Anthony Horvath cheerfully continues the discussion regarding Watson, Darwin, and racism.
I really must deal with this “Horvath is a racist insinuation” that came out of his first reply. In the article that I cited, Watson does not argue from Darwinism to racism, rather he argues that there genetics may have an effect on intelligence. Herr Professor like a lot of other skittish skeptics and scientists knee-jerked there [sic] way into describing this as ‘racist.’
Now remember, Watson’s original comment, which Horvath quoted and which he apparently finds to be entirely lacking in racism, is this:
Dr Watson said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”.
The article Horvath linked to goes on to report that Watson
… was quoted as saying his hope is that everyone is equal but that “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true”.
Sure, nothing racist about that, right? Not according to Horvath.
Watson was denying that he meant anything racist by what he said, and at least in the quotations in that article, there wasn’t anything particularly ‘racist.’
Hmmm, ok, let’s move on.
Horvath seems to think he’s accomplished some great coup by belaboring the obvious link between intelligence and genetics, and between genetics and Darwin, as though this were somehow relevant to the question of racism. But what would this have to do with race? Unless one were to assume that Watson was correct about people of African descent being (allegedly) less intelligent than “us”?
Horvath tries to insist that he’s only agreeing with Watson about genetics having something to do with intelligence.
Thus, if anyone needed any evidence that there can be genetic influences on intelligence, one need not look any further. Thus, my agreement with Watson would be on this point and this point only. The Professor along with Watson’s many detractors seems to think that making this observation alone is tantamount to being racist.
Well, no, the racism comes from saying things like “their intelligence is not the same as ours” and “anyone who has dealt with black employees knows that it’s not true that all people are equal.” Even Horvath originally agreed that “that’s putting your foot in it.” He sure wasn’t saying that there was “nothing racist” about Watson’s remarks in his first post. And if Watson was not really making racist remarks, then why did Horvath highlight Watson as the headliner for a post about scientists behaving badly?
Now, he continues to focus on my emphasis on the ethical indiscretions of scientists. There is a reason for it, and namely it is this: people are giving undue regard to scientists.
Nonsense. That’s like citing a few examples of spectacular plane crashes and then saying that people are putting “undue confidence” in the safety of air travel. If anything, scientists are getting far less than their due regard, especially in the field of biology (which is the biologist’s area of expertise, thankyouverymuch) and medicine (no, plant roots will not make your penis grow longer) and global warming (maybe we should consider taking action before it becomes undeniable and irreversible?). If Horvath thinks there’s some particular issue where scientists are receiving undue regard, perhaps he should mention what that issue is so that we can consider it on its own merits instead of making a vague, universal attempt to diminish people’s respect for science.
I thought it ironic that Herr Professor thought that Dawkins, a zoologist, was no longer speaking outside his field when he addressed religion, because, well, he wrote a book defending his views, didn’t he?
That’s not ironic, it’s merely inaccurate. Perhaps he should re-read my post, and notice that it nowhere makes the claim that he attributes to me. But I suppose he has to criticize me for something, even if he has to invent it himself.
But there’s a nugget of gold in all of this, er, “ore.”
My argument is that if evolution is true, there is no place outside of Darwinism to derive value judgments.
Speaking of irony, he claims that biologists are outside their field when addressing ethical issues, and yet here he is insisting that biological observations regarding the distribution of alleles are somehow the proper and exclusive domain for ethical questions as well. This is nonsense. Biology and ethics are separate fields, and are separately derived. His argument is like saying “If evolution is true, there is no place outside of Darwinism to derive tomorrow’s weather forecast.”
And by the way, evolution is true, which is why creationists have had to come up with their own versions of the terms “microevolution” and “macroevolution.” Even the much ballyhoo-ed Creation Museum that just opened up had to include an exhibit claiming that most of today’s species arose by descent with variation from a smaller number of common ancestors on board the Ark. The whole idea of kinds (or “baramins”) stems from the fact that even creationists can no longer deny the evidence that says new species arise via descent with modification from common ancestors. That’s why it’s such a big deal to claim that evolution somehow justifies racism.
Herr Professor is certainly right: the rejection of racism, and why it is wrong emerges from outside of Darwinism. It is essentially borrowed capital from Christianity.
Oh, yes, the Bible is certainly famous for its impassioned rejection of ideas like the notion that Jews ought to be given preference over Arabs in questions of Palestinian land ownership, just because they are the “children of Israel.” Or is it, perhaps, that humanistic ideals like the equality of all races (including individuals outside the church) have gradually infiltrated Christian thinking, as so many pastors have warned us about?
Bluntly: racism is rejected as ‘wrong’ because it is accepted in practice that there is in fact an objective morality as maintained by Christians.
Well of course there is an objective morality, and has been since before the Jews, let alone the Christians. Morality comes from society’s experience of the consequences of certain actions. Bad consequences mean the action is bad, and good consequences mean the action is good. Christianity is not the source of morality; heck, it isn’t even particularly good at conforming to objective morality, as both the Bible and church history inform us. Even God is not above calling for the odd genocide now and then, despite the fact that genocide is morally evil.
Think about it: is there any “sin” which God could never commit, on the grounds that God is good and sin is evil? If you say that there are things a good God can never do, you are admitting that there is a standard of right and wrong which is superior to God Himself. Otherwise, if right and wrong were defined solely in terms of what God wants or doesn’t want, then nothing is wrong in and of itself, and if God wants to do it (e.g. commit genocide)–or wants someone else to do it for Him–then by definition that action is good, even if it’s murder, lying, rape, oppression, or what have you. And since God never shows up in real life to tell us what His moral standards are, His followers are left to adopt whatever interpretation of morality seems right in their own eyes–the ultimate relativism, since it is both dogmatic and subjective.
Let me close with a challenge to Mr. Horvath, based on the following claim.
I oppose racism on principled grounds that can be traced back to some objective standard which I ought to adhere to whether I like it or not.
Show me your “objective” standard, which is not my secular standard of consequences, and is not merely a subjective interpretation of ancient writings (you did say “objective standard,” right?). If you think you’ve got a moral standard that is objectively real and not just whatever seems right in your own eyes, then show it to me out in the real world where it allegedly exists and we can all see it.