Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Darwin Files, pt. 3

Most folks don’t know the original, full title of Darwin’s seminal book now known as: “The Origin of Species.” “Most folks” includes the senior pastor of the High Church of Atheism, Richard Dawkins. 

It seems, in a public radio debate, Dawkins was berating Christians for their ignorance. He reveled in the charge that most Christians could not name the Four Gospels. But suddenly, his opponent turned the tables and asked the gloating Dawkins for the full title of Darwin’s book. 

He is a militant atheist and the country’s foremost champion of Darwinist evolution – and he was on the radio to accuse Christians of being ignorant of the Bible. 

When the tables were turned, however, an embarrassed Richard Dawkins was momentarily unable to name the full title of his scientific hero’s most famous work.    

In his frustration, he even invoked the name of the deity in which he does not believe, resorting to a helpless: “Oh God.” 

Dawkins, the former Oxford Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, is a dedicated admirer of Charles Darwin, regarding the Victorian pioneer of evolution as the man who explained “everything we know about life.” 

So his memory lapse on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme [sic] was deeply embarrassing.

Obviously, Dawkins’ lapsed memory isn’t of great importantance. But I think the original, full title of Darwin’s work is. Darwin entitled his masterpiece: “On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in The Struggle for Life. 

Now you know why the full title is rarely used! 

What does Darwin mean by “The Preservation of Favored Races”? Interestingly, to answer this question we must turn our attention to “The Descent of Man,” where race is a central theme, a thread from start to finish. 

The first two paragraphs of the tome read, 

 . . . It might also naturally be enquired whether man, like so many other animals, has given rise to varieties and sub-races, differing but slightly from each other, or to races differing so much that they must be classed as doubtful species?  

The enquirer would next come to the important point, whether man tends to increase at so rapid a rate, as to lead to occasional severe struggles for existence; and consequently to beneficial variations, whether in body or mind, being preserved, and injurious ones eliminated. Do the races or species of men, whichever term may be applied, encroach on and replace one another, so that some finally become extinct? We shall see that all these questions, as indeed is obvious in respect to most of them, must be answered in the affirmative, in the same manner as with the lower animals (p. 255). 

Clearly, Darwin speaks of race and racial differences, indeed of racial superiority, in a manner wholly foreign, even anathema, to the muted treatment of race today. And, as with his thoughts on women, appealing to his Victorian culture—in effort to soften his blows—is of no use. His views on race are based on his science not his society. 

Darwin thinks racial differences are so apparent that they are undeniable and require little or no substantiation; that is, racial disparity is axiomatic. 

The variability or diversity of the mental faculties in men of the same race, not to mention the greater differences between the men of distinct races, is so notorious that not a word need here be said (p. 266). 

If we consider all the races of man as forming a single species, his range is enormous . . . widely-ranging species are much more variable than species with restricted ranges; and the variability of man may with more truth be compared with that of widely-ranging species, than with that of domesticated animals (p. 267). 

[M]an is variable in body and mind; and that the variations are induced, either directly or indirectly, by the same general causes, and obey the same general laws, as with the lower animals (p. 277). 

One of the most marked distinctions in different races of men is that the skull in some is elongated, and in others rounded (p. 282). 

Nor is the difference slight in moral disposition between a barbarian, such as the man described by the old navigator, Byron . . . and in intellect, between a savage who uses hardly any abstract terms, and a Newton or Shakespeare (p. 287). 

Judging from all that we know of man and the lower animals, there has always been sufficient variability in their intellectual and moral faculties, for a steady advance through natural selection (p. 328). 

Man has multiplied so rapidly, that he has necessarily been exposed to struggle for existence, and consequently to natural selection. He has given rise to many races, some of which differ so much from each other, that they have often been ranked by naturalists as distinct species (p. 331). 

Notice: racial differences are so great that some of Darwin’s colleagues consider the various races to be entirely different species. (Darwin is rather non-committal on this, opting in the end to see the races as perhaps “sub-species.” We may consider this further in the future.) 

That there are racial differences is self-evident to Darwin; yet how racial disparities come to be remains a mystery to him. 

It was formally thought that the colour [sic] of the skin and the character of the hair were determined by light or heat; and although it can hardly be denied that some effect is thus produced, almost all observers now agree that the effect has been very small, even after exposure during many ages. . . . With our domestic animals there are grounds for believing that cold and damp directly affect the growth of the hair; but I have not met with any evidence on the head in the case of man (p. 269). 

Of all the differences between the races of man, the colour [sic] of the skin is the most conspicuous and one of the best marked. It was formerly thought that differences of this kind could be accounted for by long exposure to different climates; but Pallas first shewed [sic] that this is not tenable, and he has since been followed by almost all anthropologists (p.356). 

The external characteristic differences between the races of man cannot be accounted for in a satisfactory manner . . . We have thus far been baffled in all our attempts to account for the differences between the races of man; but there remains one important agency, namely Sexual Selection, which appears to have acted powerfully on man. . . . Nor do I pretend that the effects of sexual selection can be indicated with scientific precision (p. 359). 

While Darwin denies that environmental pressures alone can account for racial differences (an obvious departure from the Sunday school version of how races developed!); he cannot affirm, with what he considers to be scientific precision, exactly what is responsible for human diversity. I find his honesty here refreshing. 

In the future we shall consider Darwin’s views on race expanded and applied. Until then, thank you for reading and thinking. 

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Charles Darwin, “The Descent of Man,” Great Books of the Western World, vol. 49 (Chicago, London, Toronto: William Benton, 1952)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Darwin Files, pt. 2


Last week we considered Charles Darwin’s attitude towards theism. This week we shall examine his theories on women.  

Darwin is forthright and unapologetic. (Such is the freedom of the one who lives without servile fear of political correctness.) 

Man is more courageous, pugnacious and energetic than woman, and has a more inventive genius. His brain is absolutely larger . . . The female, however, ultimately assumes certain distinctive characters, and in the formation of her skull, is said to be intermediate between the child and the man (p. 562). 

I know what you’re thinking: What does pugnacious mean? Webster defines pugnacious as, “eager and ready to fight; quarrelsome; combative.”  

Men are more eager and ready to fight, more quarrelsome and combative than women? I don’t think so! (Speaking of thinking…as I use my highly developed man-mind…I imagine that some of the womenfolk smart enough to read this piece—with their smallish brains all aglow—are fighting mad at this very moment, are downright pugnacious. But enough of that.) 

At this point, some atheistic evolutionist is screaming: “You have to understand Darwin in light of the Victorian culture in which he lived!!!” 

My response is two-fold. First, yelling at one’s computer is silly and unevolved. Second, Darwin’s thoughts on women are not shaped by the cultural mores of Victorian England; but by his observations as interpreted through the lens of his evolutionary theories. 

That is, his postulations concerning the fairer sex are based upon his scientific, his evolutionary worldview. 

There can be little doubt that the greater size and strength of man, in comparison with woman, together with his broader shoulders, more developed muscles, rugged outline of body, his greater courage and pugnacity, are all due in chief part to inheritance from his half human male ancestors (p. 565). 

The greater size, strength, courage, pugnacity, and energy of man, in comparison with woman, were acquired during primeval times, and have subsequently been augmented, chiefly through the contests of rival males for the possession of females. The greater intellectual vigour [sic] and power of invention in man is probably due to natural selection, combined with the inherited effect of habit, for the most able men will have succeeded best in defending and providing for themselves . . . (p. 588). 

Thus, we find Darwin appeals—not to his culture—but to his science to prove the superiority of men over women. Alas, today’s feminists are vainly fighting natural selection. 

Darwin also speaks of sexual selection as contributing to man’s natural dominance of women. 

With savages, for instance, the Australians, the women are the constant cause of war both between members of the same tribe and between distinct tribes (p. 565). 

Amongst the half-human progenitors of man, and amongst savages, there have been struggles between the males during many generations for the possession of females (p. 566). 

He who admits the principle of sexual selection will be led to the remarkable conclusion that the nervous system not only regulates most of the existing functions of the body, but has indirectly influenced the progressive development of various bodily structures and of certain mental qualities. Courage, pugnacity, perseverance, strength, and size of body, weapons of all kinds, musical organs, both vocal and instrumental, bright colours [sic] and ornamental appendages, have all been indirectly gained by the one sex or the other, through the exertion of choice, the influence of love and jealousy (p. 596). 

Man has ultimately become superior to woman. It is, indeed, fortunate that the law of the equal transmission of characters to both sexes prevails with mammals; otherwise, it is probable that man would have become as superior in mental endowment to woman, as the peacock is in ornamental plumage to the peahen (567). 

I never—and I mean NEVER—want to hear another anti-theistic, man-hating, angry female attack the Apostle Paul! I say to the rabid Bible-bashing she-males of the world: What about the Apostle of Evolution, Charlie D.? What about him, M’lady 

Darwin continues his onslaught: 

The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn [sic] by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive both of composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer, from the law of deviation from averages . . . that if men are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in many subjects, the average of mental power in man must be above that of woman (p. 566). 

To the women sagacious enough to still be reading—take heart. Things could be worse. You could be married to a savage. 

Man is more powerful in body and mind than woman, and in the savage state he keeps her in a far more abject state of bondage than does the male of any other animal; therefore it is not surprising that he should have gained the power of selection (p. 584). 

Do you suppose that today’s naturalistic evolutionists agree with their progenitor? I suspect some do but none will admit to it. For those who genuinely disagree with him, what is the evolutionary basis for their disagreement? Where does the Sage of Science get it wrong? 

And if he’s wrong…how can he be so wrong about something so fundamental? 

The historical truth is this, Christian ethics—not evolutionary philosophy—elevates the status of women. 

Before Christianity arrived, century upon century had brought little or no freedom or dignity to women in any pagan culture. In short, where else do women have more freedom, opportunity, and human worth than in countries that have been highly influenced by the Christian ethic? (Alvin J. Schmidt, Under the Influence, p. 122) 

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Charles Darwin, “The Descent of Man,” Great Books of the Western World, vol. 49 (Chicago, London, Toronto: William Benton, 1952)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Darwin Files, pt. 1

 
The following pair of definitions have [sic] proven to be useful in distinguishing between High Church atheists and the agnostic.
AGNOSTIC: I don’t believe there is a God. Because I haven’t seen the evidence.
ATHEIST: There is no God. Because I’m an asshole.
(Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, p. 17)
 
While I do not typically employ the above verbiage, my experiences with atheists prove Day’s “definitions” to be spot-on. With precious few exceptions, today’s non-theists are among the most vicious, mean-spirited, and militant people on earth.
 
Thus, you may imagine my surprise upon reading Charles Darwin’s, “The Descent of Man.” Darwin is a breath of fresh air! None of the atheistic antipathy, none of the raging vitriol, none of the condescension so prevalent in contemporary anti-theists is to be found within its pages.
 
In fact one finds quite the opposite of such things. Darwin speaks rather highly of religion in “The Descent of Man.”
 
The ennobling belief in God is not universal with man . . . The moral sense perhaps affords the best and highest distinction between man and the lower animals . . . the social instincts the prime principle of man’s moral constitution—with the aid of active intellectual powers and the effects of habit, naturally lead to the golden rule, ‘As ye would that men should do to you, do ye to them likewise’; and this lies at the foundation of morality (p. 319).
 
When is the last time you read or heard a “new atheist” write or say such things concerning belief in God and morality, as expressed by Christ? (Yeah…that’s what I thought.)
 
He further offers,
 
To do good unto others—to do unto others as ye would they should do unto you—is the foundation-stone of morality (p. 322).
 
The foundation-stone of morality? Amazing! (Darwin praises such morality, but do not suppose that the morality he here praises is the morality of evolution. It isn’t. I will demonstrate this in the near future.)
 
But can you remember a current non-theist speaking so glowingly of Christian morality? No? Neither can I.
 
Darwin continues:
 
The highest form of religion—the grand idea of God hating sin and loving righteousness—was unknown during the primeval times (p. 329).
 
Yet again, Darwin proves to be superior to his progeny. He clearly understands that not all religions are the same, nor does he denigrate “God hating sin and loving righteousness” as a “Bronze Age superstition” (as many sophistic atheists banally parrot).
 
Certainly, I am disagreed with Darwin concerning how and from where this “highest form of religion” comes to be; yet he respectfully treats the subject. He writes,
 
With the more civilised [sic] races, the conviction of the existence of an all-seeing Deity has had a potent influence on the advance of morality. . . . The belief in God has often been advanced as not only the greatest, but the most complete of all the distinctions between man and the lower animals. . . . The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man, until he has been elevated by long-continued culture (p. 593).
 
Was Charles Darwin an atheist? Carefully consider the following:
 
He who is not content to look, like a savage, at the phenomena of nature as disconnected, cannot any longer believe that man is the work of a separate act of creation (p. 590).
 
Notice, he doesn’t say man is uncreated. He says man is not the work of a “separate act of creation.” That is, Darwin does not deny an initial creative act. He does not rule out, if you will, a First Cause. I would go so far as to say that he actually suggests the opposite.

There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God. . . . The question is of course wholly distinct from that higher one, whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the universe; and this has been answered in the affirmative by some of the highest intellects that have ever existed (p. 302, emphasis mine).
 
One rarely, if ever, hears such sentiments from today’s obnoxious atheists.
 
After reading “The Descent of Man” I was gratified to discover that an expert on Charles Darwin agrees with my assessment of him.
 
Given the paucity of evidence, and the ambiguity of the statements that do remain, we will probably never be able to completely refine our definition or understanding of Darwin’s religious views. But that is not to say that there are some things that cannot be known. One point is abundantly clear, all the surviving evidence contradicts the assertion that Darwin was an atheist, (John van Wyhe, Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore, publisher of four books on Darwin, and founder and director of Darwin Online).
 
I once had naturalistic evolutionist take offense at my labeling of his tribe: Darwinists. He disliked the moniker despite my using it in a non-pejorative manner. It seems he believed the term “Darwinist” to be inaccurate and beneath today’s atheistic evolutionists.
 
Having now read Darwin, I understand that the offended man is exactly half right. Today’s non-theistic evolutionists cannot be accurately described as “Darwinists.” But the reason they should not be called such is because “Darwinist” is much too lofty a title. It is above them, not beneath them.
 
Today’s naturalistic evolutionist is the product of devolution, displaying an alarming degree of mental and emotional reversion. Perhaps they are a sub-species of yesterday’s Darwinists. Then again, it seems probable, from what may be observed, that they may indeed be classified as a different species altogether.
 
But they’re not Darwinists. That’s for sure.
 
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Charles Darwin, “The Descent of Man,” Great Books of the Western World, vol. 49 (Chicago, London, Toronto: William Benton, 1952)
 
 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Bible Factor


I’m sure millions of faithful Christians are tremendously affected, perhaps disheartened by, last month’s unexpected announcement. What will such a pronouncement do to his fellow Catholics?  

I’m speaking of course of Bill O’Reilly’s attack on the Bible.  

In a hard-nosed, bare-knuckled interview with theologian, Roma Downey, regarding her 10 hour TV miniseries, “The Bible,” Mr. O’Reilly made the following remarks. 

When you say you’re a believer, do you believe in the Bible literally? I mean you believe that Adam and Eve were out there, and the snake and the apple and all of that business? 

Look, a lot of the Bible . . . is allegorical . . . Are you telling people that they should believe in Adam and Eve? That they should believe in Noah’s Ark? Jonah and the whale? Are you telling people that this is the way to go? 

When you were producing ‘The Bible,’ there are some things in the Bible that are obviously allegorical as I just mentioned. Did you take that into account?

What exactly does O’Reilly mean, when he asks, “Do you believe in the Bible literally”? Is it logically possible or sensible to believe in something non-literally? For example, what is the import of: “I non-literally believe in Smurfs”? What does such a statement mean? 

I think what Mr. O’Reilly intends is: Do you interpret the Bible literally? This question is, of course, another matter entirely; and it’s simplistic to the point of being insulting.  

One who properly interprets the Bible literally fully understands that scripture is filled with various genres, figures of speech, and stories. A literal interpretation recognizes allegories, apocalyptic metaphors, poems, parables and so on.  

In other words, a literal interpretation understands biblical passages within the genre in which they are written. For example, I don’t approach “The trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12), as I do “And the soldiers . . . struck Him with their hands” (John 19:2, 3). 

Perhaps someone should explain to O’Reilly (because he’s always open to correction) the difference between “allegory” and “allegorical interpretation.” 

Frankly, it seems unfathomable to O’Reilly that a person who actually believes the Bible would make a movie about it.  

But we now come to the real reason for the diatribe—it’s not Mrs. Downey’s movie, no. It seems Billy’s working on a new book: “Killing Jesus.” (To which my wife quipped, “O’Reilly’s been on quite a ‘killing spree’ here lately.” Hear, hear!) 

I’m writing a book, ‘Killing Jesus,’ about why Jesus of Nazareth was executed. It’s a history book. But obviously, the Gospels that discuss this were involved with that. But there are some contradictions among Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And then it’s my job and Martin Dugard, my co-author, to cut through the contradictions and to try to give a narrative of what actually happened to Jesus, because he was executed.

Finally! Finally someone of Bill O’Reilly’s stature will tell the world why Jesus died on the Cross. Finally someone is going to give us an authoritative “narrative of what actually happened to Jesus.”  

(Gee, if only there were reliable historical narratives concerning Jesus…) 

O’Reilly opines that it’s his “job” to “cut through the contradictions” contained in the Gospels. (Well, he is the number 1 rated show in all of cable news…so, sure…who could possibly be more qualified for such an endeavor?)  

I wonder if O’Reilly knows that, for years on end, the supposed contradictions within the Synoptics and John have been more than sufficiently dealt with.   

Yes, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have weathered—unscathed—two millennia of scholarly scrutiny and higher criticism. But then again…they ain’t never been in the “No Spin Zone.”