The sinful desire to dominate, reject, ignore or mistreat others for one’s own particular motives has never required much excuse. However, Darwin gave it a tremendous impetus, as has been shown before by both evolutionist and creationist writers. An unusual book helps document the links between evolutionary thinking and an upsurge in racism in Australian colonial history.
The book is called Aborigines in White Australia: A Documentary History of the Attitudes Affecting Official Policy and the Australian Aborigine 1697–1973.1 Apart from a few introductory/editorial comments, it consists largely of substantial excerpts from documents as varied as parliamentary transcripts, court records, letters to editors, anthropological reports, and so forth.
Increase in brutality
Far from showing a progressive enlightenment as time goes on, one can see a distinct change for the worse after 1859, with a marked increase in callousness, ill-treatment and brutality towards Aborigines being evident in official attitudes. As the book’s editor writes:
‘In 1859 Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species popularized the notion of biological (and therefore social) evolution. Scholars began to discuss civilization as a unilinear process with races able to ascend or descend a graduated scale. The European was … the “fittest to survive” … [The Aboriginal] was doomed to die out according to a “natural law”, like the dodo and the dinosaur. This theory, supported by the facts at hand [i.e. that Aborigines were dying out, which was due to ill-treatment and disease—C.W.] continued to be quoted until well into the twentieth century when it was noticed that the dark-skinned race was multiplying. Until that time it could be used to justify neglect and murder.’
In the transcript of an interrogation of a policeman during a Royal Commission of inquiry in 1861 (p. 83), we read concerning the use of force against tribal Aborigines:
‘And if we did not punish the blacks they would look upon it as a confession of weakness?’
‘Yes, that is exactly my opinion.’
‘It is a question as to which is the strongest race—if we submit to them they would despise us for it?’
The influence of evolutionary thinking can also be seen in a transcript on page 100. The writer, also author of an 1888 book, is justifying the killing of Aborigines in the State of Victoria. He writes:
‘As to the ethics of the question, there can be drawn no final conclusion.’
He says that this is because it is
‘a question of temperament; to the sentimental it is undoubtedly an iniquity; to the practical it represents a distinct step in human progress, involving the sacrifice of a few thousands of an inferior race. … But the fact is that mankind, as a race, cannot choose to act solely as moral beings. They are governed by animal laws which urge them blindly forward upon tracks they scarce can choose for themselves.’
In other words, he is justifying ‘iniquity’ (another word for sin) by appealing to the ‘animal laws’ of the evolutionary struggle for survival. Opposition can be dismissed as ‘sentimental’—lacking understanding of such ‘natural laws’.
On page 96, someone also writing in an 1880 newspaper said:
‘Nothing that we can do will alter the inscrutable and withal immutable laws which direct our progress on this globe. By these laws the native races of Australia were doomed on the advent of the white man, and the only thing left for us to do is to assist in carrying them out [i.e. helping the “laws” of evolution by hastening the Aborigines’ doom—C.W.] with as little cruelty as possible … We must rule the blacks by fear … ’.
These immutable ‘laws of evolution’ have, of course, always been a complete fiction. The continuing social tension surrounding Aboriginal issues is, in large part, a legacy of these past evils.
Church backdown on creation
Many genuine Australian Christians and church institutions, though occasionally somewhat patronizing, seem to have tried to protect Aborigines from the full brunt of the many inhumanities sanctioned by evolutionary thinking. However, like today, most church leaders and institutions compromised in some form or another with this new Darwinian ‘science’.
Virtually no Christian voice did what was required—to affirm boldly the real history of man as given in the Bible. To stress that we all go back only a few thousand years, to Noah’s family, would have refuted Darwinian racism. It would have anticipated the findings of modern genetics, that we are all biologically extremely close. It would also have given a completely different perspective on Aboriginal status and culture—for example, it would have been seen as no surprise that they already had many stories of their own about the Flood, and some about Babel. What a dramatically different starting point for missionary outreach—reaching your relatives, not inferior ‘savages’!
The false belief system of evolution has been used since its inception to dull people to the moral absolutes of Scripture, whether justifying Nazism, Stalinism, the abortion holocaust, indifference to starvation in Africa, or the maltreatment of indigenous people.
God’s Word has always stated that He has ‘made of one blood [i.e. from one man, Adam] all nations of men’ (Acts 17:26, cf. 1 Cor. 15:45). The answer to racism is in Genesis, which tells us that all people are closely related.
We have already documented1 the murderous trade in body parts to northern hemisphere museums, based on Darwin’s teaching that indigenous Australians were living ‘missing links’. Early atrocities against Aborigines (which were also often ‘justified’ by pre-Darwinian evolutionary ideas) frequently brought swift retribution from the authorities. But after Darwin’s work appeared, such horrors, of all types, were much more often officially sanctioned.
A letter-writer to a newspaper in 1880, incensed by the treatment of his fellow man, stated:
‘This, in plain language, is how we deal with the aborigines: On occupying new territory the aboriginal inhabitants are treated exactly in the same way as the wild beasts or birds the settlers may find there. Their lives and their property, the nets, canoes, and weapons which represent as much labor to them as the stock and buildings of the white settler, are held by the Europeans as being at their absolute disposal. Their goods are taken, their children forcibly stolen, their women carried away, entirely at the caprice of white men. The least show of resistance is answered by a rifle bullet … [those] who fancied the amusement have murdered, ravished, and robbed the blacks without let or hindrance. Not only have they been unchecked, but the Government of the colony has been always at hand to save them from the consequences of their crime.’2
- Edited by Sharman Stone, Hienemann Educational Books, Melbourne, 1974. Return to text.
What section from Descent of Man were you thinking of? Was it this one?
"Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed."
Ah, so Darwin was rabidly in support of eugenics, right? Nope. The very next paragraph clarifies. He talks about our instincts for compassion and says,
"Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature."
Have you read the whole book, Bob? (note by the way that the word 'rabidly' was not in my comment nor my thinking). As indicated, D. was gentle, squeamish, but understood the implications. All of it is utterly consistent with his understanding and belief that not only do our 'nobler' instincts for compassion, cause things like keeping the sick alive, etc. but that this is ultimately injurious to the 'race of man'. He praised his cousin Francis's work on eugenics. For more, based on a secular appraisal, check out Darwin and Eugenics: Darwin was a "social Darwinist". But may I gently repeat my admonition to you in previous correspondence on other subjects, Bob--before leaping in with a comment admonishing or chastising creationists, please check out what has already been written and documented on the subject before, it seems I keep having to send you to various areas of creation.com which were actually quite accessible to you all along via a simple search.
The creation vs evolution debate has proven to be the real "deal clincher". Only once the evolution myth has been expelled could I find a sense of firm belief.
Your work amongst others guided me towards the fallacies of the evolution myth, for which I am enternally greatfull.
Even the debate around evolution co-existing with creation has proven to be highly argumentative and not based on the true principles contained in God's Word, or as spoken by God's Word, Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Bless you and all that are firm on this issue, the foundation of THE Faith.
In my opinion it has only on the outside to do with 'racism'. They look and live different, that is the base of the victims. In the ears of the 'superiors' still rings what Satan promised a human:"You will be like God, knowing good and evil". That means POWER over others and we can see it by every dispute up to wars. There is no real engender of race, it is about I am stronger and you are weaker.
When from a work team one is promoted it doesn't take long then he doesn't know his colleges anymore....he is now 'god' and it has nothing to do with racism.
And by the way, God's creation is full of variations, color and diversities. He used this trend to disperse the people of Babel. Today the humans are bunching everything together again, politics, religion, economy, money, way of living, education, thinking, countries (EU) and there is no difference between the genders. A second Babel?
Humans got different colored skin, so do animals of one kind and plants come in all kinds of green. God created a colorful world to admire. Now we reject this out of political correctness? When I hear the finding:" Our skin has one color only the melanin makes it different ???, that IS the difference. Chlorophyll gives different greens too.
So to recognize different skin colors has nothing to do with racism it is more to reject God's colorful world.
Power is indeed involved. You would I think be interested in reading One Human Family: The Bible, science, race and culture. Check out this website to see a preview of some sections and particularly the table of contents: www.onehumanfamily.us.
“The sinful desire to dominate, reject, ignore or mistreat others for one’s own particular motives”
The Bible had no problem with slavery for life (see Lev. 25:44–46, for example). Was that sinful?
But to your point, evolution is science. Eugenics and racism are policy. If you don’t like them, that’s fine, but don’t lay that at the feet of science. Let’s get the blame correct.
I elaborate here [link deleted as per our normal feedback policies]:
Hi, Bob. You may need to do a bit more homework in this area. For example, re slavery, notice that it was the Skeptic heroes of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, Hume, etc. who used racist arguments to justify slavery, and it was Evangelicals following biblical principles that abolished this evil trade. See this article re William Wilberforce, which includes detailed commentary on the Bible and slavery.
Also, you uncritically accept anticreationist websites; the link you sent (not published due to feedback policies) is simply wrong about Darwin rejecting Social Darwinism/eugenics. Read the entire quote from his Descent of Man (freely available on the web) if in doubt. Darwin may have been a squeamish, even gentle soul, but he understood the racial and eugenicist implications of his theory. Eugenics was founded by his cousin, a secular writer observed (referenced on our site):
“[In the] years leading up to the First World War, the eugenics movement looked like a Darwin family business. … Darwin’s son Leonard replaced his cousin Galton as chairman of the national Eugenics Society in 1911. In the same year an offshoot of the society was formed in Cambridge. Among its leading members were three more of Charles Darwin’s sons, Horace, Francis and George.”
Further, as my book One Human Family: The Bible, science, race and culture documents, my mother grew up in Nazi Germany and the Darwinian ideology was front and centre in the thinking of Nazi ideology, and it influenced many otherwise caring, normal people like her into accepting as ‘normal’ ideas and practice that formerly horrified them.
Finally, to suggest that ‘evolution is science’ and science is not policy, ideology or similar, thus scientific thinking about evolution is neither influenced by or influences ideology, etc. is extremely naïve, respectfully – and would be so even if the evolutionary story were true. Informed evolutionists themselves have on occasion identified the strong ideological component. The religious aspects of evolution were conceded by even Canadian philosopher Michael Ruse, so strong an anticreationist that he testified against creationists in one of the well-publicized trials of recent years; see his quote here stating that evolution is religion.
By way of aside, the real world is not as neatly ordered into ‘science’ and ‘non-science’ as some might wish to think. As prominent an evolutionist as the late Stephen Jay Gould of the Harvard Museum said that”“Facts do not ‘speak for themselves’; they are read in the light of theory. Creative thought, in science as much as in the arts, is the motor of changing opinion. Science is a quintessentially human activity, not a mechanized, robotlike accumulation of objective information, leading by laws of logic to inescapable interpretation.”