Darwin and eugenics? Wrong again

Again at Café Philos, the anti-Darwin fifth columnists do their best to continue distortions of history, in this case, in high irony, claiming NOT to defend John Freshwater.

Not in defense of Freshwater’s walking over the Constitution and zapping burns on students in the shape of a cross? Why bother to go after Darwin? No explanation is necessary. It’s like the story of the frog and the scorpion. Creationists are like scorpions. It’s in their nature. (I believe it is a corruption of human nature that creationism visits on those who allow the demon in.) (“Paging Bobby Jindal! Creationist Demon Possession in the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion; what? You’re already there? When’s the exorcism this time?”)

In a cartoon, Darwin bans "Laissez faire," a shorthand for "Social Darwinism," and eugenics from his house. Unknown cartoonist, from a short essay on Northwestern University's discussion book, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, by David Quammen.

In a cartoon, Darwin bans “Laissez faire,” a shorthand for “Social Darwinism,” and eugenics from his house. Unknown cartoonist, from a short essay on Northwestern University’s discussion book, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, by David Quammen.

Here’s the exchange. If you find it boring, my apologies. I do weary at the prospect of having to do this again, and again. On the crashed hard-drive of my first laptop, I have files now 15 years old discussing this same silly claim. I’m posting here for the record, for my easy reference, with hope that someday it will not be necessary to post this stuff at all. You may need some of these links some day, and here they are, below the fold.

A poster with the handle Sweet said:

Am I to believe then that Charles Darwin repudiated the idea of eugenics?

No, don’t put faith in it. Read what he wrote, and quit putting out your thoughts for his. Read the blessed book, will you? Darwin posed a rhetorical question about whether human stock would get frail as a result of altruism — but, I’ve answered this argument of yours three or four posts ago. Darwin did not argue for eugenics, ever. Not ever. You failed to note the argument at all, but blindly go on butchering Darwin quotes as if you have any idea what Darwin and his editors intended. Balderdash. Go back and read it as I wrote it before. Quit ignoring the answers. Darwin said let natural selection work naturally in humans. Darwin said stop genocides. Darwin said aboriginals are superior to “civilized” tribes and should be left alone. Darwin said nature takes care of what he regarded as less-than-top-quality stock among humans, no intervention necessary.

Even though he had very little relationship with Galton until both were mature scientists, and that Darwin initiated the contact?

Ah, so now your claim is that if you write a letter to me, you have adopted all of my ideas. Good. Where shall I send you the address? We can get you a full education in Darwin very quickly — just send me a letter.

More seriously, you make the case here yourself that Galton is not Darwin, and that imputing the views of one to the other is insanity.

So stop it.

The letters between them can be found with just a little bit of searching. Did they always agree?

The immediate issue is whether they agreed on eugenics at all. Your claim is that Darwin repudiated his life-long views of egalitarianism and no-interference in human breeding. You’ve offered no evidence of such a repudiation, but instead have offered a weak guilt-by-association claim with regard to Galton.

That doesn’t make your case. There is no evidence Darwin shared Galton’s views on eugenics, and as I have noted before, it would be contrary to what Darwin wrote in Voyage of the Beagle all the way through to Descent of Man, not to mention completely contrary to Darwin’s own actions through his entire life.

You’re making an extraordinary claim, Sweet. You need extraordinary evidence, not just half-quotes from Darwin, not just sections of his writings you have ripped untimely and irrationally from their context.

No, yet it was not the issue of eugenics that caused a real snit between the two, it was Galtons testing of a theory of Darwin’s which proved Darwin wrong that caused friction between the two. I don’t give two hoots whether you believe I’ve read Darwin or not, I know the reality.

You’re denying the reality. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve read Darwin — I hope you haven’t. If you haven’t read him, you’re merely deluded. If you’ve read him, you’re a two-faced, dishonest scoundrel.

That’s your ticket: You’ve never read Darwin at all, but instead have seen only the bawdlerized versions offered by stiff-necked creationists. That’s your story, and you should stick to it, for the sake of honor.

The fact that I did not take from it what you did certainly does not show me a liar. Nor have I only read Darwin, I have read a great deal beyond Darwin, to those who support and those who did not. I have read books that date back more than a hundred years, as well as newer books. My conclusions are simply not yours.

But they should be. And since your views are not mine, and your views are incorrect on the history alone, you should repent.

And since it is perfectly clear that eugenics, both positive and negative, were based on evolution.

Well, yes, if you ignore the 5,000 years of animal husbandry upon which that part of evolution is based.

Good heavens! Have you not bothered to read the first two chapters of Origin of Species just because you misinterpreted the title? In those chapters Darwin details the history and state of animal husbandry, noting that it relies on exactly the same mechanisms as evolution, only with artificial selection substituted for natural and sexual selection.

Now, are you going to go all Ben Stein on us, and make the unevidenced and irrational claim that eugenics also involves murder? You haven’t read Galton, either, have you.

Galton is clear on this. And since Galton and Darwin were corresponding why did not Darwin simply tell him he was all wet?

Galton and Darwin corresponded on the science of breeding and selection, and evolution. You’re claiming Darwin adopted Galton’s political views. That’s a different kettle of fish, a horse of a different color, an entirely different species.

But if you don’t know much about evolution, maybe you don’t recognize the differences in species of arguments, either, eh?

He [Darwin] did make some statements that indicates he does not completely agree with certain theories, but he does not repudiate the overall ideas.

Nor does he adopt the eugenics theory. As Darwin wrote to Galton upon the publication of Hereditary Genius, “you have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think [this] is an eminently important difference.” (See Desmond and Moore’s biography of Darwin, p. 572)

Did you notice that Darwin listed himself an opponent of Galton’s ideas? Do Darwin’s real words count for anything with you , Sweet?

Darwin made a theory, the progressives took it and ran, including those in Darwin’s own family. One can’t help but wonder how it would be that Darwin’s son headed up the Eugenics society if dad was so opposed to what it represented.

Oh, yes, it’s quite uncommon for the son to differ from the father on any issue at all, isn’t it? Franklin and his Tory son, Hemingway and his non-hunting, non-drinking sons, the right-wing Joseph Kennedy and his sons . . . Santayana warned about those who don’t know history.

Do you have a father, Sweet? Do you have a son? Your claim is fatuous.

Or maybe the various members of the family were just rebelling against the old man.

If I thought you didn’t offer that in sarcasm, I would hold you redeemable.

Oooooh: Warning to Readers: Here comes the violence and murder part we knew Sweet was warming up to; here’s where Sweet goes all Ben Stein:

This past century has been the century of the progressives, and it was perhaps the most bloody century humans have known.

You cut even your own quotes. Notice that most of the mass murders were not committed by progressives, however, but by totalitarians, by fascists in name and fascists in deed — and not by progressives like Galton, the Roosevelts, Churchill, and others who actually read Darwin.

The biggest lie of the past century has been that the Nazi’s were not behaving like other progressives. Not Marxists, progressives. 2 very similar, despite differences, socialists. A bit like the Lutherans and Catholics. A spate between branches of the family.

Again, I refer you to my earlier comments, in which I noted that the Nazis burned Darwin’s books. Ashley Montagu wrote several pieces over the 1950s and 1960s noting how the Nazis repudiated most of real science, but especially evolution. Adolf Hitler believed heritage passed in the blood — as the Bible argues, but not as Darwin argues — and so prohibited the use of blood banks, causing the needless deaths of tens of thousands of German soldiers. There is no evidence Darwin ever crossed Hitler’s mind, except as an example of a degenerate Brit, which is what Hitler called him in essence.

Nazis didn’t get their ideas from Darwin. They repudiated Darwin’s science, they burned Darwin’s books, they impugned Darwin’s nation and everything it ever produced. Which part of “Hitler didn’t like England or the English” did you fail to pick up on in history class?

And of course, Stalin was worse. Stalin banished the Darwinists, fired, expelled and imprisoned anyone who he thought might be Darwinist, and murdered a few for good measure.

Do creationists ever read history?

I do not agree with what this teacher did at all, as far as I am concerned he assaulted a child, and had this been my child I would not have been nearly as nice as the parents involved. This alone is why he should be fired, but very few people focus on what he did to a kid do they? No they focus on his belief system, and the reason he should be fired comes down to their disagreement with that belief system. Read the responses here, some of which are terribly nasty. The idea is that he professes Christianity, combined with the cross shape that was burned means he’s just a crazy Christian, you know, just like the rest of those rabid crazy people who help sustain evil in the world. Witness the above, I spread and sustain evil simply because I do not agree with Erik.

I do not think you can find anyone who has argued that Freshwater should be fired for being Christian. Of course, I don’t think his blasphemous work with the Bible was Christian, but that’s beside the point — he has a right to be Christian.

He has no right to teach religious dogma in place of good science. He has no right to injure students. And if you check the remarks above, more than 150 of them, I’ll wager you don’t find anyone who claims he should be fired for being a Christian. Not one (and I haven’t looked).

You mistake arrogance and totalitarian theocracy for Christianity. You’re not paying attention.

But of course, if you really believed that, why do you bother to spend so much time falsely maligning Darwin, impugning the reputation of a great man and one of the greatest ideas of western civilization? Nothing you have written could change anything about Freshwater’s manifest manifold sins.

And later Sweet said:

Please note this is a second edition [of Descent of Man] -sounds like he’s praising Galton to me. Certainly isn’t repudiating the theories, but instead is using them as citations.

You do have the most annoying, creationist habit of butchering the words of Darwin. Why did you stop where you stopped, without continuing to the concluding paragraph? Ah, well, Darwin rather undercuts your argument there — so you couldn’t very well cite that, could you? And thinking that surely no one else would bother to snip any of the 8 or 9 on-line editions of the book, you hoped to get away with impugning the great man by putting ideas to his work that the words of his pen do not support?

Here is Darwin’s conclusion, which you so uncharitably leave out entirely — starting from the line you last quoted (the link goes to all of chapter 5; you may search from there):

[Darwin wrote:] Natural selection follows from the struggle for existence; and this from a rapid rate of increase. It is impossible not to regret bitterly, but whether wisely is another question, the rate at which man tends to increase; for this leads in barbarous tribes to infanticide and many other evils, and in civilised nations to abject poverty, celibacy, and to the late marriages of the prudent. But as man suffers from the same physical evils as the lower animals, he has no right to expect an immunity from the evils consequent on the struggle for existence. Had he not been subjected during primeval times to natural selection, assuredly he would never have attained to his present rank. Since we see in many parts of the world enormous areas of the most fertile land capable of supporting numerous happy homes, but peopled only by a few wandering savages, it might be argued that the struggle for existence had not been sufficiently severe to force man upwards to his highest standard. Judging from all that we know of man and the lower animals, there has always been sufficient variability in their intellectual and moral faculties, for a steady advance through natural selection. No doubt such advance demands many favourable concurrent circumstances; but it may well be doubted whether the most favourable would have sufficed, had not the rate of increase been rapid, and the consequent struggle for existence extremely severe. It even appears from what we see, for instance, in parts of S. America, that a people which may be called civilised, such as the Spanish settlers, is liable to become indolent and to retrograde, when the conditions of life are very easy. With highly civilised nations continued progress depends in a subordinate degree on natural selection; for such nations do not supplant and exterminate one another as do savage tribes. Nevertheless the more intelligent members within the same community will succeed better in the long run than the inferior, and leave a more numerous progeny, and this is a form of natural selection. The more efficient causes of progress seem to consist of a good education during youth whilst the brain is impressible, and of a high standard of excellence, inculcated by the ablest and best men, embodied in the laws, customs and traditions of the nation, and enforced by public opinion. It should, however, be borne in mind, that the enforcement of public opinion depends on our appreciation of the approbation and disapprobation of others; and this appreciation is founded on our sympathy, which it can hardly be doubted was originally developed through natural selection as one of the most important elements of the social instincts. (31. I am much indebted to Mr. John Morley for some good criticisms on this subject: see, also Broca, ‘Les Selections,’ ‘Revue d’Anthropologie,’ 1872.)

Intelligence is shared among all men, education is the key to upward mobility and progress. Which part of that equation do you disagree with, Sweet? No wonder you cut it out.

And while you’re there, get the full context, will you? The next section of the chapter is titled, alluringly, “ON THE EVIDENCE THAT ALL CIVILISED NATIONS WERE ONCE BARBAROUS.”

Give it up, Sweet. Darwin was right. Darwin was not evil. Freshwater’s sins that merit his dismissal have nothing to do with a genuine practice of Christianity, nor can his faith cover up for his totalitarian theocratic actions, or his abuse of students with electricity.

21 Responses to Darwin and eugenics? Wrong again

  1. Nick K says:

    Anthony why do you think you’re going to get anywhere stupidly attempting to character assasinate Darwin?

    What? Can’t disprove the science so you attack the man? You’re only proving you’re an idiot who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    anthony wrote:

    darwin was intrigued if not obsessed with the theory of robert thomas malthus.

    Malthus clearly stated an observation that others had made, including Darwin, but which had not been enunciated so clearly before — it’s a claim about carrying capacity of the environment, and a claim about the growth of food supplies, though Malthus states the rule as it applies to natural situations where humans do not artificially grow food resources.

    Here’s what Malthus observed, rules of wildlife management and any practice of biology that involves populations:

    Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.

    In wildlife management, we call this “carrying capacity.” Populations grow to match the capacity of the environment to carry that population; but the populations, if unchecked (by disease, or predation, or natural death, populations will exceed the carrying capacity. When that occurs, resources will be short, and starvation, and possibly nearly-complete population collapse will result.

    See, for example, the Kaibab Plateau Disaster.

    Darwin recognized this was an accurate statement of nature’s laws — he was not obsessed with it in any way.

    Apply it to an oak tree, as Darwin suggested, you’ll see that there will be thousands of acorns, considerably more than can grow to maturity. Some will be eaten by squirrels, some will simply fail to find suitable place to root, some will be grazed to death by deer, some will root where water is inadequate, or sunlight, and will die young.

    Those are rules of nature. Darwin observed how they might drive evolution.

    who said a mass food collapse would do good in destroying the poor..a fictional scenario called the malthusian catastrophe.

    That’s a cruel and foul misstatement of what Malthus actually said. Malthus observed that the poor suffer more from scarce food supplies than do the rich. he did not urge that this was good, only a political fact — especially in Europe in 1798. If you’re astute, you’ll note this was nine years after the beginning of the French Revolution. In 1789, food shortages helped fuel the revolutionary fervor of the poor, underfed and starving masses. Shortages of food plagued Europe well into the 20th century, and the poor would call for change in government when scarcity occurred. This would be true at least through World War II, in Europe.

    Surely you don’t deny these historical facts.

    this .fueled darwin to come up with his own views of evolution and the strongest of the fittest, being puushed into wide acceptance in key scientific circle by his friend TH Huxley who was a firm believer in darwins theory..

    Though he eventually caved to allow the publisher to use the phrase, Darwin did not invent the phrase “survival of the fittest,” nor did he agree that it accurately described evolution theory, and especially he thought it a horrid principle applied to humans. It’s a political issue, and Darwin fought against “survival of the fittest” as a principle of politics.

    The phrase came from sociologist Herbert Spencer, who thought the rich were, somehow, perhaps divinely (a sharp break from Darwin), superior people to the poor. The rich were rich because they were superior, Spencer (and the Robber Barons) thought, and little could be done for the poor.

    Darwin thought that an abominable principle, completely contrary to evolution theory. Darwin understood that politics could starve the “superior, fitted to the niche better” person, allowing the inferior, less well suited for survival person get an advantage. He wrote about the evils of this in Descent of Man. Darwin argued that Europeans with guns had already and would continue to displace and wipe out indigenous peoples around the world, where the indigenous peoples were better suited to living in that area, and in all evolutionary measures, “superior.”

    Darwin called that unjust.

    galton saw opportunity to advance mankind by taking darwins theory and applied social principles developing social darwinism.

    Galton was not Darwin, and it sounds to me as if you don’t know much about Galton’s work, either. “Social Darwinism” is not a fair or accurate description of Galton’s work.

    Galton was a statistician, chiefly, not a biologist.

    look at the familys man. galton,huxley,wedgwood,and darwin.they were so obsessed with the created theory that they swore to only breed within the tree. its sickening.

    None of these people “swore to only breed within the tree.” That’s pure fiction. Sickening, yes, and false.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Anthony, can you explain why Darwin, the entire Wedgewood clan, and Huxley were all such strong supporters of the anti-slavery movement, and all advocated racial integration?

    That doesn’t seem to fit with your uncharitable description of these men whom you appear to regard as contemptible. Their positions were clear, and yet utterly contrary to your characterization of them.

    I do not recall anywhere Malthus said a population collapse was “good.” He observed that when populations grow so great the food supply (and shelter and water supplies) cannot support them, they collapse with much death.

    If you can find anywhere Malthus approves of such mass deaths, please show me. In his day, and to most later economists, Malthus was regarding as sounding a warning, not presaging a celebration.

    Have you actually read Malthus, or Darwin’s description of Malthus’s work?


  4. anthony says:

    darwin was intrigued if not obsessed with the theory of robert thomas malthus. who said a mass food collapse would do good in destroying the poor..a fictional scenario called the malthusian catastrophe. this .fueled darwin to come up with his own views of evolution and the strongest of the fittest, being puushed into wide acceptance in key scientific circle by his friend TH Huxley who was a firm believer in darwins theory.. galton saw opportunity to advance mankind by taking darwins theory and applied social principles developing social darwinism. look at the familys man. galton,huxley,wedgwood,and darwin.they were so obsessed with the created theory that they swore to only breed within the tree. its sickening.


  5. Nick Kelsier says:

    Since I didn’t see “Evolution is false” reply til now I’m going to answer it now.

    First off, child, “Christian” is not a race. So ergo I can’t be racist as you say. Secondly, I’m Catholic…meaning I’m Christian.

    Thirdly, and most importantly it’s the fact that Hitler was raised Christian, used the Bible and other Christian beliefs to justify what he did. And the fact that Germany and the other countries that engaged in the holocaust were and remain predominantly Christian countries. Then there is the fact that for near 2000 years Christianity preached that Jews were inferior, that Jews were to blame for the death of Jesus (when really the Romans were) and that Jews were little more then the Devil’s children.

    As the adage goes, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Which is why recent years have seen a rise in incidents of anti-semitism. Partially because you and people like you want to pretend that Christianity is not responsible for what it taught and that Christians aren’t responsible for what they do, especially if it is in the name of Christianity.


  6. […] to mention that Hitler, far from lionizing Darwin, in fact had his books burned.  As one blog I came across explained “Hitler believed heritage passed in the blood — as the Bible […]


  7. evolution is false says:

    uhhm being cross and bones is also lodeda about the world


  8. evolution is false says:

    why are you always tryin to blame the christins? interesting yor racist


  9. Nick Kelsier says:

    Just for your edification, Vienna Prelude, the term “Liberal Fascism” is a contradiction in terms since Fascism occupies the extreme right side of the political spectrum.

    And tell me, Eco, if the theory of evolution is somehow to blame for eugenics…does that mean that Christianity is to blame for Hitler and the holocaust?


  10. Ed Darrell says:

    Not exactly a coincidence, but not what you think it is, necessarily, either.

    Darwin’s family was interested in preventing birth defects — you know, the stuff the March of Dimes turned to after polio was put to the rout. They focused on concerns of genetic diseases for the most part.

    In those areas where fundamentalist Christians got hold of eugenics, and where political megalomaniacs got hold of it, eugenics was twisted into a political tool. That’s no slam on Darwin’s family that Virginia, a Bible Belt state, used eugenics to sterilize African Americans and poor people.

    It must be entirely a coincidence that people from those old religious and political haunts of the racists always bring this up since, as Charles Darwin himself noted, evolution does away with any scientific justification for racism. That’s been a stick in the craw of creationists in the U.S. since . . . since the beginning of creationism.

    The Tennessee anti-evolution law, the Butler Act, passed in early 1925, was prompted in large measure because teaching human evolution came too close to saying blacks and whites are the same species.

    Darwin and his family were famous supporters of ending slavery and racism, putting the full power of the Wedgwood family fortune behind that movement, successfully. The largest group of creationists in the world got around to making a statement against race-based slavery in the 1990s. We hope they’ll come around to accepting evolution more quickly, but you’re making a strong case they won’t.

    No scientific principle is immune from being hijacked by racists, sexists, nationalists or anyone bent on doing evil. Atomic theory leads to atomic bombs, instruments of evil in evil hands. Evolution theory, sound science principle that it is, also is not immune to such hijacking.

    It’s telling that the high moral stands are generally made by people who understand evolution. It may be that studying science makes people aware that they must control the actions of humans to stop evil, if evil is to be stopped.

    Let’s be clear, Mr. Osgoode: These statements are your statements, opposed by Darwin:

    You are a meat by-product of evolution.
    You have no soul.
    Men can be bred like dogs.

    You may believe men have no souls, but that’s not Darwin’s view. You may believe evil should be the normal operating mode of humans, but that’s contrary to what Darwin discovered in evolution, contrary to what he wrote, contrary to what he believed and contrary to his actions. Your views that humans may be bred like dogs are quite disgusting, and absolutely contrary to Darwin’s views. If you read my posts in the thread at the original site, you can get a glimpse into some of Darwin’s writings that reveal the answers to the nasty questions you pose.

    But I see at your site that you’re not above substituting your views for Darwin’s or others.

    I hope you’ll join us in the fight against human freedom, in the fight against abuse of eugenics and the abolition of the idea that any governmental authority can know better than the people involved, whether and how to breed. Winning that fight requires good information, such as a study of evolution theory, how evolution works, and what Darwin really wrote. I gather you’re not up to such hard work.


  11. ECO says:

    It must be merely a coincidence that so many famous evolutionary scientists (and members of Darwin’s family) were also eugenists. Perhaps eugenics was a common hobby, like smoking cigars at the men’s club.
    See here: Darwinism-Eugenics


  12. […] weeks. Number 45 was hosted by Remote Central, “Caves, Graves and Audio Files Edition (with a tip to a post from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub); Number 46 is out today at Testimony of the […]


  13. Ed Darrell says:

    Fortunately, however, Darwin was not a jerk. For the great unwashed (in information, at least) who claim Darwin hated Christianity, bore a grudge against the church, and so developed his idea of evolution to knock God out of the sky, there might be solace taken were Darwin a jerk.

    But he was an outstanding man, a man of great compassion, a great father, a loving and doting husband. Also, he was active in church affairs his entire life.

    The point may be lost. It’s not great reverence for Darwin. It’s great defense of one of the grand ideas of western civilization, the binding idea of biology, the notion that gets us to cures for cancer and food for billions.

    It turns out, too, that Darwin discovered evolution from the evidence God put in front of him (to put it in terms that will either enlighten or enrage creationists, depending on how stiff-necked and fingers-in-earsed they are.

    Darwin was not an evil guy who advocated killing millions to improve the species. That’s a crass lie. It’s a lie told willingly by Ben Stein and others. It deserves vigorous rebuttal, even if it looks to a more judicious person as a bit of cultish fanaticism.


  14. Colugo says:

    I left a comment on Cafe Philos criticizing the ahistorical and simplistic thinking of Sweet.

    Make of these what you will:

    Letter from Charles Darwin to Francis Galton, 1873 (note:

    “the greatest difficulty, I think, would be in deciding who deserved to be on the register. … Though I see so much difficulty, the object seems a grand one; and you have pointed out the sole feasible, yet I fear utopian, plan of procedure in improving the human race. I should be inclined to trust more … to disseminating and insisting on the importance of the all-important principle of inheritance.”

    Alfred Russel Wallace, ‘Human Selection,’

    The Eclectic Magazine, 1890: “In one of my last conversations with Darwin he expressed himself very gloomily on the future of humanity, on the ground that in our modern civilization natural selection had no play, and the fittest did not survive.”

    One of my thoughts on the topic:

    “People rise to defend Darwin’s honor as if he were a revered elder relative rather than yet another dead guy in the history of science. Is anyone particularly defensive about the character and eccentricities of Isaac Newton? Stephen Hawking has no problem calling out Newton as a jerk. Because it doesn’t matter.

    Darwin is in many ways a very admirable and sympathetic figure. Insights can be gained from his scientific writings even today. He also had some views that were disturbing and even scandalous. So did Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Woodrow Wilson. Come to think of it, we build statues to them too. So feel free to gush over Darwin, but let’s all learn to let go a little bit.”


  15. Colugo says:

    First, John Freshwater should never be allowed to formally teach anyone in any situation, including homeschooling.

    Second, what Darwin thought about anything – social policy, science etc. – is of no prescriptive relevance for modern science. Sure, it’s of historical interest, but it has no bearing on the validity of current scientific knowledge and theoretical models.

    Whatever Darwin and Wallace thought about race, human equality, the selective implications of conditions of civilization etc. has no more relevance than the status of the gemmule theory. Some of their views on the biological and social sciences have stood the test of time and some haven’t. The same is true of Newton and Einstein. Certainly some of Martin Luther’s views are incongruent with today’s values.


  16. Ediacaran says:

    Wow, Vienna Prelude sure has the misrepresentation-by-out-of-context-quote down cold. Thanks to bobhope2112 and Ed Darrell for exposing Vienna Prelude’s lies.

    Why is it that creationists seem so intent on constantly bearing false witness?


  17. HannahJ says:

    Read chapters 9 and 18 of Unnatural Selection (Lois Wingerson, Bantam: 1998). Then state your claim again, Ed.


  18. Adam_Y says:

    I’ll keep this short.

    If Darwin can be read in the light of eugenics, then the bible must also be read in the light of every nutter and psychopath that has done something terrible only to claim ‘god told me to do it’.

    (I believe neither of these to be true)

    Failing that, it can also be likened to a person shooting someone else and trying to blame the gun.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ed Darrell says:

    According to Darwin, the survival of the fittest is the engine for progress for men as well as the rest of the animal kingdom. Thus in one swift stroke, he jettisoned any ennobling moral actions, which actually separates us from the rest of the creature kingdom.

    No. Darwin stops short of calling it “progress,” and that’s a philosophical overlay that comes loaded with baggage that is simply not part of Darwin’s discussion. Adaptation to existing conditions may or may not be progress — but how do you define progress? So, some take the Christian notion of progress in society, or progress of a pilgrim, and then try to insert that into a discussion of biology.

    That’s simply inappropriate. Darwin isn’t talking about any march to salvation as a result of physical adaptation of a species to survive, over time.

    Plus there is this: In Chapter 5 of Descent of Man, Darwin discusses the rise of morality in humans. He says flat out that morality is necessary to survival of the species, because we are a social species after all. It’s an error to claim Darwin jettisons morality when he spends an entire chapter pointing out that it can’t be jettisoned, don’t you think?

    In his “Descent of Man,” Darwin laments that the misguided care of the weaker members of society has come as a detriment to the whole.

    No, he says that, on first flush, it seems that care of weaker members might be a detriment to the whole species, and he notes that animal husbanders wouldn’t do that. Then he goes into a lengthy discussion about how that altruism that causes that care is part of the altruism essential for survival of the species. As a pragmatic matter, the elders of the species who are the halt and lame often hold the wisdom to get the species through crises.

    So in a very real sense, this care for the “weaker” members is a good thing — the problem is in calling elderly and physically and mentally handicapped “weaker.” That ignores the contribution of the individual members, and it ignores the fact that humans are more than just physical beings. We use our minds, we cooperate to higher objectives.

    The entire analysis of defining a handicapped person as “weaker” breaks down because “weaker” applies only in one area in this discussion, to physical hardiness, and not to any other adaptation necessary for survival of the entire tribe, or race.

    Elephants have exactly the same problem. Sometimes they get superannuated cows in the herd who just can’t keep up. The rest of the herd helps out. When the drought hits, that’s the member of the herd who remembers where the spring-fed water holes were that the herd last used 15 or 20 years ago. If we stick to real examples in the real world, as Darwin tried, we quickly see the error of calling anyone “weaker.”

    He warns that measures must be taken to “prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men,” which is essentially nothing less than the mission statement of eugenicists the world over. That’s not a “rhetorical question” on his part.

    It’s not a suggestion of any type on Darwin’s part. He doesn’t say that at all. You’re misreading Darwin, or reading into his work something that just isn’t there.

    Read it again. He ponders the question of the effect of altruism on overall fitness of the species. He concludes it helps. That’s quite the opposite of saying that action must be taken to stop anyone’s reproduction. Darwin doesn’t do that at all — read the blasted chapter — Darwin says that nature takes care of it.

    Finally, I suggest you may want to read Liberal Fascism to appreciate the “progressive” strain in totalitarianism.

    I thought the book a total crock of excrement. Most of the cases cited are in error.


  20. bobhope2112 says:

    What “measures” does Darwin suggest? Here’s the quote in more context:

    It was established from an enormous body of statistics, taken during 1853, that the unmarried men throughout France, between the ages of twenty and eighty, die in a much larger proportion than the married: for instance, out of every 1000 unmarried men, between the ages of twenty and thirty, 11·3 annually died, whilst of the married only 6·5 died.22 A similar law was proved to

    20 ‘Tenth Annual Report of Births, Deaths, &c., in Scotland,’ 1867, p. xxix.

    21 These quotations are taken from our highest authority on such questions, namely, Dr. Farr, in his paper “On the Influence of Marriage on the Mortality of the French People,” read before the Nat. Assoc. for the Promotion of Social Science, 1858.

    22 Dr. Farr, ibid. The quotations given below are extracted from the same striking paper.

    [page] 176

    hold good, during the years 1863 and 1864, with the entire population above the age of twenty in Scotland: for instance, out of every 1000 unmarried men, between the ages of twenty and thirty, 14·97 annually died, whilst of the married only 7·24 died, that is less than half.23 Dr. Stark remarks on this, “Bachelorhood is more destructive to life than the most unwholesome trades, or than residence in an unwholesome house or district where there has never been the most distant attempt at sanitary improvement.” He considers that the lessened mortality is the direct result of “marriage, and the more regular domestic habits which attend that state.” He admits, however, that the intemperate, profligate, and criminal classes, whose duration of life is low, do not commonly marry; and it must likewise be admitted that men with a weak constitution, ill health, or any great infirmity in body or mind, will often not wish to marry, or will be rejected. Dr. Stark seems to have come to the conclusion that marriage in itself is a main cause of prolonged life, from finding that aged married men still have a considerable advantage in this respect over the unmarried of the same advanced age; but every one must have known instances of men, who with weak health during youth did not marry, and yet have survived to old age, though remaining weak and therefore always with a lessened chance of life. There is another remarkable circumstance which seems to support Dr. Stark’s conclusion, namely, that widows and widowers in France suffer in comparison with the married a very heavy rate of mortality; but Dr. Farr attributes this to the poverty and

    23 I have taken the mean of the quinquennial means, given in ‘The Tenth Annual Report of Births, Deaths, &c., in Scotland,’ 1867. The quotation from Dr. Stark is copied from an article in the ‘Daily News,’ Oct. 17th, 1868, which Dr. Farr considers very carefully written.

    [page] 177

    evil habits consequent on the disruption of the family, and to grief. On the whole we may conclude with Dr. Farr that the lesser mortality of married than of unmarried men, which seems to be a general law, “is mainly due to the constant elimination of imperfect types, and to the skilful selection of the finest individuals out of each successive generation;” the selection relating only to the marriage state, and acting on all corporeal, intellectual, and moral qualities. We may, therefore, infer that sound and good men who out of prudence remain for a time unmarried do not suffer a high rate of mortality.

    If the various checks specified in the two last paragraphs, and perhaps others as yet unknown, do not prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde, as has occurred too often in the history of the world. We must remember that progress is no invariable rule. It is most difficult to say why one civilised nation rises, becomes more powerful, and spreads more widely, than another; or why the same nation progresses more at one time than at another. We can only say that it depends on an increase in the actual number of the population, on the number of the men endowed with high intellectual and moral faculties, as well as on their standard of excellence. Corporeal structure, except so far as vigour of body leads to vigour of mind, appears to have little influence.

    The call to action, as well as the lamentation, escapes me.


  21. Vienna Prelude says:

    According to Darwin, the survival of the fittest is the engine for progress for men as well as the rest of the animal kingdom. Thus in one swift stroke, he jettisoned any ennobling moral actions, which actually separates us from the rest of the creature kingdom.

    In his “Descent of Man,” Darwin laments that the misguided care of the weaker members of society has come as a detriment to the whole. He warns that measures must be taken to “prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men,” which is essentially nothing less than the mission statement of eugenicists the world over. That’s not a “rhetorical question” on his part. Finally, I suggest you may want to read Liberal Fascism to appreciate the “progressive” strain in totalitarianism.


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