Thursday, December 13, 2007
You may remember my pointing out that attempts to link Darwin directly to eugenics, and from there to Nazism, run afoul of the fact that the Spartans were practicing eugenics long before Darwin was born. Well, it appears that at least a part of the story told about the Spartans, not all that surprisingly when you think about it, may have been a bit of propaganda by earlier moralists.
According to Athens Faculty of Medicine Anthropologist Theodoros Pitsios, the Spartans did not throw babies into the pit at the bottom of the infamous cliff known as the Apothetes.
"There were still bones in the area, but none from newborns, according to the samples we took from the bottom of the pit" of the foothills of Mount Taygete near present-day Sparta.First of all, the fact that infants were not found at the bottom of the cliff does not mean that the Spartans did not practice infanticide, which has been performed in other societies by simple exposure without the direct violence of blunt trauma. These new findings merely mean that, if the Spartans practiced eugenics, it wasn't by throwing the infants off this particular cliff.
"It is probably a myth, the ancient sources of this so-called practice were rare, late and imprecise," he added.
Meant to attest to the militaristic character of the ancient Spartan people, moralistic historian Plutarch in particular spread the legend during first century AD.
More importantly, the concept of that sort of eugenics was extant at least as far back as Plutarch and widely enough understood that it could be "pinned on" the Spartans as an already disreputable practice. Eugenics arose out of and is more compatible with the animal and plant breeding inherent in farming than it is with the science of evolution, which actually indicates than any such attempt must fail.
Whether or not the Spartans actually practiced eugenics, the idea of it long predated Darwin and attempts to link him and evolutionary theory to the ugly history of the early 20th century are nothing but cheap rhetoric.
I agree completely. We've never caught Christians in baldfaced lies before (especially about evolution, Darwin, etc.), have we?