Nazis, Evolution, and the Theo-Illogical Mind

I was reading a recent blog post by Dinesh D’Souza in which he manages two such flagrantly appalling misapplications of logic, that I feel compelled to review them…

The first is an example of the backwards Appeal to Nature fallacy that I pointed out the other day. I think I will start referring to this as the “Unappeal of Nature” fallacy. The typical Appeal to Nature fallacy is usually employed to make moral judgments about acts based on their natural- or unnatural-ness. That which occurs in nature is considered “good” and that which does not is “bad.” When it comes to evolution, however, the fallacy is twisted in an odd way.

As an argument against the acceptance of evolution D’Souza states: 

Nazis repeatedly invoked Darwinian evolution and that Nazi doctrine used “survival of the fittest” as a virtual recruiting phrase.

Linking evolution to Nazis is a fairly common technique of creationists. The general argument follows these lines: Continue reading

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Unnatural Gays and Natural Evolution?

An example of the Appeal to Nature fallacy is something like this: Animals are not gay, so being gay must be unnatural; therefore, it is bad. 

It think it is pretty easy to see that simply because something is “natural,” it is not necessarily “good”. Viruses, cyanide, and cannabis are all natural, yet we brutally slaughter our colds, we seldom serve cyanide Jell-o brand gelatin at dinner parties, and we spend billions per year in an attempt to stop jam-band fans from partaking upon the ganja.

And yet, this “logic” is so compelling to some that they fear recognizing evolution (as the natural process by which humans have come to exist) would require us to enact the strictest types of “Social Darwinism” and to do so would be “right.” This viewpoint is the basis of the failed Ben Stein joint “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” and of the many faith-based decision makers who embrace what is “natural” when it suits them — and vilify it when it does not… 

But we are not bound to be mirrors of the natural world; we have both logical and emotional facilities given by nature and which may be used to evaluate nature. We are no more bound to be socially-darwinian than we are bound to be socially-electro-magnetic or socially-quantum. Oh, and by the way, homosexuality occurs in nature.

“Because I Love Her” Is a Rational, Reasonable, and Logical Response

In his book The End of Faith Sam Harris points out, “People of faith naturally recognize the primacy of reason and resort to reasoning whenever they possibly can. Faith is simply the license they give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail” (232). To believe something true without evidence or in spite of evidence is called faith — and many consider it a great virtue. A semantic distinction becomes necessary here; I am not talking about faith as trust — as in, “I have faith my wife will show up on time.” This type of faith is likely based on experience, e.g. the many times my wife has been on-time. Having faith as the result of weighing and thinking through available evidence is simply how one operates in a reason-based worldview. Logic, emotion, and even subtle “subconscious” cues may add to and aid our evaluations and calculations, but this kind of faith requires no leaping or revelation. This kind of faith does not require faith. Continue reading