Friday, May 12, 2017

Did I Miss The Party?

Evolution is a great theory for explaining biology, but less useful as a metaphor for society.  Yet we still get weird articles, like Matthew Goldberg's piece in The American Spectator, "Who's Really The Party Of Darwin?"

Goldberg wonders 'why is it that if the left is the self-proclaimed "party of Darwin," its adherents are the ones advocating positions contrary to Darwin's theory of evolution?'

"Party of Darwin?" I've never heard Democrats proclaim themselves such. I've never heard anyone describe them that way, in fact, until I saw this article.

He goes on:

...the main takeaway from natural selection is that competition is both an inextricable part of nature, and the impetus for evolution. With that being the case, it is hypocritical for the self-anointed “party of Darwin” to express such anti-competitive sentiments. The progressives who gleefully deride creationists are the same progressives who seek a larger role for the state.

What? Living things may compete over how successfully their genes spread, but evolution is not a moral teaching. Biologists aren't saying competition is good or bad, and they're not saying nature is kind or cruel.  Nature doesn't care either way.  The competition doesn't even create something "better," just something more fit in the present--if things change, something that's been around for a long time can quickly be replaced.

Humans care, however.  And in setting up their society, they can decide how much competition is a good thing.  There are solid arguments that free enterprise is a good idea, but one of them is not that Darwin supports it (whether or not Darwin supports it, by the way).

Goldberg concludes:

To oppose capitalism is to oppose competition, and to oppose competition is anti-Darwinian in every sense. [....] The worldview of any given conservative creationist is likely more Darwinian than that of the biology student who fawns over Bernie Sanders. With that in mind one wonders: who’s really the “party of Darwin”?

This is simply gibberish.  It's not a culture's job to follow a tortured metaphor in order to set up its economic system.

And incidentally, it's not as if biologists try to be "Darwinian."  Darwin was not a god, or a saint.  He was a scientist with brilliant insight, and thus an important historical figure.  But his knowledge was limited (by today's standard) and he got plenty wrong.

If you believe (if that's even the right word) in evolution, you don't swear fealty to Darwin.  You don't even have to read his work.  You certainly don't need to proclaim you're in the "party of Darwin."  You simply need a basic understanding of modern biology.  There should be nothing partisan about that.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

social Darwinism makes a comeback. Se we're not going back to the 1930s. We're going further.

4:02 AM, May 13, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Is that you, Herbert?

4:09 AM, May 13, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Okay, I gots to know: Did you actually find a picture of Darwin in a party hat, or have you hired out someone with Photoshop skills?

4:13 AM, May 13, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I looked for a picture of Darwin and what do you know--there's one of him in a party hat.

I believe if you click on the photo you'll get it in a separate screen with the original URL.

10:28 AM, May 13, 2017  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

"Ritual is really much older than thought; it is much simpler and much wilder than thought. A feeling touching the nature of things does not only make men feel that there are certain proper things to say; it makes them feel that there are certain proper things to do. The more agreeable of these consist of dancing, building temples, and shouting very loud; the less agreeable, of wearing green carnations and burning other philosophers alive. But everywhere the religious dance came before the religious hymn, and man was a ritualist before he could speak. If Comtism had spread the world would have been converted, not by the Comtist philosophy, but by the Comtist calendar. By discouraging what they conceive to be the weakness of their master, the English Positivists have broken the strength of their religion. A man who has faith must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool. It is absurd to say that a man is ready to toil and die for his convictions when he is not even ready to wear a wreath round his head for them. I myself, to take a corpus vile, am very certain that I would not read the works of Comte through for any consideration whatever. But I can easily imagine myself with the greatest enthusiasm lighting a bonfire on Darwin Day."

— G. K. Chesterton

11:22 AM, May 14, 2017  

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