Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Darwinism and Racism

Joseph Allen surveys the media hyperventilations over the recently passed Tennessee law that allows for the teaching of the evidences for, and the scientific arguments against, Darwinian evolution and does a good job (if one can overlook the occasional crudity) of explaining intelligent design. It's refreshing to see someone get it right given all the misrepresentations of ID one finds in the popular media.

The most interesting part of Allen's essay, however, was when he recounted a trip to the Dayton, Tennessee courthouse, the site of the famous Scopes Trial in 1925. The trial was held to prosecute a substitute biology teacher named John Scopes who claimed to have been teaching evolution to his students. At that time teaching evolution was against state law.

Allen writes:
I paid a visit to the courthouse in Dayton a few months ago. One item in the display cases immediately caught my attention. It was a copy of George William Hunter’s A Civic Biology — used by John Scopes in his class — opened to page 195 .... Of course, the next page is safely hidden:
At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure…the highest type of all [are] the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.
Had they (courthouse visitors) been able to turn to page 263, they would find even more juicy tidbits from the evolutionary perspective:
Just as certain animals or plants have become parasitic on other plants or animals, [biologically inferior humans] have become parasitic on society…corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease....If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading.
Contemporary Darwinians huff that racialist beliefs such as these are no longer held by biologists, but the point is there's no reason not to hold them given their devotion to the evolutionary process. There's no reason to think that every species and race evolves at the same rate, pari passu, and indeed no Darwinian believes they do, but they make an exception for Homo sapiens. The exception, however, is motivated by political correctness not by their science.

Darwin himself believed that some races were superior to others and his followers in the social sciences accepted that inequality as a matter of course until Hitler carried their thinking to its logical conclusion and showed the world the horrific implications of Darwinian assumptions about survival of the fittest. Even though such views have been muted since the atrocities of WWII the logic remains unrefuted. Given naturalistic Darwinism there's no basis for thinking that all men or races are equal or have equal potential and there's no non-arbitrary moral reason why those in power shouldn't treat the races in their jurisdiction differently and prejudicially.

Indeed, the only reason for thinking that all human beings have equal value and dignity, the only reason for thinking that there are rights which inhere in every human being, is the conviction that we are God's property, as John Locke put it, and that we were created by God in His image and that He loves us. No one can harm with impunity what God loves.

That is the sole ground for human worth and human rights. Take God away, as Darwinism does, and substitute in His place purposeless and impersonal mechanisms like genetic mutation and natural selection, and it's hard to see how any of those passages in the textbook Scopes was teaching from are wrong.