There's still more to say on this subject. In a nutshell, DarwinISM has had a horrifically evil influence in this world, and I've remarked on this many times, but that doesn't mean that Darwin himself intended any of those effects, and he most certainly didn't.
It is well documented, though probably not as well known as it should be, that the murderous racist philosophies of Hitler and others such as Margaret Sanger, took their inspiration from Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Believers in evolution try to deny that, but Christians at least ought to be well informed of it.
I still believe that none of that derived from Darwin's own personal attitudes, only from his theory, whose deadly inhumane implications he hadn't foreseen. He was a man who had rejected belief in God and set himself to pursue a scientific ambition that he knew was contrary to Christian teaching, which is actually a very common story in the times in which he lived, which was a time in which "science" was supplanting the Christian religion in England and in fact the west in general. That alone is enough to account for his coming up with a theory that could be put to all kinds of destructive uses, and particularly because it contradicted the biblical view of God's creation of humanity, but this doesn't mean that he himself was personally inclined toward such uses.
He was certainly aware that treating human beings as descended from animals was going to put him at odds with the Christian culture, but like most godless scientists he didn't envision anything destructive from that idea, he only anticipated that he would be ostracized for going against religion in the pursuit of what to his mind was scientific truth. He expected resistance out of religious bigotry, which is the usual stance of science against religion.
But that his ideas could justify racist murder? I really don't think so. He had the prevailing attitude: Science is good, you see, it's truth, it's enlightenment, and the more of that the better for all of us. Opponents are simply narrow-minded and tradition-bound opposers of the noble enterprise of discovering Truth. Murder? No.
Anyway, The Origin of Species promoted no ideas that could be called racist, although the theory of natural selection does carry implications that a racist mentality could twist to their purposes by applying it to human beings, and the idea of evolution does apply it to human beings, just not in The Origin of Species. In the context of that book, which doesn't even mention human beings but deals only with animals -- finches, turtles, bats, horses, pigeons -- the subtitle "preservation of favored races" --another way of saying "natural selection" --refers to breeds of animals, and to get all indignant over the word "races" in that phrase is simply to demonstrate ignorance of how a naturalist would use terms in those days. He COULD have used the word "breeds" because that is exactly what he meant by the word "races" -- would that get anyone worked up about racism in the theory?
Here is Webster's 1828 Dictionary (that's Noah Webster, a strong Christian) on
[L. radix and radius having the same original. This word coincides in origin with rod, ray, radiate]
1. The lineage of a family, or continued series of descendants from a parent who is called the stock. A race is the series of descendants indefinitely. Thus all mankind are called the race of Adam; the Israelites are of the race of Abraham and Jacob. Thus we speak of a race of kings, the race of Clovis or Charlemagne; a race of nobles, Hence the long race of Alban fathers come.
2. A generation; a family of descendants. A race of youthful and unhandled colts.
3. A particular breed; as a race of mules; a race of horses; a race of sheep.Yes, again, if the idea of race in the sense of breed is applied to human beings as if we are merely animals, which is of course what Darwin does when he gets to that subject in his next book, then it can become a basis for all kinds of racist thinking.
And there are some more directly racist ideas in Darwin's next book The Descent of Man. Since I haven't read that book I would only have supposed that there could be such implications because of the context of applying natural selection to human beings, but in fact he does express a racist view of the sort that must have been prevalent in his time:
Here is an online copy of Darwin's Descent of Man of 1871. And the following is from Chapter Six of that book, On the Affinities and Geneaology of Man.
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. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated.So here we do have racist ideas in connection with Darwin's theory. The "Australian" is the aborigine of that continent, which he identifies as a "negro."
The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised 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, Chapter 6 ]
But note how he is discussing this: He is not presenting some new idea here but clearly referring to a concept that he assumes his readers would readily recognize and agree to. The idea of "savage races," the idea of a big gap or difference between "civilised" man and other races he clearly regards as inferior, are being used as if they were well known, as no doubt they were. There is clearly an idea of higher and lower, better and worse, implied here, but not as something Darwin himself invented. He refers to the racial group "Caucasian" as superior to others, particularly the "negro," implying that all the usual categories of human races were clearly already established in the public mind of the time.
Again, Darwin did not invent these. He is referring to them as if they were accepted facts in his day.
The idea of evolution was itself also not new in Darwin's time, so the idea of human relatedness to the apes was not invented by him either.
What Darwin did was try to put these already-accepted ideas on a scientific footing, to explain how one "species" could have "evolved" into another -- "scientifically." That's what his whole theory is about. He came up with the idea of natural selection as the necessary mechanism to explain this. And he wasn't the only one: Alfred Russel Wallace came up with the same idea at the same time. And I thought this statement from a page on that site where the author tries to answer wrong ideas about Wallace was interesting:
Wallace did not coin the phrase "survival of the fittest"--Herbert Spencer did. It was Wallace, however, who suggested that Darwin use the phrase as a means of conveying the basic idea of natural selection to nonspecialist readers.So "survival of the fittest" was not invented by either Darwin or Wallace but made use of because they thought it might get more difficult concepts across to nonscientists. Unfortunately the term only succeeded in confusing the subject even more.
Back to the racist comment in Darwin's Descent of Man, one thing that is clear about the theory of evolution is that the idea of progress, of more "highly evolved" and less highly evolved races, of superior and inferior, better and worse, was clearly implicit in it, and this notion was reinforced by the idea of natural selection which implies that all "races" are in differing stages of evolution. Though it is often denied now, it does encourage classifying different races as superior and inferior. This was in Darwin's mind, as well as his readers' minds, and all those who already held to a belief in evolution and were ready wholeheartedly to embrace the theory that supposedly explained what they already thought anyway.
Today defenders of evolution often go out of their way to insist that as a scientific theory it does not imply progress, that the changes that take place biologically that supposedly lead to the formation of new species, occur only in relation to the neutral standard of what promotes survival and reproduction. This idea is in Darwin's writing too, and yet we find him discussing human race in the above quote in clear terms of superior and inferior.
Evolutionists today try to erase the whole idea of race from their thinking on the basis of the theory's referring only to neutral changes, but you CAN'T erase this concept from the theory because the whole thing depends on an idea of biological changes forming new groups or races as the stepping stones of evolution itself. I guess you can try to deny the idea of progress in a blind biological system, but you can't deny that the idea of progress was inherent in the original thinking about evolution.
However that is all to be finally sorted out, it ought to be clear from that quote that Darwin himself did give at least some cause for the racist doctrines that based themselves on his theory, did give cause to Hitler, did give cause to Sanger, although he himself might have deplored what they made of his remarks had he known about them.
True, he doesn't deplore the possibility of the extermination of the "lesser" races, he treats it as a "scientific" inevitability that the higher will ultimately replace the lower. Perhaps the real evil of such a theory is that it allows for such cold "neutral" or "objective" assessments of human beings. This cold way of reckoning justifies abortion too: It's not really a human being, or if it is, human beings are just animals anyway, or an unborn infant is less than human just because it's not yet fully formed, so it's not really murder, and so on and so forth. Hitler therefore wasn't committing murder, he was merely ridding the world of "vermin," a good and noble deed from that twisted perspective.
It's interesting, as an aside, that in Darwin's frame of reference it was the "negro" who was lower -- a term which no doubt included all the "savage races" and primitive tribes that had been encountered by Europeans over the previous centuries as they extended their explorations to all parts of the world -- but Hitler didn't go after the black races (though Margaret Sanger did), Hitler set himself to rid the world of Jews, an obviously successful and civilized "race," which on Darwin's scheme should put them in the more highly evolved category, and Slavs, who are Caucasians and therefore also in the highly evolved category, according to Darwinian racialism which again was really the standard racism of his day. Hitler obviously had his own "Darwinian" theory to serve his own purposes. How much responsibility for THAT should be put at Darwin's doorstep?
I think Darwin was a pawn of the philosophical leaders of his day, men including Thomas Huxley for instance, who aggressively promoted his theory. As far as his own beliefs go he was a typical representative of the "enlightened" thinkers of his time. If it hadn't been his version of natural selection that became the justification for the evolutionism that was already accepted by the "enlightened" ones, it would have been Alfred Russel Wallace's, just another misguided godless scientist. The 19th Century brought all the evils of the Enlightenment to a critical mass, the elimination of God for starters, followed by the works of Rationalism which in that intensified form could only express the fallenness of human nature to the horrific level of Nazism -- and it still isn't over, there's more and even worse evil to come unless we turn back to God.
So now I suppose I've only compounded my sins in the eyes of my Christian critics. Back to reading George Watson, good for the soul.