by Denyse O'Leary
When I first started this chapter, I was afraid it was going to be yet another attempt to whitewash Darwin's racism - but by then perhaps I should have known Wiker better:
Reading Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man forces one to face an unpleasant truth: that if everything he said in his more famous Origin of Species is true, then it quite logically follows that human beings ought to ensure that the fit breed with abandon and that the unfit are weeded out. Attempts to disengage Darwin from the eugenics movement date from a bit after World War II, when Hitler gave a bad name to survival of the fittest as applied to human beings. But it is impossible to distance Darwin from eugenics; it's a straight logical shot from his evolutionary arguments. (p. 85)So I can safely recommend this chapter to young people; it is not simply another sugar-coated lie from publicly funded museum curators and textbook authors, anxious to remove all suggestion of challenging historical fact from their presentations.
It was inevitable that Darwin would be a racist. He believed that new species arose regularly from killing the intermediates:
It is a law of evolution that the most closely related species or sub-species are those most likely to come into conflict, and so, in a series of closely related species or sub-species stretched across a spectrum - say, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H - the middle ones get knocked out in the struggle, and the two most distant and distinct (A and H) survive as the fittest. (Ten Books, p. 95)Nothing like that actually happened, of course. When Europeans began to arrive in northern North America in the sixteenth century, they discovered Aboriginal peoples who had been living here for maybe ten thousand years - who were little different from their own ancestors not many centuries ago. Indeed, in what is now Canada, the Hudson's Bay Company men were advised to marry the daughters of local Aboriginal magnates, as the best way to ensure a good supply of furs for the Company (rather than having them sold to competitors).
But today's Darwinists seldom wonder why Darwin's favoured ideas on these subjects did not pan out. Worship of Darwin as a sort of secular deity currently prevents evaluating his theses seriously.
Also, Wiker refreshingly refuses to cater to the nonsense about Darwin "inventing" the idea of evolution. What Darwin actually did was make evolution a respectable theory for Brit toffs to espouse.
For some fifty years or more, evolution had been associated with political radicals, the kind of thing bandied about by French revolutionaries and gutter atheists.
Yes, you read that right. Contrary to popular opinion, Darwin did not "discover" evolution. It had wafted about radical circles for at least one, if not two centuries , before Darwin, and can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. But Darwin wasn't preaching to the radical choir. He wanted his theory to be heard by the more politically conservative bastions of England's scientific elite. Ten Books, p. 87
Essentially, the toffs were stuck with the idea that we are all equally human. That's what the Bible, for example, says - as do many other revered sources. But the toffs didn't believe such sources. However, they did not at first know how exactly to discredit them. Darwin provided them with a "scientific" means of discrediting them, so that the hoped-for break
will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.So there it was at last. A "scientific" excuse for the imperial toffs' existing sense of vast superiority and entitlement over other races. And the rest is, alas, history.
Darwinists have such a hold now over pop science culture that, incredibly, they have somehow managed to link Darwin and Abraham Lincoln as liberators. In my view, a popular culture that accepts such a link needs to be liberated from dangerous illusions.
Next: Ten Worst Books 4: Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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