…by Jonas E. Alexis
Commenting on Aristotelian logic, the Persian thinker and polymath Avicenna (980 – 1037) declared that “Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.”
Here Avicenna was not in any way advocating that those who deny the law of non-contradiction ought to be literally burned alive to see the truth. He was simply formulating in a humorous way that rational people need to conduct their inquiry according to the basic rules of logic.
In other words, any philosophical or intellectual project must pass certain logical and rigorous criteria in order to be viable. If thinkers are free to violate the basic rules of logic in order to preserve a system, then it is an infallible sign that the system itself is incoherent and therefore intellectually untenable.
For Avicenna, people who disagree on certain issues must abide by the law of non-contradiction. It’s the only way to have dialogue on any issue. Avicenna, of course, was relying on Aristotle, who formulated the idea that the law of non-contradiction allows us to know some things about how the rational world operates. This law is also universal: it doesn’t depend on whether you agree with it or not. And if you do disagree, then rest assured that you are going to end up in a torrent of contradiction and logical errors. Here is a classic example from Lasha Darkmoon:
“Natural selection is fine in the jungle. It’s fine in theory. But it’s not fine in practice, and it’s unacceptable in a civilized society.”
How does that work again? Does Lasha mean to tell us that ideas have no consequences? Will Lasha’s statement here work in economics and even in real life? (We will come back to this assertion later.)
There are at least three versions of the law of non-contradiction, but for our purpose here we will stick with the following proposition. “It is impossible to hold the same thing to be and not to be,” says Aristotle.
To put it in a different way, objective morality cannot exist and not exist in the same sense at the same time. It is metaphysically impossible for two mutually exclusive statements to be true at the same time. Therefore, a person cannot attempt to build a system of morality while maintaining that objective morality does not exist. It just doesn’t follow, and this is basic logic.
The law of non-contradiction makes a person think hard about a system of thought, and this is why thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel took it very seriously. This was one reason why Kant formulated his categorical imperative in his ground-shaking work Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, in which he persuasively argued: “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”
Keep in mind that this universal law does not depend on how you and I feel on a given day. It also is not contingent upon what we may think is right. This universal law is independent of our appetite and preference. In other words, we obviously did not invent this universal law.
The moral or universal law, says Kant, is what binds us all together as rational creatures. So, any system that seeks to dismiss that moral law must be wrong precisely because that system will inevitably be incoherent. Kant continues to say that for an action to be good, “it is not enough that it should conform to the moral law—it must also be done for the sake of the moral law.”
Conversely, an intellectual project without the moral law is not really a serious project; it is a perversion of it. As E. Michael Jones succinctly puts it,
“The intellectual life is a function of the moral life of the thinker. In order to apprehend truth, which is the goal of the intellectual life, one must live a moral life. One can produce intellectual product, but to the extent that one prescinds from living the moral life, that product will be more a function of internal desire—wish fulfillment, if you will—than external reality.”
This is indeed a fundamental point. If Darwinists like Michael Ruse are right in saying that “morality is flimflam,” then we are in deep trouble. As Jones has recently articulated,
“In the absence of a moral order based on the logical structure of the universe, the only possible alternative social order is the one in which the powerful get to impose their will on the weak…And if the people who don’t like it lack power, that order will get imposed on them whether they like it or not.”
This brief summary should provide the general reader with a sense of the philosophical issues that are at stake here. The central question for us now is simply this: Does Neo-Darwinism make objective morality irrelevant or obsolete? The vast majority of Darwinists have already answered yes to that question. Lasha declares that “the truth is that the proposition ‘the natural world has no moral validity or purpose’ is a not something most Darwinists believe.”
Did Lasha present evidence for this? No. I would let the serious observer pick up scholarly studies such as Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) and numerous other works. I even cited Kevin MacDonald’s mentor, E. O. Wilson, to the effect that
“Ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to co-operate. It is without external grounding. Ethics is produced by evolution but not justified by it, because, like Macbeth’s dagger, it serves as a powerful purpose without existing in substance.”
In a similar vein, I quoted the late historian of science and evolutionary biologist William Provine of Yale:
“Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear, and I must say that these are basically Darwin’s views…There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans either.”
Instead of responding to these assertions in an evidential and logical fashion, Lasha declared that most Darwinists do not take the position that the natural world has no moral validity. The fact is that the intellectual current among Darwin scholars today is that Darwin inevitably removed telos–what philosophers call “final cause” or “ultimate purpose–from the metaphysical realm. Evolutionary psychology Steve Stewart-Williams of Nottingham University writes:
“Darwin showed us that there is no reason to think that there is a teleological explanation for life. We are here because we evolved, and evolution occurred for no particular reason. Thus, on a Darwinian view, not only is our species not as special as we had once thought, but our lives are ultimately without purpose or meaning. Life just winds on aimlessly, a pointless, meandering sequence of events. Sometimes it’s pleasant, sometimes not, but it lacks any overall purpose or goal or destination.”
The next question is this: Does the Neo-Darwinist movement draw its conclusions from Darwin himself? The answer is again yes.
The late Darwinist and philosopher James Rachels noted that after Darwin, “we can no longer think of ourselves as occupying a special place in creation—instead, we must realize that we are the products of the same evolutionary forces, working blindly and without purpose, that shape the rest of the animal kingdom. And this, it is commonly said, has deep philosophical significance.”
“Darwinism,” Rachels continued to say, “also poses a problem for traditional morality.” This “traditional morality” could be found in the writings of Aristotle, who established that a “moral state” or “practical wisdom” is important when it comes to making moral choices.
Aristotle emphasized again and again that “the work of man is achieved only in accordance with practical wisdom as well as with moral virtue.” In other words, if practical wisdom is banned, then man would quickly fall into irrationality and contradiction. For Aristotle, “it is not possible to be good in the strict sense without practical wisdom, or practically wise without moral virtue.”
“Practical wisdom” or morality and telos are part of the intellectual patrimony of the West. Darwin’s ideas actually challenged that worldview, and virtually every biographer of Darwin essentially agrees on this point. Moreover, virtually every serious intellectual historian concurs as well. Darwin himself agreed that if we were to replay the panorama of human evolution, moral values could have been evolved very differently. This is what Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man:
“If … men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering.”
This is again my frustration with Darwin and his intellectual children: they posit a philosophically incoherent system and then try to stay away from its moral implications as if ideas do not have consequences. Listen to Lasha Darkmoon again:
“Natural selection is fine in the jungle. It’s fine in theory. But it’s not fine in practice, and it’s unacceptable in a civilized society. You don’t push the old and sick over the clifftop just to create more Lebensraum for the young and fit.”
First of all, why should that work only for Darwin’s interpretation of natural selection? If Jewish ideologue Susan Sontag says that “the white race is the cancer of human history,” would Lasha theoretically accept it? Aren’t people like Lasha fighting ideologues and racial/racist theoreticians like Noel Ignatiev and Barbara Lerner Spectre for espousing theoretical views which can have enormous consequences in Europe and America?
I cited Darwin for saying things that ought to be considered immoral. I even provided the scholarly sources which historically show that Darwin’s ideas are fraught with moral and detrimental implications. Lasha skipped all that and declared that “Darwin was the very opposite of the White Supremacist ‘racist’ you have conjured up in your fevered imagination!” Her evidence? “He got on famously with ex-slaves of African origin.”
So Lasha, who thinks that Darwin was a nice old chap whose brilliant ideas have been thoroughly misunderstood by his devoted followers and enthusiasts, can skip the entire historical scholarship because she found at least one example which shows that Darwin “got on famously with ex-slaves of African origin.” That somehow is a rigorous argument.
Lasha even built a straw man and demolished it with great relish. She implied that I espoused the view that Darwin was a “White Supremacist ‘racist,’” but she could never support that irresponsible claim from what I actually said. I said repeatedly that Darwin’s fundamental assumptions have had and still have enormous consequences, and I even cited Darwin saying this at the end of his Origin of Species:
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”
Keep in mind that Darwin’s alluring subtitle is none other than “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” British biographers Adrian Desmond and James R. Moore write:
“‘Social Darwinism’ is often taken to be something extraneous, an ugly concretion added to the pure Darwinian corpus after the event, tarnishing Darwin’s image. But his notebooks make plain that competition, free trade, imperialism, racial extermination, and sexual inequality were written into the equation from the start—‘Darwinism’ was always intended to explain human society.”
Here is how Darwin theoretically thought that the “favoured races” would get ahead: from war, famine, and death. Isn’t Zionism doing exactly that in the Middle East and elsewhere? Aren’t Zionists mercilessly liquidating the poor Palestinians in order to get ahead? Haven’t they been doing that since 1948? Hasn’t Israel built, according to the Washington Post itself, “the most robust assassination machine in history”? And Haven’t “Jewish political and intellectual movements” become a fifth column in the United States and England?
Lasha doesn’t want to understand that if Darwin is right in saying that wars and conflicts are essentially good things, then Stalin and Mao were not really doing anything wrong.
No, I do not say that Darwin’s ideas were responsible for what happened in the Soviet Union or in China in the twentieth century. Hardly! What I am saying is that the Bolshevik Revolution, “Mao’s great famine,” and Darwinism are essentially concentric circles largely because they operate outside the moral law and order. In fact, Darwin “was trying to turn morality into a branch of biology through the proposal that our instinctive behavior can only be understood as a product of natural processes that have adapted us to a particular way of life based on the family unit as a means of raising children.”
Kevin MacDonald would somewhat agree with Darwin here because MacDonald told E. Michael Jones that “his moral sense” is actually “intimately tied up with evolutionary thinking.” This is indeed a categorical mistake precisely because the moral law can never be reduced to biological principles. If Kant is correct, then any system which purports to be scientific and universal must surrender itself to the moral law and follow its dictates.
As Jones told MacDonald and Lasha in 2012, the idea that the moral sense “is intimately tied up with evolutionary thinking” is logically “preposterous. It is impossible to derive the moral order from biology much less evolution, which is an ideology which attempts to use biology to justify capitalism…Kevin MacDonald’s evolution undermines his morality and vice versa. He reminds me of Adam Smith, whose insights into economics were vitiated by his ideological commitment to moral Newtonianism, the English ideology of his day.”
This is a serious problem which Darwinists simply have not been able to solve at all, and it can be found among Darwin scholars and enthusiasts. For example, Bradley Thayer of the University of Texas struggles mightily to come up with a logical response to Darwin’s blatant contradiction in his book Darwin and International Relations: On the Evolutionary Origins of War and Ethnic Conflict.
“The ultimate causation for warfare is anchored in Darwinian natural selection and inclusive fitness….warfare can increase both the absolute and relative fitness of humans…From the classical Darwinian perspective, warfare contributes to fitness because individuals who wage war successfully are better able to survive and reproduce.”
Thayer repeats this thesis over and over in the course of the book:
“An ultimate causal explanation for warfare based in evolutionary theory begins with the recognition that warfare contributes to fitness in certain circumstances because successful warfare lets the winner acquire resources.
“For evolutionary biology, a resource is any material substance that has the potential to increase the individual’s ability to survive or reproduce. As such it may be food, shelter, or territory, especially high-quality soil or wild foods; abundant firewood; or territory free of dangerous animals, such as lions, or insect infestations, or disease; and also status coalition allies, and members of the opposite sex.”
And then this: “Warfare might be necessary then for offensive purposes, to plunder resources from others. In these circumstances, an individual becomes fitter if he can successfully attack to take the resources of others.”
Thayer cites evolutionary theorist William Durham saying that
“War is one means by which individuals ‘may improve the material conditions of their lives and thereby increase their ability to survive and reproduce…Thus successful warfare would help the tribe gain resources, and for a swidden agricultural economy land is critically important.”
But get this: Thayer found Social Darwinism repugnant and even declared Social Darwinists “perverted Charles Darwin’s argument”! So, is Thayer really against Social Darwinism? Ideologically, yes. Consistently and logically? No.
I honestly don’t blame him, for his intellectual father could not solve that problem either. In fact, Darwin had to live in contradiction until his dying day. When Social Darwinists began to spread Darwin’s gospels across the political spectrum, Darwin vehemently disagreed. Yet one year before he passed away, Darwin again revealed that contradiction was at the center of his fundamental ideas. He said:
“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago, of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is!
“The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”
Can Lasha explain this away by simply saying that Darwin rejected his doctrine? Can she not see that there is a vital contradiction that cannot be reconciled? Does she take contradiction seriously?
This whole issue reminds me of Peter Singer of Princeton, who perpetuated the idea of euthanasia. Yet when his grandmother was dying, when she was reaching a point in her life where she could no longer recognize Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics made sure that she was well taken care of.
In fact, Singer and his sister spent thousands upon thousands attempting to nurse their beloved mother back to health. “I think this has made me see how the issues of someone with these kinds of problems are really very difficult,” Singer lamented softly. “Perhaps it is more difficult than I thought before, because it is different when it’s your mother.” E. Michael Jones again was onto something when he persuasively argued:
“The modern intellectual is, for the most part, a lecher and a fool. His theories are propounded for everyone but himself. So Rousseau, the writer of Emile, the first modern book on child rearing sent all five of his illegitimate children to the orphanage shortly after they were born, which, given the condition of orphanages in the 18th century, meant to their deaths.
“Marx, the champion of the proletariat, knew only one proletarian in his life, his maid, Lenchen, to whom he paid not one single penny in wages. In addition to this economic exploitation, there was also the sexual exploitation. Marx fathered an illegitimate child by her and refused to acknowledge it.”
Herbert Spencer, who was “defiantly opposed to compulsion, did not have any children. Alfred Russel Wallace, the most famous of the anti-vaccinists, had three children vaccinated, all of them before he turned to opposition. By the time, he had also had himself vaccinated, twice.” G. K. Chesterton was absolutely right when he said:
“The new rebel is a Skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty…and the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it…
“As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is a waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself.
“A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts.
“In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything, he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”
Yes, Darwin did say at the end of the Origin of Species that life was “originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.” But subsequent editions tell us something very different. This is what Darwin later said:
“There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
Lasha herself declares that Darwin was on several occasions confused, “admitting to constant ‘fluctuations’ in viewpoint.” Darwin biographers agree with Lasha here. But why was Darwin confused? Well, ideologically he was quick to posit a philosophically immoral system, but practically he could not live with that system. Lasha produces similar contradictions.
For example, in a similar discussion with E. Michael Jones back in 2012, she declared: “First of all, what scientist would admit the existence of the Logos? Can Logos be empirically proved? Would Richard Dawkins allow you to talk about the Logos in one of his classes where evolution is being discussed? I doubt it.” Now she has a dire warning for Richard Dawkins:
“Richard Dawkins would have been an unwelcome guest at Darwin’s dinner table at Downe House in Kent. He would have had to watch his manners. The chances of Dawkins coming to blows with some of the other dinner guests, and of giving grave offense to Darwin’s beloved wife Emma, a devout Unitarian Christian, would have been pretty substantial. So Dawkins would have had to be on his best behavior in Darwin’s house.”
Which is it, Lasha? Dawkins will not accept Logos, therefore Logos somehow must become irrelevant in the “scientific” realm? But Darwin would not accept Dawkins at his dinner table, and that’s a good thing? Lasha’s position here is logically incoherent.
Dawkins has obviously been trying to follow the logical conclusions of Darwin, and it is doubtful that he would accept Lasha’s proposal here. In fact, he would almost certainly say that people like Lasha aren’t following Darwin at all. Dawkins writes in his River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life:
“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice.
“The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference…DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we just dance to its music.”
Yet in a widely viewed interview in 2000, Dawkins admitted that he would not want to build a society on Darwinism. Listen very carefully here:
“There have in the past been attempts to base a morality on evolution. I don’t want to have anything to do with that. The kind of world that a Darwinian, going back to survival of the fittest now, and nature red in tooth and claw, I think nature is really in tooth and claw. I think if you look out at the way wild nature is, out there in the bush, in the prairie, it is extremely ruthless, extremely unpleasant, it’s exactly the kind of world that I would not wish to live in.
“And so any kind of politics that is based upon Darwinism for me would be bad politics, it would be immoral. Putting it another way, I’m a passionate Darwinian when it comes to science, when it comes to explaining the world, but I’m a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality and politics.”
Dawkins is an anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality and politics? Well, I guess Jonas E. Alexis is not the only “anti-Darwin” out there who keeps conjuring “a monster” called Darwinism in his “vivid” and “fevered imagination!” What we are seeing here again and again is that Darwinism is metaphysically incoherent, philosophically untenable and indefensible, and existentially unlivable.
In short, Lasha is engaged in an ideological struggle on numerous fronts: she is implicitly against what Darwin himself said, against what Darwin biographers have produced, and against Neo-Darwinists who try to follow Darwin’s ideas. She is also engaged in a tug of war with some speculative and evolutionary biologists and psychologists who promiscuously and incoherently advance the thesis that rape has a biological basis.
In their book A Natural History of Rape: Biological Basis for Sexual Coercion, which was published by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer argue that people who have “relevant background in evolutionary biology” (like they do) will come to the conclusion that there is a biological basis for rape.
Thornhill and Palmer inveigh against those who don’t know the “scientific” literature this way:
“We find that the majority of the researchers on whose theories today’s attempts to solve the problem of rape are based remain uninformed about the most powerful scientific theory concerning living things: the theory of evolution by Darwinian selection. As a result, many of the social scientists’ proposals for dealing with rape are based on assumptions about human behavior that have been without theoretical justification since 1859, when Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species was published.”
In other words, if serious Darwinists and evolutionary psychologists study Darwin’s theory long enough and think through these issues seriously, they would come to the conclusion that there is a Darwinian explanation for rape. Thornhill and Palmer admit in the introduction of the work: “We realize that our approach and our frankness will trouble some social scientists, including some serious and well-intentioned rape researchers.” Then they move to the inexorable truth:
“The social science theory of rape is based on empirically erroneous, even mythological, ideas about human development, behavior, and psychology. It contradicts fundamental knowledge about evolution. It fails to yield a coherent, consistent, progressive body of knowledge. The literature it has produced is largely political rather than scientific…
“Most people don’t know much about why humans have the desires, emotions, and values that they have, including those that cause rape. This is because most people lack any understanding of the ultimate (that is, evolutionary) causes of why humans are the way they are. This lack of understanding has severely limited people’s knowledge of the exact proximate (immediate) causes of rape, thus limiting the ability of concerned people to change the behavior.
“For 25 years, attempts to prevent rape have not only failed to be informed by an evolutionary approach; they have been based on explanations designed to make ideological statements rather than to be consistent with scientific knowledge of human behavior.
“One cannot understand evolutionary explanations of rape, much less evaluate them, without a solid grasp of evolutionary theory. Failure to appreciate this point has caused much valuable time to be wasted on misplaced attacks on evolutionary explanations.”
On a Darwinian basis, there is no rational justification for condemning rape. As the authors argue, if “‘good’ traits are those that promote an individual’s reproductive interests,” then “A trait that increases this ability is ‘good’ in terms of natural selection even though one might consider it undesirable in moral terms.”
Here we see that Lasha and others are carrying an enormous burden, one which requires logical consistency, historical relevancy, and factual documentation. In my view, I do not think that they can carry this burden without falling into contradiction. Lasha has already indicated that she is willing to embrace blatant contradictions in order to preserve Darwinism. She wrote:
“Paradoxically, Darwin rejected natural selection, his own doctrine, in favor of a civilized altruism that sprang from moral convictions and from his early upbringing as a compassionate Christian.”
Darwin obviously had to contradict himself and reject “his own doctrine” because, as Kant would have put it, no sane society could universalize Darwinism. Darwin also had to reject his own doctrine because his conscience was telling him that it was practically or existentially unlivable. His conscience also led him back to the moral truth that his own doctrine could not face. In that sense, Darwin was living in contradiction. In that sense, Darwin created a nightmare for his followers and admirers. This is one reason why people like Dawkins are fleeing from the moral implications of Darwinism.
Throughout her open letter, Lasha cited Darwin’s Origin of Species, which was written in 1859, but she never discussed Darwin’s The Descent of Man, which was written in 1871, when Darwin was obviously mature enough to understand the implications of his ideas. Here is what Darwin said in The Descent Man:
“We build asylums for the imbeciles, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, for whom a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind.
“No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising that a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animal to breed…
“The surgeon may harden whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil.
“Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.”
This is not the view of Spencer or Redbeard. This is Darwin red in tooth and claw. Historian of science Rob Boddice of Freie Universität, Berlin, has argued that Darwin, whether he liked it or not, inevitably provided the ideological mechanism for Social Darwinism. In fact, British intellectuals quickly followed Darwin’s lead, which eventually created havoc in the 1920s and 30s in Europe and America.
Lasha would obviously dispute these claims by saying that Darwin—who was heavily influenced by Thomas Malthus’ Essay on Population—would have rejected the implications of his ideas, since he got along well with an ex-slave and since he got involved in what seemed to be humanitarian work for the poor.
But that would again prove my point: Darwin, as biographers Adrian Desmond and James R. Moore document, was “a tormented evolutionist” who couldn’t even live with the practical application of his own theories. That was one reason why Darwin left some of his followers bewildered, and that explains why “There are more types of Darwinism than there are colors in the rainbow.”
The interesting thing is this: How does Lasha know that she got the right version of Darwinism? How does she know that the vast majority of Darwinists today are utterly mistaken? By citing some benign quotes from Darwin here and there?
Lasha is leaving us in a difficult position. She told me that “There is not a single reputable scientist living today who mocks the theory of evolution and rejects it in toto.” Now she is railing against scientists because they somehow “misrepresent” Darwin. I simply don’t know why she cannot see this blatant contradiction.
Furthermore, if “there are more types of Darwinism than there are colors in the rainbow”—and if they are all contradictory—then doesn’t that imply that either they are all wrong or some of them are wrong? In fact, if the state applied Darwin’s ideas to his own family, Darwin would have been in deep trouble because nearly all his children were physically weak.
When Darwin’s eldest daughter, Annie, caught a scarlet fever and eventually died in 1851 just after she turned ten, desolation crept over Darwin. He was so emotionally devastated that he could not go to Annie’s burial. Annie’s death had a powerful influence on Darwin’s ideas. In fact, Darwin had already started to write his Origin of Species. As biographer Lyanda Lynn Haupt has put it, Annie’s death was “the defining tragedy of his life,” and Darwin “never recovered from her loss.” Darwin wrote in a memoir:
“We have lost the joy of the household, and the solace of our old age…. Oh that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly we do still & and shall ever love her dear joyous face.”
The problem of evil indeed had a devastating effect on Darwin. He wrote to Asa Gray in 1860:
“I am bewildered.— I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I should wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ [wasps] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed.”
In the same letter, Darwin did say that he could not see everything in nature as the result of “brute force.” But since he did not have a serious philosophical system, since telos was removed from its intellectual matrix, Darwin resorted to chance:
“I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect.”
-  See Jon McGinnis, Avicenna (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Robert Wisnovsky, Avicenna’s Metaphysics in Context (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003); Parviz Morewedge, The Metaphysica of Avicenna (New York: Routledge, 1973 and 2016).
-  Emmanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1959), 39.
-  Emmanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (New York: Torchbooks, 1964), 390.
-  E. Michael Jones, Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2012), 15.
-  Michael Ruse, “God is dead. Long live morality,” Guardian, March 15, 2010.
-  E. Michael Jones, “Sapiens,” Culture Wars, March 2018.
-  Michael Ruse and E. O. Wilson, “The Approach of Social Biology: The Evolution of Ethics,” James E. Huchingson, ed., Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1993), 310.
-  William Provine and Phillip E. Johnson, “Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy? The Debate at Stanford University.” When Provine made that statement, the moderator asked him during the question-and-answer session: “How do you understand the divergence in your class towards creationism and evolutionism if there is no free will? Aren’t we all necessitated by your lecture?” The question was followed by what seemed to be a long applause from the audience. Provine’s interesting answer was: “The catch is making decisions does not guarantee the existence of free will.”
-  Steve Stewart-Williams, Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life: How Evolutionary Theory Undermines Everything You Thought You Knew (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 197.
-  James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press, ), 1.
-  Ibid.
-  Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 103.
-  Ibid., 115.
-  Ibid., 117.
-  See Rob Boddice, The Science of Sympathy: Morality, Evolution, and Victorian Civilization (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2016).
-  Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2nd edition (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1909), 100.
-  Perhaps they should pick up Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1948 and 2013).
-  Here are the sources again: Richard A. Soloway, Demography and Degeneration: Eugenics and the Decline of Birthrate in Twentieth-Century Britain (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990); Robert C. Bannister, Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1979); Peter Watson, The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century (New York: Harper Perennial, 2002); Paul A. Lombardo, ed., A Century of Eugenics in America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011); Nancy Ordover, American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003); Ian Robert Dowbiggin, Keeping America Sane: Psychiatry and Eugenics in the United States and Canada, 1880-1940 (New York: Cornell University Press, 1997); Edward J. Larson, Sex, Race, and Science: Eugenics in the Deep South (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995); Robert Whitaker, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (New York: Perseus Publishing, 2002); Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985); Caroline Elkins, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya (New York: Henry Holt, 2005).
-  Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964 and 2003), 490.
-  Adrian Desmond and James R. Moore, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), 1.
-  See Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: One World, 2006); The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011); The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories (Oxford: One World, 2017); Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Norman Finkelstein, Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018); Sara Roy, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013); Neve Gordon, Israel’s Occupation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).
-  Glenn Frankel, “How Israel’s secret services built the most robust assassination machine in history,” Washington Post, January 26, 2018; see also Jeff Stein, “A Secret History of Israeli Assassinations,” Newsweek, February 2, 2018.
-  Frank Dikötter, Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010).
-  Peter J. Bowler and David Knight, Charles Darwin: The Man and his Influence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 183.
-  Jones has meticulously fleshed those ideas out in his magnum opus Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict Between Labor and Usury (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2014); for other sources, see Gertrude Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution (New York: W. W. Norton, 1962);
-  Bradley A. Thayer, Darwin and International Relations: On the Evolutionary Origins of War and Ethnic Conflict (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004), 99, 100, 107, 114.
-  Ibid., 99.
-  Ibid., 103, 104.
-  Ibid., 108.
-  Ibid., 109.
-  Ibid. 110, 111.
-  Ibid., 102.
-  Darwin was not as open-minded as people thought he was. “Former Darwin enthusiast St. George Mivart published anonymous articles critiquing Darwin’s theory. A gifted zoologist, Mivart would eventually publish a volume titled The Genesis of Species, an influential book that raised serious questions about the limits of natural selection, especially in its application to man. Far from rejecting Darwin wholesale, Mivart continued to embrace evolution and believe that the physical capacities of human beings had developed from the lower animals. But he continued to insist—like [Alfred] Wallace—that man was radically unique from the rest of creation and had a soul. Egged on by Thomas Huxley, Darwin became increasingly bitter over his former disciple’s criticisms, despite Mivart’s attempts to be personable in private correspondence and his public praise of the ‘invaluable labours and active brains of Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.” John G. West, Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science (Wilmington: ISI Books, 2007), 24-25.
-  Quoted in Gertrude Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1962), 319.
-  Quoted in Michael Specter, “The Dangerous Philosopher,” New Yorker, September 6, 1999.
-  Jones, Degenerate Moderns, 14.
-  Bob Boddice, The Science of Sympathy: Morality, Evolution, and Victorian Civilization (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2016), Kindle edition.
-  G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1996), 52-53.
-  Keep also in mind that Darwin’s Origin of Species was extremely controversial. Biographers confirmed that Darwin feared that he could have been persecuted for the book. Darwin was also concerned about the reception of the book. Adam Sedgwick, Darwin’s former biology professor, wrote to him and declared right after Darwin published the Origin of Species: “I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly; parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false & grievously mischievous—You have deserted—after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth—the true method of induction—& started up a machinery as wild I think as Bishop Wilkin’s locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved. Why then express them in the language & arrangements of philosophical induction?”
-  Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 490. If Lasha wants to say that someone other than Darwin wrote the statement, then we would invite her to produce the evidence.
-  Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 133.
-  http://www.abc.net.au/science/descent/trans1.htm.
-  Adrian Desmond and James R Moore, who had meticulously produced a biography of Darwin, wrote of him: “the dangerous point was that man’s mind had emerged from the worm’s in the first place. this was the crux. By subjecting mind and morality to self-evolving forces, he threatened the ideals so cherished by the geological gentry: human dignity and accountability.” Desmond and Moore, Darwin, 239. Darwin knew that he had to be soft in the first edition of The Origin of Species. “His respectability would be compromised. Not only would his science be impugned. He himself would be accused of reckless abandon.”
-  Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), xi-xii.
-  Ibid., xii.
-  Ibid., xiii, 2.
-  Ibid., 5.
-  Darwin never discussed the origin of species in his ambitious work The Origin of Species. Describing how species work is completely different from explaining their origin.
-  Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 168-169.
-  Lasha writes that “Like all other bona fide movements, including Christianity, it is possible to turn Darwinism on its head by pushing it to its extremes and making a reductio ad absurdum out of it.” I am aware of that. But I am not talking about the abuse of a system; I am interested in examining the very principles upon which Darwinism itself is build. What I am saying is that the system is fundamentally incoherent.
-  Rob Boddice, The Science of Sympathy: Morality, Evolution, and Victorian Civilization (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2016).
-  See Peter Dickens, Social Darwinism: Linking Evolutionary Thought to Social Theory (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 2000), 9-10; Gregory Claeys, “The ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and the Origins of Social Darwinism,” Journal of the History of Ideas (2000): 223-240; Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin (New York: Penguin, 1991); E. Michael Jones, Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict Between Labor and Usury (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2014), 475-483. Jones writes that “In the Malthusain universe, which occupies a middle position between Newton and Darwin, God created a world full of cows who were increasing geometrically and were, therefore, constantly outstripping the food supply, which increased only arithmetically. The English ideology, which encompasses all of these thinkers, got its start with Newtonian physics, which was confected with an economic goal (or an economic background) in mind….The Newtonian concept of inertia (or strife, especially as refined by Darwin) is radically incoherent…” After Darwin read Malthus’ work, he declared: “In October 1838, that is 15 months after I had begun my systematic enquiry, I happened to read for my amusement, ‘Malthus on Population,’ and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it once struck me that under these circumstances favorable variations would tend to be preserved and unfavorable ones would be destroyed. The result would be the formation of a new species. Here then I had at last got the theory with which to work.” Quoted in Jones, Barren Metal, 479.
-  Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin’s Lost Notebooks (New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2006), 217.
-  Quoted in Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: Voyaging (New York: Random House, 1995), 501.