PMW 2017-063 by John Woodmorappe (Creation Ministries, Intl.)

[Gentry note: Postmillennialism affirms the impact of God’s kingdom on this world. It also recognizes the original creation not only set up this world, but becomes a paradigm for its redemptive renewal through the new creation principle. It also affirms its eschatological hope by means of a confident commitment to of God’s revelation in Scripture. Consequently, the Reformed postmillennialist is committed to Six-day Creation as revealed in Scripture. This article is helpful for reminding us of the dangers of Darwinism.]

Review of The Darwin Effect: Its Influence on Nazism, Eugenics, Racism, Communism, Capitalism, and Sexism

This work covers the effects of the Darwinian revolution on 19th and 20th century thinking. It is striking how pervasive and harmful this effect has been. Because this work is so rich in diverse topics, I focus on only some of them and concentrate on developments in the latter part of the 20th century.

Darwin was not simply a product of his time and culture. To the contrary, he effectively steered his culture. His ideas were aggressively promoted and they transformed societies. Moreover, the interactions of Darwinism with so many different strands of human thought were, and are, much too pervasive to be dismissed as ‘misunderstandings’ or ‘misinterpretations’ of Darwinism.

Bergman also makes it obvious that so-called scientific Darwinism and Social Darwinism cannot be dichotomized. The latter flows seamlessly and effortlessly from the former. In fact, ‘Social Darwinism’ was freely practised, not just by extremists but by mainstream biologists. Nor was it some kind of passing 19th century fad. Bergman comments: “The racist views of early Darwinists were widely supported, not just by a few renegade scientists, but by most of the leading biologists until at least the 1950’s” (p. 61).

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Finally, the matters raised are not solely of historical interest. There are, for instance, modern forms of racism, sexism, eugenics, etc., that exist even today and I discuss some of them.

Of course, the author is not claiming that Darwinism was the sole source of ideas such as racism. However, racism became prominent, as never before, because Darwinism gave racism the imprimatur and prestige of scientific support and because racism followed logically from the ‘survival of the fittest’ dictum of evolutionism.

Author Bergman has a sense of humour. He compares those who say that Darwin was a nice, ethical man (not to be held responsible for the implications of his theories) with the fictional Dr Frankenstein, who stated that he was not responsible for the killing spree done by the monster he had created. Touche!

Racism fueled, not merely reflected, by Darwinism

Evolutionary ideas, of course, did not begin with Darwin. The late 18th century enlightenment, for example, had a proto-evolutionary, anti-Christian strand (as exemplified by Voltaire) that rejected monogenism (all humans descended from Adam and Eve) in favour of polygenism (multiple origins of human races). This was an anti-Christian weapon (p. 64). As for Darwinism, his ideas were widely accepted long before the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859.

It is not correct to say that Darwinism merely ‘joined’ the racism that had already existed. Leading Harvard evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould pointed out “biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory” (p. 135). Nor was this limited to abstract, academic theories. Darwinism created an explosion of practical racism that had not existed before. Bergman writes: “It was primarily between 1870 and 1900 that educated Americans moved toward a wide acceptance of varying forms of eugenic-based racism” (p. 56).
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The long-term racist impact of Darwinism on public policy cannot be overstated. Bergman comments:

“Major Leonard Darwin, Charles’s son, was president of the British Eugenics Society from 1911 to 1928. The impact of the eugenics movement on American law was especially profound. In the 1920s, Congress passed numerous laws intended to restrict the influx of ‘inferior races’, including those from southern and eastern Europe, as well as China. Eugenic beliefs were also reflected in everything from school textbooks to social policy. American Blacks especially faced the brunt of these laws… . Interracial marriages were forbidden by law in most states, and discouraged by social pressure in all states” (p. 55).

Darwinian racism in action

The Darwinism-based racism of the 19th century had many different manifestations. White explorers saw non-white natives as self-evidently inferior in an evolutionary sense (figure 1). Western imperialism seemed to follow naturally from the struggle for existence, and the dominance of more evolved races over less evolved races seemed to be self-evidently justified by nature. That blacks should serve as slaves of whites seemed common sense. Pygmies were brought in to Western countries, and displayed in circuses and freak shows, as examples of ‘missing links’ or evolutionary atavisms. They helped convince the general public to believe in evolution….

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