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Charles Darwin vs. Richard Owen on Race

On a new episode of ID the Future, science historian Michael Keas interviews fellow science historian and bioethicist Michael Flannery about his recent article on Charles Darwin and arch-rival Richard Owen. Download the podcast or listen to it here.

Owen was an evolutionist, too, but of a different stripe. Unlike Darwin, he believed that evolution was guided by teleology or purpose, and he saw humans as different from animals not only in degree but in kind. This led him to reject Darwin’s conclusion of a “hierarchy of races,” as well as Darwin’s expectation that the supposedly “less fit” races of humankind ultimately would be exterminated by the so-called “superior” white race.

Most Darwinists today aren’t racist, but Darwinism did grease the skids for a dubious scientific racism that became widespread, encouraging racist eugenics campaigns in both Europe and the United States.

Photo: Richard Owen (left); beside him is the skeleton of a giant moa, by John van Voorst [Public domain].