Skeeter and I have recently had an interesting discussion on whether atrocities linked to evolution are attributable to Darwinism itself, or to materialism. Specifically, are genocide, abortion, 20th century wars, eugenics, and such the result of Darwin's theory?
Certainly the perpetrators used Darwin; that much is not debateable by informed men. It also should be noted, however, that Darwin himself allows for an initial Creation in Origin of Species. He afterwards posits that the species as we know them evolved--really an application of the deism common among Unitarians (which Darwin was) to biology, more or less.
So we should at least admit that the closing chapter suggests that those who would misuse his hypothesis would at least face judgment after death. So it was materialism, right, that led to the Holocaust?
Not so fast. Let's examine the implications of gradual (or even punctuated) evolution and "survival of the fittest." The first will tend to blur the definition of "human"--who am I to say that the Neanderthal or Lucy is, or is not human? It's heavily debated even today. In the same way, who am I to say that we may not define superior and inferior subspecies based on evolved characteristics? Why not use the trail of descent to define us a bit?
In a similar way, "survival of the fittest" will tend to obscure traditional morality. Who am I to say that Bob's death was a tragedy? Doesn't getting eaten by a bear indicate that he was simply unfit? Why not use this principle to organize society? Wouldn't God, who organized the world along these lines, approve of things working out this way?
One can see that, while those who led the atrocities generally were materialists, philosophically speaking, the theoretical and moral framework for them really can be attributed predominantly to Darwin.
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