Darwinism

Darwin and racism: I really did need to say something

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This started in the combox on a post below, but …

xxxxxx, I do not get your point.

Eugenics was not science; it was nonsense. Nonsense firmly founded in Darwin’s own beliefs. Remember, Darwin was a guy who thought that black people were closer to gorillas than white people.

Darwin has always been protected by professional Darwinists from the normal social consequences of such antisocial beliefs.

I am not letting the matter go because it cannot be let go until the belief is formally renounced.

I am not interested in what “whackjobs” or “dopes” think (who is?).  Can’t they just yell in the cell block or mental home?

The use of such terms is classically how Darwinists like yourself avoid facing up to the issue.

The reality is that Darwin’s racism is an open running sore, and will remain so until it is properly addressed by ceasing Darwin worship and saying that the Great Man was wrong on that point.

Are you prepared to do that?

Be warned: New books, documentaries are coming out about the dreadful crimes Darwinism perpetrated in this area, often in the form of eugenics.

Better just acknowledge it now, and not bother me with irrelevancies about “the ways some dopes usurp their ideas”.

If I were to propose a warning sticker for any textbook that addresses Darwinism, the sticker would be about racism, not about the general lack of important evidence for his ideas, which is the main reason so few people believe them after all the dollars spent to convince them.

That latter point is an open, running sore, but not nearly as harmful a one. I am quite sure that the intelligent African American student will thank me. So will many Caribbean origin Canadian students.

Fun for the day*:  Decades ago, one of my aunts, who had been in  the Canadian women’s auxiliary services in  World War II, somehow ended up sitting in a restaurant in Florida. Some African Americans were sitting at another booth, and some other patrons were raising heck about the fact that the African Americans were allowed there. My aunt got up and told the heck raisers: You do not have the right to tell those people they cannot sit there. The heck raisers immediately shut up, which was a really good idea, in my view. They should have shut up decades earlier.

But doesn’t Darwin’s view of human nature require us to assume that the African Americans are moving away from the heck raisers in some way?

* This happened long before the American civil rights movement got started. It was just a northern prairie farm girl’s reaction to something that felt wrong.

36 Replies to “Darwin and racism: I really did need to say something

  1. 1
    critter says:

    How does Darwin’s perceived racism affect whether or not evolution is real?

  2. 2
    Upright BiPed says:

    Critter,

    It doesn’t.

    How does (insert ID proponent here)’s faith effect whether design is real?

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Remember, Darwin was a guy who thought that black people were closer to gorillas than white people.

    As a hypothesis or as an observation?

  4. 4
    Joseph says:

    I just got my Grand National back on the road- I am definitely a racist!

    Yeah baby fully restored by 2012…

  5. 5
    paulmc says:

    The reality is that Darwin’s racism is an open running sore, and will remain so until it is properly addressed by ceasing Darwin worship and saying that the Great Man was wrong on that point.

    In what sense is it an open sore? Darwin and his contemporaries held a number of incorrect views regarding human evolution. Those views are not a part of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. The foundation of neo-Darwinian theory is population genetics, a field which itself soundly refutes eugenics. There is no need for a warning sticker on a textbook, as no textbook teaches such material. A racism warning sticker would be no less warranted on literature by American authors on account of that their nation’s previous connection to slavery.

    Darwin’s views on race, as described in this post (from one sentence in one book), are relegated to history along with his views of heredity in Origin. I know of no one whose views could be constituted as worship of Darwin, nor anyone who would argue that Darwin was wholly correct about any scientific matter.

  6. 6
    riddick says:

    O’Leary, you would make a great Yankee liberal! For decades, leftist academics and professional agitators in the US have argued that Thomas Jefferson was a racist. Indeed, that’s all they care about. It doesn’t matter that TJ was instrumental in bringing into existence the greatest republic ever conceived.

    I’m not saying that Darwin came up with the equivalent in the sciences. To the contrary, I am convinced that his concepts lack the necessary scientific foundation. But I didn’t come to this realization by considering whether or not Darwin thought that his race was better than others. (A belief, by the way, which is universal in the human race. It always has been and it always will be.)

    You sound like the typical professor of US history or African-American studies when you say: “If I were to propose a warning sticker for any textbook that addresses Darwinism, the sticker would be about racism…”

    Substitute for “Darwinism” the name of any of the founders or the concept of the US itself, and you will find a statement like that over and over in books, articles, and in countless speeches, sit-ins and rallies. These denounce the very idea of the republic for its racist beginnings, veering past any dispassionate engagement with the ideas which the founders penned: the very essence of the ad hominem argument.

    So, O’Leary, what’s your point?

  7. 7
    warehuff says:

    “The reality is that Darwin’s racism is an open running sore, and will remain so until it is properly addressed by ceasing Darwin worship and saying that the Great Man was wrong on that point.

    Are you prepared to do that?”

    Yes, but I’d like to read where Darwin said that black people were closer to gorillas than white people for myself first, since Darwin was one of the least racist people in 19th century England.

    Can you please tell us where he made the gorilla comment? Book and page would be fine, but book and some surrounding text will let us find the passage on Google books.

  8. 8
    paulmc says:

    Warehuff – the sentence O’Leart means can be found here, in Chapter 6 of Descent of Man.

    Darwin stated:

    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. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor
    Schaaffhausen has remarked,* will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    Thus, he implies that either African or Australian peoples could be somewhat “closer” to gorillas than Caucasians are – in some undefined sense. As he refers to man’s civilised state as being the factor that separates man from ape, one would assume that he didn’t mean in terms of actual relatedness.

  9. 9
    markf says:

    #8

    paulmc

    Thanks for the quote. If this is Denyse’s grounds for saying that “Darwin was a guy who thought that black people were closer to gorillas than white people” then she has failed to read the passage correctly.

    It does not imply that “black people were closer to gorillas than white people”. All it says is that the current gap between man and other animals is the gap between “negro or Australian and the gorilla” and that gap is narrower than the gap between some future more civilised version of humanity and baboons. It says nothing about how close the negro or Australian is to the white man.

  10. 10
    zephyr says:

    warehuff, Darwin’s prejudice is there for all to see in ‘The Descent of Man’ – the relevant passages are there, if you bother seeking them out. Darwin was very much a man of his time and place.

    Yes Denyse, Darwin’s prejudice needs to be acknowledged along with the related dark role social Darwinism played in the recent history of the West, in justifying colonialism, in eugenics..

    It is indeed too much overlooked and swept under the carpet. HOWEVER as the American philosopher of the 19th century, Charles Peirce put it (more or less): Darwin’s philosophy became so popular so quickly, because it was telling a society disposed toward materialism, greed and rapacity what it wanted to hear. The colonialism and prejudice was already there. Darwinism and social Darwinism gave it the scientific veneer British, European and elite society in the Americas needed in a scientific age to justify and rationalise their rapacity and greed and prejudice which was ALREADY THERE IN WORD AND DEED and pervasively so.

    I’m surprised that my neo-Darwinian opponents here have let Denyse off the hook so easily as the Churches (all of them) have a history of um perpetrating injustices, rapacity, perpetuating and justifying cruel and barbaric status quos throughout their domain, promoting blood libels against Jewry, quashing, crushing and sweeping aside other religious beliefs over the centuries, and even of course brutally quashing any heretical Christian beliefs within the domain of the mainstream Churches (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant) – see the history of the Cathars, Thirty Years War, persecution of Quakers, Shakers, Mormons, Arians, Hugenots in Europe etc – heck the history of America cannot be appreciated without recognising all those fleeing religious persecution in Europe and the UK.

    The history of Europe (incl Britain and Russia), their brutality and internecine bloodletting, witch-hunts, ecclesiastical courts and Inquisition, the pogroms and expulsions of Jewry and others; and their conquests of the Americas, Greater India, Siberia, the scramble for Africa, Australia -the cruelties, the mass slaughter, the land theft, the slavery, the ecocide – this had about as much to do with Darwin and social Darwinism as neo-Darwinism had to do with the Apollo missions to the moon. In none of the above mentioned crimes are the Churches innocent. Social Darwinism came along long afterward to justify the horrors of colonialism, its attendant bigotry and rampant greed in the language of science, not the other way around.

    The horrors of social Darwinism may fill a thick book, the horrors of the witch-hunts in Jacobean Britain and British America ALONE ie Massachusetts (alone!!) can easily match this, and I haven’t even gotten into the dark history of ‘manifest destiny’ and slavery in America alone. And what of Catholic Latin America? What of the brutality of the British Empire in Southern Africa and Australia? It all preceded Darwin and the Churches were either guilty of indifference and apathy (with notable INDIVIDUAL exceptions) or worse, justification and encouragement. See the history of the conquistadors for one.

    Denyse you want to talk about Darwin’s prejudice and the like (which Denyse admits she can never let go of), but what’s sauce for the goose…

    Should we also talk about Thomas de Torquemada, François du Tremblay, the original éminence grise, Nicholas Remy, Matthew Hopkins, the Borgias? How about the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ and its role in sanctioning the Inquisition and thus the torture and killing of thousands of ‘witches’ and the persecution of so many others. The book’s authors’ (Sprenger and Kramer) rampant misogyny, bloodlust and sexual repressiveness could keep a team of psychologists busy for years (well it has done so) – shall we compare the Malleus with ‘The Descent of Man’? Where to begin? ‘The Descent of Man’ is venal in comparison to the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’.

    In fact the horrors and injustices that pervade our world, from the slums of Rio and Caracus to the killing fields of Africa and the Sudan and Asia have very little to do with Darwin and his legacy, the problems lie elsewhere. It’s called perspective and a bird’s eye view.

    This is tiresome, we have been through this so many times before..

    What does social Darwinism have to do with design? As much as it has to do with the American civil war and slavery in Brazil and the slaughters at Wounded Knee and Sand Creek and the trail of tears etc.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Zephyr:

    Let me hold back my temper on your attempted tu quoque turnabout.

    You need to ponder Mrs O’Leary’s onward remark in the other thread to a very similar turnabout:

    ____________

    >> . . . I do not hope to explain anything to you, so I write only for the public here:

    – That Darwin hated slavery is irrelevant. Lots of racists did. Slavery undermines a society by enabling a man to legally father children he need not recognize. But today, we call those guys “deadbeat dads”. Who says there has been no progress over the centuries?

    – What other people may have done wrong and – in many cases, have apologized for – is irrelevant to what we are discussing here.

    What I want is a clear acknowledgement and apology to the victims, from the academic Darwinist community, of the harm done by Darwinist eugenics.

    When I hear of such an acknowledgement and apology to the victims, I will gladly publicize it.

    Allen MacNeil is doubtless a fine person, but that fact is not solving the problem.

    The problem is lack of formal acknowledgement and apology. I sure do not need to hear any more exculpations or be tempted down rabbit trails. >>
    _____________

    You see, when there is a refusal to grow up and face unpleasant truth about an iconic figure like Darwin, that strongly suggests that he problem is not a past one. Indeed, attempts to resuscitate key elements of eugenics are a worrying portent.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: MF, I am NOT impressed by your strained attempts to parse Darwin’s remarks. He plainly anticipated a day to come where the gap between man and his nearest relations would be from something more advanced than the european and the lower primates than what in his mind obtained in late C19, i.e. between the negro or australian and certain higher primates; and that by coolly anticipated genocide — which became all too horrendously prophetic.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: I suggest that we might find the notes here and especially here a useful 101 on the vexed issues that lurk beneath this case. Issues that were first seriously broached by Plato in his The Laws, Bk X, 2,300+ years ago.

  13. 13
    warehuff says:

    zephyr, a very interesting post that provides some persepective on this issue. Thank you. I thought this the passage in question would be found near this one:

    “It is impossible to repress the feeling that they are not of the same blood as us. Seeing their black faces with their fat lips and their grimacing teeth, the wool on their heads, their bent knees and elongated hands, their large curved fingernails, and above all the livid colors of their palms, I could not turn my eyes from their face in order to tell them to keep their distance, and when they advanced that hideous hand toward my plate to serve me, I wished that I could leave in order to eat my bread apart rather than dine with such service. What unhappiness for the white race to have tied its existence so closely with that of the Negroes. God protect us.”

    But that turned out to be a letter from Louis Aggasiz, Swiss-American naturalist and contemporary of Darwin. He was, of course, a devoted pro-slavery Christian. My mistake.

    I don’t know what Darwin’s reaction to a black waiter would have been, or if he ever met one. I do know that he met John Edmonstone, a freed black slave from Guyana. They lived on the same street in Edinburgh and Darwin hired him to teach him taxidermy, at which Edmonstone was a master. He also picked up a lot of scientific information from him, for Edmonstone was very widely travelled and had a keen intelligence.

    In his autobiography, Darwin wrote, “…“a negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Warton, and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently; he gave me lessons for payment and I often used to sit with him for he was a pleasant and intelligent man.”

    This does not sound like a racist to me, but maybe he would have felt different if Edmonstone has been a waiter.

  14. 14
    markf says:

    #11 KF

    Thank you for your brief PS.

    I am sorry that you are not impressed by my comments in #9 and that you find my attempts at parsing strained. To be honest I was not aware of parsing anything.

    All that aside, do think I was right or wrong? Do you think the quote paulmc provided in #8 implies “black people are closer to gorillas than white people”?

  15. 15
    markf says:

    Denyse raises this topic about every 6 months and I always find myself confused about who is meant to apologise for what.

    Clearly Darwin was a racist by modern standards. Along with almost every educated European at the time he mistakenly thought that the white races were in some sense superior to the others. This has been widely acknowledged in countless biographies of Darwin. So the acknowledgement bit has been done. Is someone meant to apologise for this? Who? And to whom?

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    I am not finding that relativist point a good excuse: Darwin was racist, period.

    Racism that got built into his science right from the sub-title of Origin of the Species, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

    That needs to be said in a simnple declarative sentence of acknowledgement and confession.

    With no deflective or distractive rhetorical buts, ifs, or ands . . .

    Yes, that racism reflects the upper class British C19 background he came from [and yes even some in the churches forgot the force of Paul’s epochal AD 50 address on Mars Hill in Ac 17 when it traces all men to one blood . . . ], but that does not justify or ameliorate it, and in the context of the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism, that has serious onward implications.

    Implications that say a H G Wells saw and deplored, even in his novels at the turn of C20. Novels that became all too sadly prophetic, just like Heine’s warning in 1831 as the tide of rationalist, idealist and empiricist skepticism began to blend with the age of Revolution.

    So, the background could be transcended, and to rise above background and provide leadership in the face of major dangers is a duty of leadership.

    Darwin and co OUGHT to have known better and done so, but did not.

    Mrs O’Leary is particularly focussed on the key means by which social Darwinism — and the Eugenics by which it was turned into what was seen as an applied science based on the certain truths of Evolution — became an instrument of deception, oppression, abuse, wrongdoing and genocide.

    Pseudoscience that was accepted in the widest circles of elites, among scientists and in the wider culture.

    Pseudoscience that led directly to horrors from California to Auschwitz and beyond.

    And, when I see the rhetoric of deflection and the parsing games that try to deflect the true force of what Darwin actually directly and coolly said, my hackles rise, for very good reason.

    For, people of my race are usually near the head of the line for abuse whenever such evils surface.

    The rhetoric of deflection and evasion, MF, FYI — as can be seen ever so plainly above [I am forbearing to rip into it] — is as strong a proof as can be had, that the problem is NOT over.

    Mrs O’Leary is right to repeatedly point to the problem, and those who ever so plainly want to shut her up or discredit her and distract us from the point she highlights are the strongest possible proof of just how right she is.

    (And as an Irish woman, she has further, very direct reason to remember Darwin’s little essay on the Celts, The Scots and he Saxons in the same Descent of Man: that, with the Irish famines a living memory. As do I, with my partly Irish and Scottish ancestry.)

    ______________

    I hope some commenters here have the common decency to be ashamed of what they have done above.

    For, shame is a first step to genuine repentance and change.

    GEM of TKI

  17. 17
    markf says:

    KF #16

    I read the whole of your comment. I couldn’t see:

    (a) who you want to acknowledge/confess to/apologise for Darwin’s racism.

    (b) whether you think my comment #9 was right or wrong

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    (a) A LOT of people, starting from big wigs in institutions like the US NAS, ranging though the presentations in textbooks and the like such as encyclopedias and documentaries, and down to some commenters above who resorted to distractive tactics. [A true and fair view . . . warts and all.]

    –> That sort of thing must not be forgotten, so that it will never happen again.

    (b) I already pointed out why your parsing is fatally in error.

    GEM of TKI

  19. 19
    Peepul says:

    I’m perfectly prepared to accept that Darwin was racist. Almost everybody alive today is racist to a greater or lesser degree.

    The relevance of this for the truth of evolution is….?

  20. 20
    markf says:

    #18
    b) I already pointed out why your parsing is fatally in error

    You wrote:

    He plainly anticipated a day to come where the gap between man and his nearest relations would be from something more advanced than the european and the lower primates than what in his mind obtained in late C19, i.e. between the negro or australian and certain higher primates; and that by coolly anticipated genocide — which became all too horrendously prophetic

    Yes Darwin correctly anticipated the elimination of some non-white races and some higher order primates. But that is irrelevant as to whether my comment #9 was true or not which was simply about whether one statement entailed another. I have a feeling you are not going to answer this one ….

  21. 21
    riddick says:

    KF,

    Your sanctimony @ 16 is unattractive, adds nothing to the discussion, and is derisive to people you don’t even know (like me). If anyone needs to apologize, it’s you.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    Riddick:

    Pardon, but — and, notice how you have said NOTHING on the merits — you are inadvertently playing at precisely the sort of distractive, turnabout rhetoric that I pointed out above.

    Sorry if I do not sound very persuasive or pleasant [especially if I stir up turnabout defense mechanisms], but I am not trying to persuade you, but instead to call attention to a grievous error and to wrong that needs to be frankly faced, openly acknowledged and publicly repudiated, decisively.

    That is never a palatable point, but it is a necessary one if we are to put this sordid bit of history behind us at last.

    G’day.

    GEM of TKI

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    I already answered it; please read what Darwin said in Ch 6 of DOM again:

    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.
    At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor
    Schaaffhausen has remarked,* will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    The highlights make the matter plain enough, once we realise that “Europeans [on their way to becoming what Nietzsche would later term supermen]” are the “civilised” “races” that will be eliminating “savage” ones, well, like . . . like . . . negroes and australians.

    If you look in the link, the really heinous part is that Darwin coolly says it then gets back to his main line of argument — why fossil gaps exist — without blinking an eye. Sorry, if one identifies so serious a moral hazard, there is duty involved.

    As Heine [1831] saw and as H G Wells [1897] saw.

    Darwin envisioned genocide, and then just rolled on as though he had been discussing the end of a race of cabbages.

    Something does not compute here . . .

    GEM of TKI

  24. 24
    markf says:

    #22

    KF – I am sorry but it does not follow from that passage that the negro is closer to the gorilla than to the white man. It is a simple matter of logic and repeating the passage and highlighting parts of it will not change the logic.

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    The matter is quite plain, once you see that “civilised” “races” are spposedly more advanced and superior, and so-called “savage” ones are viewed as inferior; not just culturally but in an evolutionary sense.

    In future, the gap is to be Euro-Superman to Baboon or the like, after eliminating the lower races of men and some higher apes, while CRD saw the exisiting gap as between Negroes, australians and gorillas.

    But, in truth all men are brothers, and animals have their rights to be here too so we should be good stewards and not seek to wipe them out.

    GEM of TKI

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: MF, you are also failing on direction and distance of comparison. [I hope you understand what it feels like to have to wade through this muck and spell it out step by step.]

    CRD’s primary hierarchy is higher/lower [and it is clear who in his mind is higher or lower], and nearer farther is now negroes and australians — gorillas, in future, euro-supermen- baboons. The stated issue is not whether negroes are linearly closer to gorillas than to caucasians, but that on CRD’s view we — this includes me! — fall between the two and are coolly slated for extermination; without any apparent realisation on CRD’s part of the need to address such a hazard.

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Mrs O’Leary’s comparison is also correct, on a reasonable reading:

    Darwin was a guy who thought that black people were closer to gorillas than white people.

    That is: whites >>> blacks [Australians and negroes] >>> Gorillas >>> Baboons.

    CRD, status C19: whites >>> blacks [Australians and negroes] >>> Gorillas >>> Baboons.

    CRD, Future status: [superman] whites >>> blacks [Australians and negroes] >>> Gorillas >>> Baboons.

    (And he fails to pause and speak to the moral hazard; this is just an aside to support his main point.)

  28. 28
    markf says:

    KF #24 to #26

    I am sorry but there is a straightforward logical error in yours (and presumably Denyse’s) reading. It does follow from the passage that Darwin thought that negros come somewhere between white races and gorillas in the “great chain of being”. This is a common error of the time which I fully accept he made. It does not follow that he thought negros were closer to gorillas than to white races.

    This is not trivial. The first opinion, while wrong, was common at the time and there was a lot of faulty, but widely accepted, evidence (based on skull sizes etc.) around to support it. It would take someone of quite exceptional knowledge and strength of character to resist it. The second opinion would be offensive to many even in the 1840s.

    As a note – he correctly predicted that many non-white races and higher primates were in danger of extermination. That doesn’t mean he approved of it!

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    Sorry, the above is just not good enough; especially after enough has already been said to set matters straight, if it were a mere matter of ambiguity of language.

    You are beginning to force me to have to ask whether you are being distractive; on a subject that it is a pain for me to have to even address.

    It should be more than abundantly clear that the scale CDR used was a ranking scale, which you acknowledge, and which I illustrated.

    Mrs O’Leary speaks to that rank scale, on the most straightforward reading of her words; if what she has to say were to be relevant.

    (There is no good evidence that she adverted to an interval or ratio scale in which the issue is whether blacks were closer to whites or to gorillas; just simply the ranking and hte peroration implied by CRD’s terms are already enough to indict him on this matter. The question of intervals that you seem determined to inject is therefore beginning to take on the appearance by now of a red herring led out to a strawman; I can only hope inadvertently so. And, on an issue where there are far more weighty issues at stake. Kindly, cease and desist.)

    Once CRD — as you acknowledge — is playing at great chain of being [and yes he was] and ranks whites above blacks above gorillas above baboons; then sees that by the actions of whites the blacks and gorillas will be exterminated — and does not so much as pause to see that something is desperately wrong and at least call out a warning, that is what counts.

    Sorry if these words begin to sound sharpish, but on this one, for excellent reason, I have very limited patience.

    Let us deal with the main issue, which is utterly, absolutely vital.

    Good day, sir.

    GEM of TKI

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    Pardon my having had to be fairly direct just now. Enough is enough on a side issue when a major one is on the table that has lingered unaddressed for far too long.

    I think I need to point out Wells’ warning of 1897/8, in the opening of his War of the Worlds — his science fiction seemed to in part be parables on the dangers of science out of ethical control, not just this but Time Traveller and Island of Dr Moreau:

    ______________

    >> No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water . . . No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us . . . . looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.

    And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them.

    And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit? >>
    _______________

    In short, he puts Englishmen in the shoes of “savages” and implies some pretty pointed questions on how “inferiors” were being treated.

    Unfortunately, too many leaders of the century just ahead of Wells did not ponder those sorts of questions well enough, and the rest of the story was a plainly predictably horrendous history.

    We need to heed these lessons in our own day.

    GEM of TKI

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    Here is where Heine warned (in the conclusion to Religion and Philosophy in Germany), in 1831, of the implications of the apostasy then sweeping Germany, as the Christian faith and its ethical guidelines were — by virtue of selective hyperskepticism run amok — consigned to the dustbin of discredited notions by the intellectual and power elites:

    _____________

    >> Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . .], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. …

    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

    … Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …

    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in farthest Africa will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [HT: Tribune] >>

    ________________

    Sobering warnings that turned out to be astonishingly prophetic.

    We need to think again on what we are doing in our day as we enthrone amoral worldviews.

    GEM of TKI

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    I am beginning to think we are playing with fire in our civilisation.

    It is time to call a third witness, the much despised and slandered William Jennings Bryan, in the pamphlet based on a chapter of In His Image, 1921/2. Hard words, but words we need to at least hear out, about the dangerous rise of the Superman ethic in an intellectual climate increasingly dominated by Darwinist evolutionary materialism:

    ________________

    >> As the [[First World] war [[of 1914 – 1918] progressed I [[Bryan was from 1913 – 1915 the 41st US Secretary of State, under President Wilson] became more and more impressed with the conviction that the German propa-ganda rested upon a materialistic foundation. I se-cured the writings of Nietzsche and found in them a defense, made in advance, of all the cruelties and atrocities practiced by the militarists of Germany. [[It didn’t start with the Nazis!] Nietzsche tried to substitute the worship of the “Su-perman” for the worship of God. He not only re-jected the Creator, but he rejected all moral standards. He praised war and eulogized hatred because it led to war. He denounced sympathy and pity as attributes unworthy of man. He believed that the teachings of Christ made degenerates and, logical to the end, he regarded Democracy as the refuge of weaklings. He saw in man nothing but an animal and in that animal the highest virtue he recognized was “The Will to Power”—a will which should know no let or hin-drance, no restraint or limitation . . . . His philosophy, if it is worthy the name of philos-ophy, is the ripened fruit of Darwinism — and a tree is known by its fruit . . . .

    The corroding influence of Darwinism has spread as the doctrine has been increasingly accepted. In the American preface to “The Glass of Fashion” these words are to be found: “Darwinism not only justifies the sensualist at the trough and Fashion at her glass; it justifies Prussianism at the cannon’s mouth and Bol-shevism at the prison-door. If Darwinism be true, if Mind is to be driven out of the universe and accident accepted as a sufficient cause for all the majesty and glory of physical nature, then there is no crime or vio-lence, however abominable in its circumstances and however cruel in its execution, which cannot be justi-fied by success, and no triviality, no absurdity of Fash-ion which deserves a censure: more — there is no act of disinterested love and tenderness, no deed of self- sac-rifice and mercy, no aspiration after beauty and excel-lence, for which a single reason can be adduced in logic.” [[pp. 52 – 54. Emphases and explanatory parentheses added.] >>

    _________________

    These are hard words, but we need to at least hear them out, and take time to address the underlying ethical issue that raises questions not only about nihilism, but also the social darwinism that it interacted with, a social darwinism that was often seen in its day as scientifically well grounded.

    How can we prevent the like from happening again?

    I hold that a first step is that we have to face some sobering and painful truths about the past 150 years.

    GEM of TKI

  33. 33
    markf says:

    #28

    KF – There is little value in continuing this. I appreciate your sincerity and the time and energy you have put into the debate.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    Finally for now, we need to go way back, to Plato in The Laws, Bk X:

    _____________

    >> [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial [evolutionary materialism is ancient] . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [this is an evolutionary materialist cosmology]. . . .

    [[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them [radical relativism springs up readily en evolutionary materialistic soil] . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [such amorality leads to the worship of power as its own ethic], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[here, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . [[Jowett translation. Emphases and explanatory parentheses added.] >>
    ____________

    We need to think soberly about the consequences for culture in our time of similar thinking. The patterns set over the past 150 years, including what Darwin wrote and how he did not respond appropriately to that issue, are a part of that.

    We need to ask where we have been, why, where we are headed,a nd what we should do about it.

    GEM of TKI

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I trust these several examples of intellectuals standing up in warning will provide a stimulus for our own attention to our duty, and for understanding the sad failure of CRD in Ch 6 of Descent of Man.

  36. 36
    Robert Byers says:

    I am a biblical creationist and did presume once Darwin believe in racial superiority because of its logical reasoning from apes to men. I was wrong.
    Darwin clearly said all men were the same intellectually in regards to biology..
    He did insist women were intellectually biologically inferior to men but even there said women through effert could acquire traits that could be passed to their daughters.

    Most evolutionism and evolutionists after him did believe in race as a factor in intelligence etc. many still do I read.
    Darwin however made clear case on mans sameness. he attacked other evolutionists who tried to say the races were very different.
    Its all in the Descent of man.
    Finally one must remember that Darwin taught traits were selected on and so there is only a momentary time of where this or that is superior.
    In evolutionism nothing is settled according to Darwin.

    By the way the word and the actions of a concept of African-American is itself a affirmation of segregational beliefs. So one can’t complain about Americans or Southern Americans acting on like beliefs. If segregation is wrong in foundation and action then its wrong period.
    America today is segregated but with different winners and losers.
    President Obama surely in election and actions is case in point.
    All segregation is wrong in a single nation unless officially recognized.
    In Canada we recognize French Canadians and others as segregated identities.
    Nothing wrong with segregation morally. Its the essence of different nations.
    Its wrong where it interferes with a citizens rights big or small.
    In Canada interference is the norm because the segregationist principals are not constrained by the establishment or the law.
    America is moral and legal law in the flesh.

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