Intelligent Design

WILL Darwinists get back into the eugenics business?

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So … now, James Watson, who has declared that (Darwinian) evolution is both a law and a fact, has since proclaimed,

… black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that “equal powers of reason” were shared across racial groups was a delusion.

And this hard on the heels of Richard Dawkins* spilling on about the “fantastic success” of the “Jewish lobby.”

Some people wonder what is happening. Bill was wondering whether Darwinists would get back into the eugenics business big time. Having watched H.L. Mencken-style Social Darwinism morph into sociobiology and then get rebranded as evolutionary psychology, I have some idea what’s driving the trend: power

Once people gain the right to simply ban opposing ideas, they can afford to be more up front about what they really think.

By the way, in case anyone wonders about whether evolutionary psychology is simply rebranded sociobiology, well, Dawkins apparently said that himself, as I noted in By Design or by Chance?.

What we sometimes miss is the underlying reason why Darwinists behave this way. If you believe that human beings have minds that are made in the image of – or are a local image of – a divine mind or cosmic law, then the reason why racism is wrong is obvious: Race relates to externals, not eternals. Yes, some people will believe that and still be racists. But here’s the difference: to the extent that theists are racists, they are wrong. I don’t mean politically incorrect or contrary to the pieties of liberalism. I mean wrong about the very nature of our universe.

They are wrong even though some qualities are distributed unevenly across ethnic groups. Body type, for example, plays a key role in determining the competitive sports in which one might excel professionally, and we get our body type mostly from our forebears. But none of that speaks to the value of a human being, only to how he might best use his time.

But what if you are, as most committed Darwinists are, a materialist? Then a human being is simply a meat puppet. At that point, distinctions that would be discounted in the light of eternity actually determine a person’s value. Or else he has no value, in which case …

Of course, decent people won’t just accept that. No, instead, they pass dozens or thousands of political correctness rules against taking the inevitable consequences of Darwinism and materialism seriously. And they flirt with thwarting their self-imposed rules. Or else they concoct grand, improbable schemes like this one and this one, to dispense with nature altogether. But that is all they can do, and in the long run, it leads to absurdities.

Legitimized racism is an inevitable consequence of materialism, and I expect the Darwinists know that as well as anyone else. I suppose at this point their social policy arm (liberalism, in its current form) had better start drafting a whole bunch more daft political correctness rules. It’s either that or eugenics.

*Note: I think what upset people about Dawkins’s comments is the assumption that there is something unusual about a successful Jewish lobby in Washington. There had better be a successful Jewish lobby in Washington, let me tell you. Any interest group that doesn’t have a successful lobby in Washington is a non-starter. Canadians have one of the best lobbies in Washington. Why not bash us then, and give the Jews a rest? Because, for whatever reason, many people don’t hate us and they do hate Jews, whom they commonly do not even bother to distinguish from the Israelis.

American mathematician and novelist living in Paris takes on Council of Europe’s anti-ID resolution

Philosopher argues for guided evolution: Guided by technocrats

The Spiritual Brain: Recent radio and TV

Upload human memories onto a computer? Some are quite serious about that.

12 Replies to “WILL Darwinists get back into the eugenics business?

  1. 1

    […] WILL Darwinists get back into the eugenics business? […]

  2. 2
    Jason Rennie says:

    “Legitimized racism is an inevitable consequence of materialism, and I expect the Darwinists know that as well as anyone else. I suppose at this point their social policy arm (liberalism, in its current form) had better start drafting a whole bunch more daft political correctness rules. It’s either that or eugenics.”

    Well done Denyse I think you hit the nail right on the head.

    “Canadians have one of the best lobbies in Washington. Why not bash us then, and give the Jews a rest?”

    Good point. Maybe just feel sorry for Canada, eh ? 😛

  3. 3
    leo says:

    A few points I would like to make…

    1. We have to remember that this is Watson talking. He says, and has said, a lot of really dumb stuff against women, “fat” people, other ethnic groups, people he considers stupid, etc. So to condemn “darwinists” in the same way that he condemns “black people” is a little hypocritical. He’s a lunatic, has always been thought of as one in the field but he is really good at manipulating people to get what he wants (see how he manipulated Crick plus how he got all the money for Cold Spring Harbor) and he likes to make grandiose statements to keep himself in the spotlight – and sell his new book. This is far from the first time this has happened and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

    2. I think Dawkins picked Jews for the very specific reason that they are a religious group, generally. Picking the NRA or Canada would not have the same effect because his point was about the power of certain religious groups. That being said, he is not American, doesn’t know American politics (as he probably realizes, evidenced by his qualifier) and it came out sounding worse than I believe it was intended.

    3. Evolution and eugenics…again. Eugenics was around WAY before Darwin, and how people use a theory has absolutely no bearing on it’s truth, etc, etc. Same old points. It’s a non-starter.

    4. Theists can be racist and still logically correct (in their own minds) if they believe that their particular “race” above all others – that is that other races are no different that animals. I’m not saying it is right, just that it is possible. Furthermore, to say that theists don’t value some groups over others is preposterous.

    5. The term “meat puppet” is highly inappropriate as puppet implies that there is someone pulling the strings.

    6. The “inevitable consequences” that you come up with, I can’t see as inevitable at all. Indeed, I see that each and every life is here as a result of an extraordinary and complex history and that, to me, that is where the “value” comes from. Legitimize racism implies that there exist such things in the human population as races (still a hotly debated proposition) and that distinctions between these races are greater than the distinctions between races, if any fundamental distinctions exist at all. Furthermore, it suggests that there is some “Master race” (term use intended) that has the ability to pick what is good and what is bad and there is a scientific method of determining this – certainly a huge jump in logic. I can’t see that there is a necessary logical step to this. I believe that your are projecting your own prejudices against those who believe in Evolution and trying to shape a reality for them that just isn’t there.

  4. 4
    Jason Rennie says:

    “I believe that your are projecting your own prejudices against those who believe in Evolution and trying to shape a reality for them that just isn’t there.”

    Not at all. And I have no beef with “those who believe in Evolution” (I think you may be projecting prejudices of your own here), the problem is with the logical implications of a strictly a-telic Darwinism. This is not the same thing as “those who believe in evolution”.

    The sort of functionalist criteria for worth that Watson is putting forward is perfectly reasonable and your “equal worth for all based on awe” is childish make believe if the a-telic Darwinism he advocates is true.

    If you doubt this try reading some Peter Singer to see were a careful thinker ends up when he embraces the a-telic Darwinism.

    I don’t expect sloppy thinkers to fall short of the obvious.

  5. 5
    leo says:

    I state again that there is no logical pathway that will lead to this. I have read some Singer (breathtakingly boring) and I conclude that any way you come to these conclusions involves a moral choice at some point – what is “good” for the population…
    Darwinism – which is a theory of how living things changed through time, that’s it – makes no moral claims and so can have no moral judgments. Therefore to create a set of logical steps a moral claim has to be made which is outside the scope of anything proven by Darwinian theory.

  6. 6
    Carl Sachs says:

    It’s also worth pointing out, I think, that contemporary philosophers who take Darwin seriously — I’m thinking not only of Peter Singer but also Michael Ruse, Philip Kitcher, and Richard Rorty — all endorse some version of the fact/value distinction.

    In other words, they all deny that one can derive normative principles from scientific theories.

    So any line of criticism against them here will need to show either (a) the fact/value distinction is itself wrong, or (b) even if it is right, it’s inconsistent with “Darwinism,” however broadly construed.

  7. 7
    Jason Rennie says:

    “Therefore to create a set of logical steps a moral claim has to be made which is outside the scope of anything proven by Darwinian theory.”

    Back up. If a-telic Darwinism is true that has profound moral implications because moral implications are rendered a fiction because there is no such thing as a “moral” choice in a telos free universe.

    Watson’s argument isn’t a moral argument. He gets it that moral arguments are fictional based on his worldview.

  8. 8
    UrbanMysticDee says:

    “… black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that “equal powers of reason” were shared across racial groups was a delusion.”
    I disagree with Watson here on both points. I do not equate IQ with intelligence but instead with the proficiency one has at performing IQ tests. Scoring high on a test is a skill itself and not an indication of something as broad as intelligence. Just because someone can take a test does not mean they are inable to do other things, like compose music, or formulate some new and important mathematical theorem.

    Likewise, I do not equate IQ, or intelligence for that matter, with reasoning ability. The ability to reason is a skill. A highly intelligent person can be highly deficient in the capacity to reason. I would say more about this but I dislike long comments.

  9. 9
    duncan says:

    Jason Rennie
    ‘There is no such thing as a “moral” choice in a telos free universe’.

    Why isn’t there? Why must moral purpose only come from the divine (particularly if the message is ‘do what I tell you, or later on I will torture you in perpetuity’ – hardly inspiring, or moral, surely?)?

    We are perfectly capable of setting our own objectives and our own morals, and combining the two. Everyone does it all the time, with and without reference to religiosity.

    Darwinism identifies, as Dawkins called it, a ‘selfish gene’ – this does not mandate a selfish organism. If you don’t eat you will feel hungry – your selfish genes make this inevitable. But you might decide to starve yourself to death out of altruism, to divert a limited food supply to others, for example. Imagined or actual extra-terrestrial purpose has no bearing on this ability, one way or the other.

  10. 10
    mynym says:

    If you don’t eat you will feel hungry – your selfish genes make this inevitable. But you might decide[???] to starve yourself to death out of altruism…

    It seems that you think that the Self which emerges out of all the supposed inevitability of genes that are supposedly sentient enough to be “selfish” has some capacity for selecting against natural selection and so on. If we are creatures of contradiction you might be able to advance your Self as a case in point because you’re contradicting yourself.

    At any rate, although Dawkins is taken in by illusions created by his own pollution of language he still admits that Homo sapiens have some form of sapience which allows for selecting against natural “selection.” So he agrees with the philosopher David Stove that all the millions of abortions and instances of contraceptive use can be advanced as evidence against the Darwinian pattern of conflating intelligent selection with natural selection. The problem with admitting to basic facts of human life and our sentience is that it can act as a wedge which can be driven into all mythological narratives of naturalism having to do with mankind. For example, if Dawkins admits that we can select against Darwinian natural “selection” now then to what extent could ancient man do the same? To what extent does this ability for sentience and selection also extend to other organisms? What role does the selection, sentience and intelligence of organisms play in their evolution? Etc.

  11. 11
    Carl Sachs says:

    Speaking as a Darwinist “of some sort”, I can heartily agree with the criticisms advanced here against Dawkins. Dawkins asserts that

    But at the same time that I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and human affairs. (A Devil’s Chaplain, p. 10-11)

    All well and good for him, one can suppose — but I’m quite sympathetic to anyone who thinks that Dawkins simply hasn’t done the hard work of showing how Darwinism in science and anti-Darwinism in ethics and politics are compatible.

    In fact I think it can be done, and that most of the hard work required was done by John Dewey. But anyone looking for a detailed and rigorous reconciliation of Darwinism in science and anti-Darwinism in politics in Dawkins’ own writings will be disappointed.

  12. 12
    duncan says:

    Mynym
    Firstly, I don’t know enough about Richard Dawkins’ beliefs to comment on his position, I simply find his expression ‘the selfish gene’ useful.

    Why do you conclude that I’m suggesting a “capacity for selecting against natural selection”? Assume a situation where there is only enough food for either the parent or the offspring to survive until new supplies are sourced, and the parent knows this, and has control of that limited food supply. What decision does natural selection require the parent to make – to feed just themselves, or to feed just their offspring, or for them both to feed even in the knowledge that this means they will both die? It seems to me that it could be any one, and this is amply demonstrated in the animal world.

    The idea that Darwinism suggests that we are all just wandering around completely out of control of our own decisions is a misrepresentation of Darwinism.

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