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Darwinism: Avoiding accountability – the textbook two-step

At African Ota Benga – the missed link, I posted a comment I thought I would enlarge on:

In my experience, in order to avoid acknowledging Darwinism’s contributions to racism, typical Darwinists perform a little two-step: Darwin = good non-racist; Haeckel = bad racist.

So we blame the “bad” German [WWII losers] for what every “good” British/North American Darwinist [WWII winners] really thought.

And for all I know, what every actual living Darwinist really thinks today.

Otherwise, why can’t they just acknowledge the racism, repent and apologize for it, and get past it? Why are textbooks full of explanations about how Darwin didn’t really support it (which I discovered to be false when introduced to his actual writings on the subject – but how many students are?)

Darwinists are accomplished at avoiding accountability. I experienced their two-step recently when a Darwinist smarmed that he disagreed with his “friend” Richard Dawkins about the wisdom of attacking traditional Christians directly.

Like, I – as a trad Christian – was supposed to be thrilled with the prospect of being attacked indirectly.

The very fact that he was that guy’s “friend” warned me off. (If it’s even true – Dawkins is rich, so lots of people probably imagine themselves his friends.)

For the record, I would rather people attack directly. It makes the job of seeing them off the premises more straightforward.

I don’t think we are ever going to get accountability from these people before we bury them intellectually. I don’t even know what accountability would sound like in their case – it would mean acknowledging that the mind is not simply the brain, for one thing, and that one is not simply the product of one’s genes. So why be a Darwinist at all?

(Note: I posted this first as a comment here, and this version is slightly edited.)

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29 Responses to Darwinism: Avoiding accountability – the textbook two-step

  1. Darwin published “Origin” in England in 1859, when slavery was still legal in the United States (but not England).

    The 15th amendment to the US Constitution said the “right of citizens…to vote shall not be denied or abridged…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” That took effect in 1870.

    Darwin died in 1882, 38 years before women were allowed to vote in the US.

    Which was more racist or sexist, Darwin or the United States?

  2. 2

    Denyse, how does this —

    For the record, I would rather people attack directly

    – square with the whispered innuendo of this?

    And for all I know, what every actual living Darwinist really thinks today.

    On another issue, there’s this:

    I don’t think we are ever going to get accountability from these people before we bury them intellectually.

    Good luck with that.

  3. I guess I don’t see the point. Has the science of evolution been used to justify repellent socio-political ideas and policies? Yes. Who denies this?

    And is not the very same thing true of the mainstream religions that many UD posters hold?

    I seem to recall learning that Christianity – in all its forms – has quite often been used to justify repugnant mainstream socio-political ideas and policies.

    So what’s your point?

    If I think – based on my own reading and education – that science theory x probably reflects the true account of what happened, what kind of accountability should I then have, according to you?

  4. 4

    One almost has to admire Denyse’s commitment to the ad hominem attack.

  5. AFAICS, the issue that Denyse is raising here is simply why evolutionists don’t acknowledge Darwin’s racism instead of trying to explain it away. What’s the holdup? The Catholic Church, for example, has apologized for things like putting Galileo on trial, failing to speak out against the Holocaust in France, sexual abuse of Canadian aboriginal children, and recently of course for neglect, beatings, and rape in Irish institutions as detailed in the Ryan Report. Is this kind of contrition and transparency too much to expect from Darwinists?

  6. In contrast to atheism, Christianity has NEVER been consistent with racism, and Christians have good reason to condemn it.

  7. 7

    herb, we could quibble about how contrite and transparent the Catholic Church has been in some of those cases. But all of those cases involve institutional failures of a centralized hierarchical organization. If that’s what asked for, the request rests of a false parallel as well as the innuendo I noted above.

  8. 8

    Correction: rests on.

  9. bevets,

    You mention atheism, but that is not the subject of the OP, as I understand it. I fail to see how racism would be consistent with atheism anyway

    Herb – Which evolutionist organization would you like to issue the apology? Or, if I am an evolutionist, should I just make a public apology over here? Maybe at my local library? How exactly do you want this done?

    Look, I think the very interesting question we’re glossing over is how to separate scientific models from ideological uses of their “implications.”

    If I give you a hypothesis of what might have happened in the distant past, and you then use that hypothesis to justify your beliefs on society and humanity, how accountable am I for this and does it bear on the truth-probability of my hypothesis?

  10. David Kellogg and Larry Tanner,

    A formal apology from a Darwinist organization (such as the NCSE) isn’t necessary, but it would be refreshing to see Dawkins or PZ Mayrs acknowledge in print that Darwin was partly responsible for the Holocaust, for example.

  11. 11

    it would be refreshing to see Dawkins or PZ Mayrs acknowledge in print that Darwin was partly responsible for the Holocaust, for example.

    And then what? We all sing kum-ba-ya? What exactly does this do for you?

  12. 12

    Except that he wasn’t.

  13. 13

    PaulBurnett,

    “Which was more racist or sexist, Darwin or the United States?”

    Darwin.

  14. 14

    And yet Darwin opposed slavery during a time when the United States supported it.

  15. And Darwin also considered the aboriginal tribes being cruelly slaughtered in Argentina to be morally superior to the white gauchos doing the slaughtering. A real racist creep, that Darwin.

  16. Herb: “A formal apology from a Darwinist organization (such as the NCSE) isn’t necessary, but it would be refreshing to see Dawkins or PZ Mayrs acknowledge in print that Darwin was partly responsible for the Holocaust, for example.”

    So is the implication here that had Darwin not lived, that a) The Holocaust would not have happened or b) The extent of the Holocaust would not have been as great? Is that what Herb is saying?

    And why we’re at it let’s get Rutherford’s living relatives apologize for Hiroshima…

  17. And why we’re at it let’s get Rutherford’s living relatives apologize for Hiroshima…

    We don’t want to shatter Denyse’s theory of prejudice against Germans, so let’s blame Einstein instead. Stop avoiding accountability, Einsteinists!

  18. 18

    Dave Wisker,

    ——”And Darwin also considered the aboriginal tribes being cruelly slaughtered in Argentina to be morally superior to the white gauchos doing the slaughtering. A real racist creep, that Darwin.”

    Ironic, considering that the aboriginals in Australia were killed by Darwinists and put on display in British museums as the missing link.

  19. Perhaps the fact that Darwin called black Africans “anthropomorphous apes” in “The Descent of Man” might clarify things. In other words, apes that act like they are human.

    Institutionalized slavery was an evil economic reality that (throughout world history) had little to do with race or ethnicity and more to do with being captured—and sold.

    To compare it to the institutionalized racism inherent in Darwinism is apples and oranges.

    Darwinism demands—by definition—that some “races” are more evolved that others; which allows racists of all colors to try and demand that theirs is the more evolved.

    The Christian world-view of UK, Northern Europe and the United States produced-for the first time in human history—the idea that perhaps slavery was wrong.

    Darwinism showed up just as the United States was growing in this conviction and allowed the racists a “scientific” basis upon which to continue their evil.

    “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.” Stephen Jay Gould

  20. 20

    Graceout, where does he do that? The term anthropomorphous apes is used to refer to the apes who are, well, anthropomorphous:

    The anthropomorphous apes, namely the gorilla, chimpanzee, orang, and hylobates, are separated as a distinct sub-group from the other Old World monkeys by most naturalists.

    link
    Where does he use the term to refer to Black Africans?

  21. “At some future period… the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes 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 civilized 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.” Charles Darwin,
    The Descent of Man, 2nd edition, New York, A L. Burt Co., 1874, p. 178

    The first paragraph uses “anthropomorphous apes” to clarify “savage races” that would be exterminated.

    The lowest “Savage races” are further defined in the second paragraph as “Negro or Australian”. (The gap between the lowest humans – i.e. Negro and Australian and the highest ape -.e. gorilla.)

    So, you got me. He was also including aboriginals…

  22. 22

    Graceout, you’re reading carelessly. He no doubt expresses the racist attitude of most every white Westerner of the time, and views Africans and aboriginals as “lower” than whites. But the term “anthropomorphic apes” refers, there as everywhere in DoM, to apes. He’s predicting two different exterminations, one of apes and one of people. He was wrong about the people, though he’s awfully close to being right about the apes.

  23. 23

    Once more:

    The first paragraph uses “anthropomorphous apes” to clarify “savage races” that would be exterminated.

    No, no no. The first paragraph uses “anthropomorphous apes” to speak of one extermination, and “savage races” to speak of another. The text is quite clear, and that meaning is consistent with the term as used by Darwin (and others, such as Lyell).

  24. 24

    To say that “anthropomorphous apes” refers to people in that passage is a flagrant misreading. The term is not Darwin’s invention — it’s a technical term among naturalists of the time, with a very clear meaning — and it does not refer to people, in that passage or (as far as I know) anywhere else in Darwin.

  25. 25

    Clive,

    Ironic, considering that the aboriginals in Australia were killed by Darwinists and put on display in British museums as the missing link,

    Ironic indeed, considering the Australian aboriginal genocide began long before 1859. In fact, the Tasmanian part of it was pretty much done by 1833.

  26. 26

    “Darwinism demands—by definition—that some “races” are more evolved that others…”

    This is ridiculous. Darwinism says no such thing.

    From Descent of Man: “This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.”

    From Descent of Man: “…consequently that all should be classed under the same species. The same argument may be applied with much force to the races of man.”

    From Descent of Man: “This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.”

    Common descent says that humans are all the same species and thus are related; there are no such things as “races. ”

    Conversely, let’s look at what the father of Protestantism said about Jews:

    “First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn…Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed…Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them…Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb…Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb…Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them…Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow…If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them.” – On the Jews and their Lies, by Martin Luther

    Sounds like a Nazi instruction booklet to me.

  27. Upon a carefull re-reading it appears that you are correct.

    Thanks!

    However, my primary premise that the history of human slavery should not be confused with the relatively recent views of biological, “scientific”, racial distinctions still stands.

  28. Onlookers:

    UD is currently facing a wave of Darwinist advocates who in too many cases have a zero concessions policy.

    Accordingly, I will repost some remarks on the Ota Benga thread here, as a balance:

    __________________

    The above — sadly, all too predictable — responses from the current wave of Darwinist advocates here at UD tells us that Darwinists, even in this year in which they are hagiographically celebrating the 200th anniversary of their hero, are unable to face and frankly address the other side of his legacy.

    Now, I am perfectly willing to accept that every movement of consequence in history will have its fair share of problems and sins and even crimes.

    (That is why, on balance I think that Western Civilisation is still worth defending, despite the fact that I am a descendant of the victims of the first great wave of global imperialist aggression by Western powers. [These days, there are a LOT of people out there -- many of whom share the outlook of the advocates above -- who can harp all day on the real and imagined sins of the West and some are gleefully anticipating its demise. Knowing a bit about the history of dark ages, I beg to differ. And, the contrast, of insisting on whitewashing the legacy of Darwin (even while trying to harp on the sins of Christendom, of Western civilisation and of course of "right-wing fundamentalists"), is telling us something; something we had better notice and heed, if we are to so learn the lessons of recent and bloody history, rather than repeat its worst chapters.])

    So, when there is not an honest and frank facing of issues that have in the past century cost upwards of 100 millions their lives, and where in the past 30 or so years in the US alone 48 million unborns — today’s inferiors — have been slaughtered under false colour of law, the above dismissals sound distinctly hollow.

    Especially, when there is the cascade pointed out by Schaeffer and Koop so many years ago now: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia — and, beyond that, genocide.

    For, once the ethics of the sanctity of life have been replaced by the anti-ethics of so-called quality of life, “the survival of the fittest” ever soon becomes the demise of those the power-wielders deem “unfit.”

    And, that triumph of amorality that would provide a critical mass of support enabling the unspeakable, is precisely the point that is at stake in this thread.

    Consequently, we the denizens of the Clapham Bus Stop had better reckon with the refusal to be responsible for and correct the moral hazards of Darwin-inspired Evolutionism.

    __________________

    GEM of TKI

  29. 29

    “Accordingly, I will repost some remarks on . . .”

    This should be the first sentence of every kairosfocus post.

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