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Martin Luther King on materialism vs. design in nature

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Some of us are old enough to remember the shooting of Black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King in 1968:

Here’s John West on King’s views on the design of life, reading from King’s book Strength to Love

With regard to scientific racism, King lamented that “Science was commandeered to prove the biological inferiority of the Negro” (p. 37) and he spoke of how segregationists “turn to some pseudo-scientific writing and argue that the Negro’s brain is smaller than the white man’s brain.” (p. 38) King argued that the real findings of science didn’t support such claims: “They do not know, or they refuse to know, that the idea of an inferior or superior race has been refuted by the best evidence of the science of anthropology… although there may be inferior and superior individuals within all races, there is no superior or inferior race.”

With regard to scientific materialism, King was searing:

“To believe that human personality is the result of the fortuitous interplay of atoms and electrons is as absurd as to believe that a monkey by hitting typewriter keys at random will eventually produce a Shakespearean play. Sheer magic! It is much more sensible to say with Sir James Jeans, the physicist, that “the universe seems to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine,” or with Arthur Balfour, the philosopher, that “we now know too much about matter to be materialists.” Materialism is a weak flame that is blown out by the breath of mature thinking.” (p. 70)

John West, “Martin Luther King’s Powerful Critique of Scientific Racism, Scientific Materialism” at Evolution News and Science Today

Well, just to clear the air around here, there is no evidence that brain size is any indicator of intelligence. Just for the record, lemurs, with brains 1/200th the size of chimps can pass the same intelligence test. Whales have way bigger brains than humans; does anyone claim they’re really smarter than humans?

Why was the racists’ idea about brain size considered at all?

Materialism does that to people and King was right to see it and call it out.

Here’s West’s documentary, Human Zoos:

12 Replies to “Martin Luther King on materialism vs. design in nature

  1. 1
    BobRyan says:

    The eugenicists based their mythology on Darwin’s second book, Decent of Man, which saw the culmination of what he wrote play out through the spread of National Socialism, which was based on the idea of eugenics having credibility.

    Before Hitler, there was Woodrow Wilson, who embraced eugenics. It was used to segregate the military, as one example of many from a man who was one of the most racist presidents in American history. Roosevelt, unlike what history attempts to propagate, had no interest in bringing an end to what Wilson had started, since he continued every program that was still in place.

    In response to the growing violence against Jews in Europe, the Wagner-Rogers Bill was introduced in the US Congress. It would have allowed 20,000 Jewish children from Germany into the United States, which Roosevelt refused to support.

    https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/wagner-rogers-bill

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    This is wrong on so many levels that it’s not worth trying to correct them.
    Many human characteristics are heritable (e.g., height, musculature, etc., etc.), and it is common for sociologists to record those characteristics by the person’s ancestry. One of these characteristics is IQ, and there are many studies published every year of IQ sorted by ethnicity. And so Africans have a lower average IQ than Europeans, etc. Denying this is pointless.
    Unless of course you’re merely a Fanatic who believes that certain things MUST BE TRUE, facts be damned.
    I’ve read 2 or 3 big chunky books on Eugenics, which died a slow death during WW2. The only thing worth knowing about the Eugenics movement is that the Abortion movement in the US was started by the Eugenics lady for the specific purpose of “breeding out” Negroes. And guess who still leads the country in abortions?

  3. 3

    @mahuna
    It is just that people do different things with their intelligence. To suggest that the brain hardware is fundamentally different, doesn’t make any sense.

    And there aren’t any facts about personal character, because character is on the side of what makes a choice, and by logic, anything that is on the side of what makes a choice, can only be identified with a chosen opinion.

    Creationist logic allows racism in regards to speculation about heritable different ways that decision making processes are organized. Not much chance of that being true.

    It also allows speculation about developmental organization of decisionmaking processes, as like what oppurtunities some body type occasions. If someone is physically strong, then they would have different oppurtunities, then if someone is physically weak, and have decisionmaking processes organized accordingly.

  4. 4
    mahuna says:

    I don’t know why I didn’t think of this BEFORE: you guys don’t know how to “search” on the Internet. So try starting HERE (although I’m sure that many of you are offended by a citation from Unz):
    ?Last week I explained why different groups don’t achieve at the same level. It’s because the races are not identical. There are all sorts of interesting differences – this paper from just last year says you can tell American blacks from American whites just from the patterns of microbes living in their mouths. But the most important difference is in average IQ. As I explained last week, a white person is seven times more likely than a black person to have an IQ of 110 or higher, and 30 times more likely to have an IQ of 125 or higher. Very probably, 50 to 80 percent of the gap is due to genes, and no one has figured out how to change the environment to make up for the rest.

  5. 5
    Querius says:

    Hmmm. Shades of Shockley.

    I don’t think we really know what intelligence is or what kinds. There’s verbal, mathematical, spacial, musical, photographic memory, creativity, lateral thinking, artistic, and other types of intelligence. For example, people in Uganda associated with Baganda (aka Ganda) music use rhythmic patterns that can go up to about 150 beats before repeating. Western culture usually goes about 3 or 4 beats. As a result, they think we’re (you’re) retarded.

    Prodigies are recognized in chess, music, and mathematics. Are music prodigies excellent at chess? Do mathematicians excel at music?

    Should having a photographic memory be considered intelligence? John Sweller of the University of Adelaide (known for cognitive load theory) performed many experiments on working memory (aka short term memory) and found that geniuses had about the same working memory capacity as anyone else.

    Experiments with rats that I recall (there’s likely more recent research) seemed to indicate that mental stimulation is critical in forming spatial intelligence. Our brains are supposedly plastic and can reallocate resources depending on usage. It’s my understanding that IQ changes over time. Even the term, Intelligence Quotient derives from a ratio of mental age over chronological age. Does this mean if you supposedly have an IQ of let’s say 120 and you’re 60 years old, that you have the mental acuity of a 72-year old? Or if you believe you have the mental acuity of a 30-year old that your have an IQ of 50?

    And then there are environmental and cultural factors . . .

    -Q

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    IQ Test:
    Start your stopwatches.

    1. What’s better than God but more evil than the devil. Wealthy people want it but poor people have plenty of it. And if you eat it, you’ll die?

    Tick, tick, tick . . .

    -Q

  7. 7
    mike1962 says:

    The intelligence of a leftist…

    Nothing.

    😀

  8. 8
    mahuna says:

    mohammadnursyamsu @ 3

    I read a WHOLE LOT about IQ studies, and I ain’t NEVER heard ANY expert in the field say anything as silly as “It is just that people do different things with their intelligence. To suggest that the brain hardware is fundamentally different, doesn’t make any sense.”
    There are STANDARDIZED tests. INTERNATIONAL comparisons of group average IQs is a whole field onto itself. You should perhaps READ some more before you make WILD GUESSES about “What IQ Means to ME”.

  9. 9
    mahuna says:

    5
    Querius @ 5: “I don’t think we really know what intelligence is or what kinds.”

    I’m sorry, but YOU don’t get to make up your own definitions. IQ is a field of professional study, and the professionals who spend their entire careers performing tests and doing analyses really don’t care what ignorant (“people who don’t know the facts”) choose to believe in the privacy of their own homes.
    Have you ever read ANYTHING about actual STUDIES of IQ? Or in your little world, does everybody just get to make a guess about Science stuff? In your world, does Physics work the same way? (Hey, maybe stuff should fall UP!)
    But this is irrelevant. The professionals who study and apply IQ statistics know how they do THEIR jobs, and people who misunderstand IQ and IQ studies are simply irrelevant.
    Although there is of course the problem that a lotta people who WANTED (needed?) IQ scores to be based on schooling and not heredity CONTINUE to screw up social programs and waste gazillions of tax dollars.

  10. 10
    Marfin says:

    Mahuna-I ma not saying you are wrong but just because the IQ is a field of professional study does not make the conclusions drawn by the experts in that field correct. If they are correct and not open to challenge then the experts in the field of OOL , Evolution , climate change, etc are also correct and not open to a challenge , and those of us who dont accept what the experts say must be wrong, but are we? hhmmm

  11. 11
    ET says:

    Moham:

    Creationist logic allows racism in regards to speculation about heritable different ways that decision making processes are organized.

    Evidence, please.

  12. 12
    JVL says:

    Mahuna: I’m sorry, but YOU don’t get to make up your own definitions. IQ is a field of professional study, and the professionals who spend their entire careers performing tests and doing analyses really don’t care what ignorant (“people who don’t know the facts”) choose to believe in the privacy of their own homes. Have you ever read ANYTHING about actual STUDIES of IQ?

    There is the question of what is IQ measuring? If it’s subjects taught in American schools then naturally a lot of Africans are going to score pretty low. As is anyone who can’t read based on the standardised IQ tests I’ve seen and taken. Is it possible to test the IQ of someone who can’t read? What about someone who is deaf, dumb and blind? I should think that would be extremely difficult.

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