Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

06/17/2008 (8:50 am)

Bad Ideas Have Bad Consequences

I came across this video at a blog I like called Old Ford Road. It’s a lecture before the Family Research Council by a Professor John G. West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, one of my favorite internet places. Dr. West lays out the intellectual path from Darwin’s Origin of Species, through Darwin’s Descent of Man, to modern notions of criminal prosecution, sexuality, family and health policy, and philosophy. It’s erudite, direct, well-researched, and chilling.

It’s also long; about 52 minutes. It’s an important idea, though; Darwin’s ideas are at the base of a number of degenerative notions about humanity that appear in the worst of mainstream social progressivism. I recommend taking the time if you can spare it.

The lecture is a slide show based on material in his new book, Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science. Note that Dr. West does not address the question of whether Darwin’s ideas about evolution were correct or not; he simply follows the idea to its logical sociological conclusions and shows the impact this thinking has had on science and American culture.

The challenge that struck me is this: human kindness is contrary to natural selection. There is no evolutionary value to showing kindness to the weakest among us; that which is arguably the strongest indicator of the virtue of human civilization — how we treat the weakest among us — is explicitly and directly refuted by social Darwinism. Whether we evolved or not, my challenge to any atheist is to defend the notion that kindness is a virtue, starting from Darwinian thinking. To my mind, it cannot be done. To my mind, this defeats Utilitarianism, which is where atheists usually go when trying to produce a logical basis for morality; pure utilitarianism, plus Darwinism, leads directly and logically to eugenics, as the rising of the sun leads to daylight. This also refutes Hitchens, who argues that atheism can produce all the virtues of Christianity through logical analysis of the world around us; he’s correct in noting that we all know instinctively that social Darwinism is wrong, but we can’t reach that conclusion by following a logical progression from evolutionary biology.

Chew on these thoughts, and Enjoy.

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