Is Evolution Racist?

Is Evolution Racist? I know that’s a somewhat provocative title.  And I would like to point out from the offset that of course not everyone that holds to modern evolutionary theory is a racist. But what about the theory itself?  Is evolution racist on a base level?

The Origin Of Origin

The theory of evolution has had an intimate relationship with racism from the very start.  Yes, the man himself, Charles Darwin, most certainly held and espoused racist views in his teaching and theories.  

Is Evolution Racist?
Charles Darwin

Interestingly enough, if you buy a copy of Charles Darwin’s signature book On The Origin of Species today, you won’t see the full title of the book printed on the cover. You may get On The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection. But this again is not the full title of the book Darwin originally wrote.  The original title wasOnThe Origin of SpeciesBy Means Of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. 

Defenders of Darwin will be quick to point out that Darwin went out of his way to not include humans in his book.  And this would be correct.  Darwin did indeed avoid including humans in the original iteration of his work.  

The “Civilized Races”

But, In his book “The Descent of Man”, we get a greater glimpse into his beliefs about his own theory.  Charles Darwin makes the speculation that “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world”.  

Is Evolution Racist?
Thomas Huxley

The man widely credited with championing Darwin’s theory, Thomas Huxley, was also not silent on the matter of race either.  Huxley was a militant racist.  One of his better-known quotes was “No rational man cognizant of the facts, believes that the Negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man”.  

What Follows From Evolutionary Theory?

This becomes the problem with holding to an evolutionary view.  Eventually, people believe what you tell them. And if you tell them they are nothing more than animals, eventually they will begin to act like them. They will thin the herd.  The search for the “less than human” will begin. Removing the weak and invalid from the gene pool becomes the norm.  And then the atrocities begin. 

There is no better example of this than eugenics.  While we Americans like to point fingers at Hitler for coming up with the idea of the “Master Race”, the sad fact is the root of this can be found right here in America in the early 1920’s.  There was a strong movement to sterilize and remove the “less desirable” from the gene pool. 

In his book Bones of Contention, Marvin Lubenow gives the following cryptic statement on perfecting the gene pool:

“If the unfit survived indefinitely, they would continue to infect the fit with their less fit genes. The result is that the more fit genes would be diluted and compromised by the less fit genes, and evolution could not take place”.  

You Had To Bring Hitler Into This….

Hitler simply took this idea to its logical and predictable conclusion.    His contention that the Jews were an inferior race and that Arians were “The Master Race”, led to the death of over 6 million Jews.  The anti-Christian physical anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith rightly states the following on Hitler and his theory:

Is Evolution Racist?
Adolf Hitler

“The German Fuhrer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consistently sought to make the practices of Germany conform to the theory of evolution”. 

Carl Sagan was a proponent and believer in Recapitulation theory.  Ernst Haeckel theorized that as embryo’s develop, they progress through the stages of their evolution.  So, an embryo might resemble a fish, a tadpole or a reptile depending on its stage of development. G. Stanley Hall used Haeckel’s theories as the basis for his theories of child development. His most influential work, “Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion and Education” in 1904 suggested that each individual’s life course recapitulated humanity’s evolution from “savagery” to “civilization”.  

But That Doesn’t Happen Today

Ok, sure, you might be saying.  But those examples are all in the past.  No one holds those views today.  Really? Not too long ago, it was announced with some fanfare that Iceland and Denmark had virtually eradicated Down Syndrome. Everyone was overjoyed!  What medical breakthrough had these countries discovered? 

As it turned out, they hadn’t actually cured down syndrome.  All they had done was kill any unborn child that tested genetically positive for Down Syndrome.  These two are not morally equivalent.  Curing a disease is a noble pursuit, killing everyone afflicted with a disease is an atrocity.  

What Does This Mean?

As I stated in the beginning, not everyone that holds to Darwinian Evolution is a racist.  That would be a silly thing to say.  The theory itself however does not preclude racism. It is in fact ripe for the exploitation by racists.  

This also does not prove that Darwinian Evolution is false.  I think there are many reasons to doubt the current evolutionary models.  But to say they are racist and therefor invalid is not sound. The theory should rise and fall on its own merits.  But make no mistake, there is nothing in evolutionary theory that demands we ought not to be racist.

Christianity teaches that all are created equal.  Have people in the past used the Christian religion to justify racist ideas?  Of course.  The question is, are they consistent with the Bible when they do?  While I would argue that they do not, the same cannot be said for evolution.  It would be consistent to be racist and be a Darwinist.  It is not consistent to be a Christian and a racist. 

Discuss your thoughts for this post on our Facebook Group here.