February 10, 2008


The real danger in Darwin is not evolution, but racism (Tony Campolo, 2/10/08, Philadelphia Inquirer)

In reality, those writings express the prevalent racism of the 19th century and endorse an extreme laissez-faire political ideology that legitimizes the neglect of the suffering poor by the ruling elite.

Those who argue at school board meetings that Darwin should be taught in public schools seldom have taken the time to read him. If they knew the full title of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, they might have gained some inkling of the racism propagated by this controversial theorist. Had they actually read Origin, they likely would be shocked to learn that among Darwin's scientifically based proposals was the elimination of "the negro and Australian peoples," which he considered savage races whose continued survival was hindering the progress of civilization.

In his next book, The Descent of Man (1871), Darwin ranked races in terms of what he believed was their nearness and likeness to gorillas. Then he went on to propose the extermination of races he "scientifically" defined as inferior. If this were not done, he claimed, those races, with much higher birthrates than "superior" races, would exhaust the resources needed for the survival of better people, eventually dragging down all civilization.

Darwin even argued that advanced societies should not waste time and money on caring for the mentally ill, or those with birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to survive.

In case you think Darwin sounds like a Nazi, there is a connection. Darwin's ideas were complicit in the rise of Nazi ideas. Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson, in her insightful essay on Darwin, points out that the German nationalist and anti-Semitic writer Heinrich von Treitschke and the biologist Ernst Haeckel also drew on Darwin's writings to justify racism, nationalism and harsh policies toward the poor and less privileged. Although these men's lives much predated Hitler's rise to power, their ideas were very influential as he developed the racist ideas that led to the Holocaust. Konrad Lorenz, a biologist who belonged to the Nazi Office for Race Policy and whose work supported Nazi theories of "racial hygiene," made Darwin's theories the basis for his reasoning.

Gee, urban whites embrace an ideology that would exterminate lesser races...

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 10, 2008 9:04 AM

The horrors of Darwinism demonstrate the survival value of Christian ethics, and why our civilization surpasses.

Christianity mitigates and regulates the gruesome effects of hypertropic competition. Without this ethical framework, soiety devolves into a Hobbsian state of nature, requiring stultifying repression to maintan even a minimal degree of order.

Because of the tragedy of the commons, that kind of state power is used by the "vanguard" to feathef its own nest, and the result is THE FORMER SOVIET UNION.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 11, 2008 5:19 AM

And as an addendum, while Darwin was most certainly as racist as every other white person in the 19th century, the statements attributed to him by Campolo are largely incorrect and some are flat out lies.

Posted by: Ken S at February 13, 2008 11:33 AM

It doesn't matter that Darwin was racist but that Darwinism is just racism dressed up as "biology."

Posted by: oj at February 13, 2008 12:34 PM

There is nothing racist about Darwin's theory. Racism long predated it. It was just the latest excuse siezed on by some to justify their preexisting prejudices.

Certainly the Klan and the Dixiecrats were not known for being Darwinists.

Posted by: Ken S at February 14, 2008 10:39 AM

No, it didn't. Racism is a rather late invention. Darwin gave it a biological patina and justified it. The Nazi's proclaimed themselves Applied Darwinists.

Posted by: oj at February 14, 2008 1:24 PM