Evolutionist Admits Darwin’s Connection to Racism
Finally, Some Honesty about Darwin’s Direct Connection to Racism: One AAAS Scientist Admits Evolution’s Sordid Past
by Jerry Bergman, PhD
Although often ignored, some science organizations that embrace evolution acknowledge the close causative connection between Darwinism and racism.
Despite some inaccuracies and fierce opposition, Darwin’s blend of novel hypotheses … and good rhetoric transformed the scientific world within a few decades. By the late-nineteenth century …scientific racism that had made polygenism so popular was soon drawing people to a new cause: eugenics.
So says John P. Slattery, Ph.D., a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, the most prestigious science body in the U.S.). In his essay this month in Commonweal, he admits that—despite its recent improvement in the area of race—the record of Darwinian
science has not always aligned so well with modern values of equality and the common good. The history of science includes not only racial hierarchies, but also Western cultural supremacy, [and] the militarization of scientific knowledge.
In many countries, including the United States,
people with disabilities and the poor were among the first to be sterilized, silenced, or killed. Thousands of scientific experiments were performed on people against their will, and countless laws inspired by eugenics were passed in the name of scientific progress. The genocidal actions of Nazi Germany and all German-controlled countries were uniquely horrific in their implementation of eugenic ideas, but Hitler’s program was largely inspired by the language and laws of the American eugenics movement.
Slattery links eugenics to the push for ‘fitness’ the way Darwin defined it.
Before the rise of Nazi Germany, the most potent application of eugenics was in the United States, whose ruling class held tightly to racism…. Eugenics in the United States included campaigns to encourage the reproduction of the fittest human specimens, celebrations of the fittest babies, and efforts to determine … the “most fit humans.” But it also included forced-sterilization and anti-miscegenation laws, forced birth control, forced abortions, concentration camps, and unethical scientific experiments on black and other nonwhite communities.
The Darwinian-inspired eugenics movement infected not only the United States, but also other parts of the world – even places where one would not expect it to have taken hold.
In Canada and Mexico, anti-indigenous biases determined the nature of most eugenic laws. In South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi, anti-black and anti-indigenous racism motivated both sterilization and anti-miscegenation laws, as well as death camps. In most of Europe, as well as Russia, China, Iran, Australia, and New Zealand, the eugenics movement channeled long-established hostility to Jews, Africans, indigenous peoples, women, and immigrants.
Slattery remarks that “eugenics spread so quickly because of its standing as an accepted application of a scientific theory” [namely, evolution; he points to the publication of Darwin’s Origin as the triggering event]. Unfortunately, many of the so-called liberal Christian churches that accepted evolution, such as some Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches, influenced by their colleges and universities, went along with eugenics because, they reasoned, if evolution from molecule to man was a fact, all of the races could not be equal. And as a result,
Christians played a large role in the dissemination of eugenics. … one of the largest standing committees of the American Eugenics Society [in the first three decades of the twentieth century] was the Committee on Cooperation with Clergymen.” In fact, clergy of many religious traditions joined in the cause, writing, preaching, and lecturing widely in support of eugenics.
Slattery makes it clear that exceptions to this Christian embrace of eugenics occurred primarily within denominations that rejected evolution and held to the Biblical teaching that all humans are descendants of the first human couple created by God, namely Adam and Eve. He points out that anti-modernist Catholics, together
with fundamentalist Protestants, most Catholics opposed both evolution and eugenics. Eugenics was largely supported by moderate and liberal Christians who embraced science because they believed it was on the side of social progress.
Furthermore, the “same people who supported some variety of eugenics often championed progressive political causes. Such figures included Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, and … Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.” As Professor Slattery acknowledged,
if you accepted Darwin’s evolutionary theory in the early twentieth century, you probably also supported eugenics. Pro-science progressives embraced both, while conservatives, including the Vatican, rejected both. Very few rejected one but not the other.
Slattery continues by describing what happened after World War II.
Public support of eugenics plummeted after Nazi Germany’s crimes were revealed. While many scientists continued to argue against the equality of all humans—protesting en masse, for example, against the 1950 UNESCO statement on human rights—the tide of public opinion had turned.
The world finally realized the harm that accepting evolution inevitably caused. The fact is, when “Darwin introduced his theory of “evolution by means of natural selection” in 1859… most scholars still believed in the immediate creation of all human life by God.” After Darwin, all of this changed. Now, close to 98 percent of all eminent scientists reject Christianity and most of those embrace atheism. As Slattery admits,
For Galton and most of the educated elite, the program of eugenics would allow humans to do intentionally what nature does randomly: favoring the most biologically capable, the “fittest,” and gradually ridding the world of the unfit. Between 1883 and 1939—the year World War II began—eugenic philosophies, theologies, and laws spread like wildfire.
A Kinder, Gentler Darwinism
After coming clean on Darwin’s sordid past, Slattery, as a senior program associate with the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Program of the AAAS with a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, tried to argue that one can accept both Christianity and evolution. For example, Slattery commented that in the 1950s
the Catholic Church’s position on evolution was beginning to change. Pius XII’s Humani generis (1950) opened the church to discussion of evolutionary theory; a decade later Vatican II opened the church to modern science in general. Gaudium et spes balanced both the theological and the scientific pursuits of truth through the doctrine, declared at the Fifth Lateran Council and reaffirmed at the First Vatican Council…Thus, in the latter half of the twentieth century, Roman Catholicism became the first and largest Christian community to hold together a progressive acceptance of science [i. e., Darwinism] with an insistence on universal human equality and dignity, from conception until natural death.
Slattery comes full circle to Darwin again, promoting the very theory that started the worst examples of racism in history. How is it possible that Darwin’s theory, which formerly caused scientists and leaders to commit atrocities, is now a source of moral guidance? Like many in the media, Slattery equates Darwinism with science.
It should be a point of pride among Catholics that the church came to accept evolutionary theory after decades of rejecting the idea. This change put the church in a better position to offer scientists moral guidance. It has also allowed the church to produce theologians who are comfortable with science and scientists who are comfortable with theology. Meanwhile, other Christian communities—and Evangelicals in particular—have continued to struggle with hostility toward science.
In a recent trip to Notre Dame, I noted in their bookstore they carried only books in favor of evolution, or attacking views skeptical Darwinism, but nothing in favor of either Creationism or Intelligent Design.
No Compromise Possible
Those trying to “unite” evolution and Christian theism with positions of theistic evolution (or the newer title evolutionary creation), should read a timely new book by F. LaGard Smith (2018). It effectively demolishes the efforts to blend the two bluntly contradictory worldviews. The section titled, “The Futility of Commingling Evolution and Creation,” is one of the most effective discussions I have ever read for refuting ideas such as those held by BioLogos, a theistic evolution organization which Smith specifically addresses. Smith also convincingly shows that evolutionary creationists are unaware of the devastating case against evolution. He focuses on problems explaining the evolution of sex, which is what Professor Smith’s book is about (Darwin’s Secret Sex Problem: Exposing Evolution’s Fatal Flaw—The Origin of Sex).
Atheism, Irrationality, and Despair
Acceptance of evolution logically leads to atheism, even nihilism, which I document in my new book (2019), Darwinism Is the Doorway to Atheism.; [see also 29 May 2017.] A good example is the case of Michael Ruse. He claimed to be a Christian in his youth, but when he learned about evolution, as so often happens to impressionable students, he jettisoned his belief in God and became a militant atheist. Ruse became one of the most prolific authors in the field of evolution, spending much of his energy attacking creation and intelligent design. Did his apostasy improve his life? In his new book, A Meaning to Life he expresses with blunt atheistic clarity:
You are born. You live. Then you die. If you don’t think so, then you should! We come from an eternity of oblivion. We return to an eternity of oblivion.
Now go and have a nice life.
Marvin Olasky, editor of World Magazine, wrote about Michael Ruse in December, 2019. Ruse is now 79 years old and a “distinguished professor who has written or edited more than 50 books and says, ‘In the end, you know truly that it doesn’t mean a thing.’” Why should anyone read the books then, if they don’t mean a thing? Of note is the fact that Ruse’s book on the meaning of life mentions Darwin fully 85 times! The despair that Ruse and other evolutionary philosophers manifest is the logical fruit of Darwinism, as their own writings document. Quoting from Ruse, Marvin Olasky gives more examples of how evolution leads to futility:
Ruse offers this not only as his opinion but as the supposed wisdom of the ages. He quotes the 1882 version of Tolstoy saying we end up as “stench and worms.” He quotes William James in 1902: “We are all such helpless failures in the last resort.” He jumps to Albert Camus, 1942: There “is but one truly serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.”
Such fruits are well-documented in my book. In a position that is uncommon for evolutionists, who usually equate Darwinism with science, Ruse admits that Darwinism is like a religion. In his 2016 book, Darwinism as Religion, Ruse calls evolution a substitute for Christianity. Slater should have mentioned this fact instead of painting a rosy picture of faithful Catholics joyously embracing the ‘science’ of evolutionary religion.
And what an irrational religion it is! Those accustomed to equating science with rational fact and religion with irrational faith should look at a recent preprint on bioRxiv, where the evolutionist author, Wolfgang A. Tiefenbrunner, openly indicates that evolution operates in blatant contradiction to one of the best-established laws of science:
Though evolution undoubtedly operates in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics, the law of disorder, during billions of years organisms of incredible complexity came into being… since then evolution led successively to the creation of organisms of ever increasing complexity. Evolution, the interplay of random mutations and purposeful selection, turned out to be a process of enormous creativity, astonishing for an optimizing procedure.”
In the final analysis, the ‘miracle’ of life—according to evolutionism—comes about through trillions of genetic mistakes and damaging mutations, 99 percent of which are near-neutral or harmful. These mistakes accumulate to slowly age or maim organisms, as everyone knows from observation and experience. The second law of thermodynamics is thereby confirmed. Yet to Darwinians, this damaging process can and did create all of the extravagant life that we see around us, with all its beauty, variety and elegance.
What began as a triumphal march to improve fitness, that resulted racism, eugenics and the deaths of millions, ends up as an irrational religion that leads to futility and despair.
 Slattery, John P. 2020. “Evolution & Racism. Complementary Conclusions in Science and Catholicism.” Commonweal. February 4. https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/evolution-racism
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 Rosen, Christine. 2004. Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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 Slattery, 2020. Italics added.
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 Slattery, 2020.
 Slattery, 2020.
 F. LaGard Smith. 2018. Darwin’s Secret Sex Problem: Exposing Evolution’s Fatal Flaw—The Origin of Sex. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, “The Futility of Commingling Evolution and Creation.” pp. 203-300.
 Bergman, Jerry. 2019. Darwinism Is the Doorway to Atheism. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press.
 Olasky, Marvin. 2019. “Eternity of oblivion? A philosopher looks for the meaning to life.” World Magazine, December 28. p. 26.
 Ruse, Michael. 2019. A Meaning to Life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
 Olasky, 2019, p. 26.
 Olasky, 2019, p. 26.
 Bergman, 2019.
 Ruse, Michael. 2016. Darwinism as Religion: What Literature Tells Us about Evolution. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
 Tiefenbrunner. Wolfgang A. 2020. Information change due to natural selection in populations with and without recombination. bioRxiv, January 29. http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.01.23.917724.
Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.