Hayes on Dembski

Over at Red State Rabble, Pat Hayes has some further thoughts on the Darwin quote I discussed yesterday. Turns out Dembski’s even more vile than I thought. After reproducing the quote in question, Hayes writes:

And Dembski, of course, drives home the point that these sorts of views, while once popular, are now beyond the pale by adding: “What a great mind, indeed. What a wonderful human being. What a marvelous vision of the human family.”

Is this what Darwin really believed? Is it true that Darwin’s theory of evolution, as the comments to Dembski’s post attest, is the basis for racism, eugenics, and the Nazi’s?

If it were true, it would be terrible indeed.

Before we decide, let’s do what Dembski and his readers didn’t. Let’s read the passage in context. Here’s a link to the Project Gutenburg online text of Descent of Man.

As you can see, the first sentence cited by Dembski (The reckless, degraded…) is Darwin summarizing the views of Greg and Galton. The rest of the paragraph is Darwin quoting Greg.

Does Darwin do this because he agrees with Greg and Galton? No. He cites their arguments in order to refute them. They argue that if evolution were true, the Irish would “multiply like rabbits” and the good frugal Scots would, by their habit of marrying late, become extinct. In effect, Greg and Galton are making a powerful argument against evolution in man.

Darwin goes on in succeeding paragraphs to offer a number of arguments against this line of thinking — which after all, challenges the validity of his theory of evolution.

Nothing in the paragraph, not one word, reflects what Darwin believed.

Incredible. I was prepared to grant the basic premise of Dembski’s post (that Darwin wrote some things that would be considered racist by modern standards), and argue that Dembski was being juvenile and sleazy anyway. After all, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone of prominence from that time who would not be regarded as a racist by modern standards. But I forgot the first rule of dealing with creationists: If they tell you it’s sunny outside, you should assume it’s raining.

Over at Pharyngula, P.Z. Myers has this post, based on a comment left there by Ed Darrell, explaining in great detail how, on the subject of race relations, Darwin compares very favorably indeed with most of his contemporaries. Required reading.


  1. #1 J-Dog
    March 22, 2007

    Jason – Yes, this is absurd, even for Dembski. It appears that Dembski is doing everything he can to try and rally the troops and flog the dead horse that he calls ID.

  2. #2 pough
    March 22, 2007

    Maybe we should now give Dembski the credit for the quote. It seems fair, somehow.

  3. #3 Doc Bill
    March 22, 2007

    Dembski hasn’t posted anything about ID on his blog in years. Dembski’s theme has been to rail against “Darwinism.”

    Positive arguments about ID on Dembski’s site? Go fish! There aren’t any! Not a single one.

    Dembski, the Alfred E. Newman of DisInformation Theory, is not only dead in the water, he’s sunk to the bottom of the pond and is rotting away. Don’t expect any fossil evidence.

  4. #4 Zack
    November 16, 2009

    My concern with evolution and naturalistic thinking is the thought that our morals or ethics are standard on the human heart. In other words we are to decipher right from wrong simply because it is natural. My question is it really something I can obtain on my own? Am I really able to know that it is wrong to murder because it is my natural instinct to understand the issues with murder? I propose an experiment. I’m currently raising a child in my house who everyday I’m teaching him right from wrong actions. What happens if I just let him go to be raised by a pack of wolves? He would simply know how to survive and wouldn’t have a concern for killing. Animals do not have any problems with killing people. Why do we?

    I believe it is because we teach our children and young people from an early age what is right and wrong. We are a nation who has been brought up on right and wrong teachings with roots deep within the church. We are now trying to escape from these roots and I wonder what society will look like when we completely remove ourselves from religion and the silly thought of their being a God? Slowly we are moving into a world that teaches we are better to throw out religion and God altogether. For atheists, how will you reestablish the moral code that was created and set by a God (so early humans tell us), can we survive (well) without it?

  5. #5 pough
    November 16, 2009

    Animals do not have any problems with killing people. Why do we?

    That’s a good question, and I would recommend that instead of making assumptions you look into the question. Maybe a good place to start is the neurology of empathy. (That was just the first link I found.)

    Also, I find it’s best to avoid seeing nature and nurture as being mutually exclusive. Aren’t some people naturally more empathic than others? Can’t people be desensitized?

  6. #6 Marvin
    October 24, 2010

    Dembski hates it when creationism is related to intelligent design (discredits him in the real world of peer-reviewed science). But whatever Dembski claims about Intelligent Design, he is, at heart, by faith, another creationist:

    “I subscribe to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as well as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I believe Adam and Eve were literal historical persons specially created by God. I am not, as he claims, a theistic evolutionist. Within the Southern Baptist seminaries, both old-earth and young-earth creationism are accepted positions. True, young-earth creationism remains the majority view in the SBC, but it is not a litmus test for Christian orthodoxy within the SBC. I’m an old-earth creationist and the two SBC seminaries at which I’ve taught (Southern in Louisville and Southwestern in Ft. Worth) both were fully apprised of my views here in hiring me.” William Dembski

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