Skip to comments.Darwin reader: Darwin’s racism
Posted on 02/24/2009 7:04:56 PM PST by GodGunsGuts
Savages are intermediate states between people and apes:
It has been asserted that the ear of man alone possesses a lobule; but a rudiment of it is found in the gorilla and, as I hear from Prof. Preyer, it is not rarely absent in the negro.
The sense of smell is of the highest importance to the greater number of mammalsto some, as the ruminants, in warning them of danger; to others, as the Carnivora, in finding their prey; to others, again, as the wild boar, for both purposes combined. But the sense of smell is of extremely slight service, if any, even to the dark coloured races of men, in whom it is much more highly developed than in the white and civilised races.
The account given by Humboldt of the power of smell possessed by the natives of South America is well known, and has been confirmed by others. M. Houzeau asserts that he repeatedly made experiments, and proved that Negroes and Indians could recognise persons in the dark by their odour. Dr. W. Ogle has made some curious observations on the connection between the power of smell and the colouring matter of the mucous membrane of the olfactory region as well as of the skin of the body. I have, therefore, spoken in the text of the dark-coloured races having a finer sense of smell than the white races .Those who believe in the principle of gradual evolution, will not readily admit that the sense of smell in its present state was originally acquired by man, as he now exists. He inherits the power in an enfeebled and so far rudimentary condition, from some early progenitor, to whom it was highly serviceable, and by whom it was continually used.
[From Denyse: Decades ago, I distinguished myself by an ability to smell sugar in coffee. It wasn't very difficult, with a bit of practice, and it helped to sort out the office coffee orders handily. My best guess is that most people could learn the art if they wanted to. Most human beings don't even try to develop their sense of smell - we are mostly occupied with avoiding distressing smells or eliminating or else covering them up. I don't of course, say that we humans would ever have the sense of smell of a wolf, but only that Darwin's idea here is basically wrong and best explained by racism. ]
It appears as if the posterior molar or wisdom-teeth were tending to become rudimentary in the more civilised races of man. These teeth are rather smaller than the other molars, as is likewise the case with the corresponding teeth in the chimpanzee and orang; and they have only two separate fangs. In the Melanian races, on the other hand, the wisdom-teeth are usually furnished with three separate fangs, and are generally sound; they also differ from the other molars in size, less than in the Caucasian races.
It is an interesting fact that ancient races, in this and several other cases, more frequently present structures which resemble those of the lower animals than do the modern. One chief cause seems to be that the ancient races stand somewhat nearer in the long line of descent to their remote animal-like progenitors.
[From Denyse: The nice thing about teeth is that, if they give trouble, they can simply be pulled. I would be reluctant to found a big theory on the size or convenience of teeth, given that this fact must have occurred to our ancestors many thousands of years ago.]
It has often been said, as Mr. Macnamara remarks, that man can resist with impunity the greatest diversities of climate and other changes; but this is true only of the civilised races. Man in his wild condition seems to be in this respect almost as susceptible as his nearest allies, the anthropoid apes, which have never yet survived long, when removed from their native country. [From Denyse: Native North Americans often perished from human diseases to which they had not become immune in childhood. That is probably unrelated to the inability of anthropoid apes to stand cold climates.]
This includes the degraded morals of lower races:
The above view of the origin and nature of the moral sense, which tells us what we ought to do, and of the conscience which reproves us if we disobey it, accords well with what we see of the early and undeveloped condition of this faculty in mankind . A North-American Indian is well pleased with himself, and is honoured by others, when he scalps a man of another tribe; and a Dyak cuts off the head of an unoffending person, and dries it as a trophy. With respect to savages, Mr. Winwood Reade informs me that the negroes of West Africa often commit suicide. It is well known how common it was amongst the miserable aborigines of South America after the Spanish conquest. It has been recorded that an Indian Thug conscientiously regretted that he had not robbed and strangled as many travellers as did his father before him. In a rude state of civilisation the robbery of strangers is, indeed, generally considered as honourable.
As barbarians do not regard the opinion of their women, wives are commonly treated like slaves. Most savages are utterly indifferent to the sufferings of strangers, or even delight in witnessing them. It is well known that the women and children of the North-American Indians aided in torturing their enemies. Some savages take a horrid pleasure in cruelty to animals, and humanity is an unknown virtue .. Many instances could be given of the noble fidelity of savages towards each other, but not to strangers; common experience justifies the maxim of the Spaniard, Never, never trust an Indian.
[From Denyse: If early modern Europeans in Canada had not trusted "Indians," they would all have died off pretty quickly.]
The other so-called self-regarding virtues, which do not obviously, though they may really, affect the welfare of the tribe, have never been esteemed by savages, though now highly appreciated by civilised nations. The greatest intemperance is no reproach with savages.
I have entered into the above details on the immorality of savages, because some authors have recently taken a high view of their moral nature, or have attributed most of their crimes to mistaken benevolence. These authors appear to rest their conclusion on savages possessing those virtues which are serviceable, or even necessary, for the existence of the family and of the tribe,qualities which they undoubtedly do possess, and often in a high degree.
[From Denyse: Charles Darwin, let me introduce you to Hollywood, before you say any more silly things about the supposed immorality of "savages." ]
Making slavery understandable, though of course distasteful now:
Slavery, although in some ways beneficial during ancient times, is a great crime; yet it was not so regarded until quite recently, even by the most civilised nations. And this was especially the case, because the slaves belonged in general to a race different from that of their masters.
[From Denyse: Not really. In ancient times, slaves were typically unransomed captives in war, convicted criminals, or people who had fallen into irrecoverable debt. In Roman times, there would be nothing unusual about being a slave to someone of the same race as oneself. Slavery based on race alone was an early modern legal invention, aimed against blacks.]
Mass killings of savages is understandable as a type of species extinction:
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, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked 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.
The partial or complete extinction of many races and sub-races of man is historically known .When civilised nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to the native race . The grade of their civilisation seems to be a most important element in the success of competing nations. A few centuries ago Europe feared the inroads of Eastern barbarians; now any such fear would be ridiculous.
[Flinders Island], situated between Tasmania and Australia, is forty miles long, and from twelve to eighteen miles broad: it seems healthy, and the natives were well treated. Nevertheless, they suffered greatly in health .With respect to the cause of this extraordinary state of things, Dr. Story remarks that death followed the attempts to civilise the natives. [--Obviously the problem was trying to civilize these barbarians!]
Finally, although the gradual decrease and ultimate extinction of the races of man is a highly complex problem, depending on many causes which differ in different places and at different times; it is the same problem as that presented by the extinction of one of the higher animals.
Of course the degradation extends to the intellectual:
There is, however, no doubt that the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other,as in the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes. There is a nearly similar contrast between the Malays and the Papuans who live under the same physical conditions, and are separated from each other only by a narrow space of sea.
[From Denyse: I would imagine that the aborigines of South America felt some resentment over the loss of their continent to invaders from Europe ... ]
A certain amount of absorption of mulattoes into negroes must always be in progress; and this would lead to an apparent diminution of the former. The inferior vitality of mulattoes is spoken of in a trustworthy work as a well-known phenomenon; and this, although a different consideration from their lessened fertility, may perhaps be advanced as a proof of the specific distinctness of the parent races.
So far as we are enabled to judge, although always liable to err on this head, none of the differences between the races of man are of any direct or special service to him. The intellectual and moral or social faculties must of course be excepted from this remark.
And drum roll.., the main conclusion:
The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be forgotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my mind-such were our ancestors. These men were absolutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair was tangled, their mouths frothed with excitement, and their expression was wild, startled, and distrustful. He who has seen a savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his veins.
[From Denyse: Sounds like a local rave to me. Not my ancestors (who were, as it happens, rigidly correct people, but my 2009 fellow Torontonians.)]
For my own part I would as soon be descended from [a] monkey, or from that old baboon as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.
[From Denyse: Yuh, I know. I know women who have divorced guys like that too ... but, when founding a theory in science, it strikes me that ... ]
And lets not forget sexism!
The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by mans attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can womanwhether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on Hereditary Genius, that if men are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in many subjects, the average of mental power in man must be above that of woman.
The greater intellectual vigour and power of invention in man is probably due to natural selection, combined with the inherited effects of habit, for the most able men will have succeeded best in defending and providing for themselves and for their wives and offspring.
[From Denyse: Re women vs. men: Actually, if we leave Darwin's obsession with natural selection out of the matter for a moment, we can come up with a simple explanation for the difference between men's and women's achievements. Men are far more likely to win Nobel Prizes than women - but also far more likely to sit on Death Row.
For most normal achievements, women will do as well as men, given a chance. Women do just as well as men at being, say, a family doctor, an accountant, a real estate agent, a high school teacher, etc.
It's only in outstanding achievements - either for good OR for ill - that men tend to dominate. One way of seeing this is that the curve of women's achievements fits inside the curve of men's achievements, either way.
Natural selection does not explain this because most men who have outstanding achievements do not contribute a great deal to the gene pool as a consequence.
Either they produce few or no children, or their children do nothing outstanding. So Darwin did not really have a good explanation for this fact.
What should we do? Breeding of people and letting the weak die off:
"The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring."
"We civilized 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 civilized 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. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
[From Denyse: But how would anyone know who the "worst animals" are among people?]
It's surprising that none of his contemporaries noticed that.
Rather mundane. Alternatives are available, such as evo-Boeotian, evo-flibbertigibbet, evo-ament, evo-badaud, evo-sawney, etc.
Following God is not a ruse. I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ll pray for you.
When you have a 180 IQ (and aren’t a 180-IQ idiot like Richard Dawkins) you don’t need a sense of humor.
This argument reminds me of the attempts to delegitimize the Founding Fathes because some of them owned slaves. Is “all men are created equal” less true because they didn’t mean slaves and women—because the person who wrote that line couldn’t entirely shed the attitudes of his day?
I apologize if I am too tough on you in this post, but the Big Creationist Lie, BCL, if you will, is alive and well on this and the many threads on the subject. It is shockingly Talibanesque. [excerpt, emphasis mine]If Creationism is a lie, then all your rights are granted to you by your government, who may rescind them if they wish.
Thanks for the link of that; that post was before my time here so I never saw it before. It’s before yours too, come to think of it. Must be a way to find gems like that without having to slog through every post.
I loved this part:
“And therein lies the rub. In order for you to prove the theory of evolution and to have it universally accepted by all people as true fact, you must first completely destroy the Holy Bible and all it teaches us.
There can be no Creator. No God. No miracles. God cannot possibly have created the Earth or the Heavens or Man and every Creature that walks swims or crawls. There was no Adam and Eve. No Garden of Eden. No original sin. There was no Noah. No Ark. No flood. No Moses. No burning bush. No Ten Commandments handed down from God. Jesus cannot possibly have been the Son of God, nor could he have died on the cross for our sins. The Resurrection could not possibly have happened. There is no Saviour and no Salvation. No life after death. No Heaven. No Hell. No God. No Satan. No good vs evil.”
That is EXACTLY what the evo-atheists want to happen. They want to tear down everything that is good and Holy in the world. There is no middle ground with them.
Darwin's use of the word "races" was the common lingo of the time to describe different species. In fact, in the book you have never read, he discusses "races" of trees, birds, and barnacles. [excerpt]Nice whitewash job.
How about this gem:
Thomas Henry Huxley, a close personal friend of Darwins and an indefatigable champion of evolution (who frequently referred to himself as “Darwins Bulldog” opined,
No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathus relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out on by thoughts and not by bites.”
Read the post. It is the big creationIST lie, not what you said. But I do acknowledge your cleverness!
Not only that, Darwin's cousin Francis Galton opined that Jews were specially adapted for parasitical existence on other nations.
Read more here: Inbred Science
Amazing that so many racists hung around with Chuck, yet he was untainted; his thoughts and motives were only wholesome and pure.
Wholesome and pure only to those who refuse to see the truth. As the title of his book shows, he was consumed with racial prejudice and invective.
And when he said,
“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.”
...he was talking generally about flora and fauna.
The evo-cultists will try and pretend that race in the 1850’s meant “variety” or “subspecies”, but we all know that in the Origin “race” meant black and white, and that he was talking about the superiority of the white race. The book is filled with race hatred. Are we supposed to go by what lying evo-atheists tell us or what Darwin said himself? lol
When we look to the hereditary varieties or races of our domestic animals and plants, and compare them with species closely allied together, we generally perceive in each domestic race, as already remarked, less uniformity of character than in true species.
What you 'know' is demonstrably wrong.
Being dogmatic about a religious beleif does not neccesarily make one like the Taliban.
Consider these two doctrines:
1) "God commands you to love you neighbor as yourself"
2) "God commands you to kill unbelieving neighbors".
Now I would have to think that you would have an interest in which doctrine your neighbor was dogmatic about?
It seems to me a bit slanderous to lump Christianity with Islam. The founder of Islam promoted the example of military force to make people convert. The founder of Christianity did no such thing. No doubt various dispicable acts such as the Spanish Inqusition now spring to your mind. But consider how much they were poor examples of Christianity. If you care to call the instigators of these horrors Christians (I don't) you should at least admit that if anything...they were not fundamental enough...but rather were quite the apostates to what Jesus taught.
So the problem is not fundamentalism, the problem is what one is fundamental about.
The people annoying you seem to be those who would like to turn the Bible into a science book. It isn't. It is much more important. But it has nothing to do with the kind of punishment you would have coming to you for blasphemy under the Taliban.
Oh, and yes--just to nit pick--science actually does require faith. As just about all knolledge does. Heck about the only thing one can be sure about is one's own existence as a soul. Even the existence our bodies and the rest of the natural world must be accepted on our faith in the veracity of our senses.
Put another way, the scientific method seems reasonable to my mind, and I presume yours as well. But suppose our reasoning is not valid. How else can we know that the scientific method is valid? We must have faith in our reasoning, or at the least on the authority of some other person (whose reason we trust more than our on) that the scientific method is a valid approach to discovering truth. As for me, I think its only really useful for things in the natural world which we have the power to conduct controlled experiments on...and that kind of leaves any transcendent willful beings like God out of the petri dish.
“So the problem is not fundamentalism, the problem is what one is fundamental about.”
I completely agree. I have stated I know plenty of fundamentalist Christians who have no problem with science.....alas I know many who ARE in science.
The “problem” - and the reason I post on these threads is that when folks use their interpretation of the Bible to try to control other people - in this regard, the most militant of creationists - they are present on this and other threads - who want to control other people through their interpretation of religion - are very similar to militant Islamists, hence the comparison to the Taliban.
I do not think your example of two doctrines is representative of any of my posted views.
The scientific method is tolerant of opposing views - if they have gone through the scrutiny of peer review. The scientific method actually relies on breakthroughs and new insights - it’s how science is done. It is the best way that man has created to advance understanding.
militant creationism is driven by fanatical fundamentalism - you are going to hell (or are not truly Christian, or....) if you do not believe x,y and z.
They create a victimization mentality by claiming that all ideas are equal, and the scientific community is biased against THEIR science - when it is not true. “Creation Science” simply has not provided the level of proof to refute centuries of study and understanding. Should new ideas come from “Creation Science” and pass muster - it will be incorporated into the body of scientific knowledge. Sometimes it takes persistence and more research, but facts and research and data always wins in the end.
Take the global warming debate....Politics has no staying power in science when facts contradict the political goal, but obviously politics is present - just as it is in every organization, including religious organizations of all sorts.
“The people annoying you seem to be those who would like to turn the Bible into a science book. It isn’t. It is much more important. But it has nothing to do with the kind of punishment you would have coming to you for blasphemy under the Taliban.”
Yes, you have identified my source of bemusement in this debate. But do you really think Christianity could not devolve into the destruction of those who are “not pure enough” for fundamentalist adherents given time? I absolutely do, and I point to history as the guide.
When you have a group of people selecting who goes to hell and who does not - there is misery and mayhem down that path. I am not slandering Christianity making the comparison with dysfunctional and murderous religious enthusiasts of other faiths- because that is, in fact, part of church history.
“Put another way, the scientific method seems reasonable to my mind, and I presume yours as well. But suppose our reasoning is not valid. How else can we know that the scientific method is valid? We must have faith in our reasoning”
I don’t disagree with you - but “faith” in process cannot be compared to religious faith in any meaningful way - which is why I have stated many times that science and faith cannot be mixed - they are different things that are not mutually exclusive. I think you agree with that. Militant creationists have to believe that somehow Darwin is elevated to god-like status amongst the scientific community, when it is not true - he posited a theory, and it has been scrutinized for 150 years and still basically exists. He may well be wrong - but his basic principles have been accepted through no small effort and research.
I think most of science agrees that science and faith are different. I’m fairly certain militant creationism does not agree with that principle, and in fact believes that there is a great degree of mutual exclusivity involved.
Thank you, by the way, for the reasoned dialog. It is a pleasure to discuss this topic in this way.
In onse sense this is impossible, in another sense it has already happened. People who claim to be Christian and then persecute their neighbor do far more to slander Christ than the the harshest of critics.
However Islam is quite different. A follower of Islam who persecutes a Jew may be following the teachings of Mohammad quite well by so doing.
As for science vs religion, I do not see them as generally in conflict, although I beleive certain doctrines may be in conflict with scientific discoveries. For example, I am skeptical of infering a 7000 year old Earth from Gensis in part because of scientific discovery (evolution et al aside, astrophysics suggests a much older universe).
I see no cental doctrine of Christianity in conflict with science, and interestingly I see some support. For example the Big Bang theory (which I have recently learned was first proposed by a French astrophysists who was also a Catholic Preist) does indeed support the theological notion of a universe created at a particular time as opposed to a universe that simply always existed. This I find rather a large problem for central naturalist doctrine. I will grant that universes "beyond" this one have been theorized...but I wonder how much these are really thought expermiments driven by naturalist fundamentalism rather than examples of pure science.