Darwin’s dark legacy

December 1, 2009

Introduction

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and Nov. 24 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, the landmark work in which Darwin laid forth his theory of natural selection. Althought this theory is being seriously challenged in all academic circles. Its widespread popularity created by legitimizing through the modern educational system has wreck havoc on the society. Here we try to understand its consequences on a social level.

Darwin indirectly legitimized violence by claiming that humans are, in essence, animals struggling for life. Most people think the theory of evolution was first proposed by Charles Darwin, and rests on scientific evidence, observations and experiments. However, in the same way that Darwin was not its originator neither does the theory rest on scientific proof. The theory consists of an adaptation to nature of an ancient dogma called materialist philosophy. Although it is backed up by no scientific evidence, the theory is blindly supported in the name of materialist philosophy.

This fanaticism has resulted in many disasters. That is because together with the spread of Darwinism and the materialist philosophy it supports, the answer to the question ‘What is a human being?’ has changed. People who used to answer: ‘Human beings were created by God and have to live according to the morality He teaches’ have now begun to think that ‘Man came into being by chance, and is an animal who developed with the fight for survival. ‘ There is a heavy price to pay for this great deception. Violent ideologies such as racism, fascism and communism, and many other cruel world views based on conflict have all drawn strength from this deception.

This article will examine this disaster Darwinism has brought to the world and reveal its connection with terrorism, one of the most important global problems of our time.

The Darwinist Misconception: ‘Life is conflict’

Darwin set out with one basic premise when developing his theory: ‘The development of living things depends on the fight for survival. The strong win the struggle. The weak are condemned to defeat and oblivion. ‘

According to Darwin, there was a ruthless struggle for survival and eternal conflict in nature. The strong always overcome the weak, and this enables development to take place. The subtitle he gave to his book The Origin of Species, “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life”, encapsulates that view.

Furthermore, Darwin proposed that the ‘fight for survival’ also applied between human races. According to that claim, ‘favored races’ were victorious in the struggle. Favored races, in Darwin’s view, were white Europeans. African or Asian races had lagged behind in the struggle for survival. Darwin went further, and suggested that these races would soon lose the ‘struggle for survival’ entirely, and thus disappear:

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized 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 civilized 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.

The Indian anthropologist Lalita Vidyarthi explains how Darwin’s theory of evolution imposed racism on the 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.

As Darwinism dominated European culture, the effects of the ‘struggle for survival’ began to emerge. Colonialist European nations in particular began to portray the nations they colonized as ‘evolutionary backward nations’ and looked to Darwinism for justification.

Darwin’s Source of Inspiration: Malthus’s Theory of Ruthlessness

Darwin was influenced by the social theories of Malthus, who defined ruthlessness as a law of nature.
Darwin’s source of inspiration on this subject was the British economist Thomas Malthus’s book An Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus calculated that the human population increased rapidly when people were left to reproduce as they liked. In his view, the main influences that kept populations under control were disasters such as war, famine and disease. In short, according to this brutal claim, some people had to die for others to live. Existence came to mean ‘permanent war. ‘

In the 19th century, Malthus’s ideas were widely accepted. European upper class intellectuals in particular supported his cruel ideas. In an article titled ‘The Nazis’ Secret Scientific Agenda’, the importance that 19th-century Europe attached to Malthus’s views on population is described in this way:

In the opening half of the nineteenth century, throughout Europe, members of the ruling classes gathered to discuss the newly discovered “Population problem” and to devise ways of implementing the Malthusian mandate, to increase the mortality rate of the poor: “Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations,” and so forth and so on.

As a result of this cruel policy, the weak, and those who lost the struggle for survival would be eliminated, and as a result the rapid rise in population would be balanced out. This so-called ‘oppression of the poor’ policy was actually carried out in 19th century Britain. An industrial order was set up in which children of eight and nine were made to work sixteen hours a day in the coal mines and thousands died from the terrible conditions. The ‘struggle for survival’ demanded by Malthus’s theory led to millions of Britons leading lives full of suffering.

Influenced by these ideas, Darwin applied this concept of conflict to all of nature, and proposed that the strong and the fittest emerged victorious from this war of existence. Moreover, he claimed that the so-called struggle for survival was a justified an unchangeable law of nature. On the other hand, he invited people to abandon their religious beliefs by denying creation, and thus aimed at all ethical values that could prove an obstacle to the ruthlessness of the ‘struggle for survival. ‘

The dissemination of these untrue ideas that led individuals to ruthlessness and cruelty, cost humanity a heavy price in the 20th century.

The Role of Darwinism in Preparing the Ground for World War I

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 was a political effect of Darwinism.

In his book Europe Since 1870, the well-known British professor of history James Joll explains that one of the factors that prepared the ground for World War I was the belief in Darwinism of European rulers at the time. For instance, the Austro-Hungarian chief of staff, Franz Baron Conrad von Hoetzendorff, wrote in his post-war memoirs:

Philanthropic religions, moral teachings and philosophical doctrines may certainly sometimes serve to weaken mankind’s struggle for existence in its crudest form, but they will never succeed in removing it as a driving motive of the world. It is in accordance with this great principle that the catastrophe of the world war came about as the result of the motive forces in the lives of states and peoples, like a thunderstorm which must by its nature discharge itself.

The leaders of Europe on the eve of World War I were mislead by the Social Darwinist dogma. They thought that war was a biological necessity.

It is not hard to understand why Conrad, with that ideological foundation, should have encouraged the Austro-Hungarian Empire to declare war. Such ideas at the time were not limited to the military. Kurt Riezler, the personal assistant and confidant of the German chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, wrote in 1914: ‘Eternal and absolute enmity is fundamentally inherent in relations between peoples; and the hostility which we observe everywhere is not the result of a perversion of human nature but is the essence of the world and the source of life itself. ‘
Friedrich von Bernardi, a World War I general, made a similar connection between war and the laws of war in nature. “War” declared Bernhardi “is a biological necessity”; it “is as necessary as the struggle of the elements of nature”; it “gives a biologically just decision, since its decisions rest on the very nature of things. ”

As we have seen, World War I broke out because of European thinkers, generals and administrators who saw warfare, bloodshed and suffering as a kind of ‘development’, and thought they were an unchanging ‘law of nature. ‘ The ideological root that dragged all of that generation to destruction was nothing else than Darwin’s concepts of the ‘struggle for survival’ and ‘favored races’.

World War I left behind it 8 million dead, hundreds of ruined cities, and millions of wounded, crippled, homeless and unemployed.

The basic cause of World War II, which broke out 21 years later and left 55 million dead behind it, was also derived from Darwinism.

The Fruit of ‘The Law of the Jungle’: Fascism

As Darwinism fed racism in the 19th century, it formed the basis of an ideology that would develop and drown the world in blood in the middle 20th century: Nazism. Both the race theory and the war hysteria of the Nazis were inspired from Darwinism.

A strong Darwinist influence can be seen in Nazi ideologues. When one examines this theory, which was given shape by Adolf Hitler and Alfred Rosenberg, one comes across such concepts as ‘natural selection’, ‘selected mating’, and ‘the struggle for survival between the races’, which are repeated dozens of time in The Origin of Species. When calling his book Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), Hitler was inspired by the Darwinist struggle for survival and the principle that victory went to the fittest. He particularly talks about the struggle between the races:

History would culminate in a new millennial empire of unparalleled splendor, based on a new racial hierarchy ordained by nature herself.

In the 1933 Nuremberg party rally, Hitler proclaimed that “a higher race subjects to itself a lower race a right which we see in nature and which can be regarded as the sole conceivable right. ”

That the Nazis were influenced by Darwinism is a fact that many historians accept. The historian Hickman describes Darwinism’s influence on Hitler as follows:

(Hitler) was a firm believer and preacher of evolution. Whatever the deeper, profound, complexities of his psychosis, it is certain that [the concept of struggle was important because] his book, Mein Kampf, clearly set forth a number of evolutionary ideas, particularly those emphasizing struggle, survival of the fittest and the extermination of the weak to produce a better society.

Hitler, who emerged with these views, dragged the world to violence that had never before been seen. Many ethnic and political groups, and especially the Jews, were exposed to terrible cruelty and slaughter in the Nazi concentration camps. World War II, which began with the Nazi invasion, cost 55 million lives. What lay behind the greatest tragedy in world history was Darwinism’s concept of the ‘struggle for survival’.

The Bloody Alliance: Darwinism and Communism

The dialectical materialism of Marx defined violence as a constructive force that helped human progress.
While fascists are found on the right wing of Social Darwinism, the left wing is occupied by communists. Communists have always been among the fiercest defenders of Darwin’s theory.

This relationship between Darwinism and communism goes right back to the founders of both these ‘isms. ‘ Marx and Engels, the founders of communism, read Darwin’s The Origin of Species as soon as it came out, and were amazed at is ‘dialectical materialist’ attitude. The correspondence between Marx and Engels showed that they saw Darwin’s theory as ‘containing the basis in natural history for communism’. In his book The Dialectics of Nature, which he wrote under the influence of Darwin, Engels was full of praise for Darwin, and tried to make his own contribution to the theory in the chapter ‘The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man. ‘

Russian communists who followed in the footsteps of Marx and Engels, such as Plekhanov, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, all agreed with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Plekhanov, who is considered as the founder of Russian communism, regarded marxism as ‘Darwinism in its application to social science’.

Trotsky said, ‘Darwin’s discovery is the highest triumph of the dialectic in the whole field of organic matter. ‘

‘Darwinist education’ had a major role in the formation of communist cadres. For instance, historians note the fact that Stalin was religious in his youth, but became an atheist because of Darwin’s books.

Mao, who established communist rule in China and killed millions of people, openly stated that ‘Chinese socialism is founded upon Darwin and the theory of evolution. ‘

The Harvard University historian James Reeve Pusey goes into great detail regarding Darwinism’s effect on Mao and Chinese communism in his research book China and Charles Darwin.

In short, there is an unbreakable link between the theory of evolution and communism. The theory claims that living things are the product of blind chance, and provides a so-called scientific support for atheism. Communism, an atheist ideology, is for that reason firmly tied to Darwinism. Moreover, the theory of evolution proposes that development in nature is possible thanks to conflict (in other words ‘the struggle for survival’) and supports the concept of ‘dialectics’ which is fundamental to communism.

If we think of the communist concept of ‘dialectical conflict’, which killed some 120 million people throughout the 20th century, as a ‘killing machine’ then we can better understand the dimension of the disaster that Darwinism visited on our planet.

Darwinism and Terrorism

As we have so far seen, Darwinism is at the root of various ideologies of violence that spelled disaster to mankind in the 20th century. However, as well as these ideologies, Darwinism also defines an ‘ethical understanding’ and ‘method’ that could influence various world views. The fundamental concept behind this understanding and method is ‘fighting those who are not one of us’.

We can explain this in the following way: There are different beliefs, worldviews and philosophies in the world. These can look at each other in one of two ways:

#They can respect the existence of those who are not one of them and try to establish dialogue with them, employing a humane method.

# They can choose to fight others, and to try to secure an advantage by damaging them, in other words, behave like a wild animal.

The horror we call terrorism is nothing other than a statement of the second view. The faith in the legitimacy of terror comes from materialist ideologies, not Theistic faiths.

When we consider the difference between these two approaches, we can see that the idea of “man as a fighting animal” which Darwinism has subconsciously imposed on people is particularly influential. Individuals and groups who choose the way of conflict may never have heard of Darwinism and the principles of that ideology. But in the final analysis, they agree with a view whose philosophical basis rests on Darwinism. What leads them to believe in the rightness of violence is such Darwinism-based slogans as:

In this world, only the strong survive.
Big fish swallow the little ones,
War is a virtue,
Man advances by waging war.

Take Darwinism away, and these are nothing but empty slogans.

Actually, when Darwinism is taken away, no philosophy of ‘conflict’ remains. The three monotheistic religions that most people in the world believe in, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, all oppose violence. All three religions wish to bring peace and harmony to the world, and oppose innocent people being killed and suffering cruelty and torture. Conflict and violence violate the morality that God has set out for man, and are abnormal and undesired concepts. However, Darwinism sees and portrays conflict and violence as natural, justified and correct concepts that have to exist.

For this reason, if some people commit terrorism using the concepts and symbols of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the name of those religions, you can be sure that those people are not Muslims, Christians or Jews. They are in fact Social Darwinists. They hide under a cloak of religion, but they are not genuine believers. Even if they claim to be serving religion, they are actually enemies of religion and believers. That is because they are ruthlessly committing a crime that religion forbids, and in such a way as to blacken religion in peoples’ eyes.

For this reason, the root of the terrorism that plagues our world is not in any of the monotheistic religions, but is in atheism, and the expression of atheism in our times: ‘Darwinism’ and ‘materialism’.

Above article was authored by Suhotra Swami.

Modern Fallout of the theory

Recent School killings and Darwin

Pekka-Eric Auvinen, a Finnish schoolboy who murdered eight people at his high school in November 2007, wrote on his blog that “stupid, weak-minded people are reproducing … faster than the intelligent, strong-minded” ones. Auvinen thought through the philosophical implications of Darwin’s work and came to the conclusion that human life is like every other type of animal life: it has no extraordinary value. The Columbine killers made similar arguments. One of the shooters, Eric Harris, wore a “Natural Selection” shirt on the day of the massacre. These are examples of how easily Darwin’s writings can lead to very disturbed ways of thinking.

Abortion and Darwin’s theory

As humans are just another species and killings are just a a natural phenomenon of Natural Selection. Killing a child in the womb is not a sin anymore, if it helps you adapt to the environment.

Vedic Observer

In modern times Charles Darwin is regarded as the scientist who formulated a theory of evolution by natural selection, but the concept of evolution was known long before Darwin. Srila Prabhupada as modern exponent of Vedic culture writes, “Although Westerners accept that Darwin first expounded the doctrine of evolution, the science of anthropology is not new. The development of the evolutionary process was known long before from the Bhagavatam, which was written five thousand years ago.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.29.29, Purport.

He continues “Although Vedas does conceptually accept evolution—but there’s a catch. According to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, one species does not evolve into another, but rather the soul evolves in consciousness as it transmigrates from lower to higher forms of existence in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. In the material realm the soul begins its journey in a human body. Material desires and subsequent actions result in the soul’s being born in a species that fits its mentality. If the soul falls to a lower species, it then takes successive births in species with higher and higher states of consciousness. This is the process of transmigration. As Srila Prabhupada said, “Darwin’s theory of evolution is but a partial explanation of the transmigration of the soul. Darwin has … no conception of the soul.”

References

* Darwin’s dark Legacy In modern context from Times magazine.
* Darwin’s deadly legacy TV documentary.

Edited by LNDAS

2 Comments

  • Sthita-dhi-muni dasa says:

    Prabhupada often commented Darwin’s problem involved not recognizing the soul, or the self as jiva-atma. Perhaps it is worthwhile to consider how Darwin is not the only one suffering from that basic misconception.

    Further, Prabhupada often argued that there is no advancement through material biological evolution, rather, that actual advancement is through spiritual evolution, via transmigration in conditional life.

    Meanwhile, the moral dilemmas associated with Social Darwinism, could be another matter.

    One drawback with this analysis is that it nearly suggests that the three modes of material nature where created by Mr. Darwin. It’s as if Darwin had been anointed as the “The Devil,” with life on earth being beautiful before his advent.

    I would also find it difficult imagining that the conditional jiva-atmas primal desire to lord it over the material nature as exhibited within human society began with On the Origin of Species, in 1859.

    It is relevant to note how many historical factors could be analyzed as fueling the Great Wars I & II fought during the first half of the 20th Century, and how it is the religious political right wing who often associate them with Mr. Darwin. It might be relevant further considering how there were many other great wars fought prior to our own two, and all well before the advent of Mr. Darwin.

    For example, the ideological slaughter amongst the Europeans for over a century during the Reformation is one unfortunate example. Others might involve some of the battles in the Levant during the Crusades, especially the initial sack of Jerusalem. In the East, Timulane’s sack of Delhi was noted for its unpleasantness. And before even that, perhaps we could consider many of the Roman campaigns of conquest, among others too numerous to count. History suggests that conditional life can be brutal, with or without a theory of biological change over deep time.

    More recent developments bear light on the wholesale carnage wrought on the battlefields of the American Civil War. Even Abraham Lincoln pointed out in his Second Inaugural Address, that while certain antagonists argued for the economics of race based slavery on the strength of the Bible, others rightfully argued the opposite on the sanctity of the same Good Book. While the prayers of both could not be answered in full, nonetheless, justice was done according to the Lord’s infinite wisdom.

    Even during the 20th Century, there were numerous horrific instances of war and genocide that had nothing to do with Darwin theory, such as the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians attributed to the Ottoman Turks. More recent examples involve genocide in Cambodia, the Balkans, and Rwanda.

    Might we then consider how aspects of this presentation could be criticized with many of the same concerns it engages against the controversial reputation of poor Mr. Darwin? Perhaps a broader appreciation of Prabhupada’s critique, and the historical events, would strengthen some of the arguments presented on this website.

    ys sdm

  • vytenis says:

    Of course it would be silly to suggest that Darwin’s teachings are to blame for every single attrocity committed by people in the world (eithey before or after 1859). As Sthita-dhi-muni prabhu correctly observed, the atrocities have been going on a long time before that infamous book and its ideas. However, if we take for instance Christianity, the attrocities committed by Christians were never done with the support of Christ’ teachings but IN SPITE OF THEM (or thanks to the horrible perversions of them). Christianity teaches us that killing is WRONG, causing suffering to innocent people is WRONG, but people do it anyway. The same is with the ideas of other religfions (Islam may be an exceptionbal case, but that is another complicated matter). The Buddha never taught killing people, but there have been enough bloodshed in the Buddhist nations (take the most recent carnage in Bangkok for example). The same in India, despite the noble Ahimsa ideal propounded by the Vedas. Be that as it may, the cultural and religious restrictions curbed the violence (or at least tried to) originating from the material conditioning (or from the deepest animalistic instincts) of human beings. But there was always the clear and unanimous understanding in the world religions that such things are WRONG and that our nature is SPIRITUAL, therefore we must not give in to the lower material instincts and start going on materalistic rampage and wreaking havoc all around us. However, with the “discoveries” of Darwin, Freud, Marx, Lenin and the other “sages” of materialism, the green light was given to the attrocities. According to these materialistic and demoniac teachings, there is no soul, no spiritual reality, it is in our nature to kill, to fight for survival, to be brutal, to go on rampage, etc. All this was sanctioned in the name of science (which took the authority of God in the modern times). Moral teachings lost philosophical support, in this brutal materialistic worldview there was no scientific or philosophical basis left to be good or to curb the worst instincts of the material nature. Therefore the people felt free to engage in anything they want, because after all this is our nature and all these sentimental religious teachings are just silly fairy tales. Yes, there have been attrocities before Darwin, but they were not sancioned by most of the philosophies and religions at that time. However, with Darwin the most horrible things were theoretically allowed and it was only the matter of time until they would be implemented in practice, because there were no solid theoretical basis left to stop them.

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