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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Darwinism and popular culture: Celebrating Darwin in the prison system

Over at MercatorNet, ethicist Bill Muelenberg observes the social disaster that Darwin's theories (as adopted by social scientists and policymakers) have visited upon us:

Consider the issue of crime and punishment. For much of human history crime was about punishment and restitution, based on the belief that humans had free will and were morally responsible for their actions.

But with the advent of Darwin -- in part -- academics and elites increasingly began to view humans as simply animals who needed treatment, not punishment. After all, if we are simply the products of our biology, how can we be held accountable for our actions? Such thinking flows directly out of Darwin’s materialistic account of evolution.

Thus the American lawyer who defended evolution in the famous Scopes trial, Clarence Darrow, for example, took materialistic Darwinism to its logical conclusion and argued that criminals are basically programmed by material forces. If men are simply machines, powerfully determined by their heredity and background, then crime and punishment must be radically redefined. Crime began to be studied not only in terms of one’s biology, but also in psychosocial terms. Crime was seen as a mental illness, not willful immorality. Criminals came to be seen as victims, and punishment was replaced with rehabilitation and therapy. If crime is just an illness, then cure, not punishment, was required.
Quite apart from the disaster Darwinism visited on victims of crime, it has also been a disaster for the wrongdoer. He may come to believe that he cannot just change his life, so as to avoid further conflict with the law.

(The reality is that - in Canada, at least - most men who have been imprisoned for a criminal offence DO change their lives. They never return to prison, and can get a governor general's pardon for no further offences after a number of years.)

So the "two years less a day" guy does NOT need to learn is that he is just an ape who can't help his behaviour. He needs to learn that it is easy to be part of the future law-abiding majority who never return to prison.

Hat tip to the Binks at Free Mark Steyn - your one stop shop for intellectual freedom in Canada.

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