Adventures In Evolution

The story of Charles Darwin is an amazing one.  Here is a man who was endlessly fascinated with the world around him.  He went from medical student to training for the ministry to the preeminent scientist of his, or any other, age.  

What is lost among all of the retellings of this story is the pure adventure of his life.  Charles Darwin spent five years literally traveling around the world on the HMS Beagle.  He went to places that were, at the time, virtually untouched by humans, and many never seen by Europeans before.  He experienced long ocean voyages (for someone who suffered from sea sickness, not a fun time), earthquakes, storms, wild animals, and primitive (to him) peoples.  Upon his return to England, he went from an obscure naturalist to a well respected one and, after the publication of “On The Origin of Species“, to the most famous scientist in the world.  

It is quite the adventure. It is one that I’m working on bringing to life in a project I’m currently working on.  No release date yet, but I’ll keep you updated.

Random Secular Stuff

Here is a fun little drawing of Charles Darwin riding a tortoise.

Darwin_riding_a_tortoise_by_ahohesensei

Here is the link to the original: http://ahohesensei.deviantart.com/art/Darwin-riding-a-tortoise-160649209

The drawing is by ahohesensei.  Her work can be found at http://ahohesensei.deviantart.com/gallery/.

I also came across this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche.  I’ve read it before and have always liked it.

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. “

 

Darwin, Hitler, Secularism and Chritianity

There has been a continuing  debate between atheists and Christians about the Christian claim that Hitler and his Nazi party were the natural culmination of Darwinism.   I’ve dealt with this in my own debate with a Christian that you can read here and here.

PZ Myers has an nice refutation of this whole notion of Hitler being a Darwinist.   There is also a very well written article at pilly.com by Faye Flam, A Scientist Responds to the Charge that Darwin’s Theory Obliterated Morality, that deals with it beautifully.   Go read both of them.   They show up the lies that Christian apologists are constantly telling in their efforts to try to bury the truth of evolution.

I Seem to Have Hit a Nerve

My last post, Hitler – The Last Refuge of a Theist, seems to have hit a nerve among skeptics and atheists. I’ve seem some excellent comments regarding the truth about Hitler and his supposed support of Darwin and evolution. Among them is the following outstanding comment from fribnit.

“The single “scholarly” work of which I am aware that promotes a Darwin-Hitler connection is a piece of propaganda funded by an “Intelligent Design” promoting group called Discovery. The book, called From Darwin to Hitler by an “Historian” named Richard Weikart, is widely discredited as nothing more than propaganda.
As stated above, the Nazi’s burned Origin of the Species. Evolution was among the areas of scientific study derided by Hitler as “Jew Science”. Interesting in that Darwin was not Jewish.

It offends me deeply when someone uses the Hitler card in such a patently false manner, intended to discredit with guilt by association.

As Jay points out, Hitler self identified as a Christian. He felt that “The Almighty” guided and approved of his actions. Certainly the Christian-Hitler connection is much stronger than any supposed Darwin-Hitler connection.

I do not blame “Christianity” for the actions of Hitler and the Nazi scum, nor do I blame “Christianity” for the atrocities of the KKK, who also consider themselves “God Fearing Christians”. I don’t even blame “Christianity” for the Spanish Inquisition (Hundreds of years before Darwin) or the Crusades. I hold as responsible the people that conceived and committed these atrocities.

Long before Darwin, The Greeks and Romans and many others, considered themselves separate races from, and superior to, other people on the planet. Long before Darwin people of a variety of races considered other races to be less than human and tried to eliminate or enslave them. Human history is littered with attempts at genocide.

Believing in Intelligent Design or Creationism in the face of all the SCIENTIFIC evidence to the contrary is a remarkable exercise in willful blindness.
Trying to discredit Evolution by claiming it inspired one of the greatest atrocities in the history of man is vile and despicable and a pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible: “Intelligent Design”.”:

There are several very good points made here. Hitler did self-identify as a Christian and did, if we can believe his written and spoken words, that the “Almighty” was guiding him and supporting him.

The Nazis did burn copies of On Origin of Species and considered evolution a “Jewish” science. Burning copies of a book that describes a theory you supposedly support is incomprehensible.

Eugenics is not based on Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, but rather artificial selection, or breeding. Just as humans have bred animals for thousands of years, Hitler and his cohorts believed that they could breed better humans and even set up communities where Aryan men and women were paired, married and had children. A major goal of the Holocaust was not just to kill the Jews and other “undesirables”, but to remove them completely from the human gene pool by both exterminating those who existed and breeding the various percentages out of these genes out of the remaining population.

This type of evolutionary selection is anything but natural, which is what Darwin’s theory is all about. Those who wish to use the Nazi example of eugenics against evolution show a gross lack of understanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and of history.

To compare Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection to Hitler and the Holocaust is intellectually dishonest and reprehensible. It is a desperate ploy by people who can find no reasonable and cogent arguments to support their religious beliefs. It shows the narrowness of their world view and the smallness of the intellect.

Hitler – The Last Refuge of a Theist

My childhood friend who was upset about my trashing of the bible as a source for moral authority has now commented on my Happy Darwin Day post:

Kerry D. Fitts commented on your post.
Kerry wrote: “don’t forget to credit Darwin with the nazi’s and the Holocaust Hitler was a big fan of darwin and his eugenics”

Ah, bringing up Hitler and the Nazis, the last refuge of scoundrels. Oh, wait, that is patriotism, we are talking about religion and science. We could apply Goodwin’s law, but I’m not sure that really applies. Still, dragging the Nazis into it is always bad form, unless you are discussing history.

I say to you, Kerry, that what hitler believed or promoted from his understanding of evolution is immaterial to wether Darwin or evolution is correct or bad.

Hitler also used Christianity and his Christian beliefs to justify almost everything about his regime. Check out these quotes by Hitler to find out just how prominent a role Hitler gave Christianity in his words and deeds.

Based on these copious quotes should I then say that Jesus and Christianity should be given credit for the Nazis and the holocaust as well? If anything, the prevailing Christian belief that the Jews were Christ killers is and was at the core of the anti-semitism that produced the horrors of the holocaust.

The fact that you seem to feel so threatened by a scientist and a scientific theory that you would stoop so low as playing the Nazi card shows me that you are deeply affected by cognitive dissonance caused by your religious beliefs. It is obviously pointless to continue discussing these topics with you as you are too entrenched in your dogma to make them productive.

Happy Darwin Day!

It is Darwin Day! This is a day to remember the huge effect that Darwin’s On Origin Of Species and the theory it describes has had on the biological sciences. Everything we know today about modern genetics, micro-biology, and medicine has evolution at their foundations. The high yield crops that feed billions, the powerful antibiotics and vaccines that save millions of lives every year, the cutting edge medical technologies that promise cures for diseases as diverse as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes rely on knowledge that has evolution at their foundation. Evolution is one of the most powerfully explanatory, predictive, and useful scientific theories since Newton devised his theory of gravity.

To celebrate, go and read the 1st (and best) edition of On Origin of Species for free.

I’ll leave you with this picture from Tree Lobsters which expresses the awesomeness of Darwin and his theory:

wpid-chuckdarwin4-2011-02-13-11-12.jpg