Evolution and Modern Eugenics (Follow-up)

My coauthor, DB has written a follow-up on his blog to an excellent post he wrote here previously.  He notes a recent example where a politician has been promoting modern eugenics.  This stood out to me in what he wrote:

The theories of evolution and eugenics have had a dehumanizing affect on the world, which has been evidenced by the last one hundred and fifty years of history. The seeds of these despotic theories are being used to indoctrinate our children in public and even private schools, just as my generation was indoctrinated in the fifties and sixties!

Evolution + “Modern” Eugenics = Dehumanization!

Science does not take place in ivory towers above the fray of politics

My co-author and recent commenter, DB wrote:

What mynym is pointing out here is what bothers me most about the proponents of natural selection. It seems that anyone who has investigated, researched and theorized something, which is contrary to the sacredness of the theory of evolution, is considered to be a scientific blasphemer. I have read dissenting articles on naturalism by non-believing scientists, which seem to bring up the same or similar issues as ID proponents. Are dissenting works and opinions not allowed, since evolution has evidently risen to the same level as the theory of gravity, as the above quotes so vividly point out? I have to believe that the answer to this question, at the moment, is yes.

When we consider psychology, I think it might help put things into perspective. Freud tried to develop a grand theory of psychology to explain, as much as possible, every aspect of the human psychological experience. At the root of his theory was an acceptance of the theory of evolution. Approximately a century later, the field of psychology has changed dramatically. The desire for broad, explain-it-all theories, have largely disappeared. Instead, there are a great number of many specific theories with a much more humble goal to explain aspects of psychology. In part, I believe this is because psychology has been considered to be a “pseudoscience” by many, and psychologists tend to be very conscious of this fact. Even though that is the case, political biases pervade the field and shape the nature of research results. Biology could learn a lot from psychology were it willing to be as self-critical. Even if it had the same level of self-critical examination, it would still be fraught with political and personal bias. One of the most important classes I ever took was an undergraduate class called, “Controversial Topics in Psychology.” The basic tenant of the class was that, “Science does not take place in ivory towers above the fray of politics.” It seems that many evolutionary biologists lack this basic ability for self-examination and humility that is required for “objective” science. The scientific method is an attempt to reduce personal biases in the examination of the physical world. Without an examination of how people can fail miserably in their understanding of this, the scientific method is ultimately reduced in its power to examine nature.

Freedom, Creationism, ID, and Naturalistic Evolution

A recent commenter, Mynym, wrote:

People who believe in creationism can advance science and create political systems in which great freedom exists. That is simply a matter of history. So what if they did achieve political dominance, it’s not necessarily a great danger which will stop Progress as we know it. It should also be noted that people who believe in creationism can also be moral degenerates who create despotic systems in which freedom hardly exists. Yet an interesting question is whether or not those who believe in forms of Nature based paganism in ancient times and philosophic naturalism and the Darwinian creation myth in modern times can create political systems in which great freedom exists. Given their philosophy and their history it seems that they cannot. They have a history of tending towards totalitarianism just as their philosophy tends towards a supposedly total form of knowledge which tends towards determinism and allows for no “gaps.”

Indeed. Creationism does not entail despotism or totalitarianism. So far an atheistic aspect of governmental structure has entailed these things. Although I do not say that it must. In reality, it has. And Creationists can be as evil as anyone else. Of that, I do not doubt.

Those who believe that mind and intelligence don’t “exist” and have an impact on the natural world have always tended towards having their own minds degenerate to the level of psychologists working for totalitarian governments based on the false view that conditioning is all that matters.

The following is attributed to Pavlov, the Russian physiologist, who advanced ‘classical conditioning’:

Conscious until his very last moment, Pavlov asked one of his students to sit beside his bed and to record the circumstances of his dying. He wanted to create unique evidence of subjective experiences of this terminal phase of life. The great scientific courage of Pavlov is exhibited by this story: he tried to learn, and to increase knowledge of physiology, even on his deathbed.

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The great American behaviorist, and atheist, BF Skinner wrote,

Cognitive science is the creation science of psychology, as it struggles to maintain the position of mind or self.

And yet, cognitive psychology is the dominant view of modern psychology. BF Skinner did not believe in anything like free will. The only thing that was important was reinforcement and punishment. Where is the room for personal freedom in such a position that is so consistent with naturalistic evolution?