Monday, February 09, 2009

Illogical conclusions

This was linked through Pharyngula, and I had to add my own comments, since I was really pissed off by the article. An op ed piece, titled "Questions Darwinism Cannot Answer" appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. It's full of the standard nonsense, but then the author comes up with this incomprehensible statement:
[Richard Dawkins] won't take his depiction of Darwinism to logical conclusions. A dedicated Darwinian would welcome imperialism, genocide, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, euthanasia, forced sterilisations and infanticide. Publicly, he advocates none of them.
Why on earth would any rational person advocate for any of those things? And what the hell is a "dedicated darwinist"?

It's obvious that the author (who is a Professor of Theology) doesn't understand Darwin, or evolution, or pretty much anything else he talks about. Great strawman, though. Lots of straw in that one. No actual brain, of course, but the scarecrow sure looks good.

Darwinism (which is a creationist shorthand for atheist, or sometimes evolution, and and entirely wrong shorthand, at that) is NOT any of those things (heck, it doesn't even exist - the whole area of study is evolutionary biology and hasn't been strictly about natural selection for decades. We don't call the theory of gravity Newtonism, do we?). It does not advocate or support any of the horrors that are listed. The basic theory of natural selection doesn't imply any of these things -- unless you have misunderstood and redefined "survival of the fittest" to fit your anti-atheist screed. How he thinks that imperialism, genocide, deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, or any of them are the "result" of Darwins theories -- especially in light of the fact that Darwin espoused absolutely ZERO of these ideas -- is just boggling. And then to assert that atheists should support these things? That shows a frightening misunderstanding of atheism, evolution, Darwin's theores, and science in general.

That a professor of Theology cannot differentiate between a descriptive scientific theory, and what that means, and social efforts justified by charistmatic fanatics shouldn't surprise me, I guess. His aim is not scholarly, it is dogmatic.

I'm sure somewhere, someone tried to rationalize their actions based on "darwinism", but that doesn't suggest that the natural result of accepting that Darwin's theories have been largely supported is any sort of social ill. The conclusion is simply stated as fact and then the author goes on to bemoan how we awful atheists can't even be honest enough to support these things properly. I call bullshit.

Methinks that the dear Dr is trying (rather hysterically) to blame every social ill he can think of Darwinism (when what he really means -- and later brings up -- is atheism) in order to bolster his extremely weak argument that religion has better answers. Sounds as though he is simply upset because atheists don't espouse those things that rational people would find abhorrent. This denies him the ability to put atheists firmly in the anti-social, pathological category once and for all, and then be able to attack his charicature with abandon.

His premise seems to be that 1)god exists 2)some people don't believe, ergo 3) those people are responsible for all social problems. It's ridiculous and insulting. He apparently doesn't even have a decent grasp on world history, either. What irony, when a theologan accuses "darwinists" of being imperialists and genocidal when the bible fully endorses the concepts of imperialism and genocide , where they are acknowledged as great things and the will of god. The other things he listed? Religions around the world have been used as justification for all of them, too, does that mean we should require all believers to fully support these and advocate for them? No. To build a mythical "darwinist" and assert that this person would obviously support these things is dishonest and explicitly manipulative. Powerful ideas can be used and misued.

Religion has a get out of jail free card that science isn't allowed to play. When atrocities such as the inquisition, the trail of tears, or bombing of abortion clinics are done in the name of a god or a religion, it's a perversion of the true beliefs and morals of said religion, but any atrocities blamed on science or scientific theories are the logical conclusion to those evil scientific theories. Nice how that works, isn't it? Heads I win, tails you lose.

I'm getting really tired of the old canard that atheists have no morality. Sorry, all you theists out there who keep repeating it, I really won't be committing atrocities any time soon to fulfill your made-up idea of how we should behave.

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