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Who Was More Important: Lincoln or Darwin?

Here is an interesting article:

By Malcolm Jones | NEWSWEEK

How’s this for a coincidence? Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born in the same year, on the same day: Feb. 12, 1809. As historical facts go, it amounts to little more than a footnote. Still, while it’s just a coincidence, it’s a coincidence that’s guaranteed to make you do a double take the first time you run across it. Everybody knows Darwin and Lincoln were near-mythic figures in the 19th century. But who ever thinks of them in tandem? Who puts the theory of evolution and the Civil War in the same sentence? Why would you, unless you’re writing your dissertation on epochal events in the 19th century? But instinctively, we want to say that they belong together. It’s not just because they were both great men, and not because they happen to be exact coevals. Rather, it’s because the scientist and the politician each touched off a revolution that changed the world.

Source:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/143742%20

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15 Responses to Who Was More Important: Lincoln or Darwin?

  1. I notice that Newsweek‘s answer is Lincoln. I agree.

    There always seems to be this urge to compare two people. But the contrasts can also be instructive. Rich educated kid versus poor kid, one who hung in the shadows versus one who was constantly involved in public life, and if some posts here are correct, a fundamentally dishonest man versus one who has become proverbial for honesty.

  2. I’m not sure what you mean about Lincoln being fundamentally dishonest. It is true that it was not initially his intention to free all slaves in the US, but eventually he realized that he could and should do just that. I don’t think that makes him dishonest, and of course we all agree that he was one of this country’s greatest presidents.

  3. The question should be ‘more important to whom’.

    As an English scientist I tend to regard Darwin as slightly more important than an Ex president of a foreign country.

    I’m not trying to put down Lincoln or his importance to Americans in any way though.

  4. Maybe a more interesting question is who is more important, Darwin or Marx?

  5. Maybe a more interesting question is who is more important, Darwin or Marx?

    I guess we know where J. B. S. Haldane would stand. LOLOLOL

  6. Psst, Feebish, I think Paul Giem might be calling Darwin dishonest. Lincoln is the person suggested to be “proverbial for honesty”.

    Anyway, I’d vote Lincoln as more important than Darwin any day. Imagine the lives that Darwin has ruined for those who actually believe his theory. “Life is stupid and pointless, I hate life, and maybe I’ll just kill myself because of it.” Sure, not everybody thinks this way, but I can guarantee that some people have. Whether neo-Darwinism would turn out to be true or not it’s not worth believing, because it suggests that life is all completely worthless and meaningless.

    Lincoln on the other hand led to the freedom of the slaves, brought together our nation, and brought hope to mankind for years afterwards. Even to this day! I’m sure he has even influenced others in other countries. That much cannot be said positively about Darwin.

  7. “Life is stupid and pointless, I hate life, and maybe I’ll just kill myself because of it.”

    Why would anyone think that about a theory that describes how organisms change over generations and says nothing about the origin of life or the universe?

    “it suggests that life is all completely worthless and meaningless.”

    No it doesn’t – It is you who are suggesting that, not the theory, although you are free to believe it if you want the theory suggests no such thing to me, or I might venture to add, to any of the evolutionary biologists I know.

    If someone felt that Newtons laws of motion meant they should jump off a cliff would you argue that “it’s not worth believing”?

    Your inability to see worth, value or good in life without the presence of an intelligent cause is your own failing – some of us don’t require theological crutches to appreciate our existence or the existence of others.

  8. From a non US or Brit perspective, I would have to say that Darwin has had a more drastic impact in shaping the world. From his theories many worldviews have been satisfied (not necessarily positively in my opinion!) and he has been the linchpin of providing the scientific argument to many atheistic agendas that have decimated people across the globe.

    Of course there is the whole science side too!!!

    I believe that having a non-biased/non-patriotic view of either of these men, Darwin has had the greater impact. I’d prefer, though, to have had a beer with Abe.

  9. “Why would anyone think that about a theory that describes how organisms change over generations and says nothing about the origin of life or the universe?”

    The more I hear how Darwin’s theory describes change over generations, the more I wonder why he even titled his book “Origin of Species”.

    “No it doesn’t – It is you who are suggesting that, not the theory, although you are free to believe it if you want the theory suggests no such thing to me, or I might venture to add, to any of the evolutionary biologists I know.”

    “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference. ” Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden.

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.” – Steven Weinberg.

    Please enlighten these scientists.

  10. Darwin influenced thinking in most every country. So I understand why non-US-centric posters side with his being the greater influence.

    But Lincoln prevented the USA from splitting in two. How would the two world wars and the cold war have turned out had there been two USAs instead of one? Would the allies have prevailed over the axis? Would the USSR have conquered more territory?

  11. Barb wrote:

    The more I hear how Darwin’s theory describes change over generations, the more I wonder why he even titled his book “Origin of Species”.

    Um, because he understood that accumulated change over generations is what leads to new species.

    Please enlighten these scientists.

    Both of them (Weinberg and Dawkins) are vigorously engaged in life. They understand that individual lives can have meaning and purpose, but that these come from us, not from some transcendental Purpose-Giver.

    The universe overall may be barren, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t scattered and precious pockets of life. Likewise, the universe as a whole may have no purpose, but that doesn’t preclude us from finding meaning and purpose in our own lives.

  12. Alright, I will acknowledge MaxEntropy, I went a little overboard with the possible implications of neo-Darwinism. It does not, by necessity, imply that life is meaningless and worthless. It could be that a Being set the universe and life into motion that it may one day evolve into man.

    However, I will not insist on the downgrading of the implications of atheism. If it turns out that life did start on accident, and that perhaps, the universe sprang into being without purpose, and furthermore, God does not exist, then indeed, life is truly worthless and meaningless.

    Trying to put purpose into our lives cannot be done. It’s like trying to tell somebody that they can win a board game that cannot be won (there is literally no possible way to win this board game). No matter what we do, no matter how we treat others, for better or for worse, it all ends the same way: death.

    I can find no meaning within that, and it’s because there is none. If life ends at the grave, we’re all screwed, and more so: no life is better than anybody else’s. So what if I was nice? I was gonna die anyway. What does it matter if I’m a complete tyrant and destroy and kill millions of people? I and them were going to die anyway. We won’t realize this of course, after we’re dead, because we won’t exist anymore.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I do see that I and others do matter. But the thing is, whether I think this or not, if atheism is true, then it truly doesn’t matter what I think. On the other hand, I see that I really do think that I and others matter, and so I cannot accept that we’re the product of randomness and pointlessness. (That is, not considering any of the evidence for design within the universe, but on my own personal feelings.)

    Theological crutches or not, God’s the only hope I got, and He’s what I’m sticking to.

    BTW: If this came across the wrong way, it might be because I’ve felt a little unsatisfied and grumpy lately. In my best of moments, and even now, I wish the best for you guys. So keep it cool, and please don’t be offended by what I have to say.

  13. Domoman,
    Thanks for replying thoughtfully and not getting offended by my sharp response!

    First, a couple of thoughts – I’m not saying any of this is true, just rooting around the issues to see what I can excavate.

    An ‘accidental’ universe is not nessacarily a guarantee that there is no eternal afterlife. It might be that there is much more to the materialistic universe that we can access when ‘alive’ and that something of us persists after bodily death. I think its unlikely but who knows.

    An intelligently created universe is no guarantee of a satisfying purpose in our lives. If we KNOW exactly what the purpose of our creation was then we might feel satisfied by it – but equally we might have been created as pawns for a set of egotistical and vindictive ‘Gods’ to play cruel games with. If we are told what purpose we were created for then do you trust the source of that information? – it may be a trick to keep us off our guard.

    Now, if it does all end in the grave then all you have is your life, and the effect your life will have on those around you and who come after you. Saying that it doesn’t matter how we treat people in life because there might not be an afterlife misses the point that people feel pain and suffer when you mistreat them. If my life is all I have then I don’t want to live it in pain and when I see pain in others I feel empathy.

    Of course thats assuming that the finality of death isn’t something that God designed into the universe.

    You might feel the need to put your hope in God but I like to put mine in other people which is why my personal death is not the end, and why I feel that my life can have meaning.

  14. @Domoman#6: Upon rereading the comment, I agree that you may be right. I was just trying to defend Lincoln.

  15. feebish (#2 and #14)

    Domoman (#6) is right. The fundamentally dishonest man, if some posts are right, is Darwin.

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