In today’s ID the Future historian Richard Weikart (Cal State Stanislaus) dissects a new Cambridge University Press book on social Darwinism by Jeffrey O’Connell and Michael Ruse. Weikart, author of Hitler’s Ethic, From Darwin to Hitler, Hitler’s Religion, and The Death of Humanity,* says that a major shortcoming of the new book is the authors’ attempt to put as much distance as possible between Darwin and eugenics thinking, and between Darwin and Hitler. The new book paints Darwin follower Herbert Spencer as the eugenics-championing bad guy and posits that Darwin and Darwinism had little or no influence on Hitler’s warped master race ethic. Weikart patiently highlights some key evidence to the contrary, statements front and center in Hitler’s writing. Did Darwin cause Hitler? No. Would Darwin have approved of Hitler? Almost certainly not. But according to Weikart, Darwin’s own racist and pro-eugenics thinking, combined with some implications of his theory that he himself explicitly surfaced, manifestly did lay the groundwork for Hitler’s diabolical outlook on “the master race,” “the struggle for life,” war, and eugenics. *As an Amazon Associate, Discovery earns from qualifying purchases.
As a nod to Darwin Day and Black History Month, today’s ID the Future spotlights the racist thinking of Charles Darwin and the scientific racism fueled by Darwinism and Darwinists. As guest and historian Michael Flannery notes, Darwin’s followers, including Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, took ideas found in Darwin’s work and used them to vigorously press the case for eugenics, a movement that came to have a horrifying impact for American blacks in the twentieth century, including for thousands who were subjected to forced sterilizations. Was Darwin’s racism purely a function of his time and place, Victorian England? Flannery says no, and on two counts. First, he says that the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, was far more progressive about non-Anglo indigenous races than was Darwin, arguing that they were very much the equals of Europeans, morally and intellectually. Such an outlook is dramatically different from Darwin’s, who saw them as far inferior and destined to be weeded out by the process of natural selection one day. Also, while Wallace came to embrace a form of intelligent design and to reject philosophical materialism, Darwin and many of his followers saw his theory as both rooted in, and supporting, a materialistic outlook on nature. Humans, in other words, were without an immaterial soul. This materialistic view of the human person, Flannery and host Jay Richards argue, vitiates the traditional theological understanding of humans as made in the image of God with inherent dignity and worth. As Richards further notes, Martin Luther King Jr. made precisely this point himself. Tune in as Flannery and Richards explore this oft-neglected corner of history.
On this ID the Future, Rob Crowther interviews geologist Casey Luskin, recently back from getting his PhD in geology at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. Luskin, who formerly worked for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, and has just now rejoined the CSC, tells about his adventures doing field research in Africa, his side interest in human origins, his cross-cultural experiences, the amazing game parks, museums, and fossil sites he visited, and a little bit about his PhD, including some evidence suggesting that parts of Africa and Western Australia used to be connected.