Discovery Institute: Civil War Was Darwin’s Fault

See if you can figure this one out, dear reader. Despite years of observing The Controversy between evolution and creationism, what we found here is quite beyond our ability to understand.

This little goodie: Codevilla: “Darwinism corrupted Northern and Southern thinkers equally” has been up all weekend at the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

Yes, you guessed it from their title. The Discoveroids are now talking about the American Civil War (a/k/a The War Against The States, or as it is still referred to in the conquered region, “The War”). And there’s one more thing you may have guessed from the Discoveroids’ title: They say (or certainly suggest) that the Civil War was Darwin’s fault!

We have many readers who visit us from countries other than the US, who probably know more about the Peloponnesian War than they do “The War.” For them it must be difficult to imagine, but there are few topics that can inflame an internet discussion more than the Civil War, except maybe abortion and evolution.

The Civil War is not a topic we would have chosen. We already discuss evolution, which is sufficiently controversial for one blog; but this situation has been thrust upon us, and we shall not shrink from the challenge.

But first, for our non-US visitors, here’s a bit of historical context before we proceed with the Discoveroid blog article:

Fact one: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were both born on 12 February 1809.

Fact two: 1859 (24 November) is when Darwin’s Origin of Species was first published.

Fact three: 1860 (mid-January) Asa Gray arranged for Origins to be published in the United States.

Fact four: 1860 (06 November) Lincoln was elected President of the United States.

Fact five: 1860 (24 December) South Carolina seceded from the Union, the first of several states to do so.

Fact six: 1861 (12 April) Confederates began firing on Federal troops in Fort Sumter. Although there had been earlier incidents, that’s regarded as the start of the Civil War’s hostilities.

Now that you’re aware of the sequence of events, and can judge for yourself the causal connections between those events, we can turn our attention to the Discoveroid blog article. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Angelo Codevilla’s new book The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It has been stirring enviable attention since it first appeared as an essay in The American Spectator. “Magnificent,” writes David Goldman at First Things. “I felt like I had just plunged head-first into 50-degree water.”

What are they talking about? This doesn’t seem like it’s related to The Controversy between evolution and creationism. The remainder of the Discoveroid blog article consists of excerpts from Codevilla’s book. It must be important to them, so stay with us as we read a few of their excerpts:

Human equality made sense to our Founding Fathers, because they believed that all men are made in the image and likeness of God, because they were yearning for equal treatment under British law, or because they had read John Locke.

That’s a fair statement. Let’s read on:

It did not take long for their paradigm to be challenged by interest and by “science.” By the 1820s, as J. C. Calhoun was reading in the best London journals that different breeds of animals and plants produce inferior or superior results, slave owners were citing the Negroes’ deficiencies to argue that they should remain slaves indefinitely.

Aha! “Science” (in scare quotes) was the serpent in the American garden. Presumably there had never been slavery or injustice before, anywhere in the world. We continue:

By 1853, when Senator John Pettit of Ohio called “all men are created equal” “a self-evident lie,” much of America’s educated class had already absorbed the “scientific” notion (which Darwin only popularized) that man is the product of chance mutation and natural selection of the fittest.

Wow! Darwin was merely a popularizer of the evils of evolutionary science. This is an absolutely stunning revelation! Skipping a bit, here’s more:

In short, Darwinism corrupted Northern and Southern thinkers equally.

We are gasping with intellectual excitement. We never dreamed that so many of our troubles were attributable to Darwin. If you can endure any more, this is the last excerpt the Discoveroids give us from Angelo Codevilla’s book:

As the nineteenth century ended, the educated class’ religious fervor turned to social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers.

Thus began the Progressive Era….

We weren’t looking for another controversial subject. The Discoveroids have raised the Civil War-Darwinism issue, which was not of our choosing. We welcome your comments, even from baseborn Yankees — but y’all mind your manners. Hear?

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Discovery Institute: Civil War Was Darwin’s Fault

  1. Among other things, another example of the confusion between evolution and genetics producing an argument in favor of Scientific Storkism (or the Big Top variation on it, Intelligent Delivery).

    “The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    God made them high and lowly,
    And ordered their estate.”

    From the Wikipedia article on “All Things Bright and Beautiful”:
    ” … inspiration may have come from William Paley’s Natural Theology … For example verse 2 makes reference to wings and verse 7 refers to eyes. Wings and eyes were two major examples of complexity of design that Paley used to support his famous analogy with a watch and God as the Divine Watchmaker.”

  2. Curmudgeon: “What are they talking about? This doesn’t seem like it’s related to The Controversy between evolution and creationism.”

    Then you need to be better at reading between the lines. I’ll help. When “Expelled” came out it was the DI’s way of saying:

    “We have lost the ‘science’ war against evolution. The Biblical creationists lost by making testable, and often mutually-contradictory, claims that were easily falsified. We tried a strategy that avoided any testable claims about our own ‘theory,’ but we were caught red-handed stealing the easily debunked ‘weaknesses of evolution’ nonsense from the Biblicals, as well as their classic pseudoscience tactics of quote mining, logical fallacies, bait-and-switch, etc. So all we have left is to attribute all evil to evolution, and preferably Darwin (more personal – sells better) and hope that the ‘masses’ fall for it.”

  3. This “Wedge” thing from the Discovery Inst., is the object to confuse everyone?
    If it is, they’ve succeeded with me —- and probably themselves.

  4. Clearly, Codevilla thinks in mysterious ways. Darwin only popularized the notion of evolution by natural selection? That’s like saying the only thing Jesus did was make crucifix jewelry popular.

  5. That is some seriously muddled thinking. I can’t help but imagine a brainstorming session in a non-descript conference room somewhere in Seattle.

    Casey Luskin stands up, calls the meeting to order, and lays down the challenge: How can they blame slavery on Darwin without POing their southern, fundamentalist supporters who generally think ole Jefferson Davis was a decent enough fellow.

  6. The idea of evolution of course dated back to the late 18th century, and had been popularized by Lamarck (whose original “evolutionary ladder” idea was however sharply different from Darwin’s “evolutionary tree” idea). The idea of evolution by natural selection seems to have been first broached by Patrick Matthew in 1831, in the appendix to a book on naval timber. It could not properly be said that Matthew popularized the concept (Darwin famously missed Matthew’s contribution to evolutionary theory entirely until Matthews pointed it out to him forty years later).

    Anyway, it’s clear that Matthew’s ideas in 1831 propagated backwards and caused, e.g. John Calhoun to conclude, a decade before Matthew wrote, that Blacks were inferior to and properly subordinate to whites. And Darwin only made matters worse when he published On the Origin of Species in 1859, causing Senator John Pettit of Ohio to declare, six years earlier, that it was a self-evident lie that all men are created equal. The corruption of Darwinism is so immense that it could corrupt men before it even existed and before they’d ever heard of it.

  7. Steven Thompson says:

    The corruption of Darwinism is so immense that it could corrupt men before it even existed and before they’d ever heard of it.

    The devil doesn’t need to do things in chronological order.

  8. SC wrote>”The devil doesn’t need to do things in chronological order.”

    I eagerly await Jason Lisle’s next scientific paper on the topic of debunking causality. But then, if his paper is correct, he will have already written and published it 8 years ago.

  9. The devil doesn’t need to do things in chronological order.

    Neither does Oogity-Boogity. No less a personage than William Dembski has stated that he reconciles his concurrent belief in a literal Genesis and an old earth (and thus death and suffering before Eden) by claiming that The Fall was retroactive.

  10. Darwin is clearly an evil Time Lord, like The Master. It’s so simple!

    I’m truly dismayed that anyone takes the DI seriously. Crankery + money = influence.

  11. Gabriel Hanna

    Hey, none of us should be surprised by now at Discoveroid notions of causality. Klinghoffer once told me that it doesn’t matter if Plato had a theory of eugenics, it’s still Darwinism.

  12. The Founding Fathers thought that all people were created equal? Is that so?

    Then why did Jefferson own slaves? Why didn’t women get to vote? Why have poll taxes?

    “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all [white male and probably land holders] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Clearly Liberty wasn’t meant for slaves. Clearly slaves weren’t men.

    Also, “no taxation without representation”? Were women expected to pay taxes back then? I would guess yes.

    Clearly the Founders had stuff they needed to work out.

  13. So… their ultimate point is, if it wasn’t for that darn Darwin, there would have been no war and slaveowning could have continued as the good book allows, with the slaves submitting to their masters however cruel as their masters submit to Jesus Christ…. as we read in the New Testament.

    Probably not their intended point, but there nonetheless. Their aside attempting to blame racist attitudes and therefore the continuing of slavery on Darwin is an old, tired, discredited one. Pseudo-Darwinist theories of race are based on misunderstandings of Darwin’s ideas. Biblically based ideas of the rightness of slaveowning are not based on a misunderstanding of the Bible. ‘God’ says it’s perfectly OK, right there in black and white, clear as day, several times, in two different incarnations.

  14. May I recc to fellow Euros that they watch the excellent documentary series The Civil War made by Shelby Foote, or even better read his rather excellent three book narrative history under the same name.

    Shelby is not only an outstanding historian who makes a complex war clear and livable through the use of narrative and references such as soldiers letters, he also posesses that slow Southern drawl accent that I wish I had and love listening to.

    Id say the Civil War heard its first shots fired when John Brown invaded the Federal Arsenal and Robert E Lee fought him to surrender. His cause may have been noble, but he was a terrorist and insurrectionist all the same.

    As Shelby Foote sets out the causes were complex and manifold, but Im damn sure Darwin wasnt one of them, or any influence on how it panned out.

  15. Id also like to request that this twattery is considered for a Buffon Award, possibly under the Innovative Insanity category.

  16. Just to note that Darwin had no theory of genetic mutations. I believe that Hugo de Vries, some time around 1890, was the first to speak of mutations. Of course, genetics is due to Mendel, and not generally recognized until the 20th century.

  17. I just discovered that it isn’t Darwin who’s to blame, it’s Copernicus:

    Like Bouw, Sungenis holds the rash abandonment of geocentrism in the 16th century responsible for “all these problems in the world today.” Atheism, Marxism, Nazism, abortion, homosexuality — all of these can be laid at the feet of Copernicus.

    Man in the Middle: An Exclusive Cut Excerpt from _Rapture _Ready!
    by Daniel Radosh

  18. Here’s an insightful quote from Codevilla’s American Spectator article.
    “As World War II approached, some American Progressives supported the Soviet Union (and its ally, Nazi Germany) and others Great Britain and France.”
    Pure upside-down fruitcake.

  19. Gabriel Hanna

    As World War II approached, some American Progressives supported the Soviet Union (and its ally, Nazi Germany) and others Great Britain and France.”
    Pure upside-down fruitcake.

    No, this is actually true. The American Communist Party did a famous volte-face on Nazi Germany the day that Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.

    While General Secretary Browder at first attacked Germany for its September 1, 1939 invasion of western Poland, on September 11, the CPUSA received a blunt directive from Moscow denouncing the Polish government. Between September 14–16, CPUSA leaders bickered about the direction to take. On September 17 the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland and occupied the Polish territory assigned to it by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, followed by co-ordination with German forces in Poland. The British, French, and German Communist parties, all originally war supporters, abandoned their antifascist crusades, demanded peace, and denounced Allied governments. The CPUSA turned the focus of its public activities from anti-fascism to advocating peace, not only opposing military preparations but also condemning those opposed to Hitler. The CPUSA attacked British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French leader Édouard Daladier, but did not at first attack President Roosevelt, reasoning that this could devastate American Communism, blaming instead Roosevelt’s advisors.

    In October and November, after the Soviets invaded Finland and forced mutual assistance pacts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the CPUSA considered Russian security sufficient justification to support the actions. Secret short wave radio broadcasts in October from Comintern leader Georgi Dimitrov ordered Stalinist Browder to change the CPUSA’s support for Roosevelt. On October 23, the CPUSA began attacking Roosevelt. The CPUSA dropped its boycott of Nazi goods, spread the slogans “The Yanks Are Not Coming” and “Hands Off”, set up a “perpetual peace vigil” across the street from the White House and announced that Roosevelt was the head of the “war party of the American bourgeoisie.”[18] By April 1940, the CPUSA Daily Worker’s line seemed not so much antiwar as simply pro-German. A pamphlet stated the Jews had just as much to fear from Britain and France as they did Germany. In August 1940, after NKVD agent Ramón Mercader killed Leon Trotsky with an ice axe, Browder perpetuated Moscow’s fiction that the killer, who had been dating one of Trotsky’s secretaries, was a disillusioned follower.

    In allegiance to the Soviet Union, the party changed this policy again after Adolf Hitler broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by attacking the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.