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Darwin Day In America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science Hardcover – November 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

 

"A deep and comprehensive study of scientific materialism’s morally corrupting effects on American public policy." —Larry Arnhart, author of Darwinian Conservatism



"If you think that the debate over materialism is irrelevant to your own life, you need to read John West’s important and fascinating book." —Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Author

Interview with John G. West
author of Darwin Day In America

What is Darwin Day, and why is your book titled “Darwin Day in America”?

“Darwin Day” is Charles Darwin’s birthday, February 12. As I explain in my book, there is a growing movement around the world to turn the day into a kind of secular holy day complete with its own rituals to honor Darwin. These Darwin Day celebrations expose just how much Darwinian evolution is like a secular religion for many of its proponents. At the same time, Darwin Day provides a metaphor for how our public policy and culture have been influenced over the past century by Darwinian biology and similar kinds of reductionist science. In many respects, “Darwin Day” is every day in America right now, because Darwinism and scientific materialism have reshaped virtually every area of our culture and politics.

Your book targets the impact of both “scientific materialism” and “Social Darwinism” on public policy and culture. Can you explain those terms?

Put baldly, scientific materialism is the attempt to prove that human beings are merely meat in motion—that we have no free will, that we have no souls, that morality and religion are simply evolutionary artifacts programmed by our genes for our survival, and that our very thoughts and ideas can be fully explained by our brain chemistry. Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution made scientific materialism credible by purporting to offer a scientific explanation of how human beings (and their minds and morals) could be generated through a blind material process of random variation and natural selection. Social Darwinism is the effort to remake public policy by applying Darwinian principles to welfare, economics, business, criminal justice, education, and medicine. My book documents how scientific materialism in general and Darwinism in particular have had momentous consequences for the rest of our culture. Those who think there is some sort of firewall between science and culture need to read my book.

What inspired you to write the book?

A lot of my interest dates back to my reading of C. S. Lewis and his perceptive little book The Abolition of Man as a college undergraduate. Back in the 1940s, Lewis prophetically warned about the dangers of misusing science to debunk traditional morality and treat human beings like automatons to be manipulated by scientific conditioners. I started to investigate whether the dangers Lewis warned about in Britain could be found in America, and I soon discovered that they could. I initially became fascinated by efforts to misuse science to debunk free will and personal responsibility in the legal arena—the abuse excuse, the insanity plea, the diminished capacity defense, and so forth. Then I started to look to other areas, and the more I looked, the more I found. What I didn’t realize at first was the culpability of many scientists in what was going on. I originally thought that scientific materialism was largely a case of non-scientists misusing science for their own political ends. But it soon became clear to me that scientists themselves—often the leading scientists of the time—were at the forefront of trying to use science to impose a reductionist vision of human beings in the public arena.

Your book criticizes the role of scientific experts in politics. But shouldn’t public policy be based on the consensus view of the scientific community?

The consensus view of science is important, and it merits respect. But the consensus view can be wildly wrong. That’s why policymakers also need to listen to thoughtful dissenters on major scientific questions—whether the issue is Darwinian evolution, the extent of global warming, or embryonic stem cell research. As my book recounts, throughout history the “consensus” of the scientific community has often embraced what today would be regarded as junk science—from eugenics to lobotomies to Kinsey’s junk research on sexual behavior. Dissenters in the scientific community have been invaluable to exposing the scientific majority’s blind spots and promoting genuine scientific progress.

Is your book anti-science?

Actually, I view my book as pro-science: It’s a plea to rescue contemporary science from the stranglehold of the ideological materialists. Most of the founders of modern science believed that nature was open to rational investigation because it was the product of an intelligent, rational creator. In other words, they accepted as their premise the idea that the universe was purposeful, and so was human life. But somewhere along the line—and Darwin is a key part of the story—science was hijacked by those who think that nature is fundamentally the product of the blind material interaction between chance and necessity. In this respect, outspoken Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins—author of The God Delusion—is more the rule than the exception in his views. Especially in the field of evolutionary biology, Dawkins’ belief that science somehow verifies the materialist worldview is pretty much the received wisdom by leading scientists. Some evolutionary scientists doubt Dawkins’ prudence in making his assertions, but fewer than one might think actually reject his underlying philosophy. Fortunately, outside of biology—in fields like physics and astronomy and engineering and math—scientists are far more open to the idea that nature displays the hallmarks of purpose, of design. Thankfully, even in biology there are now some scientists who are reopening the debate of purpose in nature. One of the most exciting developments in recent years is the discovery that at the bottom of matter is information—which some see as evidence that mind and purpose are an irreducible property of our universe just like matter and energy. I mention these new developments at the end of Darwin Day. But most of my book is focused on exploring the tragic consequences of ignoring human uniqueness in the name of science. I think C.S. Lewis was right: If we treat human beings like mere machines or animals, that’s what they will tend to become—and our culture will begin to resemble a factory or a zoo, not a civilization made up of rational and accountable beings.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933859326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933859323
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
To start with, I found this book to be highly researched with almost one hundred pages of footnotes. This, in and of itself, was an encouraging sign, although not a definitive assurance of quality. However, as I read through the book, its quality, interest and readability was clearly demonstrated and Mr. West should be proud of his accomplishment. Before continuing any further, it should be noted that I approached this book (and the many other books on similar subjects) as a lay person with a Masters of Arts and nothing more. Take that are what it is worth, but the caveat was needed prior to continuing.

The book is essentially 350 pages of well-cited and sourced examples (many horrific - like certain proponents of scientific sexual materialism stating that rape or child molestation are simply natural forms of sexual expression or that the severely mentally retarded, because of reduced higher brain function, should be regarded as already dead, even though living and breathing, and should be killed via lethal injection to be used as organ donors) that provide credence and substantiation for its conclusion, which, being the vital portion of the book, are that past and current scientific materialism and the social Darwinism from which it is stems and supports, when used as the only, final and unquestionable source for decision-making, leads to the following:
1. Technocracy: If scientific materialism is all there is, then clearly scientists know best and we should refer decision-making to them, regardless of the fact that they are just as capable of bias, error and human weakness. Essentially, we are replacing one type of preacher with another, regardless that science can and has been wrong in the past.

2.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Ferrer on July 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Darwin Day in America is an unabashed search into the full sociological, psychological, and historical implications of that "dangerous idea" of Darwinian evolution.

This book is a tear jerker. It's content shakes your faith in humanity, but not without hope, since it seeks out ideological causes for the racist, discriminatory and just plain bloody behavior of man-as-animal. It has been said that when man is but an animal, man will act like animals. This book is a brutal study into the historical evidence of that fact.

In this book you'll learn about:
1) How 60,000 people in the U.S. were legally sterilized in America through evolution-based eugenics laws
2) How eugenics is historically connected to planned parenthood and abortion-rights
3) How Alfred Kinsey was not a sexual liberator but a fraud and criminal deviant
4) How many sex education programs AIM to get school children more sexually active
5) How black people were widely thought to be the closest human ethnicity to apes
6) How hiring practices widely discriminated against minorities based on beliefs that skull shape indicated evolutionary development.
7) How Margaret Sanger's "Negro Project" aimed abortion initiatives at black communities through church leaders

This book would be alarmist if it wasn't so well-documented. One might want to accuse West of a "conspiracy theory" except the least bit of fact checking vindicates him. To accuse him of such would be like saying the Clark Kent--Superman connection is a "conspiracy." Donning a pair of smart-looking glasses (i.e., scientific authority) does not hide the pervasive animalistic influence of Darwin's theory.
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42 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Bill Muehlenberg VINE VOICE on January 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Social Darwinism' is a term which refers to the social and political ramifications of biological Darwinism and the materialism which it is imbedded in. Darwin regarded humans as basically higher animals, and as the social sciences became more and more tinged by the Darwinian outlook, humans increasingly began to be treated as mere animals, or machines.

This volume looks at how the materialistic worldview of Darwinism has impacted on a wide range of fields. As academics, scientists and politicians apply the Darwinian view of man to various social sciences, some very negative outcomes have ensued. We have steadily become dehumanised and depersonalised as we have taken on board the logical implications of evolutionary materialism.

West offers a far-reaching and profound look at numerous areas clouded by the Darwinist mindset. He examines the fields of law, education, business, economics, sociology and ethics to see how the revolutionary ideas of Darwin have penetrated every aspect of Western culture. Scientific materialism, flowing forth from Darwin and the Neo-Darwinists, today underpins much of public policy in the West.

Consider how extensive scientific materialism has become in public life. The title of this book refers to the move to make February 12 Darwin Day in the US, a date usually associated with the birth of Abraham Lincoln. But so great has the influence and impact of Darwin's ideas become that he has now risen to the status of a secular saint in many quarters.

West is certainly right to argue just how far and deep the influence of Darwin has been. Consider the issue of crime and punishment.
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