In his own BBC article promoting the series, Andrew Marr explains why Darwinism might be dangerous. He concludes: “However we celebrate the old man [Darwin], we mustn’t let his work crust into creed or harden to dogma.”
But he’s too late. Darwin’s idea hardened into dogma long ago. So much so that even Marr himself asks, “There’s no doubt that Darwinism, and indeed scientific truth generally, can supply people like me [atheists] with some of the nourishment religion offers… Darwin’s vast brow hangs over us all. His foamy white beard cascades down in the familiar Michelangelo Old Testament style. He speaks to mankind of ancient origins and end times. In this year of his double anniversary, are we in danger of turning Charles Darwin if not into God, at least into the founder of a secular religion?”
Marr in the end says that’s not the case, but he avoids the evidence. The truth is that the scientific establishment has long treated evolution as sacred doctrine and excommunicated anyone criticising the theory. And the consequences have been disastrous. Although the series highlighted the bad politics that came from Darwinism – the eugenics and genocidal policies of Nazism and Communism – it presented that fact as just an unfortunate perverting of Darwinism and not a logical consequence of believing in it. A convenient but inadequate response to the historical evidence: it’s plain wrong to divorce Darwinian theory from its impact on society. On this I can agree with Marr: Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has been one of the most politically and culturally consequential ideas of the past 200 years. But he sees it as a positive force – I see it as mainly negative. And here’s why.
There is a direct causal link between Darwin and the Holocaust, Darwin and the genocides in Stalinist Russia, and Darwin and slavery. Not to mention a whole lot of lesser evils that have arisen from ‘social Darwinism’ – the expansion of Darwin’s ideas out of biology and into political and social influences. Yet defenders of evolution like Marr downplay or deny this link. Darwin himself, Marr says, never approved of such applications. But that is irrelevant. It is also untrue. Although Darwin almost entirely avoided applying evolution to the human arena in ‘On the Origin of Species’, he himself applied his theory to society in his later book, The Descent of Man. In it he talked about natural selection’s implications for race, welfare, morality and even marriage.
Darwin researcher John G. West says, “In that book, Darwin insisted that there are significant differences in the mental faculties of ‘men of distinct races’ and argued that the break in evolutionary history between primates and humans came ‘between the negro or Australian and the gorilla’, thus making blacks the closest human beings to apes.”
Although Marr says rightly that Darwin opposed slavery, Darwin’s evolutionary analysis of human races led directly to the justification of racism by scientists. Marr is honest enough to admit that “most Europeans [of Darwin’s time] believed that slaves from Africa belonged to an inferior race. Some believed they were a different species.” But he fails to ask why this should be so. They couldn’t have got this idea from the Bible, because it teaches that all people are equal in God’s sight, and all descended from one fully human couple – Adam and Eve.
They got it from evolution, because evolution as an idea was around in intellectual circles a long time before Darwin. For example, Darwin’s own grandfather wrote a book that promoted the concept (what was missing was a mechanism to explain evolution, which Darwin, in theory, provided). So it can only have been scientists influenced by evolution that conceived of Africans as a lower race or even a different species. And certainly, once Darwin’s theory became accepted, this view of Africans and Australian Aborigines accelerated and gained a more overt scientific justification.
Whilst the majority of scientists rejected racism in the wake of the discovery of the Holocaust, even today the concept of racial superiority has not been entirely eliminated. As recently as 2007, Nobel prize winner James Watson, who co-discovered the DNA helix, claimed that black Africans are genetically inferior to whites due to their evolutionary past. And in the TV series, Marr himself gets tested to see if he has a gene which is said to have ‘evolved’ 6,000 years ago and is being associated by some scientists with higher intelligence and the white races. Darwin’s ‘The Descent of Man’ also paved the way for eugenics. At its beginning, in the early 20th century, it was a science-led campaign to eliminate genetic illnesses by preventing ‘unfit’ people from being born. Their method was to sterilise the mentally ill, the ‘weak-minded’ and a range of victims of various disabling diseases. By the Nazi era the elimination of the so-called ‘unfit’ was carried out not by sterilisation but by murder.
Marr, as usual, seeks to exonerate Darwinism as the cause. But Darwin himself said that humanity was under threat because society had halted natural selection by helping the poor and genetically weak to survive: “No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man… [E]xcepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.” His comparison with animal breeding was the basis of eugenics.
And so eugenics gained the support of the majority of the scientific community, leading to a campaign for forced sterilisation of the ‘unfit’ that failed to gain political approval in the UK, but was successful in America and in some European countries. As Marr states in programme two of the series, “Between 1907 and 1970, more than 60,000 people in the USA were forcibly sterilised” and “70,000 disabled people were sterilised in Nazi Germany for the crime of ‘impure race’.” But that was the tip of the iceberg. The mentally handicapped were sent to the gas chambers. Between 1939 and 1945 almost 250,000 disabled men, women and children were killed. And we haven’t even begun to talk about the Nazi extermination of Jews and Eastern Europeans…
A perusal of Mein Kampf makes it clear that because Hitler saw the Aryan race as the height of evolutionary achievement, he believed all other races were inferior. He believed he was just accelerating the process of natural selection and human evolution. In explaining the Nazi thinking behind the ‘Final Solution’, Marr reveals that “the Nazis said the Jews who survived the concentration camps would be the most resistant due to natural selection, and if released, they would provide the seed for a new Jewish revival. Therefore, according the Wannsee Protocol, they must be eradicated.”
In truth, modern science shows that all humans belong to the same race, but this has not been concluded from Darwinism. It has been proved by the study of genetics. And it was of course asserted by the Bible 2,000 years ago. Marr defends Darwin by saying that “the selective breeding scheme of the Aryan master race was inspired by a crude manipulation of Darwin’s theory of evolution – the survival of the fittest.” In similar vein, he says evolution was “abused” to justify imperialism, discrimination and mass murder, and that the Nazis “quite explicitly used a perverted interpretation of Darwin’s theory as they finalised their plan for the Holocaust.” But was it really a ‘crude manipulation’, an ‘abuse’ of the science and a ‘perverted interpretation’?
If evolution is true, then the idea of eugenics and even the murderous Nazi programme to purify the Aryan race is a completely logical conclusion to draw. You need some other input of ethics to oppose eugenics. There is none to be found in evolution. If we are all in a competition to survive, and our creation was not the design of a loving Creator but an accident of physics and chemistry, then the only law that counts is not the Ten Commandments but the law of survival. And if there is no Creator, then there is no need to answer to him for our behaviour – either in this life or the next. In that case, human life is no more valuable than that of a flea.
Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer cites Darwin to justify his view that “the life of a newborn baby is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee.” Darwin himself was never an active atheist, but he certainly created an intellectual excuse for atheism. As Marr says in the TV series, “Evolution did not describe the world of liberty, equality and fraternity that Darwin himself believed in. It described a world of violence, competition and remorseless struggle for survival.”
So is it any wonder that a new worldview emerged that lay the foundations for the casual attitude to human life that was displayed by the Nazis and Communists (and is still displayed by the atheistic Communist regimes like N. Korea and China that continue to exist today)? In the first episode of the series, Marr correctly explained how evolution had removed the Bible as the authority to which people looked for the truth about their origins – yet he fails to recognise the consequences of this. If evolution proposes that life is all about treading on others to survive, where does that leave morality and compassion?
The Bible teaches that bad fruit comes from bad trees and good fruit from good trees, so we can identify good and evil from their fruit. If the fruit of evolution is a worldview that not only denies the Bible’s teaching on origins but on morality and faith, and has given rise to atheism, persecution and genocide – why are some Christians so blind that they embrace evolution as divine truth?
Christians who believe in evolution must be living in denial. Would they really rather believe in a man-made theory that has been responsible for destroying the faith of millions and taking the lives of many more millions than question the scientific validity of evolution? Obviously they either haven’t joined the dots yet, or they are simply refusing to believe that the connection is real.
One thing you can be sure of is this: the ultimate author of all evil is a liar and deceiver, and the Bible predicts that in the last days even the very elect shall be deceived. Satan will use any and all means to lead people away from God, and one of his classic ploys is to take something good – like science – and pervert it into something bad.
For non-Christian scientists, evolution has become a replacement religion. As the saying goes, when people lose belief in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. Evolution has filled that gap for many of scientific persuasion. And they hold to it as if it were their god. Evidence of this is the ridicule handed out to anyone who questions evolution, and the academic persecution of non-evolutionary scientists, who have been fired, demoted or refused work because of their views – despite being eminently qualified. Italian geneticist Giuseppi Sermonti says, “Darwinism... is the ‘politically correct’ of science.”
In every programme the BBC have produced on evolution in this year of Darwin celebrations, they have held unswervingly to the party line. And sadly Andrew Marr’s series, despite its title, was no different. But then Marr is, by his own admission, someone who has abandoned faith and is a believer in evolution. So how could he ever have made a programme that looked at evolution in an objective way? Well, as the journalist he is, he should have. And in that respect, he has let us down badly.