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Darwinism and “No Lives Matter”

Charles Darwin statue Shrewsbury
Photo: Statue of Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury Library, by Bs0u10e01 / CC BY-SA.

Editor’s note: Recently, Scientific American viciously smeared all critics of Darwinian theory with an article titled, “Denial of Evolution Is a Form of White Supremacy,” by Allison Hopper. As promised, we are presenting some of our extensive past coverage of the tight links between racism and evolution. This article was originally published on June 25, 2020.

I’ve wondered if the marauding vandals will come eventually for the Darwin statues. I hope NOT, but let’s face it — between Francis Scott Key or Ulysses Grant, on one hand, and Charles Darwin on the other, whose work has done more to undergird racism? There’s no contest. 

A classic episode of ID the Future, republished now, is eerie in its relevance to the culture at the moment. Host and science historian Michael Keas interviewed historian and Center for Science & Culture Senior Fellow Richard Weikart about the racial pseudoscience that’s integral to the Darwinian scientific heritage.

As Professor Weikart explains, Darwin’s racism is not incidental to his case for evolution. It’s not as if he was merely a product of his time, with the reprehensible attitudes held by other upper class Brits when he wrote his books. Yes, he was anti-slavery. And yes, he embodied the racism that came before him. He didn’t invent it. But he also used it as “evidence” for his theory. He believed that different races of humans represented biological variations (in intelligence, moral capacity, and more) on which the natural selection process could work, just as it could on finch beaks. His conclusion of a racial hierarchy with Africans at the bottom, his projection of eventual racial “extermination,” were no stray inference. The documentaries Human Zoos and The Biology of the Second Reich show how Darwinian theory continued to motivate racism, eugenic drives, and genocide into the 20th century.

Not a Bug but a Feature

Weikart continues by noting that later Darwinists (such as Peter Singer) drew logical consequences from evolution, including that since all human beings are the product of random natural forces, they possess no special dignity. Human life is not precious. Or to put it another way, via John Zmirak: NO LIVES MATTER. By contrast, the religious traditions that evolutionary theory pushes aside possess ample reason for respecting humans universally as equals, of identical value and dignity, no matter the color of their skin. Of course, there have been “religious” racists. But that is a contradiction with their professed faith. Those who call for vandalizing churches because of depictions of a “white” Jesus don’t understand this.

On the other hand, while most evolutionists today reject scientific racism, with exceptions like James Watson — they have no necessary reason for doing so. White nationalists of the Alt-Right appreciate that not as a bug but as a feature.

Download the podcast or listen to it here. Listen and learn. Find out more about Weikart’s books here

And say a prayer for the statues, all of them. Some have argued that the vandals have no agenda other than anarchy and destruction. I’ll be persuaded of that if they pull down the Lenin statue in Seattle. Again, I hope they don’t! In its way, it is a delightful if perverse symbol of our city. Let’s hope Darwin and Lenin are both safe tonight, along with Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and other iconic historical figures.