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Tony Campolo – What’s wrong with Darwinism?

Influential Christian preacher Tony Campolo highlights some of the racial assumptions that were part of Darwin’s theory. Writing in Christian Today, ‘What’s wrong with Darwinism?’, 27th February 2009 he draws attention to the full title of Darwin’s first book ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.’ Campolo though believes that ethics should be the focus of those who reject Darwin’s theory. He further comments (referencing the Descent of Man 1871) that;

“Darwin went so far as to rank races in terms of what he believed was their nearness and likeness to gorillas. He further proposed the extermination of those races which he “scientifically” defined as inferior. To not do so, he claimed, would result in those races, which have much higher birth rates than his designated superior races, exhausting the resources needed for the survival of better people, and eventually dragging down all of civilization”

“Darwin even argued against advanced societies wasting time and money on caring for those who are insane, or suffer from birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to survive.”

“In case you think that Darwin sounds like a Nazi, you are not far from the truth. Konrad Lorenz, a biologist who provided much of the propaganda for the Nazi party, made Darwin’s theories the basis for his polemics. The Pulitzer Prize winner, Marilynne Robinson, in her insightful essay on Darwin, points out that the German nationalist writer, Heinrich von Treitschke, and the biologist, Ernst Haeckel, also drew on Darwin’s writings as they helped Hitler develop those racist ideas that led to the Holocaust.”

This is a an interesting comment from Tony Campolo who has long been noted as a Christian preacher and apologist with a social conscience. Recent commentaries by organisations supporting theistic evolutionist, such as Theos and Faraday Institute in the UK, gives the impression that there is little interest in questioning the ethical basis for Darwin’s theory in respectable Christian society. Campolo acknowledges that Darwin was a product of his time, and clearly Darwin did not invent racism with some of his relations for instance taking an interest in abolishing the slave trade. Darwin too in his early life questioned slavery, but what happened to lead him to embrace ideas where Africans and Aborigines were considered closer to apes than Caucasians? Instead, a plain reading of the Bible teaches that all mankind are related and are of common ancestry.
Science and Values

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50 Responses to Tony Campolo – What’s wrong with Darwinism?

  1. According to Tony Campolo, Charles Darwin supposedly wrote (or said, it’s not clear which):

    “Darwin went so far as to rank races in terms of what he believed was their nearness and likeness to gorillas. He further proposed the extermination of those races which he “scientifically” defined as inferior. To not do so, he claimed, would result in those races, which have much higher birth rates than his designated superior races, exhausting the resources needed for the survival of better people, and eventually dragging down all of civilization.”

    “Darwin even argued against advanced societies wasting time and money on caring for those who are insane, or suffer from birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to survive.”

    Every single sentence in this quotation is either a crude distortion or an outright lie. Let’s take them one at a time:

    “Darwin went so far as to rank races in terms of what he believed was their nearness and likeness to gorillas.”

    Here is a search for all references in Darwin’s published works in which he mentions gorillas and humans:

    http://darwin-online.org.uk/co.....ge=English

    Go ahead and click on each link (I have). In none of them does Darwin “rank” human races according to their “nearness to gorillas”. He does compare the anatomical characteristics of humans and gorillas, but a person could just as easily do the same thing with humans and cichlid fish. In making such a comparison, the point would be to show that there are similarities and differences, which Darwin attributed to the evolutionary divergence of humans and gorillas from a common ancestor. Only a person like Campolo, whose first priority is to use an emotional and political argument in an attempt to discredit a scientific one, would make such an elementary mistake.

    “He further proposed the extermination of those races which he “scientifically” defined as inferior.”

    This is a base lie (the first of several). Darwin did no such thing, in either his publications or private correspondence. He never proposed the extermination of anyone, anywhere, anytime, under any conditions. What he did was to predict that the less “developed” races (“developed” primarily in a cultural and technological sense) would eventually be exterminated by the more “developed” Europeans. And he was very nearly right; Europeans came very close to exterminating many of the less “developed” human cultures of Darwin’s time. Indeed, several less “developed” groups, including the Tasmanians, were driven to extinction, not by “evolutionists”, but by farmers and ranchers, who generally justified their superiority in religious, not biological terms. Again, Campolo deliberately and grossly distorts the record in an attempt to discredit Darwin’s scientific ideas.

    “To not do so, he claimed, would result in those races, which have much higher birth rates than his designated superior races, exhausting the resources needed for the survival of better people, and eventually dragging down all of civilization.”

    Again, this is a deliberate distortion so extreme as to qualify as an outright lie. Darwin did speculate about the demographic effects of the differences in the birth rates of different groups of people with what he and most other people of his era considered to have different “intellectual capabilities”. However, he never “warned” that this would lead to the “degeneration” of the human species, much less advocate their elimination. Darwin himself had at least one “feeble-minded” and “sickly” child, his youngest son Charles, whose “infirmities” he speculated might have been due to his marriage to his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood. However, he loved his son and all the rest of his children very deeply, and never expressed any hint that he might want him (or anyone else, regardless of their characteristics) “exterminated”. Campolo has at this point so grossly distorted the record that it is clear that his purpose is not just smearing Darwin, but smearing all evolutionary biologists by association.

    “Darwin even argued against advanced societies wasting time and money on caring for those who are insane, or suffer from birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to survive.”

    Darwin did nothing of the kind. He himself donated to the abolitionist societies of his time (he and every member of his family was a committed abolitionist who hated the very concept of slavery). Once again, he wondered if the amount of time and money spent on caring for the insane or those with birth defects could be justified, if the same money could be better spent on improving the lives of less unfortunate people. However, as I have already pointed out, he himself had a son who he believed was “deficient” as the result of his birth and inheritance, yet he didn’t even hint that he might not lavish his money and attention on his youngest son (who died at the age of 18 months, a death that compounded Darwin’s sorrow at the earlier death of his beloved daughter, Annie).

    As to Compolo’s reprise of Ben Stein’s “nazi” trope, this has been discussed enough on this blog: I call Godwin’s Law, and refer you to:

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot......arwin.html

    This whole thread is just another example of the completely bankrupt (and morally corrupt) form of ad hominem argument argumentation so often used by creationists against evolutionary biologists. And, like Godwin’s Law, it’s essentially an admission of defeat: if you can’t win a logical argument on the basis of empirical evidence, solid inference, and scientific reasoning, then attack your opponent’s character using “guilt by association”. However, in this case, any association between modern evolutionary biologists and Charles Darwin would be mostly to their credit, as any even cursory review of Darwin’s biography clearly indicates that he would find all of Compolo’s assertions both false and dastardly in the extreme.

  2. And by the way, Tony Compolo is described as a “Christian preacher and apologist with a social conscience”. Interesting; so there are Christian preachers and apologists that lack a social conscience? Just curious…

  3. Allen MacNeill, nicely done. I personally find it distasteful to even read a post like this let alone go to all the trouble of tearing it down line by line.

  4. “Only a person like Campolo, whose first priority is to use an emotional and political argument in an attempt to discredit a scientific one, would make such an elementary mistake.”

    Ad hominem. How on earth do you claim to know what Campolo’s priorities are? Did he tell you, or did you use a magic 8 ball?

    “Indeed, several less “developed” groups, including the Tasmanians, were driven to extinction, not by “evolutionists”, but by farmers and ranchers, who generally justified their superiority in religious, not biological terms. Again, Campolo deliberately and grossly distorts the record in an attempt to discredit Darwin’s scientific ideas.”

    Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler’s respective worldviews (communism and Nazism) were directly based on the writings of Darwin.

    “Once again, he wondered if the amount of time and money spent on caring for the insane or those with birth defects could be justified, if the same money could be better spent on improving the lives of less unfortunate people.”

    In other words, Darwin *did* argue against advanced societies funding care for the insane or those with birth defects. At this point, your rabid defense of Darwin is overriding your rational thought.

    “Interesting; so there are Christian preachers and apologists that lack a social conscience? Just curious…”

    Just like there are atheists that lack a social conscience, I would imagine. Again, ad hominem and hasty generalization. Thanks for letting me practice discovering logical fallacies in your posts, Allen.

  5. The big problem many have with Darwinism is it’s inarguable use by some to create a value system — I remember Allen getting upset with me for pointing out Hitler’s citation of evolution to justify his the policies he was advocating in Mein Kampf.

    If the matter was solely limited as an attempt to describe nature with the understanding that there was a rule to the universe that set right and wrong apart from whatever science might describe, evolution would be a merely a mildly entertaining and relatively useless way to pass time, much like discussions involving the age of the Earth.

  6. I wonder if Campolo might be confusing Darwin with Ernst Haeckel? Haeckel’s racial hierarchy is described on page 98 of this volume: http://books.google.com/books?.....A1-PA98,M1

  7. We cannot understand much of the history of late 19th and early 20th century anthropology, with its plethora of taxonomic names proposed for nearly every scrap of fossil bone, unless we appreciate its obsession with the identification and ranking of races. For many schemes of classification sought to tag the various fossils as ancestors of modern races and to use their relative age and apishness as a criterion for racial superiority. ~ Stephen Jay Gould

    Matthew Arnold put his hands on it when he spoke about the ‘withdrawal of faith’. There is a connection between a society that has, at least, a minimal commitment to certain kinds of transcendental values and what human beings permit themselves to do one to the other. ~ David Berlinski

    Ideas have consequences, and totally erroneous ideas are likely to have destructive consequences. ~ Steve Allen

  8. There is a connection between a society that has, at least, a minimal commitment to certain kinds of transcendental values and what human beings permit themselves to do one to the other.

    Yes, “transcendental values”… Though one might deny they exist, or hold a worldview that’s not compatible with them, no one would want people in general to live as though transcendental values weren’t real.

    But I suppose it’s natural to want to have our cake and eat it, too.

  9. My thanks to Allen MacNeill for presenting what is clearly a deeply-felt case with such force and eloquence. I could not have put it better myself and can only hope it will make some impression on those who are pursuing the same tawdry rhetorical strategy against a gentle man who, whatever other may have made of his theories, wrote or did nothing to deserve such vilification.

    If I were still Christian I would be saddened and disappointed that people who profess the same faith could so blatantly ignore Biblical injunctions against bearing false witness, against casting the first stone unless one is free of sin oneself or against passing judgment lest one be judged oneself.

  10. Allen (and others):

    Kindly, read this, from Ch 6 in Darwin’s 1871 Descent of Man [which has been raised in recent threads here . . .]:

    ________________

    Man is liable to numerous, slight, and diversified variations, which are induced by the same general causes, are governed and transmitted in accordance with the same general laws, as in the lower animals. Man has multiplied so rapidly, that he has necessarily been exposed to struggle for existence, and consequently to natural selection. He has given rise to many races, some of which differ so much from each other, that they have often been ranked by naturalists as distinct species . . . .

    At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    ___________________

    I think that a reasonable man would see form this passage, that Darwin did in fact do just what Mr Campolo said, and in precisely the sort of ethically loaded context that should give us pause:

    >>Darwin went so far as to rank races in terms of what he believed was their nearness and likeness to gorillas>>

    Now, Campolo goes on to say: >> He [CRD] further proposed the extermination of those races which he “scientifically” defined as inferior. >>

    If Campolo had instead said, that he coolly PREDICTED the extinction of such races, he would be literally and exactly correct. Campolo is certainly correct to net that CRD raised the issue of the competition between fecklessly multiplying races ["the Celts, i.e Irish] and the more restrained ["Scots" and "Saxons" i.e. English], with the very direct implication that it is Malthusian positive checks that stop the Celts from overtaking the better Scots and Saxons.

    So, that comes right home to me: the Irish potato famine, and the famine in Jamaica that triggered the indifference in response to petition for relief that triggered the Morant Bay uprising, due to Governor Eyre’s utter want of humanity. I hardly need to mention my family member who stood up in the Jamaica Assembly time and again to warn and to plead to deaf ears; only to be arrested, dragged off under martial law from his sickbed and then kangaroo courted and hanged as instigating what he sought to avert.

    Let us instead contrast here H G Wells, a student of Huxley, who in War of the Worlds, opens up Ch 1 – the very opening paragraphs of the book — with a veiled warning on what that cool prediction would easily enough lead to:

    >>No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own . . . Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us . . . .

    looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.

    And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. . . . To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them.

    And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit? >>

    Last time the above was pointed out, Allen, you walked off in a huff.

    Please, let us face this as a part of the truth, together; even as Darwin 200 celebrations are being held. For, event he4 sub-title of origin clearly indicates that the race was his population unit of competition for survival of the fittest: the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life

    Otherwise, the clear implication is that this part of the story is not a finished history.

    And that should give us serious pause.

    GEM of TKI

  11. KF–

    And we could also emphasize the as we may hope, part.

    <a href=”http://gutenberg.readingroo.ms/etext00/dscmn10.txt”Here’s the Project Gutenberg link in case anyone doubts your context.

    Just go to the link and do a text search for just about any sentence from the paragraph KF posted.

  12. Trib

    Thanks

    I give the infidels.org text in my link.

    Onlookers should read chs 5 – 7.

    GEM of TKI

    PS:

    Ch 5 excerpt:

    >> A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an increase in
    the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by
    Mr. Greg and Mr. Galton,* namely, the fact that the very poor and
    reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost invariably marry
    early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise
    virtuous, marry late in life, so that they may be able to support
    themselves and their children in comfort . . . Or
    as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman
    multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting,
    ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith,
    sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years
    in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind
    him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a
    thousand Celts- and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the
    population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the
    power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons
    that remained. In the eternal ‘struggle for existence,’ it would be
    the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed- and
    prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.”

    There are, however, some checks to this downward tendency. We have
    seen that the intemperate suffer from a high rate of mortality, and
    the extremely profligate leave few offspring. >>

    PPS: Ch 7 excerpt:

    >>IT is not my intention here to describe the several so-called
    races of men; but I am about to enquire what is the value of the
    differences between them under a classificatory point of view, and how
    they have originated. In determining whether two or more allied
    forms ought to be ranked as species or varieties, naturalists are
    practically guided by the following considerations; namely, the amount
    of difference between them, and whether such differences relate to few
    or many points of structure, and whether they are of physiological
    importance; but more especially whether they are constant. Constancy
    of character is what is chiefly valued and sought for by
    naturalists. Whenever it can be shewn, or rendered probable, that
    the forms in question have remained distinct for a long period, this
    becomes an argument of much weight in favour of treating them as
    species . . . .

    There is, however, no doubt that the various races, when
    carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other,- as in
    the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of
    the body,* the capacity of the lungs, the form and capacity of the
    skull, and even in the convolutions of the brain.*(2) But it would
    be an endless task to specify the numerous points of difference. The
    races differ also in constitution, in acclimatisation and in liability
    to certain diseases. Their mental characteristies are likewise very
    distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in
    their intellectual faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of
    comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the
    taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the
    lighthearted, talkative negroes. There is a nearly similar contrast
    between the Malays and the Papuans,*(3) who live under the same
    physical conditions, and are separated from each other only by a
    narrow space of sea. >>

  13. Trib:

    That “as we may hope” has a potential significance that I trust was utterly inadvertent on CRD’s part.

    I suspect he did not ever in his worst nightmares see a racial activist such as a certain herr Schicklegruber of Germany, of utterly unlamented memory.

    GEM of TKI

  14. No reason to give infidels.org any extra hits :-)

    That “as we may hope” has a potential significance that I trust was utterly inadvertent on CRD’s part.

    That’s quite charitable on your part, KF. OTOH, it should give Allen some food for thought if he should be preparing another slam on Tony C.

  15. The link tribune7 gave has a ” at the end. Delete that in your browser address and it will take you to the correct page.

  16. Trib:

    I figured that is the Darwinists saw it on a Darwin-friendly site, they could have no challenge to make. But, Gutenberg is quite serious as a site.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Cosmology . . .

  17. The mystery of Darwin will never be totally solved because the man, for all his gifts as a natualist, was not really a profound or even a consistent thinker. Further, we know for a fact that he was being disingenuous much of the time. It is on the record that he withheld many of his beliefs for strategic reasons.

    In the “Descent of Man,” for example, he tempers his “scientifically based conclusions” with humanely oriented sentiments. On the one hand, he continually suggests that nature is cruel and ignoble, hinting at a decidedly cruel and ignoble social policy. On the other hand, he does, from time to time, tone things down a bit by suggesting that we are, nevertheless, noble in some sense, and ought to at least feel bad about what we must ultimately do to survive. That seems to be his syle: Give us the bottom line, interject a convenient disclaimer to cover his ass, and then re-emphasize the bottom line. Darwin’s critics go with the stylish disclaimers, while Darwin’s critics go with the substantive thesis.

    There is no way around the fact that Darwin was both ambivalent and dishonest about what he was doing and why he was doing it. He was ambivalent because his conscience and love of family were at odds with his loveless way of looking at the world. He was dishonest because he knew that his “conclusions” would not resonate with some people, and he therefore chose to mislead them for as long as he could. Sometimes, it is difficult to know where inner turmoil leaves off and the sleight of hand takes over. One thing seems evident: He lost his Christian faith before, not after, he conducted his research. That so many try to reverse that order and create the illlusion that his “discoveries” changed his world view is proof enough that they too, are trying to stack the deck. Whatever his motives, Darwin withheld many of his deepest beliefs in order to minimize criticism. That is the one undeniable fact and, for me, the decisive one.

    For all that, there is no doubt that his inhumane thesis was not nearly as inhumane as that of the geneticists, the abortionsts, or any of the “social Darwinists” that followed him. I don’t question for one moment that he would have been horrified to learn what others have done in his name. One thing I do know is that his defenders, almost to a person, support the killing of innocent, unborn children. So, I don’t worry too much about making an air-tight argument which takes us from Darwin to eugenics to abortion. It is much easier to simply point out that contemporary materialist/Darwinists, in spite of their outrage over Darwin bashing, are busy promoting a culture of death right here right now.

  18. Okay:

    Link to Darwin’s Descent of Man at Project Gutenberg.

    GEM of TKI

    Trib: you left off the closing angle bracket. Quotes on the address URL must not be curly . . . .

  19. See what happens when one forgets to check one’s correction :-)

    Thank you Jerry & KF.

  20. kairosfocus,

    My wife and I and some friends went to Ireland last summer and one of the first comments we made on the way from Cork (where our plane landed) to Killarney is that no one should starve in this country. It is one of the greenest places on earth and you know instantly why the Irish color is green. Food is abundant there and always was.

    In Killarney there is a grave of about a thousand children who starved to death during the famine. Not three miles away is a 2000 acre estate that was there at the time of the famine where there was food a plenty but it went to England and not to the children starving to death outside the estate.

    What sort of attitude led to such thinking and behavior? Victorian Britain ruled Ireland and this was the time when Darwin was beginning his musings about what it all meant. And here is what you pointed out what Darwin said:

    “Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts- and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained.”

    And yet when these Celts come to the US they flourish as well or better than the Anglo Saxons who were their oppressors.

    My point on an earlier thread is how much of Darwin’s intransigence about what he concluded was due to his opinions and attitudes which were so grossly wrong. If his attitudes and understanding about the human world were at best poor, why are his observations about the natural world any better. Darwin made a lot of judgments about evolution that had no basis in fact and these bad judgments are now held up as sacrosanct.

    Darwin was a deeply flawed man, of excellent intellect, but it seems that these flaws may have clouded his judgment despite the good intellect.

    There are those who defend Darwin who say he was a product of his time and everyone in elite circles in Victorian England was a racist and thus his race judgments were a product of his environment. Well why doesn’t the same line of thinking condemn the rest of his judgments as well. If the rest of Victorian England was screwed up, how does that make Darwin’s judgments on evolution not subject to a critical analysis that these ideas may have also been screwed up. Especially since race is mentioned hundreds of times in the Descent of Man.

  21. Kairosfocus @ 19

    Allen (and others):

    Kindly, read this, from Ch 6 in Darwin’s 1871 Descent of Man [which has been raised in recent threads here . . .]:

    I can affirm that I have read it several times. For the sake of space, I will not quote it again here.

    I think that a reasonable man would see form this passage, that Darwin did in fact do just what Mr Campolo said, and in precisely the sort of ethically loaded context that should give us pause:

    I try to be a reasonable person and having, as I said, read it several times I have to disagree. It is descriptive not prescriptive. In neither word nor tone does it indicate approval.

    Now, Campolo goes on to say: >> He [CRD] further proposed the extermination of those races which he “scientifically” defined as inferior. >>

    If Campolo had instead said, that he coolly PREDICTED the extinction of such races, he would be literally and exactly correct.

    Precisely, as noted before, Darwin was predicting not recommending.

    Campolo also coolly ignores the fact that most if not all those who carried out those genocidal campaigns against the Australian Aborigines, the native Tasmanians, the New Zealand Maori and the Indian nations of North America would have proclaimed themselves to be Christian, certainly not evolutionist or atheist, and some would no doubt have found Biblical justification for what they did.

    So, that comes right home to me: the Irish potato famine, and the famine in Jamaica that triggered the indifference in response to petition for relief that triggered the Morant Bay uprising, due to Governor Eyre’s utter want of humanity. I hardly need to mention my family member who stood up in the Jamaica Assembly time and again to warn and to plead to deaf ears; only to be arrested, dragged off under martial law from his sickbed and then kangaroo courted and hanged as instigating what he sought to avert.

    I doubt you will find many today many today who would defend the behavior of Governor Eyre. Even at the time, there was strong condemnation of what he had done once it became known back in England. From Wikipedia:

    When news of the response to the rebellion broke in Britain it generated fierce debate, with public figures of different political affiliations lining up to support or oppose Governor Eyre’s actions. When Eyre returned to Britain in August 1866, his supporters held a banquet in his honour, while opponents at a protest meeting the same evening condemned him as a murderer. Opponents went on to establish the Jamaica Committee, which called for Eyre to be tried for his excesses in suppressing the “insurrection.” More radical members of the Committee wanted him tried for the murder of British subjects under the rule of law. The Committee included English liberals, such as John Bright, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Huxley, Thomas Hughes and Herbert Spencer. An opposing committee, which included such Tories and Tory socialists as Thomas Carlyle, Rev. Charles Kingsley, Charles Dickens, and John Ruskin, sprang up in Eyre’s defence. Twice Eyre was charged with murder, but the cases never proceeded.

    Kindly explain how someone who, according to you, should have heartily approved of Eyre’s actions actually belonged to a committee that wanted him tried in court for murder.

    Please, let us face this as a part of the truth, together; even as Darwin 200 celebrations are being held. For, event he4 sub-title of origin clearly indicates that the race was his population unit of competition for survival of the fittest: the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.

    This sounds disingenuous, to say the least. We have heard several times that the word “race” as used by Darwin in his works did not have the same meaning or connotations as it does today and we can infer from some of his actions, such as his opposition to slavery and his membership of the Jamaica Committe, that he would have been opposed to racism in its modern sense as well.

    By all means criticize the theory of evolution on scientific grounds but, as I have said before, this scurrilous campaign to pin part of the responsibility for racism or the Holocaust on Darwin while remaining silent about the more prominent role that religion has played in those events sits ill with the proclaimed scientific purpose of this website.

    Given the histories of our various nations and that of the human race as a whole, I would suggest that humility is a more appropriate attitude than holier-than-thou for all of us.

    And that should give us serious pause.

    Actually, I find that reading (and writing) overly-long posts is what gives me serious pause.

  22. Seversky

    I don’t often find myself agreeing with you, but on this occasion, I think you are right to defend Darwin from the accusations that he was a racist, or supported genocide.

    That said, Darwinism gives us no reason to believe that the various races of humanity will forever remain equal, in the future. If Darwinism is correct, they may diverge some day. As the late S. J. Gould put it:

    “Human equality is a contingent fact of history. Equality is not true by definition; it is neither an ethical principle (though equal treatment may be) nor a statement about norms of social action. It just worked out that way. A hundred different and plausible scenarios for human history would have yielded other results (and moral dilemmas of enormous magnitude). They didn’t happen” (from “Human Equality Is a Contingent Fact of History”, p. 186).

    Religion, on the other hand, does: all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, so the differences between races are superficial and inconsequential. So-called “religious” racists undoubtedly exist, but if they are racist, it is despite and not because of their creed.

  23. Darwin was concerned about the way his adversaries would receive his hard teaching, so he equivocates at strategic times to soften the blow. To understand his message, one must pay attention to his capacity for saying what he really means, smoothing it over with an apparent disclaimer, and then returning to the main theme.

    Example:

    [Theme: Among all animals, only man is stupid enough to breed his inferiors]

    “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. 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 himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

    [Smoothing it over: We really feel bad about that fact because we are so noble and compassionate]

    “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.”

    [Beginning the transition back to the main thesis---compassion yields only short term benefits and harms the long term good]

    ”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.”

    [Back to main thesis: Compassion is, therefore, a “bad” thing in the long run, and there are means available to counter its bad effects:]

    “We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; “but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.”

    This is the way Darwin does business.

  24. So, from Darwin we have learned how to rise above our compassion:

    Yesterdays Darwinists:

    —–”I’m personally opposed to eugenics, BUT….

    Todays’ Darwinists:

    —–”I’m personally opposed to abortion, BUT….

  25. Tomorrows Darwinists:

    I’m personally opposed to euthanasia, BUT…….

  26. Seversky (and VJT):

    Observe that I took time to contrast Darwin’s analysis with the veiled warning given by H G Wells, on thinking through the implications of precisely what Darwin had to say in Chs 5 – 7 of Decent of man. (That is what I expect of a man with a reasonable degree of ethical responsibility.)

    Darwin did no such thing, which whether or no we like it, carries implications for his own views and attitudes, as well as for how his theories provided a perceived scientific warrant for more active approaches — starting with his cousin Galton’s eugenics.

    Next, CRD’s unit of analysis for survival of the fittest — right from the sub-title of Origin [as already pointed out: the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life] — was plainly the race, which as Ch 7 of Descent argues out, is in the case of man viewed as more or less “sub-species.”

    Darwin then coolly predicted some races for favour: the “Saxons” stand out, and others which are regarded as the least advanced/ closest to the gorilla, as doomed: negroes and australian aborigines. 9And the specific context of my remarks on Campolo’s accurate observation was that CRD compared what he viewed as the inferior races to the gorilla. But, I now almost despair of being heard in context on such a point.)

    Those are bare facts of the text, as cited.

    They immediately mean that his theories as developed late C19, were premised on race-based concepts and perceptions, perceptions that we of a more enlightened time realise are racist, and in fact lack warrant as regards e.g. the idea that the different races are so uniformly and by inheritance inferior/superior.

    FYFI, many racists have generally felt that they were simply analysing in light of scientific facts, not that they were constructing tendentious, irresponsible or destructive narratives. But, as H G Wells shows, even in those days, there should have been more than enough to warn them that they were in error, and that the potential implications and applications of the elitism built-in into the darwinist view of progress were destructive.

    That this is so hard to see even now tells me that the problem is far from finished.

    Now, you speak as thought the Judaeo-Christian view is equally to blame for the sins of Europeans in places like Tasmania. As a former Christian, you should know better, as can be seen form two key passages of scripture that cut clean across any racist system of thought:

    Ac 17:24″The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28′For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Those who are in Christianity-influenced cultures, obviously can be racists and worse: we are largely indicting Victorian Britain here; which also has on its agenda of sins, the invention of the Concentration Camp (first used against the Boers).

    But they do so in defiance of the core principles of that system of thought and teaching; however they may wrench Bible texts to justify their sins.

    now, finally, you speak of something that I know a little of: when Eyre’s actions made its way back to London, the Cockneys hanged him in effigy. As I said in an earlier thread, that speaks volumes for the ordinary man. Eyre as I recall was actually tried, but got off.

    Now, You identify that CRD and Huxley sat on a committee that opposed Eyre’s actions; no surprise as he hanged or shot 600, and razed 1,000 houses in St Thomas, as well as kangaroo courting my relative.

    The problem you miss is this:

    1 –> The events of 1865 were six years before 1871. So,

    2 –> when I see that a man who sat on a committee of opposition to Gov Eyre writes disparagingly on the Irish who 25 years before had suffered mass famine, and

    3 –> ALSO predicts the ‘Survival of the fittest” wiping out of negroes scarce six years after an uprising triggered by British upper crust unresponsiveness to famine in Jamaica, then

    4 –> I must conclude that Darwin fully understood how — per Malthus — the predicted wiping out of the “inferior races” would be likely to happen, including refusal to help in crisis [which had a history of workinng!] and by war.

    5 –> So, there is a duty of remedy there; one that is simply not fulfilled in Descent of Man.

    6 –> Observe, the committee was about trial for murder in response to a riot [not really a rebellion], which is but little connected to the underlying issue (that had the droughts etc continued could have been as fatal in Jamaica in the 1860s as in Ireland in the 1840s]:

    7 –> Namely, when the Stony Gut peasants petitioned Queen Victoria, on Eyre’s advice in light of the Irish famine, they were in effect told to be like frugal industrious Scots not like the careless Irish as the Toffs saw them. (Onlookers, cf the excerpt above fr Ch 5 of Descent.)

    So, Sev, I am not at all being “disingenuous.” Death by famine backed up by indifference to the plight of perceived inferior races, as Jerry so graphically outlined, is a mass killer.

    Indeed, for a century after the 1840′s Ireland’s population did not recover. (Thankfully, a good slice of that was due to emigration, even under desperate circumstances. But J’can peasants probably would not have had that resort.)

    I could go on and on, but let’s stop here for now.

    Save for this. After the horror of 1865, Sir John peter grant came as the first direct Crown Colony Governor, and is remembered in Jamaica as a wonder worker, who acted to put in place the first wave of the positive initiatives that made such a difference over the next several generations.

    His actions,most definitely, were not based on survival of the fittest and Malthusian indifference; but on the historically well-justified principles of enlightened upliftment of a people long suppressed and exploited.

    Principles of intervention that are peculiarly absent from Descent as a suggested remedy. Principles that reflect instead a profound confidence in the core equality and vast potential of ALL peoples; being created in the image of our common Creator.

    GEM of TKI

  27. StephenB

    Thanks.

    I think we need to take some time to look together at H G Wells’ little introduction to his novel.

    For in it he speaks of how the peoples so inferior to the Martians were developing their planet as best they could, and were living in hopes of a future that nearly vanished with the invasion from outside of the technologically far superior. (Of course, he neatly reverses roles, putting the English in the role of the natives soon to be visited by superior forces, with malice aforethought.)

    Now, there is of course an opportunity foregone: what if the Martians had come as enlightened helpers, and partners with humanity, instead of destroyers seeking to supplant and replace? [A most un-Darwinian thing to do, of course . . . but here let us conrtrast the cases of the US settlement of the West and the Canadian one, for all its own flaws. the protective and partnering role of the Mounties is a very interesting pattern, methinks.]

    But instead, using Darwinian thinking, and looking at us as we may look at lemurs, the Martians set out on long-considered conquest and destruction of the inferiors.

    An interesting turnabout, nuh?

    [BTW, I observe that in current Sci Fi there is a definite trend of advanced peoples seeking to form partnerships for progress, with due regard for the limits imposed by a too sudden jump in change; and the evildoers who instead try to act like Darwinian exploiters are the bad guys. Of this,t he partnership between the humans of Manticore and the Treecats of Sphinx in the Honorverse space opera series is a very good contrasting case study.]

    So, now, can we now face the serious issues of Descent together,in a positive way?

    Even in this Darwin 200 anniversary year?

    Let us see . . .

    GEM of TKI

  28. From what I can tell, there seems to be a disconnect between Darwin’s belief about the fate of various races of humans and his personal ethics.

    StephenB (#18 and especially #24) has pointed out that he makes a thesis, qualifies it, and then repeats it, and that this is particularly true about his predictions about what will happen with different human races.

    I might parenthetically note that Darwin was not being consistent with his own theory. Why should gorillas be reduced to baboons, rather than spawning a new line of humanoids, perhaps hairy ones? Why should the gap get larger, rather than simply having two roughly parallel tracks moving upwards? But then I suppose I should shut up, lest people think that I doubt Darwin’s intellectual prowess. ;)

    Seversky (#22) and Allen_MacNeill (#1) have given good reasons to believe that Darwin’s personal ethics do not match the above theoretical musings. Abolitionism strongly suggests a humanitarian impulse, and outrage at mistreatment of humans, when the humans are of other races, strongly suggests compassion stronger than any racism. But that is consistent not only with a simon-pure anti-racist attitude, but also with a person who was deeply conflicted and simply was not able to resolve all the issues and have a completely integrated theory and practice. The latter is still common; as an example, Peter Singer doesn’t treat his mother the way he recommends that older people should be treated.

    The same disconnect can happen in reverse, of course. Those who claim to follow the commands to “love thy neighbor as thyself” can certainly ignore that command in practice, and even develop excuses for not doing so. I still prefer the latter theory to that of Darwin.

    Allen_MacNeill has made his customary appearance to defend Darwin from charges of racism (beyond his time) and being a precursor to Hitler. However, as Barb (#4) has noted, his comment is logically challenged. Kairosfocus has particularly pointed out that Campolo’s comments about gorillas was reasonably justified. Since Allen is very concerned that we get it right, I presume that he will now issue a correction.

    Seversky (#9) might be saddened and disappointed about Christians bearing false witness, casting the first stone, and judging if he were still a Christian himself. I would hope that he would be saddened and disappointed even if he is not a Christian. But this raises an important point. I have met Anthony Campolo personally. My sense is that he tries to be as fair as possible (and yes, he has more of a social conscience than some). My guess is that he read the quotes that kairosfocus has provided us, and drew the conclusions that might easily be drawn from them, perhaps encouraged by others who read them the same way. The eugenics movement was explicitly justified on Darwinian grounds, and Hitler definitely tapped into a branch of eugenics. As KF noted, Campolo overstated the case when he stated that Darwin proposed the extermination of “inferior” races, but Darwin definitely predicted their extermination, and as Tribune7 (#11) noted, there is some indication that he was not too displeased with the prospect. Furthermore, he does not seem to have felt too badly about recommending that the natural competition between Celts and Scotch and Saxons be interfered with in favor of the latter two. So Campolo did not overstate much. But I am betting that if someone were to respectfully and logically raise these objections, that Campolo would be more careful in his further pronouncements.

    But perhaps the larger point is that if we partially exonerate Darwin, we still will not exonerate his theory. And this, is suspect, is what stings. Whether Darwin would personally approve or not, his theory can still be reasonably taken as justification for a dog-eat-dog attitude, either individually in pure laisse-faire capitalism with its robber barons, or racially in various forms of racism, or with regards to classes as in Marxism. In these cases, it’s the theory that is under attack, not Darwin personally. The fact that Darwin was in some respects a nice guy doesn’t exonerate the theory.

    Finally, Allen, if you are still reading, I am curious if you have added human intelligent design to your 47 different means of causing heritable changes in living organisms. Last two times I asked, you didn’t reply.

  29. Paul, nice post.

  30. Paul:

    Well said.

    It is clear that Darwin’s sentiments were often progressivist, humanitarian and compassionate.

    But it is entirely possible to be all these things and teach and act at cross-purposes to such. Especially, if one is convinced that Science — AKA empirically tested, “proved” “knowledge” — cuts across the sentiments.

    For instance, it is clear form the contrast of the Jamaica 1860s and the Ireland 1840s cases that Darwin was willing to go along with passively letting people suffer the “Malthusian” effects of famine and institutionalised exploitation, oppression and injustice, but stood up to outright activist murder under false colour of law in the name of defending against insurrection. It is also clear that he rationalised these lines based on “science”: Malthusianism on overpopulation, and survival of the fittest in light of favourable variations creating advanced races. (BTW, it should have been very evident, even in his day that the carrying capacity of land is a function of the technological and public health state of society; that is why Malthusian visions of doom as exponential population growth outstrips linear productivity growth have repeatedly failed, once society was allowed or encouraged to develop effectively. Mind — the source of valuable ideas that can be in many minds at once, so massively growing the economic pie — is the most precious resource of all!)

    Indeed, that probably makes best sense of his hope that after the unfortunate but scientifically “inevitable” extinctions, man would be in a higher state of civilisation than that of the Victorian era Caucasians.

    _____________

    TAKE-HOME LESSON No 1: Science and progress are not synonymous with ethical or intellectual responsibility, truth and right. So, we must be self-critical TODAY, especially in doing science, which can historically be a very persuasive rationale for the ultimately indefensible. And, we need to put this into our Darwin 200 lesson packs.

    ____________

    TAKE-HOME LESSON No 2: The intensity of Darwinist reactions to the pointing out of the unwelcome facts, above, tells us we have not truly learned lesson no 1. We need to correct this, and in so doing we need to look at a lot of ethical and intellectual responsibility issues of today, such as embryonic stem cell research and other bio-ethics challenges.

    _______________

    But also, I think we need to hear a little more from Mr Campolo [who BTW, is not exactly someone with whom I always agree . . . ]

    [ . . . ]

  31. Now, if we look a bit more at the linked CT article, we will see an important lead-up to the section cited above:

    Arguing in favour of what they [Darwinist advocates against allowing ID or Creationism to come up in the classroom] believe is a non-prejudicial science, they contend that children in public schools ought to be taught Darwin’s explanation of how the human race evolved, which they claim is value-free and dependent solely on scientific evidence. Nothing could be further from the truth!

    [THESIS:} In reality, Darwin’s writings, when actually read, express the prevalent racism of the nineteenth century, and endorse an extreme laissez faire political ideology [i.e. Malthusianism and "hands-off" capitalism] that legitimates the neglect of the suffering poor by the ruling elite.

    Those who argue at school board meetings that Darwin should be taught in public schools seldom have taken the time to read what he had to say. If they even knew the full title of his book, which is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, they might have gained some inkling of the racism propagated by this controversial theorist.

    Then, if they had gone on to read his second book, The Descent of Man, it is likely that they would be shocked to learn that among Darwin’s scientifically based proposals was the elimination of “the negro and Australian peoples,” which he considered to be savage races whose continued survival was hindering the progress of civilisation.

    In The Descent of Man (1871), Darwin went so far as to rank races in terms of what he believed was their nearness and likeness to gorillas. He further proposed the extermination of those races which he “scientifically” defined as inferior. To not do so, he claimed, would result in those races, which have much higher birth rates than his designated superior races, exhausting the resources needed for the survival of better people, and eventually dragging down all of civilization.

    Darwin even argued against advanced societies wasting time and money on caring for those who are insane, or suffer from birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to survive.

    Now, we may comment:

    1 –> TC is speaking to the issue of ethical responsibility and science in the context of education, and is doing so as a socialist-leaning progressivist Evangelical Christian, self-described as a “Red-letter Christian” — that being a reference to the “Words of Jesus in red” editions of the Bible. (Evangelicals come in a broad variety of ideological stripes.)

    2 –> In so doing, he is calling for ethical responsibility and historical awareness of the socio-cultural contexts and the ideological implications of scientific theories. [He is after all basically a sociologist by background.]

    3 –> He first draws attention to something vital but usually overlooked: We typically only know the short title of Darwin’s Origin. Why is that? [Especially given the explosive implications of the full title: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life ].

    4 –> When we see a strategically placed gap like that, it should tell us that there is very likely a spin game afoot. Perhaps, motivated by idealistic concerns on science and progress, but it is past time that we faced the full truth on the matter (and without distractive immoral equivalency, shut-up rhetoric games).

    [ . . . ]

  32. 5 –> Campolo then seeks to substantiate his thesis by making reference to the themes and contexts of CRD’s second major book, Descent of Man; where the scientific ideas in Origin were explicitly applied to humanity.

    6 –> On the general race-based concerns he is plainly right, even on the comparison of “inferior races” domed to extinction with gorillas that so irked Mr MacNeil. The same goes for the admixture of ideology and ethically suspect themes into the science. (Let us never forget: Eugenics was marketed as applied biology, so that to object was to be anti-science. This INCLUDES the textbook at the heart of the notorious Scopes trial.)

    7 –> I believe he was over the line in inferring that Darwin PROPOSED extinction, instead of PREDICTED it on current trends, while failing to highlight an alternative path: the twin duties of warning and of remedy. [And, I said as much above.]

    8 –> TC is on far sounder ground when he highlights Darwin’s fundamentally Malthusian view of the dynamics of populations. Malthus, pretty much despairing of the raising of the masses, thought that any attempt to help in the face of positive checks, would only postpone and make worse the day of reckoning where population outstrips resources triggering disease, famine, war etc etc.

    9 –> But — with all due respect — the Rev’d Mr Malthus should have had a better view, in light of the gospel he was commissioned to preach, than this [from Wiki]:

    His main contribution was to draw attention to the potential dangers of population growth: “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” [2] For Malthus, a clergyman, this was divinely imposed to teach virtuous behaviour: optimistic ideas of social reform were doomed to failure.[3] . . . .

    Malthus characteristically placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency. He was a critic of the Poor Laws,[4] and the only important economist to support the Corn Laws, which introduced a system of import taxes on wheat. He reasoned this would encourage domestic production, and so be to the long-term benefit.[5]

    Malthus has been hugely influential, and controversial, in economic, political, social and scientific thought. He was read by many of the later evolutionary biologists,[6] particularly Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, for whom it was a stepping-stone to the survival of the fittest. Malthus was, and still is, a writer of great significance.

    10 –> For, the gospel of discipling the nations holds out the prospect of reformation and upliftment of society through the blessings of God. And, one key aspect of such blessings that should have been very evident in the rising industrial age, is that valuable ideas, used for the benefit of all, with due care for all stakeholders, will make a key difference for the good. And, of course, when distress strikes one’s neighbour, and one has resources to help, one should reach out, unstintingly.

    So, LESSON 3: Malthusianism is a fallacy.

    GEM of TKI

  33. Folks, an after-thought:

    I think it is time to open up a new ID front, to counter Malthusianism- cum- Darwinism and its anti-ethics of power, rivalry and despair.

    TECHNO-REVO time.

    For, the key thesis of the Malthusians is that population grows exponentially while carrying capacity of land only grows linearly, as we open up more land (often; less productive land). And, as we just saw, this drives a lot of the vision of “survival of the fittest.”

    BUT TECHNOLOGY AS THE EXPRESSION OF VALUABLE IDEAS — THUS, OF INFORMATION — GROWS DISRUPTIVELY AND TRANSFORMATIONALLY.

    So, by emphasising the power of innovative design as a breakthrough strategy, we can move beyond the old Malthusian paradigm and its counsels of despair. For instance, even without interstellar travel, we credibly have access to a solar system full of resources; starting with the Moon, Mars and the Asteroid belt over the course of this century. (Interstellar travel would open up a galaxy full of resources — 2 – 400 * 10^11 stars worth; many of them with planetary systems, as we know that planets are common for stars.)

    So, the real issue is to bridge to that future, not to die in despair and foolish fratricide on our home planet. Towards that, I suggest:

    1 –> materialism is dead: move to the impact of innovation driven by design as a transforming power. (For instance, 100 years ago, silicon was most useful as building materials or an alloying element in transformer steel. Now it is the foundation of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of industries based on information technologies rooted in quantum physics and the ideas of computer science and associated mathematics.)

    2 –> TRIZ provides a start-point theory/model of innovative, transformational invention that can server as a point of departure for thinking. Wiki:

    Today, TRIZ is a methodology, tool set, knowledge base, and model-based technology for generating innovative ideas and solutions for problem solving. TRIZ provides tools and methods for use in problem formulation, system analysis, failure analysis, and patterns of system evolution (both ‘as-is’ and ‘could be’). TRIZ, in contrast to techniques such as brainstorming (which is based on random idea generation), aims to create an algorithmic approach to the invention of new systems, and the refinement of old systems . . . . By examining a large database of his own and other people’s inventions, Altshuller soon arrived at his most important observation:

    Inventing is the removal of a technical contradiction with the help of certain principles

    To develop a method for inventing, he argued, one must scan a large number of inventions, identify the contradictions underlying them, and formulate the principle used by the inventor for their removal.

    His results are being applied to solve creative invention problems not just within all branches of engineering, but within many other technical and non-technical fields as well.

    3 –> Instead of the anti-ethics of power and competition over scarcity in a context of implicitly assumed technological stagnation, let us move to an ethics of mutually respecting and valuing intelligent beings, and its transformative potential. (The many collaborative ventures on the Internet and open source software movements give us some ideas.)

    4 –> This means moving economics from scarcity and rival use of resources, to empowerment, education and equipping, then synergistic win-win-win cooperating towards creating as widespread a commons of knowledge and innovation as we can build.

    5 –> In that context, let us shamelessly reverse engineer God: thinking god’s thoughts after him, on steroids. So, let us explore our world with the idea that we expect to find clever designs, and that such designs can be analysed, then creatively put back together in ways that we can make advantageous use of the subtleties of nature. (For instance, DNA and its associated molecular interfaces and machines looks like some serious nanofactory technology to me.)

    6 –> And more, much more . . .

    the point is, we can break out of the Malthusian- Darwinian nightmare, and the ID movement can lead the way.

    So, why not let’s do it?

    After all optimism usually beats despair.

    GEM of TKI

  34. KF, I like what you are saying. Is the news-spin matrix your idea? It’s quite good.

  35. Trib,

    Thanks and yes. Feel free to use it.

    We need to open up this “breakout through techno revo” front.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I am going I think to try to work this in to the cosmology origins issues.

  36. We need to open up this “breakout through techno revo” front.

    Yes.

  37. Wow, some really great posts there all!

    Alan M.

    Your white-washing of Darwin is one thing, we all know that he himself was no murderer. You’re white-washing of the logical conclusions of his beliefs is illogical.

    It’s difficult to understand how anyone can fail to see the effects of such statements as Darwin’s, on any unbiased reader.

    You complain the OP turns a prediction into a proposal. I understand your point. It’s an obvious one. However, as is also obvious from a reading of Weikart’s “Darwin to Hitler” – reading only the quoted documents of Darwinian scientists of pre-WWII Germany – it is obvious that these people understood Darwin’s “prediction” as at a least proper foundation for a proposal.

    When Darwin predicts the extermination of blacks etc., there is an underlying philosophy of “survival of the fittest” being stated and thus it’s more than a mere prediction only.

    If I were to predict who is going to win the Stanely cup this year – that’s not based on any philosophy (there’s no moral consequences), but on mere analysis of the years gaming to date.
    Yet, if I were to predict that China will “at some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries” exterminate some other nation, AND I base that prediction on some scientific theory, that’s a whole different ball game. Such a prediction comes with a clear set of moral implications. Such a prediction could be viewed as an insidious suggestion or proposal if I were some “elite” scientist. At any rate it could be construed as such.

    Now the question here is – Why would any responsible scientist suggest such a thing? (see I used ‘suggest’ although referring to a prediction and it still makes sense) The mere possibility that someone take it seriously and goes the next step to making it a proposal is something any decent scientist would avoid.

    Darwin either did not see the implications of what he wrote or had some other motive for allowing himself to “predict” that this would happen.

    A mere prediction? Indeed, but based on what belief system? Clearly one in which some races were more evolutionarily “advanced” than others and therefore “higher” as Darwin so often states (ex. “higher races”, “higher animals”).

    Thus, your anger against the OP is understandable but a bit unfounded. Darwin’s philosophy is underwritten with a clear racial evaluation.

    A superficial reading of Descent of Man reveals a slew of ideas that degrade not only the Blacks or “savages” (Indians, Polynesians, etc.) but also of women (ch 19).

    Therefore, accusations of lying etc. against the OP are too harsh imo. They fail to recognize that ideas have consequences and the ones presented, by logical implication, are not entirely wrong or even far off.

  38. Rather than answer each of the previous posts point-by-point, I would prefer to deal with what seem to me to be some key points that have emerged from the discussion.

    First, there are some questions: do you believe that a sociologist who studies rape is also encouraging people to commit the offense or that when Richard Weikart writes about Hitler he must automatically be a supporter of Nazism? If not, then why should you think that Darwin actually approved of the events he was predicting when all the evidence from his private life suggests otherwise? When he wrote about primitive peoples being driven to extinction by wealthier, more powerful and more sophisticated societies he was simply projecting from what was already being observed. Perhaps the tone of his Victorian English sounds pompous and patronising to modern ears but a fair reading of his words should reveal nothing more than his attempt at scholarly dispassion and objectivity.

    Second, does the fact that scientific discoveries have social, political and moral implications mean that we should abandon science? Should Newton have foreseen that a couple of hundred years later warring powers would use gravity to drop large quantities of high explosive on each other and just said nothing? Should Rutherford have destroyed all his research into the structure of the atom when it became clear it could be used to make an atomic bomb?

    All the scientist does is to discover what is already there in nature. If Newton or Rutherford had censored themselves it would not have changed the fact that gravity and atoms exist and that, sooner or later, someone else would have discovered and explained them. The fact that others later perverted their work to produce weapons is not their fault, it is the responsibility of those who made that choice. The same is true for Darwin. That the eugenicists or the Nazis drew inspiration from his work or appealed to it as a justification does not mean that evolution does not happen or that he would have approved of what was done if he had known.

    The fact that Darwin held views that today we judge as racist is, in one sense, unremarkable. He was a child of his times, he could not be otherwise. The same could be said of the Founding Fathers, who are revered at least as much by most Americans as Darwin is supposed to be by Darwinists. Yet we hear nothing about how the United States Constitution is irreparably tarnished by the Founding Fathers ownership of slaves.

    Coming now to certain points made repeatedly by Kairosfocus, he writes:

    1 –> The events of 1865 were six years before 1871. So,

    2 –> when I see that a man who sat on a committee of opposition to Gov Eyre writes disparagingly on the Irish who 25 years before had suffered mass famine, and

    3 –> ALSO predicts the ‘Survival of the fittest” wiping out of negroes scarce six years after an uprising triggered by British upper crust unresponsiveness to famine in Jamaica, then

    4 –> I must conclude that Darwin fully understood how — per Malthus — the predicted wiping out of the “inferior races” would be likely to happen, including refusal to help in crisis [which had a history of working!]and by war.

    5 –> So, there is a duty of remedy there; one that is simply not fulfilled in Descent of Man.

    If by “duty of remedy” you are asserting that scientists have an obligation to foresee every possible misuse or abuse of their work and make provision to deter it, I would have to say that, first, no such duty is recognized at present, second, it is simply impractical and third that it shifts the burden of responsibility from where it should rest, namely with those who actually choose to misuse the research.

    On the question of Darwin’s response to the Irish Potato Famine, there is this :

    A delicate piece of detective work in the collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has started to cast light on the origins of the blight that caused the Irish potato famines a century and a half ago.

    Analysis of DNA from stricken potato leaves has confirmed that the pathogen was a fungus known as Phytophthora infestans, but suggests that it did not originate in the Toluca Valley of Mexico, a hot spot of different strains of the blight that has been proposed as the most likely source. Instead, researchers theorize, it may have arisen in the ancestral home of the potato in the Andean highlands of South America.

    The Irish potato famines lasted from 1845 to 1860, during which about a million of Ireland’s 8 million people starved to death and 1.5 million emigrated, mostly to the United States.

    Diseased leaves deposited at the time in botanical collections have been analyzed by Dr. Jean B. Ristaino, a plant pathologist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

    [...]

    A South American source was proposed by several people who studied the blight in the 19th century, including Charles Darwin.

    He had collected potato tubers from Chile in 1835 during the voyage of the Beagle that led him to propose his theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin was very concerned about the blight, Dr. Ristaino said, and gave Irish potato breeders £100 of his own money to support efforts to develop resistant strains.

    He also hoped that the tubers from Chile might be naturally resistant to the blight and asked his cousin, William Darwin Fox, to grow them. But they all succumbed to the blight, which was endemic in England as well as Ireland, Dr. Ristaino said.

    So here we have a man who, on the one hand, is being caricatured as a racist “Brit toff” who is utterly indifferent to the sufferings of other races and callously predicts their extinction and who, on the other hand, abhors slavery and is an ardent abolitionist, voluntarily joins a committee that tries to bring the brutal and racist Governor Eyre to trial for his actions against other races in Jamaica and contributes £100 of his own money to research intended to breed disease-resistant potatoes with the aim of preventing famines in Ireland occurring ever again. And lest anyone should think that is a miserly sum, it is roughly £10,000 or $15,000 at today’s values. Again, these are hardly the acts of a man who cares nothing for the sufferings of other races.

  39. Thomas Wentworth Higginson was a Unitarian minister (and financial backer of John Brown) who ended up commanding the Union’s first battalion of freed slaves in the Civil War. He wrote a book entitled Army Life in a Black Regiment, in which he argued for the conclusion that blacks were not biologically inferior to whites, and that they were mentally and morally on a par with any white American or European.

    Higginson was acquainted with Darwin and visited him at his home at Down House. In 1873, after reading Army Life in a Black Regiment, Darwin wrote to Higginson:

    “My wife has just finished reading aloud your ‘Life with a Black Regiment,’ and you must allow me to thank you heartily for the very great pleasure which it has in many ways given us. I always thought well of the negroes, from the little which I have seen of them; and I have been delighted to have my vague impressions confirmed, and their character and mental powers so ably discussed. When you were here I did not know of the noble position which you had filled. I had formerly read about the black regiments, but failed to connect your name with your admirable undertaking.

    Note the date of this letter: 1873, two years after the publication of The Descent of Man. It is clear from this letter (and from much of Darwin’s other correspondence) that most of what he knew about “negroes” was gained second- or third-hand. As the letter indicates, having been provided with information from a source which he found credible, Darwin was quite capable of changing his mind and revising his opinion about this, as about many other subjects.

    That’s what a scientist does; changes her/his mind about some aspect of nature on the basis of new, more reliable information.

    ************************************

    A few questions for the people at this website who are determined to pursue an ad hominem line of attack against evolutionary biologists in general and Charles Darwin in particular:

    Is there any evidence at all that since 1945 any practicing evolutionary biologist anywhere has agreed with Darwin’s uninformed (i.e. pre-1873) assessment of the mental and moral capabilities of “negroes” (or any other “racial group” for that matter)?

    To put the case even more plainly, is there any evidence at all that since 1945 any practicing evolutionary biologist anywhere has acted upon Darwin’s ideas in such a way as to deny anyone anywhere the benefits of equal opportunity or equal treatment under law?

    Is there any evidence at all that since 1945 any practicing evolutionary biologist anywhere has advocated the unequal,unfair, or discriminatory treatment of people from different ethnic or “racial” groups, or promoted the “extermination” of anyone on the basis of ethnic or “racial” grounds?

    And please, don’t insult everyone’s intelligence by making arguments by assertion. Cite evidence that can be verified (preferably with citations and/or links), and do so in a manner that shows that you have some respect for both the truth and the value of reasoned debate.

    If it would help, you could start by reading Stephen Jay Gould’s book, The Mismeasure of Man, and reflecting on the fact that Gould was one of the pre-eminent evolutionary biologists of the 20th century, one who had no patience for either creationism or “intelligent design theory”.

  40. Seversky,

    Ireland has some of the most fertile lands in the world. Why were the Irish eating potatoes? Your fact that Darwin donated money to study the potato blight is not a very positive thing to say about him because he knew why they were eating only potatoes in such a fertile land.

    I don’t think you want to use that example.

  41. 42

    Allan MacNeill,

    Below is the post that you continue to ignore. Would you care to address it forthrightly now?

    - – - – - – -

    Timaues:

    To Allan MacNeill (27):

    1. By Darwinist and neo-Darwinist I mean those evolutionary theorists who hold to the views of Darwin or of the neo-Darwinian school (broadly defined to include internal critics like Gould). Classic neo-Darwinists are Mayr, Gaylord Simpson, Sagan, Dennett, Dawkins, Coyne, Gross, Orr, etc. Virtually all evolutionary biologists for the last 70 or 80 years have been some variety of neo-Darwinist, and, following Darwin, have denied any teleology to the evolutionary process.

    In theory, one could be an evolutionary biologist and not be a neo-Darwinist. One could be a Lamarckian, for example. Or a Bergsonian. Or a follower of Michael Denton. Or a follower of Richard Sternberg. But no such evolutionary biologist would be hired in any mainstream university today.

    You say that you don’t dogmatically maintain that evolution is not teleological. Well, by that you either mean that you accept teleological evolution as an interesting intellectual possibility belonging to the sphere of philosophy and theology, but not relevant to science, or you mean that you accept teleological evolution as a genuinely possible “best explanation” for the design in nature that you’ve spoken of, and as a hypothesis capable of generating useful new research. In the latter case you would be open to hiring Richard Sternberg or Michael Denton or Michael Behe or someone like them in your own biology department, and you would support, or at least not automatically oppose, doctoral research work in your department that was to be conducted within a teleological paradigm. If this is the case, I applaud you, but I bet that you are the only life sciences faculty member at Cornell with this healthy attitude.

    2. I don’t assume that the evolution of biological information is teleological. I don’t assume anything. I look for the best explanation of the data, no holds barred. If the best explanation of a rock that looks like an arrowhead is that it was carved by a Stone Age warrior, that’s fine with me. If the best explanation of its triangular shape is a series of accidental encounters with running water, that’s fine with me too. And if the best explanation of the giraffe is that it evolved by a series of random mutations, selected for environmentally, from something like an okapi, that’s fine with me. But if the best explanation is that the giraffe’s neck requires some special engineering that random mutations and selection can’t account for, that’s fine with me, too. The difference between myself and a neo-Darwinist is that the neo-Darwinist rules out the latter explanation a priori.

    3. Referring to naturalistic explanations for gravity and so on, you ask: “Why should biological processes be any different?” In your examples, you are confusing the everyday operations of nature with the question of the *origin* of those everyday operations. No ID proponent has said that biological processes happen due to angels or ghosts or leprechauns. All ID proponents accept that there are lawlike patterns in living things, as there are in inanimate matter. But just as physics cannot explain the *origin* of gravity, but can only explain how it works in terms of impersonal mathematical generalizations, it may well be that biology will one day be able to explicate every detail of genetics and development in terms of natural regularities, but never be able to explain, e.g., the origin of life, or the origin of the Cambrian explosion. It may be that intelligence was somehow input into living nature in ways that we cannot discover. In short, the search for origins may sometimes lay upon science obligations that it is unable to fulfill with its current bag of mechanistic intellectual tools.

    Notice that I have used the subjunctive. I have said that origins may not be explicable by normal scientific procedures. I have not said that they are not explicable. I have an open mind on the subject. Darwinists do not. They are certain that origins are just as explicable as the everyday operations of nature. I think that certainty is dogmatic and metaphysical, not scientific.

    4. I don’t like the word “purpose”. “Purpose” is not a clear enough term for scientific work. “Purpose” can mean something like “the meaning of life” as in: “Why are we here?” Or it can pertain to some particular moral problem, as in: “Why would a loving God create rabies?” ID does not claim to detect “purpose” in that sense. ID is completely agnostic about the existence of any “purpose” in the universe, or any “purpose” for the existence of any particular creature in it – including man. ID is concerned only with detecting design. ID wants to know whether rabies is designed, not why God (or the devil, or whoever) designed it. ID wants to know whether the Cambrian explosion could have occurred without the input of intelligence (either on-site or remotely, through front-loading). ID does not even try to address the question why God (or aliens from Aldebaran, if you think they are the designers) would have wanted to produce a Cambrian explosion. ID is methodologically incapable of answering questions of purpose, motive, meaning, etc. It can only describe biological arrangements and assess the probability (from 0 to 1) that those arrangements are designed. At least, that is what it aspires to be able to assess.

    5. As for your last question, exactly the same question can be addressed to Darwinists. What experiment could unambiguously eliminate the Darwinian hypothesis (macroevolution caused by mutations plus natural selection etc.)? If one hypothetical evolutionary pathway from land mammals to whales is falsified, the Darwinists just come up with another one. And they hang on to that one until fossil evidence or genetic evidence or radioactive dating evidence or whatnot makes that one impossible. Then they come up with another one. A while ago it was a hippo-like animal that was the supposed ancestor of the whale; now it’s a wolf-like one. Five years from now it may be a rodent-like one. Never do Darwinists entertain for a moment the possibility that whales *could not* have evolved by entirely naturalistic means from land mammals. For to entertain that possibility would mean to entertain the possibility that whales may have been specially engineered, and that conclusion, even if it is derived entirely from biological data and not at all from any religious teaching, the Darwinists will simply not allow.

    Or am I wrong? Can you give me an example of a “killer observation” or “killer experiment” that would falsify Darwinism completely? And please don’t use “the Cambrian rabbit ploy”. That tired old Cambrian rabbit, whose ears are getting sore from being pulled out of the hat so many times by Darwinists, would indeed falsify common descent. But many ID proponents accept common descent, e.g., Behe, Denton, and they do not expect to find a Cambrian rabbit. Common descent is not the point in debate between ID proper and Darwinism. The issue is, within the working assumption of common descent, what would falsify the Darwinian hypothesis once and for all? What would force a Darwinian to admit that evolution could not have been entirely unguided? I have asked this question over and over again, and never have I spoken to or read a Darwinist who has an answer for it. And being somewhat of a Popperian in philosophy of science (unfashionable, I know, but I was never much for fashion), I would argue that any hypothesis for which this question cannot be answered is not really a scientific hypothesis, but a vague, airy speculation. So, is Darwinian evolution a falsifiable hypothesis, or not? If so, how could it be falsified? If not, why should it be regarded as science?

    T.

    - – - – - – -

    Your response would be appreciated.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....liminated/

  42. Is there any evidence at all that since 1945 any practicing evolutionary biologist anywhere has advocated the unequal,unfair, or discriminatory treatment of people from different ethnic or “racial” groups, or promoted the “extermination” of anyone on the basis of ethnic or “racial” grounds?

    Well . . . .

  43. Folks:

    The attempted onward rebuttals above give me — as one of those whose race[s] are predicted by Mr Darwin for elimination, and in light of subsequent history — grounds for further serious concern.

    For, it is obvious that the reason that this matter was not fully and frankly addressed in the recent Darwin 200 celebrations is that the underlying problem of the anti-ethics of power associated with evolutionary materialism (and expressed in the concept survival of the fittest/ preservation of “favoured race[s]” (or groups otherwise) . . . ] is plainly an unfinished history.

    Something that should give us ALL serious pause. And something that we need to seriously address.

    So, let us now speak to several key points:

    1] Sev, 39: do you believe that a sociologist who studies rape is also encouraging people to commit the offense or that when Richard Weikart writes about Hitler he must automatically be a supporter of Nazism? . . . . If by “duty of remedy” you are asserting that scientists have an obligation to foresee every possible misuse or abuse of their work and make provision to deter it, I would have to say that, first, no such duty is recognized at present, second, it is simply impractical and third that it shifts the burden of responsibility from where it should rest, namely with those who actually choose to misuse the research.

    This is Sev’s central problem, and is revealing of the core inconsistency in his argument.

    Onlookers, you will observe how, above, each time I have raised the issue of Darwin’s predictions of racial extinctions in Ch 6 [and in 5 and 7] of Descent of Man, I have contrasted the example of H G Wells, who opens his highly popular novel War of the Worlds with a veiled warning; one I developed in some details at no 28.

    You will see that this contrast between Darwin and another who shared his views but saw his duty very differently has been repeatedly passed over in silence; thus making a strawman caricature of what I have said in pointing to the duty of remedy.

    Namely, the general and obvious ethical principle that once one diagnoses a plainly disastrous trend, as a “watchman on the wall” (or even simply a “concerned citizen”) one has an obligation of warning and duty of remedy. (The children’s story of the Dutch boy who put his hand into the hole in the dike is only one of many cases in point, the classic one in our ethical literature being Ezekiel 33:1 – 20. Similar statements are in the Hippocratic oath’s do no harm principle — by negligence or by action.)

    Of course, there is one alternative: Darwin saw this consequence of extinction of named unfavoured inferior “races” close to the gorilla as so scientifically inevitable that nothing effective could be done. That is, he saw them as inheriting such limitations that there was no hope for them, by contrast with the more advanced races, leading to an inevitable Malthusian collapse of their populations.

    That would imply that he was a determinist, as a scientific racist and that he failed to attend to easily accessible evidence that the mass deaths predicted by Malthus for such races was not at all inevitable or unavoidable, but instead indicted specifically his own “race” as oppressors.

    For, the mass deaths of Ireland in the 1840′s — as Jerry has highlighted — were in a context where the native people were reduced in bad times to eating nothing but potatoes, in a context of abundance being exported for profit elsewhere. In the same context, in Jamaica in the 1860′s, the burdens of famine were multiplied by an Assembly that insisted on trying to relieve their own economic challenges by passing excessive and discriminatory taxes on the upland farming peasants, and on importing Indian etc indentured labour through Gov’t action, to keep the market price of labour down (as well as to hopefully put a racial divide into the working classes).

    In such a context, while it may be partly personally exculpatory to point out that Darwin had humanitarian and progressivist sentiments, and took active steps in some instances, it simply underscores how damaging is the underlying anti-ethics of power that lurks in “scientific” evolutionary materialism and associated determinisms.

    2] . . . why should you think that Darwin actually approved of the events he was predicting when all the evidence from his private life suggests otherwise?

    Again, approval was never the issue that I have raised; “scientific” RACISM was — as well as the failure of duty of remedy. (Observe again the contrast with H G Wells.)

    For instance — since the issue is so important if science is to avoid being a doom ot our civilisation — pardon a parallel from my own life.

    In 1995 it so happened that I was the senior physicist present on Montserrat when the volcano began to erupt. The next day I presented myself for service in monitoring, and I continued to do what I could over months. Then by October it came out that something was seriously amiss with the management of the crisis, and I learned of the US Cascades VDAP team’s departure and note of protest at their own web site — a note subsequently removed from the Internet [I of course retain a copy]. On Oct 31 that year a cold ash flow blacked out the SW of Montserrat in the middle of the day, and that night there was a previously scheduled public meeting. During the meeting it became clear that the local and UK officials were being economical with the truth and were playing with undisclosed risks. So, in the time for public comments I stood up and gave a clear warning using the Mt St Helens case and the VDAP team’s warning, asking some pointed questions on the policy; all duly on videotape (which played a part in the subsequent forensic inquiry on the deaths that followed in 1997).

    Now, obviously, I paid a serious personal and professional price by so publicly challenging officialdom. But, the duties of warning — a prediction is not a warning! — and of remedy take priority. For excellent reason.

    Now, by contrast, Darwin in the 1850′s – 70′s was an independently wealthy, well-respected naturalist. He had the opportunity and duty of warning and remedy. He did not take them up, instead coolly “scientifically” predicting the extinction of what he had to understand were 100′s of millions of people who failed to be born into one of his “favoured races.”

    On any fair and balanced reading of his legacy, that has to be reckoned with. That it is not being faced and so addressed even as the scientific establishment celebrates Darwin 200, tells me a lot, and none of it good.

    [ . . . ]

  44. 3] here we have a man [Darwin] who, on the one hand, is being caricatured as a racist “Brit toff” who is utterly indifferent to the sufferings of other races and callously predicts their extinction and who, on the other hand, abhors slavery and is an ardent abolitionist, voluntarily joins a committee that tries to bring the brutal and racist Governor Eyre to trial for his actions against other races in Jamaica and contributes £100 of his own money to research intended to breed disease-resistant potatoes with the aim of preventing famines in Ireland occurring ever again.

    Now, the obvious problem here is that you are acting as though Mr Darwin’s contributions as a scientist and as a sometimes at least concerned and progressivist citizen have not been acknowledged or respected.

    But in fact, as can be seen simply by scrolling up, we have been explicitly saying that when Darwin 200 has been celebrated, on the duty of truth and fairness about a mutually painful history, we need to hear the other side of the story, even with all due allowances for the good side of Darwin the man and scientist.

    Namely, the story of a science partly rooted in the fallacies of Malthusianism and with a specific focus on the favoured/ unfavoured races as the unit of population competition for “survival of the fittest [races]” and its legacy over the next 100 or so years.

    So, indeed, go ahead and put forth the personally positive and partly exculpatory side of the story, but for the sake of truth and fairness, do not suppress the truth on the roots and the prejudices and sins of the upper echelon British society context in which Darwin formulated his theory ["toffs" is the informal term for that crust, especially those who went to Oxbridge], and the implications that were then seized upon by others over the next several decades, contributing to several of the C20′s worst horrors.

    And, most of all, do not deny, minimise or suppress the duty of warning and remedy on discovery of scientifically credible projected potentially damaging trends.

    Sorry, Sev: the real balance that needs to be struck is not so much in a blog in a corner of the Internet, but in the widespread public hagiographic celebrations of Darwin 200.

    4] A MacNeill, 40: Note the date of this letter: 1873, two years after the publication of The Descent of Man . . . As the letter indicates, having been provided with information from a source which he found credible, Darwin was quite capable of changing his mind and revising his opinion about this, as about many other subjects.

    Of course, the basic problem is that while I have cited the 1871 version from infidels in no 10 above, the Gutenberg link is to the SECOND edition of Descent, datelined “DOWN, BECKENHAM, KENT, September, 1874.”

    And in that edn, the relevant paragraph from Ch 6 on comparison to Gorillas reads:

    The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees . . . But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. ‘Anthropological Review,’ April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    In short, we see AGAIN the characteristic gap between personal sentiments and public actions qua Scientist that StephenB has highlighted.

    5] most of what he [CRD] knew about “negroes” was gained second- or third-hand.

    And, how would incorporating such “hearsay” as credibly factual information stack up in terms of CRD’s scientific judgement?

    But in fact, when CRD addresses the issues of the races in Chs 5 – 7 of Descent, he is often doing so in light of the findings published in the literature of that day, i.e he is reflecting the “scientific consensus” of that day. Thus, he unwittingly underscores the unreliability of appealing to “scientific/ expert consensus” as a criterion of well-warranted knowledge.

    This, too, would be a useful — and quite relevant — lesson to draw out for the Darwin 200 celebrations. (Indeed, is it not a common objection to ID that it cuts across the “scientific consensus”? Is not the implication that scientific consensus can and must change in light of further evidence a very relevant point, then?)

    6] people at this website who are determined to pursue an ad hominem line of attack against evolutionary biologists in general and Charles Darwin in particular

    Mr MacNeill, since you have just been specifically (and ineffectively) responding to a point I have made, an inevitable air of the ad hominem targetting the undersigned comes out in your just cited remarks.

    So, pardon a preliminary, direct note: if you had continued to monitor the last thread where these matters came up, you would have seen that I strongly objected to Mr Martinez’ fallacious casting of blame across contemporary Biologists since about 1945, as a body.

    Moreover, I am not indulging in ad hominems against Mr Darwin to point out that his theories — right from the subtitle of his key 1859 book — focussed on the race as the unit of population comepttion for survival. That is a fact on the record.

    Similarly, it is plain from the easily accessed record that he did predict the demise of my own race[s], holding — even in the 1874 edn of Descent — that “Negro[es]” are at the low end of human races, being among those most close tot he gorilla. He equally predicted the reduction of one of my other streams of ancestry,t eh Irish, to a subservient, marginalised, deprived condition of life in the face of competition with the “Saxon[s],” presumably those of England.

    That such facts on the record may not reflect well on Mr Darwin and on his contemporaries in light of subsequent history is a fact that ALSO needs to be faced, not dismissed as an unjust personal attack.

    And, most of all, it is very clear to us as onlookers, that there is a conspicuous want of a true, balanced and fair, warts and all overall review of the Darwin legacy in the context of the Darwin 200 celebrations.

    That has to be of serious concern in a world where it is plain that the race issue and the Malthusian issue and the anti-ethics of power issue are still very much with us.

    With deep concern

    GEM of TKI

    {A Caribbean person of Afro-Euro-Asian ancestry]

  45. PS: On re-reading, please further note the context for Darwin’s remarks on the predicted demise of the Negro and Australian. He is making an almost incidental reference in the context of assessing why there are gaps in the fossil record between man and theorised ape-like progenitors; i.e the so-called missing links that have so often dominated paleontological and anthropological headlines since then.

    Notice, now, how Mr Darwin immediately continues — and in 1874, not just in 1871:

    With respect to the absence of fossil remains, serving to connect man with his ape-like progenitors, no one will lay much stress on this fact who reads Sir C. Lyell’s discussion (19. ‘Elements of Geology,’ 1865, pp. 583- 585. ‘Antiquity of Man,’ 1863, p. 145.), where he shews that in all thevertebrate classes the discovery of fossil remains has been a very slow and fortuitous process. Nor should it be forgotten that those regions which are the most likely to afford remains connecting man with some extinct ape-like creature, have not as yet been searched by geologists.

    Notice, how he seemingly misses the force of predicting the demise of 100′s of millions of people in Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas as well as Australia? (For, the only way that so large and widespread a race as the sub-Saharan Africans could be reduced to no descendants is through mass extinction by disease, famine or genocidal war. For, not even slavery under unprecedentedly and since all but unparalleled harsh conditions in the Caribbean had sufficed to wipe out my ancestors. [The two semi-exceptions are the Holocaust and the Communist democides; neither of which succeeded in wiping out any people group of any magnitude.])

    See, too, how he coolly returns from what is plainly in his mind an illustrative aside, to the main, academic issue in his mind: gaps in the fossil record of our ancestral links to the apes — as though he has not projected a human tragedy on a scale that dwarfs anything in history to date?

    Do you not therefore see why I underscore the desperate importance of the duty of warning and remedy?

  46. http://www.darwinday.org/event.....p?id=12588

    At this panel discussion, all four of the participants on the panel (three of whom are prominent evolutionary biologists) addressed the issue of racism and its relationship with Darwin’s ideas and evolutionary theory, especially as it was used as an inspiration for the eugenics movement of the early 20th century.

    To be very specific, all four of the panelists (two of whom, David Harris and Sylvester Gates, are African-American) agreed that the history of the use of Darwin’s ideas to promote eugenics and other forms of racism were egregious misuses of the science of evolutionary biology. They also pointed out that none of these egregious perversions of evolutionary theory survived beyond the end of the Second World War. Indeed, some of the most prominent evolutionary biologists of the late 20th century (including, but not limited to, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, Robert L. Trivers, William D. Hamilton, and William Provine) have been in the forefront of both the public discussion of the past misuse of science and the promotion of equal opportunity and equal treatment under law.

    So, bFast, what other strawman arguments would you like to make?

  47. Onlookers:

    Lurking under the surface of 47 above is the fact that we have now taken a decisive turn for the better on this rather disagreeable topic. So, at least, there is progress, painful though it obviously is.

    Let us hope that later on we can focus on the way to transform the dynamics, through techno revo as I outlined above at 34.

    For, thank God, we are not locked into an inevitable Malthusian tragedy!

    For now, though, I will need to address Mr MacNeill’s largely implicit half-acknowledgement at 47 . . . .

    _____________

    Mr MacNeil:

    In response to a thread where you began at comment no 1 by calling Mr Campolo a liar and distorter, you have now half-acknowledged that there is a serious problem that he put his finger on [never mind his mistake on proposal vs prediction], one that you addressed in its safely dead aspects, post WW II.

    You did so by pointing out that here was a panel at Cornell for Darwin Week that touched on the pre- 1945 situation, and that some prominent biologists have spoken (and by extension written) on the abuse of science and provision of equal opportunities.

    (But, right off, there is unfortunately a key gap: why did it take a World War with a holocaust EXPLICITLY rationalised on the terms of Chs 5 – 7 of Descent [please, don't force me to cite Hitler in Bk 1 Ch XI of Mein Kampf, on foxes and cats pouncing on their prey . . . ] to get the corrections into biology? Especially if, by 1873, it was — by your citation at 40 — credibly evident to Darwin himself that the racism that formed an explicit part of Descent’s thesis, was scientifically discredited? And if so, why did Darwin fail to put the corrections into the 2nd Edn of Descent, which reiterates the Ch 6 passage word for word?)

    Now, too, bFast has not posted in this thread, so he cannot have made strawman arguments here. But, on the inference that you intend to dismiss the issues raised above as strawman fallacies, I think a few balancing and corrective points are in order:

    1 –> We have established from the public record, that right from the sub-title of Origin, in 1859, Darwin used RACE as the unit of population competing for “survival of the fittest”; thus by direct implication, elimination of the not- so- “favoured races.”

    2 –> In both the 1871 and the 1874 edns of Descent, he compared Negroes and Australian Aborigines to gorillas as being the least advanced “races” of humans; slated for elimination over the centuries to come through failure to keep up with our “betters,” who would then hopefully be in a further advanced state of civilisation than the Caucasians of the Victorian era. And since these “inferior” races are both at least continent-wide in distribution, and since the population of blacks is quite large, that implies mass fammine, disease and genocidal war, with the deaths of 100′s of millions.

    3 –> Worse, CRD made this point in an illustrative aside on why it is that there are missing links in the fossil record, then didn’t miss a beat as he immediately got back to his focus on fossil gaps. Nowhere do we find in that context the sign of a clear warning or proposal of remedy, which is what — pardon my forthrightness — any morally sound person would be moved to highlight on making such a horrible projection of trends.

    [ . . . ]

  48. 4 –> On this, contrast not only H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, but his 1895 Time Machine, both of which made major themes out of the abusive treatment of “inferior races or species,” in the first as as targets for elimination, and in the second as food animals; in both cases in an explicitly Darwinian context.

    5 –> It is worth citing Wiki’s summary of the key point in Time Machine:

    The Utopian existence of the Eloi turns out to be deceptive. The Traveller soon discovers that the class structure of his own time has in fact persisted, and the human race has diverged into two branches. The wealthy, leisured classes appear to have devolved into the ineffectual, not very bright Eloi he has already seen; but the downtrodden working classes have evolved into the bestial Morlocks, cannibal hominids resembling human spiders, who toil underground maintaining the machinery that keep the Eloi — their flocks — docile and plentiful. Both species, having adapted to their routines, are of distinctly sub-human intelligence.

    After further adventures, the Traveller manages to get to his machine, reactivate it as the Morlocks battle him for it, and escape them. He then travels into the far future, roughly 30 million years from his own time . . . .

    6 –> That should give us pause as we think about, say, the 48+ million abortion holocaust in the USA, and the emerging trend of demanding to indulge in embryonic stem cell based research and treatments [even though we already have evidence that the morally uncontroversial adult stem cell research path has been more effective to date and given genetic switches seems to be able to give us all the flexibility we really need].

    7 –> Likewise, while indeed I must hang my head in shame and plead for forgiveness on the sins of my own discipline — the ghosts of 1/2 millions from Hiroshima and Nagasaki demand that much — I must point out that part of the reason for this blog is that the Darwinist establishment in biology has carried out a sustained campaign of exclusion, driving out and discrediting based on specious arguments and misrepresentation, regarding the status of Intelligent Design as science. [Cf the Weak Arguments correctives linked at the top of this page.]

    8 –> Can I at least suggest that when science becomes controversial or intersects with policy and world-/life- view issues, that a forum for balanced elicitation and fair pooling of insights from the range of technically qualified experts be formed, to be reported to the public, the media and the policy makers alike? (Had something like that been done in 1945, the atomic bomb would probably have been demonstrated instead of dropped on cities. In 1995 – 97, it might have made a decisive difference in how the volcano crisis here was managed; thus saving lives, preventing massive losses and dislocations. On the design controversy, it might keep biology from so spoiling the reputation of science that a terrible backlash will be prevented.)

    9 –> But also, there is the issue of the underlying challenge of evolutionary materialism and its determinisms rooted in mechanical necessity and chance initial and environmental circumstances.

    10 –> For these philosophical [NOT scientific!] concepts — ever since Lucretius’ revealing poem, On the nature of things — consistently fatally undermine the possibility of real reasoning and real choice; the foundations of not only mind and morality but civilisation, locking us into a terrible fatalism. (One that we can discern sapping the good moral sentiments of even Darwin, leading him to propose a science of “inevitable” Malthusian disaster.)

    11 –> In the place of such a counsel of despair, why not let us look at the possibilities for techno revo, driven by the design paradigm?

    12 –> For, by reverse engineering nature, and using the power of mind to choose to move towards the good and/or beneficial, the right and the sustainable through developing technically, economically, environmentally and morally sound advances, we can work together to build a positive future.

    GEM of TKI

  49. 50
    Vladimir Krondan

    [Barb] Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler’s respective worldviews (communism and Nazism) were directly based on the writings of Darwin.

    Indeed one can make a very good case that Darwinians have a lot to apologize for. See here: Inbred Science

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