Meet the Materialists, part 3: Frankenstein, Giovanni Aldini, and the Reanimation of the Dead

Note: This is one of a series of posts adapted from my new book, Darwin Day in America. You can find other posts in the series here. This week’s installment of “Meet the Materialists” is particularly fitting for the week of Halloween. By the turn of the nineteenth century, Italian scientist Giovanni Aldini was performing macabre experiments on decapitated oxes, horses, lambs… and humans. “The unenlightened part of mankind are apt to entertain a prejudice against those… who attempt to perform experiments on dead subjects,” Aldini later acknowledged, but he maintained that such experiments were justified because the object was to improve human welfare. “It is… an incontrovertible fact, that such researches in modern times have proved a source of Read More ›

Meet the Materialists, part 2: Julien LaMettrie and Man a Machine

Note: This is one of a series of posts adapted from my new book, Darwin Day in America. You can find other posts in the series here. A key point of my book Darwin Day in America is that materialism did not begin (or end) with Charles Darwin. One of the pre-Darwin champions of materialism I cover in my book is physician Julien Offray de la Mettrie (1709-1751), author of the provocative tract Man a Machine (L’Homme Machine), published in 1748. According to La Mettrie, “the human body is a machine which winds its own springs” and the “the diverse states” of the human mind “are always correlative with those of the body.” In other words, human beings are mechanisms Read More ›

Leading Scientist Stirs Controversy by Invoking Darwin’s Theory to Argue for Inferiority of Blacks

Eminent evolutionist James Watson, winner of the Nobel Prize for co-discovering the structure of DNA, is sparking controversy in Great Britain for suggesting that blacks are inferior to whites due to evolution. But there is nothing particularly extraordinary about Watson’s views. As I document in chapter 7 of my forthcoming book Darwin Day in America, there is a long history of evolutionists using Darwinism to justify racism—including Darwin himself. Watson is past director and current Chancellor of the prestigious biological research lab at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Ironically, that lab has deep connections to Darwinian racism of years gone by. Early in the twentieth century it was the headquarters for one of the most virulent American eugenics groups, the Read More ›

Meet the Materialists, part 1: Eugenie Scott, “Evolution Evangelist”

Modern Darwinists like Richard Dawkins notwithstanding, there is nothing new in the effort to offer completely materialistic explanations of human beings and human culture. For more than two millennia various thinkers have been trying to reduce human beings to mere meat in motion. Many of these thinkers figure prominently in my new book Darwin Day in America, and over the next several weeks, I will be describing some of them here. I start today with Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, and self-proclaimed “evolution evangelist.”

Dembski Responds to Derbyshire

Bill Dembski has posted an excellent riposte to John Derbyshire’s recent comments at the AEI conference on Darwinism and conservatism in which George Gilder and I participated. Eventually I plan to write my own reflections about some of Derbyshire’s comments, but in the meantime Dembski hits the nail on the head.