Evolution leads to totalitarianism?

Conservative Jewish writer and intelligent-design supporter David Klinghoffer writes on the Discover Institute’s ID blog, arguing that both Hitler and Stalin’s versions of totalitarianism were inspired by Darwin. Apparently, “The Soviet state was, then, an experiment in applied Darwinism.” Klinghoffer’s main theme is that without the restraint due to recognition of God’s higher laws, secular people are likely to go on a rampage.

Asinine, yes, though it’s a claim that’s popular among many conservative monotheists, not just pro-ID Jewish conservatives. I’d like to take it seriously, since I think that nonbelievers and secularists have not, in general, adequately confronted the potential of utopian versions of Enlightenment politics to lead to totalitarian experiments. But lunatic insinuations that Darwinian evolution as a scientific theory inexorably sets the stage for Hitler and Stalin just makes this more difficult.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    TE said: I think that nonbelievers and secularists have not, in general, adequately confronted the potential of utopian versions of Enlightenment politics to lead to totalitarian experiments.

    Then you *must* read 'Black Mass – Apocalyptic Religion & the Death of Utopia' by John Gray. He really goes to town on the whole issue. It's a damned good read too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01831685367130233530 Andrew Atkinson

    Check out what Dr. Hector Avolos said about these issues. It is over at the Debunking Christianity blog. It is well reasoned. It is in two parts, both part 1 and 2 should be read. It can be found here
    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/05/avalos-contra-weikart-part-i-general.html

    and part two here

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/06/avalos-contra-weikart-part-ii-weikarts.html

    enjoy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    CyberKitten, see

    http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2007/10/progress-what-progress.html

    Well… It was over a year ago… [laughs]

    Gray is pretty much on his own with this subject – as far as I can tell… Unless you know differently?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    CyberKitten: “Gray is pretty much on his own with this subject – as far as I can tell… Unless you know differently?”

    Well, he’s one of the better known thinkers I know who criticizes Enlightenment universalism from a secular point of view. But he’s not alone. Much of what he says finds echoes among intellectually respectable versions of conservatism. And you even find similar themes among political thinkers on the postmodern left.

    I do find the way Gray weaves these themes together particularly interesting, though. He’s one of the writers I love to read, regardless of whether I end up agreeing with him fully or at all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    TE said: I do find the way Gray weaves these themes together particularly interesting, though. He’s one of the writers I love to read, regardless of whether I end up agreeing with him fully or at all.

    Oh, he’s certainly never dull. That’s for sure!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    Stalin threw out Darwin.

    Does the name Lysenko ring a bell, or Pavlov?

    ‘Klinghoffer’s main theme is that without the restraint due to recognition of God’s higher laws, secular people are likely to go on a rampage.’

    So I take it that God does not restrain people going on a rampage?

    Almost as though there were no god to restrain people, as he is alleged to have done in Biblical times….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06066254009526676861 necee

    Nature is a tough gig.


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