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March 28, 2008

Those Darwinists know how to party

Biologist PZ Myers, who's been in a perpetual public snit ever since being interviewed for the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (an interview to which he agreed and for which he signed a release), crashed a conference call this afternoon held by Ben Stein, publicist Paul Lauer, and the film's producers. This was after he showed up uninvited to a private screening of the film, which had not yet been finished at the time, and was asked to leave. (As producer Logan Craft pointed out, Myers is so big on seeing dissenters fired that they "thought it might make a point to PZ to 'expel' him from the movie.") This is clearly a scientist with mature and sophisticated ideas about social etiquette. I wonder if he TPs houses and eggs cars on his time off.

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Comments

Walter

And Christianists know how to deceive. For example, the latest version of the Focus on the Family magazine contains the article "Don't Get Expelled" by Tom Neven which contains this gem.

"Stein is also motivated by the pernicious effects that Darwinism has had on our culture.

'I was horrified on the effects of social Darwinism,' Stein said. 'It teaches that superior species would do everyone a favor if they just killed off all the inferior species. You can draw a straight line from this grandfatherly od man [Darwin] to Hitler and the Holocaust.'"

It is common knowledge that:

1. Evolutionary biology is a scientific field, it is not an ideology. There is no such thing as "Darwinism".

2. "Social Darwinism" is a social science theory that predated "The origin of the species". An 1879 "Popular Science" article first used the label "social Darwinism" however, social/cultural systems change over very short periods of time and these changes have nothing to do with speciation and the theory of evolution.

3. Acts of purposeful deception as carried out by Focus on the Family through promotion of the film "Expelled" must be exposed for what they are - anti-Christian.

Gina Dalfonzo

I guess I'm too dimwitted a Christianist to understand how the fact that social/cultural systems change over very short periods of time has anything to do with whether or not Darwin was an influence on the Nazis and their theories on inferior races. A school of thought may have long-lasting effects regardless of how quickly or slowly the culture changes.

Nor do I have any clear idea why you seem to be confronting us over something written by a member of a different organization. Not that you're not welcome to discuss the issue of Darwinism here, but if you have specific concerns about Tom Neven's writing, why not take them directly to Tom Neven himself? He blogs over at Boundless's The Line (direct link in our blogroll under "Theology/Religion"), and they should have contact information for him. He would probably respond to any comments or questions you have about his article much better than I could.

Steve (SBK)

Walter,

1. Darwinism certainly is an ideology... much more "common knowledge" than, say, Christianist/ism.
Check any site from both sides of the camp.

2. "Origin of Species" published in 1859. Check your facts.

3. Not so sure that we can believe what you write by point #3.

Walter

Steve,

The ideology - an of imperial tribalism - builds on the works of Malthus, Hegel, Hobbes, etc. That ideology has nothing to do with the scientific theory of evolution. Social Darwinism is not taught in science class because it is out of scope, the same way that "Intelligent Design" is out of scope.

Of course the Popular Science article that coined the phrase "Social Darwinism" was published after "The Origin of the Species". If it were published before, it would have been a miracle.

You can easily recognize deception by the way people and groups self-identify. For example, the second link in Gina's post directs the browser to "Evolution News" which is not evolution news at all. It's anti-evolution news. The real story can be found here:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/expelled.php

Gina,

I'm sorry if I hurt you. That was not the intent. Please don't be self-deprecating. You are a smart person. You've just found yourself surrounded by what I'll call the "Delusion Industry" or DI for short. Your blog has been promoting "Expelled". Readers simply require accountability on your part. Please don't deflect.

Gina Dalfonzo

Thanks, Walter, but I'm not hurt. It's kind of you to apologize, though, and I appreciate it.

But please understand that there's no "found myself surrounded" about it. I saw that unfinished version of the film -- by invitation -- and liked it, so I'm not endorsing it under duress.

As for deflecting, that's not my intention at all. I may agree with what Neven and Stein believe -- although I haven't seen the full article you cite, so can't say for sure with regards to Neven -- but when it comes to answering for what Neven wrote, I can't really do that. Only Neven can.

Regis Nicoll

Walter—You may want to contact the folks at Britannica (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9029409/Darwinism) and Stanford Encyc. of Philosophy (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/darwinism/), as they have evidently missed the memo that that there is “no such thing as ‘Darwinism’”.

Yale historian, Daniel L. Keyes, might be interested to hear from you as well. In a PBS piece he said this about social Darwinism. “Eugenics was rooted in the social Darwinism of the late 19th century, a period in which notions of fitness, competition, and biological rationalizations of inequality were popular. At the time, a growing number of theorists introduced Darwinian analogies of "survival of the fittest" into social argument. Many social Darwinists insisted that biology was destiny, at least for the unfit, and that a broad spectrum of socially deleterious traits, ranging from "pauperism" to mental illness, resulted from heredity.” It appears that Keyes believes that social Darwinism had everything to do with “speciation and the theory of evolution.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/darwin/nameof/index.html

How so? It could have something to do with sentiments like these from Darwin’s “Descent of Man” (1871): “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.”

Is it any surprise that a Darwin-admirer like Hitler would take those words seriously? Consider this from “Mein Kampf” (1925):"If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior. Why? Because, in such a case her efforts, throughout hundreds and thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

Looks like trajectory from Darwin to Hitler is pretty straight, indeed!

Steve (SBK)

Walter,

Yeah, after my quickly composed post, I realized I was reading you wrong. My apologies for that.

I still have some thoughts though.

The theory of evolution (as generally used to not include any God) includes assumptions and implications. It offers a worldview more supportive of imperial tribalism than monotheism - a worldview based on the survival of the fittest, where less-fits are disposable, and might is right.

Now, regardless of the implications of the theory, or the "fitness" of the theory, scientists should be able to question their theories, as the scientific ideology dictates.

If scientists are not allowed to pursue truth, than an ideology has overruled the purpose of scientists.

(And I believe this is what the movie "Expelled" is trying to explore. They seem to be exploring a deception not of their own creating.)

I understand the point about self-identity/deception, though I find it difficult to believe that anyone visiting the site would not understand it's a subsidiary site of the discovery institute. Anyway, the game can be endlessly played and is fruitless, as some who claim to be 'for Science' could better self-identify as 'anti-God'.

Walter

Steve,

Scientific theories are hypothesis that have been "proven" by experimentally measured and peer reviewed evidence. Theories neither do nor do not include God because their scope deals with a subset of physical phenomena.

Regis,

Please review the entry on Darwinism on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwinism

When you say:

"Looks like trajectory from Darwin to Hitler is pretty straight, indeed!", how should a reader define the subjective "Darwin"? Are you referring to the human being Charles Darwin, the classical theory of evolution (natural selection), the entire scientific field of evolutionary biology, the social science theory of "social Darwinism", or some other concept?

Steve (SBK)

Walter,
I agree with you... but we're not only talking about theories, nor are theories left in a bubble.
You seem to be complaining that people use facts or fictions for their own ends, but then turn around and say that certain facts or fictions are immune from this because they're peer reviewed.
The theory of evolution has implications... or at the very least, is used by people for various means. If it cannot be so, let me know. If a scientist is worried about scope creep, then that scientist should remain in their bubble and not make any comments outside the scope (i.e. about the validity of philosophical implications) - and keep the eye to the microscope investigating all that bubbly evidence - without trying to control other people's thoughts/actions (quite a different sphere/scope).

Regis Nicoll

Walter—Wikipedia? Now that’s a credible source of information!

You ask “How should a reader define the subjective ‘Darwin’”? According to the presupposition of his theory which he shared, among other places, in a letter to J. Hooker (1870): “I can see no evidence of beneficent design or indeed design of any kind, in the detail."

So if man is not a creation of an intelligent Designer, he’s a product of matter and motion, continually sifted by “natural selection” in the upward march to progress.

Could it have been long before folks like Hitler mused—if winnowing the “unfit” from the “fit” is Nature’s way of perfecting us, why shouldn’t we help it along with a little forced sterilization, selective breeding, genocide, etc. Why should we settle for the glacial pace of evolution when the greater good of humanity is at stake?

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