June 10, 2021 | Jerry Bergman

150 Years of Darwin’s Dangerous Book

This year is the 150th anniversary of the most
dangerous book ever published: Darwin’s
racism and sexism are now acknowledged

 by Jerry Bergman, PhD

Title page of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man (1871). From Wikimedia Commons.

No, the most dangerous book ever published is not Hitler’s book Mein Kampf; that is number 7 on the list of the ten books that most screwed up the world.[1] The dubious honor of number 1 belongs to Charles Darwin’s infamous 1871 treatise, The Descent of Man. Darwin’s Descent of Man applied “survival of the fittest” to human society. This meant rejecting Genesis’ teaching that there exists only one race, the human race, because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Darwin replaced this long-held belief with the view that humans evolved from animal ancestors and some human races are more evolved than others.

As a result, theological ethicist Benjamin Wiker concluded, the Descent book inspired the worldwide eugenics movement which then morphed into the Holocaust. And Hitler’s Mein Kampf  “spiritualized Darwinism” which accounted for the Nazi genocidal program that resulted in the loss of life of an assortment of claimed inferior races, including 6 million Jews, 6 million Poles and a few million other “inferior” races. The death toll of World War II and a few other holocausts including those inspired by the communists, was close to 167 million total. In addition, according to World Christian Encyclopedia, 45.5 million Christian martyrs were sacrificed in the last century alone.[2]

Darwin’s Descent of Man was published on February 24, 1871, over 150 years ago. Its racism and sexism are now finally being recognized in leading academic journals. This has recently been exemplified in the prestigious journal Science by Princeton anthropologist Augustin Fuentes who wrote:

“Darwin portrayed Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australia as less than Europeans in capacity and behavior. Peoples of the African continent were consistently referred to as cognitively depauperate, less capable, and of a lower rank than other races.” Moreover, Fuentes charges Darwin with going “beyond simple racial rankings, offering justification of empire and colonialism, and genocide, through ‘survival of the fittest.’[3]

Fuentes adds that this racism contradicts Darwin’s robust stance against slavery. The fact is, “whatever Darwin’s demonstrable opposition to slavery may have been in motivation or expression, he still ended up as a spokesman for racist and misogynistic beliefs all too common among his Victorian peers.”[4] Science historian Michael Flannery adds the following:

Henry Huxley, Darwin’s indefatigable “Bulldog,” wrote a shameful essay on May 20, 1865, shortly after the conclusion of the American Civil War… [suggesting] that the South should be relieved given that it was no longer responsible for the care and “protection” of the now-former slaves. He declared that “no rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the average white man.”

Charles Darwin’s lofty status may be changing. From Wikimedia Commons.

Darwin’s Views on Women

Darwin’s writings were a major influence in the last century that perpetuated the belief, based on evolution, that women’s intelligence was inferior to men’s.[5] The problem was “Darwin’s views of women were — indeed are … not just indecorous, they are manifestly wrong.”[6] An example of the wrong belief is Darwin’s conclusion that women were at a “lower level of development” than men, due to an “earlier arrest of individual evolution” in human females. In view of this acknowledgment by Fuentes, Flannery stressed that students need to learn about both sides of “Darwin, not some idealized version of a larger-than-life “genius” who dominates the pages of today’s biology textbooks.”[7]

Anthropologist Ashley Montagu concluded that “Darwin’s sexual selection theory applied to humans was largely “anecdotal” and of the “travelogue variety’.”[8] As a “reply to Darwin’s clumsy and inept treatment of women, he [Montagu] wrote The Natural Superiority of Women.”[9] This book more than any other challenged Darwin’s claims of women’s inferiority as stated in his Descent of Man.[10]

The Genetic Superiority of Women

The newest book along the same line as Montagu’s classic work is Sharon Moalem’s The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women. The author — a male polymath, physicist, geneticist, and medical doctor — argues that the genetic evidence about sex differences in morbidity and mortality are linked to the XX (female) vs. XY (male) chromosomes. Consequently, women have advantages in longevity and immunity and, as a result, males are in general more vulnerable than females to many diseases. This is reflected in the lifespan of males compared to females. As of 2020, the life expectancy was 77 years for men and 81 years for women, close to four years difference. The difference is believed to be partly due to the male hormone testosterone, which is linked to a decrease in the strength of the immune system and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease as males age.[11] Worldwide, among humans, women’s average lifespan is almost 8 percent longer than men’s average lifespan.[12]

Two X chromosomes versus one in males is a problem because a damaged gene on the X chromosome is not compensated for by the corresponding gene on the sister chromosome as it is in females. If females have a damaged gene, they most often have a normal gene on the other X chromosome, whereas men do not have another X chromosome to correct for it. Examples of recessive X-linked disorders that men are more susceptible to include color blindness, hemophilia (the bleeding disease), Fragile X syndrome (a genetic condition causing intellectual disability), Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and several developmental disorders. Males are also more likely to have certain forms of mental disability due to X-linkage of some genes related to brain development. As a result, the number of males in various educational programs for “slow-learners” far outnumbers females (I once taught a class of slow learners and saw this firsthand).

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is also more common in males, evidently due to sex chromosome differences, Another major advantage females have over males (on average) is superior reading and writing skills, a fact very evident in my 40-year teaching career. Women also have more calcified and harder skulls overall, which may play a role protecting them against bruises and fractures. Women even have a higher endurance level in many sports, need less rest, have more strength gains when they work out, can work out longer because their muscles don’t fatigue as easily, have better muscle memory (when they re-start training again), and recover faster.[13]

Summary

Darwin’s book The Descent of Man had a profound influence on the acceptance of sexism. The recent publication of the admission of this fact appears to be a turning point allowing an honest admission of the harm that Darwin has done in society. It is hoped that Darwin’s other harmful ideas will also be allowed to permeate our secular society. Censorship has for over 100 rears prevented widespread open discussion of the Dark side of Darwin.[14] The idol of the last 150 years, may be fading, if not falling.

This statue in the British Museum may have to be removed. From Wikimedia Commons

References

[1] Wiker, Benjamin, 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: and 5 Others That Didn’t Help. Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2008.

[2] World Christian Encyclopedia, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2001.

A detailed look at harmful habits and destructive views held by Darwin.

[3] Flannery, Michael, Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man. Evolution News and Science Today, 24 May 2021, https://evolutionnews.org/2021/05/congratulations-to-science-magazine-for-an-honest-portrayal-of-darwins-descent-of-man/.

[4] Flannery, 2021.

[5] Murphy, Patricia, Reevaluating Female “Inferiority”: Sarah Grand versus Charles Darwin. Victorian Literature and Culture 26(2):221-236, 1998.

[6] Flannery, 2021.

[7] Flannery, 2021.

[8] Flannery, 2021.

[9] Flannery, 2021.

[10] Montagu, Ashley, The Natural Superiority of Women, 5th Edition,   AltaMira Press /Sage Publications, New York, NY, 1999.

[11] Hoke, Zlatica, New Study Looks Into Why Females Live Longer Than Males, Voice of America-Science & Health, 25 March 2020, https://www.voanews.com/science-health/new-study-looks-why-females-live-longer-males.

[12] Hoke, 2020.

[13] Moalem, Sharon, The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women,  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY, 2020.

[14] See Censoring the Darwin Skeptics. How Belief in Evolution is Enforced by Expunging Dissidents. Second Edition 2021. By Jerry Bergman and Kevin Wirth (editor)


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.

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