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August 14, 2008



Extremely well-researched and cogently argued. It's doomed to be ignored by those who are so adamantly opposed to science.


All that may be true.

But has it ever occurred to you folks that, when you argue with someone, you must either argue within their assumptions? You can't communicate logic to someone until you get past the assumptions you DON'T have in common, and work your way back to the ones you DO. Otherwise, arguments are necessarily invalid ones, and you might just as well skip the logic and either deceive them with emotional rhetoric or just shoot them.

In the case of the creation literalists: They trust God and think of themselves as orthodox Christians.

So why not just bring up that *prior* to the canonization of the New Testament, the then-greatest living Christian theologian (St. Augustine of Hippo) had already been teaching that the creation story is not intended *by the author* to be taken literally, especially the time-frames!

Augustine had already written that down by 400 A.D. (or thereabouts). And his argument makes it clear that even Jewish rabbis in Jesus' time and earlier were probably treating the creation story as somewhat figurative.

The problem with these literalists is not that they're too orthodox. It's that they're unorthodox, adding new meaning to pages about which orthodoxy had settled on a less-literal meaning 1,600+ years ago.

Taking it the way these young-earth yahoos take it is as disrespectful to the text as, say, taking Paul's letter to the Ephesians to be an allegorical folk-tale.


Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man itself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
-- Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (2nd ed., 1882) p. 134.

The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society.
-- ibid. p. 618

Eugenics did not begin with the 1930s/40s. It (more or less) ended then. For most of the early part of that century, it was the primo progressive cause, backed by all the big-name scientists, by Wells, Shaw, Sanger, and others. (Dawkins cites a quote from Wells that is truly horrifying.) In a private letter, Darwin included the Irish among the inferior races that ought to be discouraged from breeding. And Galton, the father of eugenics, was his cousin.

Hitler has no interest whatever in science, per se; but his interest in racial hygiene was purely in-line with mainstream thinking of the day. The genocide against the Jews was not part of this, however.

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