Monday, January 18, 2010

“As an academic scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs.”
Richard Dawkins, A Devil’s Chaplain – Selected Essays (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003), p. 10-11'

When asked about this, when asked if we can just pick and choose when Darwinism is working and when it isn't, Dawkins replied, "Sure."

17 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

That's because the Theory of Evolution and Social Darwinism are two entirely different things. Which you ought to know by now, because I have explained this to you.

Ginx said...

Don't you see, PF... Mak wants atheists to be Social Darwinists, just as he wants atheists who view science as a faith/religion which is accepted unconditionally without any skepticism as a part of the "religion of atheism."

I think you'll have as much luck on this as I have had in trying to explain to him that science is not atheism, nor is atheism science, and the two are completely and utterly independent ideas. To Mak, science = atheism, especially the science he disagrees with (I assume medical science is good "Jesus" science, since Jesus healed people...).

Chris Mackey said...

Actual quote and context.

As an academic scientist I am a passionate Darwinian, believing that natural selection is, if not the only driving force in evolution, certainly the only known force capable of producing the illusion of purpose which so strikes all who contemplate nature. But at the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs. I have always held true to the closing words of my first book, 'We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.'

If you seem to smell inconsistency or even contradiction, you are mistaken. There is no inconsistency in favouring Darwinism as an academic scientist while opposing it as a human being; any more than there is inconsistency in explaining cancer as an academic doctor while fighting it as a practising one. For good Darwinian reasons, evolution gave us a brain whose size increased to the point where it became capable of understanding its own provenance, of deploring the moral implications and of fighting against them. Every time we use contraception we demonstrate that brains can thwart Darwinian designs. If, as my wife suggests to me, selfish genes are Frankensteins and all life their monster, it is only we that can complete the fable by turning against our creators. Yes, man can be vile too, but we are the only potential island of refuge from the implications of the Devil's Chaplain: from the cruelty, and the clumsy, blundering waste
.

-Dawkins in Rebelling Against Our Selfish Genes

Chris Mackey said...

or to sum up: it's a description of nature not a prescription for human affairs.

Makarios said...

If they aren't the same, why would Dawkins have to be in opposition to Darwinism or be an anti-Darwinist as it plays out in society? And why would you think that human social systems different than other social systems within the animal world?

Dawkins and other atheist leaders, ones who supposedly know more about natural selection than either you or I or even Ginx, why do they see social evolution as completely compatible with Darwinism as you understand it?

Chris Mackey said...

description not prescription.

Ginx said...

"Social Darwinism" is not evolution, nor does it have anything to do with it. Those who practice it used misinterpretations of evolution (notably "survival of the fittest") to justify a behavior that human beings have practiced since the beginning of human history: domination of one people over another.

In actual fact, evolution does not favor "the fittest," but the most adaptable. In this respect, diversity is a far superior state for society than homogeny, which finds itself unable to change or come up with alternatives when problems arise.

Makarios said...

So human animals are different than other animals - significantly different.

Gutless said...

Are you deliberately pretending not to understand?

Gutless said...

Did you read this?

From Dawkins via Mackey.
'We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.'

If you seem to smell inconsistency or even contradiction, you are mistaken. There is no inconsistency in favouring Darwinism as an academic scientist while opposing it as a human being; any more than there is inconsistency in explaining cancer as an academic doctor while fighting it as a practising one. For good Darwinian reasons, evolution gave us a brain whose size increased to the point where it became capable of understanding its own provenance, of deploring the moral implications and of fighting against them. Every time we use contraception we demonstrate that brains can thwart Darwinian designs. If, as my wife suggests to me, selfish genes are Frankensteins and all life their monster, it is only we that can complete the fable by turning against our creators. Yes, man can be vile too, but we are the only potential island of refuge from the implications of the Devil's Chaplain: from the cruelty, and the clumsy, blundering waste
.

Ginx said...

Humans are different in that we can consciously direct our own evolution, and we're certainly close to simply directly altering our genetic code. If we kill those who are "weak," we are selecting the ruthless and selfish to survive.

Makarios said...

Why is that wrong? It wouldn't be hard to make a case, in a world of limited resources, that the weak and defective simply should not take away from the genetically strong. If it isn't wrong for other animals, why is it wrong for human animals?

Anonymous said...

What's with this "genetically strong" business?

Makarios said...

Healthy, not genetically predisposed to illness or defect.

Anonymous said...

Nature already does that for us.

Without diversity, the species would be susceptible to the first disease that finds a niche.
Remember the potato famine?

Zzzst said...

Illness can evolve a whole lot quicker than a human. And with a monoculture - BAM - it could be all over.

CAPITALISM is social darwinism because it is premised on the idea of natural scarcity, also the starting point of social Darwinism, and because it is often interpreted to involve a "sink or swim" attitude toward economic activity.

Of course social darwinism is a very different thing from evolution.

Anonymous said...

Commie.