we were walking together burst forth in high admiration of Lamarck and his views on evolution. I listened in silent astonishment, and as far as I can judge, without any effect on my mind. I had previously read the Zoönomia of my grandfather, in which similar views are maintained, but without producing any effect on me. Nevertheless it is probable that the hearing rather early in life such views maintained and praised may have favoured my upholding them under a different form in my Origin of Species. At this time I admired greatly the Zoönomia; but on reading it a second time after an interval of ten or fifteen years, I was much disappointed, the proportion of speculation being so large to the facts given.

    During my second year in Edinburgh I attended Jameson’s lectures on Geology and Zoology, but they were incredibly dull. The sole effect they produced on me was the determination never as long as I lived to read a book on Geology or in any way to study the science. Yet I feel sure that I was prepared for a philosophical treatment of the subject… [Quite so.]

    If the phrenologists are to be trusted, I was well fitted in one respect to be a clergyman. A few years ago the Secretaries of a German psychological society asked me earnestly by letter for a photograph of myself; and some time afterwards I received the proceedings of one of the meetings in which it seemed that the shape of my head had been the subject of a public discussion, and one of the speakers declared that I had the bump of Reverence developed enough for ten Priests. [The Church of Darwin...]

    During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time was wasted, as far as the academical studies were concerned, as completely as at Edinburgh and at school.

  28. “What a great mind, indeed.”

    Also from The Autobiography:

    The Education of Charles Darwin, in His Own Words :-)

    I have heard my Father say that he believed that persons with powerful minds generally had memories extending far back to a very early period of life. This is not my case for my earliest recollection goes back only to when I was a few months over four years old…

    Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than Dr. Butler’s school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught except a little ancient geography and history. The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank.

    I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my Father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my deep mortification my father once said to me, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.”

    My father’s mind was not scientific, and he did not try to generalise his knowledge under general laws; yet he formed a theory for almost everything which occurred. I do not think that I gained much from him intellectually… [Hmmm.]

    …I was nick-named “Gas.”

    [A classmate] one day, when we were walking together burst forth in high admiration of Lamarck and his views on evolution. I listened in silent astonishment, and as far as I can judge, without any effect on my mind. I had previously read the Zoönomia of my grandfather, in which similar views are maintained, but without producing any effect on me. Nevertheless it is probable that the hearing rather early in life such views maintained and praised may have favoured my upholding them under a different form in my Origin of Species. At this time I admired greatly the Zoönomia; but on reading it a second time after an interval of ten or fifteen years, I was much disappointed, the proportion of speculation being so large to the facts given.

    During my second year in Edinburgh I attended Jameson’s lectures on Geology and Zoology, but they were incredibly dull. The sole effect they produced on me was the determination never as long as I lived to read a book on Geology or in any way to study the science. Yet I feel sure that I was prepared for a philosophical treatment of the subject… [Quite so.]

    If the phrenologists are to be trusted, I was well fitted in one respect to be a clergyman. A few years ago the Secretaries of a German psychological society asked me earnestly by letter for a photograph of myself; and some time afterwards I received the proceedings of one of the meetings in which it seemed that the shape of my head had been the subject of a public discussion, and one of the speakers declared that I had the bump of Reverence developed enough for ten Priests. [The Church of Darwin...]

    During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time was wasted, as far as the academical studies were concerned, as completely as at Edinburgh and at school.

  29. Here is my favorite Darwin quote:

    “I have watched how steadily the general feeling, as shown at elections, has been rising against Slavery. What a proud thing for England if she is the first European nation which utterly abolishes it! I was told before leaving England that after living in slave countries all my opinions would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the negro character. It is impossible to see a negro and not feel kindly towards him; such cheerful, open, honest expressions and such fine muscular bodies. I never saw any of the diminutive Portuguese, with their murderous countenances, without almost wishing for Brazil to follow the example of Haiti; and, considering the enormous healthy-looking black population, it will be wonderful if, at some future day, it does not take place.”

  30. JasonTheGreek @ 22
    I’m fairly sure that statistically poorer people have more kids than those who are wealthy.

    I could be wrong. ??

    This was most assuredly perceived to be true in the past.

    “It was also set to music. ‘There’s nothing surer’, ran the lyrics of one of the most popular songs of the early 1920s, ‘The rich get richer and the poor get – children’”

  31. Those aren’t Darwin’s words. The extract in question is Darwin quoting someone else for the purposes of refuting him.

    Perhaps this is an honest mistake personaly I don’t know how you could have made it. It seems to me that you’re deliberately misleading your readers.

  32. I originally wrote the following at Red State Rabble, where Dembski was taken to task for quote mining:

    I was surprised by this seemingly blatant misrepresentation of Darwin’s work. But after repeatedly reading the original passage I’m going to have to politely disagree with this fisking of Dembski.

    Darwin was not trying to outright contradict Greg and Galton, he was advocating a weaker version of their theory. At the next paragraph, Darwin begins his analysis: “There are, however, some checks to this downward tendency…”

    But shortly, Darwin gives his conclusion of the matter:

    “If the various checks specified in the two last paragraphs, and perhaps others as yet unknown, do not prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde, as has too often occurred in the history of the world…”

    While Dembski was less than careful in contextualizing the quote, I think it is rather you who has misrepresented Darwin’s position by claiming that he was arguing against Greg and Galton, rather than arguing for a less absolute form of it.

  33. The paragraph in its entirety makes it clear that Darwin was not expressing his own opinion.

    He was instead describing the views of “Mr. Greg and Mr. Galton.”

    A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr. Greg and Mr. Galton [lengthy reference omitted-Jasper], namely, the fact that the very poor and reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost invariably marry early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise virtuous, marry late in life, so that they may be able to support themselves and their children in comfort. Those who marry early produce within a given period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shewn by Dr. Duncan [lengthy reference omitted-Jasper], they produce many more children. The children, moreover, that are borne by mothers during the prime of life are heavier and larger, and therefore probably more vigorous, than those born at other periods. Thus the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts–and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal ‘struggle for existence,’ it would be the inferior and LESS favoured race that had prevailed–and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.

    The rest of the context that Dr. Dembski unfortunately omitted can be found here (a .txt file).

  34. motthew, you’re doing some more selective quotation. Below is the entire paragraph – “It is most difficult to say..” or in other words, we don’t know.

    BTW, this all has absolutely nothing, nada, diddly-squat to do with whether evolution is good science.


    If the various checks specified in the two last paragraphs, and perhaps others as yet unknown, do not prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde, as has occurred too often in the history of the world. We must remember that progress is no invariable rule. It is most difficult to say why one civilised nation rises, becomes more powerful, and spreads more widely, than another; or why the same nation progresses more at one time than at another. We can only say that it depends on an increase in the actual number of the population, on the number of the men endowed with high intellectual and moral faculties, as well as on their standard of excellence. Corporeal structure, except so far as vigour of body leads to vigour of mind, appears to have little influence.

  35. H’mm:

    Some onward remarks are plainly needed.

    First, though, Descent of Man is available in html here, which should help with texct string searches — as I used in Nos 24 – 5 above. The quote in question comes from Ch 5, which bears the inadvertently ironic title: “On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties”:

    Now, just before what Jasper cites in 33, we may read, in the voice of “Narrator,” i.e. Darwin:

    In regard to the moral qualities, some elimination of the worst dispositions is always in progress even in the most civilised nations. Malefactors are executed, or imprisoned for long periods, so that they cannot freely transmit their bad qualities . . . .

    With civilised nations, as far as an advanced standard of morality, and an increased number of fairly good men are concerned, natural selection apparently effects but little; though the fundamental social instincts were originally thus gained. But I have already said enough, whilst treating of the lower races, on the causes which lead to the advance of morality, namely, the approbation of our fellow-men- the strengthening of our sympathies by habit- example and imitation- reason- experience, and even self-interest- instruction during youth, and religious feelings.

    A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr. Greg and Mr. Galton . . . . [cf No 33 for the rest]

    There are, however, some checks to this downward tendency. We have seen that the intemperate suffer from a high rate of mortality, and the extremely profligate leave few offspring . . . .[which he lists, then continues . . .] If the various checks . . . do not prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde, as has too often occurred in the history of the world. We must remember that progress is no invariable rule . . .

    In short, Motthew is quite correct in 32 to observe: Darwin was not trying to outright contradict Greg and Galton, he was advocating a weaker version of their theory.

    Worse, a glance at where Darwin goes in the very next chapter, as I cited in 24, and his sentiments in the infamous 1881 letter, show that his own sensitivity to the moral implications of his thought were utterly worn down. Only such can explain his cool prediction of mass genocide without stricture as he calmly goes on to his next point. Nor, did his prediction fail insofar as attempts were concerned — over 100 millions died under secularist tyrannies in the name of “progress” over C20. Indeed, the British, in S Africa were the first to invent the concentration camp, used against the Boers. Not to mention the sad fate of Ota Benga, the man exhibited in a cage in a zoo as though he had been but one step up from the apes.

    So, while I think NDT and the broader evolutionary materialist research programme are poor science for many reasons [LeeS, kindly cf the linked through my name], I also have excellent reason to see the associated worldview of evolutionary materialism and its undermining of morality and degradation of the value of the individual human life as dangerous threats to us all.

    And, that is in part what the Darwin quotes are about: Darwin was plainly the first social darwinist.

    Such caveats should moderate us in the ongoing attempt to make Darwin into a secular saint. [In short, we need to come to terms with the reality of the man, not make him into a secular saint. In particular, I am wondering if those who were so busily celebrating Darwin Sunday the other day would have been so enthusiastic had they known of some of the racist, classist, eugenics-laced texts excerpted above?]

    GEM of TKI

  36. H’mm:

    First, sorry on an uncliosed italics tag.

    Second, I should note on NDT, that in expressing reservations, I am speaking about the way it is articulated from microevolution to macroevolution and the problems it has relative to evidence and testability [de facto].

    GEM of TKI

  37. 37

    Unfortunately, Darwin rather contradicts himself. He says

    “It’s most difficult to say”

    Yet then proceeds to make a clear case for the reason he claims is difficult to come up with

    “on the number of the men endowed with high intellectual and moral faculties, as well as on their standard of excellence.’

  38. Hi JTG:

    I note your: Unfortunately, Darwin rather contradicts himself. Now, exegeting Darwin is actually a side-point, but since the “quote mining” accusation is so often used by those who attack Mr Dembski et al, it is worth speaking to it.

    For, if we look at the narrative and rhetorical sequence in the passage, we can see that his use of : It is very difficult to say” comes long after he has established his own position. Consequently, on a fair reading he is here using what we call “cautious language” to leave wiggle room, rather than contradicting himself. We can observe this by following the actual sequence:

    1] He has already addressed intellectual faculties, during which he has cited his cousin Galton [the eugenicist] with approval: Mr. Galton says, “I regret I am unable to solve the simple question whether, and how far, men and women who are prodigies of genius are infertile. I have, however, shewn that men of eminence are by no means so.”

    2] Next, he turns to morality: In regard to the moral qualities, some elimination of the worst dispositions is always in progress even in the most civilised nations. Malefactors are executed, or imprisoned for long periods, so that they cannot freely transmit their bad qualities . . . [This is plainly by immediate contrast with how he has approved Galton's remark on fertility of eminent men.]

    3] Tellingly, he then says: With civilised nations, as far as an advanced standard of morality, and an increased number of fairly good men are concerned, natural selection apparently effects but little . . . [This of course sets up the “need” for artificial selection to “weed out” undesirable genetic types from the human population, the key rationale of eugenics. His references to black sheep and to domestic animal breeding make this plain.]

    4] Having done this, he then introduces: A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr. Greg and Mr. Galton [This is of course, the idea that “the very poor and reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost invariably marry early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise virtuous, marry late in life . . . Those who marry early produce within a given period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shewn by Dr. Duncan,*(2) they produce many more children.” ]

    5] He then cites: as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot . . . passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him.

    6] Darwin MODERATES: There are, however, some checks to this downward tendency . . . That is, he accepts the general point but thinks it is not as forceful as his cited sources see it.

    Pausing . . .

  39. Continuing . . .
    7] It is thus after all of the above that we then come to:

    If the various checks specified in the two last paragraphs [snipped . . .], and perhaps others as yet unknown, do not prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde, as has too often occurred in the history of the world. We must remember that progress is no invariable rule. It is very difficult to say why one civilised nation rises, becomes more powerful, and spreads more widely, than another; or why the same nation progresses more quickly at one time than at another. We can only say that it depends on an increase in the actual number of the population, on the number of men endowed with high intellectual and moral faculties, as well as on their standard of excellence.

    So, it is fair to say that Darwin accepts the core eugenics thesis, and is here only moderating. Having made rhetorically very powerful points, a few closing words are used to soften the impact.
    ________

    To unpack the rhetoric, ask: 1] HOW does a “civilised” nation see to the “increase in . . . the population” and especially to that of “ the number of men endowed with high intellectual and moral faculties “? 2] In light of cited stereotypical examples [feckless Irishmen, stern and provident Scotsmen, Saxons and Celts], what is Darwin meaning by his terms? [Note here, that Englishmen are viewed in the Victorian cosmos of discourse, as Anglo-Saxon, and it is a commonplace that the Saxons etc defeated and displaced the Celtic peoples, with the Normans finally providing the upper crust under William the Conquerer. The Normans, of course, are descended from the Norsemen who settled in France. From this it is but a step or two to Balvatsky's Aryan man myth,the pickup that his had in certain circles in Germany, and its terrible consequences.]

    Plainly, Darwin was in fact the first social darwinist, and his lines of thought had practical fruit that he probably would have been appalled by, never mind his earlier note [cf my nos 24 – 5] on how “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.” [From Ch 6]

    In sum, Dembski has definitely not quote-mined. Further to this, the citation from ch 6 is far worse, and foresees just what was attempted in the name of Darwinism in the next 100 years – and does not flinch and censure such an inference as dangerously abusive of the darwinian thesis. That is even more telling on the desensitisation of basic conscience that the underlying worldview fosters.

    GEM of TKI

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