Monday, September 5, 2011

10 Books

Another book I have been reading that my brother loaned me is 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help.Not too surprisingly, the greatest charge leveled against many of these books is their atheistic view point as if atheism was the source of these books malevolence and any idea or opinion the books espouse is either not relevant or the result of the atheism.

Though I do not necessarily disagree that some of these books are wrong, Doctor Wiker misinterprets some of them, perhaps through no fault of his own. One common theme is to blame on Darwin the ideas of social Darwinism and the misguided eugenics programs. No one can dispute that Darwin developed the idea of natural selection, the process by which all life evolved on this planet. Following the idea of natural selection comes survival of the fittest.

This idea of survival of the fittest has been misinterpreted to mean survival of the strong over the weak. It is this misinterpretation that Wiker accepts and that many of the writers following Darwin accepted. This is the root of social Darwinism that had led to much suffering. Our moral sense evolved during a time when humans were divided into tribes so that we naturally have a sense of compassion and caring for our in group and despise the out group. Social Darwinism divides the strong and the weak into separate groups. How to people turn members of their in group into the out group? Through stories.

We are good at telling ourselves stories to justify the divisions we create. But if we look at history, when we expand the in group, everybody wins. Tribes who were once at war with each other, once they begin to trade and accept each other as equals obtain a more peaceful and stable lifestyle.

Slavery was once legal here in the US which was not ended until after a bloody war. After the war, slave owners certainly had a reduced quality of life for themselves, but the overall well being of society increased. Because slaves were free they could earn a living how they chose and their productivity increased. This lead to increases in well being for all at least until Jim Crow laws like segregation and minimum wage were instituted.

It wasn't just Darwin that was misread, however. Several books mentioned contained ideas that are dangerous whether implemented by an atheist or a Christian. I think I will save that for another time, though.

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