Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some Thoughts on Historians and Contemporary Anti-evolutionism. « a simple prop

Some Thoughts on Historians and Contemporary Anti-evolutionism.

Hat tip: Evolution Blog. Read the comments.

This theme of dehumanization has become something of an idée fixe for modern anti-evolutionists. Darwin is seen as, if not a causative factor of, then an inspiration for, the totalitarian regimes of the Twentieth century. Darwin’s work, we are told, led to the devaluation of human life, eugenics, the Holocaust, Planned Parenthood, and fetal stem cell research. Nowhere is this theme more evident than in the pro-ID movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed , in which Ben Stein unsubtly portrays Darwin’s writings as leading to the Holocaust and “Darwinists” as waging a campaign of terror against ID proponents. Egregiously, Stein selectively quotes Darwin to make it appear as if he disapproved of measures to aid the sick and infirm. Even more egregiously, in publicity interviews Stein has baldly stated that “science leads you to kill people” and “Darwinism led – in a pretty much straight line – to Nazism and the Holocaust.” While it would be comforting to imagine that Stein’s position was that of a politically motivated crank, it has received support from historian and DI fellow Richard Weikart, who appears onscreen with Stein during an interview conducted at Dachau. Weikart’s published attempts to link Darwin to Hitler have received negative commentary from such historians as Robert Richards, Paul Farber, Sander Gliboff, and Nils Roll-Hansen, yet these ideas have continued to be promulgated by Benjamin Wiker (again, a DI fellow) in his The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin, a biography that Gliboff accurately, if caustically, compares with the writings of the journalist Rita Skeeter from the Harry Potter series.
Our collective research as historians can obviously help disprove claims made by anti-evolutionists regarding both the social effects of scientific ideas and how the scientific community functions.

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