Re: Washington Post Magazine article on ID

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Wed Feb 22 2006 - 23:20:20 EST

>>> "Jim Armstrong" <> 02/22/06 4:40 PM >>>writes:

It just seems to me these connections with Darwin, while plausible on
the surface, just leak badly with any measure of thought. One did not
have to have to know of natural selection to discriminate among "chosen"
peoples (and the polar opposites) on the basis of skin color,
physiognomy, geography, heritage, or whatever. The posits of Darwin just
provided a new framework to hang old cloth, and that would not seem to
be particularly his fault. JimA

Ted responds.
Jim is absolutely right about the logic here--not my logic (I hope), but
that of those claiming that evolution necessitates racism. And likewise the
logic of creationists who claim this, not just the Germans. Nevertheless,
there is fire beneath the creationist smoke on this one. Let me explain
more fully.

Nothing I have said should be taken to lay some special blame on evolution
or Darwin himself for that matter, concerning the demonstrable historical
fact that in late 19th and early 20th century Germany there was a
particularly virulent form of "scientific racism," associated with

Please read the whole paragraph above once more, carefully.

It is not a contradiction to say, on the one hand, that we can't fairly
blame Darwin for what Haeckel and Hitler, to say nothing of the "Prof von
Flussen" in Kellogg's narrative, did with Darwin's theory--any more than we
can blame Einstein for the atom bomb--while to say on the other hand, that
evolution has been used to construct what was considered at the time a
highly "scientific" form of racism that was actually taught as such in
colleges and universities. Indeed, the biology text used by John Scopes
when he substituted for the principal in biology classes in Dayton 81 years
ago, "A Civic Biology" by Hunter, is loaded with it.

The fact that creationists today blame evolution for everything evil and
rotten has more to do with their definition of evolution as sin itself
(Morris believes that evolution was the lie delivered by Satan to Nimrod at
the tower of Babel, for example), than with historical reality.
Nevertheless, there is historical reality to their claim that belief in
evolution promoted racism and Nazism. It's true, just as it is true when
creationists claim that life can't be created from non-living materials in a
test tube.

The problem with their reasoning is that there is no necessity in history,
there is no necessary connection between Darwin's theory and German
racism--despite the fact that the Germans believed there was such a
necessary connection. If there were such necessary connections, then we'd
be faced with a flat contradiction to our assumption, in the equally
demonstrable fact that both cutthroat American capitalism, Rockefeller and
Carnegie style, *AND* Marxist-Leninism BOTH claim to be "Darwinian." Throw
in Nazism, and you have a combination proving that anything can be derived
from a counterfactual assumption.

Received on Wed Feb 22 23:22:05 2006

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