Pharyngula

Et tu, Francis Collins?

The Raw Story reveals that D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries will be a hosting a program that blames Darwin for Hitler. Orac has going to have to resurrect an entire zombie Wehrmacht to handle this one: look at the unholy corps of creationists he has assembled to defend this outrageous claim:

The one-hour program features Ann Coulter, author of Godless; Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler; Lee Strobel, author of The Case for a Creator; Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution; Phillip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial; Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box; Ian Taylor, author of In the Minds of Men, and Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project.

FRANCIS COLLINS??!? WTF? So this is the guy we’re all supposed to be grateful to for showing us how Christianity and evolution can be reconciled, and now he’s going to be a talking head for some creationist propaganda? Thanks, Francis. I guess I’ve been too kind.

Look. Coulter is a nobody, a shrill right-wing harpy with no knowledge of science or history; Weikert, Wells, Johnson, and Behe are Discovery Institute hacks; Ian Taylor is a young earth creationist; Lee Strobel is another creationist. Weikert is the only historian in that list (there’s another in the sample video clip, but so is Ken Ham), and his thesis that you can fault Darwin from Nazism has been slammed by Nick Matzke in a two-part series at the Panda’s Thumb.

The premise has two strikes against it. One is that it is ridiculous; Darwin himself was an enlightened fellow for his time who opposed the racism endemic to his culture, and while individuals have twisted the science to support social Darwinism or eugenics, that whole line of reasoning is repudiated by the majority of biologists now. For another, it wouldn’t matter if Darwin had been a vicious anti-semite who had launched racist diatribes—the theory is not the founder. William Shockley’s racism did not mean that transistors do not work. Social Darwinism is not the same as evolutionary biology.

Weikert is pathetic; in a blizzard of ahistorical nonsense in the clip, he claims the Nazis relied on Darwinian principles because they used the word “selection” in perpetrating their atrocities, and Kennedy claims that if there had been no Darwin, there would have been no holocaust, because they wouldn’t have had the idea of killing off other races to advance their cause. How absurd can you get? Racism, anti-semitism, and ethnic cleansing long preceded Darwin, and the idea of selection was common to anyone who had domesticated and bred plants and animals. They might as well have claimed, “no farming, no Nazis” (although I think even that would be dubious—hunter-gatherers also have enemy tribes, and will kill to get rid of the competition.)

I have no idea what role Collins is going to play in this dishonest piece of trash, but I hope he is properly ashamed of being associated with it. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to watch it (it will be broadcast on the 26th and 27th of August) to find out.


IMPORTANT: Collins has repudiated any association with Kennedy’s program. He gave an interview to Coral Ridge ministries about his book, and they spliced it into their video and used his name to promote it without his permission.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Hatfield
    August 19, 2006

    PZ: Thanks for posting this. As you might recall, I emailed you about this on the afternoon of the 16th, right before notifying NCSE. I think you’re right: Collins should be abashed. I seem to recall that even Richard Dawkins has been “set up” on occasion in a filmed interview. One almost has to assume that film/TV types will act badly in order to finesse the situation, it seems.

    Scott

  2. #2 Ichthyic
    August 19, 2006

    michael, you can judge for yourself when Collins’ book comes out next month:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2220484,00.html

    one thing to note is that Collins has typically denounced the IDers, and comes off as typically “theistic evolutionist”.

  3. #3 ekzept
    August 20, 2006

    … seem to recall that even Richard Dawkins has been “set up” on occasion in a filmed interview …

    yeah, he mentioned it on a “Point of Inquiry” podcast. Dawkins was interviewing this other dude. (sorry forgot his name.) and in the middle of it the dude gets nasty and comes out with a preacher’s “You evolutionists are all the same and incredibly arrogant to think you have all the answers” kind of thing. wasn’t much Dawkins could say.

    to Dawkins credit, he left it in the clip. won’t see that happening in the tape of this show i bet. is it live?

    also, a thought: are they trying to warm up the fundaloon segment of the Republicans for November?

    another thing about that interview with Dawkins: he insists he hates the title “Root of All Evil” of his book, and claims he didn’t have control of it.

    anyway, this sounds like a “swords of Armageddon” kind of show. we may know it’s crap but i bet most of its viewers won’t. it’ll just give them more things to justify the Crichton image of scientists as a hierarchical, priestly cabal who stomp on new ideas in graduate students and then on post-docs and then on people applying for grants. and i bet they’ll eat popcorn, chips, and salsa while watching, like some basketball game.

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