On today’s ID the Future, host Michael Medved talks with Human Zoos film director John West about a recent Washington Post series exposing how the Smithsonian Institution collected hundreds of brains from indigenous peoples as part of an early-20th century effort to promote Darwinian racism. The motivation for the brain collection was to document how some people were supposedly lower on the evolutionary ladder than others. As West notes, many of these brains are still stored in steel vats at a non-public Smithsonian facility in Maryland. Tune in as West and Medved explore this disturbing topic and how it all ties into Darwin’s theory of evolution. And to watch the segment from the Human Zoos documentary detailing this gruesome collection and the man behind it, Aleš Hrdlička, click here.
On today’s ID the Future, science-and-religion scholar Robert Shedinger makes the case that a well-known biography of Charles Darwin, Darwin’s Sacred Cause, is deeply misleading. Specifically, the book by Adrian Desmond and James Moore holds that Darwin was significantly motivated in his scientific work by abolitionist sentiments; and Shedinger says, not so fast. He had spent considerable time reading Darwin’s correspondence and had seen no evidence of this thesis, so he reread Darwin’s Sacred Cause, this time tracking down all the key citations the book offered as evidence, and a pattern soon emerged. The sources the authors cite didn’t actually support their thesis. Some were totally irrelevant. Some were cited completely out of context. In other cases, the authors gave the impression that Darwin said something when the comment they attributed to him was stitched together from multiple correspondences and the constituent comments were often about something else altogether. Shedinger says he realized that this biography that looked to be so well documented amounted to “historical fiction.” The effect of the biography is to misrepresent Darwin in such a way as to make those who reject Darwinism appear to be opposing a saintly anti-abolitionist. While Darwin did have anti-slavery sentiments, it didn’t drive his science and he himself was anything but free from racism. In fact, his case for human evolution partly rested on deeply demeaning racist attitudes toward indigenous peoples. For more on this, see historian Richard Weikart’s book Darwinian Racism. Also in this episode, Shedinger tells host Michael Keas about how he went from a scholar fully persuaded of Darwinian theory to a skeptic of modern evolutionary theory and attracted to the theory of intelligent design. Shedinger lays out his case against Darwinism in his recent book The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms.
Today’s ID the Future features another reading from scholar Olufemi Oluniyi’s new book, Darwin Comes to Africa. In this excerpt we learn how Darwin himself laid much of the groundwork for social Darwinist ideas, primarily in his book The Descent of Man, and how those ideas were energetically developed in the ensuing decades by various mainstream scientists. Oluniyi further details how their work fueled pseudo-scientific racism against black Africans and other indigenous peoples outside the West. To learn more about this neglected corner of modern Western history, and for the good news that the flow of evidence has turned against Darwinism and, with it, social Darwinist principles, pick up Oluniyi’s book here.
On today’s ID the Future, hear a Nigerian voice-actor reading from the opening pages of Nigerian scholar Olufemi Oluniyi’s new book, Darwin Comes to Africa. In this section from the preface, Oluniyi explores the relationship of Darwinism to Social Darwinism, and some of the ways Social Darwinism fueled and justified horrific ideas and actions among European thinkers and colonizers. Oluniyi tells the story of Russian scientist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov, who, guided by Social Darwinist thinking, “sought to produce a race of super-soldiers for Stalin’s army by impregnating French Guinea women with the sperm of a dead chimpanzee—black African women, mind you, who were presumed to be less highly evolved and thus closer to chimpanzees than were white European women.” As Oluniyi further notes, this scientist was far from a “lone gunman…. Colonial authorities approved the plan, and the Russian found support amongst both the French and American scientists.” As horrifying as this plan is, it and other horrors make sense under the false and twisted logic of social Darwinism, Oluniyi explains. Buy the eye-opening book here.
On today’s ID the Future, scholar John West introduces Darwin Comes to Africa, the new book by Nigerian pastor, theologian, journalist, scholar, and human rights activist Olufemi Oluniyi. The work explores the poisonous influence of social Darwinism on British rule in northern Nigeria in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a poisonous influence felt in Oluniyi’s home country down to the present, he argues. The book project grew out of Oluniyi’s intimate knowledge of Nigerian culture as well as his attendance at the 2017 Center for Science & Culture Summer Seminar program in Seattle, Washington. By the end of that nine-day gathering, he had resolved to write a book about the impact of Social Darwinism on his home country and announced that intention to his fellow attendees. He died of Covid-19 four years later, but not before completing in-depth research on the subject of the book and sending Discovery Institute his manuscript. Listen in to learn more about what Oluniyi discovered, and purchase his fascinating book here.
Today’s ID the Future spotlights Darwinian racism, past and present. In this first half of a panel discussion at the 2022 Center for Science and Culture Insider’s Briefing, Darwin Day in America author John West introduces the other panel members, teases an upcoming book, Darwin Comes to Africa, and discusses his experience visiting the Museum of Criminal Anthropology in Turin, Italy, where the work of infamous Darwinian criminologist Cesare Lombroso’s racist ideas about evolution and race are on dramatic display. Then historian Richard Weikart, author of Darwinian Racism, debunks the popular media claim that white nationalist racism in America is a Southern evangelical phenomenon. Weikart shows that the most prominent white nationalists show little if any interest in promoting Christianity, but they very consistently anchor their racist ideas of white superiority and the racial struggle for supremacy in Darwinism, with straightforward links to Charles Darwin’s own ideas and arguments in The Descent of Man. Weikart is careful to emphasize that Darwinism does not necessarily lead its adherents to racism and, in fact, most Darwinists today are not racists. But racist ideas were woven into modern evolutionary thinking from the beginning and do serve as a major inspiration for white nationalist writers and even for some recent mass shooters. Weikart ends his lecture with a twist. He says there is one strongly anti-racist component in Darwinian materialism: Darwinian materialism, if true, means that all humans are equally without value — just so many DNA survival machines in a world without higher purpose or meaning. A grim takeaway, but only for those who feel compelled to embrace modern Darwinism. If you are open to questioning it, there are a wealth of resources at this podcast and at intelligentdesign.org showing that the evidence points strongly in another direction.
Today’s ID the Future brings listeners a lively conversation between radio host and bestselling author Eric Metaxas and historian Richard Weikart about Weikart’s new book, Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism. Weikart provides a quick flyover of the evidence that the outlook of Hitler, the Nazis, and contemporary white nationalists is significantly shaped by Darwinism and the arguments of early Darwinists. Metaxas and Weikart then contrast the Darwinian foundation for morality with the Judeo-Christian foundation, which holds that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore possess inherent worth, regardless of race and regardless of one’s “fitness.” This episode is reposted here, with permission, from The Eric Metaxas Show. Check out Weikart’s new book here.
Today’s ID the Future features the second half of a recent webinar spotlighting historian Richard Weikart and his new book, Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism. Here Weikart fields questions from the webinar audience. Along the way Weikart touches on the connection between Darwinism and scientific racism, the objection that Darwinism, properly understood, doesn’t support scientific racism (much less Nazi racism), the racism inherent in Darwin’s own writings and those of prominent early Darwinists such as Ernst Haeckel, and more recent manifestations of Darwinian-inspired scientific racism both academic and populist. This and much more is explored in Weikart’s new book, available here. And for scientific reasons to reject Darwinism along with its racists implications, jump over to Evolution News and Science Today.
Today’s ID the Future features the newly released Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism by distinguished historian Richard Weikart. Here Andrew McDiarmid reads from the introduction and chapter one. Weikart begins his book by revisiting the harrowing Columbine High School mass shooting and underscoring the curious fact that one of the mass shooters, a white nationalist, claimed inspiration from not just Adolf Hitler but also Charles Darwin. Since Darwin was a peaceable Victorian English gentleman and naturalist, what possible connection could there be between Darwin on the one hand and Hitler and contemporary white nationalism on the other? Weikart shows that the connection is in fact quite clear from the writings of Hitler, Darwin himself, and early Darwinists, and that the connection has continued to fuel scientific racism down to the present, despite the fact that the racist notions that Darwin and Germany’s Ernst Haeckel used to support the case for apelike-primate-to-human evolution have long since been debunked. Weikart’s revelatory new book is now available for purchase.
On this ID the Future host Casey Luskin interviews science journalist Denyse O’Leary about her recent essay, “Is Evolutionary Psychology a Legitimate Way to Understand Our Humanity,” which appears in the new Harvest House anthology co-edited by Luskin, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith. O’Leary, a science journalist and co-author of The Spiritual Brain, offers a withering critique of evolutionary psychology and traces its roots, beginning with The Descent of Man (1871), where Charles Darwin attributed various human behaviors to natural and sexual selection. That fed into what became known as social Darwinism, which fell out of favor after World War II thanks to Hitler and the Nazis’ application of social Darwinist ideas to defend Nordic superiority and genocide. The ideas resurfaced in modified form under the banner of sociobiology, and then later still, as evolutionary psychology. This latter manifestation, O’Leary says, marks the most comprehensive attempt to explain the various facets of human behavior in evolutionary terms, but its comprehensiveness has not won it widespread acceptance. Far from it. The field is quick to offer explanations for why we do what we do, but it has left a train of blunders in its wake. So for instance, evolutionary psychologists claimed that we associate pink with little girls and blue with little boys due to the sex-based division of labor among our primitive ancestors over the course of millions of years of evolutionary development. In primitive societies the girls gathered fruit (pink when ripe), and the boys fished (and blue is associated with water). Mystery solved? But wait. In Victorian England, pink was associated with boys and blue with girls. Do we have an evolutionary explanation for that as well? Give any reasonably creative company of evolutionary psychologists an evening and a twelve-pack, and they’d probably be able to dream up a sure-fire evolutionary explanation. Evolutionary psychology, with its ability to explain everything and its opposite, convincingly explains nothing. According to O’Leary, distaste for the field stretches well beyond the company of Darwin dissenters. Most evolutionists steer clear of evolutionary psychology, and even some who probably count themselves as fully paid-up members of the Darwinian materialist guild openly criticize it. Thus it seems that if we want to effectively explain human behavior in all its messy richness, we would do well to look beyond the box of just-so stories built from Darwin’s toolkit of natural and sexual selection.