Friday, April 12, 2013

Imagine there's no Darwin

What would the world have been like without Darwin? Peter Bowler wrote a book on this, but Michael Flannery of Evolution News and Views begs to differ.

10 comments:

jdhuey said...

In my humble opinion, there would not be any really substantial difference. The essence of the Theory would have been presented by Wallace and although acceptance would have been slower without the monumental amount of evidence presented in "The Origin of Species", Natural Selection was just an idea whose time had come. I would guess that the neo-Darwinian synthesis would have happened at the time that it did and as such, the twentieth century would be completely back on track.

Papalinton said...

Victor
You two references seem to track to the same Discovery Institute article by Flannery.

Victor Reppert said...

I have put in the Amazon link that was supposed to go in there for Bowler.

Hal said...

Victor,
"I have said consistently that the direct inference from "X was done in the name of religion X" to "Religion X is bad" is faulty, and that applies to atheism as well. "

What you said above on another thread makes me wonder how you can justify the Discovery Institute article.

Why lay what was done in the name of Darwin on Darwin? Why should that imply that the Darwinian theory of evolution is or was mistaken?

Victor Reppert said...

Do you think the article is drawing that inference directly? I saw it as a rebuttal against a certain positive story about Darwin's impact.

Ideas do have consequences. And ideas can result in terrible harm. But you have to pull things apart some to see what those effects are. Of course, something can be perfectly true, but or acceptance of that truth will harm society.

New Atheists, unlike other atheists, not only think that atheism is true, they also think that widespread acceptance of atheism will be our salvation. That's why they scare me in ways that other atheists don't.

Dan Gillson said...

In A Secular Age, Charles Taylor argues that evolution wasn't just a direct result of Darwin's research, it was also the result of a time period in which key thinkers started asking questions about our "deep history". We probably would have ended up with a theory of evolution, it may have just looked a little different.

Hal said...

Victor,
"Do you think the article is drawing that inference directly? I saw it as a rebuttal against a certain positive story about Darwin's impact."

Seems they do in the case of eugenics:
"Other eugenicists made similar claims. Quoting from Darwin that "Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care," they reverted to nature by warning that "Imperfect seed in poor soil means a sickly harvest" (Social Purity [1903] 42).
I will not speculate on the German connection of eugenics with its "racial hygiene" program except to say that America's leading eugenicist, Harry Laughlin, authored what was considered a "Model Sterilization Law" that was tested in Buck v. Bell (1927). When the Nazi regime looked to its social engineering plans, one of the first laws passed by the National Socialists was the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring." This law was largely drawn from Harry Laughlin's Model Law. Laughlin was awarded an honorary doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1936 for his contributions to "racial hygiene" (Harry Bruinius, Better for All the World, 17, 288-294)
Would eugenics in the form described above have taken place without Darwin? Perhaps, but one searches for a unifying theory that would have given force to anything like a movement."

Those ID folks have really honed their PR machine. What better way to show the evils of Darwin's theory than linking it with Nazism?

By the way, have you read Bowler's book? I haven't. However, the description on Amazon's site doesn't lead me to the conclusion that he thinks Darwin's impact was all positive.



Hal said...

Victor,
"New Atheists, unlike other atheists, not only think that atheism is true, they also think that widespread acceptance of atheism will be our salvation. That's why they scare me in ways that other atheists don't."

I think some of their ideas are silly. And they have very little political power.

I am way more frightened by the Religious Right which does have a strong political movement in this country.

Victor Reppert said...

I'm a big supporter of separation of church and state, and no fan of the religious right (or the right in general).

Hal said...

Victor,

Then we are in complete agreement on that issue.