January 17, 2022 | Jerry Bergman

“Darwin’s Heir” Redefined Human Behavior

More Admissions of the Darwinian Racism of Scientists:
The Growing List Now Includes E.O. Wilson

 

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

Monica McLemore writes in Scientific American that the recent death of biologist E.O. Wilson (d. 26 Dec 2021) has forced her to begin yet “again reflecting on the complicated legacies of scientists whose works are built on racist ideas and how these ideas came to define our understanding of the world.”[1] The new article openly admits, “We must reckon with his and other scientists’ racist ideas if we want an equitable future.”[2] Part of the problem was

Wilson argued that social behaviors from warfare to altruism had a genetic basis, an idea that contradicted the prevailing view that cultural and environmental factors determined human behavior. … Critics argued that such a theory bolstered social injustice, including discrimination against women, by saying that the inequality is written in human genes.[3]

She adds that her PhD research forced her to familiarize herself intimately “with Wilson’s work and his dangerous ideas on what factors influence human behavior.” The racism of evolution was common, McLemore alleges.

Wilson was hardly alone in his problematic beliefs. His predecessors— mathematician Karl Pearson, anthropologist Francis Galton, Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel and others—also published works and spoke of theories fraught with racist ideas about distributions of health and illness in populations…. Even modern geneticists and genome scientists struggle with inherent racism in the way they gather and analyze data.[4]

Darwin, the Consummate Racist

Charles Darwin seated. Photographed in 1854 when Darwin was only 45 years old. Photo by Henry Maull (1829–1914) and John Fox. Public Domain.

After quoting Charles Darwin’s racist writings for decades (for which I was severely criticized), Darwin’s racism was finally admitted in the world’s most esteemed science journal titled Science. The article by Princeton University Professor Agustín Fuentes correctly noted that some of Darwin’s racist “assertions were dismally, and dangerously, wrong. ‘Descent’ [of Man, Darwin’s 1871 treatise, is a book] ….  not to venerate” as is common among many evolutionists today.[5] Fuentes adds that, among Darwin’s book on human evolution,

“Descent” is often problematic, prejudiced, and injurious. Darwin thought he was relying on data, objectivity, and scientific thinking in describing human evolutionary outcomes. But for much of the book, he was not. “Descent,” like so many of the scientific tomes of Darwin’s day, offers a racist and sexist view of humanity.[6]

Furthermore, Fuentes adds “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.”[7] Fuentes concludes that Darwin

baselessly, asserted evolutionary differences between races. He went beyond simple racial rankings, offering justification of empire and colonialism, and genocide, through “survival of the fittest.” … In “Descent,” Darwin identified women as less capable than (White) men, often akin to the “lower races.” He described man as more courageous, energetic, inventive, and intelligent, invoking natural and sexual selection as justification, despite the lack of concrete data and biological assessment. His adamant assertions about the centrality of male agency and the passivity of the female in evolutionary processes, for humans and across the animal world, resonate with both Victorian and contemporary misogyny….. Darwin was a perceptive scientist whose views on race and sex should have been more influenced by data and his own lived experience. But Darwin’s racist and sexist beliefs, echoing the views of scientific colleagues and his society, were powerful mediators of his perception of reality.[8]

From this review of Darwin’s racism we can see it is for good reasons that Wilson was called “Darwin’s natural heir.”[9]

Wilson, One of the World’s Leading Scientists

Wilson, like Darwin, was no minor figure in science. It “would be hard to understate Ed’s scientific achievements, but his impact extends to every facet of society,” said PBS upon news of his passing at age 92. “He was a true visionary with a unique ability to inspire and galvanize. He articulated, perhaps better than anyone, what it means to be human.”[10] Wilson was awarded the highest scientific honor in the biosciences field, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Crafoord Prize. Included among the many other international awards and honors bestowed on Wilson is the International Prize for Biology, one of the most prestigious honors a natural scientist can receive. The selection and award of the prize is managed by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

E.O. Wilson praised by Time Magazine in 1996 as one of America’s 25 most influential people.

Additionally, Time magazine named Wilson one of America’s 25 most influential people in 1996.[11] The Time article quoted Cornell biologist Thomas Eisner who described Wilson as one of the “prime synthesizing minds in the world today.”[12] Wilson was listed along with Einstein, Newton, Galileo, and Copernicus in the Britannica Guide to 100 Most Influential Scientists of all Time.[13]

Reared as a Christian, in later life he left his childhood faith and became aggressively hostile to Christianity, even writing “Religion ‘is dragging us down’ and must be eliminated ‘for the sake of human progress.’” He said in 2015,

So I would say that for the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faiths.[14]

E. O. Wilson, a Harvard professor and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author, first became a science icon for his 1975 book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. In this book he argued from his research on ants that genetics also had a major influence on human behavior. The Sociobiology field has “created a storm of controversy among fellow academics who with some justification equated sociobiology’s theories with sexism, racism and Nazism.”[15] For example, fifteen Boston-area scholars jointly wrote a letter strongly denouncing Wilson. One protester dumped a pitcher of ice water on Wilson’s head while he was speaking at a scientific meeting.

McLemore says it is necessary to evaluate and critique racist scientists, especially focusing on their contributions to furthering scientific racism. The use of science (actually Darwinian ‘science’) to support racism is properly called scientific racism. It has been a fountainhead of perverted policies. Therefore, “Undoing scientific racism will require commitments from the entire scientific community to determine the portions of historically problematic work that are relevant” to debunk scientific racism.[16] It hurts everyone, McLemore says. She writes that society loses when ideas are grounded in faulty notions such as scientific racism.

Human Evolution vs. Adam and Eve

The faulty notion she speaks of is clearly Darwinism and its view of humans as evolved beasts. That replaced the historical belief that all men are descendants of Adam and Eve, as taught in the Bible. The Biblical view implies that all men are brothers, as accurately stated by the eminent anthropologist, Columbia University professor Ruth Benedict wrote in 1943 at a time when scientific racism was about to collapse: “The Races of Mankind are what the Bible says they are—brothers. In their bodies is the record of their brotherhood.” She added that the basis of her conclusion is the creationist view which she explained as follows:

The Bible story of Adam and Eve, father and mother of the whole human race, told centuries ago the same truth that science has shown today: that all people of the earth are a single family and have a common origin. Science describes the intricate make-up of the human body: all its different organs cooperating in keeping us alive, its curious anatomy that couldn’t possible “just happened: to be the same in all men if they did not have a common origin.”[17]

For supporting this Adam-and-Eve creation worldview that Professor Ruth Benedict spoke of, and for rejecting the Darwinian worldview, Attorney G. Merle Bergman (no relation) wrote that rejection of evolution and the Darwinian worldview was a justifiable for Bowling Green University to deny me tenure and to terminate me. The reasons include:

I have to ask myself how practical it is for a creationist to impress scientifically minded men and women with his objectivity—which is certainly a prime virtue for any teacher. I could not myself consider that a teacher had much of a grasp on reality if he or she believed that the creationist view of the universe was a realistic one.…  evolution is proven many times over, whereas creationism is viewed as a leftover from very primitive folklore.… can we really say that it is because of Jerry Bergman’s religion that they would be adverse to giving him a vote of confidence as a teacher?  I think their negative vote was a reflection of their view that he was too far removed from reality to be able to direct young people along objective paths. …They are not judging the man’s right to hold and to express religious views different from their own, but his ability to define reality.[18]

Another, less scholarly, condemnation of those who hold the Adam and Eve account as an historical event includes a website that condemns all supporters of both creationism and Intelligent Design, including Michael Behe (number 20 on the website). On the website the following was written:

Bergman is a dishonest whiner, snower and conspiracy theorist who fabricates stories about persecution of religious scientists. His most nauseating feature is his tendency to snow debates and avoid dealing with devastating objections. Bergman is utterly crazy and ignorant, and his version of the irreducible complexity argument is bizarre even for that mess of an argument. … Diagnosis: typical village idiot; despicably dishonest, crazy, paranoid wingnut and kook, and another extreme case of confirmation bias and persecution complex. His ardent efforts seem to have gained him some level of influence among his peers, and he is a medium threat to school curricula everywhere.[19]

In my case, I was specifically condemned for documenting the connection between Darwinism and racism.[20] Fortunately, those who have looked in some detail into the connection between Darwinism and racism were very supportive of my conclusions.[21]

Summary

The increased recognition that many leading evolutionists in the past were racists has vindicated the claims creationists having been making for decades that all humans are descended from two humans 6,000 years ago. Exposure of the close connection between racism and Darwinism will likely be rationalized by evolutionists by condemning the racists aspects of the Darwinian worldview, then concluding this is no reason to reject the ‘fact’ of evolution. Here is one speculative explanation they may resort to. Far back in prehistory, they believe, all competing hominids were wiped out, producing a bottleneck. The result is all humans living today are the offspring of this small band of humans giving the appearance of the entire human race being descended from Adam and Eve. Evolution is a belief system that tries to rationalize any problems that come up as best as possible. This is but one example. It is not based directly on fact, but constitutes a rationalization designed to explain a difficulty with the still-ruling Darwinian view of humanity.

Ed. note: See also Richard Weikart’s analysis of E.O. Wilson’s Legacy at Evolution News.

References

[1] McLemore, Monica R. 2021. The Complicated Legacy of E.O. Wilson. Scientific American, December 29. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-complicated-legacy-of-e-o-wilson/

[2] McLemore, 2021

[3] McLemore, 2021.

[4] McLemore, 2021.

[5] Fuentes, Agustín. 2021. “The Descent of Man,” 150 years on. Science 372(6544):769, May 21.

DOI: 10.1126/science.abj4606.

[6] Fuentes, 2021, p. 769.

[7] Fuentes, 2021, p. 769.

[8] Fuentes, 2021, p. 769.

[9] PBS. Edward O. Wilson, biologist known as ‘ant man,’ dead at 92. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/edward-o-wilson-biologist-known-as-ant-man-dead-at-92.

[10] PBS, 2021.

[11] Time Magazine. 1996. America’s 25 Most Influential People. June 17.

[12] Time, 1996, p. 47.

[13] Rogers, Sara. 2010. Britannica Guide to 100 Most Influential Scientists of all Time. Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., pp. 309-312.

[14] Sarchet, Penny. 2015. E.O. Wilson: Religious faith is dragging us down. New Scientist, January 21. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530050-400-e-o-wilson-religious-faith-is-dragging-us-down/

[15] McLemore, 2021.

[16] McLemore, 2021.

[17] Ruth Benedict. 1943. The Races of Mankind. New York, NY: Public Affairs Committee, pp. 3-5.

[18] G. Merle Bergman, 1985. “The Professor Who Lost His Job.” Liberty 80(3):28, May-June.

[19] The Encyclopedia of American Loons. #23, Jerry Bergman. http://americanloons.blogspot.com/2010/05/23-jerry-bergman.html.

[20] Fletcher, Jim. 2013. Evolution to blame for murder of millions? Exclusive: Jim Fletcher reviews ‘Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview.’ WND, October 2. https://www.wnd.com/2013/10/evolution-to-blame-for-murder-of-millions/?cat_orig=world

[21]Fletcher, 2013.

Dr Bergman documented censorship of Darwin skeptics in 3 volumes.


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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