Darwinism and Eugenics Revisited

Was eugenics a misapplication of Darwin’s theory to society? I must respectfully disagree with part of neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s recent post at ENV, which seemed to suggest that it was. Egnor correctly pointed out that eugenics is based on artificial selection, whereas Darwin’s theory is premised on natural selection. But that fact doesn’t get at why eugenics was in reality a reasonable deduction from Darwin’s theory and is properly described as “Darwinian.” As I point out in Darwin’s Conservatives: The Misguided Quest, Darwin believed that human progress was ultimately based on the struggle for survival, and he further maintained that civilized societies were courting disaster by continually counteracting the law of natural selection through vaccinations, welfare programs, and the like. Read More ›

Apologizing for Eugenics: A Good Idea

In recent years, a number of states have apologized for their role in promoting the Social Darwinist crusade known as “eugenics” through forced sterilization laws. In “It’s never too late to say you’re sorry,” writer Knute Berger of the internet newspaper Crosscut is calling on Washington state to apologize for its forced sterilization law, noting that Washington was the second state to adopt such a law. He’s right. Washington state—and other states—should apologize for their role in promoting eugenics. This is a sad and disturbing chapter in American history, and citizens need to know about it (although the new Kansas State Board of Education seems to think otherwise).

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP: A Thoughtful Skeptic of Darwinism

Noted novelist Kurt Vonnegut died on Wednesday at age 84. Although Vonnegut described himself as a secular humanist, last year on NPR he voiced his skepticism of Darwinism. Calling our human bodies “miracles of design,” he faulted scientists for “pretending they have the answer as how we got this way when natural selection couldn’t possibly have produced such machines.” When asked whether this meant he “would favor teaching intelligent design in the classroom,” he replied: If I were a physics teacher or a science teacher, it’d be on my mind all the time as to how the hell we really got this way. It’s a perfectly natural human thought and, okay, if you go into the science class you can’t Read More ›

AP: “ID backer knocks Tuskegee deletion from Kansas standards”

The Associated Press is reporting on the Kansas State Board of Education’s proposed deletion of the Tuskegee experiment, eugenics, and other abuses of science from the state’s existing science curriculum standards. The only complaint I have about the article is that it does not make clear that the existing history of science standard, which I favor, asks for students to study the positive achievements of science as well as the abuses of science. The purpose is to give students a balanced understanding of the history of science. It is the supporters of Darwinian evolution who are trying to suppress the coverage of both sides, not intelligent design (ID) proponents. It is interesting to look at the tortured explanations offered by Read More ›