Darwin's Racism And Colonialism

Darwin's close friend Professor Adam Sedgwick was one of the people who saw what dangers the theory of evolution would give rise to in the future. He remarked, after reading and digesting The Origin of Species, that "if this book were to find general public acceptance, it would bring with it a brutalisation of the human race such as it had never seen before." (A.E. Wilder-Smith, Man's Origin Man's Destiny, The Word for Today Publishing, 1993, p.166)

And truly, time showed that Sedgwick was right to have doubts. The 20th century has gone down in history as a dark age when people underwent massacres simply because of their race or ethnic origins.

Of course, there were discrimination and eradication based on it in human history long before Darwin. But Darwinism lent this discrimination a false scientific respectability and a false rightfulness.

"The Preservation of Favoured Races..."

Most Darwinists in our day claim that Darwin was never a racist but that racists comment on Darwin's ideas in a biased manner for the purpose of supporting their own views. They claim that the expression "By the Preservation of Favoured Races" in the subtitle to The Origin of Species is used only for animals. However, what those who make this claim ignore is what Darwin says about human races in his book.

According to the views put forward by Darwin in this book, human races represent different stages of evolution, and some races have evolved and progressed more than others. Some of them, in fact, were pretty much at the same level as monkeys.

Darwin claimed that the "fight for survival" also applied between human races. "Favoured races" emerged victorious from this struggle. According to Darwin the favoured race were the European whites. As for Asian and African races, they had fallen behind in the fight for survival. Darwin went even further: these races would soon completely lose the world-wide fight for survival and disappear, he claimed.

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes ... will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. (Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd edition, New York, A L. Burt Co., 1874, p. 178)

Again in another part of The Origin of Species, Darwin claimed that it was necessary for the inferior races to disappear and that there was no need for developed peoples to try to protect them and keep them alive. He compared this situation to people who raised breeding animals:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. (Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd edition, New York, A L. Burt Co., 1874, p. 171)

As we have seen, in his book The Origin of Species Darwin saw the natives of Australia and Negroes as being at the same level as gorillas and claimed that these races would disappear. As for the other races which he saw as "inferior," he maintained that it was essential to prevent them multiplying and so for these races to be brought to extinction. So the traces of racism and discrimination which we still come across in our time were approved and lent justification by Darwin in this way.

As for the task befalling the "civilised person," according to Darwin's racist idea, it was to speed this evolutionary period up a little, as we shall see in the details which follow. In this situation there was no objection, from the "scientific" point of view, to these races, which were going to disappear anyway, being done away with now.

Darwin's racist side showed its effect in much of his writing and observations. For example, he openly set out his racist prejudices while describing the natives of Tierra del Fuego whom he saw on a long voyage he set out on in 1871. He described the natives as living creatures "wholly nude, submerged in dyes, eating what they find just like wild animals, uncontrolled, cruel to everybody out of their tribe, taking pleasure in torturing their enemies, offering bloddy sacrifices, killing their children, ill-treating their wives, full of awkward superstitions". Whereas the researcher W. P. Snow, who had travelled the same region ten years before, presents a very different picture. According to Snow, the Tierra del Fuegians were "fine powerful looking fellows; they were very fond of their children; some of their artefacts were ingenious; they recognised some sort of rights over property; and they accepted the authority of several of the oldest women." (Godfrey Lienhardt, Social Anthropology, Oxford University Press, p. 11)

As has been seen from these examples Darwin was a complete racist. As a matter of fact, in the words of the author of the book What Darwin Really Said, Benjamin Farrington, Darwin made many comments regarding "the greater differences between men of distinct races" in his book The Descent of Man. (Benjamin Farrington, What Darwin Really Said, London: Sphere Books, 1971, pp. 54-56)

Furthermore, Darwin's theory's denying the existence of God had been the cause of peoples' not seeing that man was something created by God and that all men were created equal. And this was one of the factors behind the rise of racism and the acceleration of its acceptance in the world. The American scientist James Ferguson announces the strict link between the denial of creation and the rise of racism in this way:

The new anthropology soon became a theoretical background between two opposed schools of thought on the origin of humans. The older and more established of these was 'monogenism,' the belief that all humankind, irrespective of colour and other characteristics, was directly descended from Adam and from the single and original act of God's creation. Monogenism was promulgated by the Church and universally accepted until the 18th century, when opposition to theological authority began to fuel the rival theory of 'polygenism,' (theory of evolution) which held that different racial communities had different origins. (James Ferguson, "The Laboratory of Racism", New Scientist, vol. 103, September 1984, p. 18)

The Indian anthropologist Lalita Vidyarthi explains how Darwin's theory of evolution led racism to be accepted by social sciences:

His (Darwin's) theory of the survival of the fittest was warmly welcomed by the social scientists of the day, and they believed mankind had achieved various levels of evolution culminating in the white man's civilization. By the second half of the nineteenth century racism was accepted as fact by the vast majority of Western scientists. (Lalita Prasad Vidyarthi, Racism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Unesco, France, Vendôme, 1983. p. 54)

As for the Darwinists who came after Darwin, they put up a great struggle to prove his racist views. In the name of doing so they had no scruples about making many scientific inconsistencies and falsehoods. They thought that when they had proved these, they would have scientifically proven their own superiority and "rights" to oppress, colonise, and if needs be exterminate other races.

In the third chapter of his book The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould pointed out that some anthropologists were not above falsifying their data to prove the "superiority" of the white race. According to Gould, the method they used most was falsifying the brain size of the fossilised skulls they found. Gould mentions in his book that, assuming brain size had something to do with intelligence, many anthropologists intentionally exaggerated the size of Caucasian skulls and underestimated the size of skulls from Blacks and Indians. (David N. Menton, Ph.D., The Religion of Nature: Social Darwinism, St. Louis Metro Voice, September 1994, Vol. 4, No. 9)

In his book Ever Since Darwin, Gould explains the unbelievable claims the Darwinists undertook to demonstrate that some races were inferior.

Haeckel and his colleagues also invoked recapitulation to affirm the racial superiority of northern European whites. They scoured the evidence of human anatomy and behaviour, using everything they could find from brains to belly buttons. Herbert Spencer wrote that "the intellectual traits of the uncivilized are traits recurring in the children of the civilized." Carl Vogt said it more strongly in 1864: "The grown up Negro partakes, as regards his intellectual faculties, of the nature of the child... Some tribes have founded states, possessing a peculiar organization, but, as to the rest, we may boldly assert that the whole race has, neither in the past nor in the present, performed anything tending to the progress of humanity or worthy of preservation." (Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin, W. W. Norton & Company, New York 1992, p. 217)

And the French medical anatomist Etienne Serres really did argue that black males are primitive because their belly buttons were in a lower level.

Darwin's contemporary, the evolutionist Havelock Ellis, supported the distinction between superior and inferior races with an alleged "scientific" explanation, saying:

The child of many African races is scarcely if at all less intelligent than the European child, but while the African as he grows up becomes stupid and obtuse, and his whole social life falls into a state of hidebound routine, the European retains much of his childlike vivacity. (Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin, W. W. Norton & Company, New York 1992, p. 220)

The French Darwinist anthropologist Vacher de Lapouge suggested that non-white classes were the descendants of savages who had not learnt to be civilised, or else the degenerate representatives of mixed-blood classes. He produced results by measuring the skulls from Paris' upper and lower classes in graveyards. According to his results, depending on their skulls some people were inclined to be rich, self-confident, and free, and others conservative, content with little, and possessing all the qualities of a good servant, classes were the products of social selection, society's upper classes went together with superior races, the degree of wealth was in proportion to the skull index. Lapouge later made a prophesy, "It is my view that in years to come people will kill each other because their heads are round or pointed," he said, (Alaeddin ?enel, Irk ve Irkçylyk Dü?üncesi (The Idea of Race and Racism), Ankara:Bilim ve Sanat Yayynlary, 1993, p. 67-68) and this prophesy came true, as we shall see in detail in later pages of this book, and the 20th century saw massacres carried out for reasons of racism...!

And it was not only anthropologists: entomologists (those who study insects) also jumped on the racist bandwagon that Darwinism had set in motion with unbelievable claims. For example, in the year 1861, one English entomologist arrived at the conclusion, after collecting lice that lived on peoples' bodies in different parts of the world, that the lice of one race could not live on the bodies of another, which when looked at from the scientific level of today, is just plain ridiculous. (Thomas Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, p.81 cited in Alaeddin Senel, Irk ve Irkçilik Düsüncesi (The Idea of Race and Racism), Ankara:Bilim ve Sanat Yayinlari, 1993, p. 68)

When even people with the status of scientists made such announcements, it was not surprising that some dogmatic racists should use such illogical, unintelligent, and completely meaningless slogans as "even Negroes' lice are Negro."

In short, the racist side to Darwin's theory found very fertile ground in the second half of the 19th century. Because at that time the European "white man" was still waiting for such a theory to justify his own crimes.

Home | Let Us Join Forces | Shared Values | Invitation to Peace
People of the Book in Islam | Alliance in the Intellectual Struggle |
Prophet Abraham and Prophet Lot | Prophet Yusuf | Prophet Musa| Prophet Solomon | Maryam
Prophet Jesus (pbuh): A prophet, Not A Son of God | Jesus Did Not Die | Jesus (pbuh) Will Return | Prophet Muhammad
About the Author | Contact Us | Related Sites

This website is based on the works of Harun Yahya.