Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Kevin Padian Hating Fundamentalists in SciAm Letters

arroba Email

May 2006, Scientific American, Letters

Assessing Deadly Certitude

In “Murdercide” [Skeptic], Michael Shermer is once again dead-on (forgive the pun): it is inapt to think of suicide bombers as typical suicide victims. Rather than succumbing to despair and depression, they are committing what they consider affirmative acts of faith. In short, they are religious fanatics, hardly different from the murderers of abortion doctors, except that the latter zealots don’t kill themselves as well.

Shermer cites Princeton University economist Alan B. Kreuger’s finding that some countries that have spawned many terrorists (Saudi Arabia and Bahrain) are economically well off yet lack civil liberties, whereas poor countries that protect civil liberties are unlikely to spawn terrorists. That might be a good correlation, but a better factor than civil liberties is probably the degree of fundamentalist religious extremism present in a country. The murderers of 9/11 were Islamic jihadists first, citizens of their various nations second.

Kevin Padian
Kensington, Calif.

It appears Kevin hates and fears religious fundamentalists of all stripes and considers them murderous fanatics. Note how he equates suicide bombers with those who kill abortion doctors saying only killing themselves afterward is what separates the two. Kevin Padian is one sick puppy with an irrational hatred of religious fundamentalists.


Suicide bombers kill/wound as many as possible, they don’t know who the victims are, they don’t care whether the victims have done anything wrong (perceived or real), and in their indiscrete targeting even kill people of their own creed.

Conversely, in the United States there have been only two abortion doctors murdered (AFAIK) and in both cases the murderer knew exactly who he was killing, perceived the target as a serial murderer of innocent children, and didn’t kill anyone else.

There is no comparison but Kevin Padian in his mindless rage against fundamentalists sees no difference. If you ask me it’s people like Kevin Padian who are a danger to society not fundamentalist Christians. If Padian can’t tell the difference between a mass murdering suicide bomber indiscriminately blowing up crowds of people and a gunman carefully selecting a single target for murder then Padian simply isn’t playing with a full deck and one has to hope he never decides to murder anyone because he isn’t able to distinguish between killing a crowd of strangers and a single person against whom he holds a grudge.

"The strongest survive, there is no room for mercy or compassion for the weak, natural selection demands that those who can be, are weeded out." In what way does natural selection demand this? Why does a concept, like natural selection, even get to make 'demands'? In fact, why must my goal be to sow my proverbial seed as widely as possible? You keep inserting this idea that believing in evolution means that we have to try to game the system to get our genes to come out ahead, but I don't see why that should be so. Just for argument's sake, let's assume that my goal -is- to reproduce as much as possible. There's no way that killing people is going to help me - I'd be too busy avoiding the FBI to procreate. Rape would be out of the question too, most of my rape victims would probably take a morning after pill or get an abortion. You ask me to consider what's so bad about genocide. The answer is that what's good and bad isn't determined by evolution. I don't take a possible action and ponder it in light of evolution and then use that to decide if it's good or bad. The answers come from elsewhere. I've got a counter-question for you, though. If you were one day, hypothetically, convinced of evolution and naturalism, would you immediately start killing people? If so, I worry for you. If not, you see where I'm coming from on this. Tiax

There is no doubt that Darwin inspired the eugenics movement. Francis Galton the founder the British Eugenics Society, was heavely influenced by Darwin's book, the full title of which is "The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life." Galton once wrote:

"The publication in 1859 of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin made a marked epoch in my own mental development, as it did in that of human thought generally. Its effect was to demolish a multitude of dogmatic barriers by a single stroke, and to arouse a spirit of rebellion against all ancient authorities whose positive and unauthenticated statements were contradicted by modern science."

Galton was successor as chairman of the British Eugenics Society was none other than Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin. Leonard Darwin made the following dedication in his book "The Need for Eugenic Reform"

"Dedicated to the memory of my father. [Charles Darwin] For if I had not believed that he would have wished me to give such help as I could toward making his life's work of service to mankind, I should never have been led to write this book."

The connection between Darwinism and eugenics is not only a historical fact of scientific philosophy there is also a clear logical connection. Even today, supporters of Darwinism lapse into eugenics type thinking whenever they contemplate the larger implications of Darwin. Consider this quote by Richard Dawkins.

"As a Darwinian, the aspect of religion that catches my attention is its profligate wastefulness, its extravagant display of baroque uselessness. Nature is a miserly accountant, grudging the pennies, watching the clock, punishing the smallest waste. If a wild animal habitually performs some useless activity, natural selection will favor rival individuals who instead devote time to surviving and reproducing. Nature cannot afford frivolous jeux desprits. Ruthless utilitarianism trumps, even if it doesn’t always seem that way." (Richard Dawkins, Free Inquiry, June 2004)

Excellent. You've earned your release from the moderation list. -ds Jehu

Here is a quote from Darwin's Descent of Man:

"With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the mained, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. (pg 133)"

It is unmistakeable that under Darwin's world view, man is not valued by the worth of his soul but by his "fitness." Such logic clearly opens the door to social cleansing for the betterment of society, which is the moral justification for most of the mass genocides in the last century. This view is clearly contrary to the American ethic embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Notice how the Declaration of Independence presupposes an Intelligent Designer. How would the Declaration of Independence read if the authors presupposed the Darwinist world view?

Thanks! I wasn't aware that Darwin really did inspire the Nazi eugenics program. I always thought it some kind of exagerated, inferential claim. -ds Jehu
Tiax Thankyou for your response, I would agree with you that the inherent value to the designer doesn’t follow from ID alone, nor does any kind of morality follow from it per se. Your example of a torture is somewhat extreme, but for now I’ll let it be. However may I change the focus here back on evolution/Darwinism and we can revisit ID shortly. Fundamental (true) Darwinist logic demands blood to be spilt. I think if you call yourself a believer in evolution you must subscribe to all its tenants of - dare I say - 'faith'. The strongest survive, there is no room for mercy or compassion for the weak, natural selection demands that those who can be, are weeded out. The individual’s benefit and survival depends on just that. You have no logical reason bar ignorance or laziness to let you neighbors live in peace. Moreover the argument that a peaceful society is beneficial to the individual, cuts across the above as one is disadvantaged by letting your neighbor advance and prosper at your expense. You cannot have your cake and eat it, i.e be a soft Darwinist, invoke ‘natural laws’ and then for the sake being polite and politically correct argue that life is rational and everyone lives in peace. Nonsense! You have the right and to do whatever it pleases you to do, and if you don’t, someone else will – and you can’t blame them as you have no moral ground on which to stand! Nature is by nature, vicious. Your question Tiax shouldn’t be “I don’t see a correlation between evolution and genocide” but rather “what’s wrong with genocide??” After all, a male hippo in the wild is bound by his life to destroy all pretenders to his harem until his demise, and so should you! Get your gun out shoot every man-jack in sight and propagate (rape) your seed with every viable female you can, atta boy! Chairman Mao et al were doing just that at heart. Now back to ID, if we go with a worst case scenario here, we don’t know purely from ID the designers motives or moralities (we do know the qualities though – infinite, and all powerful, I invoke cosmological and ontological argument laws here). Evolution by it’s own admission is purely amoral and bent on survival and propagation at ALL costs. You have a choice – subscribe to pure naturalism and by implication genocide or at least murder and rape as society calls it. OR subscribe to ID with an unknown designer who may or may not be bad, but is not by default hell-bent on amoral survival. I offer you certain death or the unknown – your call. Most ID’ers do not subscribe to torture and genocide and appeal to a higher moral standard. It’s a start at least. Say what you will about ID, but please Tiax, please don’t display your ignorance about your own worldview and pretend that Darwinism is rational and peaceful. My intention is not to be condescending but real. I leave you with my modified version of Richard Dawkins (the corollary): It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims to believe in evolution, and does not believe genocide is acceptable, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or weak-hearted, but I'd rather not consider that)." lucID

"Furthermore you’re only half right when you say ID has the same moral guidance as darwinism. Correct ID doesn’t name the designer, however it points to something higher than naturalism and that we should (at least) contemplate moral guidance because we are not just some cosmic accident - we were designed and therefore have some inherent value to our designer."

The inherent value to the designer doesn't follow from ID alone, nor does any kind of morality follow from it. In fact, if I use the same logic that leads us from evolution to genocide, but start with ID, I can get all sorts of nasty places.

Watch, I'll use ID to justify random torture:

The Designer made creatures that kill their prety in extremely painful ways. Any designer capable of making things as complex as life can reasonably be expected to be able of making those things experience any amount of pain he wishes - anything from no pain to unbearable pain. The designer has often chosen to utilize the latter end of that spectrum. Thus, the designer wants his designs to feel pain. If we are cruel to random people, and make them feel as much pain as possible, we will be fulfilling the designer's wishes.

Clearly, no one here believes that ID encourages torture. I don't believe it either. The above reasoning makes the same leap as is taken from evolution to genocide - it thrusts us, without justification, into the realm of 'should'. Given ID and only ID, there is no reason to place the designer as the source of morality, and there is no reason to suggest that things the designer wants are things we -should- do. Equivalently, there is no reason to suggest that things that are perceived as helping evolution along, or whatever delusions are used to justify the genocide, are things that we -should- do.

A Response to Tiax: Not to give you a thorough history/philosophy lesson as I don't have time (read Ravi Zaccarias' book 'Can man live without God?' for the full connection) but you need to look at the picture in it's entirety. Richard Dawkins in my humble opinion is right to imply that Athiesm is the logical philosophical/religious outworking of Darwinism. There are no right or wrongs as you correctly stated. Going back to Nazi Germany, Eugneics was popularised via Heckael et al in Germany; who were was deeply influenced by Darwin, as was Hitler (note: I'm NOT equating Atheism with Nazism but the two systems do work in philosophical parallel i.e. no moral boundaries). It first started out with 'Natural Selection' being sped up by euthanizing(killing) all the abnormal in society, then onto Jews, Gypsies, Blacks, etc, etc. So what Hilter was trying to acheive with the 'final solution'? To purify (natural selction via gas chambers) the human race by eliminating all those who muddied the water so to speak. Sure it's racism on the surface but the philosophical motivation was guided by Darwinian logic. IF you take the time to study leaders who mass murdered thousands/millions - one thing in common: Darwinian underpinning logic. Human life had no intrinsic value to then and therefore not only with no moral guidance, darwinian logic actually encourages mass murder(remember survival of the fittest??; remember Prof Pianka's love of worldwide plague death?????) Those you can snuff out you ought to, in case they consume your resources or cause any threat to you. I encourage you to actually look past the politically correct and see the obvious. Not that everyone who is an evolutionst is a genocide perpetrator, but give the one's who are a break, afterall they're only following the logical implications of their faith system. They can't help it if killing 2 million cosmic accidents (people) to improve their life is the cost. Furthermore you're only half right when you say ID has the same moral guidance as darwinism. Correct ID doesn't name the designer, however it points to something higher than naturalism and that we should (at least) contemplate moral guidance because we are not just some cosmic accident - we were designed and therefore have some inherent value to our designer. Tiax please don't hide behind the mask of smuggled philosophical foundations. Come clean - if you're a truly belive in evolution you should have no objection to genocide, sure it's messy but think of it as killing 2 million mackeral or worms or some other accidentally self-aware pieces of meat. You're right, kinda uncomfortable conversation when you call a spade a spade - but that's what it is. lucID

Padian is using the "guilty by association" fallacy:

If MFs (Muslim Fundamentalists) are bad, then Fundamentalism is bad and we should not listen to what they say. Since CFs (Christian Fundamentalists) are in the fore front in the anti-Darwin war, we should not listen to what they say because, as just saw, Fundamentalism is bad..

I tell you one thing: if tomorrow morning ALL CFs endorsed Darwinism, all of the sudden CFs would become Padian's darlings.

Exactly! -ds Mats
"It’s called Darwinian Fundamentalism. It’s killed more people than any kind of religious fundamentalism." I've never quite gotten the claim that "Darwinian Fundamentalism" is responsible for things like the Holocaust, which I assume is what's being implied here. I understand the claim that Evolution provides us with no morality, and I'll readily agree with that claim (though I might disagree as to whether that's a good or bad thing), because it's true: Evolution doesn't give us any "should"s. Religions give us "should"s, philosophies give us "should"s, but biology? Not so much. In absence of these "should"s, I don't understand how one could point to evolution and say that it's repsonsible for this sort of thing. I suppose you could argue that since evolution -doesn't- give any moral guidance, it leaves the door open, but then you could say the same about ID, since it doesn't name the designer, or give any info as to the designer's motives. Yet, I, the evolutionist, have managed to avoid commiting any genocide, just as all the IDers here have managed to avoid the same. We get our morality from elsewhere. On topic, I'm not a huge fan of religious fundamentalists. I don't hate them, but they can sometimes start uncomfortable conversations. Tiax
The mistake that Padian makes here goes deeper than just apparently failing to distinguish between forms of religious fundamentalism. This problem is common to all who are quick to dismiss all types of "fundamentalist religious extremism" as dangerous: For any course of action to be dangerous, it must serve as a threat to some state of affairs which has value in accordance with some other fundamentalistic conceptualization of the world. In order for a course of action to be "wrong", it must be committed in opposition to some state of affairs that is "good". Everybody--including Padian--has some conceptualization of "good" and "bad" states of affairs of varying degrees of importance, and at least some of them are considered worth going to some sort of "extreme" to influence. These can be said to be of fundamental importance within one's worldview. Hence everybody can be said to fall under the category of "fundamentalist religious extremist". crandaddy
saxe7, I wholeheartedly agree with you! Though I would never endorse lowering myself to the level of murderous scum, those who say its ok to kill babies just because the babies are hidden behind a layer of skin have lowered themselves to the level of merderous scum. bFast
Well, let's see, Darwinists are responsible for more genocide in the 20th century than any other group. Mao, who stated, "Chinese socialism is founded upon Darwin and the theory of evolution" murdered an estimated 49 million in the "Great Leap Forward." Mao was inspired by fellow Darwinist Joseph Stalin who murdered an estimated 13 million in his purges. Then there was Adolf Hitler, who murdered an estimated 12 million, and built his pagan ideology on the philosophies of eugenics, a creation of Darwinism, and the Darwinism of Ernst Haeckel, a famous forger of scientific evidence to prop up Darwinism. Then there was Pol Pot who killed 1.7 million in Cambodia and Kim Il Sung who killed 1.6 million in Korea. Saddam Hussein who considered Stalin a role model killed an estimated 600,000. Jehu
Padian forgot to reference the murderers of unborn children. What about the Culture of Death fanatics? Saxe saxe17
"It depends on what those fundamentals are, not just whether or not you are going back to them." I agree, JohnnyB. "Fundamentalism" is not good or bad. It's the particular fundamentals that are being adhered to that matter. russ
"A possible alternate explanation is that he feels that murderous fanaticism tends to thrive better in religious fundamentalist societies, in the same way that many people claim [murderous] atheism thrives better in secular societies." I inserted the word "murderous" to make the quote more accurate. russ

It's called Darwinian Fundamentalism. It's killed more people than any kind of religious fundamentalism.

What most people don't understand, though, is that there's nothing wrong with fundamentalism per se. Fundamentalism is just "getting back to the fundamentals". It depends on what those fundamentals are, not just whether or not you are going back to them. If your fundamentals are murderous, then fundamentalism is bad. If your fundamentals are for good, then fundamentalism is good.

Exactly. I'm sure Padian knows this but he deliberately conflated fundamentalist Muslim suicide bombers with fundamentalist Christians without any consideration for the difference between them. Another point I didn't bring out is the frequency of Muslim suicide bomb attacks (daily) vs. Christians murdering abortion clinic workers (once per decade). I'm sure Padian knows that too. Yet he still went ahead and made the connection. He did it not because it's an honest connection but because he hates fundamentalist Christians. Hateful anti-Chrisitan bigots like Padian need to be exposed for what they are and who they hate. -ds johnnyb
Padian's observation is a tautology. First he defines a terrorist as a "religious fanatic" and then he posits a direct relationship between the presence of "religious fanatics" in a country and the presence of terrorists. Duh. And he is so proud of this tautology he decides to write a letter to Scientific American so everyone can observe his brilliance. Of course, Darwinists are often proud of their tautologies. Jehu
I've been thinking... is ther such a thing as a liberal atheistic fundamentalist? Which should take their label and throw it back in their face. jpark320

"It appears Kevin hates and fears religious fundamentalists of all stripes and considers them murderous fanatics."

A possible alternate explanation is that he feels that murderous fanaticism tends to thrive better in religious fundamentalist societies, in the same way that many people claim atheism thrives better in secular societies.

"Note how he equates suicide bombers with those who kill abortion doctors saying only killing themselves afterward is what separates the two."

What other differences would you say there are? (This isn't a loaded question, I'm genuinely curious)

I added the differences to the article. I also added your name to the moderation list for asking such a dumb question. -ds Corkscrew

Leave a Reply