More on eugenics and evolution

I really hate to beat a dead horse, but Michael Egnor of the Discovery Institute has another blog post ridiculously relating the theory of evolution with eugenics.  Just so that we are all starting on the same page, here is a short list of why eugenics is not based on evolution:

  • eugenics = human breeding
  • animal and plant breeding is way older than evolutionary theory
  • evolution deals with natural selection, genetic drift, and random mutations, not forced breeding

I am not saying that those who practiced eugenics didn’t point to evolutionary principles as the underlying reason for eugenics.  What I am saying is that evolutionary theory is unnecessary for eugenics, and it more resembles the ancient practice of breeding.

Now back to Egnor’s newest post.  He writes:

Few physicians and medical scientists and educators with genuine experience with medical education, research, and practice, and who are not ideologically committed to the materialist-atheist metaphysics for which Darwinism is the creation myth, honestly believe that evolutionary biology is important to medicine.

Many bloggers, including myself, have pointed to many reasons why evolutionary theory is important to medicine.  Here is an abbreviated list of its usefulness:

  1. ability to use model organisms
  2. bioinformatics comparing different species to find important parts of genes or proteins
  3. microbial resistance to antibiotics; viruses evolving resistance to antivirals
  4. cancer cells evolving resistance to chemotherapy
  5. populations with predispositions to certain diseases
  6. nutrition and health guidelines

Of course Egnor has not acknowledged these points even though he wrote that he is aware of the blogs refuting his claim.  He continues with his denial so that he can keep promoting his unstated premise that evolution is evil and scientists who believe in it are also evil.  Fear is a powerful tool, and Egnor is using this fear of Nazi’s and eugenics to push his agenda.

In closing, I want to say that none of this has an effect on whether or not evolution is responsible for the diversity of life on this planet.  Moving the subject to eugenics is simple misdirection so the discussion will be moved away from ID proponents biggest problem: evidence.

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4 Responses

  1. Compare & contrast:

    “Natural selection is selection in nature, presumably arising without intelligent agency. An example of natural selection would be the differential reproduction of organisms in nature, without the evident guidance of an intelligent agent.

    Artificial selection is selection caused by intelligent agency. An example of artificial selection would be the intentional breeding of bacteria by a scientist in a research lab.”
    Posted by Michael Egnor on March 23, 2008 7:17 AM

    “Darwin asserted that all natural biological complexity arose by random undesigned variation and natural selection. The intentional alteration and intentional selection of microorganisms is a nice example of designed variation and artificial selection. Dr. Cartwright’s application of Darwin’s theory to intentional design and breeding of bacteria is pseudo-Darwinism. ”
    Egnor on April 9, 2007
    “Artificial selection is breeding, in this case microbial breeding. The principles of breeding date back thousands of years, and owe nothing to Darwin. [….]
    Appeal to artificial selection doesn’t count, either. That’s just microbial breeding— intelligent design, actually.”
    Posted by Michael Egnor on March 7, 2008 7:13 AM

    I fear my English isn’t good enough to adequately express my disdain for Egnor’s asshattery.

  2. It’s clear that this guy just doesn’t (or refuses to) understand the principal of NATURAL selection. If he did, there is no possible way that he would think eugenics and evolution were remotely the same.

  3. Great finds JLT! Although I should have suspected it, I never thought about looking for the typical doublespeak used by ID proponents in this instance. I will definitely have to store those quotes away for future use.

    Microbiologist – I thought that before I read the posts that JLT linked to. It seems that he at least semi-understands natural selection, but only when it suits his needs. He is really being intellectually dishonest (at least) in his latest posts so that he can push his agenda of evolution = evil.

  4. Hi Bort901,
    what’s really depressing I found all quotes on page ONE of a google search: “artificial selection” site:www.evolutionnews.org
    I didn’t bother to look further but there’s probably more. Egnor isn’t the only one, either, who’s using this kind of doublespeak. E.g. Jonathan Wells does the exact same thing.
    BTW keep up the good work! You’re in my feedreader as an antidote to ENV’s feed 😉

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