Friday, April 24, 2009

Moron of the Month - David Klinghoffer

The Discovery Institute's David Klinghoffer recently posted a couple of articles that, in essence, blame the Columbine high school massacre on Charles Darwin. You heard me right. Let's see what he has to say:
On April 20, 1999, two boys at Columbine High School in Colorado massacred 12 fellow students and a teacher, wounding 23 as well before shooting themselves. The 10th anniversary with its morbid recollections is upon us, but there's one aspect of the horrible memory that you can be sure you will not hear much about.

When one of the assailants, Eric Harris, was autopsied, the medical examiner found that under his black trench coat the boy had on a white t-shirt emblazoned with a peculiar slogan. The slogan was "Natural Selection." It was later reported but little commented upon that, on his website, Harris had written, among other paeans to the Darwinian mechanism, "Natural SELECTION!!!!!! God damn it's the best thing that ever happened to the earth. Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms...but it's all natural!!! YES!"
In this way, Klinghoffer seems to be claiming that these boys were simply following Darwin's ideas to their logical conclusions. One of the most obvious flaws in this theory is that gunning down random people is by definition neither natural nor selective, and dying a virgin as these boys undoubtedly did is clearly not the way to go in passing on your own traits to future generations. Given that the attack was carefully planned in advance by the pair, the massacre would be better described as having been intelligently designed.
Darwinism's modern day advocates prefer to forget that ideas have consequences. Yet even a scientific idea may have disastrous consequences, as Darwin's earliest critics foresaw. One such prophet was Darwin's own professor of natural science when he was at Cambridge, Adam Sedgwick.

In a letter to Darwin dated December 24, 1859, just after the Origin of Species had been published, Sedgwick warned that if the new book were successful in making its case, then "humanity, in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it, and sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history."
Ideas can have consequences, but not inevitable consequences. Just because I can doesn't imply that I must, or even that I should. And in any case, consequences have no possible bearing on the truth value of the ideas they spring from. What we do with the knowledge we gain from science is up to us, and is a result of human behaviour, not the facts themselves.

A commenter, GHitch, posts:
Darwin predicted the slaughter of blacks and 'savages' by whites. His prediction was based entirely upon the logical conclusions of his theory. [Darwin stated that] "At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated."
But this never happened, it was one of Darwin's predictions that turned out to be false. Does it therefore refute his theory of evolution by natural selection? No. It refutes the creationist's idea that Social Darwinism is an inevitable consequence. Yet Klinghoffer is insistent on this:
Ideas have consequences.
Now does that mean that the Darwinian idea is false as a scientific description of how life developed? No, obviously it doesn't mean that. As I've argued all along, Darwinism's social record is simply and nothing more than a good reason to take a second look at the science behind it.
So, the science may be true but let's pretend it's not? I don't really know how to reply to this bizarre concept. It's like saying that we should reconsider nuclear physics because of the terrible destructive power of the atomic bomb. "Let's invent a new model of atomic theory in which nuclear fission is impossible! Then we won't have to worry about nukes any more!".

Commenter Damien puts it another way:
What are you going to suggest in you next column? "That the theory for light and colour is the cause of racism?!"
If you've got a strong stomach and want to probe further into Klinghoffer's mindset, check out, which is mostly about his latest book "How Would God Vote? Why the Bible Commands you to be a Conservative".
I often write about materialism, a spreading, corrosive belief that material stuff is the only reality in the universe, that people are just an aspect of nature, more highly evolved versions of a fish or an ape.

That’s just a nice way of saying the end of Judaism, Christianity, and any sense that moral truths bear the stamp of divine authority – which in turn means the end of any really powerful argument for moral behavior.

It makes it much harder for all of us to be good, sapping our will to make hard moral choices.
Oh, boo hoo, we'll have to think for ourselves and take our own responsibilities. Grow up, David.

1 comment:

D.A. said...

"It makes it much harder for all of us to be good, sapping our will to make hard moral choices."

Poor Klinghoffer. He suffers from a case of not knowing jack about history. People can generally find rationales to kill one another with or without religion.