Fruits of Social Darwinism

Fruits of Social Darwinism

Calvin Fields wrote an interesting book titled From Desperation to Peace of Mind, which we will be reviewing soon. The book is a goldmine of quotes that most of us are not familiar with. One of the areas involves the fruits of Social Darwinism, and they relate to the social issues of our day. Here are some examples for your consideration:

Philosopher Herbert Spencer was the founder of Social Darwinism, which said that “poverty and wealth are inevitable as they represent the biological rules which govern society.” He used The Origin of Species as a rationale to justify the excesses of 19th-century capitalism. Andrew Carnegie, who liked the idea that evolution justifies injustice, invited Spencer to come to Pittsburgh to see his theories applied to the steel industry. Spencer’s response to what he saw was that “six months residence here would justify suicide.” Charles Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton “was all in favor of interfering with human evolution and supported the idea of breeding (humans) from the best and sterilizing those whose inheritance did not meet with his approval.” (Those quotes are from The Language of Genes by Steve Jones, Anchor Books.)

Ernst Haeckel used Galton’s ideas as justification for establishing the Monist League in Germany before the First World War. After the war, thousands of Germans joined the league and dedicated themselves to the advancement of doctrines declaring the superiority of a select group of white Europeans. This idea contributed to Hitler’s “Final Solution” to class distinctions in Germany.

Roger Lewin wrote, “Racism as we would characterize it today, was explicit in the writings of virtually all the major anthropologists of the first decades (of the 20th century) simply because it was the generally accepted world view.” (Roger Lewin in Bones of Contention, Simon & Schuster.)

It is essential to look at the logical implications of what we view humans to be. Darwin’s The Origin of Species was applied by others to justify injustice and mistreatment of people. Those are the fruits of Social Darwinism. The biblical view that we are all uniquely created in the image of God has significant implications for how we should treat others.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

From Desperation to Peace of Mind by Calvin Fields book was printed by Xulon Press, ISBN 978-1-5456-7503-8. These references are all from pages 100-101.