March 10, 2005

"...NATURAL SELECTION HAVING DONE AND DOING MORE FOR THE PROGRESS OF CIVILIZATION..." (via Daniel Merriman):

Hitler’s Helpmate: a review of From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany by Richard Weikart (Benjamin D. Wiker, March 2005, Crisis)

The focus of Weikart’s book is revealed in the subtitle: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany. Weikart provides a rich, firsthand account (i.e., with primary sources) of the thoroughness with which Darwinism permeated Germany long before the rise of Nazism, and even more damaging, that evolutionary ethics (including eugenics and racism) was not a misapplication of Darwin, but a straightforward, logical application.

Weikart’s analysis is patient and careful. He is not making a simplistic, “if Darwin, then Hitler” type of argument. Rather, he demonstrates that it is impossible to disentangle Darwinism from Nazism, either intellectually or historically. “No matter how crooked the road was from Darwin to Hitler, clearly Darwinism and eugenics smoothed the path for Nazi ideology, especially for the Nazi stress on expansion, war, racial struggle, and racial extermination.”

It is not that “Darwinism of logical necessity leads…to Nazism,” so that (absurdly) every Darwinist is logically a Nazi. Rather, Darwinism provides a new understanding of human nature, and hence a new view of “human life and death,” that made Darwinism “a necessary, but not a sufficient, cause” of Nazism.

What does it mean to say that Darwinism was a necessary cause of Nazism? As it turns out, the “standard story” that distances Darwin’s theory of evolution from any moral implications is not even supported by Darwin himself. Darwin’s principle of natural selection—the survival of the fittest—was meant by Darwin to apply to all of life, including human life. Therefore, Darwin produced an evolutionary ethic. [...]

[A]gainst the standard story, in which ignorant Nazi eugenicists and racists had illicitly borrowed from Darwin, Weikart clearly shows that “Nazi barbarism was motivated by an ethic that prided itself on being scientific.” Given the acceptance of evolution as an established fact in biology, the German intelligentsia drew the logical consequences: a new ethic, with a new definition of good and evil.

The evolutionary process became the arbiter of all morality. Whatever promoted the evolutionary progress of humanity was deemed good, and whatever hindered biological improvement was considered morally bad. Multitudes must perish in this Malthusian struggle anyway, they reasoned, so why not improve humanity by speeding up the destruction of the disabled and the inferior races? According to this logic, the extermination of individuals and races deemed inferior and “unfit” was not only morally justified, but indeed, morally praiseworthy. Thus Hitler—and many other Germans—perpetuated one of the most evil programs the world has every witnessed under the delusion that Darwinism could help us discover how to make the world better.


The distinction here is important: Darwinists do not necessarily believe in applying Darwinism's ethic, but acceptance of Darwinism was the necessary precondition to Nazism and necessarily remains a justification for eugenics and genocide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 10, 2005 9:15 AM
Comments

While linking Darwinism and eugenics is true, I do not think Darwinism "necessarily" justifies genocide. Genocide has occured in many other cases absent Darwinist concerns. I do not know of any link between Darwinism and the Armenian or Rwandan genocides. Nor do we see many Darwinists justifying or promoting genocide outside Nazism. That position remains an outlier.

Nor was Darwinism a "necessary precondition" to Nazism. All it provided was a scientific patina that made Nazi racial theory "respectable," although it was respectable only where the Nazi's and their allies had political power to enforce that view. It was rejected elsewhere even in that other homeland of eugenics, the USA.

Hitler and other Nazis did not need Darwinism to hate the Jews. That is an ancient practice in Europe related to religious reasons (For the Romans, refusal to worship the Emperor, for Christians because they were Christ-killers). Darwinism only "updated" the hatred, but it seems to have mainly preached to the converted until the Nazis seized power and used the state to indoctrinate people. Just like Darwinian concerns "updated" the justification for keeping blacks as second class citizens in the USA, but did not originate it.

Darwinism is neither the origin for Nazi philosophy, nor the reason for its appeal. Hate will use any tool available to justify the killing of the "other."

Posted by: Chris Durnell at March 10, 2005 10:51 AM

Chris-

Hate combined with the pretense of science and the power of the state is a 20th century phenomena. There has never been anything like it in terms of systemized cruelty. Believe it or not.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 10, 2005 12:38 PM

It's not hate. Christians have happily hated Jews for two thousand years without trying to annihilate them. It was only Darwinism's mix of group fitness and selection that created an ethos where extermination is a sensible policy.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 12:46 PM

Chris. Francis Galton who invented Eugenics was Charles Dawrin's cousin. Eugenics was only one of the pillars on which Nazism rested, but it was an important pillar. Syndicalism, socialism, Neitzche are others.

Could you run an evil empire without it. Sure, Stalin succeded despite his complete renunciation of modern biology. But, Hitler was able to use the acceptance of Eugenics as a platform to for his crazed racial theories.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 10, 2005 12:49 PM

In other news, Hitler used the work of Edison, Newton, Goddard and many other so-called "scientists" in his evil schemes. Clearly, science is at root fascistic and its lessons must be ignored.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 10, 2005 12:54 PM

The linking of Darwinism to eugenics is not true. Darwinism actually contradicts the concept of eugenics. Darwinism leads to the conclusion that humankind and their cultures will evolve NATURALLY without any intervention required by any entity (god, man, government, etc.), horrific or otherwise.

Calling Darwinism evil for evil acts justified by deliberately misinterpreting its meaning is equivalent to calling God and religion evil for evil acts performed over the centuries in His name. If Darwinism is evil, so is God and religion.

Posted by: Bret at March 10, 2005 1:09 PM

Chris-

What makes the 20th century unique was the combination of the hate with 'science' and technology and the surrender to the state as the ultimate authority. An unprecedented historical circumstance. Hatred plus statism and the hubris of a religious devotion to rationalism lead to the holocaust, the gulag and the killing fields.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 10, 2005 1:12 PM

Bret, that's downright absurd. That's like saying the science of meteorology means that we don't need to worry about listening to the weatherman and bringing an umbrella when he says it's going to rain. After all, it will be sunny eventually on its own--meteorology tells us so.

Posted by: Timothy at March 10, 2005 1:15 PM

Don't forget the conflation of "natural" and "scientific" with "good."

Posted by: David Cohen at March 10, 2005 1:16 PM

Bret:

You've justified eugenics even there.

It is precisely because we may or may not be selected by Nature that it makes evolutionary sense to force the issue. Get rid of rivals and you're selected over them automatically.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 1:19 PM

Papaya:

Those are sciences, Darwinism is philosophy.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 1:20 PM

oj wrote: "You've justified eugenics even there."

I think not. Darwinism doesn't justify anything. It doesn't even explain anything specific. It is simply a theory about how certain processes might work. Darwinism enables us to make hypotheses regarding why certain things might be the way they are, but nothing more.

For example, we might hypothesize that frogs are often green because it helps them blend into their environment and avoid predators. We might hypothesize that humans are predisposed to believe in God because that conveys some sort of organizational advantage. We might hypothesize that humans have a natural proclivity to slaughter rivals. We might make these and other hypotheses regarding traits that might convey a survival advantage, but we could never know for sure. Nor did Darwin ever claim that you could look at every trait and explain with confidence why each of them exists.

We might hypothesize about how a successful warrior culture might create a survival advantage, but it doesn't therefore justify war. The step from hypothesis of why traits might exist to the moral justification of those traits is simply nonexistent in Darwinism. Again, just because people have twisted Darwinism and used that twisted version to promote evil, doesn't mean that Darwinism is evil.

oj wrote: "Get rid of rivals and you're selected over them automatically."

That approach didn't work out too well for the Nazis did it? Nor the Germans overall, given their current demographics funk. Both good examples of how life is too complex to predict (the law of unintended consequences), even if the underlying processes are understood.

By the way, for the purpose of these discussions, I'd appreciate it if you would stick to the more standard definitions of Darwinism (for example, here or here), which are probably more or less what the authors of what you posted had in mind, as opposed to your own, personal defintion of Darwinism, or if you want to stick to your own, please provide a detailed definition.

Posted by: Bret at March 10, 2005 2:31 PM

Brit-

By not justifying anything it can be used to justify everything. It is based on materialism, nature 'red in tooth and claw'. No purpose higher than survival. Human beings,in general, need more in order to be fully human.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 10, 2005 3:09 PM

Bret:

Fine, here's the definition you want:

"A Darwinian process requires the following schema:

1. Self-replication/Inheritance: Some number of entities must be capable of producing copies of themselves, and those copies must also be capable of reproduction. The new copies must inherit the traits of old ones. Sometimes the different variations are recombined in sexual reproduction.

2. Variation: There must be a range of different traits in the population of entities, and there must be a mechanism for introducing new variations into the population.

3. Selection: Inherited traits must somehow affect the ability of the entities to reproduce themselves, either by survival, or natural selection, or by ability to produce offspring by finding partners, or sexual selection.
"

Select those with traits least like yours and eliminate them and they obviously won't be the survivors. Thus does Darwinism underpin genocide.

There are 80 million Germans. How many Jews are there?

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 4:06 PM

hitler wanted to exterminate all non-germans, a little known fact. the jews were only the first on his list.

Posted by: cjm at March 10, 2005 4:27 PM

cjm:

You'd have to in order to guarantee your group's selection.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 4:32 PM

Orrin will do anything to absolve Christianity of its crimes against Jews.

Hitler was such a poor darwinian that he was, for a time, satisfied to simply export all Jews and was proud to declare Germany Jew-free.

At the time, he had killed fewer Jews altogether than the czar did in any average month. Yet Orrin admires the czars.

This was the same, exact policy followed -- with greater success than Hitler had -- by Their Most Catholic Majesties Ferdinand and Isabella and by that noble Crusader knight, Richard the Lionheart.

I've never heard Orrin opine on Richard, but he's an extravagant admirer of F&I.

People, like Tom, who claim thee 20th century crimes against the Jews had some novel aspects don't know the past.

Orrin just makes things up.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at March 10, 2005 5:09 PM

oj wrote: "Thus does Darwinism underpin genocide."

Ah! You've used the word "underpin" instead of "justify". Terrific - some progress. The farther you get from "justify" and the closer to "offers possible explanation" the more we'll agree. I'll come back to this shortly, but first let me address the following...

Tom C. (from Stamford.Ct.) wrote: "By not justifying anything it can be used to justify everything."

This statement is one small modifier from being of the form P and NOT P which is inherently false. Nonetheless, let's explore it for a moment, since it seems to me that much of the anti-Darwinism is more or less based on this statement.

I have a preference for the color blue. I think we would agree that my preference for blue doesn't justify (or underpin) genocide or indeed much of anything. It's completely neutral to all morality. However, since it doesn't support arguments against genocide, it's also amoral.

So, by the statement above, since my preference for blue justifies nothing it could be used to justify everything - including genocide. And that would be true! I could claim that genotype Z generally has a preference for red, which is an inferior color, and using my remarkable charisma (not!), I could convince a large group of blues to go slaughter the Zs for the utopian vision of an aesthetically beautiful world.

If I succeeded in perpetrating this horror, I think we would agree that it was because I was evil, not because blue is evil, or even because blue was used to justify the evil.

I assume that we are in agreement so far? So I suspect what you really mean is that Darwinian thought somehow got in the way of the Germans' ability to distinguish between good and evil, or morality and immorality. But still, I think the blue example is apropos. If I felt that the existence of blue disproved the existence of God and the morality that flows from that belief, or that love of blue was the highest possible ideal and justified anything, it would be true that blue had impaired my ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Still, I don't think we'd say that blue either justified or underpinned the extermination of the Zs. I think we'd say that an evil person twisted a neutral construct as a means to perpetrate an atrocity.

And so it is with Darwinism.

Posted by: Bret at March 10, 2005 5:15 PM

Harry:

Ferdinand and Isabella hardly killed any Jews, though they did banish them. It's a significantly different policy. And, yes, enforcing ideological norms in a society has a different quality than murdering people for their "race." It's easy enough to conform, impossible to change your race.

Had Hitler stuck to just deporting Jews no one would regard him as particularly odious in the scope of history. Nor will anyone much mind when Israel either disenfranchises or drives out Muslims in a few decades in order to maintain the jewish character of the state.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 5:20 PM

Bret:

Good and evil? There is no good or evil, just survival and extinction. Given the Darwinian assumption of a drive to survive no group would ever choose extinction. So if you can enhance your chance of being selected by getting rid of other groups you're perfectly justified in doing so.

It is to the Darwinists' credit that they've made much of the theory incoherent in the wake of the Holocaust in order to escape guilt for it, but Darwin was more honest about the implications.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 5:28 PM

"By not justifying anything it can be used to justify everything. It is based on materialism, nature 'red in tooth and claw'. No purpose higher than survival. Human beings,in general, need more in order to be fully human."

That is nonsense. By not justifying anything, it can be used to justify nothing. It says nothing about human purpose, and no human, knowing that species evolve according to the Darwinian model, is prevented from being fully human or is justified in blaming his own evil desires or actions on that knowledge.

You argue that humans are more than material beings, but by saying that they can't help but react as automatons to a theory, you are denying the very humanness that you accuse the theory of denying. It's just another evasion of responsibility: "the theory made them do it", instead of "the devil made them do it".

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 10, 2005 5:54 PM

oj, in the wikipedia definition of Darwinism which you were so kind as to reproduce above, there is nothing that states or implies that "[t]here is no good or evil". Darwinism has nothing to say about good and evil, one way or the other - it's neutral on the subject.

The concepts of survival and extinction are not mutually exclusive to the concepts of good and evil. Lot's of species have gone extinct and lot's have survived during the time of Christianity. Survival and extinction has coexisted with Christianty, morality, and good and evil. Or do you believe that not a single species, not even a slime mold, has ever gone extinct? Do you believe that God won't allow extinction?

Darwinism and Christian belief are not mutually exclusive. Look at the definition above. There's nothing anti-religious in it. There's nothing immoral. The Nazis twisted that definition for evil ends. Why are you twisting it?

Posted by: Bret at March 10, 2005 6:03 PM

Bret:

The point of Darwinism is to displace God. Perhaps this'll be easier for you as a thought experiment:

Imagine an Island with sneeches and star-belly sneeches. Only one can endure and Nature will select between the two. You are a star-belly sneech. Do you take your chances or do the selecting for Nature?

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 6:14 PM

Robert:

that's senseless: "By not justifying anything, it can be used to justify nothing."

If nothing specific is justified then everything is justified or at least nothing unjustified. You believe in amorality.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 6:21 PM

oj wrote: "The point of Darwinism is to displace God."

That's why I asked you to select a definition for Darwinism earlier. I've come to understand that displacing God is part of your definition of Darwinism. Look at the wikipedia definition again. Nothing about displacing god. Nothing about displacing creation myths.

I'd like to propose a new term: anti-ojwinism - a substantially distorted version of the definition of Darwinism which includes the justification of evil actions and the exclusion of God and the undermining of religious based morality.

I'd agree that anti-ojwinism is a bad thing. But Darwinism, by the objective definitions that most people know it by, is neither bad nor good nor does it preclude morality in any way.

Posted by: Bret at March 10, 2005 6:50 PM

Bret:

It's admirable that you choose to deny the implications of Darwinism, though dishonest.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 7:01 PM

Funny, your last statement nearly exactly reflects what I was thinking described YOUR position - except scratch the "admirable" part. Alas, it seems we are at an impasse - for now. I'll try again on one of you future posts regarding Darwinism.

Posted by: Bret at March 10, 2005 8:21 PM

Bret:

There's a fine short book that would clear up your misperceptions about Darwin and his sources and supporters:

http://www.brothersjudd.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/reviews.detail/book_id/1390/Evolution.htm

Darwinism is just a response to an unsatisfactory God.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 8:28 PM

Orrin: Check your referrer logs. I think David Duke (or Noam Chomsky, or maybe that anti-semitic Malaysian guy whose name escapes my spell-checker, it's hard to say which) is logging on as Harry Eagar. Either that or Harry has gone full Holocaust-denial moonbat--but I'd rather assume the best about people.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 10, 2005 9:07 PM

If Darwin had never been born, Nazis would still have existed, and still slaughtered Jews.

Ferdinand and Isabella didn't, only because their pre-Industrial reach exceeded their technological grasp.

Certainly nothing in Catholicism did so.

Pogroms were ancient before Darwin was a toddler.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 10, 2005 9:10 PM

Technology didn't stop them from handling the Albigensian problem. They'd have done the Jews had they felt the need. Didn't.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2005 10:24 PM

Nazis needed their peculiar interpretation of Darwin as well as Marx or they wouldn't have been National Socialists. They would have been your garden variety homicidal maniacs. Sociopaths without the imprimatur of 'science' or the belief that they were merely actors on nature's stage doing their bit in the name of national superiority and strenghtening the 'race'. Of course, in retrospect...

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 11, 2005 7:56 AM

oj wrote: "There's a fine short book that would clear up your misperceptions about Darwin and his sources and supporters"

You're changing the subject. I'm not talking about Darwin himself, nor Darwin's religious views, nor the philosophical views of his sources and supporters, nor the history of Darwin's day, nor the distorted relationship between science, government, sociology and policy. I'm talking very narrowly and specifically about Darwinism as defined, for example, by the wikipedia definition that you excerpted above. Darwinism is morality neutral (amoral) and does not conflict with Christianity in any way.

You're no doubt getting tired of my mediocre analogies, but too bad, here's another one. If an immoral person invented the hammer, that doesn't make hammers immoral. Even if that person invented the hammer for the explicit antireligious purpose of nailing Jesus to the cross, the hammer itself would still be morality neutral. Darwin may have been immoral, and he may have invented Darwinism for immoral purposes, but Darwinism itself is amoral and can peacefully coexist with Christianity.

Posted by: Bret at March 11, 2005 11:48 AM

Bret:

You're inchoing closer. An amoral Creation myth has obvious moral import, no?

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2005 12:00 PM

oj wrote: "An amoral Creation myth has obvious moral import, no?"

No. Darwinism is not a creation myth. It is a theory regarding a type of process. As such, it is not a creation myth and can coexist without conflict with the creation myth(s) of your choice. Look at the wikipedia definition again. Just because self-replication, variation, and selection are theorized as possibly enabling speciation, there's nothing in the theory that proves that there are no other forces that can cause speciation. Thus there is plenty of room for religious creation myths.

Note again, that I'm not claiming that nobody has ever imagined a creation myth that utilizes Darwinism as part of its story. Or that people have never utilized Darwinism (always badly distorted) as a means to immoral ends. But just because people sometimes use hammers to kill others, that doesn't make hammers immoral and we can't say society is more immoral because of hammers.

Posted by: Bret at March 11, 2005 12:38 PM

Tom C wrote: "Nazis needed their peculiar interpretation of Darwin"

I agree with this because of the word "peculiar".

Posted by: Bret at March 11, 2005 12:49 PM

Yes, but Tom is wrong.

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2005 1:12 PM

Bret:

So God used Darwinism to Create us and the Commandments still obtain?

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2005 1:14 PM

oj wrote: "So God used Darwinism to Create us and the Commandments still obtain?"

Beats me. My feeble brain isn't up to the task of understanding God's methods, but I don't think that it's possible to rule out the possibility that God might have used Darwinism as one of His tools for the creation of life and humans.

The Commandments would still obtain regardless of how our creation occurred, since, by definition, God would given us the Commandments after we were created. However, I'd like to restate that in religion neutral terms: If God gave us the Commandments, He would have done so after Creation, and the Commandments would therefore obtain regardless of how Creation occurred.

Posted by: Bret at March 11, 2005 2:01 PM

Bret:

Go read the book. That isn't Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2005 2:05 PM

oj,

You want me to go buy and read what you call "A sad little book" to which you give only a B+ grade? Gee, thanks - but no thanks. Surely the definition of Darwinism contained in that book must be more readily available for the purposes of these discussions somewhere on the web? Surely you must understand my skepticism that said definition is not common usage given that it is apparently different than the definitions readily available in online (and hardcopy) dictionaries and encyclopedias, one of which you excerpted above? Yes, I agree that you can make up or find in some publication somewhere a definition of Darwinism which inherently immoral. That doesn't mean that it is (or isn't) an authoritative defintion.

But for a moment let's stick to the wikipedia definition. Would you agree that Darwinism by that definition is morality neutral?

Posted by: Bret at March 11, 2005 3:16 PM

Bret:

Moral neutrality is immoral, but Darwinism is even worse than that, suggesting that the point of life to the extent it can be said to have one at all is merely to see your genes survive.

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2005 3:45 PM

oj wrote: "Moral neutrality is immoral".

This statement has the form "NOT A is A" which is inherently false but since it has no effect on the rest of the sentence, I'll ignore it.

oj wrote: "Darwinism [is] ... suggesting that the point of life to the extent it can be said to have one at all is merely to see your genes survive."

I don't think so. Again, sticking to the Wikipedia definition for now, I don't see Darwinism weighing in on the what the point of life is at all. It merely hypothesizes why certain traits may exist because of certain processes. I agree that there may be no "point" to Darwinian processes, but that doesn't preclude there being a point to life, as defined by something else such as God.

Posted by: Bret at March 11, 2005 6:44 PM

Bret:

If someone clubs a child to death and you declare yourself morally neutral on the act that is immoral.

If there's a point other than survival to the process then it isn't Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2005 6:51 PM

oj wrote: "If someone clubs a child to death and you declare yourself morally neutral on the act that is immoral."

Declaring yourself morally neutral when you are acting immorally doesn't make you morally neutral. By definition, moral, immoral, and morally neutral (amoral) are three non-intersecting sets.

oj wrote: "If there's a point other than survival to the process then it isn't Darwinism."

Hey, we agree on something! I agree that, even if true when applied to biological systems, there is no "point" to the Darwinian process. If there is a "point" to life, it would come from somewhere else, for example God. My point is that Darwinism (by the Wikipedia defintion) doesn't interfere with the "point" to life being defined elsewhere, for example, God.

Posted by: Bret at March 11, 2005 7:55 PM

Bret:

That's quite wrong. To declare that you have no moral standards is to be immoral.

No, if life has a point then Darwinism fails--it has to be directionless by definition.

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2005 9:01 PM

If nothing specific is justified then everything is justified or at least nothing unjustified. You believe in amorality.

Darwinism is not a moral philosophy. It justifies nothing just as plate tectonics and motorcycle maintenance justify nothing. You don't look to science to justify morality. Science is "is", not "ought".

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 13, 2005 12:14 PM

All it is is a moral philosophy.

Posted by: oj at March 13, 2005 12:32 PM

Robert and his buddies just cant't deal with the fact that Darwinism, as a quasi-scientific theory, provides a method to reduce all life to a naturalistic machanism which does away with the need for moral absolutes. It is as much an exercise in metaphysical specualtion as any religion although it reduces all moral tradition to religious superstition and dark ages ignorance.
It is problematic as a religion and should not be a principle around which human society should be organized. As such, it lacks fitness aside from the fact that as providing any proof regarding the origin of species it fails miserably.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 14, 2005 12:15 PM

Tom:

You may not have noticed that those of us who find Evolution to be a coherent explanation don't have any vested interest in being right.

You are right, though, in that there are no moral absolutes, except the absolute that whatever works is, ultimately, moral.

Which means, like it or not, that evolution is the principle around which society is organized.

Because if our society hadn't been the most materially fit over the last century, we would be having this discussion in a different language.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 14, 2005 4:01 PM

Jeff:

Obviously society is evolutionary--that's where Darwin got the idea. Of course it is entirely dependent on intelligent design and decision making to function.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2005 4:17 PM

Of course doctrinaire Darwinists have a vested interest. Dawkins and the more militant types are atheists and Darwinism provides the rationale. If there is no God then there is no alternative to the state as the source of moral authority. There is no covenenant other than the social contract and ultimate authority rests with the state as representaive of the general will. Democracy, however, has no other justification beyond utility absent the belief that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with rights beyond the power of man to alter. Obviously the agenda of radical atheism needs the justification Darwinism for its program of benevolent coercion by a self-described elite who have the satisfaction of imagining themselve above the unenlightened and superstitious masses.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 15, 2005 8:50 AM

Tom:

Obviously the agenda of radical atheism ...

Huh? I must have missed it in Google, what did you search on to find the All World Radical Atheism Clericy, never mind tap into their agenda?

As for your assertion that without God, there is no alternative to the state, keep in mind that man is a social animal, and has evolved as such.

Human nature is the source of moral authority, and any state failing to take that on board won't last long.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 15, 2005 1:14 PM

Jeff:

See, in order to rid yourself of moral obligation you have to insist on evolution.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 2:15 PM

Jeff-

Where lies the ultimate authority without theism?
Human nature encompasses both good and evil. Darwinism applied holds survival as the standard. If the state only rests on human nature why should it not choose evil? As for the rest of your comment, I have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 15, 2005 2:20 PM

Jeff-

Are you saying there are no radical atheists or that atheism has never served as the basis for top down social organization? Do you believe that the "science" of Darwinism regarding the origin of life does not supply the justification for the rejection of traditional morality regarding the value of innocent life or the proper role of the state vis a vis the individual?

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 15, 2005 2:44 PM

Tom:

The ultimate authority is respiration, or in the case of a society, continued existence.

There is nothing stopping the state--or any unopposed authority--from choosing evil. Governments, and religions, have done it since time immemorial.

But governments face competition. If choosing evil was a superior form of organizing societies, we wouldn't be talking about Nazism or Communism in the past tense.

So, using survival as the standard, it is quite clear that Darwinism has absolutely nothing whatsoever to say about the rejection of traditional morality, the value of innocent life, or the proper role of the state.

Except for one thing: where those decisions have differential material effects, those differences will make themselves evident in which societies are more successful than others.

Which is where the rest of my comment came in. Human nature, regardless of whether one is a Creationist or Evolutionist, is invariant over human time frames. Any form of social organization that fails to take that on board will fail.

Communism, in many respects, and European social democracy, are far closer to many of Jesus' teachings than relatively laissez faire, devil-take-the-hindmost, US.

Unfortunately, the latter works, and the former two don't.

Morality does not exist as an entity completely divorced from human nature, so suggesting Evolutionary Theory in any way justifies rejection of morality is simply missing the point.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 15, 2005 9:22 PM

Jeff:

Yes, the reason the fight between Christian America and Communist Russia was so bitter was because it was basically religious. Orthodoxy won.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 11:59 PM

Jeff-

How do we avoid the pseudo-science based 'isms' of the future? Without limits provided by American-style, theistic based constitutional government there are no protections. I suppose we should be content to let the social experimentation continue under the guidance of whoever has the power. It is naive to assume that the problems of the 20th century's project of reason based social engineering is behind us forever regardless of the secularists retrospective wisdom regarding the science based tyrannies of recent history.

BTW- The teachings of Christ have nothing to do with creating a heavenly pardise in this world.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 16, 2005 12:32 PM

Tom:

I think we are far less prone to pseudo-science based 'isms' of the future for two reasons.

First, there was well and truly a period of scientific determinism that led to some serious hubris and horrific mistakes. The Uncertainty Principle has completely put paid to such nonsense.

Second, any such -ism, the current obvious choice being Islamism, has to be more materially successful than liberal democracy. That could happen--only a fool would claim otherwise. But in order to do so, that -ism would have to be more consistent with human nature than liberal democracy.

Anything featuring mass slaughter, or totalitarian imposition, doesn't seem likely to fit that bill.

I have said it before, but I will again. A significant part of human nature is religiosity; any societal organizing scheme ignoring that is doomed to failure.

As is any scheme that hands the power of oppression to any religious sect--including Christianity.

I am very fond of irony. One example would be strictly secular government, abhorred by religionists, providing astonishingly fertile ground for religion.

I find that a very good thing.

BTW--the teachings of Christ were often very explicit on what constitutes moral existence in this life.

Unfortunately, if we actually followed them, it would be a one-way trip to the Pleistocene.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 16, 2005 5:38 PM

Jeff:

Except that Europe is following rationalism/materialism/seculartism/Darwinism right into the abyss, as are the Blue communities here that cling to such isms. People will always wish to believe that they can perfect the world and understand it via Reason and their own minds.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 5:52 PM

Jeff-

Today is the 17th anniversary of Sadaam's mass gassing of the Kurds who stood in opposition to the Baathist variety of socialism. Mass slaughter based on nothing other than ethnicity. Human nature is constant, unchanging and in need of civilization and it's organic institutions which have no apparant rational basis other than that they exist. Contemporary sophisticates, in the guise of living constitutionalist, militant secularists and their myriad organizations, leftsist Democrats and radical egalitarians wish to destroy those institutions and replace them with rationally based designs. You're blind if you can't recognize the danger. The theistic basis for the law and the restrictions it necessarily places on the power of the state need to be understood and encouraged rather than criticized and weakened. Intelleigent design or creationsism has never been mentioned by me as an alternative to Darwinism only the dangers inherent to Darwinism when accepted as proven fact by those who wish to remove the tredition of acknowleding God as the source of human dignity and the moral foundation of the law.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 16, 2005 6:49 PM

Tom:

As a society, how well was Iraq working?

As a society, how well is Iran, despite its avowed reliance on Allah's every word as revealed by Mohammed, working?

As a religious belief, how far is Islamism removed from pure, exterminationist, evil?

I completely understand human nature is fully capable of unspeakable evil. I assert, however, that when human nature exists in a society exhibiting considerable countervailing power, that such a society will both be more successful than others, and far less prone to such evil.

Darwinism has nothing to say about such things. The worst it can be accused of is circularity: that which is successful will succeed.

The best that can be said for it is that should one understand recursion sufficiently, and read history closely enough, one can predict ahead of time that, say, North Korea is doomed to failure.

Humans are the sole source of human dignity.

Human nature is the moral foundation of law.

Certain arrangements will take those two considerations into account better than others. Those that do will succeed to a greater extent than those that don't.

Regardless of your particular conception of God.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 16, 2005 8:18 PM

Jeff:

In Darwinian terms the nations least interested in Darwinism are doing spectacularly compared to the Darwinist ones.

Indeed, were one a Darwinist he'd have to argue that Darwinism has been selected against.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 8:21 PM

Jeff-

There is the historical record of Islam and the record of the Judeo/Christian tradition of the west prior to the mass delusion imposed by rational statism. Those records are helpful if one wishes to understand how they might differ, and they do differ. Shallow equivocations are a waste of time.

The people of the most successful nation in the history of the planet have had a specific conception regarding the nature of God. You could look it up. Start with De Tocqueville.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at March 16, 2005 9:07 PM

Better yet, with the Mayflower Compact:

http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/mayflow.html

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 9:14 PM
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