Skip to comments.Art as Propaganda for Evolution
Posted on 04/11/2009 9:21:02 AM PDT by GodGunsGuts
Art as Propaganda for Evolution
April 10, 2009 Should a scientific theory be propagated by appeal to scientific evidence, or by appeal to emotions through visualization? Nature this week contained two articles that shamelessly praised art as propaganda for evolution. Surprisingly, one of them mentioned Charles Darwin as someone at the cutting edge of visualization.
The exhibit examines the history of art as Darwinism was overtaking traditional religious beliefs.
The exhibit does a good job of showing how differently people saw the world at the dawn of the nineteenth century. Nature was replete with signs of divine design. A painting of Noahs flood was considered historical art. Yet Darwin was able to learn a great deal from art of this time, whether he was studying illustrations of geological formations or marvelling at the paintings of FrenchAmerican naturalist John James Audubon, who Darwin met as a teenager.Zimmer claims that Darwin did not use pictures merely to illustrate ideas, but to investigate them. For instance, the very notion of beauty was something Darwin wanted to explain: the beauty of orchids actually masked a complex contrivance for getting pollen onto insects; the beauty of an Argus pheasants feathers was the result of sexual selection. Artists, in sympathetic vibration, paid attention to Darwin. They replaced sentimental scenes of nature with bleaker portraits of the struggle for survival.
As Darwin developed as a scientist, he made some modest art of his own. On his journeys in South America, he painted the rock strata of the Andes in watercolour. On his return to the United Kingdom, he began to scribble odd little tree diagrams in his notebooks a visual expression of his great epiphany that species are related through common descent. Darwin worked closely with artists to illustrate his books. This may surprise readers of On the Origin of Species a book with a single illustration showing the branching of species. But his other books were lavishly illustrated....
Darwin was at the cutting edge of visualization. His 1872 work The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals was one of the first books ever to be illustrated with photographs including pictures of faces distorted by electric currents, produced by the work of French physician Guillaume Duchenne.
Zimmer was glad the exhibit did not shy away from difficult subjects. ....some [artists] wrongly took it [evolution] as justification to elevate whites over other races, cloaking their freak-show voyeurism in the guise of anthropology.Why Zimmer gives the exhibit great credit for this was not explained. Is he glad that the dark side of evolutionary thinking is being exposed?
God or Gorilla hints at a larger clash of visual cultures between modernists and fundamentalists: Neanderthals versus Adam and Eve, church frescoes depicting ascent from protozoa against a picturable God. That would be a great topic for further research, which would need to pay religious icons more attention, but this highly readable book is valuable as it stands. It is also timely. The 1920s shaped pictures of evolution, and of evolutionary debate, that are still in our heads. As biologists work with illustrators to communicate science, and creationists attack textbook icons,3 it is helpful to reflect on the struggles of that decisive decade.Hopwood thus identified the evolutionist imagery as useful to science, whether or not it was accurate. Clark, for instance, said Cartoons played on images of the Scopes monkey trial, and people joked about missing links. In museums, tree diagrams and misleading sequences like the fossil horse series were presented as unvarnished facts. Hopwood did not condemn any of this. For instance, he disparaged the attempts of Henry Fairfield Osborn to imply that evolution was compatible with religion. This theistic evolutionism repelled secular scientists and fundamentalist Christians alike, but was often presented as the scientific consensus. Hopwood seems to imply that the scientific consensus allows no such accommodationism it must be anti-religious and materialistic.
458, 704-705 (9 April 2009) | doi:10.1038/458704a; Published online 8 April 2009.
3. This seems to be a direct reference to Icons of Evolution by Dr. Jonathan Wells (Regnery, 2000).
Visualization is one of several pedagogical aids that can enlighten or propagandize, depending on how it is used. Theres nothing intrinsically wrong with cartoons, simplified illustrations, and diagrams if they illuminate the truth. However, wrong inferences can be made such as Darwins photos of people expressing emotion being used to infer they inherited these capabilities from apes. Art and visualization can distract, mislead, mischaracterize, or create emotional responses in lieu of scientific evidence. Darwinists have been very skilled at this propaganda since their master wrote his materialist manifesto. They should be scorned, not praised, for pretending that peppered moths prove humans had bacteria ancestors, or for piecing together unrelated fossils into a story of evolutionary progression. Awareness of the danger of visualization is the best defense, and the best offense is to unmask it as propaganda. Truth needs illumination, not varnish.
Another one that really annoys me is the animation of a meteorite hitting, and dinosaurs running away, and being killed by the blast. It’s such nonsense, but people see that, and it sticks, idiomatically, in their mind, because there is currently a vacuum in that place.
I’m reminded of an exchange I had a while back about posting graphics as an argument.......
What chaps my hide is that they create these images, even though in many cases they know they are false, or at best extremely speculative.
My disagreement with using them in a debate is that I consider it a coward's tactic. You don't have to defend what you're saying if you never really said anything.
That makes no sense at all. Is showing the images of the dead bodies piled up at Auschwitz to a Holocaust denier taking the cowards way out?
Showing that same picture in a different context, with the intent of implicitly accusing someone of being complicit or responsible but not being will to come right out and say so would be.
Well good, that settles it then. I came right out and said that Haekel was a full-on racist.
Do you agree with the author's assesment that the use of images is used to evoke an emotional response, rather than present a reasoned argument?
“....some [artists] wrongly took it [evolution] as justification to elevate whites over other races,..”
But that is precisely what Darwinism teaches, that the dark skinned, ape-like ancestors of modern man came out of Africa and evolved into the lighter skinned races,(think Englishmen of the 19th century).
And the propaganda by poster art goes on: Lucy, peppered moths, animal embryos, feathered dinosaurs, auto insurance “cavemen”, etc.
Accurate? Who cares? What matter is the narrative.
Why are you bothering to complain about someone who did the bulk of his work over 100 years ago and who hasn’t been cited in a biology text for nearly as long?
Yes, images can be misused in that way. However, some images, if they speak to some deep moral outrage, would be less than accurate if they failed to produce an emotional response. It all depends on the context. For instance, an image or images that produce a strong negative emotional response by showing a partial birth abortion procedure would be more accurate than a set of images that fail to produce the same. Again, it all depends on the context.
Yet some version of Haeckels drawings can
be found in most current biology textbooks. Stephen
Jay Gould, one of evolutionary theorys most
vocal proponents, recently wrote that we should be
astonished and ashamed by the century of mindless
recycling that has led to the persistence of these
drawings in a large number, if not a majority, of
modern textbooks. (I will return below to the question
of why it is only now that Mr. Gould, who has
known of these forgeries for decades, has decided to
bring them to widespread attention.)
Tell that to TL!
Again, the ability of the images to produce the emotional response is not in question. The context in which they are used and how they attempt to manipulate peoply by using that response is.