The Paleyists at Uncommon Descent seem to be having a competition to find the most awful thing Darwin ever said. It’s not hard, actually; Darwin was a conventional 19th century Englishman, with all the standard prejudices of his day, tending to assume that Anglo-Saxons were superior in most ways to every other ethnic group on the planet. It’s darned easy to browse through the Descent of Man and find casual assumptions that make us cringe today. So what? We can recognize that Darwin was a flawed human being and a brilliant scientist.
What is bizarre, though, is how some creationists simply have to distort a quote. It’s like a compulsion, I guess, where they can’t be satisfied with anything, and have to make it all a little bit worse, no matter how dishonest their manipulations might be. Chief among the perpetrators of unnecessary quote-mining is slimy Sal Cordova, who left this little comment:
I beat a puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power
Here’s where the quote came from, and it carries a rather different message than Cordova communicated.
Once as a very little boy whilst at the day school, or before that time, I acted cruelly, for I beat a puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power; but the beating could not have been severe, for the puppy did not howl, of which I feel sure, as the spot was near the house. This act lay heavily on my conscience, as is shown by my remembering the exact spot where the crime was committed. It probably lay all the heavier from my love of dogs being then, and for a long time afterwards, a passion. Dogs seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing their love from their masters.
Why do creationists lie so? It must be something in their upbringing.
(At the link, you’ll also find a quote Dembski found from Darwin—it’s accurate, and it is Darwin happily citing a colleague’s damning stereotype of the Irish. It’s nowhere near as dishonest as Cordova’s misrepresentation, but it does require ignoring whether Darwin was better, worse, or just like his peers in his unthinking racism. I tend to think he was a little better.)
(via Richard Hughes)