Monday, September 04, 2006

Some of Dembski's Favorite Quotes by Darwinists

For some day I have had an interesting discussion with 'Charlie' on an Uncommon Descent thread: Some of My Favorite Quotes by Darwinists [with new introduction] The new introduction mentions the critique by the Anti Defamation League of Coral Ridge Ministries' video and book Darwin's Deadly Legacy.

Following this, William Dembski lists his original Darwinist quotes beginning with:

To be sure, there were many other streams of thought that played into Nazi racism and the holocaust, but to say that Darwinism played no role, or even an insignificant role, is absurd. Read Richard Weikart’s FROM DARWIN TO HITLER: EVOLUTIONARY ETHICS, EUGENICS, AND RACISM IN GERMANY

But what is this thing called 'Darwinism'? Judged from the title of Weikart's book, it should be something related to Darwin, shouldn't it? Note the subtitle: "... IN GERMANY". Wasn't Darwin British? Now, if Weikart had called his book "From Haeckel to Hitler", the subtitle would have been more appropriate, so already by the title the alert reader should start wondering, if the book is worth reading.

The Nazi emphasis on proper breeding, racial purity, and weeding out defectives come from taking Darwin’s theory seriously and applying it at the level of society. Yes, Darwin himself did not take these such steps, but Galton and Haeckel, his contemporaries, saw where this was going and did.

Then it wasn't 'Darwinism', was it? The emphasis on "proper breeding, racial purity, and weeding out defectives" can be traced back as far as we have historical records. Anyway, Darwin - with some inspiration from Edward Blyth and others - simply claimed that artficial selection done by breeders also happen in nature and is the cause of new species. The Nazi idea was not to create a new species, but to re-create, what they thought to be the original Germanic ("Aryan") race. Hitler rejected the idea of common descent and thought that human races had been created separately. What is so 'Darwinistic' about this?

The outrage which says that the Nazi racial theory is a vulgarization of Darwinism is simply unmerited. The Nazis took Darwinian theory and ran with it, much as Peter Singer does these days, though Singer and his disciples are careful not to bring race into the picture - they take an equal opportunity approach in advocating the elimination of human lives they deem defective or inconvenient.

They could have gotten the very same idea from the creationist Edward Blyth, and much more appropriately, so let's call it a "vulgarization of Blythism" instead, shall we?

By the way, the American Eugenics Society was started in 1922 and dissolved not until 1994. Richard Lewontin, quoted below, belonged to it. Theodosius Dobzhansky was its chairman of the board in 1956. J.B.S. Haldane was a member. You think maybe their Darwinism had something to do with them being members?

In 1845 the Southern Baptists break of from the rest of the US Baptists over the slavery question - the southerners claiming that slavery was in accordance with the Bible. This claim was first retracted in 1995.

Anyway, we need to know something about the methods suggested by the Americam Eugenics Society to figure out, whether the members could in anyway be accused of Nazism.

After this William Dembski treats us to a list of quotes:

“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…. 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.” [Just so there is no doubt, the author in particular is claiming that whites will exterminate blacks.] -Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871, ch. 6.

Please, Bill, don't ever do this again. Let's have a peek at the beginning of this paragraph:

“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; as between the orang and its nearest allies--between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae --between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. 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 ...”

As is clear here, Darwin is not looking with joy at this expected extermination, but is rather lamenting it. This tells us more about European colonialism than about 'Darwinism'.

Let's return to Dembski's list:

Evolution teaches that “we are animals” so that “sex across the species barrier ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.” [Just so there is no doubt, “sex across the species barrier” is a euphemism for bestiality.] -Peter Singer, “Heavy Petting,” 2001

Ehh, are we at all supposed to take this seriously? According to (Darwin's theory of) evolution "we are animals"; but how does that relate to "sex across the species barrier"? This is a rare occurence in nature (being mostly a corollary of the definition of 'species'), but does occur in zoos and among domesticated animals (the mule being a hybrid between a male horse and a female donkey). Since hybrids are often sterile, they are evolutionary of no relevance - two mules don't beget a mule or anything else.

And I completely fail to see the connection to anything that might reasonably called 'Darwinism'. Did Charles Darwin endorse zoophilia ("bestiality")? I very much doubt that he being a Victorian gentleman would have even been able to think the thought. Did the Nazis endorse zoophilia? They were stern endorses of traditional family values and killed off homosexuals, so it's rather doubtful.

Rape is “a natural, biological phenomenon that is a product of the human evolutionary heritage,” akin to “the leopard’s spots and the giraffe’s elongated neck.” -Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer, “Why Men Rape,” 2000

As far as I know, this book has been heavily critisized by evolutionary biologists. And again, did Charles Darwin or the Nazis endorse rape?

“As evolutionists, we see that no [ethical] justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will…. In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding.” -E. O. Wilson and Michael Ruse, “The Evolution of Ethics,” 1991

Yes, this is sociobiology, and indeed Charles Darwin entertained such ideas as well. However, notice that the point is that this biologically founded ethics is supposed to make us cooperate, not kill each other, so it could have been worse, couldn't it? What do you think makes the most impact on the average US citizen: one dead US soldier or 100 dead Iraqi civilians? No, I am not saying that this is entirely biologically based; but in actual practise nationality beats the species, and kin beats the nation. It requires special circumstances to have it differently.

I am a Christian, though not a US citizen, and I therefore find the often quite nationalistic Christianity in the USA to be rather un-Christian. Is there such a thing as a Christian nation? And even if there is, why is that nation more chosen than any other Christian nation?

Nazism was a German nationalism - "Nazism" being an abbreviation of "National Socialism". The party - the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany - was started in protest aginst the two international phenomena that were seen to threaten the national state: American capitalism and Soviet communism. This is of far more importance than any link to Charles Darwin.

According to Darwin, religious belief arises from ignorance of natural causes: “The tendency in savages to imagine that natural objects and agencies are animated by spiritual or living essences, is perhaps illustrated by a little fact which I once noticed: my dog, a full-grown and very sensible animal, was lying on the lawn during a hot and still day; but at a little distance a slight breeze occasionally moved an open parasol, which would have been wholly disregarded by the dog, had any one stood near it. As it was, every time that the parasol slightly moved, the dog growled fiercely and barked. He must, I think, have reasoned to himself in a rapid and unconscious manner, that movement without any apparent cause indicated the presence of some strange living agent, and that no stranger had a right to be on his territory. The belief in spiritual agencies would easily pass into the belief in the existence of one or more gods.” -Darwin, Descent of Man, 1871, ch. 3

Oh, Bill, do you really want to send us back to the time, where thunder was considered to be the voice of God, and lightning his arrows?

According to Richard Dawkins “the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design.” Moreover, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” -Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1986"

That's Richard Dawkins, isn't it? His name does have a few letters in common with "Charles Darwin", but not sufficient many to raise the specified complexity alert, imho. Anyway, what is the evidence that Hitler was "an intellectually fulfilled atheist"?

“I personally feel that the teaching of modern science is corrosive of religious belief, and I’m all for that! One of the things that in fact has driven me in my life, is the feeling that this is one of the great social functions of science - to free people from superstition.” Lest there be any doubt about what Steven Weinberg here means by “superstition,” he adds, “this progression of priests and ministers and rabbis and ulamas and imams and bonzes and bodhisattvas will come to an end, that we’ll see no more of them. I hope that this is something to which science can contribute and if it is, then I think it may be the most important contribution that we can make.” [Weinberg, a Nobel laureate physicist, is well-known as an ardent evolutionist. He has debated Phillip Johnson on a number of occasions on this topic. Note that the demise of religion is for Weinberg the most important contribution of science.] -Steven Weinberg, “Free People from Superstition,” 2000

That's Steven Weinberg, isn't it? Anyway, what's the problem? Weinberg is simply speaking against the professional religious caste that is more into politics than into anything else. As you may know, Satan offered Jesus the power over all countries on earth; but Jesus rejected. Might those who claim to consider him their Lord likewise abstain from political power.

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door…. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, than miracles may happen.” -Richard Lewontin, New York Review of Books, 1997

This quote should properly be read in its context. However, the most important appears to be the last sentence. If science be at all possible, then miracles are excluded. Maybe science isn't possible; but that's sort of a self-defeating thing to teach in a science class, isn't it?


FreezBee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FreezBee said...

Sorry about the formatting; maybe some day I'll get used to how things work here around :-)

Western geologist said...

This was a very intersting post. I appreciated being able to get a view on the ID movement from your Danish perspective.

Has there been much of a reaction to "Darwin's Deadly Legacy" in the Danish Christian community?

FreezBee said...

Hi western geologist,

Thanks for your comment. It's an interesting comment, because you indicate that there might be quite a difference between a Danish (possibly European in general) and a US perspective.

A couple of years ago, the leader of "Inner Mission", a conservative Lutheran group, suggested that creation according to Genesis be taught in schools. It was noticed that he had made the suggestion, but that was all.

84.6% of the population are Lutherans, and there are some 1-2% that are members of other Christian Denominations; but around the same percentage of the population accept Darwin's theory of evolution. So things are very different.

As for reactions to DDL among Danish Christians, it's a good question. I have found no comments on the Christian sites I frequent myself - it's ussually only items released on Danish that are discussed.

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A Christian in Satanist clothes