Posts Tagged ‘Social Darwinism’
The naturalist outraged the church, prompting a bitter debate that still sets creationists against evolutionists. Now a sinister link has emerged between his work and the recent spate of high-school killings by crazed, nihilistic teenagers
Dennis Sewell - November 8, 2009
You wouldn’t know from the celebrations of Charles Darwin’s life this year that the amiable Victorian gent portrayed in those TV drama-docs pottering around the garden of his home in Kent has been fingered as a racist, an apologist for genocide, and the inspiration of a string of psychopathic killers.
The Darwin double anniversary (2009 marks both the bicentenary of his birth and 150 years since the first publication of On the Origin of Species) has featured much vanilla hoopla: the Royal Mail issued commemorative stamps; Damien Hirst designed the dust jacket for a special edition of Darwin’s masterpiece; Bristol Zoo offered free admission to men with beards, and the Natural History Museum served pea soup made to a recipe devised by Darwin’s wife, Emma. The conclusion of dozens of lectures, articles and education packs for schools has been that Darwin wasn’t just a brilliant scientist, but a thoroughly good egg.
With hardly a mention that his name has been associated with some of the most infamous crimes of modern history, it is as if there has been an unspoken agreement to accentuate the positive. Certainly, the milquetoast Darwin played by Paul Bettany in the recent film Creation provided little hint that there might be a dark side to the great man’s bequest to posterity. The film focuses on Darwin’s inner conflicts in the years leading up to the publication of On the Origin of Species. The scientist is reluctant to make his ideas public, not because he has foreseen dire social consequences, but chiefly because he fears that the theory of evolution will upset his wife and the Church of England.
Here’s an interesting take on Darwin’s legacy: Darwin was the Black Man’s best friend, according to the organizers of an upcoming symposium (excerpt and link from the conference website, below).
Darwin’s racial views were complex. (He was an abolitionist who seemed to believe blacks were inferior to whites.) And his theories have been very effective in the hands of eugenicists and racists.
The organizers of the MIT symposium, celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday, blame the impacts of Darwin’s theories on misinterpretations of his work. They also advise President Obama to “follow Darwin’s lead (to unite Man into a single, global, civilization).”
A snippet from the symposium organizers’ web page:
The pseudo-scientific arguments that human “races” are separately evolved continues to rear its head, despite both fossil and genetic evidence establishing that all modern humans had their origin in Africa, before migrating and dispersing through Europe, Asian and the Pacific Islands. Modern genomics reveals clearly that all human groups share a common gene pool. Natural selection certainly continues to operate in human populations, but the invention of language has meant that many of the key features selected for in human populations are transmitted through culture and not through genes. Certainly this is true for the leaps that led to the expansion of humans across the Earth – domestication of plants and animals, irrigation, tool and weapons development, food storage and processing, textiles and clothing, sanitation, long range transportation and communication technologies. But biological determinism still lives, promoting pseudo-scientific claims that the variations that exist in the genomes and physiology of humans, represents profound differences between groups, rather than the normal range of variation found in large populations.
Eugenics pioneer, Francis Galton, defined eugenics as “the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations.”
Global warming can be defined as: “The study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the environmental quality of future generations.”
The eugenics movement and the global warming movement are similar in many respects. Both ideas were introduced by scientists, advanced by politicians, popularized by the media, embraced as a moral necessity, resulted in severe consequences and eventually rejected as harmful hogwash.
Eugenics, thankfully, has run its course. Global warming, however, is approaching its zenith, just before imposing severe consequences, and is, perhaps, still a generation away from being rejected as the hogwash it is.
Melanie Phillips - 23rd October 2008
On Tuesday evening I attended the debate between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox at Oxford’s Natural History Museum. This was the second public encounter between the two men, but it turned out to be very different from the first. Lennox is the Oxford mathematics professor whose book, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? is to my mind an excoriating demolition of Dawkins’s overreach from biology into religion as expressed in his book The God Delusion — all the more devastating because Lennox attacks him on the basis of science itself. In the first debate, which can be seen on video on this website, Dawkins was badly caught off-balance by Lennox’s argument precisely because, possibly for the first time, he was being challenged on his own chosen scientific ground.
rbullock - 09/28/08
“Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the earth.”
Never in history have atheists enjoyed such roaring intellectual fulfillment. Triumphantly parading a ragtag procession of kowtowed cultural Darwinists, browbeaten boards of education, a few fawning federal judges and (on a special float) a collection of tamed and harmless theists, today’s atheists strut brashly down Main Street Everywhere shouting “up yours!” to every measured glance from the sidelines. Give them credit–atheists have won the day, if not the era, by ushering in a world of practical public atheism where God is not even dead, he simply is not. Someone help us.
Atheists have always been a temerarious lot. But in the lost age of reason thoughtful atheism was more a philosopher’s leisure, something of a private intellectual indulgence, like pondering perpetual motion or musing Zeno’s paradoxes, suitable for thought-play among friends but little else of practical value. By all accounts being against logic and human nature (the two being inextricably bound), atheism remained for most of history a young man’s comfort and an old man’s folly, but in public the evidence of those thought fools.
That was then, this is now; a few short years of remarkable activity successfully transformed Western culture into a God-free zone marked by public institutions which, formerly God-filled in thought and speech, now permit their foundational lingua franca only as an anti-intellectual private indulgence. As the torch was passed the past was torched, with the last public vestiges of any Godly heritage reluctantly endured only as cultural artifacts–offensive but harmless reminders of a very different time. Not permitted to inform law, policy, or education at any level, God-thoughts are now a young man’s folly and an old man’s comfort, but in public the evidence of those thought fools.
Fools thought wise and wise thought fools, what in the world happened? Future generations will look back and marvel at the unfortunate complexity of fortuitous events, but simply speaking, Darwinism happened. In perhaps no other age has an elixir met a mood the way Darwin’s notions met a cultural temper. Decades before Darwin various lines of evolutionary thought developed, not only in biology but in geology and cosmology as well. In a sense, the world was primed for a catalyst to set off an irresistible movement toward a materialistic world view. For this reason scientists are correct when they maintain that Darwinism is “more than a theory.” It is much more. As stated by leading 20th-century Darwinist Ernst Mayr, “The Darwinian revolution was not merely the replacement of one scientific theory by another, as had been the scientific revolutions in the physical sciences, but rather the replacement of a world view, in which the supernatural was accepted as a normal and relevant explanatory principle, by a new world view in which there was no room for supernatural forces.”
What do the SAT, the Kellogg Company, Woodrow Wilson and Adolf Hitler all have in common? They are all connected by the practice of eugenics in the first half of the 20th century.
From 1904 until shortly after the close of WWII, the United States aggressively engaged in a scientific quest to create a master race. This radical new science, dubbed “eugenics” by Sir Francis Galton in 1883, called for selective breeding between those deemed “fit” for existence (i.e. generally those of Nordic descent), with sterilization, marriage prohibition and even euthanasia aimed at those deemed “unfit.”