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James Watson is Not a Racist; He's a Darwinist!

October 29, 2007
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In a recent interview with London’s The Sunday Times, noted scientist, James Watson set off an international firestorm when he was quoted as saying that he is “inherently gloomy about the prospects of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours…” Watson then added that he would like for everyone to be equal, but “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.”

Watson is not being bigoted in the sense that he is expressing a personal prejudice against black people. In fact, he is being quite “reasonable” given his evolutionary beliefs about the nature of man and reality. According to Watson, “There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.” (James D. Watson, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science, Knopf, 2007)

James Watson is not some marginal quack operating on the fringes of the scientific community. In 1953, he and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA—one of the single most important discoveries of the 20th century for which they shared the 1962 Nobel Prize. The fact is Watson is one of the most important scientists of our age and what he inadvertently revealed is Darwinism’s dark secret: evolutionary ethics.

The fact is, if nature is the ultimate and final reality and there is no God then Watson is absolutely correct in his condemnation of what he believes are lesser evolved people. What few evolutionists are willing to admit is that if time and chance are the truth of human existence and reality, then everything that we have come to believe about morality and ethics is completely wrong. Darwinism places all human phenomena, including ethics and morality, under the sway of the laws of nature.

Early advocates of evolution clearly understood the profound moral implications of Darwin’s theory. Robby Kossmann, a German zoologist who later became a medical professor wrote in an 1880 essay:

The Darwinian worldview must look upon the present sentimental conception of the value of the life of a human individual as an overestimate completely hindering the progress of humanity. The human state … must reach an even higher level of perfection, if the possibility exists in it, through the destruction of the less well-endowed individual, for the more excellently endowed to win space for the expansion of its progeny. … The state only has an interest in preserving the more excellent life at the expense of the less excellent.

As repugnant as these statements may be, they were nonetheless the consensus among those who understood and embraced Darwin’s new idea. By the early 20th century, these ideas were wildly popular throughout Europe and America.

In fact, the prestigious biological research lab at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island where Watson served as the past director and current chancellor is described as one that has “deep connections to Darwinian racism of years gone by.” A report states that, “Early in the twentieth century it was the headquarters for one of the most virulent American eugenics groups, the Eugenics Record Office, which promoted forced sterilization and opposed immigration to America by ethnic groups considered lower on the evolutionary scale than Anglo-Saxon whites.”

Francis Galton, cousin to Charles Darwin and founder of the eugenics movement wrote:

This is precisely the object of eugenics. Its first object is to check the birth rate of the Unfit, instead of allowing them to come into being … The second object is the improvement of the race by furthering the productivity of the Fit…

Following discovery of Nazi Germany’s monstrous eugenics program carried out at places like Auschwitz and Treblinka, the public’s support for social Darwinism and the eugenics movement dropped dramatically. However, it did not disappear; it merely retreated back into the world of academia and elsewhere where it still remains a dominant view among the so-called intellectual elite. The most obvious expression of this today is found in such programs as the United Nation’s population control efforts that are focused almost exclusively on the underdeveloped African nations.  

However, in light of evolutionary theories these views cannot be dismissed as moral aberrations. These views are perfectly consistent with Darwinism in which the highest moral good becomes, by necessity, evolutionary progress. Therefore anyone thought not to represent the height of human evolution is deemed inferior or unequal. We find racism loathsome because it violates the Judeo-Christian conception of human dignity. However, if human beings are merely products of time and chance then the Judeo-Christian conception of human dignity is not only “unnatural,” it actually runs counter to evolutionary principles.    

According to the theories, there are significant evolutionary differences between the races, and essentially the race that was closer to apes (Blacks, according to Darwin) was less intelligent and inherently inferior to whites. Darwin stated, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.” Of course this ignores decades of research suggesting that race is not a meaningful concept and that there is no biological basis for race. This underscores the biblical position of only one race, the human race.

The aforementioned is often referred to as “scientific racism”—a term intended to convey the idea that such interpretations of Darwinism are obsolete—however, from an evolutionary perspective, it is no more racist than regarding an ape as being superior to slug. Since evolutionists regard all human distinctions, intellectual or otherwise, as purely biological, these are simply two species on different rungs of the evolutionary ladder. If you believe in evolution, you simply cannot think otherwise and remain logically consistent with the evolutionary explanation of reality.

However, if you accept the truth of our origins as revealed in Scripture then you have a moral and ethical system in which all human life is equally valuable regardless of our differences. You simply cannot deny the Creator and keep the Creator’s morality. You cannot eliminate God and hope to maintain intrinsic human rights to life and equality. As one Darwinian ethicist put it, “An ethic consistent with Darwin’s theory knows no natural or innate rights…”

© 2007 by S. Michael Craven

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Response from : Charles Roth  

October 29, 2007 5:26 PM

Utter rubbish. And inconsistent with any Christian ideas of truth-seeking. Even if Darwin's theories have been used by some to promote unethical behaviour, that does not mean that Darwinian evolution is inconsistent with any ethical system. One could just as validly (which is to say, not at all) argue that the "Christians" who have killed people in the name of the Christ, mean that Christianity is fundamentally evil.

Shame on you. If this is the sort of absurd, manipulative reasoning that you need to buttress your faith, then I suggest you pray for guidance on why you think you need to do evil (to lie) in order to do Good.

Response from : Don Little  

October 29, 2007 7:51 PM

Wow! Mr. Roth reveals the dogmatic convictions typical of evolutionists--they don't like it when you challenge their "religion!" Of course, he doesn't offer any coherent or intelligent rebuttal; merely an ad hominem attack. The fact is, Mr. Craven is correct; Darwinism cannot offer a logically consistent basis for morality and ethics, try as they might.

Response from : Joe  

October 29, 2007 8:30 PM

Mr. Craven, I strongly suggest you take the time to read or at least take a class on evolution. Your ENTIRE thesis here is based on one WRONG assumption - evolution has no goal. It is simply the ability to pass on heritable traits that allow the organism to thrive in the environment.

By your logic, insects are far better than humans, they have adapted to far more places, and thrive where we can not.

There is no right and wrong or good and bad in science and nature. So even Dr. Watson in his esteemed glory is wrong in his assumption.

This same dilemma seems to befall many of the Nobel Laureates in their twilights. Years of people bending over backwards to get their opinion dilutes their logic and makes them say many silly things. You might want to look up the cases of Kary Mullins and others as the spotlight fades.

In the mean time, I strongly suggest you take a college course on evolution from a certified professor who lacks bias and attempt to understand that which you abhor.

Response from : Michael Craven  

October 29, 2007 9:39 PM

Dear Joe,

Thanks for your comments. With all due respect, evolution is NOT a state in nature as you suggest; it is merely a theory related to origins. What you are describing is natural selection, an observable process in nature within species, which according to Darwin was the mechanism by which organisms evolve from one species to another. This is known as Darwinism.

Furthermore, if you have read Origin of the Species, which I have, you would certainly know of Darwin’s scientific racism. The actual subtitle of his infamous work is, “By means of natural selection or the preservation of the favored races in the struggle for life.” If nature is the ultimate reality, as you suggest, then you are correct in pointing out “There is no right and wrong or good and bad.” Morality is merely arbitrary and relative. If this is the case then humanity must determine the means by which we will govern ourselves and establish for himself what is “good” and what is “bad.” Darwin and his colleagues did just that based on their interpretation of reality and they determined that compassion for the weak and infirmed was “bad” and concepts such as “Christian compassion,” to use Darwin’s own words, was detrimental to the higher moral good of evolutionary progress.

Again, with all due respect, which is more than you accorded me; I would suggest you explore Darwinism beyond what some high school biology teacher told you before you rest your whole basis of reality on such a precarious theory and attempt to argue with others in support of same.

Response from : Ron  

October 30, 2007 5:49 AM

Here's a question: Did anyone ever notice that almost without exception, the only people who still have a problem with evolution are Christian fundamentalists? This article is just one more example among thousands; the theme here is that evolution--which like all fundamentalists the author refers to as 'Darwinism'--is inherently evil.

So, we have on the one hand the National Academies of Science and the American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science that are unequivocal in their support for evolution. On the other hand, we have people like Pat Robertson and the 700 Club, Mr. Craven and nearly every street preacher alive that insist that evolution is flawed and that they understand the basics of biology better than biologists themselves do. One of these two groups doesn't know what they're talking about. I wonder which one?

Response from : gary  

October 30, 2007 8:45 AM

a good one, Mike. And very timely! Thanks.

Response from : Albert Himoe  

October 30, 2007 10:36 AM

"Of course this ignores decades of research suggesting that race is not a meaningful concept and that there is no biological basis for race. This underscores the biblical position of only one race, the human race."

If biological science is based on Darwinist assumptions, and it is, the above statement is untrue. Some public biologists take the PC position that race is not meaningful, but this view is inconsistent with the evidence, particularly with genetics, which Dr Watson knows very well. One small point--it is not true that blacks are closer to apes, it is that blacks evolved in a different environment than whites and Orientals, which left them (on the average) less intelligent, but just as unapelike as other races.

Response from : Dirk  

October 30, 2007 2:35 PM

Mr. Craven,

May I suggest you read the following article published recently in The Economist: "Patience, fairness and the human condition" (The Economist - October 4 2007) []

I would like to draw your attention to the section entitled "The origins of virtues" and suggest you compare that against your comments that morality cannot be the result of natural selection. This research suggest you may have to revisit that position. Thank you.

Response from : Joe  

October 30, 2007 7:28 PM

"If this is the case then humanity must determine the means by which we will govern ourselves and establish for himself what is “good” and what is “bad.”"

One question - why must we govern morality for ourselves? In the end, self-preservation and the ability to pass on ones genes is all that counts. Think of how much of the "good" in society is directed towards that.

Yes, evolution is a theory, but it is a theory which is backed by mountains of evidence. From the mitochondrial DNA and lipid composition your own cells share with ancient archaea bacteria to even the most simple animal adaptations to increase fitness. It can and has been experimentally tested since the day Darwin published his opus, not once has the theory faltered.

What evidence do you have to refute evolutionary theory? How have you tested it?

Believe me, my schooling in evolutionary thought and principles goes far beyond Darwin's work. While you may have read Origin of Species, it's pretty clear you haven't comprehended it.

Response from : Tade Ipadeola  

October 31, 2007 4:20 AM

I read Michael on James Watson. I agree substantially with his conclusion. James Watson is however concomitantly Darwinist and racist. He is in the same as a William Shockley. As an African, I wish to point out the fact that while both Watson and Shockley shared their Nobel prizes with others, Soyinka and other Nobel Laureates from Africa almost always do so as individuals. If this is an argument about intelligence and attainment, it shows Watson et al have ways to go. But there is more. Watson is also a thief. He did fiddle with data that he stole from a woman scientist. The bible says that your sins shall find you out. It is Watson's turn to be found out. Between success and significance is a bridge called generosity. Assuming but not conceding that Africans are somehow deficient intellectually, a little generosity on Watson's part would have helped both himself and the Africans along. But it is hardly in the nature of thieves to be generous. The myth of Robin Hood notwithstanding. I certainly hope the Christian community in the West have more in common with Michael than with Watson. The African Christian does not lack an opinion on these issues though they may be quiet for a while.

Response from : Jason  

October 31, 2007 6:33 AM

How to defend evolution:
1) Boldly proclaim that nobody is opposed to evolutionary theory except right-wing whackos. (Don't worry about Stuart Kaufmann and the non-religious opponents of Darwinism at the Santa Fe Institute and elsewhere.)
2) Boldly proclaim that anybody who criticizes evolution, in this case Michael Craven, doesn't understand it or is ignorant.
3) Completely ignore Darwin's racism, Huxley's bigotry, and the dubious history of Darwinism as expressed in the eugenics movement and more. (This tact worked well for the American Museum of Natural History, which neatly wiped the Darwinian record clean of eugenics in a recent history of Darwinism exhibit.)
4) Claim that any older, intellectually-honest Darwinists who are publicly truthful about Darwinian implications, are nothing more than demented old codgers who've lost their way (nevermind the many and varied ways in which you previously championed their scientific bona fides).
5) Do not consider the scientific research and writings of anyone outside the "scientific mainstream," such as the Discovery Institute much less philosophers of morality such as Alvin Plantinga.

Response from : mary  

October 31, 2007 9:38 PM

Only in our time is insult graver than injury.

Watson's remarks about Africans and blacks in general sparked a firestorm of criticism and indignation. Yet in the '70's Watson urged that birth certificates not be issued until three days after birth so that parents of handicapped children would have "the same rights" as those who chose to have a child aborted because of a defect. Where was the outrage then?

Response from : Dr. gabriel gyan  

November 2, 2007 1:42 PM

Intelligence is not the only parameter that must differ. bood-clotting times,bleedingtime,cholesterollevels and intermediate metablism pathways will also have to be different if evolution is along non-identical lines. secondly, intelligence is not a necessary determinant fo biological survival, and is not a predictive of fitness.Letjames watson think about this.

Response from : james Musyoka (PhD student)  

November 3, 2007 8:31 PM

I have to say that i disagree with both very racist James watson and religious remarks of Mr Cravens. Evolution and religious ideas, if we haven't learnt before, drive human progress to the pits and should be put to rest. Ww2 and slavery are perfect examples of what happeness when people think they are better and smarter then others. Watson (whom i really admired once) must be a real idiot for forgetting to be human first before making the comments that he did. Not to mention, his comments are based on studies that lack proper controls .e.g. they don't account for cultural, socioeconomic and technological differences between the white west and africa. Africans rised in the same environment as average whites easily level or better in the iq test. And this is very evident in the population of african migrants in the europe and america. I also find that westerner are extremely ignorants of world origins of technology and literature i.e ancient egypt. Waston is also very clearly ignorant of world politics and the impact it has played on the progress of africa. Most of the finacial issues in africa are a direct result of economic pressures from the western world -cheap labour and resources. But unfornuatley for the west and watson this will soon change.

Response from : Dr Charles Simms  

November 6, 2007 12:39 PM

How dare you label the majority who realise the sense and logic of evolution as racist. At least pick an intelligent argument for creationism - oh, I forgot, there is not one.

Response from : R. Patterson  

November 13, 2007 10:50 AM

How much blame does Charles Darwin deserve for the Nazi eugenics programs? I would say he deserves about as much blame as Martin Luther deserves for the Holocaust. Martin Luther’s "On the Jews and Their Lies" was used to bolster anti-Semitism in Germany from the time of its first publication. Almost all of the Third Reich’s anti-Semitic literature quotes Luther. Does this mean that all of Luther’s ideas should be rejected? Should all protestant churches be reincorporated into the Roman Catholicism? That obviously would be hyperbolic. It would be more reasonable to view his anti-Semitism as anachronistic.

So how much blame does Martin Luther deserve for the Holocaust? None, it would be hard to blame Luther for actions taken nearly four centuries after his death. He took no direct or indirect participation in the genocide, because he was dead.

How much blame does Darwin deserve for Nazi Eugenics program? None, he was dead fifty years before the rise of Nazi Germany. It could be argued that his hands are cleaner because he never advocated government sponsored eugenics, but in reality neither are to blame for actions they did not commit.

Moral philosophies are quite flexible when it comes to rationalizing behavior depending on who is doing the interpreting of said philosophy. A better way to judge behavior is the malice involved in the behavior. A man who deprives his brother empathy can commit monstrous acts upon him.

R. Patterson


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