Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hinckley again

Once again Mr. Hickley opines

My response

Re: The age of reason

Mr. Jim Hinckley has written that his goals are to merely provide "material for water cooler conversation, to spark discussion on controversial topics and, perhaps, encourage people to question, to think." I guess that means he need not attend to facts or even truth with a small "t." Hinckley has had about a month that he might have used to learn about evolution, or about what is a theory- any scientific theory. Instead he still incorrectly refers to evolution as a "concept" that is "stuck in the realm of theory."

Hinckley asks, what happens to lay persons who question science? The obvious thing is they are published in newspapers without malicious editing. We have a long history telling us what happened to "heretics" and religious minorities, as well as scientists when religion gains political power; they get killed.

Hinkley includes the Nazi Holocaust as light "water cooler" fare and falsely claimed it was inspired by Darwin. This has become a popular creationist lie. And it is a more dangerous lie than anyother because as it is said, "He who is ignorant of history is doomed to repeat it."

Racism and bigotry are far older than Darwin, and older than the sciences. They have been justified by every religious and nationalistic sort of argument. The man most responsible for Germany's "racial hygiene" or "Rassenhygiene," prgrams and author of its founding articles and books was Alfred Ploetz. His 1895 work particularly argued aginst medical care for the "weak" as this would alow them to reproduce more than the "fit."

He and many of his American followers opposed welfare and medical care for the poor as "unfair advantages" for the unfit that harmed the chances of hard working, moral sorts of people. His ideal of "fitness" was of course the wealthy. Ploetz established the Society for Racial Hygiene, {Gesellshaft für Rassenhygiene}, in 1905 which grew to 1,300 members by 1930. Curiously, the Racial Hygiene movement opposed birthcontrol, and in the words of Max von Gruber (1914) "the so-called women's liberation movement."

This latter point was echoed by American eugenicists who objected to birthcontrol as part of an "antibaby strike" by "liberated women." Today's US religious right-wing as represented by Hinckley fits hand and glove with the anti-minority, anti-feminist, and anti-poor philosophy that was the true wellspring of Nazism.

The targeting of Jews by the Nazis is directly exposed in the 1938 Nazi "Office of Racial Policy" publication {Inromationsdienst} where Martin Luther’s advice on the “proper” treatment of Jews was given prominent display:

" ... to put their synagogues and schools to fire, and what will not burn, to cover with earth and rubble so that no-one will ever again see anything there but cinders ... Second, one should tear down and destroy their houses, for they do also in there what they do in their schools and synagogues ... And third, one should confiscate their prayer books and Talmud, in which idolatry and lies, slander and blasphemy is taught” From Proctor 1988:88.

The founder of Protestant Christianity was a far greater inspiration to the Nazis than any scientist.

But Hinckley wants, no he demands, "absolute truth." Without this truth with a capital "T" he sees only destruction. Absolute truth is one that clearly must be uniformly imposed on all people, otherwise how is it absolute? What did one of our nation's founders see coming from absolutism? Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity." — : Notes on Virginia, 1782. Absolute rulers demand that we acknolwedge their absolute truth. In September 1821, Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams, "And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and libraries of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them."

Note well that Jefferson linked science and libraries with "light and liberty." He was not worried that they might lose their churches and cathedrals. I am with the author of the Declaration of Independence. Is two hundred years too long to remember why America exists?

Hinckley ends his latest screed hoping that infliction of his "absolute truth" will introduce "a new age of reason."

Some good advice Mr. Hinckley is that when you fall in a hole- stop digging.

Gary Hurd, Ph. D.
Dana Point, California

(Thanks to John "Catshark" at Thoughts in a Haystack Tap Dancing in California for the "heads up")

1 comment:

Jim Hinckley said...

Granted, I do not have the credentials of Mr. Hurd. However, I do have the ability to admit when I am wrong or to adjust my opinions when evidence or facts leave no option. This response to my editorial has provided little reason for either changing my opinions or to admit I was wrong.
Time and again this is the response received when I ask what if. What if there was intelligent design involved in the formation of life? What if we will be held accountable for our actions.
It would seem I touched a nerve when I linked evolutionary theory with the Nazi system in Germany.
Yes bigotry and racism are ancient evils. The Nazi philosophy, however, had the justification of science that some individuals are superior to others as evidenced by natural selection.
I apologize to anyone offended by my comments. I also apologize if I was in error.
My purpose and goal is still the same. To encourage thought and discussion.
In closing I leave this thought - would it be a reasonable assumption that the definition of a society in which every individual is allowed to live by his version of truth is chaos?