Home » Intelligent Design » Darwinism and pop culture: Attempts to pretend that Darwin did not extend his theory to human society

Darwinism and pop culture: Attempts to pretend that Darwin did not extend his theory to human society

Many attempts have been made recently to rescue Darwin from the charge of supporting social Darwinism, but as with the attempts to exonerate him from supporting racism, they only lead people to discover the documentary evidence for themselves. British physicist David Tyler reflects on this phenomenon. Just admitting it and getting past it would solve the problems, but then Darwin could no longer be the subject of dog-like veneration and ridiculous hagiography. Anyway, here’s Tyler:

Darwin was an advocate of Social Darwinism

In this Bicentennial year of Darwin’s birth, there are many who want to drive a wedge between Darwinism as a scientific theory and Darwinism as a philosophical, social or political theory. Here in the UK, we have a Templeton Foundation-funded project called “Rescuing Darwin” which seeks to do exactly this. Darwinism, it is claimed, is essentially a scientific theory and it needs to be rescued from the atheists, the social-engineers and others who are taking it far beyond the domain of science. Here is an excerpt from the report “Rescuing Darwin”.

“Social Darwinism did not have the monopoly on interpreting evolution. Indeed, in its time evolution has been used in support of every “ism” imaginable, including socialism, capitalism, racism, eugenics, feminism, theism and atheism. As George Bernard Shaw once remarked, Darwin “had the luck to please everybody who had an axe to grind”. The key point is that, from the earliest times, evolution was understood – and sometimes rejected – as a philosophical, social or political theory, rather than simply a biological one.” (page 25)

This strategy of presenting Darwinism as science with no philosophical or ideological baggage deserves to be critiqued and challenged. Many of us argue that science necessarily implies a philosophical underpinning, and that metaphysical foundation inevitably affects the way science is practised. This blog, however, is concerned with the evidence from history. What was Darwin’s own thinking about laissez-faire social Darwinism? Does he deserve to be rescued from those who have inappropriately applied his science to the workings of human society? Or is he being expelled from his own house?

Go here for more.

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7 Responses to Darwinism and pop culture: Attempts to pretend that Darwin did not extend his theory to human society

  1. the darwnists cannot allow their icon, yea verily their god, darwin, to have his holy name profaned. their devotion to him is just further proof that evolution is a religion. atheism posing as ‘science’

  2. Actually, the god is naturalistic materialism. Darwin was only its prophet.

    The attempt to divorce Darwin from Social Darwinism comes from the innate realization that if darwinian theory implies that human beings are mere animals like any other species, then there’s no reason why we SHOULDN’T try to cull the weak, the infirm, the inferior from the human herd. After all, inferior strains of humanity, what Darwin called sub-species, are a drain on our limited resources and threaten our very survival. The trouble is, such a notion has led us to the greatest horrors of the 20th century: eugenics, euthanasia, and the Holocaust.

    But, of course, its difficult for Darwin’s defenders to pretend darwinism is true if its end-product is a bunch of brown-shirted knuckleheads shoving Rabinowicz into an oven for no better reason than he’s Rabinowicz. So, they deny the link between their prophet and Social Darwinism.

    The problem is, the link is still there.

  3. 3

    Terry

    then there’s no reason why we SHOULDN’T try to cull the weak, the infirm, the inferior from the human herd. After all, inferior strains of humanity, what Darwin called sub-species, are a drain on our limited resources and threaten our very survival.

    But in that case there is no reason to cull the weak, etc. Why would mere animals care about their species survival?

    Why does it follow that if darwinian theory implies that human beings are mere animals like any other species, then there’s any reason that we SHOULD try to cull the weak?

    How can “mere animals” care about such things?

  4. 4
    Vladimir Krondan

    It’s not just Darwin that should be put under the microscope, but his relatives. Leonard Darwin, Florence Darwin, Francis Darwin, Horace Darwin, Ruth Darwin, Ida Darwin, George Darwin, C.G. Darwin, Francis Galton, the Darwin-Keynes, and even the Huxleys (who were, apparently related somehow to the Darwins.)

    This strategy of presenting Darwinism as science with no philosophical or ideological baggage deserves to be critiqued and challenged.

    It sure does, because the evidence is overwhelmingly against it, and mind-bogglingly so. See here:

    Darwinism-Eugenics

    and here:

    Darwinism and Medical Progres, Karl Pearson, in which we read:

    I belong to a school which still believes that Darwin taught us the truth. I think it is rather the fashion nowadays to dismiss its views, not by meeting its arguments, but by describing it as “mid- Victorian.” When in literature, science, and statemanship this twentieth century has produced minds which out-top the “mid-Victorians,” then it will be time enough to reply to a mere nickname. Let me, even at the risk of talking about the familiar, sketch for you the broad outlines of Darwin’s theory of evolutionary progress. The individual better fitted to its environment lived longer than its fellows, had more offspring, and these, inheriting its better fitness, raised the type of the race. The environment against which the individual had to struggle here was not only formed by the other members of its species, not only by its physical surroundings, but by the germs of disease of all types. According to Darwin — and some of us still believe him to be right — the ascent of man, physical and mental, was brought about by this survival of the fitter. Now, if you are going lo take Darwinism as your theory of life and apply it to human problems, you must not only believe it to be true, but you must set to, and demonstrate that it actually applies.

    Our social instincts, our common humanity enforce upon us the conception that each person born has the right to live, yet this right essentially connotes a suspension of the full intensity of natural selection. Darwinism and medical progress are opposed forces, and we shall gain nothing by screening that fact, or, in opposition to ample evidence, asserting that Darwinism has no application to civilised man.

  5. #3 Mr. C

    But in that case there is no reason to cull the weak, etc. Why would mere animals care about their species survival?

    Land o’ Goshen! You HAVE read Darwin, haven’t you? According to Our Lord, PBUH, nature instills the drive to survive in all creatures, great and small. Any organism is innately concerned with its own survival, demonstrating its fitness by reproduction; the more it reproduces, the greater its fitness.

    Why does it follow that if darwinian theory implies that human beings are mere animals like any other species, then there’s any reason that we SHOULD try to cull the weak?

    Again, per Our Lord, PBUH, all living creatures compete with one another for survival, in a constant struggle brought about by our environment’s limited resources. In the Descent of Man, Our Lord, PBUH, argued that man uses his intellect to shape our own evolution (which is why, Our Lord argued, women are just so gawh-darned inferior to men; men have made them that way). In allowing the weak, etc, to survive, we share with them the limited resources we would otherwise use to feed the healthy and strong, and thus ultimately endanger the survivability of our species.

    So, since 1) we are acutely concerned with our own survival, and 2) use our intellect to shape our evolution, knowing that allowing the weak to thrive threatens our survival, we would have every reason for eliminating the weak so that the strong would have greater access to limited resources (and, similarly, no reason whatsoever for tolerating the weak); the strong would then display their fitness by reproducing more of their kind, and thus enhance our survival.

    The only trouble is, once people get this idea into their heads, eugenics and die Endloesung aren’t too far off.

  6. 6

    Mr T

    knowing that allowing the weak to thrive threatens our survival

    Does it? Why?

    Also, please define “weak”.

  7. Mr. C.

    I think I’ve sufficiently explained how, according to Darwin, allowing the weak to thrive threatens our survival. If you’re asking me to defend that notion, I won’t. I’m not a darwinist. If you don’t really believe that allowing the weak to survive actually threatens the survival of the strong, then I’d say you don’t really believe in darwinism.

    As for “weak”–it can’t be defined. This is one of the (many) reasons why I am not a darwinist. Darwinism rests on precisely such tautological constructs, which is why I feel darwinism fails.

    The “weak”, according to Darwin, are those who aren’t identified as the “strong”, according to Darwin. The “fit” are those that survive; the “unfit” the ones who don’t. They just are. Ipse dixit, says the prophet. Now, either accept that without question, or PZ Myers will forever brand you a Bible-thumping creationist bent on dragging science back into the Dark Ages.

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