Culture & Ethics Icon Culture & Ethics
Education Icon Education
Evolution Icon Evolution

Cancel Darwin? No, But Do Recognize How Evolution Boosted Racism

Charles Darwin statue
Photo: Darwin statute at the Natural History Museum, by Alan Perestrello, via Flickr (cropped).

Cancel culture is becoming surreal. Or should I say even more surreal? Plans are afoot, as I suppose was inevitable, to cancel Charles Darwin, whose famed statue adorns the Natural History Museum in London, and even to throw T. H. Huxley under the bus for good measure. “Exotic birds” are now judged to be offensive. What next? Kurt Zindulka reports:

In response to the iconoclastic Black Lives Matter movement, the Natural History Museum has launched a review into supposedly “offensive” and “problematic” collections, including exotic birds collected by English naturalist Charles Darwin.

The review will audit rooms, statues, and items that the executive board deems offensive for possible renaming or removal, to show how “science, racism, and colonial power were inherently entwined”.

Documents revealed to The Telegraph from the review state that “in light of Black Lives Matter and the recent anti-racist demonstrations around the world”, the Natural History Museum will review “whether any statues (or collections) or could potentially cause offence”.

The review will reportedly include specimens collected by Charles Darwin on the Galapagos Islands, which were instrumental in helping the naturalist form his Theory of Evolution. A curator of the museum listed the pieces as an example of Britain’s many “colonialist scientific expeditions”….

The review team argued that exotic birds collected by Darwin and Caption Robert Fitzroy on the islands served to “enable greater British control” throughout South America.

A statue honouring Thomas Henry Huxley — who promoted Darwin’s theory of evolution to such an extent that he is known as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’ — has been targeted for removal as well due to his controversial views on race.

Let me be clear. It’s the longstanding position of the Center for Science & Culture that, for all the problems with evolutionary theory, scientific and otherwise, and they are manifold, the right way forward is to teach and educate more about Darwinian evolution not less. That is the polar opposite of cancel culture.

“Entwined” with Racism

That having been said, Darwin’s science is indeed “entwined” with racism, and gave it a major boost in the 19th and 20th centuries, and on into our own 21st century. Our historian colleague Richard Weikart discusses just that fact on a new episode of ID the Future, hosted by science historian Michael Keas:

The evil of racism was nothing new when Darwin and his evolutionary theory came on the scene, but according to Weikart, racist thinking, increased “by orders of magnitude” under the influence of Darwinism and evolutionary thinking, and became mainstream science. The idea of a Malthusian “struggle for existence” meant there must be winners and losers in the fight for population survival, and Darwin believed that the best, and inevitable, outcome would be that the supposedly superior European races would overcome the supposedly inferior black Africans.

Canceling history is never the solution. Nor is canceling science, however burdened with weaknesses. Download the podcast or listen to it here.