Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Do Ideas Have Consequences Only When They’re Associated with Radical Islam?

posted by David Klinghoffer
Why do so many writers who insist on emphasizing the consequences of radical Muslim belief tend to ignore the social consequences of other belief systems — for example, Darwinism?
My question is prompted by reflections that are being published about the Fort Hood massacre. Darwinist blogger PZ Myers is among many voices to be raised in protest that shooter Nidal Hasan’s Islamic beliefs are getting too little attention: “Unfortunately, there’s [a] factor that seems to be getting minimized in the press accounts: [Hasan] was also a member of an Abrahamic death cult” (i.e., Islam). 
PZ quotes Ibn Warraq’s comment on Hasan’s crime, “To leave Islam out of the equation means to forever misinterpret events,” before broadening the scope of the discussion with a concluding line about religion as a whole. “Too often,” notes PZ, “[religion] has a complex causal relationship to evil.”
My own view is that when you are taking the measure of an idea — let’s say Islam, or Darwinism — it’s a good rule of thumb at least to consider the relationship between it and its consequences, judged by the behavior of people who espouse the idea and publicly proclaim themselves as acting upon it. Sure, an idea could be ugly or dangerous, yet true. But I like David Berlinski’s point, citing Keats, that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” At the very least, you might think, an idea that has a record of persistently inspiring evil is worth a second, skeptical look, rather than your simply swallowing it because the prestige authorities around you say you should.
Or perhaps when someone claims to be acting on the basis of an idea and then does something monstrous, would you say we should assume that it was really some other factor, personal and psychological, that drove him to the wicked deed? That’s our culture’s general approach when considering the motivations of mass killers in other contexts. When there’s a slaughter at a shopping mall, a university, a church, a post office, or some other workplace — alas, in our country, none of these is an infrequent occurrence — nobody much asks about what motivated the murderer. 
I’ve expressed frustration about this in the past, as when the Darwinian musings of Columbine killer Eric Harris, or Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn, were studiously ignored.
There’s a whole community of professional Islam-bashers out there, writing online and in books that sell pretty well, who have been riding the Hasan story full time since it broke, hammering home their habitual point that Islam is an evil religion and always has been, going back to the days when it original source texts were composed.

Islam doesn’t particularly interest me — any religion can be made to look inherently wicked by a selective quoting of sources — but this angle does. PZ Myers is among those who can be relied on to dismiss every attempt to point out the social consequences of Darwin’s famous idea. So too biologist and blogger Jerry Coyne, who mocks what is actually a pretty interesting article in the London Sunday Times by Dennis Sewell on the theme. Sewell writes:

In America, where Darwin’s writings on morality and race have come under particularly intense critical scrutiny because of the enduring creationist debate, he has been accused of fostering moral nihilism and scientific racism, and even of promoting an ethic that found its ultimate expression in the Holocaust. Most startling of all, a connection has now been drawn between Darwin’s theories and a rash of school shootings.

The piece is worth reading, even though Sewell singles me out for criticism:

The connection between Darwin’s ideas and the Holocaust remains hugely controversial, not least because many creationists try to reduce it to a crude blame game. The writer David Klinghoffer, an advocate of intelligent design, which many regard as creationism in disguise, claims: “The key elements in the ideology that produced Auschwitz are moral relativism aligned with a rejection of the sacredness of human life, a belief that violent competition in nature creates greater and lesser races, that the greater will inevitably exterminate the lesser, and finally that the lesser race most in need of extermination is the Jews. All but the last of these ideas may be found in Darwin’s writing.”

“Crude”? I don’t see what’s crude about what I wrote. On the contrary, it seems transparently, obviously true. Anyway, the simple point bears repeating. Either ideas have consequences or they don’t. If they do, then ideas you happen to feel favorably disposed to shouldn’t get a free pass.


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GEORGE

posted November 12, 2009 at 10:22 pm


David, reminds me that in 1981 Russell Kirk agreed with every point in Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s “The Portland Declaration” but Kirk could not endorse it because it was an ideology. Erik responded that we all have an ideology and conversing with any individual for 15 minutes you get a rough outline of it. Frankly, I read very little of Darwin, but whatever his investigations and musings, it is a hallmark of the Left to take it and expand it far beyond its original intent. The Left tends to be atheist. The Nazis were Darwinists but Hitler was such a strange duck to align with the Japanese. Yet no doubt Hitler would ultimately have turned upon them as well. Interesting to contemplate that WW2 would have had a different outcome if on December 8, Hitler would have said, “We grieve and come to the aid of our American friends so savagely attacked by those yellow fiends in the Far East.”



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Mergatroid

posted November 13, 2009 at 1:23 am


David, I could be wrong, but I suspect that you’d like to share this video with your readership:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiO_c5-6_Hw
It’s a nazi propaganda video that shows social darwinism to the extreme.
Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I can also provide a link that shows how some of Martin Luther’s ideas also contributed to the Holocaust.



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Kalibhakta

posted November 13, 2009 at 7:17 am


the lack of ideas also has consequences, and they often resemble Sewell’s idiot drivel: paranoia, zero evidence, essential confusion. anyone who is at all impressed by Sewell’s post-hoc, culturally illiterate Darwin –> Columbine “argument” would buy the Brooklyn Bridge were it sold by a priest/imam/name the religious authority of your choice.



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cnocspeireag

posted November 13, 2009 at 9:30 am


Thanks for the link to such a fascinating piece of history, Murgatroid.
Of course, it highlights the Nazis’ fascination with selective breeding, which has nothing to do with Charles Darwin. Selective breeding had been applied successfully to farmed animals, horses and dogs for centuries, if not millenia before Darwin’s birth.
As usual with videos linked to ludicrous claims on UTube, comments have been disabled.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 13, 2009 at 10:50 am


Hitler was not a moral relativist; he believed his moral values were absolutely valid. That’s why he was so willing to act on them with such terrible consequence. And Darwin did not believe that competition between and within species was necessarily “violent,” nor that species that produced more offspring were “greater” than those that did not and “exterminate” them.
That’s why the supposed link between Auschwitz and Darwin is both false and crude.



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Ray Ingles

posted November 13, 2009 at 10:55 am


Hitler explicitly rejected evolution in Mein Kampf: “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger. The only difference that can exist within the species must be in the various degrees of structural strength and active power, in the intelligence, efficiency, endurance, etc., with which the individual specimens are endowed.” (Mein Kampf, vol. i, ch. xi)
And, indeed, he didn’t reject “the sacredness of human life”: “Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise.” (Mein Kampf, vol ii, ch. i)
And why was it so terrible? “For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties.” – (Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. x)
If you want to see what Darwin actually wrote about human ‘races’, see here: http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/darwin_nazism.htm



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Mark2

posted November 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm


Wow, Ken Davidowitz, tell me what it was like being with Baruch Goldstein that day and the weeks before his rampage. For you must have inside information as to why he did what he did.



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Mark2

posted November 13, 2009 at 12:36 pm


“That’s why the supposed link between Auschwitz and Darwin is both false and crude.”
It depends how the link is formulated in words. If one says Auschwitz was an inevitable consequence of Darwin, then you’d be right. (Weikart is careful not to go that far, despite what some critics claim about his work.) And if one says that there’s no link whatsoever, I must say that that is false, too.
Let’s not argue in binary terms, but in degrees. But even that would just wear me out.



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Dan

posted November 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm


WHOA!!!!!
Just because someone thinks Darwinian evolution (descent with modification over time from common ancestry through the mechanism of natural selection) justifies human killing does not mean the fact of evolution is wrong.
While this subject is open for discussion, I would like to see conclusive evidence demonstrating that evolution did not occur, more specifically, provide evidence that Darwinian evolution (see def. above) is wrong.
The world is how it is, whether we want it that way or not, it is not how our psychological delusions may wish it to be.
People will use any measure of things to justify killing – kind of like how Bush used “weapons of mass destruction” to justify killing thousands of unarmed, unthreatening Iraqi civilians.
David, have you ever put yourself in the shoes of these Iraqis? What would you do if your unarmed, nonthreatening family and kin were killed were by the orders of a political leader?



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Alex

posted November 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm


According to the Discovery Institute:
“Many tried to fill it: Sun, Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kaishek) and, finally, the small group of intellectuals who, in indignation at the betrayal at Versailles, found in Marxism what seemed to them the fittest faith on Earth to help China to survive.
This was not, of course, all Darwin’s doing, but Darwin was involved in it all. To believe in Marxism, one had to believe in inexorable forces pushing mankind, or at least the elect, to inevitable progress, through set stages (which could, however, be skipped). One had to believe that history was a violent, hereditary class struggle (almost a ‘racial’ struggle); that the individual must be severely subordinated to the group; that an enlightened group must lead the people for their own good; that the people must not be humane to their enemies; that the forces of history assured victory to those who were right and who struggled.
Who taught the Chinese these things? Marx? Mao? No. Darwin.”
Heh, it wasn’t the DI who wrote that. It was James Pusey (Bucknell U), writing in Nature this week for a series on “Global Darwin,” explaining the vacuum left by the collapse of the reform movement in the early 20th century.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm


Mark2. Too bad that presenting your argument would wear you out, though it does leave your position immune to criticism.
Alex. Both you and Pusey are wrong, ridiculously so. Darwin did not teach a single one of those things. Not “inexorable forces” pushing “the elect” to “inevitable progress.” Not that human history is a “violent, hereditary class struggle.” Not that the “individual must be severely subordinated to the group.” Not that “an enlightened group must lead the people for their own good.” Not “that the people must not be humane to their enemies.” Not “that the forces of history assured victory to those who were right and who struggled.”
Citing a fool doesn’t make one clever.



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RogerE

posted November 13, 2009 at 1:52 pm


Mr. Klinghoffer, I really don’t understand your continual diatribes against the theory of evolution. You seem to have a particular bugaboo about it. What gets me is that the same complaints you make against it can also be made against many other theories, ideas and religions. Any of these can (and have) been used for evil purposes. It doesn’t matter how true (or false) something is, there will always be people who use them to justify their actions, no matter how misguided. From your writings, it seems the only thing left to do is never to think, never to wonder, never to explore, never to be human.



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David Klinghoffer

posted November 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm


RogerE: “Never think”? On the contrary, the whole point is that most people unthinkingly assume there’s nothing to question in Darwinism. The theory’s nasty social consequences is a good reason not to reject Darwin’s idea necessarily but to think about it for yourself, critically and independently. That’s what the Evolution Guild doesn’t want you to do.



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Eytan

posted November 13, 2009 at 3:11 pm


It’s funny how Baruch Goldstein always comes back to show people that it’s not only the crazy muslims that kill people. Does anyone need a list of all the murderous crimes in the name of Islam to see that this example is irrelevant?
Get you daily spiritual click at http://www.living-inspired.com (no politics there).



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Mark2

posted November 13, 2009 at 3:58 pm


I’m with you this time, Eytan.
To Philip: I guess Nature isn’t peer-reviewed any more? (snicker)



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RogerE

posted November 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm


Mr. Klinghoffer, I might give you more credence if you didn’t continually harp on “Darwinism” as seemingly being the root of all evil. You use the term “Darwinism” as if that is some sort of religion that people unthinkingly follow. You point to all sorts of examples of insane people who may have made some sort of reference to Darwin’s theory as justification for their actions as proof that believing in evolution is a bad thing. Do ideas have “nasty social consequences”? Only when people misuse them. Can you tell me that the “ideas” of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc haven’t also been misused with “nasty social consequences”? (Why did you delete davidowitz’s comment?) Does that make them any less true or useful?
Darwin’s theory is a scientific explanation about how life has changed over the centuries. It says nothing about how we should live our lives, it says nothing about what is right or wrong, it has no call to action. What some people do with that theory is not Darwin’s fault any more than it is Newton’s fault that his theory of gravity is used to kill people by pushing them off tall buildings.
Your last sentence to me about an “Evolution Guild” is especially telling. They don’t want us to “think about it for yourself, critically and independently”? Where did you get that idea? If anything, the people who believe in evolution WANT people to think about it and realize that natural processes are a better explanation for the current state of life on earth than some unidentified “designer”. Even if one posits an original “designer”, he/she/it seems to have left evolution to handle things ever since.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm


Dear Snicker. This wasn’t a scientific report, so it probably wasn’t subject to the same sort of review process. If you or anyone else can find the places in Darwin’s writings for any of those so-called teachings, I’d like to see them.
To be intellectually honest and coherent, what Pusey should have written was, “What the Chinese derived from their understanding of Darwin and those who claimed to be following him were the following doctrines: … .” He could have then have gone on to note what else in their backgrounds led them to find such interpretations valid and useful for their ideological purposes.
Instead, his statement makes as much sense as saying that what Jesus taught the medieval church is that the way to deal with religious dissidents is to set them on fire.
By the way, by your silence I assume that you agree with me that Hitler was a moral absolutist, not a relativist.



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RogerE

posted November 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm


Oops, I’m sorry. The comment by davidowitz is still here. I didn’t see it the second time I accessed this’s blog but, if you click on “Read All Comments” at the bottom, it is still there.



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DrBrydon

posted November 13, 2009 at 9:12 pm


I am confused by your argument: You seem to be saying that we shouldn’t be drawing conclusions from the religion of, in this case, Nidal Hasan, but that we should be from the opinions of Darwinists.
You dismiss the criticism of religion by saying that “any religion can be made to look inherently wicked by a selective quoting of sources.” That doesn’t actually invalidate the idea that some religions might be wicked, it just argues for a complete (and ongoing) examination of the evidence.
With regard to your own example of Darwinian wickedness, I will say that I don’t know for certain whether Darwin employed the language of race, but I am certain he did not say “finally that the lesser race most in need of extermination is the Jews.” In point of fact Nazi racialism was (is) based upon bad science and history in believing that the Germans were a biological and historical race, and that even if this were true, that they somehow represented the best race. The name Science can be claimed as justification falsely, just as God can be.
In the support of groundless Nazi science and suppression of divergent and critical views (much like Stalin’s support for Lysenkoism), Nazism was more like a religion than it was a science.



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Steven J.

posted November 14, 2009 at 3:25 am


David, you say “t’s a good rule of thumb at least to consider the relationship between it and its consequences, judged by the behavior of people who espouse the idea and publicly proclaim themselves as acting upon it.” Now, it seems to me that neither James von Braun nor the Columbine killers really understood evolutionary theory. Of course, one could argue that Nidal Hasan didn’t really understand Islam … but there are a lot of Islamic scholars who support his view. It may be a minority view, but it’s not a fringe view among Muslims.
How many evolutionary biologists or popularizers of evolutionary theory advocate actions like those of von Braun, or suggest that the Columbine killers had a keen grasp of the theory? Any murderous buffoon can claim to be acting on the basis of a theory he doesn’t understand, or of which he knows nothing but a few catch phrases; you might look to the people who actually present themselves as experts and scholars of an idea or theory. Von Braun’s understanding of “Darwinism” barely amounts to a fringe interpretation, much less one in serious contention for the consensus view.
As for Hitler, he was very enthusiastic about natural selection, and apparently quite unenthusiastic about nonhuman ancestry for humans or common descent. Nor is there any evidence that he saw natural selection as anything except a means (apparently divinely-ordained) to keep species and races from degenerating. If this is a belief about natural selection that distinguishes intelligent design from “Darwinism,” it falls clearly on the intelligent design side. This may explain why Hitler never actually mentioned Darwin, or why some of his followers condemned “primitive Darwinism.”



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Your Name

posted November 14, 2009 at 9:04 pm


In this chapter of Mein Kampf Hitlker made it abundantly clear that he did believe in evolution and the primary force behind human evolution was the use of tools.
http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv2ch04.html



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Your Name

posted November 14, 2009 at 9:09 pm


Its always dangerous to take quotes out of context. This is the complete quote.
“The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice.”



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Your Name

posted November 14, 2009 at 9:12 pm


And Darwin himself in chapters 5 and 6 of “The Descent of Man: wrote that he expected the more evolved European races to exterminate the less evolved non-Europeans. So just plug in Aryan for European, and Nazism is pure Darwinism.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 14, 2009 at 9:45 pm


“Its always dangerous to take quotes out of context”
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Notable_Charles_Darwin_misquotes



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Mark2

posted November 15, 2009 at 12:06 am


A collection of responses:
“Or because, on Purim, he obeyed the commandment to hear the reading of the scroll of Esther, which recounts how the Jewish community of Sushan went on a rampage to destroy its adversaries. And took that passage literally to heart.” – Ken Davidowitz
Ken, you are quoting one Berkeley professor, Ian Lustick. Big Deal.
“Dr. Goldstein’s activities prior to his rampage were reconstructed, reported and extensively analyzed in the Israeli (Hebrew) press.” – KD
And the left-wing press’s take was quite different from the right-wing press’s take. (If you think I’m justifying his acts, you’d be wrong. I’m just pointing out your assumptions.)
“Or are you too busy mouthing off in blogs such as this, to find the time to learn the language which God spoke?” – Adam F.
?? ???? ????
” WHOA!!!!! Just because someone thinks Darwinian evolution (descent with modification over time from common ancestry through the mechanism of natural selection) justifies human killing does not mean the fact of evolution is wrong.” – Dan
Did anyone here imply otherwise? If so, where?
“I would like to see conclusive evidence demonstrating that evolution did not occur, more specifically, provide evidence that Darwinian evolution (see def. above) is wrong.” – Dan
Sorry, but you’re missing something crucial. There are examples in nature that truly indicate common descent and descent with modification, and there are examples that don’t (and in fact seem to go against it). Creationists have the burden of proof in disproving the former while evolutionists have the burden of proof in explaining the latter.
“Mark2. Too bad that presenting your argument would wear you out, though it does leave your position immune to criticism.” – Philip Koplin
What’s stopping you from criticizing? Your inability to?
“What some people do with that theory is not Darwin’s fault any more than it is Newton’s fault that his theory of gravity is used to kill people by pushing them off tall buildings.” – Roger E.
Don’t forget that Darwin’s own son, Leonard, was a key promoter of eugenics and of his father’s life work. Was Charles totally unaware of his son’s leanings? Let’s take it up with the major Hitler biographers – Toland, Fest, Kershaw, Bullock — who all agree on Hitler’s debt to Darwinism.
“I By the way, by your silence I assume that you agree with me that Hitler was a moral absolutist, not a relativist. – Philip Koplin
Be wary before you assume. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoqUwyHseg4
Which of those two things would a person be if he also wrote the following: “There is no such thing as truth, either in the moral or in the scientific sense.”
By the way, Philip, I think that wikiquote site does a crappy job of explaining away Darwin’s statements.



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Steve

posted November 15, 2009 at 12:20 am


David wrote: “My own view is that when you are taking the measure of an idea — let’s say Islam, or Darwinism — it’s a good rule of thumb at least to consider the relationship between it and its consequences, judged by the behavior of people who espouse the idea and publicly proclaim themselves as acting upon it.”
David, I believe that evolution is true, and I’m an ethical person. Everyone in my in family believes that evolution is true, and they are all ethical people. Nearly everyone I know well believes that evolution is true, and all of these people are ethical people. In fact, the people I know who don’t believe that evolution is true are, overall, less ethical than the people I know who believe that evolution is true. Moreover, a larger percentage of people in the Scandinavian countries, Iceland and Holland believe that evolution is true than do so in almost all, if not all, other countries. And the Scandinavian countries, Iceland and Holland are relatively good countries. They are strong democracies. They have low infant mortality rates, relatively high life expectancy rates and relatively low poverty rates. Thus, perhaps there is reason to believe that one’s believing that evolution is true helps one be an ethical person.
However, for the sake or argument, let’s assume that, for most people, believing that evolution is true makes it harder for one to be ethical. That is, of course, completely irrelevant to whether evolution is known to be true. Analogously, suppose that, for most people, believing that heliocentrism is true would make it harder for them to be ethical people. I’m quite sure that heliocentrism is true.



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Mark2

posted November 15, 2009 at 12:58 am


Klinghoffer writes: “…judged by the behavior of people who espouse the idea and publicly proclaim themselves as acting upon it.”
Steve writes: “David, I believe that evolution is true, and I’m an ethical person.”
That covers the first half of Klinghoffer’s sentence. But can you really claim that you’ve publicly proclaimed yourself as /acting/ upon it?



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Dennis Sewell

posted November 15, 2009 at 4:50 am


Sewell singles me out for criticism….
“Crude”? I don’t see what’s crude about what I wrote.

Mea culpa….. I do see the passage is open to that reading. Sorry. That’s not what I meant at all.
My intention was to contrast the crudeness of some others’ approaches with the sophistication of your own analysis. I think the contrast was clearer in the original, but something must have got lost in the edit and I failed to notice it.
If you send me an e-mail with your address, David, I’ll send you a copy of The Political Gene and you’ll see that far from thinking it crude, I reckon your point is spot on.
Once again, sorry for the ambiguity.



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Your Name

posted November 15, 2009 at 9:37 am


Philip:
Are you disagreeing with me? The Wikipedia article says exactly what I said Darwin said.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 15, 2009 at 11:07 am


YN. If you were interested in understanding what Darwin said rather than mining his work for comments you find damning to him, you would realize that by “exterminate” he did not mean “murder,” he meant replace over the course of evolutionary history by the natural process of producing more and fitter offspring. Hardly what the Nazis had in mind.
Mark2. The reason I couldn’t criticize your position is that you were too weary to reveal it.
As for whether a person is a relativist or an absolutist, the proof lies in how–to use a phrase that has come up here–he publicly acts, not what he says. Hitler’s actions showed his absolute conviction that he was in possession of absolute truth: that the Jews were moral pollution that he had the moral obligation to eliminate.



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Mark2

posted November 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm


“Mark2. The reason I couldn’t criticize your position is that you were too weary to reveal it. ”
Pardon? I said that my position was that the Darwin-Hitler link was not at either extreme.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Which tells me nothing about the actual content of your position.



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Steve

posted November 15, 2009 at 2:14 pm


Mark2 wrote: “That covers the first half of Klinghoffer’s sentence. But can you really claim that you’ve publicly proclaimed yourself as /acting/ upon it?”
What do you mean by “it?” Please be specific.



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Steve

posted November 15, 2009 at 2:16 pm


Mark2 wrote: “Mark2 wrote: “That covers the first half of Klinghoffer’s sentence. But can you really claim that you’ve publicly proclaimed yourself as /acting/ upon it?”
And what do you mean by “/acting/ upon?”
So, please tell me what you mean by “/acting/ upon” and the word “it.”



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Steve

posted November 15, 2009 at 2:58 pm


Mark2 wrote: “Klinghoffer writes: ‘…judged by the behavior of people who espouse the idea and publicly proclaim themselves as acting upon it.’
“Steve writes: ‘David, I believe that evolution is true, and I’m an ethical person.’
“That covers the first half of Klinghoffer’s sentence. But can you really claim that you’ve publicly proclaimed yourself as /acting/ upon it?”
I think I understand your question better now. And, no, I’ve never publicly proclaimed myself to be acting on “Darwinism.” I don’t even know what it would mean to act on “Darwinism.” But what’s your point?
David Klinghoffer seemed to be suggesting that widespread belief that evolution has occurred has caused bad consequences overall. As I tried to show in my first post in this thread, it is implausible that widespread belief that evolution has occurred has caused bad consequences overall. And I didn’t even mention in my first post some of the obviously good consequences that may have come from some people believing that evolution has occurred, for instance, anti-viral medications.
More importantly, whether widespread belief in the truth of a particular claim has caused bad consequences overall is irrelevant to whether one knows that the claim is true. Please see my first post in this thread.
Either some of the ancestors of all humans are fish or none of the ancestors of any humans are fish. And I know that some of the ancestors of all humans are fish. Here is a quote from the great biologist Ernst Mayr (from his book What Evolution Is):
“Astronomical and geophysical evidence indicate that the Earth originated about 4.6 billion years ago. At first the young Earth was not suitable for life, owing to the heat and exposure to radiation. Astronomers estimate that it became liveable about 3.8 billion years ago, and life apparently originated about that time, but we do not know what the first life looked like. Undoubtedly, it consisted of aggregates of macromolecules able to derive substance and energy from surrounding inanimate molecules and from the sun’s energy. Life may well have originated repeatedly at this early stage, but we know nothing about this. If there have been several origins of life, the other forms have since become extinct. Life as it now exists on Earth, including the simplest bacteria, was obviously derived from a single origin. This is indicated by the genetic code, which is the same for all organisms, including the simplest ones, as well as by many aspects of cells, including microbial cells. The earliest fossil life was found in strata about 3.5 billion years old. These earliest fossils are bacterialike, indeed they are remarkably similar to some blue-green bacteria and other bacteria that are still living” (p. 40).
Whether the widespread belief that some of the ancestors of all humans are fish has caused bad consequences overall, I know that some of the ancestors of all humans are fish.



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Your Name

posted November 15, 2009 at 7:25 pm


Phillip:
The Nazis believed that exterminating inferior races was just another form of natural selection, survival of the fittest, etc. Just another form of Darwinism.



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Your Name

posted November 15, 2009 at 7:29 pm


And in what way did Darwin expect the Europeans to exterminate the non-Europeans if not through the use of superior technology? In what other way were they more evolved?



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Sophist

posted November 15, 2009 at 10:47 pm


“And Darwin himself in chapters 5 and 6 of “The Descent of Man: wrote that he expected the more evolved European races to exterminate the less evolved non-Europeans. So just plug in Aryan for European, and Nazism is pure Darwinism.”
Only if you have no concept of the difference between the descriptive and the proscriptive. Darwin predicted that the Europeans–you know, the ones with all the guns and the smallpox and highly populated expansionist empires–would out compete the low-tech low-population-density agrarians. Which, you know, is not really going out on a limb, anymore than putting your money on the Steelers to beat the west Pittsburgh Jr. High Panthers.
He thought this WOULD happen. What Darwin emphatically did not say was that that it SHOULD happen, or that it would make the human race better, or that it was a fulfillment of evolution, or anything remotely like what the Nazis said. Saying that Darwin and the Nazis were the same because they talk about the extermination of races is like saying that an epidemiologist and a biological weapons manufacturer are the same because they both talk about the mechanics of spreading disease.



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Sophist

posted November 15, 2009 at 11:00 pm


“The Nazis believed that exterminating inferior races was just another form of natural selection, survival of the fittest, etc. Just another form of Darwinism.”
Which would just go to prove they didn’t know what they were talking about, because (1) that’s not how natural selection works, and (2) evolution says nothing about how people SHOULD act, only how non-human animals DO act.
Except that it’s not true. The Nazis talked about what they considered inferior races not in evolutionary terms, but in the terms of animal husbandry; weak bloodlines, runts of litters, breeding for desired characteristics, weak individuals bringing down the strength of the stock as a whole, etc. etc. All this predates evolution by thousands of years, and has very little to do with it.



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Sherwin Browne

posted November 15, 2009 at 11:56 pm


Darwin’s 1859 attempt at a treatise – “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” – is derivative of Hindu mythology and merely an attempt at pseudoscientific justification of the British empire’s subjugation and destruction of other cultures.
So why is this being celebrated? you ask; simple – mass media and academia, both owned by the descendants of the elitists behind Darwin, are pushing it on an unsuspecting public with the same religious fervor as that other cesspit of religious junk science – CO2 caused climate change.
The success of both these flights of fancy shows how much can be done when money is no
object and the apathetic majority choose to remain asleep to the facts.
Meanwhile, the Copenhagen signings will soon concretise their tyranny …



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mark2

posted November 16, 2009 at 5:51 am


Philip wrote: “Mark2. The reason I couldn’t criticize your position is that you were too weary to reveal it. ”
I responded: Pardon? I said that my position was that the Darwin-Hitler link was not at either extreme.
Philip replied: “Which tells me nothing about the actual content of your position.”
True, true. It’s just that it appeared that you and others here were claiming that the Darwin-Hitler link was /absolutely/ zero, and that some folks were attributing a /maximum/ link in the viewpoint of Klinghoffer and others. I wanted people to back off and consider a /middle/ position before blindly defending their positions to the hilt.
Sherwin, it appears that someone already commented on your Hindu idea over here: http://www.pattersonirrigator.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Your+Voice%20&id=4435251&instance=home_most_popular
Steve wrote: “David Klinghoffer seemed to be suggesting that widespread belief that evolution has occurred has caused bad consequences overall. As I tried to show in my first post in this thread, it is implausible that widespread belief that evolution has occurred has caused bad consequences overall.”
This is disingenuous, Steve, to misrepresent Klinghoffer like that. It’s not the belief that “evolution has occurred” that’s the problem. Even Young Earth creationists, which I’m not, believe that SOME evolution has occurred. It’s the /concomitant ideologies/ that sometimes come with believing in a directionless, survival of the fittest, universe (a belief that is quite bound up with Darwin’s theory) that’s considered the problem. (However, there’s no need to prove to me that there are nice atheists. My last boss was such a fine man.)
Steve wrote: “And I didn’t even mention in my first post some of the obviously good consequences that may have come from some people believing that evolution has occurred, for instance, anti-viral medications.”
Micro. Yawn.
Steve wrote: “More importantly, whether widespread belief in the truth of a particular claim has caused bad consequences overall is irrelevant to whether one knows that the claim is true. Please see my first post in this thread.”
Again, I ask where anyone implied otherwise.
Steve: “Either some of the ancestors of all humans are fish or none of the ancestors of any humans are fish. And I know that some of the ancestors of all humans are fish.”
If you only saw the number of times scientists thought “X evolved from Y,” only later to be amended to “X and Y evolved from a common ancestor”, you would hesitate before making claims like this.



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Tahseen

posted November 16, 2009 at 1:12 pm


I have come across a new book entitled “Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Amazing New Insights from Qur’an…” It quotes extensively from Qur’an to prove in an extremely amazing and convincing idiom that biological evolution isn’t at all at variance with the true teachings of the Qur’an. The book is available online at HarperCollins’ website Authonomy: http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=11309



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Mark2

posted November 16, 2009 at 3:51 pm


The right-wing press in Israel is monolithic? And the left-wing press doesn’t suffer from journalistic (dis)credibility? Eh, I guess I could expect that from a leftwinger like you.
I’m better at Yiddish, anyway. Gay kocken offen yam.



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Steve

posted November 16, 2009 at 4:31 pm


Mark2 wrote: “This is disingenuous, Steve, to misrepresent Klinghoffer like that. It’s not the belief that “evolution has occurred” that’s the problem. Even Young Earth creationists, which I’m not, believe that SOME evolution has occurred. It’s the /concomitant ideologies/ that sometimes come with believing in a directionless, survival of the fittest, universe (a belief that is quite bound up with Darwin’s theory) that’s considered the problem. (However, there’s no need to prove to me that there are nice atheists. My last boss was such a fine man.)”
Maybe I should have been more specific. First it is implausible that the widespread belief that common descent is true has been bad for society overall. The same reasons apply here as apply in my first post in this thread. For instance, I believe that common descent is true, and I’m an ethical person.
Second, it is implausible that the widespread belief that no Gods did acts on earth to help some organisms live or reproduce has been bad for society overall. The same reasoning applies here as in my first post in this thread.
Finally, it is implausible that the widespread belief that no Gods exist has been bad for society overall. The same reasoning applies here as in my first post in this thread.
More importantly, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that widespread belief in one or more of the above three claims has been bad for society overall. That is, of course, irrelevant to whether any of the three claims is more plausible than not. Please see my first post in this thread.
Also, you wrote: “It’s the /concomitant ideologies/ that sometimes come with believing in a directionless, survival of the fittest, universe (a belief that is quite bound up with Darwin’s theory) that’s considered the problem.”
Could you elaborate on this claim? What do you mean by that? It is, of course, logically consistent to believe both that God caused the universe to exist and to believe that some of my ancestors are fish.



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Steve

posted November 16, 2009 at 4:44 pm


Mark2 wrote: “Micro. Yawn.”
What do you mean by that? My point was that the knowledge that evolution has occurred has contributed to some good consequences. Maybe your claim is that the knowledge that “macroevolution” has occurred hasn’t contributed to the invention of anti-viral medications. For the sake of argument, let’s say that is true. That is, of course, completely irrelevant to whether I know that some of my ancestors are fish.
Mark2 wrote: “Again, I ask where anyone implied otherwise.”
For the sake of argument, let’s say that no one implied otherwise. My point is still important. It seems like a lot of people have trouble realizing that it is true.
Mark2 wrote: “If you only saw the number of times scientists thought ‘X evolved from Y,’ only later to be amended to ‘X and Y evolved from a common ancestor,’ you would hesitate before making claims like this.”
That scientists have been wrong before about whether organism X is a descendant of organism Y is not sufficient for a claim that organism X is a descendant of Y to be questionable. For instance, I’m quite sure that I’m a descendant of a particular woman who I call “mom.” So, that scientists have been wrong before about whether organism X is a descendant of organism Y is not sufficient for the claim that some of my ancestors are fish to be questionable.



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Mark2

posted November 16, 2009 at 4:57 pm


There are different degrees of questionable.
“My point is still important. It seems like a lot of people have trouble realizing that it is true. ”
Maybe on /other/ blogs.
“It is, of course, logically consistent to believe both that God caused the universe to exist and to believe that some of my ancestors are fish. ”
True. (But tell that to the 70%+ of biologists who might SAY that too but still believe the universe is essentially an accident.)
Adam F: I’ll apologize for my last two nasty reactive comments to you if you apologize for your first, spontaneous one. Deal?



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Steve

posted November 16, 2009 at 5:00 pm


David Klinghoffer wrote: “My own view is that when you are taking the measure of an idea — let’s say Islam, or Darwinism — it’s a good rule of thumb at least to consider the relationship between it and its consequences, judged by the behavior of people who espouse the idea and publicly proclaim themselves as acting upon it. Sure, an idea could be ugly or dangerous, yet true. But I like David Berlinski’s point, citing Keats, that ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty.’ At the very least, you might think, an idea that has a record of persistently inspiring evil is worth a second, skeptical look, rather than your simply swallowing it because the prestige authorities around you say you should.”
Beauty is not the same as truth. Whether diseases are beautiful or not, they are known to have occurred, for instance, cancer and the bubonic plague.
Also, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that the belief that all humans share common ancestors with all chimpanzees has, to use your words, “a record of persistently inspiring evil.” That a belief has “a record of persistently inspiring evil” is not sufficient for the belief to be “worth a second, skeptical look.” For instance, suppose that the belief that the earth is not a flat disk that rests on the back of a giant tortoise “has a record of persistently inspiring evil.” That is not sufficient for the belief that the earth is not a flat disk that rests on the back of a giant tortoise to be “worth a second, skeptical look.” So, if the belief that all humans share common ancestors with all chimpanzees has “a record of persistently inspiring evil,” that is not sufficient for the belief to be “worth a second, skeptical look.”
And even if a belief having “a record of persistently inspiring evil” were sufficient for the belief to be “worth a second, skeptical look,” that doesn’t mean that a belief’s having a record of inspiring evil has any affect on whether I know that the belief is true.



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Steve

posted November 16, 2009 at 5:05 pm


Mark2: “There are different degrees of questionable.”
What do you mean? And how is this relevant to anything I wrote? Please be specific.
Mark2: “Maybe on /other/ blogs.”
Are you saying not on this blog? If not, why not?
Mark2: “True. (But tell that to the 70%+ of biologists who might SAY that too but still believe the universe is essentially an accident.)”
I don’t see your point. Whatever people believe, I’m quite sure the two claims are logically consistent.



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Your Name

posted November 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm


Sophist:
In this chapter of “Mein Kampf Hitler made it abundantly clear that he did believe in evolution and the primary force behind human evolution was the use of tools.
http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv2ch04.html
And Hitler made it abundantly clear in chapter 11 that he considered kindness to members of inferior races to be unnatural. He considered his racial theories to be as natural as the orbits of the planets.



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Mark2

posted November 16, 2009 at 8:09 pm


With all due respect, Steve, I got lost about the topics addressed in your first and third questions, and I don’t think that my addressing them will lead to anything fruitful. I think I was going off on a tangent, anyway. Concerning your second question, I believe I challenged Dan to find any poster here who makes the mistake he implies people sometimes make. I would like to maintain the right to let him have that burden of proof.



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Your Name

posted November 16, 2009 at 8:16 pm


David Klinghoffer, you really are a silly person. You really don’t have a clue about this do you? Here, let me help you out and explain it for you: There are dozens of web pages that list and explain the many kinds of formal fallacies of logic. Among the best known are the Naturalistic Fallacy, the No True Scotsman Fallacy, and the Fallacy of Arguing from Consequences. But no matter what the fallacy is called, or what it consists of, the important thing for you to understand is this – none of these fallacies are fallacies when PZ Myers uses them; they are only fallacies when you use them.



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Mark2

posted November 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm


Ima shelach.



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Ray Ingles

posted November 18, 2009 at 2:46 pm


“Your Name” – The chapter of Mein Kampf you link to is very specifically about “the cultural evolution of mankind” [emphasis added]. Hitler very explicitly disavowed the notion of species becoming other species (as I directly quoted), which was sort of Darwin’s whole point. As “cnocspeireag” points out, Hitler was only talking about selective breeding – or, in the creationist’s terms, ‘microevolution’.



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kernest

posted November 18, 2009 at 8:33 pm


Dan
November 13, 2009 12:43 PM
WHOA!!!!!
Just because someone thinks Darwinian evolution (descent with modification over time from common ancestry through the mechanism of natural selection) justifies human killing does not mean the fact of evolution is wrong.
While this subject is open for discussion, I would like to see conclusive evidence demonstrating that evolution did not occur, more specifically, provide evidence that Darwinian evolution (see def. above) is wrong.
Reply:
Actually it is the other way around. After 150 years of research it is time evolutionists actually came up with some scientific evidence in support of evolution.
How could life come about, considering the complexity required for the simpliest replicating organism? Chemical evolution has been well researched and proved impossible.
How can the information in the DNA come into existance, since the instructions for making the reading and processing equipment is in the DNA, and cannot be read unless the reading mechanism was in existance before the DNA had to be read. Also the reading and copying mechanism has to be bassed on the same encoding as the DNA, otherwise encoding for proteins etc wouldn’t be processed correctly. So how did all this complexity get organised on the same codes, correct instructione for proteins etc and also the machinery to make it all work?
Evolutionists love telling “just so” stories, but never get down to exacting science in support of evolution. Many scientists do exacting research, but this is about what exists, and is deliberately twisted to support hopeful theories about evolution, but actually shows the lack of evidence.



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Your Name

posted November 20, 2009 at 11:38 am


Ray:
Here’s q quote from the chapter. It sounds like pretty conventional evolutinary theory to me.
“The first step which visibly brought mankind away from the animal world was that which led to the first invention. The invention itself owes its origin to the ruses and stratagems which man employed to assist him in the struggle with other creatures for his existence and often to provide him with the only means he could adopt to achieve success in the struggle. Those first very crude inventions cannot be attributed to the individual; for the subsequent observer, that is to say the modern observer, recognizes them only as collective phenomena. Certain tricks and skilful tactics which can be observed in use among the animals strike the eye of the observer as established facts which may be seen everywhere; and man is no longer in a position to discover or explain their primary cause and so he contents himself with calling such phenomena ‘instinctive.’
In our case this term has no meaning. Because everyone who believes in the higher evolution of living organisms must admit that every manifestation of the vital urge and struggle to live must have had a definite beginning in time and that one subject alone must have manifested it for the first time. It was then repeated again and again; and the practice of it spread over a widening area, until finally it passed into the subconscience of every member of the species, where it manifested itself as ‘instinct.’
This is more easily understood and more easy to believe in the case of man. His first skilled tactics in the struggle with the rest of the animals undoubtedly originated in his management of creatures which possessed special capabilities.
There can be no doubt that personality was then the sole factor in all decisions and achievements, which were afterwards taken over by the whole of humanity as a matter of course. An exact exemplification of this may be found in those fundamental military principles which have now become the basis of all strategy in war. Originally they sprang from the brain of a single individual and in the course of many years, maybe even thousands of years, they were accepted all round as a matter of course and this gained universal validity.
Man completed his first discovery by making a second. Among other things he learned how to master other living beings and make them serve him in his struggle for existence. And thus began the real inventive activity of mankind, as it is now visible before our eyes. Those material inventions, beginning with the use of stones as weapons, which led to the domestication of animals, the production of fire by artificial means, down to the marvellous inventions of our own days, show clearly that an individual was the originator in each case. The nearer we come to our own time and the more important and revolutionary the inventions become, the more clearly do we recognize the truth of that statement. All the material inventions which we see around us have been produced by the creative powers and capabilities of individuals. And all these inventions help man to raise himself higher and higher above the animal world and to separate himself from that world in an absolutely definite way. Hence they serve to elevate the human species and continually to promote its progress. And what the most primitive artifice once did for man in his struggle for existence, as he went hunting through the primeval forest, that same sort of assistance is rendered him today in the form of marvellous scientific inventions which help him in the present day struggle for life and to forge weapons for future struggles. In their final consequences all human thought and invention help man in his life-struggle on this planet, even though the so-called practical utility of an invention, a discovery or a profound scientific theory, may not be evident at first sight. Everything contributes to raise man higher and higher above the level of all the other creatures that surround him, thereby strengthening and consolidating his position; so that he develops more and more in every direction as the ruling being on this earth.
Hence all inventions are the result of the creative faculty of the individual. And all such individuals, whether they have willed it or not, are the benefactors of mankind, both great and small. Through their work millions and indeed billions of human beings have been provided with means and resources which facilitate their struggle for existence.
Thus at the origin of the material civilization which flourishes today we always see individual persons. They supplement one another and one of them bases his work on that of the other. The same is true in regard to the practical application of those inventions and discoveries. For all the various methods of production are in their turn inventions also and consequently dependent on the creative faculty of the individual. Even the purely theoretical work, which cannot be measured by a definite rule and is preliminary to all subsequent technical discoveries, is exclusively the product of the individual brain. The broad masses do not invent, nor does the majority organize or think; but always and in every case the individual man, the person.
Accordingly a human community is well organized only when it facilitates to the highest possible degree individual creative forces and utilizes their work for the benefit of the community. The most valuable factor of an invention, whether it be in the world of material realities or in the world of abstract ideas, is the personality of the inventor himself. The first and supreme duty of an organized folk community is to place the inventor in a position where he can be of the greatest benefit to all. Indeed the very purpose of the organization is to put this principle into practice. Only by so doing can it ward off the curse of mechanization and remain a living thing. In itself it must personify the effort to place men of brains above the multitude and to make the latter obey the former.\
Notice that he says “evolution of higher animals” in the second paragraph. Not just culture.



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Your Name

posted November 21, 2009 at 6:33 pm


This is interesting.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7270/full/462162a.html
So Darwinism was involved in the formation of Chinese Communism.



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Mark2

posted November 22, 2009 at 2:50 am


The Nature article, and the TimesOnline article mentioned above, refer to the same thing. But yes, the theory is interesting nevertheless.
To the previous “Your name”: I’d like to raise the level of discourse with the following Yiddish curse: “May beets grow in your stomach and you should urinate borscht.”



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Philip Koplin

posted November 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm


Since the person who just discovered the Nature article doesn’t seem to have looked at the earlier comments here, let me repeat:
Darwin did not teach a single one of those things. Not “inexorable forces” pushing “the elect” to “inevitable progress.” Not that human history is a “violent, hereditary class struggle.” Not that the “individual must be severely subordinated to the group.” Not that “an enlightened group must lead the people for their own good.” Not “that the people must not be humane to their enemies.” Not “that the forces of history assured victory to those who were right and who struggled.”
To be intellectually honest and coherent, what Pusey should have written was, “What the Chinese derived from their understanding of Darwin and those who claimed to be following him were the following doctrines: … .” He could have then have gone on to note what else in their backgrounds led them to find such interpretations valid and useful for their ideological purposes.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm


And why do many of the people who comment here–on whatever side of whatever issue– think that ridiculous personal insults add to the discussion?



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Your Name

posted November 22, 2009 at 5:02 pm


But Darwin did say that the more highly evolved Europeans would inevitably drive the less evolved non-Europenas to extionction, just like they would drive the great apes to extinction.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 22, 2009 at 6:02 pm


Darwin was saying that the more technologically advanced group would be more successful at reproducing itself over the course of evolutionary history than the less advanced group. This is a universe of difference from the claim that within immediate history capitalists will be overthrown by the proletariat through the Marxist belief in inevitable, violent “class struggle.” A Marxist “class” has no connection to any Darwinian category except in the fantasies of ideologues who were trying to make their views seem more acceptable by tying them to the popular science of the day.



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 3:57 am


Kernest wrote: “Actually it is the other way around. After 150 years of research it is time evolutionists actually came up with some scientific evidence in support of evolution.”
Here is a link to some of the kinds of data that has helped people determine that some of my ancestors are fish:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 3:58 am


Kernest, I also recommend Ernst Mayr’s book What Evolution Is.
Also, here is a link to a paper on some of the fossils that have helped some people determine that some of the ancestors of all tetrapods (that have lived on earth) are fish:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/whn1654v74t64301/fulltext.pdf



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 3:59 am


Kernest, here is a link to a paper on some of the fossils that have helped some people determine that some of the ancestors of all whales are land mammals:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/v16470436056263j/fulltext.pdf



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:01 am


Kernest wrote: “How could life come about, considering the complexity required for the simpliest replicating organism?”
No person currently knows that exact sequence of events that resulted in inert matter forming into the first cells on earth about 3.8 billion years ago. But that no one knows the cause of event X is irrelevant to whether some people know the cause of some subsequent events. There are many event that no person knows the cause of, but some people know the cause of some subsequent events. For instance, I don’t know the cause of the onset of the matter and space that is the known universe. But I know that my existence was proximately caused by a sexual reproduction. So, that no person currently knows that exact sequence of events that resulted in inert matter forming into the first cells on earth about 3.8 billion years ago is irrelevant to whether I know that the proximate cause of the existence of the first human to live on earth.



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:04 am


Kernest wrote: “Chemical evolution has been well researched and proved impossible.”
What do you mean by “chemical evolution?”
Kernest wrote: “How can the information in the DNA come into existance, since the instructions for making the reading and processing equipment is in the DNA, and cannot be read unless the reading mechanism was in existance before the DNA had to be read. Also the reading and copying mechanism has to be bassed on the same encoding as the DNA, otherwise encoding for proteins etc wouldn’t be processed correctly. So how did all this complexity get organised on the same codes, correct instructione for proteins etc and also the machinery to make it all work?”
I’m not sure I understand your question. No person currently knows the exact sequence of events that resulted in inert matter forming into the first cell on earth. According to Ernst Mayr,
“What else can we say about the beginnings of life? After 1859 some of Darwin’s critics said: ‘This Darwin may well have explained the evolution of organisms on earth, but he has not yet explained how life itself may have originated. How can inanimate matter suddenly become life?’ This was a formidable challenge to the Darwinians. Indeed, for the next 60 years, this seemed an unanswerable question even though Darwin himself had already perceptively speculated on this issue: ‘all the conditions for the first production of a living organism…[could be met]…in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc. present.’ Well, it did not turn out to be as easy as Darwin thought.
“…The first serious theories on the origin of life were proposed in the 1920s (Oparin, Haldane). In the last 75 years, an extensive literature dealing with this problem has developed and some six or seven competing theories for the origin of life have been proposed. Although no fully satisfactory theory has yet emerged, the problem no longer seems as formidable as at the beginning of the twentieth century. One is justified to claim that there are now a number of feasible scenarios of how life could have originated from inanimate matter. To understand these various theories requires a good deal of technical knowledge of biochemistry. To avoid burdening this volume with such detail, I refer the read to the special literature dealing with the origin of life (Schopf 1999; Brack 1999; Oparin 1938; Zubbay 2000).
“The first pioneers of life on Earth had to solve two major (and some minor) problems: (1) how to acquire energy and (2) how to replicate. The Earth’s atmosphere at the time was essentially devoid of oxygen. But there was abundant energy from the sun and in the ocean from sulfides. Thus growth and acquisition of energy were apparently no major problem. It has often been suggested that rocky surfaces were coated with metabolizing films that could grow but not replicate. The invention of replication was more difficult. DNA is now (except in some viruses) known as the molecule that is indispensable in replication. But how could it ever have been coopted for this function? There is no good theory for this. However, RNA has enzymatic capacities and could have been selected for this property, with its role in replication being secondary. It is now believed that there may have been an RNA world before the DNA world. There was apparently already protein synthesis in this RNA world, but it lacked the efficiency of the DNA protein synthesis.
“In spite of all the theoretical advances that have been made toward solving the problem of the origin of life, the cold fact remains that no one has so far succeeded in creating life in a laboratory. This would require not only an anoxic atmosphere, but presumably also other somewhat unusual conditions (temperature, chemistry of the medium) that no one has yet been able to replicate. It had to be a liquid (aqueous) medium that was perhaps similar to the hot water of the volcanic vents at the ocean floor. Many more years of experimentation will likely pass before a laboratory succeeds in actually producing life. However, the production of life cannot be too difficult, because it happened on Earth apparently as soon as conditions became suitable for life, around 3.8 billion years ago. Unfortunately we have no fossils from the 300 million years between 3.8 and 3.5 billion years ago. The earliest known fossiliferous rocks are 3.5 billion years old and already contain a remarkably rich biota of bacteria” (What Evolution Is, p. 42 – 43).
However, that no person knows the cause of event X isn’t important to whether one knows the cause of some subsequent events. Please see my previous.



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:06 am


Kernest wrote: “Evolutionists love telling ‘just so’ stories, but never get down to exacting science in support of evolution.”
That’s not true. Please see my previous posts.
Kernest wrote: “Many scientists do exacting research, but this is about what exists, and is deliberately twisted to support hopeful theories about evolution.”
It is known that some of my ancestors are fish. Please see my previous posts.
Kernest wrote: “…but actually shows the lack of evidence.”
I’m not sure what you mean by that. It is known that some of my ancestors are fish. Please see my previous posts.



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Mark2

posted November 23, 2009 at 8:14 am


“Also, here is a link to a paper on some of the fossils that have helped some people determine that some of the ancestors of all tetrapods (that have lived on earth) are fish (and some of the ancestors of all whales are land mammals)”
Steve, if you look up “determine” in the dictionary, you’ll discover that “theorize” is NOT one of the synonyms.



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Mark2

posted November 23, 2009 at 8:22 am


“Kernest wrote: “Evolutionists love telling ‘just so’ stories, but never get down to exacting science in support of evolution.”
Steve replied: “That’s not true.”
Kernest perhaps overstates but Steve surely understates. Steve is probably unaware that Lewontin and Gould charged that biologists often engaged in “Panglossian” adaptationism creating just-so stories that were no more than fantasy. Given their reputation over yours, I tend to believe /them./



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm


Mark2 wrote: “Steve, if you look up ‘determine’ in the dictionary, you’ll discover that ‘theorize’ is NOT one of the synonyms.”
I agree. What’s your point? Please be specific.



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 3:11 pm


Mark2 wrote: “Kernest perhaps overstates but Steve surely understates. Steve is probably unaware that Lewontin and Gould charged that biologists often engaged in ‘Panglossian’ adaptationism creating just-so stories that were no more than fantasy. Given their reputation over yours, I tend to believe /them./”
Some biologists have offered some hypotheses that are no more plausible than not about some biological events. However, that this has occurred is not sufficient for no person to know that any claim about biological events is true. Many claims about biology are known to be true. For instance, I’m quite sure that the proximate cause of my existence was sexual reproduction. Thus, that some biologists have offered some hypotheses that are no more plausible than not is not sufficient for any given person not to know that some of my ancestors are fish.
Incidentally, Lewontin has said or suggested that he believes that common descent is a “fact.” Here is a quote from Lewontin:
“It is time for students of the evolutionary process, especially those who have been misquoted and used by the creationists, to state clearly that evolution is a fact, not theory, and that what is at issue within biology are questions of details of the process and the relative importance of different mechanisms of evolution. It is a fact that the earth with liquid water, is more than 3.6 billion years old. It is a fact that cellular life has been around for at least half of that period and that organized multicellular life is at least 800 million years old. It is a fact that major life forms now on earth were not at all represented in the past. There were no birds or mammals 250 million years ago. It is a fact that major life forms of the past are no longer living. There used to be dinosaurs and Pithecanthropus, and there are none now. It is a fact that all living forms come from previous living forms. Therefore, all present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different. Birds arose from nonbirds and humans from nonhumans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts any more than she or he can deny that the earth is round, rotates on its axis, and revolves around the sun.
The controversies about evolution lie in the realm of the relative importance of various forces in molding evolution.”
Moreover, Stephen J. Gould at least strongly suggested publicly, if not publicly stated explicitly, that common descent is a “fact.” Here is a link:
http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_fact-and-theory.html
So have Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne.
In addition, Ernst Mayr, the great biologist, has claimed that common descent is true. In his book What Evolution Is, he writes as follows: “Astronomical and geophysical evidence indicate that the Earth originated about 4.6 billion years ago. At first the young Earth was not suitable for life, owing to the heat and exposure to radiation. Astronomers estimate that it became liveable about 3.8 billion years ago, and life apparently originated about that time, but we do not know what the first life looked like. Undoubtedly, it consisted of aggregates of macromolecules able to derive substance and energy from surrounding inanimate molecules and from the sun’s energy. Life may well have originated repeatedly at this early stage, but we know nothing about this. If there have been several origins of life, the other forms have since become extinct. Life as it now exists on Earth, including the simplest bacteria, was obviously derived from a single origin. This is indicated by the genetic code, which is the same for all organisms, including the simplest ones, as well as by many aspects of cells, including microbial cells. The earliest fossil life was found in strata about 3.5 billion years old. These earliest fossils are bacterialike, indeed they are remarkably similar to some blue-green bacteria and other bacteria that are still living” (p. 40).
Finally, for the sake of argument, let’s say that both Gould and Lewontin have said that they don’t believe that common descent is known to be true. That is not sufficient for me not to know that common descent is true. Experts often are mistaken. For instance, at one time, all (or nearly all) experts believed that geocentrism is true.



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Mark2

posted November 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm


Steve, I believe that when you wrote “determine,” you should have written “theorize.” It’s way more accurate.
“Many claims about biology are known to be true.”
Gee, I never would’ve known.
Your quotes from the great evolutionists are fine and all, but they’re way too expected from them. Their blasting of fellow evolutionists is much more fun (and seemingly unknown to you, at least as regarding “just so stories”.)



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:15 pm


Mark2 wrote: “Steve, I believe that when you wrote ‘determine,’ you should have written ‘theorize.’ It’s way more accurate.”
Which claim(s) of mine are you referring to? Some humans know that some of my ancestors are fish. This claim is not a “theory” in the sense of a claim that is no more plausible than not or only a little more plausible than not. Here is a link to some of the kinds of data that has helped some people know that some of my ancestors are fish:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
(continued)



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm


Also, here is a link to a paper on some of the fossils that have helped some people know that some of the ancestors of all tetrapods (that have lived on earth) are fish:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/whn1654v74t64301/fulltext.pdf
I also recommend Richard Cowen’s book The History of Life.
I’ve also heard good things about Richard Dawkins’ book The Greatest Show on Earth, though I haven’t read it.



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:17 pm


Neil Shubin is biologist at the University of Chicago and one of the discovers of the fossil Tiktaalik:
http://pondside.uchicago.edu/oba/faculty/shubin_n.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik
He has written a book called Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body in which he shows that some fish are the ancestors of all humans. You can buy the book on Amazon.com.



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:20 pm


I wrote: “Many claims about biology are known to be true.”
Mark2 wrote: “Gee, I never would’ve known.”
The point, of course, is the following: That some claims that some people have had about biology are no more plausible than not doesn’t mean that all claims that all people have about biology are no more plausible than not.



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Philip Koplin

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm


Maimonides cautioned fellow theists about how to do theology; if a non-theist took as much glee in this fact as some people do about the fact that a couple of evolutionary scientists cautioned other evolutionary scientists about how to do evolutionary science, he or she would be considered a fool for thinking that this said anything about the validity of the theistic project.



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Mark2

posted November 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm


Had Gould and Lewontin only “cautioned,” I would be more inclined to pay attention to you.
Listen Philip, Steve said that it is untrue that evolutionists engage in storytelling. I called him on that. All this other stuff about “the validity of the theory overall” is a red herring.



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 5:15 pm


Mark2 wrote: “Listen Philip, Steve said that it is untrue that evolutionists engage in storytelling.”
No, I didn’t. Here is what I wrote: “Some biologists have offered some hypotheses that are no more plausible than not about some biological events. However, that this has occurred is not sufficient for no person to know that any claim about biological events is true. Many claims about biology are known to be true. For instance, I’m quite sure that the proximate cause of my existence was sexual reproduction. Thus, that some biologists have offered some hypotheses that are no more plausible than not is not sufficient for any given person not to know that some of my ancestors are fish.”



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Mark2

posted November 23, 2009 at 5:58 pm


“Kernest wrote: “Evolutionists love telling ‘just so’ stories, but never get down to exacting science in support of evolution.”
Steve replied: “That’s not true.”
I thought you meant “that’s not true” to the first half of Kernest’s statement, (besides the second half). Obviously, Kernest’s second half isn’t true.



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Steve

posted November 23, 2009 at 6:23 pm


No, what I meant is that “evolutionists” don’t only offer claims that are no more plausible than not. For instance, the claim that some of my ancestors are fish is known to be true. And it is claim that is known to be true partly because of a vast amount data that has been collected since 1859. For some of the relevant data, I recommend Ernst Mayr’s book What Evolution Is. In some of my other posts, I’ve included links that present important data to support common descent. For instance, Jennifer Clack’s paper on the fossil sequence that has helped some people know that some of the ancestors of all tetrapods (to live on earth) are fish.
However, some “evolutionists” have offered some claims that are, at least currently, no more plausible than not. One candidate would be that all T-Rexes were solely scavengers. However, I haven’t researched the issue in ten years, so the probabilities may be different now than they were 10 years ago.



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Mark2

posted December 9, 2009 at 4:46 am


I’d expect to see the following from a typical ID site, not from Science magazine.
Peter J. Bowler published an article in Science (Jan. 9, 2009) http://sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/323/5911/223 titled “Darwin’s Originality.” Toward the end of his essay Bowler distances Darwinism from the racial hygiene of the Nazis but then writes the following: “But by proposing that evolution worked primarily through the elimination of useless variants, Darwin created an image that could all too easily be exploited by those who wanted the human race to conform to their own pre-existing ideals. In the same way, his popularization of the struggle metaphor focused attention onto the individualistic aspects of Spencer’s philosophy.” Lauding “modern science” for recognizing “Darwin’s key insights,” Bowler admits that some of them are “profoundly disturbing” and that “the theory, in turn, played into the way those implications were developed by later generations. This is not,” he adds, “a simple matter of science being ‘misused’ by social commentators, because Darwin ’s theorizing would almost certainly have been different had he not drawn inspiration from social, as well as scientific, influences. We may well feel uncomfortable with those aspects of his theory today, especially in light of their subsequent applications to human affairs. But if we accept science’s power to upset the traditional foundations of how we think about the world, we should also accept its potential to interact with moral values.”
Heh, I learned of the Science article /through/ a typical ID site.



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