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Today is Darwin’s 208th birthday and the 158th year since the publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle of Life. So many people get Darwin wrong. They either have never read his books, or are taking a secondhand account. You can tell who has never read his writings in his own words and who takes snippets of his writings to use them for ideological purposes. I was going to wait until I finished The Descent of Man (Darwin, 1871) until I wrote this article but Darwin Day seems like the best time to do it.
People call themselves ‘Darwinists’ when it’s clear they’ve never read his writings. And due to this, people have large misconceptions on cherry-picked quotes and then use it for their pet ideology—not even attempting to understand the context around what he wrote. One large misquotation you may see around the Internet may put charges of ‘racism’ on Darwin since he ‘believed’ that the ‘higher’ races of Man will one day exterminate the ‘lower’ races. PumpkinPerson is guilty of this, writing in his article Darwin’s terrifying prediction:
Sadly, if HBD is correct, I think there probably will be natural selection favoring higher IQ populations, in fact it’s already happening. In sub-Saharan Africa, we see the more primitive cultures like pygmies and Bushmen losing more and more territory and their populations declining.
Which is based on a (misinterpreted) Darwin quote from his book Descent of Man (1871 (2004): 132-3); note: I have the Barnes n Noble edition):
The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, convinced by general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks incessantly occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies—between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae—between the elephant and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and other mammals.
But all these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
This is the big quote. The quote that supposedly what paints Darwin as a ‘racist’ and one of the many, many instances of quote-mining from Creationists attempting to discredit his theory of evolution through natural selection. But here’s the thing that people fail to realize: without the rest of the context, you won’t know what he’s saying because the very next paragraph writes (pg 132):
With respect to the absence of fossil remains, serving to connect man with his ape-like progenitors, no one will lay much stress on this fact who reads Sir C. Lyell’s discussion, where he shows that in all the vertebrate classes the discovery of fossil remains has been a very slow and fortuitous process. Nor should it be forgotten that those regions which are the most likely to afford remains connecting man with some extinct ape-like creature, have not as yet been searched by geologists.
So, the whole quote taken in context, it seems he was defending his theory showing that even though no there was an “absence of fossil remains” connecting us to our apelike ancestors.
This book was written 12 years after On the Origin, so knowing that and then seeing the rest of the omitted context behind the controversial quote (and, of course, how Creationists quote-mine and attempt to twist and turn words), what do you think he was saying? To me, it looks like he was defending his theory and addressing critics who said that the fossil record does not support his claims. In fact, Darwin and other Naturalists of the time didn’t separate culture and biology and thus used a blend of both. Darwin was simply observing that a slight advantage between races of men would, after time, lead to the creation of a new species. You’d have to have actually read his books to know that, though.
PP’s other post on Darwin, Did Darwin believe in HBD? he writes (referring to the previous quote-mine):
What it looks like is Darwin describing an evolutionary hierarchy: Caucasian > negro/Australoid > gorilla > baboon.
If you’re looking for something, you’re going to find it. Complete misrepresentation of Darwin’s words, and just reading Descent of Man will let you know how grossly incorrect this interpretation really is.
Darwin only meant that Caucasians would replace savage races because of their cultural superiority; biological superiority had nothing to do with it. And are we also supposed to believe that Darwin’s predicted demise of gorillas was also for cultural, not biological reasons?
PP, read the whole context and tell me if that’s how you still interpret it. It is worth noting that the quotes are taken from a part of the book that has the subsection: On the Birthplace and Antiquity of Man, which lends more credence to the fact that he was defending his theory from detractors (due to the names he brought up and his prose, in context) who needed to see ‘transitional’ fossils between ape and man.
Further, since PP is using a Creationist quotation, then a Creationist rebuttal is apt here:
First of all, Darwin is making a technical argument as to the “reality” of species, particularly Homo sapiens in this case, and why there should still be apparently distinct species, if all the different forms of life are related by common descent through incremental small changes. His answer is that competition against those forms with some, even small, advantage tends to eliminate closely related forms, giving rise to an apparent “gap” between the remaining forms. Whether or not Darwin was right about that is irrelevant to the use of this quote mine, of course, since that is part of the context that the creationists using it have assiduously removed.
Irony aside that an atheist is using a Creationist quote-mine to prove biological differences, this shows how people who’ve never read his writing can misinterpret what he really meant.
Darwin was also a huge abolitionist, which is never brought up in these discussions. He argued, for his whole life, that slavery should be abolished. He also came from an extremely abolitionist family, so any charges of ‘racism’ to Darwin seem pretty far off the mark.
According to liberals, Darwin only meant that Caucasians would replace savage races because of their cultural superiority; biological superiority had nothing to do with it. And are we also supposed to believe that Darwin’s predicted demise of gorillas was also for cultural, not biological reasons?
According to people that know what they’re talking about, Darwin meant that closely related organisms even will a small advantage will replace the other, and that will give rise to a ‘gap’ between organisms. Learn the context behind the whole quote, instead of what Creationists quote-mine. And biological superiority doesn’t exist.
Never mind that Darwin’s theory of natural selection was actually based on biology, not culture.
Can natural selection NOT occur because of cultural differences? Say, two genetically similar populations and one has the native culture and the other with a new, alien culture and they have to use it to adapt to a new environment. Would that be an example of culture and its effect on natural selection?
Never mind that Darwin’s own cousin (Francis Galton) was the father of HBD.
Nothing to do with Darwin himself.
Never mind that Darwin’s own book on natural selection was subtitled The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
Why let facts get in the way of a convenient rationalization.
Why don’t you tell me?
They just come up with increasingly creative rationalizations to deny the truth, and the effort this takes makes them more and more psychologically invested in denying inconvenient realities.
People who quote Darwin should most definitely read his works, as if they’re quoting him—especially in these contexts—they should really know the whole context behind the quote and not rely on a Creationist quote-mine which is easily dismantled.
And the way it’s going now, the savage races are outbreeding the civilized races—so how do you see (your interpretation of) Darwin’s theory coming to pass? How will your race war fantasy with each of the macro-races genociding the rest of the ethnies in their group and form one ethnicitu of that racial group? PP believes that eventually it’ll be Ashkenazi Jews vs. East Asians for East Asia. Except Ashkenazi Jews frequently breed with gentiles, and in 100 years there will be very few Ashkenazi Jews left. Japan is having a huge population decline, which is partly biological and partly cultural/environmental in nature. One of the so-called ‘most evolved’ ethnies isn’t able to reign superior over the rest of the inferior ethnies/races due to low birthrates? As I said last night: civilization is dysgenic and leads to low birth rates. So how will the civilized races exterminate the savage races, if the civilized races hardly breed because they get too civilized?