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.
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 episode of ID the Future, Cal State history professor Richard Weikart, author of The Death of Humanity and the Case for Life, talks racism past and present, in both Christian and “scientific” secular history.Read More ›
On this episode of ID the Future, From Darwin to Hitler author and historian Richard Weikart returns to his conversation with Mike Keas about a recent book on Darwinism, Christianity, and war by Michael Ruse. Ruse aims at a surprising conclusion in this book.Read More ›
On this episode of ID the Future, Dean Abbott hosts Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith in a conversation about human cloning, human exceptionalism, and human rights. Smith explains some of the reasons behind the drive toward human cloning, and places the error of that thinking in historic context of some of the worst ethical mistakes humans have made down through history. It’s all about forgetting who we are as human beings.Read More ›