That this negro [sic] should have attributed, whether rightly or wrongly, the fine appearance of his tribe to the long-continued elimination of the ugly women is not so surprising as it may at first appear; for I have elsewhere shewn [sic] that negroes fully appreciate the importance of selection in the breeding of their domestic animals (The Descent of Man, p. 579).
We now examine Darwin’s amoral, utilitarian concept of human progress or betterment.
Thomas Sowell, the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow for Public Policy at Stanford University, writes:
The mid-nineteenth century sensation created by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution had ramifications far beyond the field of biology. The idea of “survival of the fittest” among competing species was extended by others into competition among human beings, whether among different classes or different races. (Intellectuals and Race, p. 22)
One such person to apply Darwin’s theories to man was Francis Galton, who coined the term eugenics. Galton defines eugenics thus,
Eugenics is the study of agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations, whether physically or mentally . . . the science of improvement of the human race germ plasm through better breeding.
What would Darwin think of Galton and of using his ideas in such a manner? We needn’t speculate. Galton was Darwin’s half-cousin and Darwin says of him,
We now know, through the admirable labours [sic] of Mr. Galton, that genius which implies a wonderfully complex combination of high faculties, tends to be inherited; and, on the other hand, it is too certain that insanity and deteriorated mental powers likewise run in families (p. 267).
So one cannot rightly claim that Galton hijacked Darwin, taking him where he would not wish go. Darwin references Galton’s book, “Hereditary Genius” and agrees with him that “It is mental aptitude, quite as much as bodily structure, which appears to be inherited (p. 269).
Consonant with later eugenicists, in the name of evolutionary progress, Darwin is certain that “civilized” societies are in a very real sense behaving to their own detriment or weakening.
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. 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 the 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 (p. 323).
He does take small comfort in that,
There appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected (p. 323-324).
The more intelligent members within the same community will succeed better in the long run than the inferior, and leave a more numerous progeny, and this is a form of natural selection (p. 328).
Darwin’s thoughts on procreation may strike us as cold and calculating, but nothing rivals his dispassionate views on human suffering.
Savages are known to suffer severely from recurrent famines; they do not increase their food by artificial means; they rarely refrain from marriage, and generally marry whilst young. Consequently they must be subjected to occasional hard struggles for existence, and the favoured [sic] individuals will alone survive (p. 582).
Consider carefully his ruminations regarding infanticide.
We have some reason to believe that infanticide practiced in the manner above explained [murdering baby girls], tends to make a male-producing race; but I am far from supposing that this practice in the case of man, or some analogous process with other species, has been the sole determining cause of an excess of males (p. 393).
The ancestors of man would not be sufficiently advanced in intellect to look forward to distant contingencies; they would not foresee that the rearing of all their children, especially their female children, would make the struggle for life severer for the tribe. They would be governed more by their instincts and less by their reason. (p. 583).
Wherever infanticide prevails the struggle for existence will be in so far less severe, and all the members of the tribe will have an almost equally good chance of rearing their few surviving children (p. 581).
Thus infanticide is the product of reason, not instinct. Indeed. Notice, Darwin does not entertain the notion of morality in any of his remarks. His rationality is devoid of moral categories.
I think the answer is clear: Naturalistic evolution has no foundation or basis for morality. Hence, it lacks the capacity for ethical judgment. Survival of the fittest! There really is nothing more than this.
In the third to last paragraph of his work we read,
Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence . . . if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to 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 (p. 596).
Chilling words, these. No laws or customs should prevent the survival of the fittest. Think on this. And remember: Ideas have consequences.
Thus concludes “The Darwin Files.” Thank you for reading and thinking.
Charles Darwin, “The Descent of Man,” Great Books of the Western World, vol. 49 (Chicago, London, Toronto: William Benton, 1952)