Key Words: More on Evolution

Daniel MacIntyre wants to continue our discussion on evolution and racism.

I have never stated that there is no evolution. fully believe that species change and that natural selection is a great way to winnow out the defects that crop up. My argument has been that Darwinists haven’t shown that this is sufficient to explain the full picture. Specifically, that the Intelligent design is still a valid competing theory. The link the Professor either failed to follow or ignored is but one example of my arguments in this area. Oh, and as far as ID being a “stupid design that was inferior to what unbelievers could come up with,” not knowing the reason for the design is not the same thing as knowing that the design was inferior.

Notice the careful word choice here. “I fully believe that species change,” not “I fully believe that new species can and do arise by descent with modification from common ancestors,” and “natural selection is a great way to winnow out…defects” not “variation plus natural selection is a powerful mechanism for generating novel structures and behaviors.” Not to read too much into what he didn’t say, but it does sound like he’s appealing to the guarded and reluctant admission by creationists of the fact that some evolutionary mechanisms do exist. The typical creationist demurral, however, is that these mechanisms are much more limited, and far less capable, than evolutionists describe them as being.

And that’s my point. It’s not that the creationist design is inferior because we don’t know what purpose a designer might have had in mind. It’s inferior because anti-Darwinism is defined by the idea that Creation lacks the sophisticated capabilities that make it possible for new and innovative species to evolve. The whole point of the ID argument is that we must infer an “intelligent” designer because the sophisticated mechanisms that evolutionists have come up with are entirely missing from God’s design for life on earth. And since these missing mechanisms are things that make it possible for life on earth to innovate, to adapt to changing conditions and to replace species lost to extinction (changing climates, asteroid strikes, etc), we are left with a creationist version of biology that is less stable, less adaptable, less innovative, less self-repairing, and less viable than the design that evolutionists have come up with. The only way to deny that the creationist design is inferior is to invent a special standard specifically tailored to make creationism look good.

Now, lets talk about race and genetics:

Hogwash. Geographical isolation, like other forms of isolation, produce separate species, not separate “races.” Racism is not part of “standard evolutionary theory.” Humans are all in the same gene pool, which is why Bob Jones University felt it necessary to ban interracial dating until just recently. From an evolutionary perspective, the only “distinct race” is the human race.

The Professor can be forgiven for believing this. After Hitler, the Eugenics movement, and other Darwinistic embarrassments, it became unfashionable for evolutionists to believe in a genetic component to race. However, quite a few recent studies suggest just the opposite.

Yawn. Christians are always blaming someone else for the godlessness they see in the world. Used to be Jews and witches, now it’s atheists and “Darwinists.” How many sermons have been preached about the “mark of Cain” and “the race of Ham” and “slaves be subject to your masters”? Like I pointed out before, bigots appeal to whatever authority they think will bolster the case for racism. So? At least he’s willing to “forgive” me for telling the truth.

From the New York Times:

…A striking feature of many of these changes is that they are local. The genes under selective pressure found in one continent-based population or race are mostly different from those that occur in the others. These genes so far make up a small fraction of all human genes. …

So yes, professor, race has a genetic component influenced by natural selection.

And it’s an illusion. Humans are all part of the same gene pool. Granted, local populations can and do manifest some amount of variation, but where evolutionists and racists part company is in the idea that the specific variations equate to a distinct “African race” whose intelligence (whatever that means) is inferior to that of the alleged “European race.” Evolutionists, by and large, recognize that this kind of superficial categorization is scientifically vacuous. The data do not say what the racists want them to say.

From the same article that reported on Watson’s apology:

Dr Watson has said before that there is a genetic basis for intelligence – something undisputed by other scientists. But experts deny there is any such thing as race on a genetic level.

Consider the history of ancient Egypt, one of the earliest advanced civilizations, and home to the pyramids and the famed Library of Alexandria and other similar achievements, and then check your map to see which continent Egypt is located on.

So let’s skip the rest of Mr. Macintyre’s discussion of “race” and the genetic history of Africa, and move on to his closing comments.

Yes, the reaction against Watson was because of the racist remarks. However, you will note that Watson’s apology did exactly NOTHING for him. Conservatives, coming from a Biblical perspective, forgive when someone repents – as Watson clearly did.

Hmm, somehow Watson’s apology doesn’t strike me as being quite as sincere as Bill Clinton’s was. At least Clinton eventually admitted wrongdoing, and there’s no doubt he was sincerely sorry he’d given in to temptation. Watson never quite admitted saying anything racist, he just said “I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said,” and apologized to “those who have drawn the inference [i.e. it’s their doing, not mine!] … that Africa… is somehow genetically inferior,” and then went on to defend the idea certain no-longer-specified groups might indeed evolve into groups with different “behavioural abilities.”

Without referring directly to the subject of racial differences, Dr Watson once more invokes the idea that Darwinian natural selection has led to differences in behavioural ability between people from different geographical regions of the world. “We do not yet adequately understand the way in which the different environments in the world have selected over time the genes which determine our capacity to do different things,” he says. “The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity.

“It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science. To question this is not to give in to racism. This is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, it is about seeking to understand differences, about why some of us are great musicians and others great engineers.”

So I think MacIntyre may be giving Watson more than a little benefit of the doubt when he suggests that Watson has sincerely repented (as opposed to merely running some damage control in the face of an unexpected backlash). I will grant him one thing, though: Conservatives do indeed forgive their own. In fact, they’re so forgiving, it’s not even necessary that the guilty party confess and repent (Tom DeLay comes to mind). So far, however, I haven’t heard many conservative Christians coming to Watson’s defense or claiming that his “apology” means we should all forgive and forget. They’re too busy gloating over how racist Watson and the rest of them “Darwinists” must be. So perhaps the reference to Bill Clinton is misleading. It doesn’t seem to be the case that many of them have forgiven Watson either.

[Update] Nah, I’m not happy with what I wrote. It “feels good” (in the self-righteous sense) to say stuff like that, but let’s face it, “us vs. them” is a pretty low grade of thinking. There are saints and sinners across the political spectrum and it’s silly to try and claim that such sweeping overgeneralizations have any meaning or significance. I withdraw the remarks, though I’ll leave them in situ as a reminder to myself that I’m not above such foolishness if I just speak off the top of my head without thinking.

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