Friends of Darwin


He loves and she loves

Just Causes

  • Support_denmark

  • Marykay_1

Password required

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Temptation in the garden | Main | Cool cats »

August 06, 2005


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Well said. No one knows all the answers, and there is room for many different approaches as long as dogma and hostility toward those with other explanations do not become the order of the day. If what I can live with is right for me. so be it, but I have no right to force others to accept my beliefs.

See my blog for a post titled, "Darwinism, anyone?"

Well said!

(Paraphrasing a truism about capitalism vs. socialism)
"The problem with Creationism is Creationism. The problem with Darwinism is Darwinists."

The damn Creationists are irritating B.S.ers, determined to remain invincibly ignorant. Their crock doesn't resemble science in the least. But their opponents are almost, ALMOST that is, equally irritating. Arrogant Scientism.

Listening to them, I feel as if my Chemistry professor started his class with a Come-to-Jesus sermon & ended with an Altar Call -- for Atheism.
I'm Catholic.

Real Science is humble, teachable, and eager to be corrected. So is real faith. Both are so rare.

Following your link to see what you define as "scientifically illiterate", you write:

Did you know that 30% of our fellow citizens told Gallup pollsters that Darwin's theory of evolution is "just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence"? After we finished gagging...

Is shutting down debate over your favored theory by calling those who don't agree with you - "scientifically illiterate" really a promising way to start a discussion???

From Darwin to Hitler:Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, by Richard Weikart takes some people's understanding of Darwin's racism very seriously. It is a scholarly, balanced book, does not necessarily attribute racism directly to Darwin, and essential reading for anyone interested in following Darwin's ideas to their possible conclusions. And yes, I have read Origin of Species.

1) If you start with Darwinism -- roughly that plants and animals strive to increase their progeny in competition with others and only the fittest are able to do so -- and add one more premise -- goodness is acting in accordance with nature -- then what you say is unscientific nonsense does in fact follow.

2) As a historical matter Darwinism did in fact lead to the belief that it was right to reduce inferior people to subjection, restrict their opportunities to breed and even kill them. This belief was particularly widespread in German intellectual circles before World War I. (it had a second career at a much lower intellectual level in the thirties and forties.) The people who adopted it were not stupid or ill informed about science. William Jennings Bryan was well aware of this, and this was one of the reasons he strenuously opposed Darwinism.

3) Darwin himself once wrote that, just as human beings were exterminating their cousins the apes, he expected that the more advanced groups of human beings would go on to exterminate the rest. He did not say this was a good thing, only that he expected it would happen.

It is not quite as easy as you think to separate Darwinian evolution from ruthless and deadly struggle for the supremacy of one group of human beings over another.

You can only believe that Darwinism implies racism, if you confuse natural law with normative law.

If a "natural law" is really a "natural law"--you cannot violate it.

People have no choice about whether to follow the law of gravity.

"Natural law" talks about what IS. "Normative law" talks about what SHOULD BE.

So to say that Darwinists must think it is right to exterminate the less fit, simply because nature does, is the sign of a confused mind ignorant not just of science but of ethics.

There is no branch of science that can tell you what people should do. Science only attempts to describe the universe as it is.

To condemn Darwinism because it does not provide what you think are good morals, is to condemn a thermometer for failing to tell you how far you are from Chicago.

If races of people can indeed be ranked according to some objective standard of "fitness" or "superiority"--which I for one do not believe they can--then that one race is inferior to another is a question of scienctific fact.

But science could not tell you whether or not it is moral to enslave or exterminate an "inferior" race--only that a race is indeed "inferior" by some objective standard. To know what morality demands for the treatement of an "inferior" race, you ought to consult your Bible.

The Book of Joshua contains some instructive examples.

I said that? :)

Thanks for remembering!

As a Christian who believes in the theory of evolution and believes that the workings of nature as revealed by science are revelations of God's exquisite handiwork, I've always felt rather left out of discussions such as this. What science shows us about the mechanics of our beautiful world beggars the imagination, which is far more than I can say about any of the silliness posited by those who look to the Bible for insights into how life came to be. Religion is about the realm of the spirit, science the physical world. The Bible is, to me, a profound and truthful book concerning the soul and its mysteries. It is, however, an extremely poor science textbook.

Laurie K.

"The theory of evolution" is a scientific theory. It is a proposed explanation of observed facts about the natural world. It is subject to alteration to fit new facts, and may be disproved if a sufficient body of evidence points to that conclusion.

Contrast with "the theory of Intelligent Design." (Note the convention I have observed: that writers capitalize the words Intelligent Design, I believe for the same reasons they capitalize His name when writing about God. No such convention is observed for evolution or "the theory of evolution.) "Intelligent Design" is simply a set of unstated axioms: 1) that supernatural forces outside the realm of physical reality operate routinely in the universe, and 2) that complex systems cannot be the product of apparently random processes, but require organizational direction from some supernatural entity acting omnisciently to microdesign and manage the entirety of the visible universe. By definition, no refutational test can be performed by scientific methods to prove or disprove "ID" because it acts outside the realm of the natural, which is by definition the only place scientific study can be done. Since ID cannot be refuted, it is NOT a theory at all, just a statement of belief. As such, to ask for "equal treatment" as a scientific theory betrays either intellectual dishonesty or profound lack of understanding of the difference between intellectual inquiry and profession of faith. To insist that scientific untruth be taught in schools as "science" is to manifest a truly cavalier attitude toward the duty of adults to teach truth to impressionable children.

"ID" is simply a stalking horse for the creationist view of the world. Of all people, conservatives should insist that it be kept out of the classroom and in Sunday school, where it belongs.

"Darwinism" and "Darwinists" seem to be straw men erected to give creationists something to justify their subversion of scientific education. There simply are no classical "Darwinists" around any more, and "Darwinism" is not a college subject. Evolution is understood to be a higher-order natural process that spontaneously occurs in all living systems automatically and without the need for "design," natural or supernatural. Organisms evolve or do NOT evolve over time based upon how well adapted they are for their environmental niche. Natural populations of living organisms come to exhibit near-optimum adaptation to their environments for approximately the same reason that stones on a mountainside exhibit the proclivity to wind up eventually in the valley. Supernatural "intelligent" direction is required for neither.

People of faith have more to lose in this contest than they may dream of. If they can successfully debase the standard of proof needed to establish an alternative "theory" as a co-equal viewpoint required to be taught in schools, they may choke at where future theories lead. If we require the teaching of Christian mythology as an acceptable alternate "scientific" theory because the majority in the community is Christian and wants it so - what do we do when some local schools are forced to teach alternative mythologies simply because of an influx of say, Satanists - if "all politics is local, and all science is politics."

I believe that Jesus Himself gave the definitive guidance on this question in Luke 20:21-26.

"21. And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:
22. Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?
23. But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
24. Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's.
25. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.
26. And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace."

Render unto science, that which is of science. Render unto God, that which is of God.

"species of .... plants that ever roamed the earth."

What a, ahhh, unique concept.

I'd be fascinated to see the response if Bush had called for "equal time" for, say, non-abstinent sex ed. You know, because there's a scientific "controversy."

If Intelligent Design is a fact how do you explain so many stupid people?

Let's leave Darwin out of this. The issue, the only issue, is whether a belief that a Creator is responsible for human life is a scientific theory or not. If not, it doesn't belong in a science classroom. Whatever weaknesses the theory of evolution may or may not have, they have nothing to do with whether or not Creationism or its latest incarnation, ID, are scientific theories.

IMHO, a belief in a Creator is not a scientific theory because it's not falsifiable. I am not aware of any advocate of ID who claims that is is falsifiable. Therefore, it does not belong in a science classroom, although it may be an interesting theory for a philosophy or comparative religion class to discuss.

Can we all agree that science is universal? Not dependent on any particular culture? The theory of relativity and the proofs of calculus are the same in China, India, America, Russia and South Africa, in Harlem and Scarsdale. Why, then, if ID is science is it not taught or accepted as science anywhere in the world outside the US, and in the US not by anyone except by adherents of certain narrow Protestant sects? That suggests to me that it's theology -- a particular interpretation of Genesis, not one shared by Jews or other Christians -- not science.

I don't think my refusal to credit ID as a scientific theory can reasonably be taken as a lack of respect for the Protestant faith. What I don't respect is their insistence on teaching theology in the guise of science.

I say render the fat from dead pigs and make soap instead of eating lard.

Weston understood Darwin perfectly. She spot the dirty little secret about evolution and liberal, secular societies' reliance on it. How is it possible to reconcile ontological equality with the concept of origin from natural selection? (This isn't a rhetorical question; I'm interested in possible scenarios.)

According to evolution, some individual organisms are more fit to survive than others, and are more intelligent than others. Humans cannot be an exception to this rule. It takes the smallest leap of logic to conclude that some races of humans are more fit to survive than others, and more intelligent than others.

I'm sorry, but you cannot be an honest evolutionist without being a racist.

Bad mouth "Intelligent Design" any way you want. But I'll hold my own credentials against anyone posting here and I have real problems with the theory of evolution.

Evolution is no theory but mere speculation and that, in and of itself, is a pseudo-religion as far as I'm concerned. If intelligent design is the religion of the right, then evolution is the religion of the atheistic left. That's why it's so popular on the college campuses.

Evolution can't begin to answer any of the complex questions. Doubt me? Explain emotion; or sentience? If you want technical debate why does there appear to be more Phylums 600MM years ago than now. Seems to me the "Tree of Life" should be turned upside down.

Sorry, Macro-evolution is a farce.

Pretty durn well said, Jeff.

I’d add only two qualifications:
1. Evolution is a fact. How it operates remains a matter of inquiry. (I’m a punctuated equilibrium kind of guy.)

2. There are at least two views of ID. To date the predominant view has been the sneaker to get creationism taught in public schools, positing that evolution is false, that the universe is young, etc. It offers no testable hypothesis.

The most recently articulated view is quite different, but still not testable. The Catholic Church’s view is that evolution is a fact but divinely guided. This view supports Darwin up to the point of randomness, suitability, judgment, or whatever you want to call the next step. This point is that there’s a method to the madness that has moved evolution toward the development of human existence and genius, that the divine being has orchestrated everything to date to produce us. While this is substantially different from what may be termed the fundamentalist view, it’s still referred as “intelligent design.”

I’m an atheist who appreciates the value of religion, especially as a cultural safeguard. I understand why folks attempt to apply reason to answer the grand question “WTF?” As you correctly point out, one should not pollute the scientific method trying to prove an unprovable point.
I’m of the opinion that all of this just happened. If there is a Creator, he’s got a healthy sense of humor.


"and add one more premise -- goodness is acting in accordance with nature"

Why should we add that premise? Most atheists don't believe in magic, so why should we believe there is anything magical about nature? The invalid premise means we can't accept your conclusion.

If we really believed in survival of the fittest to the degree you describe (beating everything else), we wouldn't grow fields of corn, because the corn would outnumber us. We would strangle our pet dogs.

"As a historical matter Darwinism did in fact lead to the belief that it was right to reduce inferior people to subjection"

That belief was around long before Darwinism. Just look at the Torah to see how the Israelites slaughtered Amalekites and all sorts of other peoples, or look at Roman history to see how they crushed the Jews.

"William Jennings Bryan was well aware of this, and this was one of the reasons he strenuously opposed Darwinism."

Bryan was only opposed to Social Darwinism. He was a bigtime racist at the end of his life--he thought white people should stick together, and Social Darwinism meant that poor whites were supposed to die off. He was one of the Ku Klux Klan's most prominent and dedicated celebrities... which is not to say that the textbook he was against was not also racist. He was primarily upset that the textbook was running counter to Biblical teachings, just like creationists today--there are no evil motives for pushing intelligent design, just bad ones. It's not about race or racism, although people on both sides of the public debate love to whip out the big gun.

"It is not quite as easy as you think to separate Darwinian evolution from ruthless and deadly struggle for the supremacy of one group of human beings over another."

Given the entirety of human history and the war we're in right now, you could say the exact same thing about religion, a thousand times over. I don't know of any Darwinist suicide squads (but it does seem like there's a fatwa against teaching intelligent design)

I have no problem with ID as a theory to be compared with evolution. Frankly, I have never quite figured out how complex arrangments (the scorpion's sting, which requires the tail, the sting, the poison glands, and the ability to coordinate) evolved.

Not that I'm any fundie, either, since I have never figured out how to reconcile a supposedly all good and all powerful being and the existence of evil.

B. Taylor:

"I'll hold my own credentials against anyone posting here"

If you want to get into a credentials pissing match, evolutionists are going to win every time. It's not even going to be close.

"Evolution can't begin to answer any of the complex questions. Doubt me? Explain emotion; or sentience?"

Sure. Emotions are the way the deep part of the brain convinces the higher-order thought processes to do the things the deep part wants (satisfy a drive, etc.). Since the language and logic portions of the brain are higher-order functions, the deep part has to communicate through simple (yet compelling) messages.

Look at emotionless individuals such as sociopaths. They are less fit for living in our society, because they will sometimes do extremely antisocial things (like kill people). There's also the question of whether emotionless people would breed as much as normal people. Their DNA is not going to be passed on as often as the DNA of normal people.

Sentience obviously has evolutionary advantages. Humans wouldn't be the single dominant species on Earth right now if we didn't have sentience. Every little increased bit of sentience helped the early humans to be better at surviving. How can you question whether sentience has evolutionary value?

You obviously haven't thought this through very far (or you believe that emotions and sentience are "magical" things that can't be explained by DNA/chemistry/physics)

"If you want technical debate why does there appear to be more Phylums 600MM years ago than now."

If you want people to think you have technical knowledge, you should say "Phyla."

Since when did evolutionary theorists claim that evolution always leads to greater diversity? A big part of the evolutionary process is the non-survival of the unfit. This is just another pathetic straw man/misrepresentation of evolution.

I'm sure God really appreciates all the work you're doing on His behalf, but if He wanted to create the world in six days, that's what He would have done.

Hmm, the existence of social darwinism is a heavy slam against a supposedly helpful theory.

And I guess I must not be educated. Sob. All those thousands of books...and all I needed to do to become educated was agree with the Bishops of Science. But I guess I'll stand with Galileo.

And Dave Hardy, the answer to your question, at least in part, is Human Freedom includes the Freedom to do Evil. And without freedom, the game is not worth the candle.

----I'd be fascinated to see the response if Bush had called for "equal time" for, say, non-abstinent sex ed. You know, because there's a scientific "controversy."

Posted by: Jim Anderson | August 6, 2005 10:48 PM

I'm going to come right out and say that that's THE most on-target thing I've heard about this entire "controversy" yet. In fact, it struck me like a bolt of lightning, if you'll pardon the implication. ;-)

I have said little about the issue mainly because I think it's kind of ridiculous; where were the ID/Creation people years ago? Why was evolution not controversial in my youth, but suddenly it is now? I mean it's not like the "theory" of evolution OR God are something new. (!)

I just don't know. I'm for the right to pray in schools, I support home-schooling and theism, but I believe in evolution in the sense that I believe in math--as a proven and provable fact. I DO believe in Divine guidance, though--but isn't that a PERSONAL belief or decision? I don't really care if every single American believes in divine guidance of evolution, I still don't think it belongs in a science class. Mind you, I USED TO think "teaching the controversy" was OK, because I naively didn't really see any hidden agenda. However the more I hear, the more I see that there IS an agenda--which is evident in the Darwin-bashing as opposed to honestly defending and explaining Intelligent Design.

Not that the ID-bashers are blameless, though; the arrogance displayed by so many ("ignorant fundies" comes to mind) has turned me away from that side of the issue (of ID in the schools) altogether.

One more thing: the Catholic Church has accepted evolution for quite some time, and hasn't been pushing for ID or Creationism in the public schools, at least to my knowledge as a non-Catholic. It seems to me that they're the only ones who have a real handle on their faith and on scientific facts.

Mr. Herbert, even if your desciptions of the utility of emotion and sentiences are satisfactory, you don't answer the core question of how they came to exist.

Self-awareness is a tough philosophical nut to crack, and can't just be explained by "It useful to us." People do more than just respond to a stimulus; they identify matter as matter. The 9 ball can ricochet off the cue ball. The plant can photosynthesize light and process soil into its cells. An animal can react to a chasing predator or running prey. A person's eyes can absorb the image of a rainbow in the sky, and experience emotional euphoria therefrom. These are all natural phenomena, effects from a cause. But the ability to say “There’s a 9 ball”, “There’s a cue ball”, “Look at that plant grow”, “There’s an animal, and it’s running” “There’s atmospheric water refracting light into multiple colors, and it's beautiful” . . . these are not effects from material causes, but an unexplained, physically unnecessary, mysterious process.

How can an entity of pure matter identify other matter in this way? It would be the equivalent of Michael Jordan watching himself in the stands of the stadium and say "Look at me playing basketball". Something more is going on in the human mind--dare I say, human soul--more than atoms bouncing around in some preset evolutionary manner since the beginning of time.

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Cold Turkey Cookbook

Look to the animals

  • looktotheanimals


Blog powered by Typepad