Argumentum Ad Hitlerum

28 August 2006

Why does America rank so low in acceptance of evolutionary theory? Well it probably has something to do with the massive PR campaign that makes such claims as this:

“To put it simply, no Darwin, no Hitler,” said Dr. Kennedy, the host of Darwin’s Deadly Legacy.

Dr. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries attempts to link Darwin to Hitler, eugenics, the Columbine shootings and pretty much everything else that's bad in the world in his new documentary titled Darwin's Deadly Legacy. One of the many problems with this, Godwin's Law aside, is that Hitler himself made it clear in Mein Kampf that he didn't even believe in evolution.

For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties.
Even a superficial glance is sufficient to show that all the innumerable forms in which the life-urge of Nature manifests itself are subject to a fundamental law--one may call it an iron law of Nature--which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind. Each animal mates only with one of its own species. The titmouse cohabits only with the titmouse, the finch with the finch, the stork with the stork, the field-mouse with the field-mouse, the house-mouse with the house-mouse, the wolf with the she-wolf, etc.

This one is my favorite:

From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump, as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.

So there you have it. Dr. James Kennedy is an ass. But even if Hitler did believe in evolution, then Darwin would be no more responsible for the Holocaust than Einstein was for Hiroshima. They both merely proposed value-neutral scientific theories. The fact that species have achieved their current diversity through the process of natural selection does not at all imply that we should kill off those we deem "weak". The fact that splitting an atom results in a massive release of energy in no way implies that we should release that energy over a Japanese city.

The documentary is a transparent attempt to make the theory of evolution look like a dangerous ideology that you should protect your children against. It's meant to motivate people to oppose this "deadly idea":

Evolution is taught in every public school in America, and not without consequences, as Darwin’s Deadly Legacy documents. Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 people and themselves in the worst school shooting in U.S. history.


UPDATE: Kennedy is dead.

Oh, heavens...

23 August 2006

Pope Benedict XVI fired Rev. George V. Coyne, the vatican's astronomer and director of Vatican Observatory since 1978, for advocating evolutionary theory over intelligent design. So here we have another instance of influential religious leaders promoting ID/creationism over evolution despite the fact that scientists overwhelmingly reject the idea. It's things like this that lead to the chart I posted the other day.

Also, why does the vatican have an astronomer on staff?

Update: Due to the firing of Rev. Coyne and Pope Benedict XVI's decision to have a meeting with his former students to discuss evolution, there has been a growing concern that he was planning on taking a new stance on the topic. This article has some more insights from an insider as to what Benedict is going to do regarding evolution. Despite his remarks that "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God." and his expression of doubts towards the idea of "macroevolution", it seems that the pope is going to leave the question of evolution to the scientists to handle.


10 August 2006

The chart on the left details the public acceptance of evolution around the world, as gathered from Science magazine. Turkey was the only country ranked lower than the United States.

The details of the study (found in the materials linked above) were even more ridiculous. In the United States, I was a little surprised to see that 28% of the population seems to think that the earliest humans lived alongside dinosaurs.

But it looks like people don't really reject the idea of evolution on the whole. Just certain uncomfortable aspects of it. The statistics listed on Science magazine's survey seem to indicate that the public has a harder time swallowing the idea that man evolved from earlier species (40% believe that we did evolve, 39% believe we absolutely did not evolve) than it does with the idea that evolution happens at all (78% believe that some animals adapt to the environment in time, while only 3% believe they do not).

According to a Gallup poll from 1991, only 5% of scientists believe in some form of special creation. But that figure takes into account all scientists and engineers from all fields, including those that are completely unrelated to the theory of evolution (such as computer science), so it may be a bit generous. When that figure is adjusted to deal with only the scientists in biological and earth scientists, less than 0.15% believe in creationism. And that's just in the United States. The figure drops even lower in the countries ranked higher than ours.

So basically, there is a huge gap between the opinions of people who study this stuff for a living and the everyday man on the streets. Why the disconnect? It's most likely a result of the concerted efforts of certain religious groups (mostly biblical literalists) to undermine the scientific theory of evolution in the public sphere. There's an interesting story here about evangelicals in Kenya who are basically trying to hide a fossil exhibit on human evolution. There is also the long history in the United States of various creation science groups attempting to inject criticisms and alternatives to evolution into high school curriculums.

Canadian Cyclist Suspended For Unsportsmanlike Conduct

06 August 2006

Downhill mountain bike racer Danika Schroeter has been suspended for three months for wearing a T-shirt that mocked transgender cyclist Michelle Dumaresq.

In the downhill championship this week, Dumaresq won the women's race. Schroeter came in second. But during the podium ceremony, Schroeter wore a white T-shirt with black print that said "100 Per Cent Pure Woman Champ."

Athletes may not "in word, gesture, writing or otherwise harm the reputation or question the honour of other license holders, officials, sponsors, federations, the UCI or cycling in general," the association said in a release.

It seems clear that Schroeter broke the rules by mocking a fellow certified competitor, but the interesting question here is, "is it fair to allow male-to-female transgendered athletes to compete as women?" Weighing in at 6'1", 180lbs., Dumaresq seems to have reaped the advantages of being born with a larger frame than her "100% female" competitors.

If the spirit of these games is to test the natural abilities of its unaltered competitors, where they achieve their physical abilities through natural processes of hard work, exercise and determination, then I think that this decision goes against that sense of fairness. Either Dumaresq is on hormones, in which case her body is basically altered through a steady intake of drugs, or she is not on hormones, in which case she is running on mostly male hormones which give her an edge.

On the other hand, if the spirit of these games is to just have fun and compete in an all-inclusive hug-fest, then there's ultimately no problem here.


05 August 2006

This image was recently displayed on the cover of the magazine Baby Talk. 25% of its readership, it turns out, was outraged.

"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," the mother of a four-month-old said.

"I was offended and it made my husband very uncomfortable when I left the magazine on the coffee table."

"I had to rip off the cover since I didn't want it laying around the house."

The article was aimed at the controversy of breast-feeding in public, and it may ease your mind to know that the majority of the mail they received was supportive of their handling of the issue. But still, 25% is a lot to be "outraged" by something like this. Further, the American Dietic Association found in a recent poll that 57% oppose public breastfeeding and 72% think it is inappropriate to show women breastfeeding on television.

The childishness of the quotes above indicates that a lot of people are simply grossed out by seeing a breast. It's hard to argue with someone's personal preferences, but I don't mind people holding on to silly beliefs as long as they don't enforce them against others (breastfeeding is safe as a legal issue in this country).

A possible side-effect of this general public puritanism though is that it may discourage some mothers from breastfeeding when it is most likely the healthiest thing for their babies. The FDA released this report that indicates it is in the best interest of an infant's health to breastfeed for at least one year. Here are a few highlights:
  • Human milk contains just the right amount of fatty acids, lactose, water, and amino acids for human digestion, brain development, and growth.
  • Breast-fed babies have fewer illnesses because human milk transfers to the infant a mother's antibodies to disease. About 80 percent of the cells in breast milk are macrophages, cells that kill bacteria, fungi and viruses. Breast-fed babies are protected, in varying degrees, from a number of illnesses, including pneumonia, botulism, bronchitis, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, and German measles. Furthermore, mothers produce antibodies to whatever disease is present in their environment, making their milk custom-designed to fight the diseases their babies are exposed to as well.
  • Human milk straight from the breast is always sterile, never contaminated by polluted water or dirty bottles, which can also lead to diarrhea in the infant.

I always thought something was missing...

It even comes overloaded with symbolism!

The Lifted Cross

(New Testament)

THE CROSS demonstrates God’s love for humanity by offering His Son for our salvation. The Statue of Liberty represents America exalting Christ and recognizing that He alone is the way to God and the source of true liberation in all areas of life.

The Seven
Spiked Crown


THE GOLD SEVEN-SPIKED CROWN demonstrates God’s benefits for man when he receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Each spike reflects one of the seven redemptive names of God. These names reveal His character. 1) God is our Provider. 2) God is our Healer. 3) God is our Peace. 4) God is our Victory. 5) God is always Present. 6) God is our Righteousness. 7) God is our Sanctifier.

The Two Tablets
of Stone

(Old Testament)

THE TABLETS OF STONE represents the Ten Commandments and the importance of God’s laws in society to establish morality and values. Scripture says that if we reject God’s laws, then He will reject us.

The Tear

THE TEAR represents Lady Liberation’s despair over America’s rapid decline from its Judeo-Christian values. She weeps for our nation’s self-destruction as the protective hand of God is removed. Yet, she realizes that there is still hope for America if we return to God through Jesus Christ.

The Robe

The Brick Pedestal

THE PEDESTAL holds the tomb of Christ.

The Broken Chain

THE BROKEN CHAIN is wrapped around her left ankle and hangs over the left edge of the pedestal. It symbolizes freedom of any and all bondage. It is God’s desire to see mankind liberated in every area of life.

The Dove

THE DOVE symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The Word of God says that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).

First Post

04 August 2006