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Evolution Weekend downplays Darwin, morphs into climate concern, muffles racism issue

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We know that the Churches No One Goes to Any More are still sort of alive when we read this stuff:

Darwin’s Birthday, which fell on February 12th, is being celebrated this weekend by religious communities across the globe during Evolution Weekend, and event sponsored by the Clergy Letter Project.

This year, the theme of Evolution Weekend is “How Science and Religion Can Work Together to Deal with the Problems of the Climate Crisis”. Congregations are participating in a variety of ways, from having climate-themed sermons, hosting guest speakers, or lunch discussions. There are even events targeted at children.

Elizabeth Fernandez, “Religious Communities Celebrate Darwin’s Birthday During Evolution Weekend” at Forbes

With Darwinism (the ultimate evolution theory) collapsing in a heap of genetics findings that do not support its basic tenets, that is a smart idea on their part. Sponsor something else you believe in.

And with any luck, they can continue to avoid the huge role Darwinism played in making racism a “scientific “idea.

Remember, anyone can be a racist if all he must say is: My ancestors were gods, yours were gobs of clay. Absent evidence, he might prevail by force of arms and entrench his view. Darwinism led to racial theories with the trappings of science. That matters and it has never been dealt with honestly because dealing with it honestly endangers the basic ideas of Darwinism.

Anyway, along these lines, historian Richard Weikart writes to draw our attention to yet another instance to whitewash the problem of Darwinian racism, this time at a liberal Catholic publication:

“Eugenics” (Greek for “well bred”) was given its name in 1883 by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton, the creator of the IQ test. Galton gained widespread support for eugenics by arguing, theologically, that eugenics was a proper application of the Gospel parable of the talents, while also arguing, culturally, that Darwin’s idea of natural selection helped explain why white European men had conquered the world and were thus the most advanced examples of humanity. This intermingling of racism, science, philosophy, theology, and politics laid a terrible groundwork for mainstream scientific thought in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. For Galton and most of the educated elite, the program of eugenics would allow humans to do intentionally what nature does randomly: favoring the most biologically capable, the “fittest,” and gradually ridding the world of the unfit. Between 1883 and 1939—the year World War II began—eugenic philosophies, theologies, and laws spread like wildfire.

John P. Slattery, “Evolution & Racism: Complementary Conclusions in Science and Catholicism” at Commonweal

Slattery, avoiding the real history in favor of a fancy-dress one, goes on to assure us, “It should be a point of pride among Catholics that the church came to accept evolutionary theory after decades of rejecting the idea.”

No. that’s actually part of the Churches No One Goes To Any More phenomenon, now that it has hit the Catholic Church.

If Richard Dawkins has answers for you, you do not need St. John Paul II.

Slattery’s is an admirably sleek attempt to pretend that Darwinism—as an explicit and often enforced belief system—didn’t really provide cover for racism, in oblivious defiance of the role it has always played in modern racist reasoning.

Weikart comments,

This author apparently does not understand the historical relationship between evolution and racism, as is painfully obvious from the opening paragraphs. He implies that because Darwin believed in common ancestry of humans, this means that he embraced greater human equality. He then implies that it was Galton who hijacked Darwin’s theory by embracing racist views (and he mistakenly implies that Galton had religious motivations, when Galton was anti-religious).

I am currently working on a book on _Darwinism, Racism, and Nazi Ideology_, and I spend one chapter on Darwin’s own racist views. Darwin–and many evolutionary biologists following him in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries–did believe in common ancestry (of all organisms), but that doesn’t mean that all organisms are “equal.” Darwin also believed that different human races had evolved different levels of intelligence and moral character. In order to convince others of his theory, Darwin stressed *variation* among all species, including humans.

Even the evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould admitted that racism *increase* after the acceptance of Darwinian theory. Darwinism did not reduce racism historically; it increased it.

It also increased the unction with which Darwinians defend themselves from any suggestion of their theory’s involvement.

Okay, happy belated Darwin Day and Happy Evolution Weekend anyway.


See also: Darwin Reader: Darwin’s racism

How Jonathan Wells is celebrating Darwin Day. Wells: A biologist wrote years ago that we should celebrate Darwin’s birthday instead, because Lincoln only freed some slaves while Darwin freed our minds. [eek!]

and

Everyone is bugging us to do something for Darwin Day (today). How about a brief reflection: Darwin is the village atheist’s answer to serious thinking about origins.

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