Friday, February 12, 2010

Pastor Mike’s Darwinian Delirium

When a famous scientific personage is slandered, especially the year after celebrating his great work, it calls for correction and rebuke-rebuttal, as well as holding the slanderer accountable. That means not permitting him to hide under a partial veil of anonymity.

Thus Pastor Mike, having exhausted his supply of prosaic logical fallacies (e.g. non-sequiturs, ignotum per ignotius, post hoc ergo propter hoc etc) in waging a prolonged, fruitless campaign of hate against atheists and “evolutionists” – now must resort to post mortem ad hominem against Darwin even as he dredges up a host of innuendo, rank speculation, muddying the waters and other sordid tactics to delude his followers.

Guilt by association tops it off, so because Ernst Haeckel was a claimed "contemporary of Darwin, who laid the foundation of racism and imperialism that resulted in Hitler's racist regime” then Darwin must get the blame too by Mike's perverse reasoning!

Not so fast! In fact as Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw has noted (Hitler Hubris) the basis for the Nazi genocidal program was hatched and existed centuries before Darwin or Haeckel came along. It was embodied in the Volkisch movement and its distrust of Jews, going back at least to the 14th century. The origin of this hateful populist program which saw manifestation in yearly “passion plays” (as at Oberammagau) probably was incepted with the widespread belief that the Jews were “Christ killers” and responsible for their Savior’s demise, crucifixion. Thus, we see it is actually the fundamentalist beliefs of Pastor Mike and his ilk that drove this irrational German ally of modern day Christian Identity.

Another later factor that contributed was the SOCIAL Darwinian teachings of British philosopher Herbert Spencer. It was in fact, Spencer who coined the term “survival of the fittest’ not Charles Darwin. As Richard Hofstadter notes (Social Darwinism in American Thought, American Historical Association, 1955, Ch. 2 : 'The Vogue of Spencer') the acceptance of Social Darwinism coincided with the visit of Herbert Spencer to the U.S. in 1882, for a speaking tour. Spencer, for those unaware, was a British philosopher who sought to extend the principles of natural selection in Darwinian Evolution, to society as a whole.

Hofstadter points out (pp. 41-42) Spencer absolutely repudiated all state assistance to the poor, needy, physically feeble, or infirm. In terms of the role of natural selection in “social evolution” such aid amounted to unwanted artificial interference in nature. Not to mention, meddling in the “natural development” of a superior society. Thus, the poor and infirm were deemed “unfit” if they couldn’t compete for resources without state assistance and it was their lot to be eliminated if they couldn’t manage. As Spencer put it (ibid.):

"The whole effort of nature is to get rid of such, to clear the world of them, and make room for better. "

THIS abomination of Darwinian natural selection then is the REAL contributor to eugenics and Nazi thinking, not Charles Darwin. But Mike clearly hasn't learned to stretch his googling techniques widely enough to ascertain that. If he had expended his energies a tad more, he'd have seen that Spencer's insisted this was "simply nature’s doing, her process by which the unfit and uncompetitive could be eliminated once and for all."

The beauty of it- in Spencer’s mind(as in Nazi Eugenics specialists)- was that all alike were put on trial by nature, and so had to undergo equal judgment before her. In Spencer's words again (ibid.):

"If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well that they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best that they should die. "

Again, this could have been lifted right out of a Nazi Eugenics tract. But rather than target the REAL culprit, the clueless "pastor" sees fit to aim his verbal diatribes at Charles Darwin and evolution theory proper.

Mike also makes a minnow into a red herring nearly the size of a Great White shark when he asserts:

“I think if Darwin were alive today, he would be hooted out of the scientific community because he was not a trained scientist"

Well – alas, Mikey never mentions that most scientists of the late 19th century were not “trained” in the sense of getting a Ph.D. The fact is the Ph.D. did not even exist before German academia established it as a formal degree toward the end of the century. Scientists earned their creds instead by their formulations and discoveries. But Mikey is way too ignorant to allow that or know it.

Thus, Darwin earned his trained science stripes while on his voyage with the Beagle, and documenting his numerous findings in the Galapagos- then assimilating them for publication in his ‘Origin of Species. Einstein, meanwhile – was a lowly patent clerk when he formulated his special theory of relativity. But only an ignorant fool would say he was not a “trained scientist” – he trained himself by the DOING, not conferral of some piece of paper.

The inimitable bloviating pastor continues his screed:

"and because of his outrageous views about black people. Darwin thought that blacks were closer to man's ape "ancestors" than the white race ! "

Well, this is pure baseless calumny unless Mikey can give the full source or citation of where he found this and also the context. We expect to see the author, journal or book plus page number. We don’t take it on hearsay especially from the likes of Mike.

Later, while this conscientious obfuscator references T.H.Huxley’s use of the word “dusky cousins” for blacks, he never once reminds his readers that in the (mid-later 19th century) era the common belief was that blacks were inferior. (Even Abe Lincoln believed this but you seldom see it in history books!) It wasn’t peculiar to one particular group or even social strata. It was a crude, insensitive era, in other words, a century before the awakening to civil rights and racial equality. Hence, the attacks on Darwinists as exclusive racists or harboring racist ideologies is totally unfair and egregious without also acknowledging this zeitgeist in the whole American- European cultural -political nexus.

Another scurrilous detraction occurs when the pastor fulminates :

It seems to me the unreasonable, unbiblical, unscientific philosophy of Darwin and his disciples laid a foundation for hundreds of years of hatred, barbarity and unbelief reaching into the future and impacting millions of innocent lives.”

Again, mixing up everything in sight. In particular that the bible is devoid of any philosophy, nor is it a book of such any more than a book of medicine say. (Would anyone seriously allow himself to be healed, say for a ruptured spleen, by a bible beater alone -with no trip to the dr.?) Further, Darwinism itself is not a philosophy but a scientific theory which has actually met its own predictive thresholds and falsification tests (see previous blog- last part).

The arrant PHILOSOPHY Mike is so exercised over was SOCIAL Darwinisn -which was a misapplied extrapolation of natural selection to human social life. Darwin himself was appalled that Spencer would even attempt such an unwarranted extrapolation - but of course he had no more control to stop him than stopping Huxley from laucnhing his assorted jeremiads.

If Mike wishes to use slippery slope arguments, therefore, to implicate anyone or anything in the demise of civilization and “impacting innocent lives” then he needs to blame the SOCIAL Darwinists and their friends.

More importantly, the next time my delirious bro wishes to launch his bombastic attacks on evolution or the great Charles Darwin, he'd do better to go to an actual library first and ensure he has the actual targets straight in his febrile brain - as opposed to entertaining fictious ones. Perhaps induced by hyper-biblical bibliousness.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a shot at this pompous blowhard and twit. To say what he did about Darwin and saying nothing of social Darwinism shows the level of his ignorance and bias.

Does he not know anything? Has he never learned how to parse texts and separate substance from slop?

No, I guess not.

Good work again is delivering a great head chop (virtual) to am ignorant predjudiced nut