The Wisdom of John West

This goodie comes from the website of World Magazine — a religious publication that promotes Discoveroid causes and sometimes prints articles by Discoveroids. Their “About Us” section says:

As many have come to expect, WORLD reports the news from a Christian worldview: interpreting world events under the reality of the Christian faith.

Now that you know what we’re dealing with, their headline is Dangerous descent, sub-titled: “How Darwinian thought seeped into every cultural crevice, and what we can do to counter it today.”

The article is an interview of — get this! — John West, whom we affectionately call “Westie.” Wikipedia describes him as: “a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute (DI), and Associate Director and Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs of its Center for Science and Culture (CSC), which serves as the main hub of the Intelligent design movement.” Westie was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, but instead of adorning this post with our jolly buffoon logo, we suggest you click over to World Magazine and see the pic of Westie that they have above their post.

Okay, that’s enough introductory information. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

[Question:] Where has Darwinian thought had the most influence on society today?

[Westie’s answer:] The area of faith. [What?] Darwin’s theory wasn’t just about change over time — it was that we’re part of an accidental process. So Darwin has been the greatest gift to people who would like to deny that God exists. But it’s gone way beyond that: We’ve seen Darwinism used to devalue human life, because Darwin thought humans are basically animals. At the end of On the Origin of Species he says it’s through death, disease, and starvation that the best things have come about in nature.

Aaaargh!! There’s no citation for what Westie claims Darwin said at the end of On the Origin of Species, so we’ll go to the source. Here’s the last paragraph of the 6th edition from Project Gutenberg:

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

That was Westie’s first answer. Judge it for yourself. The article has an ark-load of others. How about this:

[Question:] What about ideas of racial superiority?

[Westie’s answer:] Darwin was not the world’s first racist, but you’re avoiding history if you don’t understand the role Darwin played in virulent scientific racism. He believed everything about humans ultimately could be explained by natural selection, or survival of the fittest. And since it acts differently in populations according to different environments, Darwin said we shouldn’t expect natural selection to produce races of equivalent capabilities. He provided a scientific agenda, a research agenda, for several decades of evolutionary biologists and anthropologists who looked for how the races were inherently unequal. Mercifully, that is not the mainstream scientific view today.

We’ve already discussed that — see Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin. We can’t take much more of this, so although the article in World Magazine is rather long, here’s just one more question and answer:

[Question:] As scientific research continues to undermine Darwin and strengthen the case for intelligent design [Hee hee!], are we seeing a reevaluation of some of these associated ideas?

[Westie’s answer:] A growing number of voices in and out of the scientific community are raising questions about Darwin’s theory and pointing to the evidence of design, but the cultural cache of Darwinian reductionism is still powerful, particularly in the social and in the nonscientific realm. [Huh?] Fields like political science, sociology, and psychology all took their underlying assumptions from 19th-century natural science, including Darwin.

[Westie continues:] We are seeing more pushback to the garden variety science claims you still get from people like Neil deGrasse Tyson or Bill Nye — that Darwinian science shows we’re the product of this unguided process. That sort of village atheism is getting harder to sustain. In physics and cosmology, lots more people are talking about the exquisite fine-tuning that leads to life. And in biology, they’re talking about the exquisite molecular machines.

We can’t take any more. If you want to read it all, then click over to World Magazine for the rest of it — and if you do, you’ll get to see their great pic of Westie. Go for it!

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “The Wisdom of John West

  1. Michael Fugate

    Buffoon indeed! If Darwin were still alive, he could easily sue for defamation of character. First humans are not nature, there are differences in populations due to selection – like skin color and lactose tolerance – that arose through random mutation and natural selection. The idea of superiority is a moral one not a scientific one. Not to mention that finess is environment dependent. Second, ID and it’s evangelical base is just as reductive as anyone – God manipulating genes to produce humans isn’t reductive? No evolutionary biologist is as reductionistic about sex and gender as the DI and creationists – with their rigid sex roles and hatred of all things LBGTQ+. Nature is not essentialistic – there are no ideals. Not to mention their adherence to Natural Theology – reducing God to God’s production. The only thing consistent about conservative Christians is their inconsistency.

  2. the exquisite fine tuning that leads to life
    Think about that. That is telling us that the laws of nature are finely tuned to make life as it is.
    No supernatural intervention needed. No problem with the laws of thermodynamics. No natural barrier at level of “kinds”.

  3. Michael Fugate

    No barrier to abiogenesis, either.

  4. @Michael Fugate
    the exquisite fine tuning that leads to life

  5. Wow. Biologists don’t care what Darwin said or thought or did. That’s all in the domain of History of Science. If a new theory contradicts Darwin, that doesn’t give anyone pause … except the doofuses at the Disco Institute.

  6. chris schilling

    “…Darwin thought humans are basically animals.”

    So Westie doesn’t eat; drink; sleep; defecate; procreate, along with a variety of other basic physiological functions, just like the animals? He must belong to some superior, higher “race” or species — the one his god presumably made.

    Or the god Westie and his Christian/Jewish supremacists made in their image. Either way, they’re keen to create hierarchical distinctions where none really exist (and where Darwin — clearer-eyed — saw differences of degree, rather than kind).

  7. John is a very pleasant looking pastor indeed.

  8. When will you creation cultists get it through your thick skulls that evolution by natural selection is not an
    accidental process? No evidence is undermining evolution or supporting the existence of magic. Endlessly repeating lies won’t make your stupid assertions true.

  9. @JSJ on
    In the olden days, atheists were known as Epicureans. They believed that the natural world was random motions of atoms. Theists worked up their arguments against Epicureans. It seems that many modern theists just repeat those old-time arguments.

  10. @TomS: That observation – that if “fine tuning” is a reality, it disables a need to believe in supernatural creation – should ensure that “fine tuning” is never again used by a creationist. They are arguing for supernatural creation, after all. But alas, no. That would require creationists to apply logic to their thought. Never going to happen.

  11. @Dave Luckett
    Yes.
    It is nothing short of amazing that a creationist would argue that.

  12. Darwin’s theory wasn’t just about change over time — it was that we’re part of an accidental process. So Darwin has been the greatest gift to people who would like to deny that God exists. But it’s gone way beyond that: We’ve seen Darwinism used to devalue human life, because Darwin thought humans are basically animals. At the end of On the Origin of Species he says it’s through death, disease, and starvation that the best things have come about in nature.

    Actually, Darwin noted that cooperative strategies among herd, packs, prides and other animal social groups played a role as well. And the theory of evolution does not say that we humans are part of a purely “accidental” process; contingency plays a role, but so do basic laws of nature.

    By the way, we’ve seen religion used to “devalue human life,” too–at least the lives of those who are “not like us”: Jews, blacks, Native Americans and so on,