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Spin from the BBC about Darwin

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Charles Darwin in 1880

Charles Darwin

Published: 22 October 2009(GMT+10)

The British Broadcasting Corporation in England has deemed it necessary to try and absolve Darwinism from any responsibility for the Holocaust and the many other atrocities committed in the name of evolutionary progress ever since Darwin published his Origin of Species in 1859. To achieve this, BBC2 produced a TV “documentary” entitled Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,1 written and presented by their journalist and political commentator Andrew Marr. This 3-part series was shown in the UK in March 2009 and is presently being shown in Australia, October 2009. The full series was reviewed by our CMI-UK CEO, Philip Bell, in April so this critique will be confined to Episode 2, sub-titled “Born Equal?”

Darwinism gives no basis for morality

Episode 2 of the BBC Program begins by stating that “before World War II, Darwin’s theory of evolution was abused to justify discrimination, imperialism and mass murder”. It then goes on to say that “the Nazi’s used a perverted version” of Darwinism. And, “the Nazis took Darwin’s idea and crunched it down as the motor behind one of the most evil ideas of our time”. (Emphases added.)

Wait a moment Andrew Marr, your words “abused”, “perverted version” and “evil” are moral judgments but Darwinism gives you no basis for morality. The essence of Darwinism is the survival of the fittest at the expense of the weakest. The theory of evolution does not say whether this process is morally good or morally bad. It just says it happens. You confirm this when you state, “Darwin’s theory described a world of violence, competition and remorseless struggle for existence.”

Herbert Spencer and “survival of the fittest”

The essence of Darwinism is the survival of the fittest at the expense of the weakest. Darwinism does not say whether this process is morally good or morally bad. It just says it happens.

The BBC Program tells us that the English philosopher Herbert Spencer was “the first to turn Darwin’s idea into a political manifesto—reward the strong and purge the weak”, and Marr says, “It gave Darwin’s theory a misleading spin.”

Misleading spin—? Hardly! It was Spencer who thought up the term “survival of the fittest” in 1864 after reading Darwin’s Origin of Species. This term, in fact, so accurately described both the process and the results of Darwin’s theory of evolution that Darwin adopted it and used it in editions of his Origin published from 1869 on.

The BBC Program goes on to say that the words [survival of the fittest] “were seized and turned into a prescription, scientific justification for political ideas, some of which were vile”. And, “Survival of the fittest was soon being used to justify triumphs of colonialists over indigenous populations.” The example given was the extermination of the Aborigines in Tasmania.

Oops, Andrew, you are making moral judgments again about something that is totally amoral. You go on to quote Darwin as follows: “Darwin wrote, ‘At some future period, not very distant, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races.’” What you fail to say is that this was a quote from Darwin’s Descent of Man,2 written in 1871, after Darwin had had over a decade to see the effect of his theory on the world. What you also failed to say, Andrew, was that this quote occurred in a paragraph in which Darwin was defending his theory against objection, and so was used by Darwin as a proof of his theory. There is nothing revolutionary about the survival of the fittest, but everything evolutionary!

Francis Galton and eugenics

The BBC Program moves on to discuss Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton, who invented the term eugenics [Greek: εύ (eu) meaning ‘well’ and γένος (genos) meaning “kind” or “offspring”]. Eugenics applies animal breeding to humans. Marr tells us that “Darwin’s theory was about to be manipulated for politically fashionable purposes” (referring to the proposed future sterilisation programs in Europe and the USA).

Not at all, Andrew. Your use of the word “manipulated” is spin. The truth is that Darwin’s theory was about to be applied to its next logical conclusion. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, was among the first to recognize the implications for mankind of Darwin’s theory of evolution.”3

“At some future period, not very distant, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races.” Darwin, The Descent of Man, chapter 6.)

Galton believed that talent, character, intellect, etc. were all inherited from one’s ancestors, as was also any lack of these qualities. Thus the poor were not hapless victims of their circumstances, but were paupers because they were biologically inferior. This was contrary to the prevailing scientific view that all such qualities were due to environment, i.e. how and where a person was brought up. Galton believed that humans, like animals, could and should be selectively bred.

Galton’s views left no room for the existence of a human soul, the grace of God in the human heart, human freedom to choose to be different, or even for the dignity of the individual. In his first published article on this subject, in 1865,4 “He denied … that man’s rational faculties are a gift to him from God; he denied that mankind has been cursed with sinfulness since the day of Adam and Eve”; and he viewed religious sentiments as “nothing more than evolutionary devices to insure the survival of the human species.”5

Concerning the sense of original sin, Galton wrote that “[this] would show, according to my theory, not that man was fallen from a high estate, but that he was rapidly rising from a low one … and that after myriads of years of barbarism, our race has but very recently grown to be civilized and religious.”6

In his book Hereditary Genius (1869), Galton enlarged on these ideas and proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. When Charles Darwin read this book, he wrote to Galton, “You have made a convert of an opponent in one sense for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work … .” Galton’s ideas undoubtedly helped Darwin extend his evolution theory to man. Darwin did not mention Galton in his Origin (1859), but referred to him and/or his ideas no less than 11 times in his Descent of Man (1871).7

The Holocaust and Darwinism

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Auschwitz Birkenau

Auschwitz Birkenau

The BBC Program tells us that over 60,000 mentally retarded or undesirable people were forcibly sterilized in USA from 1907 to 1970, and then continues with, “the corruption of Darwin’s theory would come to its hideous maturity in Germany”, and “Darwin’s theory gave a veneer of scientific respectability to the struggle for racial purity that was central to Nazi philosophy”. And then, concerning the Holocaust, “Survival of the fittest had become translated to mean murder of the weakest”.(Emphases added.)

Andrew, that’s more spin. These events were not a corruption of Darwin’s theory, nor a veneer, nor yet a translation, but the essence. It is true that the Nazi’s “Final Solution” resulted in the murder of many “gypsies, communists, Poles, Slavs, mentally and physically disabled, homosexuals, political and religious dissidents, and 6 million Jews”. But why do you describe this as “hideous”? Such a term can only be applied to the actions of human beings who have a conscience and moral faculties. It cannot be applied to modified animals. What the Nazis did in the Holocaust was not a perverted interpretation of Darwin’s theory of evolution, but the logical outcome for a society that had adopted Darwin’s erroneous theory as fact. It is also an outstanding example of the fact that when an atheistic philosophy is embraced by a society and promulgated to its logical conclusion, there is no limit to the harm that can result.

Just how integral Darwin’s theory was to the Holocaust is shown (perhaps unwittingly) by Marr when he quoted from what he said were the Minutes of the 1942 Wannsee Conference, at which the Nazis formulated the details of their Final Solution. He quoted,

“The Jews who survive the work camps would be the most resistant thanks to natural selection—that’s why they survive. And if released they would provide the seed for a new Jewish revival and therefore according to the Wannsee protocol they must be treated accordingly and eradicated.”

That’s sheer evolutionary Darwinism.

Darwinism and DNA

The BBC Program moves on and Marr tells us that “the discovery of the structure of DNA [in 1953] confirmed Darwin’s theory that all life is linked by common descent, including humans. … It confirmed his belief that all living things were related … and are one species.”

the use of abortion to eliminate “defective” or “inconvenient” unborn babies, infanticide, euthanasia, and the harvesting of unborn babies for research purposes all have a common foundation in Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest theory and so are an integral part of the Darwinian worldview.

But this is just the atheistic or materialist explanation. In his article “Darwin’s real message: have you missed it?” Carl Wieland points out that, according to the late evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould, “Darwin’s theory is inherently anti-plan, anti-purpose, anti-meaning (in other words, is pure philosophical materialism). Also, that Darwin himself knew this very well and meant it to be so.”8

A better explanation is that DNA shows a common Creator rather than common ancestor. The unity in biology tells us that there is but one Creator, and the pattern of diversity defies any consistent naturalistic explanation.9 Furthermore, all human beings are related, and this is not because we have all evolved from the same ape-like creature millions of years ago, but because we are all the descendants of the same pair, Adam and Eve, created by God, some 6,000 years ago, as detailed in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. We have all been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), not in the image of an ape.

Omissions

In bringing his account of Darwin’s theory up to date, Marr omitted discussing several vital issues which are every bit as much a consequence of Darwin’s theory as was the Holocaust.

These include the many post-1953 genocides and ethnic cleansings of the 20th century, such as the 1,700,000 people killed by Pol Pot in Cambodia in 1975–79, the 1,500,000 people killed in Ethiopia in 1975–78, the 1,000,000 people killed in Biafra in 1967–70, and the 400,000 people killed in Angola in 1975–2002, to name just a few.10

Similarly today, the use of abortion to eliminate “defective” or “inconvenient” unborn babies, infanticide, euthanasia, and the harvesting of unborn babies for research purposes all have a common foundation in Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest theory and so are an integral part of the Darwinian worldview.

We await Andrew Marr’s attempt to exonerate Darwin from responsibility in these events, but we are not holding our breath.

Recommended Resources



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References

  1. Not to be confused with Episode 1: “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” of the American PBS/Nova TV series Evolution, reviewed by our Dr Jonathan Sarfati. Nor yet with Daniel C. Dennett’s book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, in which Dennett describes Darwin’s theory as a “universal acid” (which our Dr Carl Wieland reviewed in Creation magazine. Return to text.
  2. Darwin, C., The Descent of Man, John Murray, London, 1887, p. 156., or <Darwinonline.org.uk>. The full quote is: “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.” Return to text.
  3. Galton, Sir Francis, Encyclopaedia Britannica 5:97–98, 1992. Return to text.
  4. Galton, F., Hereditary talent and character, 2 parts, MacMillan’s magazine 12:157–166 and 318–327, June and August 1865. Return to text.
  5. Cowan, R., Sir Francis Galton and the study of heredity in the nineteenth century, Garland Publishing Inc., New York, USA, p. 75, 1985. Return to text.
  6. Galton, F., Memories of my life, Methuen & Co., London, UK, pp. 317–18. Return to text.
  7. For further comment see Grigg, R., Eugenics … death of the defenceless, Creation 28(1):19–22. Return to text.
  8. Wieland, C., http://creation.com/charles-darwins-real-message-have-you-missed-it or Creation 14(6):16–19, 1992. Return to text.
  9. ReMine, W., The Biotic Message. See review : http://creation.com/the-biotic-message-book-review. Return to text.
  10. Source Scaruffi, P., The worst genocides of the 20th century, http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html. Return to text.

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