Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Klinghoffer . . . again!

David Klinghoffer is one of the nastier pundits for the Discovery Institute. He has a poorly titled opinion piece over at the Huffington Post called "The Dark Side of Darwin." It is yet another attempt to blame Charles Darwin for the Nazi eugenics and more modern day social ills.

As usual David is wrong on so many levels. Shall we count a few ways?
  1. The Theory of Evolution has absolutely nothing to do with eugenics! Charles Darwin did not espouse any viewpoint that would associate itself with such an activity. In fact he opposed such activities!
  2. Eugenics is a term coined by Sir Francis Galton, a year after Darwin died. The negative is that Galton is a half-cousin of Darwin, but that really shouldn't matter. Eugenics is defined by Galton as "the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations.” Please note the phase ‘human control’. The is completely against the ideas of Random Mutation and Natural Selection put forth in Darwin’s Theories.
  3. Other terms for eugenics include ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘racial hygiene’, and ‘the elimination of undesirables’. At no point in the Theory of Evolution address the inferiority or superiority of any group within a population. The fitness described in the theory has to do with how well an organism has adapted to its environment, not a morality play on inferiority or superiority. Is a celery stalk superior to a human being? There might be many opinions, but there is NOTHING in evolutionary theory that makes this type of judgment. What makes one human being superior or inferior to another? Opinions will vary even more wildly -- but again this is not something addressed in any scientific theory! Scientific theories are morally . . . ambiguous, for lack of a better term.
  4. Anyone ever read Mein Kampf? You do realize there Charles Darwin and his theories are not mentioned in there at all. In fact the evolution discussed (the word is used twice) is a political evolution and revolution described by Hitler.
  5. So what was the motivating factor that helped Adolf murder millions of people he judged to be inferior or undesirable? Guess where he got his motivation? Not Darwin, but God. He claims to have been given a divine inspiration! While many Christians read that and get upset, claiming that Hitler wasn’t a Christian that he just used the Bible as an excuse to justify and rationalize his actions. I agree! But then why does someone like Kilnghoffer insist that Darwin’s work caused the Nazi atrocities? Sounds a little self-serving and more than a little dishonest. Here is a something from Main Kampf just to prove my point:
    " . . . [Jews] very existence is an incarnate denial of the beauty of God's image in His creation." (

  6. In all honesty, and that is a word I do not think Klinghoffer has more than a passing relationship with, his whining could be related to something called ‘Social Darwinism’, and while Darwin’s name is invoked in that title, it was a social movement that has nothing to do with Darwin or his work. Darwin was long dead when Social Darwinism became popular. Social Darwinism went out of favor after the atrocities of the Nazi’s were uncovered and people realized that Social Darwinism, taken to such extremes, were not what their goals entailed. Post WW-II Eugenics and Social Darwinism were firmly renounced by most politicians of the day.
  7. Now where did David get this little ‘idea’. Let me point out that David, and the other people mentioned in the article (David Berlinski, John West, and Richard Weikart) are all fellows at the Discovery Institute. This institute's ultimate goal is to
    "defeat scientific materialism" represented by evolution, "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions. (
    So what does that mean? Anything they can say or do to cause people to question the science of Evolution is an acceptable tactic. So if they can successfully associate Charles Darwin with a known evil like Hitler and Nazism, then by associate Evolution must be evil! It’s a marketing scheme and a disreputable tactic by an organization that seems to be defined by its reprehensible tactics.
Klinghoffer isn't the first to voice such a gutter-level opinion. A similar attack was tried by Ben Stein in his mockumentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. One of the many responses to that film came from the Anti-Defamation League who said
“The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory. Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler's genocidal madness. Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.” (
If you are not familiar with the Anti-Defamation League it was founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
Little kennie ham over at Answers In Genesis, and the purveyor of such pseudo-science silliness known as the Creation 'Museum' is also one of the folks trying to link Charles Darwin and all the evils of the world. In fact he blames the Theory of Evolution for Communism, Fascism, atheism, eugenics, abortion and poor church attendance. However it was only just recently that he claimed to have witnessed racial issues in the 1970’s and blamed Darwin and Evolution for them. However in all of his writings up until just recently, these racial issues were never mentioned. Or I should say that I have not been able to find any reference to this in his writings until his most recent work. Why would that be? Could he really be honest about having witnessed many incidents 30 years ago and just suppressed them until now? Or could it be he is simply jumping on the bandwagon? I believe the latter.

Here is a much more interesting opinion piece, also published by the Huffington Post in response to David’s POS. "Intelligent Design Creationists Abuse Science and Victims of the Holocaust" by Eric Michael Johnson. He has a Bachelors degree in Anthropology and a Masters in Evolutionary Anthropology and blogs over at Science Blogs. His blog is called The Primate Diaries. Here are a few points he made:
  • Darwin specifically condemned any policy that would "neglect the weak and helpless".
  • Haeckel's foundation for Nazi race biology, is simply wrong. According to University of Chicago historian Robert J. Richards, in a recent anthology:

    "This charge, which attempts to link Haekel's convictions with the Nazi's particular brand of racism, suffers from the inconvenience of having absolutely no foundation."
  • In the journal Biological Theory Robert J. Richards has demonstrated that Haeckel was not a proponent of a pre-Nazi racist biology and, even if he had been, the Nazi's rejected his work totally.
  • Christine Rosen's book Preaching Eugenics, in which she points out that during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries "the Bible became the most popular cultural reference point" for promoting the eugenics movement.
  • David Klinghoffer, his fellow creationists, and those who give them a platform should be ashamed of themselves for pushing and allowing a tactic rejected by a US federal court judge as "breathtaking inanity" should be strongly criticized.
I'm not sure I can close with anything stronger than that. So let me just say I agree completely with Eric Michael Johnson! In my opinion it is morally reprehensible that David Klinghoffer, and his other Fellows at the Discovery Institute, will stoop to such tactics to further their political ambitions.


  1. Klinghoffer's piece is not only historically inaccurate but scientifically irrelevant. It certainly doesn't speak to the accuracy of the theory. It's like saying Hiroshima negates atomic theory because bad stuff happened.

  2. I thought about that argument and was a bit undecided about it. I had thought something like "Guns don't kill people, people do." but the comparison of Evolutionary theory to guns didn't seem right. I mean the purpose of a gun, whether for attack or defense, is to have the ability to hurt people. The purpose of evolutionary theory is to explain something.

    Well not sure I'm explaining it well, but I decided not to head in that direction. I think I like your way of putting it much better. Thanks scripto.