Transcript: Richard Weikart / The Discovery Institute - The Historical Value of Human Life
Richard Weikart is a professor at California State University and a senior fellow at The Discovery Institute. We got a chance to talk about the history of ideas as it relates to the value of human life. We cover everything from the Enlightenment, Darwinism, Eugenics, Nietzsche, and Post Modern Atheism. Even if you are unfamiliar with these ideologies, you'll find value in understanding how these worldviews shape our modern society.
If you'd like to learn more about Richard, you can find his lectures on Youtube. Additionally, we will link to his Amazon Author page below. We personally recommend that you check out his book The Death of Humanity.
[00:00:00] Taylor: On today's episode of According to your Purpose, we have Richard Weikart. He is a professor at California State University and a senior fellow at The Discovery Institute. We got a chance to talk about the history of ideas as it relates to the value of human life. It was an awesome conversation. Here's my talk with Richard.
[00:00:18] Richard I first have to say that this is the most reading I've ever done in one weekend. So I knocked out two of your books this weekend. It was it pretty much occupied my entire weekend. So I read The Death of Humanity and I read Darwinian Racism. Fascinating books.
[00:00:40] The Death of Humanity, especially the amount of ground that you covered in that one book was just absolutely amazing. So I guess just to start, there's so many ideas. Let's establish terms and you can tell me the story, from the Enlightenment all the way through to modern worldviews, modern philosophies.
[00:01:04] And you can just gimme the broad scope of everything just so everybody can understand where you're coming from with your ideas and your histories.
[00:01:13] Richard: Yeah, basically in the book of death, humanity, I try to look at the expanse from the enlightenment period in the 18th century up to the present time and look at how secular philosophies since the Enlightenment period have eroded the Judeo Christian sanctity of life ethic. So the enlightenment itself was a movement to rely on reason rather than revelation. And they generally scorned notions of anything miraculous. And so they were dispensing with Orthodox forms of Christianity and such at the time and coming up with ideas that are considered deistic meaning they believe that there was God, but they thought God just created the universe and then let it function on its own.
[00:01:57] And so this brought in a more secular outlook and brought anti-Christian views. In fact, they very often referred to Christianity as superstition. That was a common kind of terminology they had for it. These enlightenment ideas were gonna have pretty powerful impacts on philosophies that developed over the course of the 19th century and quite a number of them, and I deal with a number of these materialism, positivism - positivism is - Materialism is the idea that the only thing that exists is matter and energy in the universe. There's no nothing spiritual there's no God or anything like that. Positivism is the idea that the only knowledge we can get through science and we can't even know whether there's a God or not. So it's more an agnostic kind of viewpoint. Darwinism was gonna build upon these ideas by getting rid of the supernatural in the biological realm. So again, building upon the enlightenment idea of getting rid of the supernatural, getting rid of God, intervening in the world in any kind of way.
[00:02:58] And then when we move into the 20th century. Then we see in some ways a continuation of this, but also in terms of more secularization, but also some backlash against some of this with Nietzsche and Nietzsche of course, 19th century, but was gonna have huge impact on the 20th century existentialist movements because Nietzche and the existentialist after him believe that there is no such thing as knowledge other than what we as humans create. So knowledge is something that is created, not something discovered. So in this sense, they're anti-scientific in certain ways. So they're, so in some ways they're building upon the enlightenment in other ways, they're reacting against the enlightenment. But the effects upon the value of human life was gonna be very much the same.
[00:03:51] That is both the enlightenment ideas building more secular ideas about what human life means, as well as the existentialist. And then later on postmodernist kind of ideas about human life. Were still all gonna be eroding the notion that human life has any kind of distinctive value. And that's the trajectory that I'm looking at in this particular book.
[00:04:12] So I look at a lot of different ideologies, but I'm looking at one particular question about those ideologies, which is how do they view human life?
[00:04:20] Taylor: What was so shocking is your opinion of the enlightenment. The enlightenment is the I don't wanna say the hot ideology of the moment because it's very old, but it is come back into fashion with Sam Harris, Steven Pinker.
[00:04:36] You've seen all these kind of new atheist bringing back in the enlightenment. We value reason, I guess what and I would include maybe some Christian thinkers in there, or some conservative thinkers in there. What do we get wrong about the enlightenment today? That you see as a problem? What are people not seeing fully about the enlightenment?
[00:04:57] Richard: What the enlightenment got right. Was promoting science and scientific kind of reasoning. But what it got wrong was assuming that's the only show in town, assuming that's the only way to get knowledge is through, mathematics, and science.
[00:05:14] And so they be believe logic and human reason can get us everything we need to know about everything. And because of that, anything that's outside of that parameter, then they reject it as being inconsequential or even false or mythical or different terms that they use for it. So because of this, they rejected any kind of religious views and they rejected any testimony that had to do with any kind of religious views. So anything that was testimony of a miracle, for example, was automatically considered quote superstition and so automatically disregarded. So if you try to reason with someone let's say and here where I'm using the word reason here, right? We try to reason with someone about the truth claims of Christianity, and you try to put forward some of those claims about say the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. They would just automatically dismiss that.
[00:06:11] David Hume, of course, was one of the more famous of the people that did this in the 18th century. David Hume was a famous British philosopher in the 18th century, in the enlightenment. And he automatically discarded any kind of testimony about any kind of miraculous event, including the resurrection of Jesus. He just considered, he claimed that it was just a bunch of gullible people, who were making up these tales and that there was no, no real reason to give credence to it. And even said that the reason for this is because there's universal testimony that the scientific laws are true. No, there's not universal testimony Hume because we have testimony of people who saw Jesus after he rose from the dead or saw other miracles and such.
[00:06:56] Interestingly John Locke, who was a predecessor of the enlightenment period and who was arguing for empirical philosophy he's considered one of the great founders of empiricist philosophy back in the 17th, late 17th century. John Locke actually wrote a book called the reasonableness of Christianity where Locke argued that miracles were one of the great proofs for Christianity. And for the fact that Jesus is the son of God. So the enlightenment, however, was going to reject that idea of lock and claim that there can't be anything miraculous.
[00:07:37] Taylor: So just to put some bounds on this. The enlightenment is - is it directly after The Dark Ages? Is that correct?
[00:07:48] Richard: No, it the enlightenment typically is usually considered the late part of the 17th century and then going throughout most of the 18th century. So from the 16th seventies, roughly 16th, seventies or eighties up and through the late 17 hundreds would be the purity enlightenment. So this is coming after the scientific revolution was gonna begin the 16th century and go on through the 17th century. So it's picking up after after the scientific revolution, after the Protestant reformation and such. And several centuries after what we'd consider the middle ages.
[00:08:24] Taylor: Do you think the Protestant revolution actually laid the groundwork for the enlightenment in the sense that they took the authority away from the Catholic church? Is that kind of the setup for the beginning of the enlightenment?
[00:08:37] Richard: It did prepare the way for it. Now, of course, the Protestant reformers will be rolling over their graves over how this got spun out. But yes, it did prepare the way for it because it, in several ways, one, it put the onus of discovering truth on the individual rather than on the church has an institution.
[00:08:57] So Luther could stand up before the church authorities and say, here I stand, I can do no other and the enlightenment thinkers were gonna emphasize the individual's right then to reject the Church authorities and such. And also another way that, that the Protestantism, some have argued, have led to the enlightenment use about miracles is because the Protestants dismissed most of the Catholic miracles. Like the Catholic church claimed that there were all these miracles that took place with when people would pray to saints and do all sorts of other pilgrimages and consult relics and all these other kind of things.
[00:09:33] And Protestants had a dim view of that on the whole. And so many Protestants bracketed out miracles for just, during Biblical times or something like that. And they don't happen anymore today. And so enlightenment thinkers were gonna extend that and say no, they didn't happen in Biblical times either. And so they were gonna take that skepticism about miracles and apply that broadly more broadly, historically.
[00:10:00] Taylor: Defining the enlightenment thinkers - and so they would say that - are we at the point during the enlightment where right and wrong, they have definitions of right and wrong. Do they have, what is their undergirding for any sort of morality? Is it that they personally define morality? Are we fully there yet? I presume this is the beginning of, would you put the enlightenment as like the marker for beginning of modern thought in terms of atheism or collectivism of any sort?
[00:10:30] Richard: Not completely because we gotta delineate two different segments of the enlightenment too. Some historians refer to what's called the radical enlightenment as being materialists and the mainstream enlightenment as being deists and the mainstream enlightenment deists still did believe in God. They believed that there was a God that created the world. They believed there was a God that created moral laws. So they weren't just the mainstream of the enlightenment was not about just creating their own moral laws.
[00:10:59] In fact, many of them thought very highly of the Bible and Biblical morality, and they even recommended reading the Bible. Although they said, don't pay attention to the miracles, just read the moral stuff, take the moral laws out of it. They, so they thought Christianity was a high expression of the moral laws.
[00:11:15] Thomas Jefferson is a great example of this, by the way. He edited a version of the new Testament where he just took all the miracles out and kept all the moral teachings of Jesus and such. And that was a typical enlightenment kind of move.
[00:11:27] So no most people in the enlightenment did believe that there still was fixed morality. There wasn't, there was a however, a radical enlightenment materialists who broke more from Christianity than so the mainstream enlightenment and it was their heirs, intellectual heirs, later on, who were going to break further with Christian morality and dispense with the idea of morality together.
[00:11:53] But certainly throughout much of the enlightenment period and even on to the early 19th century, a lot of people still had the notion that there is some kind of objective fixed morality around. Nietzsche of course gonna be one of the biggest figures in the late 19th century. Who's gonna declare that morality is completely relative. Darwinism also though. Darwin Charles Darwin himself argued - he didn't argue for complete moral relativism in the sense that he thought that morality was biologically ingrained in our species. But, or at least on our race, because he thought that different races even could have different morality, but he didn't believe that morality was objective universal in the sense that, it had been given to us by God or something like that. It's just something that is a biological part of our makeup. So Darwin said, yeah, love your neighbor as yourself is a good moral precept. And that's what we happen to function according to, because that's part of who we are biologically, but he didn't have any way of saying that biological part of us had any kind of reality beyond that beyond just the fact that just how we think or feel,
[00:13:05] Taylor: I guess what strikes me about all these worldview is that it seems like if let's say they're defining something like murder is wrong. If we are purely seeking reason or animals in the case of Darwin or were, were animals at the top of the food chain. What is the undergirding for the enlightenment or for Darwinism in terms of how they can justify these things beyond it, it being like a utilitarian good for society? Is that from the enlightenment, I guess through Darwinism, is there any sort of undergirding to any of these ideas beyond just like societal order?
[00:13:52] Richard: Again, the enlightenment thinkers, many of 'em did believe in a God who created a moral order. So many of the enlightenment thinkers would have a way of saying, okay, God created these moral laws and this is what they are. And many of the enlightenment thinkers, by the way, a lot of 'em even still believed in life after death. Immanuel Kant for example, the famous German philosopher, believed in God, immortality, and morality and such. And he wasn't dispensing those things.
[00:14:17] You mentioned utilitarianism though, and utilitarian was gonna arise in the late part of the enlightenment and then become even more powerful in the 19th century. Utilitarianism was the idea that the pursuit of happiness, which they defined as pleasure is the highest good.
[00:14:34] And so they did relativize morality in the sense that it's whatever can bring pleasure to the greatest number of people. They are bear out on top of the greatest happiness for the greatest number as being the goal the utilitarian goal. Really, they don't, the utilitarians don't have any way to come against things like murder, unless they think it's gonna impinge on our happiness.
[00:14:59] And in fact, interestingly, Jeremy Bentham, who was the founder of utilitarianism, argued that in infanticide was not wrong because he argued that what's wrong. What's wrong about murder? According to Bentham is that if we allowed murder in society, Bentham said it would make everyone scared because they'd be scared that someone's gonna kill him. And so that fear doesn't produce happiness. So it's coming against happiness. And and happiness is the highest good for them. So murder, they think is wrong because it doesn't produce happiness.
[00:15:33] But in infanticide he thought is no problem because the infant doesn't know whether it's gonna get killed or not. It doesn't have any fear of that or anything. So Bentham said very clearly by the way, in private writings that were not public during his time, because this would be too controversial. But he did make clear in some of his private writings that in, he didn't think in infanticide was wrong because an infant wouldn't, it wouldn't impinge on the happiness of that infant to of society.
[00:15:57] Taylor: The pursuit of pleasure was actually one of the most fascinating parts of the book for me. You called it the first sexual revolution and it was the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of pleasure was the first sexual revolution. This, do you draw a straight line from this into the pursuit of happiness in the American sense? Is this the beginning of that idea?
[00:16:21] Richard: Yeah, actually when the declaration of independence talks about the pursuit of happiness it's building upon, this enlightenment idea. A lot of the founding fathers of the United States were heavily influenced by the enlightenment. And so that was the notion of pursuit of happiness.
[00:16:38] Now of course the word happiness can be used in a variety of ways and not everyone thinks that happiness is pleasure, certainly not carnal pleasure. But many of them in the enlightenment did. And so you had people like the Marquis de Sade who was, trying to take these ideas to their logical fulfillment in just pursuing any kind of sexual pleasure that, you know, he desired and promoting that socially too, saying that everyone else ought to do that. And that's where we Marquis de Sade is where we get our word sadism from because he was promoting harming, hurting other people if it made you feel good, if it made you feel good to hurt, someone hurt him. But then over course of time the pursuit of happiness could get redefined by people, especially by those who were more religiously inclined.
[00:17:30] And the United States of course, was gonna have lots of religious revivals, the great awakening, the second great awakening and others that were gonna go on that were gonna gr give more of a religious tinge to American society and culture. And so many people who in their pursuit of happiness were pursuing after what they saw as spiritual happiness, not just carnal pleasures as happiness.
[00:17:53] Taylor: What's interesting is so there's a lot of people today that think the big risk to America is fracture through tyranny or all these different things. I think, this is my personal opinion, I think most of our societal ills are a disease of too much. I think we have dopamined ourselves to death. We're just, we're a society that just wants more and more, and it's like - I think the pursuit of happiness - when I read your work, my original idea of the pursuit of happiness, in the American sense, has been altered over the last five years, because I think this idea of the pursuit of happiness has become a pleasure seeking thing in America. I wonder if you share a similar opinion.
[00:18:42] Richard: Oh, yeah, I agree. And I think it leads to ego, a very egoistic view, very ego centered view of "I want get what I want and it doesn't matter if I have to trample over other people to get it." I might do it in a nice way with a smile on my face, I'm gonna get what I want somehow.
[00:19:03] And I really do believe that greed and materialism in our society is one of the besetting sins of our society that has producing a lot of the other problems that we have the pursuit of pleasures though fills a lot of different - manifests itself in a lot of different ways though, too.
[00:19:22] And in sexual pleasure, of course is one of those. And of course sexual morality is rampant since the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. So yeah, I think it's a huge problem and it manifests itself in sexuality. It manifests itself in our pursuit of pleasures of eating of overeating and all sorts of other things. There's lots of different ways that it manifests itself. But yeah, I think it's a very besetting problem we have.
[00:19:54] Taylor: I thought it was, I thought it was interesting that they, that you mentioned that they didn't like the Stoics. The Stoics were no friends to Christians at large, but the ideology is very "pursue hard things. Do what needs to be done. Responsibility." It's interesting that they had issues with both the Stoics and I guess the traditional Christian worldview.
[00:20:22] Richard: Yeah, because the Stoics were very disciplined and very focused on discipline and not pursuing pleasure, but the Stoic believed in natural law philosophy. So natural law morality. So they didn't believe you just pursue anything that you know, is what is quote good for you that is, they thought it's stoic believed it was a good thing to go through pain and suffering without flinching and without trying to find some way out to mollify it.
[00:20:49] Yeah it's that, although there were some enlightenment thinkers that were sympathetic with the stoic the utilitarians were certainly not.
[00:20:59] Taylor: Why is that?
[00:21:00] Richard: Again, because the Stoics are believe that there's a natural law morality. The utilitarians don't believe there's any natural law morality. And so one of the things that utilitarians, in their pursuit of pleasure and happiness, they're claiming that there is no natural rights. There are no natural laws. That's why Bentham could promote in infanticide, as I mentioned earlier, because he doesn't think that there is any such thing as a right to life.
[00:21:23] In the Declaration of Independence, when you have it talking about a right, that we've been endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Bentham and the utilitarians didn't believe there was any such right to life that existed. And so thus it's just all about whatever brings happiness, whether it has, if you kill another person. And that brings the most happiness. In fact, by the way, there are utilitarians, and depending on what their particular branch of utilitarian - there's several different interpretations of utilitarian - and one's called rule utilitarianism which claims that utilitarian is based on rules. Another one is act utilitarianism, which based on particular acts, if you're an act utilitarian, if a particular act such as killing someone or even killing a lot of people, produces more happiness in the world, more pleasure and less pain, than it's a good thing, no matter what, no matter who it tramples on or whatever. The utilitarians don't believe in any kind of natural light rights or natural morality, natural law morality.
[00:22:32] Taylor: Just touching on what you just said, why do you think these, would you call all of these, all these in one big pile, would you call it secularism? That's the general worldview, is you throw 'em onto one is secularism?
[00:22:46] Richard: Yeah, I do use the term secularism. And the reason I use that term is because there's different branches of what I call secularism. And I've tried to group them together. So there's atheism, which believes there is no God. There's agnosticism, which believes that we can that, which in its hard, which in its strongest form, which is the way it was acted, the way the word was actually coined means that we can't even know whether there's a God or not.
[00:23:11] And then there's otherseven softer agnostic who would say, I just don't know whether there's a God or not. And so they just dispense with it that way. The word I, the word secularism to refer to all these views of dismissing the idea of God, even if they don't, whether it's atheist or atheism or agnosticism, lump them together into the term secular.
[00:23:36] Taylor: Why do you think that secularism struggles with loving individuals, but they seem to value - is it a linked to utilitarian? Why do they struggle with loving individuals, but they seem to value the whole? So you had just mentioned that it would be okay to kill a group of people, if it created pleasure for some? Is this all just a different version of like power politics? Is it just a power game? They have no value for individuals at all.
[00:24:05] Richard: Yeah, that's a great question. And, it seems to me, you end up with sort of people on both sides of that poll. If you look at philosophers, like Nietzsche, he's very individualistic. He's promoting the rights of the individual over everyone else.
[00:24:19] But then you look at people like Karl Marx and it's all about the collective and such. And so it seems to me that when you look at secular philosophies, they either go to radical individualism or radical collectivism one or the other. And I'm not sure that either one of them, they have any kind of basis for it, just whatever they choose whatever they tend to value.
[00:24:39] And maybe it's just from their own upbringing or their own - Marx was raised. He came from a Jewish family that had converted to Protestantism. He's raised in a religious upbringing. And you see in his collectivism, echoes of Christianity, actually. Echoes of concern for the poor concern, that less people be oppressed and other things like that.
[00:25:03] And that's motivating him to form this collectivism because he sees the problems of the individuals who, as capitalists, are he thinks creating the problems in society. Then you get people like Nietzsche, who thinks that the problem with society is that people are, too collective that they're too much acting like each other and acting corded, peer pressure and social pressures and things like that. So he thinks you need to be radically individualistic and break away from that. Some secular philosophy tend to be radically individualistic. Others tend to be radically collectivist basing on, I think, basing on what they're rebelling against, maybe in some sense.
[00:25:43] And that, that is one thing that strikes me by the way about a lot of secular thought. A lot of it is based on rebellion against authority, obviously the ultimate authority of God, but also a lot of times, a lot of these secular philosophies also end up rebelling against other power structures. The government, the family. So the especially, patriarchal the father figure, the husband in marriage and such. And then also the church is an authority structure as well. So they're very often in rebellion against those authority structures and trying to set up some way to rise above that or destroy that, or get around tho those power structures.
[00:26:25] Taylor: Do you see the enlightenment as leading the way to Darwinism? Obviously Darwin's gonna have the discoveries that he has, but in terms of the cultural adoption, because you almost define and, correct me if I'm wrong, you almost define Darwinism as separate from Evolution.
[00:26:44] Richard: I define Darwinism as a particular kind of evolution. Because evolution was a broader term that was used and there were evolutionists around before Darwin's time like Lamarck, for example, or like Darwin's own grandfather, Darwin's grandfather was an evolutionist. So there were various kinds of thinking about evolution before Darwin's time.
[00:27:04] Darwin believed in a very particular set forth, a very particular theory of evolution that was going to win a lot of adherence. And that is through the struggle for existence which would bring about natural selection which then would produce different species. And then the species would change over.
[00:27:22] Which he thought over millions and millions of years would then produce all the species that we have around today. So I do define Darwin as a kind of biological evolution, but one thing that was gonna happen too with Darwinism was that a lot of people were going to build upon Darwinism other views that, that it was gonna take Darwinism as a foundation and then build an entire world view on that notion.
[00:27:48] And it did build upon enlightenment ideas because it rejected ideas about supernatural interference or intervention. So they didn't believe there was a God did anything was all chance events that took place that produced the variations that then competed to produce new species. But then people would especially when they started looking at human evolution and Darwin himself was gonna do this we're gonna start drawing a lot of conclusions about what this means for morality, what it means for religion, what it means for a lot of different areas.
[00:28:18] It wasn't just about the physical production of human beings. Darwin in The Descent of Man, which came about 12 years after he published the origin of species. Origin species came out in 1859, and The Descent of Man came out in 1871. In The Descent of Man Darwin spends a good bit of time talking about human morality and how he thinks morality evolved over time.
[00:28:43] And how different species such as apes have certain elements of morality or so what do you call social instincts that he thinks are the basis for morality? So they start trying to explain all these things that are beyond just what we think of as physical, biological traits. They're trying to explain mental traits and moral traits and even spiritual traits.
[00:29:06] So Darwin tries to explain how religion came about, for example and again, Darwin's not the only one others are gonna come along after him and many PE many some Darwinists today are still producing all sorts of grand theories about the evolution of religion. Okay. And so they see religion as an, a product of the evolutionary processes too.
[00:29:27] Darwinism became at least to some people, not to everyone because some people just tried to take the biological side of it and hold on to other ideas more traditional ideas perhaps, or such and build, bring Darwinism into that. But there were a lot of people, especially secular thinkers who tried to use Darwin as a sort of springboard to build an entire worldview on it.
[00:29:53] Taylor: That was actually one of the more surprising things to me that you had both Engles and Marx - you had told a story where Engles and Marx were very excited to learn about the ideas of Darwin, which I found fascinating because I didn't understand why Engles and Marx, who are the founders of socialism and communism, would be interested in a worldview, in my mind, that almost sets up a meritocracy. The weak, the weak parish the strong survive. Why would socialist and communist leaders be interested in the ideas of Darwin that I think invalidate their economic policies or their social policy.
[00:30:43] Richard: Because they were only interested in certain parts of Darwinism and that's part of how it works out. Engels was actually more excited about Darwinism than Marx was. Engels, when he wrote to Marx about his reading of Darwin's book. His first thing that he said was that teleology has now been destroyed. That is teleology is the notion that there's purpose or there's a goal to biological processes. So what Engels loved about Darwinism was that it destroyed religion essentially.
[00:31:15] Or at least eliminated the need for religion. If organisms have purpose, then that implies that someone gave them that purpose and so that implies a creator of them. So this is what Engels liked about Darwinism. Marx, interestingly, also liked that side, the anti-religious side of Darwin, but Marx didn't like the idea about the struggle for existence.
[00:31:40] My dissertation that I did for my PhD at university of Iowa, that was completed 1994 is called Socialist Darwinism: Evolution in German Socialist Thought from Marx to Bernstein. And in that I show that Marx didn't like the struggle for existence. And so Marx actually in some of his correspondence with Engles, says that we ought to get back, we ought to promote the ideas of this guy named Pierre Tremaux, who hardly anyone heard of today. He was a French thinker who promoted an evolutionary theory that didn't rely on the struggle for existence. That instead claimed that evolution took place through environmental pressures - environmental influences.
[00:32:21] So Marx didn't like the idea of the struggle for, and especially and Engles and Marx, both made very clear, they didn't like the idea of the struggle for existence applied to humans. They certainly didn't appreciate that. And then if you look at other socialist thinkers and in my dissertation, I look at Carl Kowski, Edward Bernstein, who were two of the leading German socialists of the day, as well as some others.
[00:32:41] And then if you look, say at Lennon and Stalin and others later on. They actually like Lamarckian evolutionary theory, more than Darwinian evolutionary theory. They liked evolutionary theory because it got rid of the need for a God to have created anything. But they liked Lamarckism because it emphasized more the will of the individual and the environmental influences rather than competition.
[00:33:07] Taylor: There's a pocket of Christianity that I think is interested in socialism for the, I guess the most ideal version of itself we're gonna help the poor we're gonna help the less fortunate. Why did socialism see religion as an obstacle to growth or I guess wide adoption? And then why do you think that people have adopted it even within Christianity now? Do they not understand the origins of the worldview?
[00:33:38] Richard: Most of the early forms of socialism, even before Marx and Engels came on the scene, there was what was called utopian socialism. Robert Owen, for example, most of them were embracing socialism as a part of their rebellion against authority and the status quo.
[00:33:59] And part of that was rejection of Christianity and rejection of God. And Marx and Engles were gonna build upon those ideas when they came along. And Marx's claimed, of course, that religion is the opiate to the people. The opiate of the masses that is he saw religion as just being something that you, that the elites that are trying to oppress the working class use as a means to promise them pie in the sky, by-and-by so that I can oppress you in the here and now.
[00:34:29] So that's pretty much how Marx was seeing religion. There was however, in, even in the 19th century, a, a movement known as Christian socialism people who very often tried to hark back to the early days of Christianity, say in the book of Acts where it talks about them holding all things common. And in fact, there actually were Christian movements coming outta say the the Anabaptist movements in the 16th century that did. That actually did share things in common. Like the Hutterites did that. They were, they're a group that lives primarily today in Montana and in Canada, Southern Canada.
[00:35:07] But they did hold all their land in common and other things like that and practice that. So there were people in the 19th century who began promoting what was called Christian socialism at the time as well. But you're right, that most forms of socialism were intensely anti-Christian, anti-religious and such.
[00:35:27] And I think a lot of the people today who are beginning to think more about socialism, just don't really understand what's at stake and how it's always failed. And one of the things I talk about in my book, Death of Humanity, is that the thing that I find most objectional to socialism is not its economic system, but it's their view of humanity.
[00:35:52] And I think that's the biggest problem for most forms of socialism, because most forms of socialism assume that humans are basically good. And that, or at least that they're basically malleable and that if you just change the environment, then humans will, become good. This is what the Soviet experiment was about when Lenin took over after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 and then Stalin after him and Khrushchev and others.
[00:36:23] The Soviet experiment was about trying to create an economic system that would alter human nature. That would change who people are and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn does, I think, powerful job of dismantling that idea in his famous novel One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich. Where he just shows that human nature doesn't just change just because you change the economic system. And that one of the problems, again, in this whole worldview of many of the socialists of thinking of humans who basically good is that it ignores the notion that Christianity has taught for centuries, that humans are basically sinful. And that left to themselves, they're not going to cooperate and do everything good to each other.
[00:37:10] So the idea behind socialism is that humans are basically cooperative. And if we just get out of the, if we just will change the system, and by the way, that's a big word that you see in a lot of these collectivist mentalities and social mentality systems, systemic. We see the systemic racism, systemic this, systemic that. They're blaming the system for everything and claiming that humans aren't really the problem.
[00:37:34] Christianity on the other hand, teaches that humans are the problem. We are sinful beings and we need to have a change of our hearts that can only come through Jesus Christ. So socialists miss that element of the real problem of humanity and how to solve it. In my view.
[00:37:53] Taylor: I'm gonna put a scenario to you. Let's presume that you're a king of the world and you are going to establish this new system and you're gonna have it mirror Christianity exactly. We're gonna value people. We're gonna value individuals. We're gonna love on people. It's gonna be all of the exact same tenets as Christianity. Why do none of these people have that as their worldview? Is a belief in God necessary to make the worldview of Christianity make sense?
[00:38:23] Richard: I'm not sure quite what you're getting at. What you're describing here is what Jesus is gonna do when he comes to reign. He's gonna bring about a imposition of his reign on the earth. I don't think we, as humans can do that because we're sinful beings and our fellow humans are sinful beings too.
[00:38:43] So while we're on the earth, we have to governments that restrain the evil. And in, in the early parts of American history, this was understood. When you see the way that the United States government was set up, initially, a lot of the separation of powers for example, was put in place because they knew we couldn't trust any one individual. That's why they didn't set up a king to do everything because they realized that a king could be corrupt. A king could act in sinful ways. And so instead they had a separation of powers where Congress and the president and the courts were all supposed to be balancing each other's power so that no one could get to powerful because they knew that humans were basically sinful and that needed to be restrained. And so that's the purpose of government on the earth today is to restrain that evil.
[00:39:38] Taylor: I guess what I'm getting at is that - it seems like all of these worldviews they end with "we need to change humanity. We need to change the individual." But through the use of systems. Does it always end in violence of that sort when you don't have the underpinning of God?
[00:39:58] Richard: That's a tough question because of course, if we look back in the history of Christianity or at least what has been called Christianity, there are also times where they have imposed violence to try to impose their views on others.
[00:40:11] So it really comes down, I think, in, in the sense that this violence issue. It's the sense where people are trying to impose an ideology and it could be any, it could be an ideology that calls itself Christianity. In my view, a false kind of Christianity. Roman Catholicism in the middle ages with the inquisition and with the crusades and other things like that, or it can be a socialist system, but the problem is that they're they're trying to impose their ideology on everyone and in order for their system to work, everyone has to be in lockstep with that system. So there's no sense of tolerance or toleration for people who don't agree with their system, because you are, you're evil essentially. You're evil. You're the problem we need to get rid of you.
[00:41:01] This is by the way, I think what's happening in our society in the United States today too. Where we are becoming far more intolerant under the name, under the guise of tolerance sometimes. You see the word tolerance being used, but what if you don't, but what if you're not tolerant? Then we're gonna be intolerant towards you. We're gonna be intolerant toward the intolerant, and so we're gonna just anyone who's intolerant, they're just out. And anyone who doesn't agree with your particular thing automatically, they're part of systemic racism, or whatever it is, whatever the thing is that they're trying to get at. We have a huge amount of intolerance that's surfacing in our society today because people believe that they need to impose their worldview on everyone and anyone who doesn't accept that is somehow evil.
[00:41:49] Taylor: Do you think true tolerance is It stems from Christianity?
[00:41:53] Richard: I think it has, yeah. And I think that it comes from the sermon on the Mount in particular. Unfortunately there are forms of Christianity that have not adhered to the sermon on the Mount and have gone about trying to kill their enemies rather than loving their enemies.
[00:42:08] But in the Sermon on the Mount, it says, love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. So that's the base of tolerance right there. You love people, even if they disagree with you and even if they hate you and even if they hate you for it, you still love them. And that even go by the way goes a step beyond tolerance, because tolerance does not - love is even going beyond tolerance. Love means you're actually sacrificing for them and trying to bless them. Tolerance just means you leave them alone and don't hurt them.
[00:42:49] Taylor: So I want to take a step back. You had touched on it a little bit. So when you were talking about Darwinism, you said it erases purpose. Why does a mechanism that leads to speciation, devoid of God, erase purpose?
[00:43:07] Richard: Well Darwin knew that in order to convince his contemporaries of his theory, that he was gonna have to try to show that there were variations that took place and that these speciation events took place without the intervention of any kind of God. And so what he tried to do was show that variation is random. And this is one of the key tenets of Darwin's own theory. Now, of course, there are people that came along later, especially some who tried to say to meld Christianity in Darwinism or something who would say God could have intervened in the process and, and changed things along tinkered with things along the way, but that's not Darwin's view Darwin clearly viewed that there was no intervention of God and thus no purpose. It's all taking place by chance, random processes. And if you look at most of the Darwinian literature today, as well, most evolutionists believe that evolution is a process that takes place without any kind of divine intervention without any kind of purpose. It's completely random. And thus everything that's been produced has been produced through these random processes plus scientific natural laws.
[00:44:19] Taylor: So let's take a specific example, Sam Harris. He's an atheist. I would presume that he feels like his life has a purpose. He continues on living. He continues to work. He continues to love his family. Is he just mistaken? Is anybody who doesn't believe in God mistaken that their life has purpose? Or do you think that they haven't considered the idea to its full extent of what that actually means?
[00:44:46] Richard: There's a lot of atheists who themselves will admit that life has no overarching purpose, but they will then argue that they can give it purpose, in whatever way they want to. So in fact, Jerry Coyne has actually said this very explicitly. I'm not I'm not sure if Harris has broached this or not, maybe he has, but I have read Jerry Coyne's writings in his blogs and his books where he's talked about this issue of purpose. And he admits that there's no overarching purpose for his life outside of himself, but he says that he can make his own purposes.
[00:45:21] He's living his life and you're right, he's going about doing these things, but he claims and his view is that there's nothing, there's no purpose beyond what he gives to it. So he certainly believes there's no purpose beyond the grave and that when he dies, everything's gonna be extinguished in his view. And so he, he sees purposes, just something that he gives to his own life. But I think here, interestingly, and this is one thing I do try to show in the Death of Humanity too. I think there's ways in which there's a lot of secular thinkers who are inconsistent in their thought. Somehow deep down, they know that there's purpose and that there's meaning to life.
[00:45:58] And the example that really blew me away when I was studying and researching for the book, the Death of Humanity was Bertrand Russell. Bertrand Russell was one of the most famous early 20th century, British philosophers. He was an atheist and in all of his public writings he embraces atheism. He says very forthrightly in his writings that life has no meaning - has no purpose. It's just the product of random events. And he basically believes that we came about through evolutionary process over billions of years and that's it. There's no afterlife or anything like that.
[00:46:42] However, interestingly, while I was doing research, I discovered that he wrote some letters to a lady that he was in love with in the early 20th century. And I quote from these extensively in The Death of Humanity. And in there, he talks about the fact that he has this inner longing for God and desire for God, even though he doesn't think he exists, but he says it gives his whole life, meaning. He says, it gives his whole life purpose - This search or whatever you wanna call it for this what something transcendent and he uses those terms and even calls it God. But then he says, but I don't think it exists, but this search for he says is what gives my life meaning and purpose. And so I think there's a level at which we all have a conscience. We all have some God given awareness, I believe that there is a God. And what Augustine the great church father called the vacuum or no, it was Pascal actually that called it a vacuum, a God shaped vacuum in our souls. That we have this desire for God that, when we really reflect and start thinking about our lives, we know that we have there's meaning and purpose beyond it. But unfortunately some people just talk themselves out like Bertrand Russell. You know they'll say, yeah, I have all these longings in my heart and life and such, but then they'll say, but it doesn't really exist.
[00:48:07] CS Lewis had a very interesting take on that too. CS Lewis of course, was an atheist himself before he became a Christian. And Lewis made the the argument in I think it was in Mere Christianity, if I recall correctly. He made the argument that just like we have a hunger for food, which implies there is food. And we get thirsty for drink because there's water. He's saying in our spirits, we have this longing for God, which implies God, that implies there's something to satisfy it. And CS Lewis himself, of course, was an atheist early in his life. And he had, he somehow recognized still, even in those times of his atheism, that he did have some this longing for God and ultimately he found that satisfied in Christianity.
[00:48:57] Taylor: What I found interesting is that you said that they can define purpose themselves. It almost seems to me that it, without the idea of God, the word itself bears no meaning if you're defining your own purpose, then it's not purposeful. Like it loses any sense of meaning. I guess it could be pleasureful. It could be like this is nice to do. I feel happy doing this, but the idea of purpose feels like you have to have an objective standard to measure it against.
[00:49:34] Richard: I agree with you thoroughly. I think you're right. And I think they do are manipulating words in that respect because what they really are acknowledging that there is no real purpose to their lives. And the same thing is true with morality. If you can just create your own morality, it's not really morality anymore. It's just, everyone's opinion, then you can just make, create whatever you want.
[00:49:56] Taylor: It seems like a lot of these thinkers share a lot of the terms that I would consider rooted in Christianity, as an idea. They talk in terms of good and bad and morality and purpose, and it doesn't make sense to me how they can even derive the idea of good or bad. Or communism, for instance, they can say the poor are downtrodden and mistreated, which only makes sense if there's such a thing as bad. It only makes sense in the space of God to me.
[00:50:32] Richard: Yeah, I agree with you thoroughly. And, Marx uses the word oppression an awful lot which implies that oppression is a bad thing. That it's something that we need to fight against and such. And, but yeah, you're right. Ultimately he has no, as far as I can tell, he has no resources in his worldview to say that it's objectively wrong. If there's no, God, if then what's the problem with some capitalist depressing a worker.
[00:50:59] What's the big deal? Again, the big deal for Marx's from what I can figure out is that he hates the government. He hates the economic elites and he has his hatred marks. See, this is the biggest problem. I think too marks was not motivated by love. He's motivated by hatred. He's not motivated by love for the masses. That's the, that's what he portrays himself as, wanting to help the masses. But I really think he's more motivated by hatred of the elites and trying to bring them down than he is of really trying to help the masses. Now, again, he's gonna claim that he's wanting to help the masses.
[00:51:39] If you look in Marx's writings, you will look in vain to try to find where he teaches people to love one another. It's not there. He doesn't talk about love. He doesn't talk about loving people. He talks about liberating people. He talks about ending oppression and other things like that, but he never talks about loving one another and there's some secular thinkers who've even forthrightly denied that love is a viable goal.
[00:52:09] Like Sigmund Freud, for example Freud argued that love one or love your neighbor as yourself is absurd. And he rejected it completely. Now there's a lot of secular things that won't go to that extent. They won't actually articulate that, but in essence, they've set it aside one way or another.
[00:52:27] Taylor: Why did Freud think love was a bad idea?
[00:52:31] Richard: He rejected the idea that you should love your neighbor as yourself because he thought that we have self love and that self-love was something that was positive and that we should be - Freud basically believed in the pursuit of pleasure. Freud believed in the utilitarian idea that pleasure is the highest good. And so he thought that the individual should be seeking after pleasure, not what's good for - not loving your neighbor as yourself and sacrificing for the sake of your neighbor.
[00:52:57] But I think a lot of other secular thinkers, even if they don't forthrightly reject that idea, Darwin actually said that he thought that love your neighbor as yourself was a good ideal. But again, he stripped it of any meaning by saying that it's just a biological instinct we have, and it doesn't have any objective validity. And I think that a lot of the other secular philosophies do likewise, even if they might say that love is a good thing. And again, a lot of'em, don't most, of'em, don't even talk about love. It's one of the things that by the way, is remarkably absent from most secular writing and such is any talk about love, loving other people.
[00:53:35] Nietzsche not only rejected love, Nietzsche very forthrightly rejected compassion, sympathy, pity. He thought those are bad. He thought that rather domination is good and such, and the "overman" should be dominating and controlling and manipulating other people, not loving and showing compassion. So Nietzsche also very forthrightly rejected the notion of love.
[00:54:00] Taylor: Nietzsche to me makes a lot of sense outside of the world of God. I think of him as the mirror image of the Bible. So if you remove God to me, he's what's left. It's a really cold worldview. Why do you think it's so attractive to people? Cause there's a whole, especially right now, there's a whole world of people that think very highly of him.
[00:54:23] Richard: Oh, yeah. And not just Nietzsche, but Heidegger and other existentialists, Sartre, and other existentialists after him. But yeah, Nietzsche has quite a following and the so-called post-modernist movement of the late 20th century, which is one of the major intellectual movements of late 20th century coming out of Michel Foucault's work and Jacques Derrida and such built very heavily upon Nietzsche's ideas.
[00:54:47] And once again, I think it's just a matter of rebellion against God and against morality and they're trying to dispense with all forms of morality that they see as impinging upon themselves. And so they see it as a way of, breaking with the dominant moral code of society.
[00:55:09] And they see Nietzsche being a way to do that. It's interesting if you look at the history of Nietzscheism. In the very early days of Nietzscheism back in the 1890s and early 19 hundreds there actually were a lot of people who embraced Nietzscheism who rejected some elements of Nietzscheism or some the elements of what Nietzsche was saying because they liked his rejection of God and rejection of morality.
[00:55:33] So for example, feminists there were a lot of feminists in the 1890s and early 1900s who loved Nietzsche. Despite the fact that Nietzsche was misogynistic. Nietzsche was very anti-female. But the reason the feminists loved Nietzsche was because he bashed religion and he bashed the dominant morality. And so they were trying to also tear down the dominant morality as well and so I think they see Nietzsche as being one that can help them.
[00:55:58] And very interestingly Foucault, not only loved Nietzsche, he also loved the Marquis de Sade, whom I mentioned earlier. Who was a late 18th century figure from which we get a name, the name sadism who taught that whatever promotes your pleasure, even if it's bashing someone else, even if it's hurting someone else, whatever promotes your pleasure, go for it. That's good. And Foucault would assign the Marquis de Sade to his students. He loved him so much. So
[00:56:28] Taylor: Marquis de Sade was the one that was in prison, right?
[00:56:31] Richard: Yes. He was as insane. He was considered insane by many of his contemporaries as well because he was, yeah, cause he's promoting radical ideas that you can just, you know, sexual libertinism, for example, whatever you wanna do sexually go for it.
[00:56:48] If you wanna hurt people and that pleases you and make gives you pleasure, go for it. So there's, and that's being promoted by a lot of people in that sort of camp today, too, this sort of sadism and the sadomasochistic sexual scene too, which unfortunately has become a part of some of our society.
[00:57:10] Taylor: Richard, let's take a step back. How do we get from Darwin makes his discoveries, how do we get from that to eugenics?
[00:57:20] Richard: Okay. Yeah, eugenics was the idea that we should try to create better biological specimens, especially humans. Okay so better humans. So basically breed better humans. And the way that came out of Darwinism was Francis Galton, who was Darwin's cousin, was reading Darwin's origin of species. And as he was reading it, he came upon this idea that because humans vary and although Darwin didn't talk a lot about humans in the origin of species. He only did that later in The Descent of Man. Most people understood that humans were included and in the last couple pages, he does mention humans and - light, he says, light will be thrown on human origins.
[00:58:04] Gaton recognized that humans were also varied like this. And so Galton thought that we, as humans, should try to help out the evolutionary process by weeding out those that we consider unfit or inferior biologically and promoting the prolific reproduction of those who we consider fit or, superior biological specimens.
[00:58:30] So the idea was basically to create a - to help humans evolve to a higher level, essentially or to escape from degeneration. Some thought that, and by the late 1800s, there were some thinkers who were warning that humans biologically were degenerating. And the reason why they thought we were degenerating was because we were helping the poor and the sick and the needy and that because of that, those people were then able to propagate the species.
[00:58:59] So they thought let's control reproduction one way or another. And there were several different ways to do that. And by the early 20th century, one of the most important ways that they found to try to control reproduction was sterilization.
[00:59:13] And in the early 20th century, in the United States, was the first place to introduce compulsory sterilization. Indiana was the first state to have it, but ultimately over half the United half of the States in the United States had compulsory sterilization laws that were based on this idea of eugenics that we need to try to, keep people who they considered inferior from reproducing.
[00:59:37] Germany was gonna have the most radical eugenics program under the Nazis. There were German eugenicists before the Nazi period. But they weren't able to get it legislated in German law before that time. And the Nazis were now by far the most radical eugenics program. Introducing compulsory sterilization. They compulsory sterilized 1 out of every 200 Germans in a six year period.
[01:00:03] And then they began killing people with disabilities. They killed about 200,000 Germans plus tens of thousands of others in occupied territories during World War II whom they considered mentally disabled or physically disabled, if you were congenitally blind or deaf or whatever they would kill them to try to keep them from reproducing.
[01:00:23] So that's really what the eugenics movement was and the people who were promoting eugenics just about all of the early figures in the eugenics movement were Darwinists who believed that Darwinism underpinned these ideas.
[01:00:36] Taylor: So I actually watched some of the videos on your website as well. Could you tell me about, so taking a step back from I guess the World War II era eugenics, there was eugenics that kind of influenced Hitler as a young man as well. Correct?
[01:00:52] Richard: Yeah. Although there's no real evidence that Hitler embraced eugenics until about the time, a little before he started writing Mein Kampf so somewhere around 1923. So I'm not sure we have, there - there was a thriving German eugenics movement while he was - during World War II, even before World War I. In fact, in my book from Darwin to Hitler, evolutionary ethics, eugenics, and racism in Germany, I cover mainly the pre 1914 period. There was a lot of eugenics going on before that in Germany. Hitler himself probably was not heavily influenced by it though until after World War I but there were other Germans again that were promoting it's many German scientists and others promoting it.
[01:01:29] And by the way, it was being promoted by scientists. This was not just by a bunch of quacks or people just - journalistic hacks or something. These be promoted by serious scientists of the time in the United States. One of the most important persons promoting it was Charles Davenport who had taught at Harvard university and then later became the head of Cold Spring Laboratory, which was a eugenics center.
[01:01:55] But there were other major scientists in the US promoting the idea as well. Again at Harvard and other major universities and Stanford and other major universities around the United States. In Germany was being promoted at the highest levels also by scientists at the time too. And it was gonna have an impact then ultimately on Hitler and others, as they tried to put it into practice
[01:02:15] Eugenics does not necessarily imply racism, but the fact of the matter is in the 1890s and early 19 hundreds, most eugenics was racist because they thought because the majority of scientists at the time, biologists, anthropologists, certainly Darwinian biologists believed that races had evolved to different levels.
[01:02:35] And so they thought that human races were unequal. They were varying. In fact, Darwin had used this as a Evidence for human evolution, the races, because he thought the races were so disparate. They're so different from each other. And he thought they were different from each other, not just physically, but also intellectually. And he thought, of course, that the Europeans were on top of the pile here intellectually. He thought they were different from each other morally. He thought they had different moral character as a result of their biological differences. So Darwin used that as evidence for human evolutiony
[01:03:11] Taylor: You had a chart in one of your books that had the higher and lesser homo sapiens or something like that. Was that a eugenics era German propaganda thing?
[01:03:23] Richard: Well, that actually was from Ernst Haeckel, who was the leading German Darwinist that the sketch was from 1870 of the different races, but it was still a pretty common idea by the early 20th century as well. In fact, you can look at American biology textbooks of the early 20th century and you'll find the same kind of thing where they have all sorts of sketches and diagrams showing the Europeans being the highest race, and then going down to the other races and then finally down to the apes and typically they in fact, in that particular diagram, you mentioned Ernst Haeckel claimed in the caption to it that the highest human was further away from the lowest human then the lowest human was from the highest ape. So in other words, he's saying that the distance between humans and apes, the lowest human race and the highest ape is actually closer. There's closer than the dis distance between the lowest humans in the highest humans. So Haeckel thought that there was huge differences between human races but not much difference between the Australian Aborigines and apes. They're pretty close, he thought.
[01:04:40] Taylor: I think you talked about it, but wasn't there like Aborigines exhibit in America or something like there was a, I think it was Brooklyn Zoo or the Bronx Zoo?
[01:04:50] Richard: Yes. That's right. Yeah, the Bronx zoo. Yeah. What happened there is Ota Benga who was a Pygmy from the Congo in Africa was brought over for the St. Louis World's Fair. And after the St. Louis World's Fair ultimately maybe I shouldn't say ultimately, but for a time he was sent to New York where he was put in the zoo. And that went on for a number of months where he was put in with the primates and the zoo curators and others were hailing this as, the missing link between, that he, as this African Pygmy was a missing link between the humans and the apes or ape ancestors and such. African American pastors in New York were livid and protested strongly against this exhibit, but they met resistance.
[01:05:46] So this was going on for a number of months in New York. And he was put on display as a missing link. And this was not the only time humans were put on display. It's the only time I know of in the early 20th century when they were put on in a zoo but there. Human display is going on in Germany and other parts of Europe and Britain at the time. Usually not in zoos though, where they would bring in Africans to give different shows. They would sort be traveling shows or like a circus or something like that with these Africans showing them. And, but a lot of times they were depicting them as missing links. But then interestingly, if you fast forward to closer to today, zoos in the modern, in the last couple decades have had displays of humans, usually just temporary displays.
[01:06:37] The London zoo in 2005, for example, had a display of humans for several days. The Adelaide Australian Zoo also had a display. Copenhagen Zoo had a display. I think that was in the 1990s for the Copenhagen one. But they had displays of humans. And the basic message they were trying to send was that humans are just another kind of animal.
[01:06:59] Taylor: You have the first zoo display being just open racism and devaluing of human life. But then you have a modern display to make a provocative marketing point that were "just humans" - one of many species of animals.
[01:07:21] Richard: You're right. That the later displays were not necess were not racist. They were in fact, usually portraying people of European descent that were in those zoos in Copenhagen and in London and such but the basic idea of humans just being animals and not having any value, any more value than other animals was part of the display.
[01:07:41] Taylor: Yeah. And that's what I was gonna say is that I feel like, there was outright racism and then the modern display is they think highly of themselves as evolved thinkers that "we're just animals". But it seems to me that they're both hooked into the same ideology of devaluing human as uniquely special.
[01:08:05] Richard: Yeah, exactly. And in fact, if you look at the publicity for those zoo exhibits, they actually say that forthrightly, they say that we're trying to show that humans do not have any more value than other animals. In fact, in the London zoo, one of the pieces of publicity said that humans are and this is quote "plague species", "humans are a plague species".
[01:08:27] There are some who are even gonna step beyond undermining the value of human life and trying to say that human life is the problem. Human life is we need to get rid of, and there's a spectacular example of this that I raise in my book too. Where University of Texas ecologist named Eric Pianka gave a talk where he suggested that 90% of the human population or that he suggested it would be a good thing if 90% of the human population were wiped out.
[01:08:57] And he said, he hoped that some Ebola strain might become airborne and accomplish this. Now he wasn't saying that he was gonna go out and try to kill 90% of the population. He wasn't saying that at all. He wasn't trying to promote murder or anything like that. But he did say that he thinks it would be a good thing if 90% of the human population were would get exterminated somehow or other.
[01:09:19] Taylor: Because that would be ultimately good for the world. Is that the thinking behind -
[01:09:24] Richard: Yeah, he's an ecologist and so yes he thinks that's good for the environment of the it'd be good for other organisms on the planet. Yeah.
[01:09:33] Taylor: So you have a story in your book about Dawkins wanting to re-engineer the Australopithecine. I think I'm saying that correctly, but it was an argument for the pro-life position. Can you tell that story? I didn't understand fully how that would've been an argument for - Against the pro-life position. I should be accurate against, not for.
[01:09:57] Richard: Basically Dawkins said that if we could engineer an Australopithecine, this would show that which was a supposed ancestor of modern humans, that this would show that there's this being that's midway between ape species and humanity. And he thought that would then underscore the notion that humans are not distinct from animals. It would show that we're just on a continuum with other animals. And so he believed that this would then prove the point that humans' lives are not particularly special. We're just on this continuum. And we're just like the other animals that we don't have any more value than other animals at all. And so ultimately Dawkins believe that undermines in the pro-life position.
[01:10:47] But it's interesting if you think about that position, if that's true, that humans have no more value than animals and it's unclear why that would not also undermine the opposition to murder. So it, yeah, it might undermine opposition to killing a baby in the womb, but why wouldn't it also undermine the killing of the baby after it is out of the womb or when the baby's five years - grows to five years old or when it's 10 years old or, whatever.
[01:11:19] Dawkins doesn't think about the fact that if human life is not any more valuable than animals, then why can't we just kill humans the way we kill animals? What's wrong with genocide? And in fact, interesting. And then you, I, interestingly too Dawkins at one point when he was being interviewed, made a comment, thinking about genocide, Dawkins made a comment that, that what is wrong about Hitler is actually difficult to discern, he said at one point. Dawkins I think at some level recognizes that his own worldview really can't condemn even Hitler and his genocide, because there's no real value to any human life.
[01:12:00] So Hitler killing 6 million Jews, well the 6 million Jews their lives don't have any value, in his worldview. So what difference does it make if Hitler kills them? It might undermine the pro-life position, but it also undermines any opposition to genocide or racism or other things like that as well.
[01:12:19] Taylor: I'm not even fully convinced that the idea of re-engineering some middle species would even erase the idea of God. You're part of the Discovery Institute and there's a lot of thinkers over there that believe in the idea of intelligent design. I see no reason that God couldn't use evolution as a function of how he wanted to build something. It's just a process.
[01:12:44] Do you feel like these ideas leave room for people that believe in intelligent design? Meaning a God led process that can use speciation of any sort and then the beginning is really the imparting of the soul onto the individual?
[01:13:08] Richard: I think that is a way that things could be interpreted. That's not my own particular position but there are people in the intelligent design movement who do believe that you can have speciation taking place and such and still have intelligent design. Now Dawkins himself has claimed that Darwinism is what makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist as he says it.
[01:13:31] And so I think that Dawkins himself as well as many other atheists see Darwinism as getting rid of any need for a creator. So they think that you're trying to sneak things in the back door just because you believe it for tradition's sake or your family or society or whatever. They don't see any need for it any longer with Darwinian evolution.
[01:13:52] And I think there's - I think they do have a point there. And even a lot of the people who claim to be Christian evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, a lot of times there's much more. If you look at what their actual biological theory is, there's a lot more evolution and very little theism in their biological theories.
[01:14:15] In fact, most people that call themselves theistic evolutionists are very opposed to intelligent design. Now there are people like Mike Behe, who's a part of Discovery Institute also, who embraces intelligent design, who also believes in universal common descent. So it's possible to believe in that, but there aren't very many people that do. Behe is kind of an exception to that it seems to me.
[01:14:40] Taylor: You actually - one of the things that I found interesting, and you touched on here a little bit, you were saying that some of these thinkers almost wish there were a God. You had mentioned a story about Darwin that his, I think maybe it was his family or it was a belief in God. He had struggled with God as an idea. And you thought that could have affected his theory. Is that, am I getting that correct?
[01:15:11] Richard: What happened was Darwin when he went onto his Voyage of the Beagle claimed that he was pretty Orthodox in his Christian beliefs. He'd gone to Cambridge, he'd studied he'd studied theology, actually. He's trying to go into the Anglican priesthood, although he never did that. But when he got back, he spent a lot of time with his brother who was a free thinker, just like his father had been. Free thinker was a term you used at the time for either atheist or agnostics -people that were rejecting religion.
[01:15:44] And basically his faith eroded considerably in those days, in the mid to late 1830s. As he was starting to deal with or come up with his biological theory of evolution. And by the time he wrote the origin of species in 1859, it's pretty clear that he had gotten rid of all belief in any kind of personal God.
[01:16:13] He may still have believed in a God that created the universe and then left it alone. He might have still believed in that, although it's not even clear but certainly he didn't believe in a personal God. And then by the time he wrote The Descent of Man, it's clear that he had, he was a complete agnostic, and he even used that term for himself in correspondent and other things too so by he pretty much had moved to an agnostic position by that time.
[01:16:40] One of the reasons why, by the way that he gave us as one of the most important reasoning for it was the problem of suffering, which was bandied about a lot in the 19th century. That is the idea "how can there be a good God if they're suffering in the universe".
[01:16:55] Taylor: He prescribed that to nature. Is that how he would've defined it?
[01:17:00] Richard: Yeah, he thought it was just a, yeah, he thought it was just a random process of nature. And interestingly Darwin was going to provide something. What I call a secular theodyssey for the notion of suffering, because Darwin was claiming that these struggle for existence, which creates suffering and death, was producing something better. It was producing this evolutionary process where things are getting better and progressing and such.
[01:17:27] Darwin has this way that suffering and death actually becomes good. Unlike the Christian world, viewer death is an enemy. The last enemy to be overcome. Darwin sees death as being something that produces progress and thus death is actually good.
[01:17:42] Taylor: Is that why a lot of the ideologies that follow, see no issue with death - in forms of suicide? You had spoken in the book that people - that there was an uptick in people believing that it would be good for society that if you killed yourself if you were a burden on others. That sort of idea.
[01:18:03] Richard: Yeah, exactly. They're saying okay. If, and if in, yeah, exactly. If it if the unfit perish in the struggle for existence then, and that produces biological progress, biological evolution, then in the human species, if we get rid of these unfit people, kill them or commit suicide or whatever, if you are one of them, then that'll produce biological progress. So yeah, they saw death in the human species as producing biological progress too.
[01:18:34] Taylor: Is there an uptick in the amount of suicide and death after the popularization of these ideologies?
[01:18:40] Richard: There was actually a big uptick in suicide during the enlightenment period as people began to there was actually some debate over suicide as well that went on during the enlightenment period as well. Now I haven't, I didn't have tracked all the numbers all the way through the centuries, but I know there were upticks at times when secular ideas were becoming more important. And we see that uptick by the way today today in the past couple of decades in the United States, there has been an increase of secularization.
[01:19:09] There are more people today who disbelieve in God than there were 20 years ago. I think the latest statistic on the Pew research polls was like 81% of people in the United States now believe in God, where it was much higher than that in the, say the 1990s. But yeah, we are seeing an uptick of suicide. You can't, I'm sure there are varieties of causes. It's not the only cause of the uptick of suicides, but I believe that is one. People don't have a reason to live if there is no God and there is no purpose in life, then if I'm having problems and suffering and such why go on? End my existence.
[01:19:49] And so I think that does create the attitude. And in fact, I've actually talked to people who've said that was their attitude about life. And of course these are people who didn't actually commit suicide or at least if they did, they survived it and then, and lived another day to, to do it. But there are people committing suicide because they don't see any purpose or meaning in life. And once you've eliminated God, you have eliminated purpose and meaning,
[01:20:16] Taylor: You had talked about, I guess at the beginning of the enlightenment, you have the separation of religion and science. So religion's gonna deal with meaning. Science is gonna deal with facts. But I had never thought about it like this before that it seems part of what you're saying is that there is no such thing as facts without a worldview attached to them. Is that fair?
[01:20:38] Richard: Yeah, I think there's facts and meetings go hand in hand and trying to separate them out the way say Stephen Jay Gould does and he doesn't even do it successfully. Stephen J. Gould put forward this idea called non-overlapping magisteria, which is exactly what you just described. That religion is in one - religion and morality is about meaning and purpose in life. And everyone can have their own opinions about that. That's your own personal ideas. Science is about facts and that's something that's universal and that we all can agree on and such. We might disagree on religion and morality such, but we can all agree on science.
[01:21:16] Well the problem is that there's much more overlap than Gould wanted to say that there was. And if you read Gould's own writings, he writes things about morality and such that make clear that he does see there's more overlap than he's willing to say.
[01:21:32] Taylor: Why do you think these ideas continue to be attractive to people?
[01:21:38] Richard: Unfortunately, once you have rejected notions about God morality or maybe I should put it this way too - when you have seen people who perhaps have embraced Christianity, but who are not the best examples, society, then you tend to reject that too. So I think there's a lot of things going on. There's our own sinful nature. There's our - the bad examples that we have of people that call themselves Christians. There's just our own tendencies to want to do what we wanna do instead of what God or others want us to do. So I think there's a lot of things driving us down the road away from God. And unfortunately over the past 50 years we, aside from the Jesus people movement in the 1960s and seventies, after that time we haven't really seen any significant major ups surges of Christianity that have been a model and that have shown the love of Jesus and shown love to other people and such in a broad way for the entire society to see. And we're becoming more polarized as a people, as a result of all of this. So there's a variety of reasons why these things that are driving these things. I find it unfortunate.
[01:23:07] I think people, many people, I think deep in their hearts recognize that there's a God recognize - have a longing for love. That's not being fulfilled in other ways, but unfortunately a lot of times we're searching for it in the wrong ways, by searching for pleasure, by searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places, through drugs or alcohol or money or sex or whatever it is. And ultimately, unfortunately, we're finding that these things don't fulfill more and more people are living broken lives. We're seeing upticks in crime. We're seeing upticks in suicide. We're seeing upticks in children with mental problems. And unfortunately, as far as I can tell so far, it doesn't seem like people are really waking up to, "Hey, these are the consequences of the the rejection of God and of the kind of lifestyle that we're pursuing".
[01:24:03] But I'm hopeful that perhaps people will start to wake up and start seeing that the negative consequences that we are now enduring, in all sorts of ways, does have a solution. And that solution is in Christ.
[01:24:19] Taylor: I'm optimistic. I think there's a younger generation of people that have hit the bottom in terms of pursuing pleasure. I've been there myself and I don't think there's much purpose to be had there. And I think people are starting to see that.
[01:24:33] Richard: Yeah. And again, I think that longing for love and acceptance and such that we all have that can only really be fulfilled when we're accepted by God. But then also not just by God, that's the most important part, but then also by the people of God by fellow Christians. When I in my participation inC hurches and such, and again, I realize there's a lot of churches out there that unfortunately are not living the kind of love that they should be. But, I experience so much love and acceptance and fellowship with the people around. It's just amazing. And I know that's what a lot of people are looking for. But they don't know where to find it.
[01:25:17] Unfortunately, sometimes they feel like they're just gonna, I think sometimes they feel like in the churches, they're just gonna face judgment and people are gonna look down on them and, be harsh toward them. But, that's not really the case. And a lot of times it's more of our fears than the reality. The reality is, at least that I've experienced in most of the churches I've been in, is that no matter where you're at, they're very willing to love and accept and help you and whatever. But unfortunately, sometimes our fears get in our way.
[01:25:47] Taylor: No, I totally agree with you. I'm right there with you. I actually think this is a perfect place to stop and we'll leave it on that note. Thank you again for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. I think people are gonna get a lot of value out of this conversation.
[01:26:04] Richard: Yeah. Thanks for having me. It's been great talking to you.
[01:26:07] Taylor: Thanks again to Richard for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. And I loved our discussion. If you'd like to learn more about Richard, you can check out his lectures on YouTube, or you can check out his most recent book, Darwinian Racism. I personally recommend that you guys also go check out the Death of Humanity, which would discuss a lot in the episode. Both of the books are available on Amazon. If you wanna support this show, you can subscribe here or you can go check out our mobile app, Hope Mindfulness & Prayer, which is available in the Google and Apple app stores.