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.
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 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.
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.
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.