Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jesus Christ & Charles Darwin - misunderstood, misquoted...

A couple posts ago I got into it yet again with my gadfly, Jason, on the 'tight family tree', that to his mind, encompasses evolutionary theory and Nazism. He is essentially defending the inane argument made in hideous little forthcoming documentary "Expelled" that Darwinism begets Holocausts. I find it to a large degree ironic that Jason AND the producers of this film can make this argument with a straight face while trying to maintain some degree of intellectual honesty.

I will grant that the Hitler, Stalin and some of the robber-baron capitalists at the turn of the 19th century may very well have pointed to Darwin's work as justification for the their sociopathic views. But does that mean that the insight and intuition that Charles Darwin had into the mechanism behind descent with modification is somehow by definition the progenitor of National Socialism, Communism AND the subjugation of workers by corporate elite robber barons? I highly doubt that Mr. Darwin upon finishing his magnum opus cackled to himself evilly and said: "Now we are justified in finally ridding ourselves of all races that are our inferior and and we can also grind the lower classes into powder because that's what nature does! Survival of the fittest forever!" I myself have read "Origin of Species" no where does Mr. Darwin advocate or defend any such thing. Yet the producers of "Expelled" will make the very argument that Mr. Darwin's work AND the ensuing labor of thousands of scientists of varying disciplines over the last 150 years is somehow driving us towards some sort of nefarious end that will be equitable with holocaust. What Hitler and Stalin and Polpot did is NOT a result of Mr. Darwin's idea but a bastardization of Mr. Darwin's idea.

I find it deeply and disturbingly ironic that Jason is very quick to point out the 'twig in my eye' and by extension the eyes of all people who find much value, beauty and truth in the intuition of Darwin, while completely ignoring or glossing over the 2x4 in his eye and the eyes of all others who would equate Darwin with holocausts! I'll elaborate on this.

Over the past 2000 years how many exterminations, burnings, be-headings, torturing of infidels in the name of Christ have there been? Is anyone, atheist or theist, Muslim or Christian justified in saying that these horrible events were a direct result of the teachings of Jesus Christ? Any Christ-follower would be indignant and angry if such a causal link were made between the teachings of Jesus and the Spanish inquisition and rightly so! The justifications offered by the perpetrators of said event are not a result of Jesus' teachings but a complete misuse and/or misunderstanding of those teachings. All compassionate and caring people, of this age either of atheist or theist persuasions, revile and condemn the acts of past Popes and religious leaders.

Given the acts that have been perpetrated in the name of Jesus; is it intellectually honest to make a causal link between Charles Darwin and the Jewish holocaust? Just because Jason and the producers of "Expelled" find themselves in the unenviable position of not liking what Mr Darwin's idea proposes because it goes against their own world view does not give them the right nor the justification to link him (Darwin) to all the evils that have happened in the past 150 years. Similarly I have learned that atheists are NOT justified in linking Jesus to all the evils done in his (Jesus) name just because the perpetrators of said events felt they were doing Jesus', and by extension God's, work here on Earth.

Jesus Christ and Charles Darwin have some very striking similarities in my mind. They both proposed very radical ideas. There is much beauty in both their compelling insights. There are those that followed them that used their ideas to justify abominable cruelty. There are also those who see value in and try to enunciate and refine those ideas to the betterment of all. To my mind and the minds of many people, atheist and theist alike, there is no conflict between the insights of Jesus Christ and Charles Darwin they address different questions. It's only people who are consumed by fear or have a political motivation that would try to suppress either one of these great ideas by trying to link it to cruelties perpetrated by individuals who either knowingly or not had deep misunderstandings the original idea.



Anonymous said...

I am not that well read on Hitler but from what I have read it seems to me his antisemitism springs more from is Christian beliefs than from Darwin.

From Wikipedia:

Hitler was raised by Roman Catholic parents, but after he left home, he never attended Mass or received the sacraments,

Hitler often praised Christian heritage, German Christian culture, and professed a belief in Jesus Christ. (The Holy Reich, Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945, Richard Steigmann-Gall, Kent State University, Ohio, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521823714, doi:10.2277/0521823714)

In his speeches and publications Hitler even spoke of Christianity as a central motivation for his antisemitism, stating that "As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice". (Baynes, N. (ed.) (1942).The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939. London, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-598-75893-3 )

Robert said...

Hi Ed!

My point was it's unfair to cast dispersions at Darwin for Hitlers deeds.

I agree though it seems to me his antisemitism was more a function of his misunderstandings of Jesus!


Anonymous said...

This should be fun. I can barely contain my curiosity for his response.

Some points to consider:

Genocide and racism existed long before Darwin, there was no need for any contribution from Darwinism whatsoever. It is an obvious fact that dead people do not reproduce.

Even if the connection between Darwin and Hitler were true, this is the fallacy of Appeal to Consequences - the consequences of a world view are irrelevant to its truth.

Most scientists agree that evolution is not a direct guide to moral behavior, and it is illegitimate to use it as such. Just because most human beings have sexual desire does not mean that they should always act on it, for instance.

A particular person's misuse of a scientific theory (someone who wasn't even a scientist, no less) does not invalidate the theory anymore than someone's misuse of scripture would invalidate religion (e.g., Crusades, Inquisition).

Corollary: Hitler abused science to justify his abuse of religion. In other words, his views were not based on Darwinism, but rather his (distorted) religious beliefs. Darwinism appeared to support his case, so he twisted it to fit his purposes.

A number of people have exploited, and continue to exploit the atomic theory to make nuclear weapons. Does this somehow make atomic theory less accurate?

Similar erroneous claims could be made that Hitler based his views on X, Y or Z. Hitler's views had many influences.

If Hitler did, indeed, base his views on Darwinism, it is therefore equally valid to say that the massacres of the Crusades and the tortures of the Inquisition were based on Christianity.

Hitler never mentioned Darwin nor did his view of nature reflect any substantive understanding of evolution. In fact, Hitler's racism was based on the view that "races were created distinct by God" and he frequently cited works such as Martin Luther's "On the Jews and their Lies" as guides to his policies.

Hitler's appeals to "Holy Blood", "God's Will", "Divine Destiny", etc. were ubiquitous in his speeches, and make it very obvious that he did not base his hate on scientific principles.

Hitler cited the genocide of Native Americans in North and South America by European settlers (which people also attempted to justify with Christianity) as an inspiration for his policies

The race laws that Hitler implemented were based on old laws that were present in the Holy Roman Empire that prevented Christians and Jews from "mixing".

Darwin said "As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races." - The Descent of Man, 1871. This is a far cry from the views of Hitler.

The views of Darwin were not racist, especially since he observed and acknowledged that all human races are currently adapted to and thriving in each of their native environments, and that each race grades into other, different races.

Those creationists who make this claim are wholly incapable of explaining how Evolutionary Biology inspired authoritarian right-winged ideologies, such as Nazism or eugenics, and yet, simultaneously inspire authoritarian left-winged ideologies, such as Marxism, Stalinism, or Maoism.


Robert said...

Thanks for stopping by Hov...

As much as I disagree with Jason at time, I will admit he has gotten me to look deeply at the epistemological basis fr the views I have.

After that I still believe I have deep and meaningful reasons for accepting the naturalistic view I have.

It angered me greatly when he so cavalierly linked Darwin's work to everything evil and nihilistic that has happened since the release of TOS.

All I am asking of him to admit is that any idea can be perverted to justify ANYTHING anyone wants to do.

You further illustrated what i was trying to convey!



Anonymous said...

Robert the Ruffled,

oh, I would love to get into it. You have mischaracterized so many ideas and conveniently constructed so many straw men that I am more convinced than ever that you Christian are reading the same material, all guided toward changing the subject. Especially that last paragraph. That's a really silly comparison, for I could make the same comparision with any SOB and Darwin. Come back down to the land of linear argumentation.

The point is not an issue of causation, as your caricature dishonstly demands, but correlation. That all of a sudden you are pro-Jesus is amazingly disingenuous, considering the number of times you have proposed that same correlative-founder principle regarding Christ as I am about Darwin. Too late for Jesus revisionism, Bob, the paper trail is too long.

As well, the idea that there were a few "wing-nuts" begs that question, just how many Little Red Books were distributed? How many people died under Mao? What philosophic principles underlied all that he said and did? How many wing-nuts are wearing Che shirts today?

If your complaints about Christianity must be upheld, then so must my complaints about Atheism and materialism.

You don't have a choice.

Jason, yer rare gem.

Anonymous said...

Yah, I didn't get to my point. Surprise, clutter-headed me.

This matter of behavioral correlation with various philosophies is a bit of ruse on my part. I blame Atheism for nothing. If your broad strokes against "religion" are to be taken seriously, then so are other broadly-brushed, behavioral correlatives. But people comprise these movements. The fact of 100,000,000 million dead, mostly at the hands of those who bear a human-centered and/or materialistic philosophy is indicative of nothing more than falleness. In the same way that so many who have spoken the name of Jesus Christ, and yet behaved as Nietzsche predicted, is not indicative of Jesus or the Bible or the Christian faith. It is only indicative of the fact that people are people. And people will do what they want or need to obtain what they think they want or need.

The idea of social evolution, as has been expressed quite a bit in this matter, is in total opposition to any bit of world history, but especially in light of those most influenced by Darwin in the 19th and 20th Centuries, and the actions of their millions of followers.

The big point is that people suck. The hopefulness necessary in materialism must content with the 9 digits dead resultant from leaders, governments, and citizens of societies of materialistic origin. It is an insurmountable wish-list.

Perhaps the "expelled" people are engaging in causative hyperbole, I don't know, I haven't seen it and - sorry, Robert - I don't feel it prudent to trust the caricatures of such a production from this blog.

The issue is correlative. It is the same method you use to complain about "religion". Unless you are going to engage in retraction of much of what comprises this blog, you must deal with the same arguments against your own philosophic golden calves.

Again, I blamed Atheism for nothing. I blame people - and you and I are both in that group (although the research on fallenness in Anglo-Amphibians is forthcoming)- for everything. People do these things.

No group is exempt from such correllation. What could possibly account for such a consistent statistic?


Anonymous said...

one more thing.

There are as many anti-Christian comments made by Hitler as pro-Christian. He did spend much of his time concealing what his purposes were.

What he said in his speeches perhaps should be viewed with more circumspection, even by those looking for an argument.


Anonymous said...

just thinking now.

perhaps look to Margaret Sanger's Darwinist roots, what she proposed as a result, and the resultant holocaust.

Tack about 46,000,000 on to the previous tallies.


Robert said...


Thanks for coming buy and refining your position a bit more.

There may be some merit to what you are suggesting with your correlation argument.

These are huge issues we are dealing with here. We're not gonna solve'em here.

I see Darwin's work as having extremely powerful explanatory power from the standpoint of speciation and bio-diversity.

Whether or not it correlates with the evils of the past 150 years....good arguments can be made pro and con.

But IF, as I accept it, Darwin's idea IS the basis for speciation what then? This doesn't mean we have to engage in atrocities. Does it?

Our brains allow us to leap beyond our more primitive natures. This then goes to our views of human nature.

You are the John Adams to my Thomas Jefferson.

You have a very low opinion of humanity. You don't see any redeeming qualities in our nature. To your mind we must be compelled to do good. You feel that we are in a downward spiral that can only be stopped by the appealing to the divine. I can see how you would come to rely on God if this is your view.

My view is that we can be so much more than we are, were we to simply rise above that R-complex buried deep within our brains. We have the capabilities to do just that. It is well within the realm of possibility that we will descend into the barbarism more horrid than anything experienced after the fall of classical civilization. I would choose to work against such an end using our reason and our innate abilities to figure things out in the natural world.

To my mind we are our own salvation. There is no other. We will either succeed or fail on our own.

I whole-heartedly agree with you that ANY ism taken too far is counter-productive and dangerous.


Robert said...

I had another thought....

I think we BOTH understand that correlation is NOT causation...

Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism can be correlated with Darwinism...

But those evils can also be correlated with a decrease in pirates on the open ocean...

hmmm point to ponder! ;-)

Also, Can we argue that IF Darwin had not had his great insight and NOT written his book then those evils would not have happened? I don't think so. I think the shitheads responsible for those evils would have found something else to base their hate in.

I think we agree PEOPLE are the problem.

Where we disagree is where our salvation is to come from.


King Ott said...

I think that the Nazi's and the Marxists both used Darwinism to bolster there arguments for doing many of the ant-humane things that they have done. Just as some capitalists have stamped God's approval on some of the terrible things they have done against mankind.

As pertaining to the Holocaust, pogroms and other persecution of the Jews, I think you have to lay the seeds of those heinous acts squarely at the feet of the Church. The Church (not Jesus or Darwin) has instilled the deeply ingrained sense of antisemitism that has plagued both the Western world and Islam.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see.

Hitler was reared by a Catholic parents.

So, he was never a Christian.

Now, I see. Very obvious.

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