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A complete Darwin quote with a brief translation

Taken from Darwin’s “Descent of Man”

We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, 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 civilised 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 itself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

So what was Darwin saying here?

First of all we need to know that Darwin’s big idea is that man shares a common ancestor with other mammals. Anatomically, we’re animals, specifically mammals. I don’t really care to argue with anyone who won’t acknowledge that man is a mammal. You’re simply irrational in that case and not worth further consideration. Darwin wasn’t the first to notice that humans are mammals.

But was he saying that there’s no difference at all? Absolutely not. He lays out the case that humans are animal in body and that due to that if follows that we would, in theory, exhibit the same quality in regard to selective breeding – undesirable traits could be bred out and desirable traits bred in. But Darwin doesn’t stop there. Only those who wish to demonize Darwin stop there. He goes on to say that selective breeding of humans, or failure to lend care to the sick, disabled, and injured could only be done by sacrificing “the noblest part of our nature”. Darwin wasn’t arguing FOR eugenics. He was arguing that while eugenics would theoretically work it would require that we degrade the noblest part of our natures to do it, that part which DOES distinguish us from our non-human mammalian relatives.

If there’s any real case to be made for Darwin and the holocaust it’s the opposite of what’s messaged in Expelled. The holocaust resulted from a failure to heed Darwin’s warning that eugenics could only be practiced by sacrificing the noblest part of our nature, the very part and only part that separates us from other animals. Those responsible for the holocaust, beginning with the eugenics movement in America, were the true animals. Those opposed were nobler than the animals.

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63 Responses to A complete Darwin quote with a brief translation

  1. DaveScot,

    I agree with your estimation in large part – but from what I’ve read, EXPELLED is not arguing that Darwin was personally responsible for the holocaust. Instead the claim is that darwinism – either as a scientific theory or as a worldview (I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can only argue based on what other people are saying here) formed the intellectual foundation for eugenics policies.

    Are you arguing that eugenics proponents were advancing their case in opposition to darwinian theory? Perhaps I misread you, but I don’t think so. You can argue that going from evolutionary theory to eugenics requires adding in philosophy (particularly philosophies which devalue human life in sum or in part), and I (along with many others, I expect) would agree with you.

    But it’s clear that eugenics policies were in large part justified by their proponents arguing that science (‘darwinism’) and reason demanded such policies. A large part of the problem comes from arguing that science says certain things about morality, or politics, or life in general – when in reality it’s philosophy and (a)theology really doing the talking, passing itself off as science. I don’t believe evolution dictates that humans are mere animals, individually on par with great apes or parrots or whatever else. But I’d readily agree that plenty of people make such a connection, and that the reason they do is because philosophical proponents (and some scientists) have said explicitly that that is the case.

    There’s a definite link from darwinism to eugenics, both in America’s history as well as Germany’s and other countries. It may have been an abuse of the authority of science – but isn’t such an abuse exactly what EXPELLED was exposing anyway?

  2. Congratulations with your best post ever Dave!

  3. nullasaurus

    Eugenics doesn’t depend on Darwinian theory. Eugenics is based on nothing more or less than the presumption that humans are mammals and can be bred like mammals. Darwin wasn’t the first to notice that humans are mammals nor was he the first to notice that mammals can be bred to eliminate undesirable traits and reinforce desirable traits. These observations are ancient in origin.

    Darwin acknoweleged the eugenics would work to the same ends achieved in the breeding of livestock but that in so doing we would sacrifice the noble nature in ourselves that makes us different from livestock. In Darwin’s view the practice of eugenics would reduce us to animals, eliminating the only thing that differentiates us. Practioners of eugenics and their sponsers were animalistic in behavior. Darwin believed we were better than animals, not by anatomy, but by nobility.

    I come not to demonize Darwin but to bury him.

  4. [...] UPDATE II: Okay, I’ve been hard on DaveScot here, but I also have to be fair. His uncharacteristic reasonableness displayed here must be read to be believed. (EDIT: Also see here.) [...]

  5. Word up, DaveScot. IMO we lose credibility when we waste our limited opportunities to speak on ad hominem arguments like the Darwin-Holocaust link. ID isn’t about what philosophical and/or moral conclusions are drawn from it or any alternative. ID is about what happened to make us, and how it happened.

  6. But Darwin doesn’t stop there…He goes on to say that selective breeding of humans, or failure to lend care to the sick, disabled, and injured could only be done by sacrificing “the noblest part of our nature”.

    Nor does he stop there. He goes on to relativize the lending of care to the sick, disabled, and injured. He says, “…if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

    Who gets to place a value on the “contingent benefit” or determine what is an “overwhelming present evil?” With the environmental pressures on the German population in the wake of WW I (war reparations, loss of land and “lebensraum,” worldwide economic depression, the threat of communism, etc.) the National Socialists made the case that jettisoning “the weak” was the correct course of action. Their case blended with national/racial pride and the long-standing notion that Germany was destined for greatness. They proposed using biological methods to create a superior race. Most German biologists, physicians, anthropologists, geneticists, etc., were on board with this. They saw it as advancing science, and completely consistent with their scientific models.

    The Nazis didn’t make the sale to the majority of the German people. But in the absence of alternative leadership, Hitler won a plurality in the 1933 election, and the rest is history.

    Richard Weikart, in his article “Darwin and the Nazis“ in the latest American Spectator http://www.spectator.org/dsp_a.....t_id=13061 makes the connection between Darwinism and Nazism much more thoroughly and clearly.

    These six ideas were promoted by many prominent Darwinian biologists and Darwinian-inspired social thinkers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All six were enthusiastically embraced by Hitler and many other leading Nazis. Hitler thought that killing “inferior” humans would bring about evolutionary progress. Most historians who specialize in the Nazi era recognize the Darwinian underpinnings of many aspects of Hitler’s ideology.

    Wasn’t it this blog which referred us to Weikart’s article?

  7. And I’m not demonizing Darwin either. Hell, I’m agreeing with a lot of what you say – I’m not disputing the accuracy of your Darwin quote, or questioning Darwin’s personal motives here.

    I drew a distinction between Darwin himself and darwinism as both scientific theory and a source of philosophical formation. You quote Darwin talking about humans being distinct from animals, as having a certain nobility, and talking about ‘evil’ as an objective reality. Are you asserting that darwinism entails these things? That many (but not all) people who self-identify as darwinists, past and present, believe as much? Come on. That would be like me arguing that, since Gregor Mendel was a friar, the theory of evolution is somehow an objectively theistic (or even Catholic) concept.

    Again: I am not arguing that darwinism logically demands eugenics or nazism. I’m with you in regarding that as an abuse of the science. But justifications of eugenics, abuse or not, did proceed from the view that people (a race, a nation) would best thrive if the population were drained of undesirables. If you’re arguing that Darwin himself did not advocate eugenics, I’ll agree with you – let’s go by your quotes. If you’re arguing that eugenics and the holocaust aren’t demanded by darwinism (or even neodarwinism), again I’ll agree with you – those are political and philosophical views, and arguing the science ‘demands’ them is an abuse of the science. But if you’re arguing that no one used (frankly, abused) darwinism to promote eugenics and similar policies, you’ve lost me. Read up on Francis Galton and other eugenics proponents. Explore the history of “social darwinism” and why it was called as much – it wasn’t a concept dreamed up by people to smear innocent people.

  8. What darwin thinks about it matters not. Some prefer to rob or murder etc. As descendents of pond scum, anyones morals don’t count anymore than anyone elses. They don’t even exist. Darwin demotes human life in priciple = grief for humanity. But hitler was so obviously practicing darwin I can’t imagine it’s debatable.He wasn’t just doing a little breeding right?

  9. Atheists often refer to Darwin as being the source of their liberation from things such as nobility. I find it interesting as I read Darwin that he often refers to “evil” and the state of being noble.

    After all – is nobility even mildly scientific? Is there a chemical test whereby a mammal might be checked for its scale of nobility? Better yet – what would function as the ultimate adjuticator for nobility? Does anyone know if Darwin offers a standard by which nobility and evil can be measured?

    Once we get a firm grasp around that, then we can proceed to the question of why on earth eugenics would be evil – that is, if all we are is random particles and random occurances.

    As I read this and the passages that follow, Darwin seems conflicted as he writes this.

    I think the key phrase in the Holocaust and Eugenics is “logical conclusion.” There is no doubt those movements drew heavily from Darwin, but they simply followed it somewhere the “noble” Darwin could not bring himself to espouse.

  10. The problem, Dave, is that the word noble has no fixed meaning in an evolutionary vocabulary. The Nazi prison guard clearly thought himself a more noble specimen than his victims — stronger, healthier, descended from better stock, significantly more likely to survive, and unhindered by “nuisance instincts” such as empathy, pity, justice, mercy, etc.

    Once an objective moral standard is discarded, there is no rod by which the relative worth of various “instincts” can be measured. Darwin is appealing to the theist’s notion of nobility while rejecting the Noble One who gives meaning to that term.

    I’d say, “No fair!” but the word fair carries with it the very same problem…

  11. DaveScot wrote:

    Practioners of eugenics and their sponsers were animalistic in behavior.

    While I agree fully, and I applaud your calling attention to America’s role in this dark chapter of world history, I must also point out that the sponsors in question include:

    1. Francis Galton – Charles Darwin’s cousin, pioneer of modern eugenics and founder of the Eugenics Society.

    2. Leonard Darwin – Charles’ son, Galton’s successor in the Eugenics Society.

    3. Francis Darwin – member of the Cambridge Eugenics Society.

    4. Horace Darwin – member of the Cambridge Eugenics Society, Darwin Medalist 1912.

    5. George Howard Darwin – Charles’ son, member of the Cambridge Eugenics Society.

    6. Charles Galton Darwin – Charles’ grandson, Eugenics Society life fellow.

    I would hope that Charles Darwin would be displeased with his close relatives being so entangled with the eugenics movement if had lived to see it.

  12. Eugenics was invented by Charles Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton, who just loved evolution. One of Darwin’s sons was involved in the early eugenics societies. See also Eugenics … death of the defenceless: The legacy of Darwin’s cousin Galton

    And despite the atheopathic mendacity of New Scientist, it was the liberal (pro-evolution, Bible-disbelieving) churches that supported it. Christine Rosen documented this in her book Preaching Genetics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement, Oxford University Press, New York, 2004. One site summarized:

    Christine Rosen argues that religious leaders pursued eugenics precisely when they moved away from traditional religious tenets. The liberals and modernists-those who challenged their churches to embrace modernity-became the eugenics movement’s most enthusiastic supporters. Their participation played an important part in the success of the American eugenics movement.

    See also a detailed review.

  13. Dave, I commend you on an insightful analysis of the relationship between Darwin’s theory of evolution and eugenics. As you point out, the latter is not a science, but rather a technology. That is, the application of scientific knowledge to the deliberate alteration of nature in the pursuit of a goal or goals desired by humans.

    In this sense, therefore, all technologies (including eugenics) are a direct outgrowth of a system of social morals (i.e. ethics). From our perspective today, we almost universally decry that branch of technology known as eugenics, but we do this mostly as the result of our historical knowledge of what the technology of eugenics resulted in: at the very least, injustice, and at the very most (and most horrific) genocide.

    It would do everyone thinking about this issue good to consider what the early supporters of eugenics thought about their new “technology” and why they supported it. We can look back now and condemn them all, but without the perspective gained from having the history of the 20th century behind us, I believe that such blanket condemnation does not give either the founders of eugenics (nor its more modern critics) enough credit.

    “By their fruits shall ye know them” is just another way of saying that empirical knowledge of the effects of a particular system of thought is generally superior to a theoretical understanding of that same system, but devoid of the lessons of experience. Knowing what we know now about the political and social effects of eugenics, would anyone (including any evolutionary biologist I know) advocate it, especially in the ways in which it was advocated during the first two decades of the 20th century? I believe that the answer is no; that would certainly be my answer.

    However, I also believe that one might come to a different conclusion were one to put oneself in the position of, say, Ronald Aylmer Fisher, one of the founders of the “modern evolutionary synthesis”. Fisher was an extraordinarily creative evolutionary biologist, a brilliant mathematician, and a dedicated eugenicist. He was also a life-long and very devout member of the Church of England who often penned essays on christian faith that were published and widely read by his fellow Anglicans.

    How would a partisan for either side of the EB-ID debate reconcile Fisher’s devotion to evolution, eugenics, and Christianity? Only be taking a much less simplistic and more nuanced view of all three of these very human endeavors.

  14. Did Darwin cause the eugenics movement or the holocaust? The answer depends on what one means by “cause.” We lawyers distinguish between a “cause-in-fact” and a “proximate cause.” A cause-in-fact is a cause that is logically part of the chain of causation of a particular effect, however remote. A proximate cause is what most people think of as the “cause” of an effect, i.e., the key event or events that led immediately to the effect.

    An example might help explain the distinction. Bob is driving down the road and negligently swerves into oncoming traffic and hits Dan. Bob’s negligence is the proximate cause of the collision. But there are many other causes. For example, Bob’s mother met Bob’s father and Bob was born. How is this a “cause” of the collision. Think about it. If this event had never happened, Bob would never have been born and there would have been no collision. Surely Bob’s mother and father are not morally or legally responsible for the collision. In other words, while their activity is part of the chain of causation that led to the effect, they are not the proximate cause of the collision.

    More recently, someone at the DMV issued Bob a driver’s license; another person sold Bob a car. If neither of these two events had happened, there would have been no collision. Are the DMV clerk or the car salesman legally culpable? No. While they are both links in the chain of causation that led to the collision, the links are too remote for us to attach culpability to their actions.

    Where does cause-in-fact end and proximate cause begin? That’s the $64,000 question. Suppose Bob just left a bar. Is the bartender’s action is selling Bob a beer a proximate cause of the collision? Maybe, maybe not. Did he sell Bob one beer or eight? Was Bob obviously drunk when he sold him the last beer or two or three? At some point along the chain of causation, causes convert from the cause-in-fact category to the proximate cause category, and when that happens is often a matter of judgment and may not be clear.

    Back to Darwin. Whether Darwin personally intended the eugenics movement or the holocaust is not really a useful question in my view. The issue is whether his work constituted a link in the chain of causation that led to these events. Surely it was. Was Darwin the “proximate cause” of either of these events? Was he morally culpable? Probably not.

    At the end of the day does it matter whether Darwin is morally culpable? Well, it matters for certain purposes and not for others. Evil men and women used Darwin’s ideas to advance the eugenics movement and the holocaust. Whether Darwin intended this to happen is beside the point. It happened. Therefore, in this sense Darwin’s personal culpability is quite beside the point.

    Can the eugenics movement and the holocaust be placed at Darwin’s feet in an effort to discredit everything that falls under the rubric “Darwinism”? Again, probably not, and this is the point of DaveScott’s post. For this purpose it matters very much whether Darwin was personally culpable.

  15. 15
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    There may not be a necessary theoretical connection between Darwinism and Eugenics.

    However, there is an empirical connection: for decades, the founders and main organizers of the eugenics organization were Darwin’s relatives.

  16. Richard Weikart’s “From Darwin to Hitler” is, in my view, indispensable for understanding what happened when Darwin’s ideas got translated into German.

    Basically, Darwin was a Brit toff who regretted the impending destruction of what he saw as evolutionarily inferior races by evolutionarily superior ones. He didn’t see what could be done to prevent that outcome, but he didn’t feel any overhwelming urge to push the conflict along.

    Now, once the ideas he and his friends popularized were abroad in the world, they took root in the minds of very different types of people. The Nazi movement, for example, was full of people who did want to push the conflict along. And the Nazis had far more sympathizers in both Britain and North America than anyone now wants to admit.

    I have little doubt that if the Nazis did not have Darwin, they would have found someone else to answer the need. Nietzsche alone might have done just fine.

    But they did have Darwin, and they used his ideas in the ways that suited them. I don’t think it is wrong to point that out. As John West points out in his recent book, Darwin Day in America, a number of museums have unashamedly rewritten history to make it seem that Darwin actually opposed racist ideas.

  17. I think it’s fair to give Darwin credit for creating a new world view in which the practice of eugenics became respectable, or even worse, opposing the practice became disrespectable.

  18. David Klinghofer writes:

    http://article.nationalreview......Q2NGE1Mjc=

    Most disturbing of all, in The Descent of Man, Darwin prophesied: “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

    While it must be very clearly emphasized that the gentle-souled Darwin himself never supported ill treatment of any race or group, his words inspired a movement to “scientific” racism.

  19. I come not to demonize Darwin but to bury him.

    I think this is a good point. I believe that Darwin believed that he had really figured out the origin of species, and had provided a simple explanation for all of life’s complexity and diversity, without design. Unfortunately, “the greatest idea anyone ever had,” is based on 19th-century naivete about how things really are and how they work.

    This idea was latched onto by those with a philosophical agenda, and this agenda is being defended to the death by those who are unwilling to admit that the evidence of modern science and mathematics has refuted its underpinnings.

  20. DaveScott

    The holocaust resulted from a failure to heed Darwin’s warning that eugenics could only be practiced by sacrificing the noblest part of our nature, the very part and only part that separates us from other animals. Those responsible for the holocaust, beginning with the eugenics movement in America, were the true animals. Those opposed were nobler than the animals.

    It is good to seek the best interpretation on Darwin’s writings. Yet where Darwin obtained his “noblest part of our nature”? From his own theory, or from his Judeo-Christian heritage?

    Of critical import is how Darwin’s theory was understood and applied in practice. The Nazi’s applied Darwin’s theories while rejecting that Judeo-Christian heritage.

    See Richard Weikart’s article Darwin and the Nazis
    and the discussion here
    Darwin and the Nazi’s discussion at UD.

    As I show in meticulous detail in my book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, the Nazis’ devaluing of human life derived from Darwinian ideology (this does not mean that all Nazi ideology came from Darwinism). There were six features of Darwinian theory that have contributed to the devaluing of human life (then and now):

    1. Darwin argued that humans were not qualitatively different from animals. The leading Darwinist in Germany, Ernst Haeckel, attacked the “anthropocentric” view that humans are unique and special.

    2. Darwin denied that humans had an immaterial soul. He and other Darwinists believed that all aspects of the human psyche, including reason, morality, aesthetics, and even religion, originated through completely natural processes.

    3. Darwin and other Darwinists recognized that if morality was the product of mindless evolution, then there is no objective, fixed morality and thus no objective human rights. Darwin stated in his Autobiography that one “can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones.”

    4. Since evolution requires variation, Darwin and other early Darwinists believed in human inequality. Haeckel emphasized inequality to such as extent that he even classified human races as twelve distinct species and claimed that the lowest humans were closer to primates than to the highest humans.

    5. Darwin and most Darwinists believe that humans are locked in an ineluctable struggle for existence. Darwin claimed in The Descent of Man that because of this struggle, “[a]t some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

    6. Darwinism overturned the Judeo-Christian view of death as an enemy, construing it instead as a beneficial engine of progress. Darwin remarked in The Origin of Species, “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”

    These six ideas were promoted by many prominent Darwinian biologists and Darwinian-inspired social thinkers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All six were enthusiastically embraced by Hitler and many other leading Nazis. Hitler thought that killing “inferior” humans would bring about evolutionary progress.

    Weikart responded to critic Sander Gliboff.

    It is when Darwin’s theory is thus applied to society (“Social Darwinism”) that we have seen the greatest tyrannies of the twentieth century – e.g., in Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

  21. DaveScott
    Back to Expelled, the issue it highlights is that the elite Darwinian science oligarchy applies Darwin’s theories to the practical effect of:
    1 Excluding any option of Intelligent Design
    2 Preventing publication of any works mentioning ID
    3 Rejecting grants for any research on ID
    4 Forbidding hiring persons sympathetic to ID
    5 “Firing” (not extending contracts) to any found sympathetic to ID
    6 Forbidding Tenure to Gonzalez and others sympathetic to ID
    7 Persuading the media to demonize ID, caricaturing it as religion
    8 Supporting court cases against any hint of ID in schools etc.

    It is countering this totalitarianism and speaking out for freedom that is the critical issue that Ben Stein works to expose. His exemplifies this by showing the Berlin wall being built to exclude ideas from the west.

    Ben Stein traces the outworkings of Darwin’s theories to Hitler as an example of the totalitarian outworkings of Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” etc.

    Whatever sympathetic or “noble” feelings Darwin may have had or expressed are inundated by the effect of his theories put into practice throughout the 20th century and into today’s Darwinian totalitarianism.

    Yes, I am happy to join you in “burying” Darwin – and his theories. Let us work with Stein to raise awareness of this creeping totalitarianism in Science, academia and education.

    Let us then see how we can counter it – both by developing scientific theories of Intelligent Design and supporting the freedom of inquiry in academia and education.

  22. Following is a good example of how Expelled is resulting in these issues being aired.

    Academics of evolution vs. creation
    Panel discussion will follow Thursday screening of ‘Expelled’
    Sunday News
    Published: Apr 20, 2008
    00:04 EST
    Lititz

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    By MICHAEL SCHWARTZ, Staff
    The heart of the issue, said Franklin & Marshall professor Roger Thomas, is this: “To what extent are we willing to accept the natural world as rationally intelligible as opposed to concocting mythologies to explain it?”

    The issue?

    Whether academics who profess a belief in intelligent design, or even a hint of doubt in evolution, are persecuted by colleagues who mock their opinions and universities who deny them tenure or worse.

    A new film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” argues that these professors do suffer for their beliefs in rabidly secular academia.

    The F&M Center for Liberal Arts and Society has partnered with Penn Cinema for a screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion with F&M faculty members at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at Penn Cinema, 541 Airport Road.
    Related Stories

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    One hundred students and guests of the college will attend; the remaining 230 seats are available to the public for $9 at penncinema.com.

    Panelists include social and physical scientists: Michael Murray teaches philosophy, Daniel Ardia is a biologist, Howard Kaye is a professor of sociology, and Thomas teaches paleontology.

    “I’m not anti-religion and by no means am I an atheist,” Thomas said. “For me, the suggestion that there absolutely is no God cannot be sustained any more than the suggestion that there absolutely is.”

    Murray approaches the question from perhaps the most interesting perspective: as an evangelical Christian and a part of the academia that supposedly marginalizes him.
    Related Topics

    * Franklin & Marsha… (528)
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    * creation (52)
    * science (44)
    * culture (23)
    * Penn Cinema (22)
    * philosophy (6)
    * evolution (4)
    * intelligent design (3)

    “I see cultural tension from both sides of the issue,” said Murray, who also lectures on reconciling Christianity and science at local churches.

    “Most academics are open to where the evidence leads them and defend conclusions based on evidence alone.

    “But some dismiss [intelligent design] immediately and have difficulty articulating a clear answer why,” he said.

    Conversely, Murray said that while most churchgoers he speaks with aren’t hostile to science, some “see evidence [of evolution] as self-deceiving or an attempt to deceive others.”

    Murray doesn’t think intelligent design holds water as a scientific theory but hopes screening the film will provoke a thoughtful discussion without recriminations.

    Part of the reason creation vs. evolution remains a heated debate stems from semantics, Thomas said. Some words that have a broad meaning in a lay context have a very narrow definition to a scientist.

    In science, he said, a fact is an observation while a theory explains those observations. The word “prove,” he said, is “the biggest bugaboo.”

    A demand that opponents of evolution often make, he said, is that its proponents “prove it.”

    “First off, you can’t prove it,” Thomas said. “Second, science is not in the business of proving, it’s in the business of testing hypotheses.

    “Proof is possible in mathematics and in logic and in any closed system but science is open. It’s always opening new worlds of thought and ideas,” he said.

    The idea of intelligent design, however, is one to which Thomas, and virtually the entire scientific community, is closed.

    “Intelligent design is the modern day effort of creationists to introduce religious thought into teaching biology, and most mainstream universities will have none of it,” he said.

    “I am an evolutionist,” he said. “I believe very clearly that I’m dealing with something real, not something some people believe is imaginary.”

    The film’s online trailer calls the movie “a startling revelation that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly funded high schools, universities and research institutions.”

    Neither Murray nor Thomas said they’ve ever seen anything like that at F&M.

    Murray said he hopes the screening “will provide an opportunity to bring people together and have a sober-minded discussion instead of throwing rotten tomatoes at each other.”

    Michael Schwartz is a staff writer for the Sunday News. His e-mail address is [email protected].
    ————–
    Again note the issue of the absolute intolerance of evolutionary academics for any hint of allowing ID as “science”.

  23. 23

    Allen, it occurs to me that, following the distinction between science and technology, it would be helpful to list a few technologies that, unlike Darwin’s work, actually did make the Nazi holocaust possible:
    Efficient trains modern industrial management systems The German dye industry culiminating in IG Farbenearly computering systems, especially the Hollerith machineSo I nominate others to blame to correspond with each of these: Charles G. Dawes, the American banker whose WWI reparation plan helped revitalize the German railways; Frederick Winslow Taylor, whose advances in efficient management allowed the operation of the large-scale industrial slaughter; William Henry Perkin, whose discoveries in organic chemistry led to the rise of the dye industry; Charles Babbage, who imagined the modern computer.
    Each of these is, I would say, more responsible for the Nazi holocaust than Darwin.

  24. Eugenics doesn’t depend on Darwinian theory. Eugenics is based on nothing more or less than the presumption that humans are mammals and can be bred like mammals.

    Eugenics is Darwinian theory applied to man.

    Imagine if ID reasoning was similar to Nazi reasoning, might the other side make use of unspecified imagery and emotional conditioning with little concern for distinctions? They already falsely associate ID with the Dark Ages, theocracy, creationism and so on so I doubt that many would be parsing the words of ID proponents.

    It’s good that ID proponents generally don’t do the same thing because their attitude towards arguments of association and vague imagery seems to be different. Yet you seem to be trying to go too far away from the recognition of patterns/imagery and so on, there are too many links between Darwinism and eugenics that cannot be parsed and defined out of existence.

  25. We don’t have to demonize Darwin to point out that what he delivered in DoM was the justification for eugenics.
    Following the very quote about the extermination of the barbarians and savages Darwin drew the conclusion that the human race would have attained a higher average level of evolution following such genocides.
    In a relative morality it is quite conceivable that achieving such a higher standard can be seen as a very obvious good. It is impossible to think that some might not take it as an ultimate good.

    As far as the resulting evil, Darwin wrote that mankind had no right to expect to avoid such evils as would be imposed by unfettered natural selection, and he said outright that if man were to continue to advance he must necessarily face them.
    His solution was not medical killings and sterilization but unrestrained reproduction (of the better men) and the survival of the fittest.

    Darwin’s ambiguity and gentle nature notwithstanding, his scientific justification stands.

  26. “Basically, Darwin was a Brit toff who regretted the impending destruction of what he saw as evolutionarily inferior races by evolutionarily superior ones. He didn’t see what could be done to prevent that outcome, but he didn’t feel any overhwelming urge to push the conflict along.”

    Denyse, that was spot on! Darwin really did not do enough to counteract the social evils that he should have known would result from his theory. As a reclusive scientist, it was clearly his responsibility to become politically active in order to combat the potentially devastating misinterpretation of evolutionary theory by sick ideologues such as Hitler.

    By the way, your term “Brit toff” never fails to make me laugh. Oh those Brits. Ha Ha!. Keep up the good work!

  27. [...] at some point in time.  So for the sake of fairness and balance I feel the need to point out when he says something that’s not only sensible, but that also contradicts the party line over at UD. If there’s [...]

  28. So should we blame Alfred Nobel (the inventor of dynamite) for suicide bombers? Should we blame Einstein for the proliferation of nuclear weapons? Should we blame Christ for the Spanish Inquisition?

    However you answer these questions the same answer applies to blaming Darwin for the holocaust.

  29. 29

    Odd: my bullet lists appeared in the preview but my comment came out all hinky. Anyway, here’s a plain-text version that’s easier to read:

    —————
    Allen, it occurs to me that, following the distinction between science and technology, it would be helpful to list a few technologies that, unlike Darwin’s work, actually did make the Nazi holocaust possible:

    * Efficient trains
    * modern industrial management systems
    * The German dye industry culiminating in IG Farben
    * early computing systems, especially the Hollerith machine

    So I nominate others to blame to correspond with each of these:

    * Charles G. Dawes, the American banker whose WWI reparation plan helped revitalize the German railways;
    * Frederick Winslow Taylor, whose advances in efficient management allowed the operation of the large-scale industrial slaughter;
    * William Henry Perkin, whose discoveries in organic chemistry led to the rise of the dye industry;
    * Charles Babbage, who imagined the modern computer.

    Each of these is, I would say, more responsible for the Nazi holocaust than Darwin.


    But in fact, none of them are responsible: as DaveScot rightly notes, the link is in each and every case absurd.

  30. “I come not to demonize Darwin but to bury him.”

    I like that quote. I would’ve preferred they didn’t play the Nazi card… and that’s what it is, really, a card to induce an emotional response. The accuracy of the claim aside, I don’t feel it was needed and I think it actually may have hurt the film’s case.

    Now, everyone’s focusing on this (and that John Lennon nonsense) instead of the film’s merit. Choking on the bones despite the meat, if you will.

    Personally, I would like to have seen the film go more into the evidence for design. I was encouraged to see the film go into the “by chance” origin debate with that funny vintage-looking slot machine cartoon. But then, they seems to leave it at that. There are so many other enlightening aspects of the design argument that could’ve been explained. There are so many holes in neo-darwinism that could’ve been illustrated.

    Why not explore those further? Why go into something that really has nothing to do with the science of the debate? To me the time would’ve been much more fruitful had it been used to show why the ID theory should be allowed in the academic realm in the first place: because it has scientific merit!

    The biggest claim you hear from atheists wanting to shut down ID is that it doesn’t hold up to the “scientific method” and that it’s all religion and no science. They could’ve easily fit in the 45 minutes or longer they spent on the Nazi card, a worthy examination of the scientific merit of ID and the holes in neo-darwinism.

  31. Hi Dave,
    The comparison doesn’t work.
    Nobel provided a technology not a rationale for behaviour. Although Darwin did not approve of the behaviour, or even anticipate it, he provided a rationale for it. Perhaps he never even saw the connection himself but it is there and is as plain as day.
    On the other hand, this is not about blaming and demonizing. None of the works that refers to the Darwin link blames Darwin. You couldn’t blame a person for eugenics or the holocaust even if they explicitly recommended it. You can only blame those in power who ordered it and made it happen and those who allowed it.

  32. Charlie

    You’re not making sense. Let’s carry it through. You’re saying it’s not Darwin that’s being demonized but rather his ideas. Fair enough. Let’s separate the men from their ideas. Would you then demonize dynamite, e=mc^2, and the New Testament because these ideas were employed by evil men to accomplish evil deeds?

  33. Hi Mike,
    I haven’t seen the movie but I think I agree with you.
    There is a time and place for discussing such things and I don’t think a popular-level movie is the place. I think many see the link as important but as you say (and most everyone agrees) that doesn’t impact the merit of the scientific case.
    Then again movies make ideological, political and controversial points all the time. And often not truthfully.

  34. Hi Dave,
    I’m making sense and I’m not demonizing Darwin’s ideas, either.
    Darwin provided a rationale (endorsed by Science, no less) which one could easily follow to genocide and eugencis.
    Dynamite is a technology, as MacNeill would point out, but there is no argumentation implied within it. There is nothing about dynamite that can be construed as a rational for killing people.
    There is in Darwin’s scientific literature.

  35. Charlie

    I see you took the low hanging fruit and avoided the better analogy I made about the New Testament and the Spanish Inquisition.

    You can’t dismiss the New Testament by calling it a “technology”.

    Don’t be a lightweight. Tackle the hard one. How is blaming the holocaust on “The Descent of Man” any different than blaming the Spanish Inquisition on “The New Testament of Jesus Christ”?

  36. “Don’t be lightweight. Tackle the hard one. How is blaming the holocaust on “The Descent of Man” any different than blaming the Spanish Inquisition on “The New Testament of Jesus Christ”?”

    Yeah he’s allowed that to become a bigger issue by not admitting fault.

    The longer you go without correcting a mistake, more it will haunt you.

    Men are cursed by their own ego, they see their line of thinking and when it goes unchallenged they begin to lose perspective.

    Perspective requires contrast, contrast takes two view points, some people surround themselves with an orthodoxy and never get out.

    They see their light, their truth, and that’s all they see.

    A monkey might peer at the moon’s reflection on the water of a still lake, the deeper it reaches it’s hand, the closer it thinks it’s getting, but ultimately the moon has always been above him and he’s becoming more distant from it.

    The harder he searches the wetter he gets, eventually if he completely falls into this illusion he’ll drowned in his own ignorance.

  37. Hi Dave,
    1) I’ve repeatedly said this is not about blame. I am answering a factual point you raised in the OP and I dispute your findings that Darwin warned us against sacrificing our noblest part or that people who note this are demonizing him.
    2) My rationale on Darwin:Darwin said that man has achieved his present high level by constant application of natural selection.
    He said that it would be evil to ignore our (incidental) moral tendencies and fail to help the infirm.
    But he also insisted that the infirm were hindering man’s evolutionary progress and that contingent good could come of perpetrating such evil.
    He showed us also that there is good reason to suffer such evils, and that would be the continued evolutionary progress of mankind.
    He indicated as well that the elimination of the men closest to apes would improve man’s evolutionary progress.
    Darwin provided all of the ingredients and reasoning for genocide and eugenics.
    All it takes is that a person answer one question in the affirmative (with Darwin) and that is “should we desire continued progress?”
    If the answer is yes then Darwin has laid out a solution. And, evil though it may be, we actually have no right to expect to escape such natural evils.

    3) I see no such connection with the New Testament to the Inquisitions. The “idea” behind the New Testament is found in John 3:16.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/pa.....;version=9;

    I see no logical way to construe this as meaning that people ought to be tortured or murdered in Christ’s name.
    The example of Jesus and of His disciples was to suffer themselves, even to death, to save people and to bring them the truth. I see no connection from this to killing people for failing to heed the truth.

    The message of the Bible is that even while we are sinners and have separated ourselves from God He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. The greatest commandment of the Bible is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind, and to likewise love each other.

    That people twisted the New Testament to support killing, or even misconstrued it in such a way, does nothing to draw a logical line remotely like the one that we have with Darwin.

    4) Don’t blame me for the religious turn this thread took.

  38. Presuming that this and my previous comment will come out of moderation I add one more point. If Darwin was right then there is no one to vilify, much less Darwin himself, because nobody did anything wrong.
    If our morals were shaped by natural selection then they are, as Darwin said, accidental features which could have been otherwise. In the same way our intellectual facilities, derived as Darwin said, from the brain of a lower mammal, are the end result of natural selection.
    And Darwin said that we could, and, indeed must, suffer the evils assessed by our naturally selected morality in order to continue to progress. Being natural beings in the natural order we have no right to expect to escape the evils of natural selection which must befall all of evolved life.
    It follows then, that we can actually do no wrong. Whatever we do is mandated by the only authority, and that is nature, which tells us “either or” there is no moral difference. And while we can’t get an “ought” from the “is” of nature we most certainly cannot get an “ought not”.
    So it is only a mistake that that any of us think there is anything wrong with eugenics or genocide, either morally or intellectually. There is no authority but nature to rule, and the only standard we have – our feelings – are incidental and not to be trusted. And we have no right to think we should not set them aside in the first place.

    On the other hand, taking the New Testament as the truth, one can actually be wrong in relationship to the standard. Since we know that people can be wrong we know that Darwin was wrong.

  39. Charlie

    So we’re back again to Darwin being the inventor of racism with your conclusion:

    He indicated as well that the elimination of the men closest to apes would improve man’s evolutionary progress.

    So what was the rationale behind the anti-miscegenation laws that predated Darwin by 200 years?

    Darwin didn’t invent racism. He talked about it as an academic. I seem to recall we’re supposed to be supportive of academic freedom here.

  40. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for scooping these comments out of the filter.

    Just because Darwin was a racist and his science provided a justification for racism does not mean that he invented racism. It doesn’t even mean he was any worse a racist, or even as bad a racist, as others of his time. I am not blaming Darwin for racism any more than I am blaming him for the holocaust. I’m not blaming him for anything.

    I agree that we are supposed to be supportive of academic freedom here.
    Please hear that I am not demonizing, blaming or shutting down.
    In support of academic freedom I am answering a factual statement about Darwin’s writings.
    Darwin did not invent racism any more than he invented evolution or the idea of common descent. He was a child of his times and philosophical milieu as much as anyone else is.
    I’m not going to go into how the following generations were charged by his philosophical contributions but rather will rest here as your objections aren’t really flowing from my responses.

  41. I think there needs to be several distinctions made:

    1. Darwin (the person)
    2. Darwinism (the overarching theory)
    3. Compatible implications and hypotheses (Eugenics in this case)

    After all, ID proponents commonly make distinctions between Bill’s personal beliefs (category 1), core ID itself (category 2), and theological statements and hypotheses like front-loading (category 3).

  42. DaveScot wrote:

    Don’t be a lightweight. Tackle the hard one. How is blaming the holocaust on “The Descent of Man” any different than blaming the Spanish Inquisition on “The New Testament of Jesus Christ”?

    In The Descent of Man, Darwin affirms that races of men are different, some being closer to apes than others. He also expresses the idea that these “lower” races will be exterminated in favor of the Caucasian race, in order for the Caucasian race to advance beyond even the level it stood in Darwin’s eyes at the time. This of course is an echo of his description of how animals diversify and “improve”.

    This was in turn echoed by the Nazis. They started on their own people before moving on to the Jews, Slavs, Roma, etc.

    This is an extremely easy pattern to discern. Even angry highschoolers can see it. The only ones who can’t see it, apparently, are those who are too educated to believe Darwin was a fallible human being like the rest of us.

    The Spanish Inquisition had to ignore the main basis for Christianity and many, many words spoken by Jesus as documented in the New Testament in order to perform their ghastly work. In addition to Charlie’s excellent example above, there is:

    “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
    But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,[a insult in Aramaic]‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
    But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    Summary: The Nazi actions were consistent with Darwinism. The Inquisitions’ actions were not consistent with Christianity. That’s the difference.

  43. Dave,

    It’s a difference without an objective difference. Look, I get the point: Charles Darwin was a decent man who carried his sympathy for his fellow man to the end.

    That doesn’t mean anything.

    The stratification of opinion that characterizes the modern age (in many ways owing to Darwinism) did nothing but decrease the value of Darwin’s own intuitions. Those are opinons. Science is not done by copying the sympathies of the source, but by confirming (either by verification, or in worst cases by consent) the objective conclusions.

    So therefore we need to break down Darwin into what he obviously represents as opinion and what he represents as objective. What is “noblest” is conjecture. Science has not defined a gradient of nobility by which we can judge this. Everything he says about “nobility” can be rejected.

    Especially because it can be argued that “noble” comes from to know. And so in one sense “noblest” is “the most knowing”. But how can we know things which are a product of “instinct”.

    Following from this, we can “objectively” re-orient “nobility”. Or just drop the word as a meaningless (per Vienna Circle) corrosion of the more important matter of knowing objectively.

    Why does Darwin invoke “instinct”? I infer that he is representing that it is not actually perceiving something, but coming to us in a somewhat inexplicably arbitrary fashion. Thus, “instinct” explains the widespread notion absent an objective basis.

    Thus the “most knowing” part of us knows that there is no rational ground for something based intirely on instinct. But still, Darwin portrays the role of the eugenicist as a “surgeon” “hardening himself” for an “operation”. Thus, his POV of creating “evil” by eugenics is counter balanced by the analogy that he makes. He just comes off as weaker-kneed.

    All it takes is another POV. And with the equal value that all empirically-based worldviews have under modernism, it just has to be one that cannot as easily take this course which Darwin assesses as “highly injurious to the race of man” as “No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt”. That is anybody with extended empirical knowledge will not doubt that by this “instinct” of sympathy, we injure our race.

    Again, that he compares the surgeon’s role means that he invites a comparison between the harm done in the name of the cure balanced against the cost of the disease. And again, acting from these “facts” that Darwin clearly represents as empirical and logical, and ignoring what seems to be mainly his POV, from his particular suseptability to this common “instinct”.

    Once he “established” the injury caused by of the poor and the “imbeciles” in a pseudo-objective sense, and established the “instinct” of sympathy, it just takes another POV, replacing the weak-kneed status-quo preference with any POV less tolerant of the “injury”. It would naturally be more eugenic.

    Darwin’s sympathies don’t ultimately matter. That he attributes it as “instinct” means that as a reflexive action, it could be moderated with more input, more insight. It suggests that “the more knowing” nature is to coldly assess who deserves sympathy and who doesn’t.

    This quote would be taken out of context, if it were only to damn Darwin. However, it is better proof of how Darwin influenced the eugenicists than many quotes I have read.

    Charles Darwin also does not say that life has no meaning. However, Will Provine argues that this is a direct implication of Darwin’s theory. Provine can be wrong or he can be right–despite Darwin’s personal resolution on the matter. I doubt that Provine would find it rational at all to say that he must hold a value to life, if Darwin did. He might likely see that as a matter on which he could correct CD.

    Same thing with the Germans, in the age of eugenics: subjected to the indignity of the imposed Wiemar republic, and what that relative imposition implied about the fitness of the German race and nations, they might see a more pressing need to pick up that scalpel.

    Progressivism combines that same stratification with the utmost in tolerance of all radiating POVs, if all the POVs are assessed as equal in observance of the first order knowledge. Often amounting sometimes in an unchecked relativism. Without a holocaust as an object lesson, even the worst eugenics become nothing more than an “arguable proposition” of equal value.

  44. Charlie

    Darwin did not invent racism any more than he invented evolution or the idea of common descent. He was a child of his times and philosophical milieu as much as anyone else is.

    This has been my point all along. Nothing Darwin wrote that could be rationalized as justification for racism was new. The anti-miscegenation laws dating back at least to 16th century colonial days in the U.S. are the smoking gun. So too are all the mass killings throughout recorded history of people whose only sin is not belonging to the group that’s doing the killing. The Aztecs IMO were the bloodiest of the lot although there’s so much blood in man’s history it’s difficult to say which was the worst.

    If the point is simply that science can be used for evil when not restrained by moral imperatives then I certainly won’t disagree. Einstein remarked on this:

    “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

    Eugenics was being practiced long before Darwin was born. Darwin added no additional rationalization for it. Darwin’s contribution to science, his big new idea, was that natural selection causes change over time that eventually results in the formation of new species. Everyone already knew at the time what could be done through artificial selection to cause change within the same species. Everyone knew at the time that animals compete and the stronger ones survive. Eugenics is based on the latter not the former. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the origin of species through natural selection and everything to do with artificial selection for the preservation/elimination of desirable/undesirable traits.

  45. Wow, Dave…excellent post!

  46. Explaining ‘humanity’, scientifically or otherwise, is is/also philosophy with moral implications. Chemistry, physics, whatever is not to ‘blame’ for any ‘evil’ but if they are our creators then people are not special. Any treatment of biological matter, us included, is entirely consistent with a materialistic view.

    Perhaps the highest application of darwin would be to practice eugenics, genocide, selective breeding etc. against those lacking “the noblest part of our nature” ushering in utopia on earth.

  47. What Darwin did was to create a theory in the light of which natural selection could be seen as a very powerful and potentially positive force.

    If natural selection can create humans, with all their intelligence, from simple life-forms, then it is a very powerful force in nature, and one which potentially has very admirable effects. If that is the case, then it is very natural for people to think that it is worthwhile to give natural selection a helping hand. The good of the human species is at stake after all, and preventing inferior human specimens from breeding can be seen as no worse than amputating a gangrenous limb to prevent a person from dieing.

    Darwin managed to make natural selection look far, far more positive than it actually is, and that is surely the climate of opinion in which eugenics could take hold.

    I do not know how to take Darwin’s views in the passages quoted by Dave Scot: it is always possible that he merely feels it necessary to pander to the prevailing sentiments of Victorian Christianity, in order not to have his views denounced as completely monstrous.

  48. “Thus the “most knowing” part of us knows that there is no rational ground for something based intirely on instinct.”

    You can certainly rationalize acting out purely on instinct.

    You are an end result of many different mechanisms reacting in unison. There is no free will and thus instinct is all you have…

    Man’s divinity is fabricated out of the necessity to escape objective reality, and is no more real than the three little pigs..

    The most knowing part of you is an instinct, it’s an inborn trait thus instinctual.

  49. “It has nothing whatsoever to do with the origin of species through natural selection and everything to do with artificial selection for the preservation/elimination of desirable/undesirable traits.”

    Dave,

    I think that eugenics got a huge boost from Darwin’s theory of the origin of species.

    Once you accept Darwin’s theory of the origin of species, you cannot help but marvel at how powerful the process of natural selection is. And then the thought arises very naturally: if we allow unfit individuals to reproduce, then are we not undoing the exceptional work done by aeons of natural selection? And if natural selection can produce such amazing results, could not artificial selection produce amazing results for the betterment of the human species?

    So my hypothesis is that accepting Darwin’s theory leads to a heightened optimism about the prospects for eugenics, which further motivates people to be interested in such a project. It should be no surprise that so many leading Darwinists were interested in eugenics.

  50. [...] title, this is not a cynical post. Something important happened at Bill Dembski’s blog, Uncommon Descent. It is tempting to make fun of the actors in this drama, but I choose not to. I view this as a [...]

  51. In reading the following passage

    “but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

    what amazes me is how *weak* Darwin’s negative comment about eugenics really is.

    He has slyly given all kinds of reasons for pursuing artificial selection in the case of human beings, and his apparent rejection of it is so *lukewarm* that it may as well not be there. It reminds me of Shakespeare’s Antony rousing the crowd against Brutus while repeatedly telling them “Brutus is an honourable man”. In the same way, Darwin excites his reader’s interest in eugenics, while paying lip-service to the “noblest part of our nature.”

  52. DaveScot: “Darwin’s contribution to science, his big new idea, was that natural selection causes change over time that eventually results in the formation of new species.”

    And the big idea connected to that is that of common descent, which Hitler explicitly rejected in Mein Kampf:

    “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger. The only difference that can exist within the species must be in the various degrees of structural strength and active power, in the intelligence, efficiency, endurance, etc., with which the individual specimens are endowed.”

  53. So my hypothesis is that accepting Darwin’s theory leads to a heightened optimism about the prospects for eugenics, which further motivates people to be interested in such a project. It should be no surprise that so many leading Darwinists were interested in eugenics.

    Nathan, I think your hypothesis is supported with plenty of data from the historians. Another way of saying it is that Darwin’s theory was the engine driving the technology of eugenics in Germany.

    Here is how the U.S. Holocaust Museum explains it:

    Following Germany’s defeat in World War I and during the ensuing political and economic crises of the Weimar Republic, ideas known as racial hygiene or eugenics began to inform population policy, public health education, and government-funded research. By keeping the “unfit” alive to reproduce and multiply, eugenics proponents argued, modern medicine and costly welfare programs interfered with natural selection–the concept Charles Darwin applied to the “survival of the fittest” in the animal and plant world. In addition, members of the “fit,” educated classes were marrying later and using birth control methods to limit family size. The result, eugenics advocates believed, was an overall biological “degeneration” of the population. As a solution, they proposed “positive” government policies such as tax credits to foster large, “valuable” families, and “negative” measures, mainly the sterilization of genetic “inferiors.” Eugenics advocates in Germany included physicians, public health officials, and academics in the biomedical fields, on the political left and right.

    This was during the Weimar Republic, which abuts Hitler’s election in 1933.

    During the Nazi era, government policies moved from forced sterilization to euthanasia to racial cleansing, which they saw as merely applying ever more sophisticated and effective technologies to achieve the same ends: the improvement of the race. The war provided both a cover-up and rationale for “speeding up the process.”

    In 1935 Hitler stated privately that “in the event of war, [he] would take up the question of euthanasia and enforce it” because “such a problem would be more easily solved” during wartime. War would provide both a cover for killing and a pretext–hospital beds and medical personnel would be freed up for the war effort. The upheaval of war and the diminished value of human life during wartime would also, Hitler believed, mute expected opposition. To make the connection to the war explicit, Hitler’s decree was backdated to September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland.

    I hope no one thinks I’m blaming Darwin for the Holocaust, because I’m absolutely not intending to do that. But Darwin’s ideas clearly permeated and undergirded its rationale. I think this is evident in Expelled, where Stein asks the museum guide at the Hadamar Crematorium what motivated the whole enterprise. “Darwin,” she immediately replies. The guide, who may have no more that a high school education, is a good example—right or wrong—of what the rationale was understood to be.

    I also think the distinction between “natural selection” and “artificial selection” is at least somewhat arbitrary, especially in this case. If peppered moths are more vulnerable, say, to birds of prey because of their coloration, then the birds play a crucial role in the selection process. We call that “natural selection,” right (I’m not a biologist)? The result, supposedly, is a breed of peppered moth better equipped to survive.

    On the other hand, if we select several dogs with desirable characteristics and breed them in order to ensure a desirable breed of dogs, that’s “artificial selection,” right?

    To me, it looks as if the Weimar Republic saw itself as practicing something akin to artificial selection, and the Nazis saw themselves as practicing something akin to natural selection. They would see themselves in the role of the birds, I bet.

  54. And the big idea connected to that is that of common descent, which Hitler explicitly rejected in Mein Kampf:

    Yet he still accepted sub species and the notion of lesser races as a real thing.

    Clearly so did Darwin in commenting on the civilized races..

    Why is this argument still going?

    It can be said Hitler was a darwinist on some levels.

    It’s a subjective comparison, a matter of opinion not fact.

    What unenlightened boob really thinks Darwin didn’t sell this idea exceptionally well? Are we so ignorant to think Darwin’s social influence on race didn’t exist?

    Yes, he is a product of his time and the time he lived in accepted some forms of bigotry, but that does not demonstrate his ideology having no significance on helping define that era.

    More over, as “Dave” pointed out, simply because you do not create an idea, doesn’t mean you cannot sell an idea or warp that idea in a new and completely horrible way.

    E=mc^2 is an excellent example… but noooo… we can’t acknowledge that there may be alternate outlooks on something, that’d require us to THINK about what others are saying.

  55. I wasn’t sure that would post. Here are the URLs:

    For the quote regarding Darwinism and eugenics in the Weimar Republic, see “SCIENCE AS SALVATION: WEIMAR EUGENICS, 1919-1933″ at: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/artic.....d=10007062

    For the quote regarding the war as a cover-up, see “Mentally and Physically Handicapped:
    Victims of the Nazi Era” at:
    http://www.ushmm.org/education.....capped.php

    I really don’t see how anyone can take issue with the U.S. Holocaust Museum about this issue.

  56. “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger.

    LOL. More bad reading. Do we or don’t we define species by who they can procreate with.

    The only difference that can exist within the species must be…

    Note the key phrase in there: “within a species…” Hitler is talking about how a fox seek foxes for mates and always the result of foxes mating is another fox.

    Apparently the stretch to reading this as “a fox has always been a fox” is not too great for you guys.

    Here’s a funny thing. Take a look at this Google search on The fox remains always a fox. Note how 3 of the top 4 citations show “vol .ii ch. xi”. Search the text of this page for “fox”; now search this one.. Notice how the error is propagated, with evidence that none of these “skeptics” are checking the source.

    That’s funny.

  57. “Thus the “most knowing” part of us knows that there is no rational ground for something based intirely on instinct.”

    You can certainly rationalize acting out purely on instinct.

    You are an end result of many different mechanisms reacting in unison. There is no free will and thus instinct is all you have…

    Thus the most knowing part of us is otherwise described as unlearned behavior. Care to give it another shot–and this time, the target is above your foot.

  58. Let’s separate the men from their ideas. Would you then demonize… e=mc^2….

    If Einstein argued that it would be inevitable that a higher race would make use of e=mc^2 to exterminate everyone else with atomic weapons would it be alright to demonize such an idea? What if he falsely pointed to e=mc^2 in order to justify such an idea, wouldn’t it be alright to point out that he was wrong? If he lamented the fact that everyone would be exterminated in such a way but some people who viewed themselves as a higher race came along who believed what he said about e=mc^2 and inevitable extermination by atomic weapons wouldn’t it be okay to point out that Einstein’s ideas were linked to their ideas?

    Eugenics was being practiced long before Darwin was born. Darwin added no additional rationalization for it.

    Darwin added the notion that artificial or natural selection could essentially create a new species of man. As I recall he even argued that artificial or natural selection would inevitably create differences so large that the new species of man would look down on others as we look down on apes.

  59. I actually agree with the sentiment that apparently led to this tangent, it would have been good if Expelled focused more on ID and less on Darwinism and Nazism. For example, after citing the case where Gonzalez was denied tenure go into some of the evidence having to do with the correlation between habitability and discoverability. A positive case could have been made against discrimination and censorship (These are interesting ideas worthy of research, let’s look into them.) instead of a largely negative case (Those who censor are like socialists of various sorts.) It would be better to appeal to students want to know things that their professor may not be teaching them. It seems to me that professors who are socialists aren’t going to change.

  60. If Einstein argued that it would be inevitable that a higher race would make use of e=mc^2 to exterminate everyone else with atomic weapons would it be alright to demonize such an idea?

    No, it would not be okay to demonize it. Inanimate knowledge can’t be demonized. A demon is an animate object. It would be okay to demonize the higher race that would make use of the idea in that way.

  61. “Thus the most knowing part of us is otherwise described as unlearned behavior. Care to give it another shot–and this time, the target is above your foot.”

    The most knowledged of men only knows what that limited organ in his head has been given by biology and the generations prior.

    All behavior is learned behavior.

    … Isn’t it funny, I shake a bag of dog treats said dog will look with ernst, yet if I approach a dog I have never trained, or shown said treats to, the bag and he happens to get a wiff, he’ll rip it apart and eat from it?

    One might say that any animals most basic instinct is self gratification, could you really say Archimedes inventions are any different? He wanted to be noticed…

    Humanity is vanity.
    We all love to look at ourselves as being special, ultimately though, conceptual thought, even about subjects such as dualism, I doubt is unique to our species.

    Of course you can’t ask the dog now can you? lol…

    Point being yes some can rationalize relying purely on instinct, some may tell you all you have is instinct. Simply because you imply conceptual thought is seperate, does not mean it actually is.

    Behaviorism is droll all the same though…

  62. DaveScot:
    No, it would not be okay to demonize it. Inanimate knowledge can’t be demonized. A demon is an animate object. It would be okay to demonize the higher race that would make use of the idea in that way.

    i understand that you’ve criticised the Darwin-Hitler connection on this website, so i suppose this is more targeted at other people on here:

    1. would it be okay to demonise the scientists who used Einsteinism to instead built nuclear power stations and used relativity to understand the universe?

    2. would this demonisation, and misappropriation of nuclear physics by ideologies change the fact that e=mc^2?

    3. in noting that nuclear physics has been misappropriated by regimes in the past, is this sufficient criticism of our current understanding of nuclear physics?

  63. [...] that DaveScot (also lovingly referred to as “DaveTard”) managed to utter something reasonable for once in his [...]

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