Friday, February 16, 2007

Caldwell Misses A Deeper Connection

Larry Caldwell, the north state's king of frivolous lawsuits and Evolution News and Views contributor extraordinaire, has a new post berating the Sacramento Bee for being "...strong and uncritical proponent of Darwin's theory of evolution" and for missing the connection between Darwin and eugenics. Once again, Larry dredges up the "Let's-Tie-Darwin-To-Hitler" creationist propaganda and demonstrates his adeptness at spinning historically weak links into conspiracy faster than Heinrich Himmler. Of course eugenics is based on genetic principles not aligned with evolutionary theory. And regardless of what theoretical perspective eugenics is most closely aligned with, most evolutionary biologists recognized it was simply bad biology.

Two comments about Caldwell's piece. First he is of course blaming the development of Darwinian evolution for its perverse application in the context of eugenics. Following that logic I wonder if Larry would also blame detonation of a nuclear "dirty bomb" by Islamic extremists on U.S. soil on Oppenheimer and the American atomic program?

Second, Caldwell is upset that the Sacramento Bee is being hypocritical by promoting Darwinian theory (apparently only because they reported on some local Darwin Day events) while failing to report on the proposed connection between Darwin, eugenics and local philanthropist Charles M. Goethe:

Unfortunately, Goethe was also a very enthusiastic and public supporter of eugenics programs. Goethe's ugly legacy as a eugenicist recently inspired the CSUS to remove his name from a public arboretum and community members to demand that a local school district remove Goethe's name from a public middle school.

The connection between Darwin's theory of evolution and eugenics is a well-documented dark side of the history of Darwinism. So how can the Sacramento Bee's editorial board square its admirable condemnation of eugenics with the Bee's unwavering support for Darwin and his theory of evolution? The Bee, like all too many in the mainstream media, simply appears to a turn a blind eye to some of the uglier ramifications of Darwin's theory of evolution for society.

In some follow-up reading on Goethe's eugenics advocacy, I couldn't help but notice the underlying references to Christianity as the driving force behind Goethe's admiration for the Nazi eugenics program. Of note was Goethe's correspondence with Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin, who fiercely resisted integration during the 1950s, insisting "...the white races are the only people able to perpetuate the Christian religion". Goethe himself was highly critical of labor unions in the United States, noting that allowing those without any talent to maintain jobs was "...the opposite of scripture". It seems likely to me that Goethe's eugenics views were underwritten not by Darwinian evolution, but by biblical teaching. We certainly know that, contrary to creationist claims, Hitler, Himmler and most of the Nazis used the guise of Christian religion to justify their behavior. Eugenics might be a theoretical derivative of evolution...but its application is driven by religious worldviews. In his zeal to tag evolution with the mark of human atrocity, Caldwell misses the more fundamental connection.

It is not biological theory that leads to human atrocity, it is the politicization of religious faith, absent reason and logic and disdainful of proper science, that promotes and then justifies human atrocities committed in the name of whatever god happens to be convenient.

Sam Harris is right...


Steven Carr said...

Hitler. of course, was a creationist who never mentioned Darwin or Darwinism.

Hitler explicity rejected Darwinism and the evolution of man.

From Hitler's Tischgespraeche for 1942 'Woher nehmen wir das Recht zu glauben, der Mensch sei nicht von Uranfaengen das gewesen , was er heute ist? Der Blick in die Natur zeigt uns, dass im Bereich der Pflanzen und Tiere Veraenderungen und Weiterbildungen vorkommen. Aber nirgends zeigt sich innherhalb einer Gattung eine Entwicklung von der Weite des Sprungs, den der Mensch gemacht haben muesste, sollte er sich aus einem affenartigen Zustand zu dem, was er ist, fortgebildet haben.'

I shall translate :-

'From where do we get the right to believe that man was not from the very beginning what he is today.

A glance in Nature shows us , that changes and developments happen in the realm of plants and animals. But nowhere do we see inside a kind, a development of the size of the leap that Man must have made, if he supposedly has advanced from an ape-like condition to what he is' (now)

And in the entry for 27 February 1942 , Hitler says 'Das, was der Mensch von dem Tier voraushat, der veilleicht wunderbarste Beweis fuer die Ueberlegenheit des Menschen ist, dass er begriffen hat, dass es eine Schoepferkraft geben muss.'

Basically, Hitler thinks that what differentiates us from the animals is that we understand that there must be a creative power.

Steven Carr said...

And from Volume 2 of Mein Kampf

"Thus for the first time a high inner purpose is accredited to the State. In face of the ridiculous phrase that the State should do no more than act as the guardian of public order and tranquillity, so that everybody can peacefully dupe everybody else, it is given a very high mission indeed to preserve and encourage the highest type of humanity which a beneficent Creator has bestowed on this earth."