This month celebrations are being held by Darwin worshippers around the world. The one-time theology student turned naturalist was born 200 years ago February 12. That should give us enough time, you would think, to evaluate his impact on the world.
I was in England the week it was announced that the bodies of two Australian aborigines had been released for burial in their native country. The corpses had been in storage in a back room somewhere at the British Museum. At one time they had been on display there. Charles Darwin had given instruction to have them killed and stuffed for an exhibit.
“Horrors!” we cry. Surely this was some aberration in the dear man’s thought process. Well, no. If Darwin’s ideas were right, then only the most dedicated PETA disciples should complain at such a thing. Do you object to a display in other parts of the museum where the taxidermist has done his work with a Bengal tiger or a tufted titmouse? Of course not. Then what would be wrong, in Darwin’s mind, with doing the same with what he considered to be sub-human creatures, only a step from a chimpanzee?
Where are the human rights activists when you need them? When I am in a high school setting with a significant African-American representation, I ask them this question: Why has the National Geographic Society invested millions in archeologists like Louis and Richard Leakey to dig around in the Olduvai Valley in East Africa looking for our ancestors? I’ll tell you why—because Darwin convinced them that the African is an earlier, more primitive, model of the human race. They have found identical remains in the country of Georgia. Why didn’t life start there by their calculations and then move to Africa? Evolution spawns the worst bigotries.
Here are Darwin’s own words on the matter: “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. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla” (Descent of Man, Ch. 6: On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man).
Darwin also holds a pivotal and honored place in the minds of the mega-murdering dictators of the twentieth century. After all, it was his concept of survival of the fittest that led directly to the “science” of eugenics, and to the justification for the slaughter of anyone deemed unfit by whatever regime was perpetrating the slaughters. And now in the West we are doing some of the very things we fought Hitler for—killing off the weak and aged and mentally disadvantaged. Yes, we do.
Eugenics is defined as “the self-direction of human evolution.” In plain terms, it was the identification of individuals and their families who were considered “unfit,” whether the poor, mentally ill, blind, or entire people groups such as gypsies and Jews. Such might be segregated as the mixing of races was considered as something to be avoided in the name of racial purity. Or these “unfit” persons or groups might be institutionalized, sterilized, euthanised, or, as in the case of Nazi Germany, exterminated en masse.
Who were the leaders in this movement? It’s founder is considered to be Sir Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin. And Darwin’s own son, Leonard, was Chairman of the British Eugenics Society between 1911-1928, then became its Honorary President from 1928 until his death. His cousin once removed (Francis Galton) then succeeded him. Eugenics in one form or another was not only practiced in its most extreme form in Germany, but also in most Western countries, often into the 1960s and 1970s.
A. E. Wilder-Smith, in his seminal book Man’s Origin Man’s Destiny (p. 166) quotes Darwin’s friend Prof. Adam Sedgwick after reading The Origin of Species, “If this book were to find general public acceptance, it would bring with it a brutalization of the human race such as it had never seen before.” How truly he spoke.
In America, recent polls show that more than half of the population still hasn’t bought into the idea of the universe being the result of only impersonal forces working on mindless matter. Make no mistake, any thinking person believes that adaptation occurs within species. But these adaptations have been extrapolated to explain the molecule-to-man process. The sheer improbability of such a process has driven otherwise sane scientists to postulate the existence of infinite universes and creative aliens without one shred of evidence. It seems anything can be believed—anything but the G word.
Of course, Darwin’s not done with us. Welcome to the world of genetic engineering and fetuses being used as a readily available source for spare parts. Once science is set free from moral restraints, indeed, when scientists stand shoulder to shoulder against it in any form (see the recent backlash against President Bush placing limits on the use of fetuses as spare parts and President Obama’s statement that now science will be set free from religion), our society is heading for the abyss. We may praise science for all it has discovered, but we must not forget the dark side as well. Scientists have worked hand in hand with governments around the world to produce the most horrific ways to destroy their fellow men, and continue to do so.
So while the worshippers of mindless, purposeless evolution and survival of the fittest are celebrating the birth of their High Priest, Charles Darwin, perhaps they could take a moment of silence in the midst of their religious festivities to remember the millions of lives sacrificed on the altar he built. Darwin had told his family and friends that outing his theory would be like “confessing to a murder.” I see the connection. If only it had been just one murder.