Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Social Matthewism

Denyse O'Leary apparently has a soft spot for Australians. Not only David Stove, but also Hiram Caton: Aussie poli sci prof: Darwin's main claim to fame was his social status.

O'Leary quotes Caton:

... Darwin's celebrated book did not deliver an earth-shaking new vision of nature, as creationists believe. The Origin of Species came nowhere close to the bestseller list. It sold about one-third as many copies as did Vestiges. Darwin's main claim to novelty, the discovery of natural selection as the mechanism of evolution, was implicit in Spencer's theory and indeed had been clearly stated three decades previously by the Scot Patrick Matthew, who aptly styled it "the natural law of selection".

We have had creationists tell us that Darwin really stole all his Darwinist ideas from the creationist Edward Blyth, and now we are told that natural selection really was invented by the Scot Patrick Matthew. Who can we trust these days?

Looking up Patrick Matthew on Wikipedia proved to be very rewarding.

Matthew, who was a fruit grower and therefore knowledgeable about trees, published in 1831 a book, On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, in which he made this observation:

There is a law universal in nature, tending to render every reproductive being the best possible suited to its condition that its kind, or organized matter, is susceptible of, which appears intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive powers to their highest perfection and to continue them so. This law sustains the lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the fox in his wiles. As nature, in all her modifications of life, has a power of increase far beyond what is needed to supply the place of what falls by Time's decay, those individuals who possess not the requisite strength, swiftness, hardihood, or cunning, fall prematurely without reproducing—either a prey to their natural devourers, or sinking under disease, generally induced by want of nourishment, their place being occupied by the more perfect of their own kind, who are pressing on the means of subsistence . . .

Isn't this 'Darwinism' pure and simple?

Yet Matthew was an ID proponent;

There is more beauty and unity of design in this continual balancing of life to circumstance, and greater conformity to those dispositions of nature which are manifest to us, than in total destruction and new creation . . . [The] progeny of the same parents, under great differences of circumstance, might, in several generations, even become distinct species, incapable of co-reproduction.

The Wikipedia article has this little piece of interest:

He considered the task to be of great importance, as the navy permitted the British race to advance. Matthew noted the long-term deleterious effect of dysgenic artificial selection—the culling of only the trees of highest timber quality from forests—on the quality of timber. In an appendix to the book, he elaborated on how eugenic artificial selection—the elimination of trees of poor timber quality—could be used to improve timber quality, and even create new varieties of trees.

So, to improve the quality of timber, the trees of poor quality should be eliminated.

Well, well, well. Could it be that Adolf Hitler wasn't a Darwinist but really a Matthewist?

While we are at it anyway, have a look at Arthur de Gobineau

This guy

... was a French aristocrat who became famous for advocating White Supremacy and developing the racialist theory of the Aryan master race in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853-1855).

Please note that, since Darwin's The Origin of Species is from 1859, and his The Descent of Man is from 1871, Gobineau could not have been influenced by Darwin.

All in all, the theory that Charles Darwin is the root of all evil appears to not have much of a foundation.

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A Christian in Satanist clothes