I think I'll let the first real post concern the laugh riot of a blog that is Uncommon Descent. Bill Dembski (an evil man who reported a professor to the DHS for no good reason) and his blogger friends (like Sal Cordova, who has an unusual obsession with penises) have been in an amusing state of uproar over the release of the scatological film Expelled. At this post, Dembski (whose freakish blogging behavior must be costing him any remaining tidbit of academic credibility) defends Exelled's attempt to link Darwinism to Nazism:
In other words, Hitler saw himself as undoing a negative form of artificial selection due to society. Hence, when David Berlinski says that something like Darwinism was a necessary condition for Nazism, he is spot on. -Dembski [in comments]
Now it is an interesting question how intentionally misleading and underhanded Dembski is. I have been given to understand, by some of those much more familiar with him than I, that he might be aptly compared with a snake. The sort of disgusting rhetoric witnessed above is evidence of this claim, if it is assumed that Dembski is not a complete idiot. I take it he is not a complete idiot. Therefore, he is a snake. He eschews no strategy, however despicable, for propagating his ideas. In this case, he thinks he can promote ID by manipulating the beliefs of the folk so they link adherence to evolutionary theory with vicious character. But enough of Dembski's pernicious reasons for making statements like the above. What of the superficial facade of reasons he erects to conceal his real motives?
Well, the juvenile reasoning Dembski offers in support of this nonsense (see the comments thread) runs like this. Darwin asserted that civilization creates a climate in which the weak and unfit, who would otherwise have been weeded out by natural selection, manage to survive. Furthermore, the Nazis took themselves be accomplishing the weeding out of the unfit which civilization prevents natural selection from effecting. Let's (reasonably) suppose all this is true. There is still no interesting sense in which Darwinism can be said to be a necessary condition for Nazism.
Why is that? First, one ought to note that for Darwin, the terms "weak" and "unfit" are descriptive rather than normative. An organism is "weak" or "unfit" just in case the organism will not naturally be selected for. What organisms count as "weak" and "unfit" will depend, in part, on the circumstances these organisms find themselves in. In the right sort of circumstances, the blind would not be weak or unfit, though, for example, in natural and well-lit circumstances in which carnivorous creatures with well-developed capacities of sight are prevalent, they will count as "unfit". Hence, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever which is offensive, to either general principles of moral law or reason, about the claim that civilization permits, aids and promotes the survival of the weak and unfit. This claim is purely descriptive when made about current civilizations. But if taken more generally, it's just analytic, that is, true in virtue of the meanings of the constituent terms. The unfit are those who wouldn't be likely to survive or procreate without the help of others, that is, without (loosely speaking) civilization. Since that claim is analytic, it is necessarily true. As such, its truth is a necessary condition for Nazism.
Of course, the truth of any necessarily true proposition is a necessary condition for Nazism. This includes the truth of the proposition that 2 + 2 = 4, and the truth of the proposition that god exists (if, per impossible, it were true). Dembski takes god to be a necessary being. So Dembski might just as well have asserted that god's existence is a necessary condition for Nazism. This would not, however, have had the pernicious rhetorical effect Dembski was after.
Suppose I were to introduce a new sense of "unfit". Say that someone is "unfit" if they do have the intellectual horsepower and respect for careful argument needed to survive in a rigorous academic environment. Departments often convene and vote down offers to job applicants because they are unfit. Here, "unfit" has a purely descriptive sense. Those who are "unfit" will not survive in academia without "outside help". This is trivially true. In this sense of "unfit", Dembski is unfit. But from the fact that Dembski is unfit, it doesn't follow that he ought to be exterminated. Only a moron would believe that. And if you suggested that departments ought to do away with this business of terming people unfit because it sets the stage, or is a necessary condition for, Nazism, you wouldn't be wanted in a department which votes on job offers based on assessments of fitness. First, because you couldn't participate in part of department life. But really because you'd be a crackpot.
Of course, Darwin himself recognized that the trivial truth that the weak and unfit would not be likely to survive or reproduce without the help of civilization does not entail that the weak and unfit ought to be exterminated. In fact, he explicitly denounced the notion that the "weak" and "unfit" ought not receive aid because they are "weak" and "unfit". He took it to be obvious that only savages, barbarians and creeps would make that sort of statement:
The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. -Darwin, The Descent of Man
It takes perverts and morally depraved whackjobs to wage campaigns of mass extermination. It takes a lying snake or an ignorant blockhead to suggest that anything Darwin said had any relevance whatsoever to Nazism. Sure, a sloppy thinker might make the mental slide from someone's being descriptively unfit for survival in the wild to them being normatively unfit in the sense of not deserving to live. Many people have made that mental slide, I suppose. But this is because they don't think clearly. Dembski is trying to elicit this mental slide in his readers, and he is condoning Ben Stein's similar attempt to elicit that mental slide. Now Ben Stein made much of his money as a snake oil salesman (doing political speechwriting). So it's no surprise that Expelled is a load of trash. But Dembski is supposed to be an academic. Instead, he's peddling bullshit in an attempt to get people who don't think clearly to hate on evolution. And he knows it.
But I think matters are worse than that. Not being a complete idiot, Dembski crafts his sentences carefully. He wants to have a pernicious influence on other's thinking while nevertheless leaving himself room to retreat when pressed. So he is peddling carefully crafted bullshit. Thus his penchant for terms "Darwinism" and "Nazism", which he'll be able to define in almost any way he likes, and his reliance on modifiers such as "something like". This is a common ID move. Dembski knows that it is Social Darwinism, or something like it, that may have provided some of the underpinnings of Nazism. But Social Darwinism bears no interesting connection to current evolutionary theory, ID, or Charles Darwin's own theory.
Dembski and Pals want to get people to reject evolutionary theory. In this case, their tactic is to move from evolutionary theory to Darwinism to Social Darwinsim or something like it, to the underpinnings of Nazism. Then they will point out that Nazism is horrifying, and hope that you'll transfer that horror back through the dubious linkages they've implicitly set up and attach it to evolutionary theory. Dembski is trying to get you to make these mental links while leaving himself room to wiggle out of the claim that evolution has something to do with Nazism. When you point out that Darwinism has none of the consequences he claims it has, he'll retreat by telling you he meant "something like it" which is, really, nothing like it at all.
The philosophy that fueled German militarism and Hitlerism is taught as fact in every American public school, with no disagreement allowed. Every parent ought to know this story, which Weikart persuasively explains. -Phillip Johnson
Seriously? Just how stupid do you have to be to think that evolutionary theory "fueled" Hiterlism? When proponents of ID have to work this hard to get people to side with them against evolutionary theory, you ought to bet they don't have a peg leg to stand on. Dembski and Pals are running out of arguments almost as fast as they've been run out of the scientific community. Grab a cup of coffee, head over to Uncommon Descent and catch the show. Watch them in their flimsy little ship as they work hard, post by post and comment by comment, to take on water. Treat yourself to Dembski co-blogger Sal Cordova's work in Advanced Creation Research, which is even more hilarious than Uncommon Descent, if that's possible. Revel in the fact that for every careless thinker who joins their ranks, fifty more must be watching with wonder and horror at the absurd scene playing out online - proponents of the ID movement thrashing about wildly, bailing water in reverse, hastening their death throes.