Ignoring the Obvious: Convergent Evolution in Strickberger’s Evolution – Discovery Institute

Photo: Ernst Mayr, by University of Konstanz / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5).

Editors note:Dr. Shedingeris a Professor of Religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He is the author of a recent book critiquing Darwinian triumphalism,The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms. See also the earlier entries in this series:

The phenomenon of convergent evolution is well documented in the literature of evolutionary biology. In StrickbergersEvolution, Brian K. Hall and Benedikt Hallgrimsson make frequent reference to it. But what does it mean? In the 19th century, St. George Jackson Mivart made convergence a central aspect of his criticism of theOrigin of Species. If the variations on which natural selection acts are produced randomly, Mivart reasoned, one would expect different kinds of variations to arise in geographically isolated populations, leading to evolutionary divergence, not convergence. But the latter is what we see. StrickbergersEvolution, while acknowledging the reality of convergence, tries mightily to ignore the non-Darwinian character of this phenomenon, leading to some striking inconsistencies.

In a chapter outlining evidence for evolution we read:

The evolution of different organisms, or parts of organisms, in similar directions convergent evolution (convergence) indicates that selection for similar features in different evolutionary lineages can, and often does, lead to functionally similar anatomical structures.

But how and why do these similar features arise in different lineages so that natural selection can preserve them? Hall and Hallgrimsson do not say. They even note that air-breathing evolved 67 times, but ignore the larger implications of how such a complex series of similar mutations could occur repeatedly if the mutations are produced without reference to the needs of the organism, or randomly.

This problem becomes even more acute when Hall and Hallgrimsson write:

As in parallelism, convergence derives from the exposure of different lineages to similar environmental factors evincing similar selective forces. Common adaptive features thus can be attained in each group through independent genetic changes.

But selection does not produce the independent genetic changes. It only preserves them once they arise. The phenomenon of convergence thus raises real questions about just how independent those genetic changes are. Also, by focusing so much on the environment as driving evolutionary change, do Hall and Hallgrimsson realize they sound a lot more like Lamarck than they do Darwin?

Nevertheless, in a startling reversal on the very next page, Hall and Hallgrimsson contradict everything they have just said in a discussion of the work of Sandra Mitchell, a philosopher of science who proposed a scheme of hierarchical levels of complexity in organisms. The third level of her hierarchy is called evolved complexity, the principle that similar adaptive challenges have resulted in a diversity of forms of organisms, not a single form. But I thought similar adaptive challenges drove evolution to produce similar adaptive forms! Hall and Hallgrimsson ignore the contradiction.

In fact, just two pages later, seemingly unaware of Mitchells work whichtheycited, they write:

When similar organisms are exposed to similar environments in different localities, evolution can produce strikingly convergent or parallel features, whether a structure, function, or behavior.

Mitchell is correct that Darwins theory predicts evolutionary divergence. Unfortunately for Darwin, evolutionary convergence is often what we observe.

Still, Hall and Hallgrimsson press on undeterred by this gap between theory and observation. In a discussion of plant evolution we read:

Not surprisingly, these beautiful adaptations reflectconvergenceas selection under similar environmental conditions produced similar plant phenotypes in different lineages residing in different geographical localities.

George Ledyard Stebbins, the biologist who brought botany into the fold of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1940s, also wrestled with the meaning of convergence among plants. He saw convergence as evidence for some type of guiding force in plant evolution either natural selection or orthogenesis. As an orthodox Darwinian, Stebbins discarded orthogenesis as a possibility and opted for natural selection by default. But observing how plants with primitive features continue to exist alongside plants with more evolved features, rather than the latter replacing the former, Stebbins wrote:

The differentiation of orders and families of flowering plants through the action of natural selection under present conditions is well-nigh impossible to imagine.

I couldnt agree more. And this is the reason the phenomenon of convergence still stands as a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution, just as Mivart understood as early as the 1870s.

More recently, paleontologist Simon Conway Morris has made convergent evolution the focus of his work. In a striking passage Conway Morris writes:

Wherever one looks it seems as if evolution has very little choice. If, then, we can discover the details of the metaphysical map across which life must navigate to the very few available solutions, then are we not on the threshold of a predictive biology? This view of life cuts cleanly across one of the central areas of neo-Darwinian thinking, an area that insists on the randomness of evolution and the unpredictability of its outcomes.

Such an idea is, of course, anathema to the biological establishment. According to Conway Morris, the best way to enrage an evolutionary biologist is to sidle up and suggest that evolution has a remarkable directionality. If you are lucky, he quips, all youll need is a clean handkerchief to dab the spots of spittle, but sometimes the response is closer to foaming.

Remarkably, even Ernst Mayr (pictured above) was forced to tacitly acknowledge the challenge to Darwinism posed by convergence. Earlier in his career, Mayr agreed with Francois Jacob that a tinkerer made a better analogy for the action of natural selection than an engineer. Engineering was just too teleological a comparison for a process said to have no foresight or directionality. But in his final bookWhat Evolution Is, written in his nineties, Mayr positively marveled at the phenomenon of convergence:

Convergence illustrates beautifully how selection is able to make use of the intrinsic variability of organisms to engineer adapted types for almost any kind of environmental niche.

So much for the tinkerer bumbling about in his garage. Natural selection, according to Mayr, does work more like the intelligent engineer after all.

StrickbergersEvolutionrepeatedly acknowledges the widespread nature of the phenomenon of convergent evolution. But by consistently ignoring the profound challenge convergence poses to Darwinian natural selection, the textbook denies students the opportunity to grapple with big and important questions about the history of life on Earth, questions that got the attention of Mivart in the 1870s, Conway Morris more recently, and that even did not escape the notice of Ernst Mayr. This greatly undermines the very educational process a textbook should be designed to foster.

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Ignoring the Obvious: Convergent Evolution in Strickberger's Evolution - Discovery Institute

Darwinism – Wikipedia

This article is about concepts called Darwinism. For biological evolution in general, see evolution. For modern evolutionary theories, see Modern synthesis. For Wallace's defence of the theory of natural selection, see Darwinism (book).

Theory of biological evolution

Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (18091882) and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Also called Darwinian theory, it originally included the broad concepts of transmutation of species or of evolution which gained general scientific acceptance after Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, including concepts which predated Darwin's theories. English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term Darwinism in April 1860.[1]

Darwinism subsequently referred to the specific concepts of natural selection, the Weismann barrier, or the central dogma of molecular biology.[2] Though the term usually refers strictly to biological evolution, creationists[who?] have appropriated it to refer to the origin of life.[3] It is therefore considered the belief and acceptance of Darwin's and of his predecessors' work, in place of other concepts, including divine design and extraterrestrial origins.[4][5]

English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term Darwinism in April 1860.[1] It was used to describe evolutionary concepts in general, including earlier concepts published by English philosopher Herbert Spencer. Many of the proponents of Darwinism at that time, including Huxley, had reservations about the significance of natural selection, and Darwin himself gave credence to what was later called Lamarckism. The strict neo-Darwinism of German evolutionary biologist August Weismann gained few supporters in the late 19th century. During the approximate period of the 1880s to about 1920, sometimes called "the eclipse of Darwinism", scientists proposed various alternative evolutionary mechanisms which eventually proved untenable. The development of the modern synthesis in the early 20th century, incorporating natural selection with population genetics and Mendelian genetics, revived Darwinism in an updated form.[6]

While the term Darwinism has remained in use amongst the public when referring to modern evolutionary theory, it has increasingly been argued by science writers such as Olivia Judson and Eugenie Scott that it is an inappropriate term for modern evolutionary theory.[7][8] For example, Darwin was unfamiliar with the work of the Moravian scientist and Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel,[9] and as a result had only a vague and inaccurate understanding of heredity. He naturally had no inkling of later theoretical developments and, like Mendel himself, knew nothing of genetic drift, for example.[10][11]

In the United States, creationists often use the term "Darwinism" as a pejorative term in reference to beliefs such as scientific materialism, but in the United Kingdom the term has no negative connotations, being freely used as a shorthand for the body of theory dealing with evolution, and in particular, with evolution by natural selection.[7]

While the term Darwinism had been used previously to refer to the work of Erasmus Darwin in the late 18th century, the term as understood today was introduced when Charles Darwin's 1859 book On the Origin of Species was reviewed by Thomas Henry Huxley in the April 1860 issue of the Westminster Review.[13] Having hailed the book as "a veritable Whitworth gun in the armoury of liberalism" promoting scientific naturalism over theology, and praising the usefulness of Darwin's ideas while expressing professional reservations about Darwin's gradualism and doubting if it could be proved that natural selection could form new species,[14] Huxley compared Darwin's achievement to that of Nicolaus Copernicus in explaining planetary motion:

What if the orbit of Darwinism should be a little too circular? What if species should offer residual phenomena, here and there, not explicable by natural selection? Twenty years hence naturalists may be in a position to say whether this is, or is not, the case; but in either event they will owe the author of "The Origin of Species" an immense debt of gratitude.... And viewed as a whole, we do not believe that, since the publication of Von Baer's "Researches on Development," thirty years ago, any work has appeared calculated to exert so large an influence, not only on the future of Biology, but in extending the domination of Science over regions of thought into which she has, as yet, hardly penetrated.[1]

These are the basic tenets of evolution by natural selection as defined by Darwin:

Another important evolutionary theorist of the same period was the Russian geographer and prominent anarchist Peter Kropotkin who, in his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), advocated a conception of Darwinism counter to that of Huxley. His conception was centred around what he saw as the widespread use of co-operation as a survival mechanism in human societies and animals. He used biological and sociological arguments in an attempt to show that the main factor in facilitating evolution is cooperation between individuals in free-associated societies and groups. This was in order to counteract the conception of fierce competition as the core of evolution, which provided a rationalization for the dominant political, economic and social theories of the time; and the prevalent interpretations of Darwinism, such as those by Huxley, who is targeted as an opponent by Kropotkin. Kropotkin's conception of Darwinism could be summed up by the following quote:

In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sensenot as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.[15]

Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), Conclusion

"Darwinism" soon came to stand for an entire range of evolutionary (and often revolutionary) philosophies about both biology and society. One of the more prominent approaches, summed in the 1864 phrase "survival of the fittest" by Herbert Spencer, later became emblematic of Darwinism even though Spencer's own understanding of evolution (as expressed in 1857) was more similar to that of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck than to that of Darwin, and predated the publication of Darwin's theory in 1859. What is now called "Social Darwinism" was, in its day, synonymous with "Darwinism"the application of Darwinian principles of "struggle" to society, usually in support of anti-philanthropic political agenda. Another interpretation, one notably favoured by Darwin's half-cousin Francis Galton, was that "Darwinism" implied that because natural selection was apparently no longer working on "civilized" people, it was possible for "inferior" strains of people (who would normally be filtered out of the gene pool) to overwhelm the "superior" strains, and voluntary corrective measures would be desirablethe foundation of eugenics.

In Darwin's day there was no rigid definition of the term "Darwinism", and it was used by opponents and proponents of Darwin's biological theory alike to mean whatever they wanted it to in a larger context. The ideas had international influence, and Ernst Haeckel developed what was known as Darwinismus in Germany, although, like Spencer's "evolution", Haeckel's "Darwinism" had only a rough resemblance to the theory of Charles Darwin, and was not centered on natural selection.[16] In 1886, Alfred Russel Wallace went on a lecture tour across the United States, starting in New York and going via Boston, Washington, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska to California, lecturing on what he called "Darwinism" without any problems.[17]

In his book Darwinism (1889), Wallace had used the term pure-Darwinism which proposed a "greater efficacy" for natural selection.[18][19] George Romanes dubbed this view as "Wallaceism", noting that in contrast to Darwin, this position was advocating a "pure theory of natural selection to the exclusion of any supplementary theory."[20][21] Taking influence from Darwin, Romanes was a proponent of both natural selection and the inheritance of acquired characteristics. The latter was denied by Wallace who was a strict selectionist.[22] Romanes' definition of Darwinism conformed directly with Darwin's views and was contrasted with Wallace's definition of the term.[23]

The term Darwinism is often used in the United States by promoters of creationism, notably by leading members of the intelligent design movement, as an epithet to attack evolution as though it were an ideology (an "ism") of philosophical naturalism, or atheism.[24] For example, in 1993, UC Berkeley law professor and author Phillip E. Johnson made this accusation of atheism with reference to Charles Hodge's 1874 book What Is Darwinism?.[25] However, unlike Johnson, Hodge confined the term to exclude those like American botanist Asa Gray who combined Christian faith with support for Darwin's natural selection theory, before answering the question posed in the book's title by concluding: "It is Atheism."[26][27] Darwinism is an attempt to explain "design without a designer", according to evolutionary biologist Francisco J. Ayala.[28]

Creationists use pejoratively the term Darwinism to imply that the theory has been held as true only by Darwin and a core group of his followers, whom they cast as dogmatic and inflexible in their belief.[29] In the 2008 documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which promotes intelligent design (ID), American writer and actor Ben Stein refers to scientists as Darwinists. Reviewing the film for Scientific American, John Rennie says "The term is a curious throwback, because in modern biology almost no one relies solely on Darwin's original ideas... Yet the choice of terminology isn't random: Ben Stein wants you to stop thinking of evolution as an actual science supported by verifiable facts and logical arguments and to start thinking of it as a dogmatic, atheistic ideology akin to Marxism." [30]

However, Darwinism is also used neutrally within the scientific community to distinguish the modern evolutionary synthesis, which is sometimes called "neo-Darwinism", from those first proposed by Darwin. Darwinism also is used neutrally by historians to differentiate his theory from other evolutionary theories current around the same period. For example, Darwinism may refer to Darwin's proposed mechanism of natural selection, in comparison to more recent mechanisms such as genetic drift and gene flow. It may also refer specifically to the role of Charles Darwin as opposed to others in the history of evolutionary thoughtparticularly contrasting Darwin's results with those of earlier theories such as Lamarckism or later ones such as the modern evolutionary synthesis.

In political discussions in the United States, the term is mostly used by its enemies.[31] "It's a rhetorical device to make evolution seem like a kind of faith, like 'Maoism,'" says Harvard University biologist E. O. Wilson. He adds, "Scientists don't call it 'Darwinism'."[32]

In the United Kingdom the term often retains its positive sense as a reference to natural selection, and for example British atheist Richard Dawkins wrote in his collection of essays A Devil's Chaplain, published in 2003, that as a scientist he is a Darwinist.[33]

In his 1995 book Darwinian Fairytales, Australian philosopher David Stove[34] used the term "Darwinism" in a different sense than the above examples. Describing himself as non-religious and as accepting the concept of natural selection as a well-established fact, Stove nonetheless attacked what he described as flawed concepts proposed by some "Ultra-Darwinists." Stove alleged that by using weak or false ad hoc reasoning, these Ultra-Darwinists used evolutionary concepts to offer explanations that were not valid: for example, Stove suggested that the sociobiological explanation of altruism as an evolutionary feature was presented in such a way that the argument was effectively immune to any criticism. English philosopher Simon Blackburn wrote a rejoinder to Stove,[35] though a subsequent essay by Stove's proteg James Franklin[36] suggested that Blackburn's response actually "confirms Stove's central thesis that Darwinism can 'explain' anything."

In evolutionary aesthetics theory, there is evidence that perceptions of beauty are determined by natural selection and therefore Darwinian; that things, aspects of people and landscapes considered beautiful are typically found in situations likely to give enhanced survival of the perceiving human's genes.[37][38]

Evolutionary biology portal

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Darwinism - Wikipedia

An Evolution Definition of Darwinism – ThoughtCo

Charles Darwin is known as the "Father of Evolution" for being the first person to publish his theory not only describing that evolution was a change in species over time but also put together a mechanism for how it works (called natural selection). There is arguably no other evolutionary scholar as well known and revered as Darwin. In fact, the term "Darwinism" has come to be synonymous with the Theory of Evolution, but what really is meant when people say the word Darwinism? And more importantly, what does Darwinism NOT mean?

Darwinism, when it was first put into the lexicon by Thomas Huxley in 1860, was only meant to describe the belief that species change over time. In the most basic of terms, Darwinism became synonymous with Charles Darwin's explanation of evolution and, to an extent, his description of natural selection. These ideas, first published in his arguably most famous book On the Origin of Species, were direct and have stood the test of time. So, originally, Darwinism only included the fact that species change over time due to nature selecting the most favorable adaptations within the population. These individuals with better adaptations lived long enough to reproduce and pass those traits down to the next generation, ensuring the species' survival.

While many scholars insist this should be the extent of information that the word Darwinism should encompass, it has somewhat evolved itself over time as the Theory of Evolution itself also changed when more data and information became readily available. For instance, Darwin did not know anything about Genetics as it wasn't until after his death that Gregor Mendel did his work with his pea plants and published the data. Many other scientists proposed alternative mechanisms for evolution during a time which became known as neo-Darwinism. However, none of these mechanisms held up over time and Charles Darwin's original assertions were restored as the correct and leading Theory of Evolution. Now, the Modern Synthesis of the Evolutionary Theory is sometimes described using the term "Darwinism", but this is somewhat misleading since it includes not only Genetics but also other topics not explored by Darwin like microevolution via DNA mutations and other molecular biological tenets.

In the United States, Darwinism has taken on a different meaning to the general public. In fact, opponents to the Theory of Evolution have taken the term Darwinism and created a false definition of the word that brings up a negative connotation for many who hear it. The strict Creationists have taken the word hostage and created a new meaning which is often perpetuated by those in the media and others who do not truly understand the real meaning of the word. These anti-evolutionists have taken the word Darwinism to not only mean a change in species over time but have lumped in the origin of life along with it. Darwin did not assert any sort of hypothesis on how life on Earth began in any of his writings and only could describe what he had studied and had evidence to back up. Creationists and other anti-evolutionary parties either misunderstood the term Darwinism or purposefully hijacked it to make it more negative. The term has even been used to describe the origin of the universe by some extremists, which is way beyond the realm of anything Darwin would have made a conjecture on at any time in his life.

In other countries around the world, however, this false definition is not present. In fact, in the United Kingdom where Darwin did most of his work, it is a celebrated and understood term that is commonly used instead of the Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection. There is no ambiguity of the term there and it is used correctly by scientists, the media, and the general public every day.

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Darwinism | Definition & Facts | Britannica

Darwinism, theory of the evolutionary mechanism propounded by Charles Darwin as an explanation of organic change. It denotes Darwins specific view that evolution is driven mainly by natural selection.

Beginning in 1837, Darwin proceeded to work on the now well-understood concept that evolution is essentially brought about by the interplay of three principles: (1) variationa liberalizing factor, which Darwin did not attempt to explain, present in all forms of life; (2) hereditythe conservative force that transmits similar organic form from one generation to another; and (3) the struggle for existencewhich determines the variations that will confer advantages in a given environment, thus altering species through a selective reproductive rate.

On the basis of newer knowledge, neo-Darwinism has superseded the earlier concept and purged it of Darwins lingering attachment to the Lamarckian theory of inheritance of acquired characters. Present knowledge of the mechanisms of inheritance are such that modern scientists can distinguish more satisfactorily than Darwin between non-inheritable bodily variation and variation of a genuinely inheritable kind.

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Darwinism | Definition & Facts | Britannica

Social Darwinism – HISTORY


Social Darwinism is a loose set of ideologies that emerged in the late 1800s in which Charles Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection was used to justify certain political, social, or economic views. Social Darwinists believe in survival of the fittestthe idea that certain people become powerful in society because they are innately better. Social Darwinism has been used to justify imperialism, racism, eugenics and social inequality at various times over the past century and a half.

According to Darwins theory of evolution, only the plants and animals best adapted to their environment will survive to reproduce and transfer their genes to the next generation. Animals and plants that are poorly adapted to their environment will not survive to reproduce.

Charles Darwin published his notions on natural selection and the theory of evolution in his influential 1859 book On the Origin of Species.

Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection was a scientific theory focused on explaining his observations about biological diversity and why different species of plants and animals look different.

Yet in an attempt to convey his scientific ideas to the British public, Darwin borrowed popular concepts, including survival of the fittest, from sociologist Herbert Spencer and struggle for existence from economist Thomas Malthus, who had earlier written about how human societies evolve over time.

Darwin rarely commented on the social implications of his theories. But to those who followed Spencer and Malthus, Darwins theory appeared to be confirming with science what they already believed to be true about human societythat the fit inherited qualities such as industriousness and the ability to accumulate wealth, while the unfit were innately lazy and stupid.

After Darwin published his theories on biological evolution and natural selection, Herbert Spencer drew further parallels between his economic theories and Darwins scientific principles.

Spencer applied the idea of survival of the fittest to so-called laissez faire or unrestrained capitalism during the Industrial Revolution, in which businesses are allowed to operate with little regulation from the government.

Unlike Darwin, Spencer believed that people could genetically pass learned qualities, such as frugality and morality, on to their children.

Spencer opposed any laws that helped workers, the poor, and those he deemed genetically weak. Such laws, he argued, would go against the evolution of civilization by delaying the extinction of the unfit.

Another prominent Social Darwinist was American economist William Graham Sumner. He was an early opponent of the welfare state. He viewed individual competition for property and social status as a tool for eliminating the weak and immoral of the population.

As social Darwinist rationalizations of inequality gained popularity in the late 1800s, British scholar Sir Francis Galton (a half-cousin of Darwin) launched a new science aimed at improving the human race by ridding society of its undesirables. He called it eugenics.

Galton proposed to better humankind by propagating the British elite. He argued that social institutions such as welfare and mental asylums allowed inferior humans to survive and reproduce at higher levels than their superior counterparts in Britains wealthy class.

Galtons ideas never really took hold in his country, but they became popular in America where the concepts of eugenics quickly gained strength.

Eugenics became a popular social movement in the United States that peaked in the 1920s and 1930s. Books and films promoted eugenics, while local fairs and exhibitions held fitter family and better baby competitions around the country.

The eugenics movement in the United States focused on eliminating undesirable traits from the population. Proponents of the eugenics movement reasoned the best way to do this was by preventing unfit individuals from having children.

During the first part of the twentieth century, 32 U.S. states passed laws that resulted in the forced sterilization of more than 64,000 Americans including immigrants, people of color, unmarried mothers and the mentally ill.

Adolf Hitler, one of the worlds most notorious eugenicists, drew inspiration from Californias forced sterilizations of the feeble-minded in designing Nazi Germanys racially based policies.

Hitler began reading about eugenics and social Darwinism while he was imprisoned following a failed 1924 coup attempt known as the Beer Hall Putsch.

Hitler adopted the social Darwinist take on survival of the fittest. He believed the German master race had grown weak due to the influence of non-Aryans in Germany. To Hitler, survival of the German Aryan race depended on its ability to maintain the purity of its gene pool.

The Nazis targeted certain groups or races that they considered biologically inferior for extermination. These included Jews, Roma (gypsies), Poles, Soviets, people with disabilities and homosexuals.

By the end of World War II, social Darwinist and eugenic theories had fallen out of favor in the United States and much of Europepartly due to their associations with Nazi programs and propaganda, and because these theories were scientifically unfounded.

Social Darwinism; American Museum of Natural History.Americas Hidden History: The Eugenics Movement; Nature. September 18, 2014.In the Name of Darwin; PBS.Victims of the Nazi Era: Nazi Racial Ideology; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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Social Darwinism - HISTORY

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How Darwin Shaped the Young Joseph Stalin – Discovery Institute

Photo: Paining of Stalin in the Joseph Stalin Museum, by Andrew Milligan sumo, via Flick (cropped).

Michael Egnor points out that Totalitarianism Is Darwinism Applied to Politics, citing Hannah Arendts famous book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, which draws the connection. The Nazis, as well as Marx and Engels, all drew from Darwins well.

Jonathan Wells notes that another figure in the totalitarian tradition was influenced by evolution from a very early age. As a boy, Joseph Stalin

talked about books all the time. If he coveted a volume, he was happy to steal it from another schoolboy and run home with it. When he was about thirteen, Lado Ketskhoveli took him to a little bookshop in Gori where he paid a five kopeck subscription and borrowed a book that was probably DarwinsOrigin of Species. Stalin read it all night, forgetting to sleep, until Keke [his mother] found him. Time to go to bed, she said. Go to sleep dawn is breaking. I loved the book so much, Mummy, I couldnt stop reading. As his reading intensified, his piety wavered. One day Soso [Stalin] and some friends, including Grisha Glurjidze, lay on the grass in town talking about the injustice of there being rich and poor when he amazed all of them by suddenly saying, Gods not unjust, he doesnt actually exist. Weve been deceived. If God existed, hed have made the world more just. Soso, how can you say such things? exclaimed Grisha. Ill lend you a book and youll see. He presented Glurjidze with a copy of Darwin.

The idea of an organic movement in history, sketched by Darwin, leads to thinking that seeks to seize control of society and forcibly direct that movement. Arendt needed a thick book to explain why. The case of Stalin, influential reading by a 13-year-old, is much more direct.

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How Darwin Shaped the Young Joseph Stalin - Discovery Institute

social Darwinism | Definition & Facts | Britannica

Social Darwinism, the theory that human groups and races are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin perceived in plants and animals in nature. According to the theory, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the weak were diminished and their cultures delimited while the strong grew in power and cultural influence over the weak. Social Darwinists held that the life of humans in society was a struggle for existence ruled by survival of the fittest, a phrase proposed by the British philosopher and scientist Herbert Spencer.

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biology, philosophy of: Evolutionary ethics

form of evolutionary ethics is social Darwinism, though this view owes far more to Herbert Spencer than it does to Darwin himself. It begins...

The social Darwinistsnotably Spencer and Walter Bagehot in England and William Graham Sumner in the United Statesbelieved that the process of natural selection acting on variations in the population would result in the survival of the best competitors and in continuing improvement in the population. Societies were viewed as organisms that evolve in this manner.

The theory was used to support laissez-faire capitalism and political conservatism. Class stratification was justified on the basis of natural inequalities among individuals, for the control of property was said to be a correlate of superior and inherent moral attributes such as industriousness, temperance, and frugality. Attempts to reform society through state intervention or other means would, therefore, interfere with natural processes; unrestricted competition and defense of the status quo were in accord with biological selection. The poor were the unfit and should not be aided; in the struggle for existence, wealth was a sign of success. At the societal level, social Darwinism was used as a philosophical rationalization for imperialist, colonialist, and racist policies, sustaining belief in Anglo-Saxon or Aryan cultural and biological superiority.

Social Darwinism declined during the 20th century as an expanded knowledge of biological, social, and cultural phenomena undermined, rather than supported, its basic tenets.

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social Darwinism | Definition & Facts | Britannica

Darwinism Would Fare Poorly Against Pandemics – Discovery Institute

Photo credit: ThisisEngineering RAEng, via Unsplash.

In anarticlelast month inNature, Ann Reid, executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), praised the apparent success of efforts to teach Darwin-only curricula in public schools. Weve addressed some major weaknesses in her account,here,here, andhere. Reids predecessor, Eugenie Scott, oncesaid, There are no weaknesses in the theory of evolution. Reids article frames the NCSEs dogmatic view of evolution as if it is necessary for solving urgent public health crises, such as the current coronavirus pandemic. Shes wrong:

Understanding evolution helped us to make educated guesses about how the [Spanish flu] virus might have changed between 1918 and the 1930s, when influenza viruses were first isolated. This enabled us to design reagents with the best chance of finding the killer virus. Once we had the entire sequence, evolution helped us to understand where the virus came from and how it moved between hosts


As another pandemic sweeps the globe, evolution is again crucial to understanding a pathogen. It helps us to learn how the virus circulates, and to identify its vulnerabilities. It helps us to counter conspiracy theories.

Im glad scientists are helping to give young people an understanding of evolution as they navigate our complicated world.

There is a dangerous irony here. Reid in her article points to medical advances in fighting disease as if they depend on the NCSEs idiosyncratic and dogmatic version of understanding evolution. In fact the progress we all hope for and need depends on rejecting the NCSEs view on Darwinism. It requires appreciating that there are limits to how much features can evolve.

When combatting disease-causing pathogens, such as bacteria or viruses, we dont use the idea that Darwinian evolution is of unlimited creativity. Quite the reverse. We design drug cocktails based on the fundamental premise that there are limits to how much viruses and other living systems can evolve. The more drugs we throw at a disease-causing organism, the less likely it is that the organism will be able to evolve the multiple mutations needed to evade the cocktail and survive, thereby becoming resistant. In his bookTheEdge of Evolution, Michael Behe shows that because there is an edge or a limit to evolution, we can use drug cocktails to combat antibiotic resistance:

To greatly increase the chances of successful treatment, one strategy is to use a cocktail of drugs, each component of which is able to kill a sizeable chunk of cells. For example, in urging that several drugs should be used simultaneously against malaria, one researcher explained:

Resistance to antimalarial drugs arises when spontaneously occurring mutants . . . which confer reduced drug susceptibility are selected, and are then transmitted. Simultaneous use of two or more antimalarials will reduce the chance of selection, because the chance of a resistant mutant surviving is the product of the parasite mutation rates for the individual drugs, multiplied by the number of parasites in an infection that are exposed to the drugs.

Suppose a cocktail contains two drugs, A andB,and that one in a million parasite cells is resistant to drug A, and one in a million to drugB.Assuming resistance to A is due to a different mutation than resistance toB,then the odds that a single individual cell is resistant to both drugs at the same time are multiplied, a million times a million, which is one in a trillion.

(The Edge of Evolution, p. 56)

In areviewof his book posted at their website, the NCSE recognized that Behes new thesis is that there are limits to what Darwinian evolution can accomplish. But they then said he was flat wrong:

Behes thesis of evolutionary limits hangs on the assumption that important evolutionary steps require multiple simultaneous mutations without the benefit of cumulative selection. However, there is no evidence to support this claim.

The NCSE reviews assertion is completely false.There are traits that require multiple mutations in order to provide some selectable effect. If this were not so, we would not use drug cocktails that force organisms to acquire multiple mutations a highly unlikely event before they can survive the antibiotic dose. To put it another way, if there were no evolutionary limits (due to the fact that some features require many mutations before allowing a survival advantage), then we would have no way to combat many rapidly evolving pathogens.

The NCSEs philosophy, if put into practice, would prevent us from being able to fight many pathogenic diseases and deal with pandemics. Yet that philosophy is exactly what the NCSE wants students to learn students, as in our future doctors and medical researchers. Refusing to admit weaknesses in the Darwinian mechanism is not only wrong as science. It also puts health at risk.

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Darwinism Would Fare Poorly Against Pandemics - Discovery Institute

On "Darwinism" – Scientific American Blog Network

He could have just said he didnt believe in evolution, or that evolution had flaws. Or, he could have said that a book with a whole unit on evolution was just too much. But William Buckingham, of the Dover Area School Board in Pennsylvania, didnt use the E word when he explained his objections to the biology textbook selected by the science teachers at Dover High School. Instead, he invoked a term that didnt even appear in that textbook. Prentice Halls Biology: The Living Science, he claimed, was laced with Darwinism from beginning to end. Surely, he must have thought, Darwinism was a disqualifying slander that everyone could understand.

As he explained his remarks to a reporter, Buckingham expanded on that theme, once again invoking the name of Darwin rather than the name of the field itself. Its okay to teach Darwin, said Buckingham, but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism. Later that year, the school board attempted to do exactly that, pairing Darwinism with Intelligent Design, and leading to the landmark Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in 2005. The defenders of evolution won a resounding victory in that trial, but afterwards I was left to wonder how Darwins own name had come to be used as a slur against science.

To find the intellectual roots of that transformation, one need look no further than a 1998 essay by one of Americas greatest living writers, Marilynne Robinson. Author of novels such as Housekeeping, Home and Gilead, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, Robinson is also the author of Darwinism, a provocative essay that forms the cornerstone of her 1998 collection of essays, The Death of Adam. Robinson is no creationist. In fact, she writes that creationism, a caricature of religion, is the best thing that could have happened to Darwinism, since it justifies Darwinist contempt for the whole of religion. What, then, is her objection to evolution?

Surprisingly, she does not seem to have one, at least not a scientific objection. In fact, she regards Darwins work as impressive, and makes no argument for a young Earth, the fixity of species or any of the other usual creationist canards. But to her mind, Darwinism is something else again. She writes that Charles Darwin had a cheerful interest in the extermination of races, that Darwinism is harsh and crude, and that Darwinists regard the human animal as a creature who shares essential attributes with whatever beast has recently been observed behaving shabbily in the state of nature.

Robinson makes no case for the existence of a historical Adam or the Garden of Eden, but she clearly laments the way in which evolution, or Darwinism, has dispelled the civilizing myth of Adam, and the key assumptions that once formed the bedrock of Western culture, even the culture of science itself. If one were to seek an intellectual founding mother for the use of Darwinism as a slander against evolution, Robinson would surely get that honor.

A number of purposes are served by reducing an entire scientific field to an ism based on the name of its founder. The first is obvious. Evolution then becomes an ideology, not a field of science. This view is on full display at the lavishly appointed Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, where visitors are assured that scientific data can be interpreted in two waysfrom a Darwinist perspective, or from a creationist point of view. Because both depend only upon ones preconceptions, the creationist viewpoint is just as valid as any other.

Like any supposed ism, Darwinism has an agenda, and its not just a scientific one. It dismisses moral values as the epiphenomena of natural selection, it promotes homosexuality, ruthless competition, selfishness and racism, and it seeks to explain the gems of western civilization, its art, music and literature, as nothing more than individual gambits that advance the artists own interests in sex and reproduction. These supposed evils derive from the way in which it advances a strictly materialistic view of nature, one that, in Robinsons words, denies the mind/soul as spirit, and regards the brain as nothing more than a lump of meat. Darwinism requires the disengagement of conscience, and the grand scale disparagement of the traits that distinguish us from animals. And Darwinists, she notes, take the darkest possible view of the animals.

The overuse of Darwins own name facilitates another line of attack, by pretending that the field relies entirely on Darwins own work, fashioned in an age before the modern sciences of genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology emerged to confirm and expand his ideas. This allows the pretense that evolution is a stolid, unchanging field, with few new ideas that might refresh its 19th century heritage. Any scientist would scoff at this, of course, knowing the vigor that new discoveries constantly infuse into evolutionary biology. But to laypeople, unfamiliar with the rapid pace of scientific discovery, this can be a persuasive argument.

Finally, by constantly railing against pernicious Darwinism, the advocate can map the many personal faults and flaws of Charles Darwin and his like-minded contemporaries onto evolution itself. Darwins racism is thereby presumed to be inherent to the field, as is the imperial condescension that might be found in any upper-class Briton of the period. Closer to the present day, the eugenics movement can be linked to Darwinism as well, misrepresenting the science of evolution as justification for the horrors inflicted in its name.

What, then, is to be done? Should we abstain from the use of Darwins name, stop reading The Origin of Species or co-opt the term by applying it broadly to evolutionary science? While I dont think thats necessary, we should keep in mind that many of our professional colleagues have indeed attached the authority of evolution to assertions that are more political and cultural than biological. One such field is evolutionary psychology, a discipline in which evolutionary principles can indeed be used to great effect. But it is also a field in which Darwinian just-so arguments have been used to explain everything from male and female shopping behavior to music and to tell us that the impulse to rape was favored by natural selectionso all males are potential rapists. A gentler example of this cultural overreach is proudly advanced by David Sloan Wilson, president of the Evolution Institute, who proclaims that in this century the theory of evolution will expand to include all human-related knowledge, including anthropology, art, culture, economics, history, politics, psychology, religion, and sociology. In short, step aside, humanists and social scientists, were taking over.

Maybe so. But Im still waiting for an evolutionary explanation of the thrilling beauty of a Mozart symphony or a James Joyce short story, to say nothing of a truly biological explanation for the particular political situations in the U.S., Venezuela or Germany. In advocating for greater public understanding of evolution, we might do well to keep in mind that it is a theory for the origin of species, not the explanation of all things human, great and small.

But there is a deeper, more powerful strategy that can get to the very heart of the fundamental concerns of intellectuals like Robinson and laypeople who share her concern that evolution diminishes the status of the human person. That is to use evolution itself to highlight the exceptional nature of our species. Yes, there was an element of truth in Henry Gees admonition that There is nothing special about being human, any more than there is anything special about being a guinea pig or a geranium. Frans de Waal made a similar point regarding the human intellect. We are, he asserted, animals not only in body but also in mind. Science blogger P. Z. Myers was even more explicit in his efforts to take us down a notch: we [humans] arent any more special to the universe than a sea slug. While all of these statements emphasize our full-fledged membership in the animal kingdom, they miss somethingsomething essential to a genuine understanding of the place our species holds in the evolutionary narrative.

Referring to the work of two great pioneers of animal behavior, the late Jacob Bronowski wryly pointed out that their studies of birds and rodents fell somewhat short of accounting for the most important details of human behavior: There must be something unique about man because otherwise, evidently, the ducks would be lecturing about Konrad Lorenz, and the rats would be writing papers about B. F. Skinner. That is exactly the point.

We are the children of evolution in every sense, part of Darwins fabled tangled bank. We must never forget that. But we must also remember that we are the only creatures to emerge from that thicket and make sense of it all. Darwinism does not diminish us. Rather, it puts the human experiment into a truly scientific perspective. We are not just hairless bipedal primates. We are creatures capable of the fugues of Bach, the verses of Yeats, the stories of Twain, the creations of Dal and, for that matter, the mathematics of Gdel, Ramanujan and Turing.

In contemplating the lessons of evolution for our species and our culture, this is how we should overcome the mindless use of Darwinism as a slur. Some may feel demeaned by our evolutionary heritage, but I would argue that the more appropriate emotions are joy and delight. Joy that we are approaching a genuine understanding of the world in which we live, and delight at being the very first stirrings of true consciousness in the vastness of the cosmos. Far from diminishing us, knowing the details of Adams journey ennobles each of us as a carrier of something truly preciousthe genetic, biological, and cultural heritage of life itself. Evolution describes not the death of Adam, but his triumph. That is the great truth of our story.

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On "Darwinism" - Scientific American Blog Network

Darwinism Quotes (148 quotes) – Goodreads

[Said during a debate when his opponent asserted that atheism and belief in evolution lead to Nazism:]

Atheism by itself is, of course, not a moral position or a political one of any kind; it simply is the refusal to believe in a supernatural dimension. For you to say of Nazism that it was the implementation of the work of Charles Darwin is a filthy slander, undeserving of you and an insult to this audience. Darwins thought was not taught in Germany; Darwinism was so derided in Germany along with every other form of unbelief that all the great modern atheists, Darwin, Einstein and Freud were alike despised by the National Socialist regime.

Now, just to take the most notorious of the 20th century totalitarianisms the most finished example, the most perfected one, the most ruthless and refined one: that of National Socialism, the one that fortunately allowed the escape of all these great atheists, thinkers and many others, to the United States, a country of separation of church and state, that gave them welcome if its an atheistic regime, then how come that in the first chapter of Mein Kampf, that Hitler says that hes doing Gods work and executing Gods will in destroying the Jewish people? How come the fuhrer oath that every officer of the Party and the Army had to take, making Hitler into a minor god, begins, I swear in the name of almighty God, my loyalty to the Fuhrer? How come that on the belt buckle of every Nazi soldier it says Gott mit uns, God on our side? How come that the first treaty made by the Nationalist Socialist dictatorship, the very first is with the Vatican? Its exchanging political control of Germany for Catholic control of German education. How come that the church has celebrated the birthday of the Fuhrer every year, on that day until democracy put an end to this filthy, quasi-religious, superstitious, barbarous, reactionary system?

Again, this is not a difference of emphasis between us. To suggest that theres something fascistic about me and about my beliefs is something I won't hear said and you shouldn't believe. Christopher Hitchens

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Darwinism Quotes (148 quotes) - Goodreads

Darwinism in full play as the pandemic rages – Deccan Herald

If you are, like most people, anxiously awaiting the good news that the lockdown has finally been lifted, in all likelihood you missed out on all the other news that have been making the headlines recently. Here is a sample of those headlines: How data can aid the fight against COVID-19; Facebook invests $5.7 billion in Indian internet giant Jio; Chile will issue immunity cards to people who have recovered from the virus; Why the wealthy fear pandemics; Miamis rich-poor divide is exposed by flawed Covid-19 testing; With selective coronavirus coverage, China builds a culture of hate; In India, a pandemic of prejudice and repression.

I find the above disconcerting because the overall theme of the articles contents reflects social Darwinism or survival of the fittest. It is hard not to miss the pivotal roles played by social media, e-commerce and money in setting the parameters of coronavirus testing, which is crucial to containing the pandemic.

Now that Facebook has acquired a 9.9% stake in Reliance Jio, it is only a matter of time before FB ends up owning Jio, whose assets of $26 billion pale in comparison to FBs $133 billion. If you think it wont happen, think again. Walmarts attempt to enter the Indian market in a big way was initially rebuffed, but it found a backdoor by buying up Flipkart, Indias e-commerce giant. At the time of the takeover, Flipkart had assets worth $2 billion versus Walmarts $236 billion. FBs first attempt to enter the India market by offering Free Basics was strongly rebuffed. It has since found a backdoor by zeroing in on Jio. All of this does not bode well for the public.

In an incredibly self-serving op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Facebooks CEO Mark Zuckerberg opined that Facebook was in a unique position to help researchers and health authorities get the information they would need to respond to the pandemic since it knew the identities of large numbers of people. Quoting from the op-ed piece, The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good. Note the use of the words we and superpower.

While we lost the war on privacy a long time ago, I think there is still time to contain its fallout.

When a successful vaccine is developed, I presume FB will be in a unique position to identify aggrieved communities to whom the vaccine should be made available. Just as effectively as it did in the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

In two recent coronavirus testing studies done in California, one set of volunteer participants was drawn from a random sample of email addresses and telephone. The second set of participants was obtained through advertising on Facebook. The first people to volunteer came from wealthy neighbourhoods.

Even though the population of New York State is 19.4 million (55% white, 15% black) and that of the State of Nebraska is 1.93 million (86% white, 4% black), NY received a paltry $12,000 in federal aid per infected case while Nebraska received more than $380,000. Likewise, in Europe, Hungary and Poland (both countries have been actively gutting democratic institutions over the past two years) which have recorded around 1,143 and 545 coronavirus deaths respectively, received 48 million Euros in assistance, whereas Italy and Spain, which have more than 60,000 deaths between them, received 6.5 million Euros.

As an article in the Guardian newspaper nicely put it, Using Big Tech to tackle coronavirus risks swapping one lockdown for another. To which I might add, physical lockdown is only temporary and will end, sooner or later, but the virtual lockdown never will.

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Darwinism in full play as the pandemic rages - Deccan Herald

Behe Vindicated Again: Sherpas Climb Everest Easier, Because Darwin Devolves – Discovery Institute

How can Tibetans survive high altitudes that leave lowlanders gasping? The answer is found in broken genes. A new paper on the Tibetan genome vindicates what Michael Behe said in Darwin Devolves: evolution breaks things, but sometimes, like in the case of polar bears, the result can allow organisms to thrive in specific environments. Yes, this follows on the heels of last weeks Behe vindication; see here.

A team of 16 scientists, writing in PNAS, sought to understand the genetic basis for Tibetan high-altitude adaptation in more detail. Tibetans and Nepalese, many of whom serve as guides for lowlanders wanting to conquer Mount Everest, routinely carry heavy burdens at altitudes above 14,000 feet, the average elevation on the Tibetan plateau. In its entry on Sherpa people, Wikipedia notes,

Many Sherpa are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local area. They were immeasurably valuable to early explorers of the Himalayan region, serving as guides at the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region, particularly for expeditions to climb Mount Everest. Today, the term is often used by foreigners to refer to almost any guide or climbing supporter hired for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas, regardless of their ethnicity. Because of this usage, the term has become a slang byword for a guide or mentor in other situations. Sherpas are renowned in the international climbing and mountaineering community for their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes. [Emphasis added.]

This sounds like a study in the evolution of higher fitness. Wikipedia goes on to say,

Released in 2010 by U.C. Berkeley, a study identified more than 30 genetic factors that make Tibetans bodies well-suited for high-altitudes, including EPAS1, referred to as the super-athlete gene which regulates the bodys production of hemoglobin, allowing for greater efficiency in the use of oxygen.

The news from UC Berkeley about the paper, however, does not specify any random mutation that causes super-athletes to be born in the competition for survival, but rather that the super-athlete gene was named because some variants of the gene are associated with improved athletic performance. Association is not causation. Those variants already existed in the human genome. Wikipedias misleading statement that 30 genetic factors that make Tibetans bodies well-suited needs to be qualified:

The genome-wide comparison, performed by evolutionary biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, uncovered more than 30 genes with DNA mutations that have become more prevalent in Tibetans than Han Chinese, nearly half of which are related to how the body uses oxygen. One mutation in particular spread from fewer than 10 percent of the Han Chinese to nearly 90 percent of all Tibetans.

Nowhere in the two papers published in this 2010 study did the authors establish that beneficial mutation(s) and positive natural selection actually conferred the high-altitude adaptation.1,2 Their measures of positive selection are inferences relying on the assumption, if a gene persists, it must be under positive selection whether or not it shows any benefit to the organism. Even if an adaptation is demonstrated, the variations show association, not causation. For instance:

It is plausible that the diminished Hb levels found in Tibetans offset complications associated with sustained high Hb levels (for instance, hyperviscosity) seen in non-Tibetans exposed to high-altitude conditions. Alternatively, decreased Hb levels could be a side effect of other phenotypes that are the actual targets of natural selection.

The second paper2 touts the EPAS1 gene as the strongest case for positive selection, but they qualify that claim with, Selection may have acted directly on this variant, or another linked noncoding variant, to influence the regulation of EPAS1. Consider this nebulous conclusion:

EPAS1 may therefore represent the strongest instance of natural selection documented in a human population, and variation at this gene appears to have had important consequences for human survival and/or reproduction in the Tibetan region.

The authors write with escape clauses like this, denying knowledge of actual targets of natural selection, hoping that further research will confirm them someday.

Does this research actually help Darwinism? All human beings are interfertile, members of a single species! There is no origin of species going on. We already know that some people are born with better athletic ability than others. The 2010 study appears to speak of the sorting out of existing alleles among populations of people, some of which worked out well for those living at high altitudes. Moreover, this sorting occurred within the past 3,000 years. Odd, isnt it, how human families tend to move together and marry within the group.

Positive selection for fitness, though, is not what the current paper in PNAS found.3 In Tibetan PHD2, an allele with loss-of-function properties, a team led by Daisheng Song found two broken genes that propped each other up.

Genome-wide studies have consistently identified compelling genetic signatures of natural selection in two genes of the Hypoxia Inducible Factor pathway, PHD2 and HIF2A. The product of the former induces the degradation of the product of the latter. Key issues regarding Tibetan PHD2 are whether it is a gain-of-function or loss-of-function allele, and how it might contribute to high-altitude adaptation. Tibetan PHD2 possesses two amino acid changes, D4E and C127S. We previously showed that in vitro, Tibetan PHD2 is defective in its interaction with p23, a cochaperone of the HSP90 pathway, and we proposed that Tibetan PHD2 is a loss-of-function allele. Here, we report that additional PHD2 mutations at or near Asp-4 or Cys-127 impair interaction with p23 in vitro. We find that mice with the Tibetan Phd2 allele display augmented hypoxic ventilatory response, supporting this loss-of-function proposal.

How can two defective genes confer a benefit to Tibetans, protecting them from hypoxia? Picture two walls in a construction project that fall in such a way as to prop each other up, protecting workers underneath from rain. Another analogy might be a leak in a gas line that is compensated for by a slowdown in the gas supply line by an accidental shunt that diverts more of it elsewhere. Thats a bit like this situation.

We propose that Tibetans possess genetic alterations that both activate and inhibit selective outputs of the HIF pathway to facilitate successful adaptation to the chronic hypoxia of high altitude.

The two broken genes end up facilitating the intake of oxygen in the lungs. At elevations that have only 60 percent of the oxygen present at sea level, that is beneficial to someone with the mutations.

Its a bit like the story of polar bear evolution in Michael Behes book, Darwin Devolves. Broken genes conferred on polar bears a better capacity to eat fat and tolerate cold, which has worked well for them in Arctic regions, where fatty seal meat is more abundant than berries that brown bears eat. Natural selection did not create these genes; mutations broke them. Sometimes things work out in certain environments, like Behes proverbial car that gets better gas mileage without the hood and rear seat when gas mileage is the most important concern at the time.

Nowhere do the authors argue for a gain-of-function genetic mutation. There is no mention of positive selection. In fact, the authors undermine earlier claims, saying that loss of function is the primary reason the Tibetans gained an advantage.

Previous studies examining Phd2 loss of function due to either point mutations in or genetic deletion of the Phd2 gene have consistently shown that Phd2 loss of function is associated with increases in either HVR or hypoxia-induced tidal volume, respiratory frequency, or minute ventilation, or a combination of these. These findings therefore support the notion that the Tibetan Phd2 allele is a loss-of-function allele, consistent with the biochemical studies demonstrating impaired interaction of Tibetan PHD2 with p23.

The loss of function in PHD2 is hypomorphic; in other words, it makes the protein weaker but not completely inactive. Intriguingly, another loss-of-function mutation helps compensate for the first one by minimizing damage that would otherwise result from the first break.

We propose that the Tibetan PHD2 allele is a hypomorphic loss-of-function allele that leads to an augmented HVR, while the Tibetan HIF2A allele is a loss-of-function allele that provides protection against pulmonary hypertension and erythrocytosis (Fig. 5C). Lowlanders have a robust HVR [hypoxic ventilatory response], but after long-term acclimatization to high altitude, their HVR declines. Tibetans have an augmented HVR that approaches the ancestral response of lowlanders, which may allow them to maintain high oxygen delivery from the lungs. In contrast to Tibetans, Andeans exhibit a blunted HVR. Thus, this study provides evidence that Tibetans possess a distinct combination of PHD2 and HIF2A alleles that reconfigures the HIF pathway in a manner that facilitates adaptation to the chronic hypoxia of high altitude.

Mistakes just work out sometimes.

Tibetans display augmented hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR), resistance to pulmonary hypertension, and relatively low hemoglobin (Hb) levels. These are considered to be adaptive. For example, the resistance to pulmonary hypertension lessens the risk of right heart failure, while the relatively low Hb levels (which approach that of lowlanders) may decrease the risk of thrombotic events associated with blood hyperviscosity. The augmented HVR can facilitate the intake of oxygen into the lungs.

Although this worked out for Tibetans, one could argue that fully functioning genes are there for a purpose, perhaps to warn humans not to migrate up so high on mountains, which is not their ideal habitat. Normally, human physiology responds by making them gasp for air and get sick.

Thus, the two genes conventionally used to illustrate adaptation by natural selection in Tibetans, PHD2 and HIF2A, are both loss-of-function genes. This reinforces Behes thesis that Darwin devolves by breaking existing genetic information. Darwin needs his magic wand of natural selection to create novelty and bring innovation to the world. He wont get very far by breaking things. Sherpas might be able to help him get up Mount Everest, but not Mount Improbable.

Photo: Climbers on Mount Everest, by Lloyd Smith, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Behe Vindicated Again: Sherpas Climb Everest Easier, Because Darwin Devolves - Discovery Institute

52 ideas that changed the world – 49. Ecology – The Week (UK)

In this series, The Week looks at the ideas and innovations that permanently changed the way we see the world. This week, the spotlight is on ecology:

Ecology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of interactions between natural systems.

One core goal of ecology is to understand the distribution and abundance of living things in the physical environment, saysAmerican non-profit organisation theKhan Academy.It investigates the patterns in nature [that] are driven by interactions among organisms as well as between organisms and their physical environment.

Ecology is concerned with two main factors - biotic, which is living-organism-related, and abiotic, which considers nonliving or physical systems.

Ecology developed as a prominent strand of scientific investigation only in the second half of the 20th century, but ecological thinking has been around for millennia, says the Environment and Ecology website.

A form of ecology started with the Ancient Greeks, around 2,400 years ago. Theophrastus, a friend and associate of Aristotle, first described the interrelationships between organisms and their environment, according to theEncyclopedia Britannica.

Modern ecology arguably started with the publication of The Oeconomy of Nature by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus in 1749.Linnaeus made the argument that if one looks closely at nature it is clear that even the simplest organisms have an important role to play in this natural economy; that no living thing is useless, says Encyclopedia.com.

German explorer and scientist Alexander von Humboldt advanced these beliefs, devising the theory that nothing in nature could be studied in isolation and all phenomena were connected.

But it is Darwin whose work most significantly expanded the field of ecology, and it is often held that the roots of scientific ecology may be traced back to Darwin, says Environment and Ecology.

On the Origin of Species is full of observations and proposed mechanisms that clearly fit within the boundaries of modern ecology and the term ecology was coined in 1866 by a strong proponent of Darwinism, Ernst Haeckel.

The 20th century brought huge leaps forward in the scientific study of plants and their environments, through groups of botanists in the US and in Europe.

The European botanists concerned themselves with the study of the composition, structure, and distribution of plant communities. The American botanists studied the development of plant communities, or succession, says Encyclopedia Britannica.

The British ecologist and conservationist Arthur Tansley developed the view that since plants exist in communities the ecologist should be concerned with the structure of communities, or plant sociology, says Oxford Reference.

Tansley then coined the term ecosystem in 1935, recognising that it was not possible to consider organisms without considering their physical environment.

Ecosystem ecology became one of the principal forces in ecology in the 1960s and 1970s and the basis of a new theoretical ecology termed systems ecology, says Encyclopedia.com.

Human ecology has become a distinct and important field of study in recent years, as more weight is given to the consideration that humans are a major ecological factor.

For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the weeks news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today

Ecology helps us understand the environment and humans relationship with it, something that is vital for food production, maintaining clean air and water, and sustaining biodiversity in a changing climate, says the British Ecological Society.

The human ecological impacts of climate change are key to understanding the future of the human species, and harnessing that understanding could be critical for human longevity, adds Dr Roger Rosenblatt in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Everything that we have accomplished in the fields of medicine and public health could be undermined if we do not pay attention to these rapid environmental changes, says Rosenblatt. By staying engaged in the natural world, we can help to prevent the collapse of the biological systems upon which we all depend.

Ecological research can also feed into the prevention of human disease. Earlier this month, scientists in Kenyadiscovered a microbe carried by some mosquitos that prevents the insects from being infected with malaria parasites - and by extension, from transmitting the deadly disease to humans.

As well as its importance to human survival, understanding ecology is important to nature conservation and the survival of a broad range of species.

Ecology allows us to understand the effects our actions have on our environment, says Conserve Energy Future.

With this information, it helps guide conservation efforts by first showing the primary means by which the problems we experience within our environment begin and by following this identification process, it shows us where our efforts would have the biggest effect.

Ecology is the foundation of how we can use Earths resources in ways that leave the environment healthy for future generations, says the Ecological Society of America.

Without ecological understanding, we could not protect humans, animals, the environment - it matters now and will continue to matter.

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52 ideas that changed the world - 49. Ecology - The Week (UK)

Sickle Cell, Darwinism, and COVID-19: Is My Life Worth Less Than… – Sickle Cell Anemia News

Survival of the fittest is a phrase I have come to loathe. This manner of thinking is particularly appalling to hear as a sickle cell patient. I have heard the phrase more frequently lately, against the backdrop of the current COVID-19 pandemic. But what does it mean?

Historically, the phrase was derived from Darwinian evolutionary theory and speaks to the process of natural selection. Natural selection states that characteristics advantageous to the survival of a species are passed down to future generations at the expense of less dominant characteristics that eventually die out.

Ironically, it has been theorized that the origins of sickle cell disease stem from natural selection. According to the theory, long ago, malaria crippled Africa and the Middle East, and the human bodys response was to adapt to its environment by mutating to protect itself.

People who have this protective mutated gene are described as having sickle cell trait. For the most part, sickle cell trait can be harmless, and members of this group can live relatively normal lives. (And yes, after all these years they are still less inclined to develop malaria.)

But when two people with these mutated genes have children, each pregnancy has a 25% chance of the child developing sickle cell disease.

With this in mind, it is evident that we sickle cell patients did not make ourselves sick. So, you can understand our frustration when people use Darwinism to imply that because we have weakened immune systems, our lives are somehow lesser in value than others. Even in the scenario in which someone contracts an illness due to their lifestyle choices, I think it is wrong to devalue their humanity with such rhetoric.

The U.K.s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic was to pursue herd immunity, a strategy admitted to back in March by the governments top scientific adviser. Yes, you read that correctly. For an at-risk patient like me, the initial response seemed to be, If we enable the virus to spread, large parts of the population will develop an immunity to it. Yes, some people will die, but it will only be a small number.

Additionally, the initial global narrative about the virus that causes COVID-19 was that it is like the common flu, with mortality linked mostly to the immunocompromised and the elderly. The belief that large segments of the population would be unaffected meant that those who are at risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 were left feeling as if they are disposable.

Why should I, and others like me, have our humanity diminished because of circumstances we have no control of? As if that werent bad enough, these comments allowed complacency to settle in peoples minds.

It soon became apparent that many of these assumptions were wrong. We all need oxygen to live, not just the elderly and the immunocompromised. Our respiratory systems work to ensure our bodies receive adequate oxygen. The COVID-19 virus attacks the respiratory tract.

Additionally, different things can affect the performance of the immune system, such as diet, weight, sleep patterns, and stress.

Consequently, it makes sense that everyone should be taking the new coronavirus seriously, and we should have been doing so from the start. Children and healthy adults have died from COVID-19, and we also have seen cases of elderly patients recovering fully from the disease.

In the U.K., a TV advertisement emphasizes that COVID-19 is potentially life-threatening to anyone who contracts it, since so little is known about the diseases trajectory in patients. The advertisement adds that anyone can catch and spread the coronavirus.

This new messaging is vital, and I hope similar warnings are being communicated globally. But sadly, it seems that it may take a while before the initial misguided narrative of COVID-19 is completely corrected.

Going forward, I hope everyone will think twice before making sweeping statements about viral outbreaks. I also hope that the humanity of those who are immunocompromised or any group of people is never devalued in such a dreadful manner again.


Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.

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Sickle Cell, Darwinism, and COVID-19: Is My Life Worth Less Than... - Sickle Cell Anemia News

What Is Darwinism? – ThoughtCo

Charles Darwin is known as the "Father of Evolution" for being the first person to publish his theory not only describing that evolution was a change in species over time but also put together a mechanism for how it works (called natural selection). There is arguably no other evolutionary scholar as well known and revered as Darwin. In fact, the term "Darwinism" has come to be synonymous with the Theory of Evolution, but what really is meant when people say the word Darwinism? And more importantly, what does Darwinism NOT mean?

Darwinism, when it was first put into the lexicon by Thomas Huxley in 1860, was only meant to describe the belief that species change over time. In the most basic of terms, Darwinism became synonymous with Charles Darwin's explanation of evolution and, to an extent, his description of natural selection. These ideas, first published in his arguably most famous book On the Origin of Species, were direct and have stood the test of time. So, originally, Darwinism only included the fact that species change over time due to nature selecting the most favorable adaptations within the population. These individuals with better adaptations lived long enough to reproduce and pass those traits down to the next generation, ensuring the species' survival.

While many scholars insist this should be the extent of information that the word Darwinism should encompass, it has somewhat evolved itself over time as the Theory of Evolution itself also changed when more data and information became readily available. For instance, Darwin did not know anything about Genetics as it wasn't until after his death that Gregor Mendel did his work with his pea plants and published the data. Many other scientists proposed alternative mechanisms for evolution during a time which became known as neo-Darwinism. However, none of these mechanisms held up over time and Charles Darwin's original assertions were restored as the correct and leading Theory of Evolution. Now, the Modern Synthesis of the Evolutionary Theory is sometimes described using the term "Darwinism", but this is somewhat misleading since it includes not only Genetics but also other topics not explored by Darwin like microevolution via DNA mutations and other molecular biological tenets.

In the United States, Darwinism has taken on a different meaning to the general public. In fact, opponents to the Theory of Evolution have taken the term Darwinism and created a false definition of the word that brings up a negative connotation for many who hear it. The strict Creationists have taken the word hostage and created a new meaning which is often perpetuated by those in the media and others who do not truly understand the real meaning of the word. These anti-evolutionists have taken the word Darwinism to not only mean a change in species over time but have lumped in the origin of life along with it. Darwin did not assert any sort of hypothesis on how life on Earth began in any of his writings and only could describe what he had studied and had evidence to back up. Creationists and other anti-evolutionary parties either misunderstood the term Darwinism or purposefully hijacked it to make it more negative. The term has even been used to describe the origin of the universe by some extremists, which is way beyond the realm of anything Darwin would have made a conjecture on at any time in his life.

In other countries around the world, however, this false definition is not present. In fact, in the United Kingdom where Darwin did most of his work, it is a celebrated and understood term that is commonly used instead of the Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection. There is no ambiguity of the term there and it is used correctly by scientists, the media, and the general public every day.

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What Is Darwinism? - ThoughtCo

‘Kiss the Son, lest He be angry’ | Columns – Weatherford Democrat

The title is taken from Psalm 2:12. The Psalmist gave this directive considering the reality of the sovereignty of God. He asked a question, which is as relevant today as it was when the Psalmist wrote it. Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? (Psalm 2:1)

I confess that over the recent weeks I have been angry, first with myself, then with those who profess to know the truth and live ignoring it. I ask, Have I failed to adequately teach Gods people about biblical worship? There appears to be little understanding of our need to gather for worship and whom we worship.

Our spiritual dilemma of faithfulness to Gods word versus civil directives appears to have clouded our, even my, thinking. Of course, we dont want to put others at risk for most activities, that is, except those physical needs considered essential.

The answer: confess my sins daily and constantly remind myself of the God whom we love. The one to whom we bow before in worship, our Redeemer who is the King and Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ!

I believe that our fundamental problem is our desire to be autonomous. We think that we are the center of the universe and certainly the most important thing is our physical health. Charles Darwin, for example sought to eliminate mans need of the Creator God. His theory was purposed in proving that all creation came about through chance and natural selection. He supposed that if his theory of evolution was true then man could assume the place of God.

Most have rejected pure Darwinism. Over the years there have been many caveats made to Darwins original theory. As we have learned more about Gods wonderful and marvelous Creation, pseudo intellectuals have modified Darwins theory to accommodate the observed intricacies of our Universe.

Darwin wrote of one of the weaknesses of his theory. He admitted that the theory of evolution could not explain the complexities of the human eye. He was sure that as technology advanced, those complexities would eventually be explained in evolutionary terms. Today the functions of the human eye are known but the eyes ability to do all that it can still points to the sovereign purpose of God. As we learn more about ourselves and the world around us, Psalm 139:14a gives us great assurance that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by a sovereign Creator.

Still men suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18) This is precisely the Psalmists point in Psalm 2. Faced with our true place as creatures before a sovereign Creator, we seek to be god and think that we can make ourselves safe. Especially during times such as these, Christians must remind themselves that God is sovereign. He is sovereign over everything. There is nothing that comes to pass that He hasnt ordained. But He is not the author of evil.

Gods word reveals the reality of living in Christ in all circumstances. Psalm 2: 11-12, Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way. For his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Serving the Lord begins with worship. Worship is humble submission to God. The New Testament calls believers to offer themselves as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God because that is our reasonable worship Romans 12:1. I pray that the Church will seek Gods deliverance so that we might again gather to worship and praise Him as He has commanded.

The Psalmist declared what was at stake for failure to know the truth. He said that Jesus anger, judgment and wrath would be experienced by those who persist in thinking themselves to be God. The most evident testimony that one acknowledges Christ before men is to bow before Him in worship.

This is not news. Yet, we have allowed the world to shape our behavior. Weve succumbed too often to the elevated worth of those who rule over us rather than govern us as we have elected them to do.

Jesus said to fear the one who can destroy both our bodies and souls in hell. Dont be deceived, Jesus is the Sovereign Lord. Fear Him trusting in His deliverance. He will have the final say. Christian, persevere in being a true disciple of Jesus. Remain in His word. Kiss the Son!

Lou Tiscione is the pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church.

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'Kiss the Son, lest He be angry' | Columns - Weatherford Democrat

Darwinism: Survival without Purpose | The Institute for …

Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life...life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA...life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.1 --Richard Dawkins

Evolution is "deceptively simple yet utterly profound in its implications,"2 the first of which is that living creatures "differ from one another, and those variations arise at random, without a plan or purpose."3 Evolution must be without plan or purpose because its core tenet is the natural selection of the fittest, produced by random copying errors called mutations. Darwin "was keenly aware that admitting any purposefulness whatsoever to the question of the origin of species would put his theory of natural selection on a very slippery slope."4 Pulitzer Prize author Edward Humes wrote that the fact of evolution was obvious but "few could see it, so trapped were they by the humandesire to find design and purpose in the world." He concluded:

Darwin's brilliance was in seeing beyond the appearance of design, and understanding the purposeless, merciless process of natural selection, of life and death in the wild, and how it culled all but the most successful organisms from the tree of life, thereby creating the illusion that a master intellect had designed the world. But close inspection of the watchlike "perfection" of honeybees' combs or ant trailsreveals that they are a product of random, repetitive, unconscious behaviors, not conscious design.5

The fact that evolution teaches that life has no purpose beyond perpetuating its own survival is not lost on teachers. One testified that teaching evolution "impacted their consciences" because it moved teachers away from the "idea that they were born for a purpose something completely counter to their mindset and beliefs."6

In a study on why children resist accepting evolution, Yale psychologists Bloom and Weisberg concluded that the evolutionary way of viewing the world, which the authors call "promiscuous teleology," makes it difficult for them to accept evolution. Children "naturally see the world in terms of design and purpose."7 The ultimate purposelessness of evolution, and thus of the life that it produces, was eloquently expressed by Professor Lawrence Krauss as follows: "We're just a bit of pollution. If you got rid of usthe universe would be largely the same. We're completely irrelevant."8

The Textbooks

To determine what schools are teaching about religious questions such as the purpose of life, I surveyed current science textbooks and found that they tend to teach the view that evolution is both nihilistic and atheistic. One of today's most widely-used textbooks stated that "evolution works without either plan or purpose. Evolution is random and undirected."9 Another text by the same authors added that Darwin knew his theory "required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its byproducts." The authors continued:

Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless--a process in which...nature ruthlessly eliminates the unfit. Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.10

Another text taught that humans are just "a tiny, largely fortuitous, and late-arising twig on the enormously arborescent bush of life" and the belief that a "progressive, guiding force, consistently pushing evolution to move in a single direction" is now known to be "misguided."11 Many texts teach that evolution is purposeless and has no goal except to achieve brute survival: the "idea that evolution is not directed towards a final goal or state has been more difficult for many people to accept than the process of evolution itself."12 One major text openly teaches that humans were created by a blind, deaf, and dumb watchmaker--namely natural selection, which is "totally blind to the future."

Humans...came from the same evolutionary source as every other species. It is natural selection of selfish genes that has given us our bodies and our brains. Natural selectionexplainsthe whole of life, the diversity of life, the complexity of life, |and| the apparent design in life."13

The Implications

Many texts are very open about the implications of Darwinism for theism. One teaches that Darwin's immeasurably important contribution to science was to show that, despite life's apparent evidence of design and purpose, mechanistic causes explain all biological phenomena. The text adds that by coupling "undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous."14 The author concludes by noting that "it was Darwin's theory of Evolution that provided a crucial plank to the platform of mechanisms and materialismthat has been the stage of most western thought."15 Another text even stated directly that humans were created by a random process, not a loving, purposeful God, and:

The real difficulty in accepting Darwin's theory has always been that it seems to diminish our significance. |Evolution| asked us to accept the proposition that, like all other organisms, we too are the products of a random process that, as far as science can show, we are not created for any special purpose or as part of any universal design.16

These texts are all clearly teaching religious ideas, not science. An excellent example is a text that openly ruled out not only theistic evolution, but any role for God in nature, and demonstrated that Darwinism threatened theism by showing that humans and all life "could be explained by natural selection without the intervention of a god." Evolutionary "randomness and uncertainty had replaced a deity having conscious, purposeful, human characteristics."

The Darwinian view that present-type organisms were not created spontaneously but formed in a succession of selective events that occurred in the past, contradicted the common religious view that there could be no design, biological or otherwise, without an intelligent designer. In this scheme a god of design and purpose is not necessary. Religion has been bolstered by the comforting idea that humanity was created in the image of a god to rule over the world and its creatures. Religion provided emotional solace, a set of ethical and moral values. Nevertheless, faith in religious dogma has been eroded by natural explanations of its mysteries. The positions of the creationists and the scientific world appear irreconcilable."17

Darwin himself taught a totally atheistic, naturalistic view of origins. He even once said, "I would give nothing for the theory of natural selection if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent."18 John Alcock, an evolutionary biologist, therefore concluded that "we exist solely to propagate the genes within us."19

Leading Darwin scholar Janet Browne makes it very clear that Darwin's goal was the "arduous task of reorienting the way Victorians looked at nature." To do this Darwin had to convince the world that "ideas about a benevolent, nearly perfect natural world" and those that believe "beauty was given to things for a purpose, were wrong--that the idea of a loving God who created all living things and brought men and women into existence wasa fable."

The worldsteeped in moral meaning which helped mankind seek out higher goals in life, was not Darwin's. Darwin's view of nature was dark--black. Where most men and women generally believed in some kind of design in nature--some kind of plan and order--and felt a deep-seated, mostly inexpressible belief that their existence had meaning, Darwin wanted them to see all life as empty of any divine purpose.20

Darwin knew how difficult it was to abandon such a view, but realized that for evolution to work, nature must ultimately be "governed entirely by chance." Browne concludes:

The pleasant outward face of nature was precisely that--only an outward face. Underneath was perpetual struggle, species against species, individual against individual. Life was ruled by death...destruction was the key to reproductive success. All the theological meaning was thus stripped out by Darwin and replaced by the concept of competition. All the telos, the purpose, on which natural theologians based their ideas of perfect adaptation was redirected into Malthusian--Darwinian--struggle. What most people saw as God-given design he saw as mere adaptations to circumstance, adaptations that were meaningless except for the way in which they helped an animal or plant to survive.21

Neo-Darwinist Richard Dawkins recognized the purposelessness of such a system:

In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.22

How widely is this view held by scientists? One study of 149 leading biologists found that 89.9 percent believed that evolution has no ultimate purpose or goal except survival, and we are just a cosmic accident existing at the whim of time and chance. A mere six percent believed that evolution has a purpose.23 Almost all of those who believed that evolution had no purpose were atheists. This is only one example that Sommers and Rosenberg call the "destructive power of Darwinian theory."24

Purpose and Christianity

Christianity teaches that God made the universe as a home for humans. If the universe evolved purely by natural means, then it just exists and any "purpose" for its existence can only be that which humans themselves attribute to it. But our own experience and intellectual attainments argue against this. The similarity of human-constructed machines and the orderly functioning of the universe is the basis of the design argument. Just as a machine requires a designer and a builder, so too the universe that we see requires a designer and a builder.

Determining the purpose of something depends on the observer's worldview. To a nontheist the question "What is the purpose of a living organism's structure?" means only "How does this structure aid survival?" Eyesight and legs would therefore have nothing to do with enjoyment of life; they are merely an unintended byproduct of evolution. Biologists consistently explain everything from coloration to sexual habits solely on the basis of survival. Orthodox neo-Darwinism views everything as either an unfortunate or a fortuitous event resulting from the outworking of natural law and random, naturally-selected mutations. Conversely, creationists interpret all reality according to beliefs about God's purpose for humans. Evolutionists can usually explain even contradictory behavior, but creationists look beyond this and try to determine what role it plays in God's plan.


Orthodox evolution teaches that the living world has no plan or purpose except survival, is random, undirected, and heartless. Humans live in a world that cares nothing for us, our minds are simply masses of meat, and no divine plan exists to guide us. These teachings are hardly neutral, but rather openly teach religion--the religion of atheism and nihilism. The courts have consistently approved teaching this anti-Christian religion in public schools and have blocked all attempts to neutralize these clearly religious ideas.

As the Word of God states, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).


* Dr. Bergman is Professor of Biology at Northwest State College in Ohio.

Cite this article: Bergman, J. 2007. Darwinism: Survival without Purpose. Acts & Facts. 36 (11): 10.

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Darwinism: Survival without Purpose | The Institute for ...

As Netanyahu and Gantz prepare for unity, social Darwinism is at the gates – Haaretz

Worse than the enormous waste of establishing a cabinet with 34 ministers is the fear that this crazy idea signals the greatest danger facing Israel at this time: Social Darwinism. The message being sent by what will apparently be the government coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a rotation with Benny Gantz is that in order to form a stable government you must hand out jobs, while inflating the cabinet to an unprecedented size.

All this is going on at the height of a sudden economic crisis that has increased the number of unemployed from 150,000 to one million in less than a month. This is an unemployment rate of 23 percent, which Israel has never come anywhere near even in the times of its greatest crises. Add to this hundreds of thousands of self-employed and freelance workers who have lost their livelihoods.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 72

The public needs a functioning, efficient and effective government at this moment, and leadership that it can trust. The proliferation of government ministries entails heavy costs of hundreds of millions of shekels a year and even larger indirect and hidden costs because of the bureaucracy and complications it leads to. The cabinet may have announced an economic aid plan costing 80 billion shekels ($22.3 billion), but its real test will be in the effectiveness in which this money trickles into the economy and in whether it reaches the right places.

The pressures on the new government will be incredible. There is almost no household or business that has not suffered from the crisis. But there are casualties in critical, serious, moderate and mild condition. There is serious concern that we will not be able to identify which is which and provide them with an effective response with a government that has expanded to its largest size ever. In fact, it is likely this will cause the very opposite and send the message that the government is worrying about jobs for 34 ministers and the politicians and their desires come before everything else. That without satisfying them first no government can be formed and no political stability can be reached.

This might be true in calmer times, but at the height of a severe economic crisis it is a double-edged sword. A cabinet of 34 ministers testifies to our political leaders being totally cut off from reality and their ignoring the fundamental principles needed to get through this crisis period: Trust, solidarity, responsibility for one another, restraint and serving as an example. Anyone who thinks a demand for a slimmed down government is just populism does not understand the depths of the crisis and the heavy price the public is being asked to pay for it. It is not just those who are infected by the virus, but also those who will be forced to pay the economic and social price of this crisis.

A cabinet of 34 ministers sends this message to the public: We are taking care of ourselves first and dont care about you. In practice, it is license for every interest group to use its power to extort and grab what they can. It is a time-tested recipe to create social chaos, increase inequality and trample the weak.

After the government is formed and a state budget is created, the entire public will feel the cost of the crisis. The government will have to find means to fund and create sources of growth that will enable the economy to recover. It will face a great number of dilemmas: Who to help and who not, who to save and who to let fall, from whom to take and to whom to give.

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When Netanyahu and Gantz are preparing the ground for an oversized cabinet, which places the self-esteem, status and power of the politicians before anything else, they are sowing the seeds of the catastrophe of the next campaign: Extortion by interest groups, who will do everything possible to ensure that they are not the ones paying the price for the economic crisis.

A lot of victims will fall in this battle and they will put Israeli solidarity, which emerges sometimes during security crises, to the test. But here the cost will be much heavier, and there is no physical enemy that can serve to unite the ranks. Those who think that the proliferation of cabinet ministers guarantees political stability will discover that social Darwinism could very well develop here and undermine it. It is still not too late to settle for a slimmed down government of 18 ministers.

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As Netanyahu and Gantz prepare for unity, social Darwinism is at the gates - Haaretz

Culling the old & weak: Eugenics and social Darwinism rear their ugly heads in the Covid-19 pandemic – RT

The coronavirus pandemic has seen some great and heroic acts of humanity, but weve also seen the re-emergence and mainstreaming of the morally repugnant survival of the fittest ideology.

One thing about a health crisis, it sorts out the humane from the inhumane. Those who think all lives are equally precious from those who seem to think that some lives count more and that the weak are a burden who have to be sacrificed so the strong can continue to dominate.

Probably the most repulsive take Ive heard so far on Corona is the one which goes: What are we having these lockdowns and social distancing for? Its only or predominantly the old and already ill who are dying from Covid-19 and they didnt have too long to live anyway.Writing for the Critic, UK commentator Toby Young, who has previously advocated what he called progressive eugenics, said that spending 350bn to prolong the lives of a few hundred thousand mostly elderly people is an irresponsible use of taxpayers money.

What, I wonder, does he regard as a responsible use of taxpayers money? Invading Iraq? Bombing Libya? Bailing out the bankers? And how much monetary worth would he put on the lives of a few hundred thousand mostly elderly people? The Oscar Wilde epigram about the man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing springs readily to mind.

Young complains that the UKs so-called lockdown (it isnt actually a proper one because flights from Covid-19 hotspots are still coming in unchecked) is extending the lives of 370,000 people by an average of one-and-a-half-years. He wants the lockdown to end straight after Easter, and if this leads to a surge in Covid-19 cases and the NHS being overwhelmed, well, thats ok because the majority of people whose lives could have been saved only have one or two years left and those will not be good years.

I wonder if Young has elderly parents or grandparents alive, and if so, what they think of his views?

Youngs piece quite rightly was roundly attacked on social media, but hes not the only one whos been pushing this odious, anti-human line. On March 3, in the Daily Telegraph, financial writer Jeremy Warner opined: Not to put too fine a point on it, from an entirely disinterested economic perspective, COVID-19 might even prove mildly beneficial in the long-term by disproportionately culling elderly dependants.

Got that? As one tweeter put it: Weve gone from only the vulnerable will die to its good that the vulnerable will die. How absolutely sickening.

Even Establishment-licensed, Inside the Tent over-70s have joined in on the psy-ops to make the elderly feel guilty for wanting to stay alive in the Age of Corona. What we have to worry about is being a dead-weight on the NHS, the author and former newspaper editor Max Hastings said on the radio. We must try and promote getting economic activity going again. If we the elders, must pay an additional price for this then so be it.

In similar the elderly should be sacrificed vein, Sir David King, the Blair/Brown governments former chief scientific adviser (and former senior scientific adviser to UBS Bank), urged over-90s to stay away from hospitals to avoid overburdening the NHS.

Leaving aside the shocking callousness of such a statement, did it not occur to King that the 90-year-olds whose lives he so loftily dismisses have probably paid between them millions if not billions in their lifetime, through taxes and National Insurance contributions, to the NHS?Were being encouraged to think that healthcare needs to be rationed in the Age of Corona, but theres more than enough money in Britain to make sure that every patient is treated equally, regardless of their age. The real scandal is not 90-year-olds clogging up hospitals but the fact that in November 2019, NHS beds were at a record low in England. The Guardian reported that 17,230 beds had been cut from the 144,455 that existed in April-June 2010, just before the austerity-imposing Conservative/Lib Dem coalition came to power.

Weve seen bed cuts at a time when we should have seen bed increases. But instead of holding the politicians to account for underfunding the health service, and their failure to plan or prepare in any way for a pandemic, certain commentators want us to blame the most vulnerable for being a burden.

Its not just the very old who the new social Darwinists (now billed euphemistically as contrarians or free thinkers) are happy to throw under the bus. Its also those who have underlying health conditions. Coronavirus is taking a high percentage of these people, were told, so whats the big fuss? They were sick anyway! But people with underlying health conditions can live meaningful, quality lives for a long time. I personally know of one person who was told in 1944 that he had only six months to live because of an acute heart problem. Hes still alive in 2020.

The idea that in a pandemic, the lives of those with underlying health conditions are dispensable or worth less than those without underlying health conditions is again totally repugnant to anyone in possession of a moral compass.

Most people are rightly appalled by the utterly heartless eugenicist and social Darwinistic ideology and thought theyd seen the end of it several decades ago. But its back and mainstreamed and in the long run it arguably poses as big a threat to society as the wretched coronavirus itself.

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Culling the old & weak: Eugenics and social Darwinism rear their ugly heads in the Covid-19 pandemic - RT