The Misportrayal of Darwin as a Racist

The Mis-portrayal of Darwin as a Racist

 By image - June 24, 2006


There is a growing effort among opponents of evolution to portray Charles Darwin as a racist, and evolutionary theory as morally reprehensible, even to claim that Darwinism "provided Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued once they came to power."

These accusations are not merely from fringe radicals, but have indeed been made by elected officials and published in books by university professors, as we shall see.

Most disturbing, however, is the lack of significant rebuttal to these charges. Many people in fact, including some evolutionary biologists, find it easy to believe that perhaps Darwin was a racist, and perhaps evolutionary theory did contribute to Nazi ideology.

In 2001 African American State Representative Sharon Broome of Louisiana sponsored a resolution to condemn "Darwinist ideology" as racist and liken it to Nazism.

WHEREAS, empirical science has documented an indisputable commonality among all people groups, or races, and has demonstrated that normal variations in the human gene pool account for our differences, of which racial differences are a trivial portion; and

WHEREAS, the writings of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, promoted the justification of racism, and his books On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life and The Descent of Man postulate a hierarchy of superior and inferior races; and

WHEREAS, Adolf Hitler and others have exploited the racist views of Darwin and those he influenced, such as German zoologist Ernst Haekel, to justify the annihilation of millions of purportedly racially inferior individuals.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby deplore all instances and ideologies of racism, does hereby reject the core concepts of Darwinist ideology that certain races and classes of humans are inherently superior to others, and does hereby condemn the extent to which these philosophies have been used to justify and approve racist practices.


In 2004 Dr. Richard Weikart of the Discovery Institute published From Darwin to Hitler, Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany, which concludes that "Darwinism played a key role not only in the rise of eugenics, but also in euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination, all ultimately embraced by the Nazis." Weikart's work has garnered significant attention from both opponents and supporters of evolution alike.

So what about these accusations? Was Darwin a racist? Has evolutionary theory served as a support for everything from abortion to the Holocaust?

Far from it. Darwin was an abolitionist whose scientific work refuted the commonly held racist beliefs of his time and opposed already existing eugenic concepts. It is, in fact, evolution that overturned the widely held belief in the divine superiority of the "white race".

So-called "scientific racism" emerged around the same time that Darwin published his theory of evolution, but from a completely different group of people and for completely different reasons. In the mid-1800s both American slavery and European imperialism were coming under increasing criticism. During this time the idea of white supremacy became popular among those seeking to justify slavery and imperialism. Prior to Darwin, and after Darwin by opponents of evolution, biology was a theologically based field. The primary "scientific racists" were creationists who believed that science supported Biblical scripture, and that scripture supported slavery and the domination of one group over another.

Before we address Darwin and evolution directly, however, we must first examine the history of slavery, racism, and genocide prior to Darwin. Some anti-evolutionists would have us believe that prior to "Darwinism" the world was a place free from racism, oppression, infanticide, abortion, etc. These anti-evolutionists have claimed that racism, Nazism, and the Holocaust are all products of a divergence from "traditional Judeo-Christian ethics."

What, then, of the world before Darwin?

Racism, Slavery, and Genocide before Darwin

Infanticide, rape, genocide, slavery, abortion, and "racism" have all been prevalent from the earliest of times. We even see these behaviors in animals, so we know that these behaviors predate even humanity. It is safe to say that these things have probably been practiced by virtually all human societies. There are records from the Egyptians, for example, ridiculing the Nubians as inferiors, some of the earliest records of racism. The Bible itself records the not only the idea of "a chosen people", but indeed records genocide, slavery, and infanticide at the "command of God".

Exodus 11:

4 So Moses said, "This is what the LORD says: 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt-worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.' Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.

Exodus 12:

So the people of Israel did just as the LORD had commanded through Moses and Aaron. And at midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.

Deuteronomy 7:

1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations-the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you- 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

Numbers 31

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people."

3 So Moses said to the people, "Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites and to carry out the LORD's vengeance on them.


13 Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army-the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds-who returned from the battle.

15 "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them. 16 "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD's people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

1 Samuel 15:

3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' "


7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs, everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions."

These are only a few examples from the Bible that demonstrate the genocide, racism, and infanticide that not only preceded Darwin by thousands of years, but that became deeply integrated into the so-called "Judeo-Christian" ethic. These ideas, the idea of a "chosen people", the idea of "God sanctioned" conquest, and the rationalization of genocide, have played important roles in Western Civilization for centuries. Civilizations throughout the world have rationalized and engaged in similar behavior for as long as history has been recorded, but the specific sanctioning of these actions in the Bible has been cited repeatedly in Western Civilization from the time of the Christian Emperors of Rome to the conquest of the Americas, and indeed even by the Fascists and Nazis of World War II.

The maintenance of the integrity of the government depends upon two things, namely, the force of arms and the observance of the laws: and, for this reason, the fortunate race of the Romans obtained power and precedence over all other nations in former times, and will do so forever, if God should be propitious; since each of these has ever required the aid of the other, for, as military affairs are rendered secure by the laws, so also are the laws preserved by force of arms.
- The Code of Justinian; 529-534 CE

The very idea that the theory of evolution is responsible for the idea that certain races or groups of people are superior to others is so historically inaccurate that it is almost impossible to believe that anyone today could even make such a claim. As we shall see, however, "God" has been the primary justification for the concept of the superiority of one group over another throughout history, not "Darwinism".

When Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Conquistadores engaged in the conquest of the Americas, they did do so under the direction of the Pope, and their slaughter and subjugation of all natives was justified through Christian theology.  When Spanish conquerors came into contact with new groups of people they were required to read an article to them, in Spanish, called the Requerimiento. The Requerimiento stated that all men were descended from Adam and Eve, that the Catholic Church had been granted the right by God to rule all people, and that there was no way to deny the authority of the Pope. Those who resisted would be slaughtered or enslaved.

Of all these nations God our Lord gave charge to one man, called St. Peter, that he should be Lord and Superior of all the men in the world, that all should obey him, and that he should be the head of the whole human race, wherever men should live, and under whatever law, sect, or belief they should be; and he gave him the world for his kingdom and jurisdiction.

And he commanded him to place his seat in Rome, as the spot most fitting to rule the world from; but also he permitted him to have his seat in any other part of the world, and to judge and govern all Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, and all other sects. This man was called Pope, as if to say, Admirable Great Father and Governor of men. The men who lived in that time obeyed that St. Peter, and took him for Lord, King, and Superior of the universe; so also they have regarded the others who after him have been elected to the pontificate, and so has it been continued even till now, and will continue till the end of the world.


Wherefore, as best we can, we ask and require you that you consider what we have said to you, and that you take the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it, and that you acknowledge the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world, and the high priest called Pope, and in his name the King and Queen Doña Juana our lords, in his place, as superiors and lords and kings of these islands and this Tierra-firme by virtue of the said donation, and that you consent and give place that these religious fathers should declare and preach to you the aforesaid.


But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us. And that we have said this to you and made this Requisition, we request the notary here present to give us his testimony in writing, and we ask the rest who are present that they should be witnesses of this Requisition.
- Requerimiento, 1510


When colonists first came to the Americas they viewed it as their "promised land", a land that was "granted to them by God".

In 1634 John Winthrop, governor of the pious Massachusetts Bay Colony, wrote, "for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess." His comments clearly hearken back to the Old Testament scriptures, of which he was such a devout believer. Many of the early American settlers and explorers believed that the diseases that befell the natives were proof of God's "Divine Providence" helping them to conquer the land. In fact, however, Europeans carried many diseases because they had lived in such a filthy culture for over a thousand years. Europeans lived in close quarters with many domestic animals such as pigs, chickens, etc., as well as with rats, they rarely bathed, and lived with open sewers and raw human waste. All of this contributed, of course, to the many plagues that wracked the Europeans over the centuries, but nevertheless led to the evolution of a high level of immunity to many diseases, of which they became carriers.

Over a hundred million natives died under European occupation throughout North and South America between the 1500s and the 1900s, millions of these being directly killed by enslavement and war. The killing of natives and the taking of their land was sanctioned by both the Catholic Church in South America and the many Protestant sects in North America. "Divine Providence" and "God's Will" were almost always invoked as the justifications for the extermination of "savages".

In addition to the sanctioning of genocide, the Christian religion was used to justify slavery as well. Not only was slavery sanctioned in the Old Testament, but it is sanctioned in the New Testament also. The founding fathers of The Church also supported slavery.

The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow -- that which does not happen save by the judgment of God, with whom is no unrighteousness, and who knows how to award fit punishments to every variety of offence. ... Moreover, when men are subjected to one another in a peaceful order, the lowly position does as much good to the servant as the proud position does harm to the master. ... This servitude is, however, penal, and is appointed by that law which enjoins the preservation of the natural order and forbids its disturbance;
- St. Augustine; City of God, 410

Here Saint Augustine established the principle that slavery and servitude are part of a "natural order", created by God.

Slavery was repeatedly defended as being in accordance with the "Holy Scriptures" throughout history.

" .. full and free permission to invade, search out, capture and subjugate the Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities and other properties and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery."
- Pope Alexander VI; Bull Eximiae Devotionis, 1493

It is certainly a matter of faith that this sort of slavery in which a man serves his master as his slave, is altogether lawful. This is proved from Holy Scripture. It is also proved from reason for it is not unreasonable that just as things which are captured in a just war pass into the power and ownership of the victors, so persons captured in war pass into the ownership of the captors. All theologians are unanimous on this.
- Leander; Quaestiones Morales Theologicae, 1668 - 1692

In 1705 the Virginia Slave Codes were passed in America, which were quickly followed by similar laws in other states.

All servants imported and brought into the Country...who were not Christians in their native Country...shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion...shall be held to be real estate. If any slave resist his master...correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction...the master shall be free of all if such accident never happened.

Of course not all Christian groups embraced slavery, the liberal groups such as the Quakers and Unitarians were opposed to the practice (they were also harassed and even killed by more conservative Protestant sects), but among those who sanctioned it, scripture was often the basis of their justification.

On the lawfulness of holding slaves ... the right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.
- Rev. Richard Furman; President, Baptist State Convention, 1822

It is my privilege then, to name certain passages from the bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon this nature, as the fact is incontrovertible, that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the holy bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation and walked with God. And so far from that prediction's being averse from the mind of God it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude! "And he said cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem and Canaan shall be his servant." -Genesis 9:25-27 Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy. What could have been the design of the Almighty in this wonderful occurrence is not for me to say; but I can say that the curse is not yet taken off the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the decrees and purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before him; and those who are determined to pursue a course which shows an opposition and a feverish restlessness against the designs of the Lord, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do his own work without the aid of those who are not dictate by his counsel.
- Joseph Smith Jr.; Messenger and Advocate, 1836

Why all this rant about Negro equality, seeing that neither nature or nature's God ever established any such equality?
- John Campbell; Negro-Mania, 1851

The manifest moral intellectual and physical inferiority of the Negro issues from the decree of God which no efforts of man can either alter or abrogate. Even modification must be but partial at least. It is the destiny of the Negro if by himself to be a savage; if by the white to be a serf.
- John Campbell; Negro-Mania, 1851

But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines, who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.
- Frederick Douglass; The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro July 5th, 1852

We must, of course, acknowledge that Adam is the ancestor of the white race. The scriptures are evidently meant to be so understood, for the generations deriving from him are certainly white. This being admitted there is nothing to show that, in the view of the first compilers of the Adamite genealogies, those outside the white race were counted as part of the species at all.
- Arthur de Gobineau; An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, 1853

The great Architect had framed them [negroes] both physically and mentally to fill the sphere in which they were thrown, and His wisdom and mercy combined in constituting them thus suited to the degraded position they were destined to occupy. Hence, their submissiveness, their obedience, their contentment.
- Thomas R. Cobb; An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States of America, 1858

There was a growing movement in America shortly before the Civil War, as pressure against slavery was increasing, to justify slavery not just with scripture, but also with so-called "science". At this time, however, most biologists, known then as naturalists, were theologically trained. Biology was still considered to be a Biblically based study of "the creation" before Darwin came along.

In 1853 the Frenchman Arthur de Gobineau published An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, in which he proposed that humans were composed of three races, the most advanced of which was the "Aryan Race". In An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races Gobineau stated that civilizations collapsed due to race mixing. This work was highly influential in Europe and America and is widely acknowledged today as the foundation of so-called scientific racism.

In 1857, two years before Charles Darwin pushed The Origin of Species, Josiah C. Nott and George Gliddon, creationists who argued that science supported the Biblical account of creation, published Indigenous Races of the Earth. Dr. Nott, from South Carolina, had been writing and giving lectures on race for years and his works were highly influential. All of the copies of Indigenous Races of the Earth were pre-sold before they were even printed. The book went on to be published in many languages and was one of the best selling books of the time. An illustration in Indigenous Races of the Earth compared the skulls of "Greeks", "Negroes", and Chimpanzees.

From Indigenous Races of the Earth (1857)

Nations and races, like individuals have each an especial destiny: some are born to rule, and others to be ruled. And such has ever been the history of mankind. No two distinctly marked races can dwell together on equal terms.
- Josiah Nott, M.D.; Types of Mankind,  1854

In The Social History of the American Negro the following was said about Dr. Nott:

It is evident from what has been said already that the idea of the Negro current about 1830 in the United States was not very exalted. It was seriously questioned if he was really a human being, and doctors of divinity learnedly expounded the "Cursed be Canaan" passage as applying to him. A prominent physician of Mobile 151 gave it as his opinion that "the brain of the Negro, when compared with the Caucasian, is smaller by a tenth and the intellect is wanting in the same proportion," and finally asserted that Negroes could not live in the North because "a cold climate so freezes their brains as to make them insane." About mulattoes, like many others, he stretched his imagination marvelously. They were incapable of undergoing fatigue; the women were very delicate and subject to all sorts of diseases, and they did not beget children as readily as either black women or white women. In fact, said Nott, between the ages of twenty-five and forty mulattoes died ten times as fast as either white or black people; between forty and fifty-five fifty times as fast, and between fifty-five and seventy one hundred times as fast.

Footnote 151: "Two Lectures on the Natural History of the Caucasian and Negro Races. By Josiah C. Nott, M.D., Mobile, 1844."

- Benjamin Brawley; A Social History of the American Negro, 1921

The year of 1858 was both the year in which Abraham Lincoln engaged in the famous Lincoln - Douglas debates and the year that Charles Darwin first published his theory of evolution in a scientific paper. The the discussions that took place during those debates are very instructive in understanding views on race in America at the time, because race was a major topic of their senate campaigns and the their views can surely be seen as representative of the general views of the American public. The candidates were campaigning to attract voters, and were thus doing their best to both represent themselves and to cater to the desires of the public.

As we know, Abraham Lincoln won the senate seat and went on to win the presidential election and become one of the most honored men in American history. His name is synonymous with the ending of slavery in America and he is championed in schools across America as one of our greatest and most progressive leaders. So, what was Abraham Lincoln saying about race the year that Charles Darwin first published his theory of evolution?

"While I was at the hotel today, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.]"
- Abraham Lincoln; Fourth Debate with Stephen Douglas, September 18, 1858

It is important to note here that the views of Lincoln's opponent, Stephen Douglas, were even more racist than Lincoln's, and that both men enjoyed popular support for their racist views. Note that Lincoln received applause for his remarks. The fact is that essentially all Europeans were racist in the 1800s by today's standards.

"For one, I am opposed to negro citizenship in any and every form. [Cheers.] I believe this Government was made on the white basis. ["Good."] I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races. ["Good for you!" "Douglas forever!"]


Now, I do not believe that the Almighty ever intended the negro to be the equal of the white man. ["Never, never!"] If he did, he has been a long time demonstrating the fact. [Cheers.] For thousands of years the negro has been a race upon the earth, and during all that time, in all latitudes and climates, wherever he has wandered or been taken, he has been inferior to the race which he has there met. He belongs to an inferior race, and must always occupy an inferior position."
- Stephen Douglas; First Debate with Abraham Lincoln, August 21, 1858

Not only was the "negro race" an issue, but the "redskins" were and issue as well. All manner of wars had already been waged against the "savages" by American settlers, to say nothing of the much larger genocides against the South American natives led by Catholics.

It is quite clear that racism had already been well established and supported on theological grounds long before Darwin came on the scene.

When the Civil War broke out, the racial inferiority of African slaves was widely declared among the Confederate states as a permanent barrier to any possibility of the integration of blacks into American free society. The Texas articles of secession clearly state the inferiority of "the African race" and hold that slavery is the revealed will of God.

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations;
- Texas Ordinance of Secession; February 2, 1861

In 1862, during the Civil War, the abolitionist Pastor William Aikman from Delaware gave a speech in favor of emancipation that is considered one of the most favorable speeches of the period regarding Africans. Even in this speech Pastor Aikman stated that negroes were inferior to whites. He also, interestingly enough, laid out concepts similar to "natural selection" when describing how slaves were acquired, though this was, presumably, by no influence from the work of Darwin.

But the abler tribes are the warriors and the conquerors, while the weaker and the lower are the captives. Thus at the outset the slave declares by the fact of his servitude his inferiority of lineage.


The statistics of this country show that the free black does not and cannot mingle with the white race. No elevation or freedom can produce such an intermixture. Here and there, but so seldom as to present but perhaps a single case only in widely separated communities, there is an inter-marriage. This seeming want of inclination, coupled with a natural and insuperable repugnance on the part of the white, must ever keep the two races apart when they stand on an equal footing of freedom.

The often repeated argument against emancipation, founded on the notion that it would be necessarily followed by amalgamation, is the product of the grossest ignorance and thoughtlessness, while at the same time it betrays a shameful want of confidence in the white race itself. It surely argues no great power or stability in a people when they are not able to keep themselves from being mixed up with a confessedly inferior race. But facts point in a wholly different direction: so far from freedom promoting this intermixture, the only condition in which these two races are found mingling is where the negro is in a state of servitude. Here the process goes on freely and under the working of natural causes. The influences which on either side under other circumstances make it impossible, here become inoperative, and are overborne by other and more powerful ones. The close intimacies, beginning with infancy and extending over the whole life, destroying what under other circumstances might seem to be a natural separation; a servile desire to please on the part of the slave, lust and cupidity on the part of the master, all combine to make the blood of the two races flow in the same veins. Slavery is the source of amalgamation. The mulatto and the quadroon tell you unerringly of a present or a former servitude.


The inferiority of a race can hardly be shown to be a valid reason for its banishment from the presence of the superior, and by its power; the inability of a people to care for or to elevate themselves, does not seem a precisely good argument for sending them to a new land, and to a naked dependence on their own resources; the invincible prejudice of the white does not at once give a very potent, at least a very just reason why the black should be expatriated.
- William Aiakman; The Future of the Colored Race In America, 1862

The views expressed above can be considered among the least racist views in America at the time, and even in this view the inferiority of non-white races was assumed. The separation of races was also seen as natural and desirable.

In 1854 Archbishop Richard Whately, a renowned theological scholar, had published Origin of Civilization, in which he argued that God originally created mankind as perfect and in a state of civilization with technology and laws, but that since the "fall of man" different races of people have fallen away from God and have thus degenerated into "savages". He, and others, argued that progress is unnatural and that it was impossible for inferior races to ever improve themselves and be capable of living among whites. A discussion of his views can be seen in the review below, from 1869:

source: Cornell University Archive

This argument continued to be made after Darwin had published The Origin of Species and was used as an attack on "Darwinism". Darwin later responded to this line of thought in his book The Descent of Man:

The arguments recently advanced by the Duke of Argyll and formerly by Archbishop Whately, in favour of the belief that man came into the world as a civilised being, and that all savages have since undergone degradation, seem to me weak in comparison with those advanced on the other side. Many nations, no doubt, have fallen away in civilisation, and some may have lapsed into utter barbarism, though on this latter head I have met with no evidence.


The evidence that all civilised nations are the descendants of barbarians, consists, on the one side, of clear traces of their former low condition in still-existing customs, beliefs, language, &c.; and on the other side, of proofs that savages are independently able to raise themselves a few steps in the scale of civilisation, and have actually thus risen. The evidence on the first head is extremely curious, but cannot be here given: ... According to a large and increasing school of philologists, every language bears the marks of its slow and gradual evolution. So it is with the art of writing, for letters are rudiments of pictorial representations. It is hardly possible to read Mr. M'Lennan's work and not admit that almost all civilised nations still retain traces of such rude habits as the forcible capture of wives. What ancient nation, as the same author asks, can be named that was originally monogamous? The primitive idea of justice, as shewn by the law of battle and other customs of which vestiges still remain, was likewise most rude. Many existing superstitions are the remnants of former false religious beliefs. The highest form of religion-the grand idea of God hating sin and loving righteousness-was unknown during primeval times.


In all parts of Europe, as far east as Greece, in Palestine, India, Japan, New Zealand, and Africa, including Egypt, flint tools have been discovered in abundance; and of their use the existing inhabitants retain no tradition. There is also indirect evidence of their former use by the Chinese and ancient Jews. Hence there can hardly be a doubt that the inhabitants of these countries, which include nearly the whole civilised world, were once in a barbarous condition. To believe that man was aboriginally civilised and then suffered utter degradation in so many regions, is to take a pitiably low view of human nature. It is apparently a truer and more cheerful view that progress has been much more general than retrogression; that man has risen, though by slow and interrupted steps, from a lowly condition to the highest standard as yet attained by him in knowledge, morals and religion.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

In 1871 Archbishop Whately's line of argument was again defended by The Catholic Church in a July publication of "Catholic World". 

He, of course, adopts the modern theory of progress, and maintains that the savage is the type of the primitive man, and that he has emerged from his original barbarism and superstition to his present advanced civilization and religious belief and worship by his own energy and persevering efforts at self-evolution or development, without any foreign or supernatural instruction or assistance.


We have no patience with such men as Herbert Spencer, Huxley, and Darwin. We are hardly less impatient with the scientists who in our own country hold them up to our admiration and reverence as marvelous discoverers, and as the great and brilliant lights of the age. We love science, we honor the men who devote their lives to its cultivation, but we ask that it be science, not hypothesis piled on hypothesis, nor simply a thing of mere conjectures or guesses.

The modern doctrine of progress or development, which supposes a man began in the lowest savage, if not lower still, is not a doctrine suggested by any facts observed and classified in men's history, nor is it a logical induction from any class of known facts, but a gratuitous hypothesis invented and asserted against the Biblical doctrine of creation, of Providence, of original sin, and of the supernatural instruction, government, redemption, and salvation of men. The hypothesis is suggested by hostility to the Christian revelation, prior to the analysis and classification of any facts to sustain it, and the scientists who defend it are simply investigating nature, not in the interests of science properly so-called, but, consciously or unconsciously, to find facts to support an hypothesis which may be opposed to both.


Their hypothesis of progress, evolution, or development is unquestionably repugnant to the whole Christian doctrine and order of thought. If it is true, Christianity is false. They must then, before urging it, either prove Christianity untrue or an idle tale, or else prove absolutely, beyond the possibility of a rational doubt, the truth of their hypothesis. It is enough to prove that it may, for aught you know, be true; you must prove that it is true, and cannot be false. Christianity is too important a fact in the world's history to be set aside by an undemonstrated hypothesis.


Let the question be understood. Christianity teaches us that in the beginning God created heaven and earth, and all things therein, visible and invisible, that he made man after his own image and likeness, placed him in the garden of Eden, gave him a law, that is, made him a revelation of his will, instructed him in his moral and religious duty, established him in original justice, in a supernatural state, under a supernatural providence, on the plane of a supernatural destiny; that man prevaricated, broke the law given him, lost his original justice, the integrity of his nature attached thereto, and communion with his Maker, fell under the dominion of the flesh, became captive to Satan, and subject to death, moral, temporal, and eternal; that God, of his own goodness and mercy, promised him pardon and deliverance, redemption and salvation, through his own Son made man, who in due time was born to the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, was dead and buried, and on the third day rose again, ascended into heaven, whence he shall come again, to judge the living and the dead. This doctrine, in substance, was made to our first parents in the garden, was preserved in the tradition of the patriarchs, in its purity in the synagogue, and in its purity and integrity in the Christian church founded on it, and authorized and assisted by God himself to teach it to all men and nations.

According to this doctrine, the origin of man, the human species, as well as of the universe and all its contents, is in the creative act of God, not in evolution or development. The first man was not a monkey or a tadpole developed, nor a savage or barbarian, but was a man full-grown in the integrity of his nature, instructed by his Maker, and the most perfect man of his race, and as he is the progenitor of all mankind, it follows that mankind began not in "utter barbarism," as Sir John asserts, but in the full development and perfection of manhood, with the knowledge of God and providence, of their origin and destiny, and of their moral and religious duty. Ignorance has followed as the penalty or consequence of sin, instead of being the original condition in which man was created; and this ignorance brought on the race by the prevarication of Adam, the dominion of the flesh, and the power of Satan acquired thereby, are the origin and cause of barbarism of individuals and nations, the innumerable moral and social evils which have afflicted mankind in all times and places.


The Biblical history explains the origin of the barbarous superstitions of heathendom in a very satisfactory way, and shows us very clearly that the savage state is not the primitive state, but has been produced by sin, and is the result of what we call the great gentile apostasy, or falling away of the nations from the primitive or patriarchal religion. When language was confounded at Babel, and the dispersion of mankind took place, unity of speech or language was lost, and with it unity of ideas or of faith, and each tribe or nation took its own course, and developed a tribal or national religion of its own. Gradually each tribe or nation lost the conception of God as creator, and formed to itself gods made in its own image, clothed with its own passions, and it bowed down and worshipped the work of its own hands.


We see this deterioration going on in our midst and right before our eyes, as the effect of apostasy from our holy religion. This proves that apostasy is sufficient to explain the existence of the savage races, without supposing the human race began in "utter barbarism." If apostasy in modern times, as we see it does, leads to "utter barbarism," why should it not have done so in ancient times?


Yet the traditions of the heathen nations do not in general favor the main point of Sir John's hypothesis, that men come out of barbarism by their own spontaneous development, natural progressiveness, or indigenous and unaided efforts. They rise, according to these traditions, to the civilized state only by the assistance of the gods, or by the aid of missionaries or colonies from nations already civilized.


The chief characteristic of the savage state is in fact its immobility. The savage gyrates from age to age in the same narrow circle- never of himself advances beyond it. Whether a tribe sunk in what Sir John calls "utter barbarism," and which he holds is the original state of the human race, has ever been or ever can be elevated to a civilized state by any human efforts, even of others already civilized, is, perhaps, problematical. As far as experience goes, the tendency of such a tribe, brought in contact with a civilized race, is to retire the deeper into the forest, to waste away, and finally become extinct. Certain it is, no instance of its becoming a civilized people can be named.


Sir John's theory of progress is just now popular, and is put forth with great confidence in the respectable name of science, and the modern world, with socialists, accept it, with great pomp and parade. Yet it is manifestly absurd. Nothing cannot make itself something, nor can any thing make itself more than it is. The imperfect cannot of itself perfect itself, and no man can lift himself by his own waistbands.
- Origin of Civilization; Catholic World, July 1871

By this reasoning the "savages" were guilty of their own condition by sin, they had degenerated from the original "perfect" human archetype, which was now preserved only among the white races, and these savages, as sinners against God, were thus deserving of any punishment or genocide brought against them by the "armies of God".

In 1878 John T. Roberts published a theological essay on race called Adamites and Preadamites: or, A Popular Discussion Concerning the Remote Representatives of the Human Species and their Relation to the Biblical Adam. In this work Roberts stated:

I maintain, against the narrow and pernicious dogma that the Bible is sufficient everywhere to interpret itself, that, on the contrary, it was ordained to be interpreted under the concentrated light of all the learning which has been created by a God-given intelligence in man. I believe that the Bible was written for all time, and that its meaning is so deep and so rich that the accumulated learning of the latest generation of men will be unable to exhaust it.



In the attempt to ascertain whether the biblical Adam was the progenitor of all mankind, or only of the White and Dusky races, I pointed out the fact that literal interpretation renders the name Adam inapplicable to races whose complexion displays no noticeable tinge of "red." But in the attempt to make Adam the father of the Black races, I find myself beset by other and graver difficulties. The Adam of Genesis is supposed to date from an epoch less than two thousand years before Noah. There have been almost six thousand years for the posterity of Adam to attain their present amount of divergence, as exemplified in different families and races of man, This has not perceptibly increased since the Christian era. I suppose all will admit, on the evidence of history and monuments, that the Semitic, Hamitic and Aryan features were not perceptibly less marked two thousand years ago than at present. If any one doubts this, he can be easily satisfied by turning over the pages of any work illustrated from the monuments of Egypt and Assyria. (For accessible American digests, see Nott and Gliddon's Types of Mankind and Indigenous Races of the Earth.) Better, let him visit the Assyrian and Egyptian departments of the Louvre and the British and Berlin Museums. It is equally true that delineations of Negro features, executed at a date not less remote, are exactly as pronounced as the realities of today. Now, I think we may fairly take 2,000 years as the measure of 4,000. if these races and families have not sensibly diverged in 2,000 years, will the reader believe that all the marked divergence which actually exists took place during the previous 4,000 years?

But the negative argument is much stronger. The Egyptian and Assyrian monuments which testify to the distinctness of races and families date back one or two thousand years farther than our era; In these sculptures and mural paintings the stately Semite with his aquiline nose is instantly distinguished from the nimble Hamite with his straight nose, full lips and oblique and languishing eyes. Amongst the other figures the Negro is often discovered by his thick lips, projecting jaws and wooly hair. For at least half of the recognized interval between Adam and us, the Negro has been a Negro; the Hamite, a Hamite; the Semite, a Semite. Archaeology and ethnology, therefore, force this alternative conclusion upon us : If human beings have existed but 6,000 years, then the different races had separate beginnings, as Agassiz long since maintained each race in its own geographical area. But if all human beings are descended from one stock, then the starting point was more than 6,000 years back; as Huxley and the evolutionists generally maintain; and the Duke of Argyll and other anti-evolutionists equally maintain. Accordingly, if the reader insist that Adam was absolutely the first creature which could be called a man, he must admit first that "red," in Hebrew, means "black," and secondly, that the biblical chronology between Adam and Noah omits at least nine-tenths of the time. In such an admission, he will have the excellent company of the Duke of Argyll, (Primeval Man).

Now, every person remains free to contemn a logical difficulty, and commiserate the unfortunate facts for being opposed to his belief. But my training has been such that logic and facts still command a degree of respect. Nor am I enough of an actor to play the part of an idiot. If I can avoid a difficulty I shall not dash out my brains against it. Let us consider Adam the father of the White and Dusky races. These, then, are Adamites; and have a chronology extending back about 6,000 years perhaps all the time we require. The Black races, then, are preadamites ; and there is no objection to allowing all the time requisite for their divergence from some common stock
- John T. Roberts; Adamites and Preadamites, 1878

The belief in "Adamites" and "Preadamites" essentially comes from the book of Genesis in the story where Cain is cast out by God and then meets a woman.

Genesis 4

Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

17 Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.

The "Preadamite" belief was that negroes were the "people" living in the land of Nod, whom Cain came into contact with. These "people" were not killed by the Great Flood, the story goes, because they were "sub-human", and thus were on board the Ark among the "animals" that Noah saved. These "sub-humans", it was said, did not have souls and thus were not subject to the same sentiments given towards "white people".

These, of course, were not the only views. Many different views on race had been put forward and were widely believed by the 19th century.

Various popular beliefs about humans during the 1800s included the beliefs that:

  • Whites, Blacks, American Indians, and Asians are all different species
  • The races are static and created by God, and should thus never be mixed
  • There are superior and inferior races and the superior whites have the right to dominate the inferior blacks and Indians
  • There are distinct delineations between the races
  • Different races are not related to each other
  • Interbreeding of races leads to degeneration
  • God originally created civilization and whites have stayed true to God, thus maintaining civilization, but the darker races have degenerated and lost civilization as they have become more savage and further from the word of God
  • Darker races are descendants of Canaan (Ham's Curse), the darker their skin the more inherently sinful they are

How, then, do Darwin's views compare to the existing views on race during his own time?

Darwin's View of Race

In contrast to the existing views on race, Darwin showed that:

  • People cannot be classified as different species
  • All races are related and have a common ancestry
  • All people come from "savage" origins
  • The different races have much more in common than was widely believed
  • The mental capabilities of all races are virtually the same and there is greater variation within races than between races
  • Different races of people can interbreed and there is no concern for ill effects
  • Culture, not biology, accounted for the greatest differences between the races
  • Races are not distinct, but rather they blend together

One issue that is commonly misunderstood about Darwin is the full title of his most famous book, On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection: Or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. It is important to note here that "race" was a term that was more often used to discuss plants and animals at this point in history than it was to describe people. In fact, Darwin avoided much discussion of people in The Origin of Species and only used the word "race" a few times, in each of these cases referring to plants or animals, as in the example below.

Nevertheless, as our varieties certainly do occasionally revert in some of their characters to ancestral forms, it seems to me not improbable, that if we could succeed in naturalising, or were to cultivate, during many generations, the several races, for instance, of the cabbage, in very poor soil (in which case, however, some effect would have to be attributed to the direct action of the poor soil), that they would to a large extent, or even wholly, revert to the wild aboriginal stock.
- The Origin of Species; Charles Darwin, 1858

It is often pointed out that Darwin frequently used the term "savages" when discussing the tribal people whom he wrote about. In his use of the term savages, however, Darwin was simply using the standard lexicon of his time; it was a term that everyone, from Popes to Presidents, used. It must also be remembered, of course, that the differences between different groups of people were really very extraordinary until basically the past 75 to 50 years. Many of the groups that Europeans came into contact with practiced cannibalism, self-mutilation, human sacrifice, infanticide, had no writing, and/or were very hostile towards people outside of their own family or tribe. Most also had no technology beyond stone tools. These are real substantial differences that were being encountered by many Europeans for the first time. They were seeking explanations for why this was the case.

Darwin traveled around the world on the HMS Beagle to some of the most remote and uncivilized places on the planet. Unlike his other European contemporaries, however, he lived among the tribal people that he came into contact with as an equal and observed their customs, instead of seeking to be treated like a superior.

Darwin's most extensive discussion of human race was put forward in his 1871 book The Descent of Man. This book has been greatly misused by opponents of Darwin because in The Descent of Man Darwin assesses all of the various ideas about race that existed at the time, presenting many ideas of other people, which he later goes on to refute. In The Descent of Man Darwin takes questions such as "Are people composed of different species?" and he puts forwards all of the arguments for each position. He puts forward the evidence and claims of those who argued in favor of the position that humans are in fact separate species, and then he puts forward his own position, which is that humans are all one species. It is quite easy, however, to takes quotes from The Descent of Man out of context and make it appear that Darwin held positions which were in fact the exact opposite of his beliefs, and this is what many opponents of Darwin have done.

What then are Darwin's views on race, as put forward in The Descent of Man?

Our naturalist would likewise be much disturbed as soon as he perceived that the distinctive characters of all the races were highly variable. This fact strikes every one on first beholding the negro slaves in Brazil, who have been imported from all parts of Africa. The same remark holds good with the Polynesians, and with many other races. It may be doubted whether any character can be named which is distinctive of a race and is constant. Savages, even within the limits of the same tribe, are not nearly so uniform in character, as has been often asserted. Hottentot women offer certain peculiarities, more strongly marked than those occurring in any other race, but these are known not to be of constant occurrence. In the several American tribes, colour and hairiness differ considerably; as does colour to a certain degree, and the shape of the features greatly, in the Negroes of Africa. The shape of the skull varies much in some races; and so it is with every other character. Now all naturalists have learnt by dearly bought experience, how rash it is to attempt to define species by the aid of inconstant characters.

But the most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other, independently in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having inter-crossed. Man has been studied more carefully than any other animal, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should be classed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two (Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke. This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

Although the existing races of man differ in many respects, as in colour, hair, shape of skull, proportions of the body, &c., yet if their whole structure be taken into consideration they are found to resemble each other closely in a multitude of points. Many of these are of so unimportant or of so singular a nature, that it is extremely improbable that they should have been independently acquired by aboriginally distinct species or races. The same remark holds good with equal or greater force with respect to the numerous points of mental similarity between the most distinct races of man. The American aborigines, Negroes and Europeans are as different from each other in mind as any three races that can be named; yet I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Feugians on board the "Beagle," with the many little traits of character, shewing how similar their minds were to ours; and so it was with a full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate.

He who will read Mr. Tylor's and Sir J. Lubbock's interesting works can hardly fail to be deeply impressed with the close similarity between the men of all races in tastes, dispositions and habits. This is shown by the pleasure which they all take in dancing, rude music, acting, painting, tattoing, and otherwise decorating themselves; in their mutual comprehension of gesture-language, by the same expression in their features, and by the same inarticulate cries, when excited by the same emotions. This similarity, or rather identity, is striking, when contrasted with the different expressions and cries made by distinct species of monkeys. There is good evidence that the art of shooting with bows and arrows has not been handed down from any common progenitor of mankind, yet as Westropp and Nilsson have remarked, the stone arrow-heads, brought from the most distant parts of the world, and manufactured at the most remote periods, are almost identical; and this fact can only be accounted for by the various races having similar inventive or mental powers. The same observation has been made by archeologists with respect to certain widely-prevalent ornaments, such as zig-zags, &c.; and with respect to various simple beliefs and customs, such as the burying of the dead under megalithic structures. I remember observing in South America, that there, as in so many other parts of the world, men have generally chosen the summits of lofty hills, to throw up piles of stones, either as a record of some remarkable event, or for burying their dead.

Now when naturalists observe a close agreement in numerous small details of habits, tastes, and dispositions between two or more domestic races, or between nearly-allied natural forms, they use this fact as an argument that they are descended from a common progenitor who was thus endowed; and consequently that all should be classed under the same species. The same argument may be applied with much force to the races of man.

As it is improbable that the numerous and unimportant points of resemblance between the several races of man in bodily structure and mental faculties (I do not here refer to similar customs) should all have been independently acquired, they must have been inherited from progenitors who had these same characters.
- The Descent of Man; Charles Darwin; 1871

The points that Darwin made here clearly reflected a view that races were more alike than what was commonly believed at the time.

As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience unfortunately shews us how long it is, before we look at them as our fellow-creatures. Sympathy beyond the confines of man, that is, humanity to the lower animals, seems to be one of the latest moral acquisitions. It is apparently unfelt by savages, except towards their pets. How little the old Romans knew of it is shewn by their abhorrent gladiatorial exhibitions. The very idea of humanity, as far as I could observe, was new to most of the Gauchos of the Pampas. This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually becomes incorporated in public opinion.

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts, and "not even in inmost thought to think again the sins that made the past so pleasant to us." Whatever makes any bad action familiar to the mind, renders its performance by so much the easier. As Marcus Aurelius long ago said, "Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts."
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

These are hardly the words of a racist. Darwin makes it clear that the propensity for sympathy exists in all people, and that its extension to others among people is a matter of cultural evolution, not race. The closing remarks in The Descent of Man, however, provide an example Darwin's "disparaging" attitude toward "savages".

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.

They possessed hardly any arts, and like wild animals lived on what they could catch; they had no government, and were merciless to every one not of their own small tribe. 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. For my own part I would as soon be descended from that heroic little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the life of his keeper, or from that old baboon, who descending from the mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of astonished dogs-as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practises infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.

Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future.
- The Descent of Man; Charles Darwin; 1871

Darwin was hardly alone in this attitude towards tribal people however, and his observations of "savages" are indeed accurate. The cultures that he came into contact with did engage in these practices, and it can hardly be surprising that he felt displeasure towards these qualities. Virtually everyone in Western Civilization was repulsed by these traits in other cultures, as they should have been. Just one small example of how others discussed "savages" comes from an 1897 article in the popular magazine The Great Round World:

Missionaries are, as you know, holy and devoted men who go to far countries to spread the knowledge of the Gospel among heathen and unenlightened people.

These good men have always suffered much for their faith. They go wherever their duty calls, and even carry their message of peace to the terrible cannibals who kill and eat men.

In the early annals of our own country we have records of the terrible sufferings endured by these good men in their missionary work among the redskins.

Missionaries count their perils and their privations as nothing if they can but do the work of God.

Every government is particularly careful to do all that it can to protect its missionaries, and if ignorant savages do them harm, an attempt is always made to punish the wrongdoers, to teach them that these servants of God are well protected.
- The Great Round World; December 9, 1897

It is certainly not the case that all tribal cultures exhibited these qualities, indeed Darwin made special notes of the many positive qualities that he observed among various tribal cultures as well, but there is a historical fact that greatly influenced the views of those who came into contact with tribal peoples in the 1800s and early 1900s. By the 19th century most of the remaining tribal cultures in the world were either highly isolated, and thus tended to be more "primitive" and suspicious of outsiders, or they were the more militant of tribal cultures, or they had become militant and defensive in the face of aggression by Europeans. Though the early explorers of the 16th through 17th centuries frequently came into contact with peaceful and accommodating natives, most of those cultures had either been exterminated or had adopted Western customs to an extent by the 1800s. When Darwin was coming into contact with tribal people most of the remaining tribal cultures were the more aggressive or isolated ones.

What is most important about Darwin's views on race and primitive cultures, however, is that Darwin drew distinctions between race and culture. Significantly, Darwin did not believe that "savages" were savage by birth, as many people did believe in his time, but rather that all people were relatively equal, and that the vast differences between civilized Europeans and tribal peoples were due to knowledge and instruction.

The western nations of Europe, who now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors, and stand at the summit of civilization, owe little or none of their superiority to direct inheritance from the old Greeks, though they owe much to the written works of that wonderful people.


The more efficient causes of progress seem to consist of a good education during youth whilst the brain is impressible, and of a high standard of excellence, inculcated by the ablest and best men, embodied in the laws, customs and traditions of the nation, and enforced by public opinion. It should, however, be borne in mind, that the enforcement of public opinion depends on our appreciation of the approbation and disapprobation of others; and this appreciation is founded on our sympathy, which it can hardly be doubted was originally developed through natural selection as one of the most important elements of the social instincts.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man's nature is concerned there are other agencies more important. For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c., than through natural selection;
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

The moral faculties are generally and justly esteemed as of higher value than the intellectual powers. But we should bear in mind that the activity of the mind in vividly recalling past impressions is one of the fundamental though secondary bases of conscience. This affords the strongest argument for educating and stimulating in all possible ways the intellectual faculties of every human being.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

Darwin always came back to sympathy as one of the most important aspects of mankind, but more importantly Darwin points out here that Europeans were previously savages themselves and that it was not any biological inheritance from the Greeks that led to the progress of Europeans, but rather it was the transfer of knowledge from the Greeks that bolstered European success. Darwin noted the importance of social institutions to humanity on many occasions.

Darwin's Views on Slavery and Africans

Slavery existed long before Darwin, and America's race based slave system was well entrenched before Darwin was even born. Darwin was a member of several abolitionist organizations and he wrote frequently about the injustices of slavery. Darwin also defended the intelligence of Africans and other non-whites on several occasions.

I will not even allude to the many heart-sickening atrocities which I authentically heard of; -- nor would I have mentioned the above revolting details, had I not met with several people, so blinded by the constitutional gaiety of the negro as to speak of slavery as a tolerable evil. Such people have generally visited at the houses of the upper classes, where the domestic slaves are usually well treated, and they have not, like myself, lived amongst the lower classes. Such inquirers will ask slaves about their condition; they forget that the slave must indeed be dull, who does not calculate on the chance of his answer reaching his master's ears.


It is often attempted to palliate slavery by comparing the state of slaves with our poorer countrymen: if the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin; but how this bears on slavery, I cannot see; as well might the use of the thumb-screw be defended in one land, by showing that men in another land suffered from some dreadful disease. Those who look tenderly at the slave owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children -- those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own -- being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty:
- The Voyage of the Beagle; Charles Darwin, 1839

In a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who formed and led the first black regiment in the American Civil War, Darwin wrote:

My wife has just finished reading aloud your 'Life with a Black Regiment,' and you must allow me to thank you heartily for the very great pleasure which it has in many ways given us. I always thought well of the negroes, from the little which I have seen of them; and I have been delighted to have my vague impressions confirmed, and their character and mental powers so ably discussed. When you were here I did not know of the noble position which you had filled. I had formerly read about the black regiments, but failed to connect your name with your admirable undertaking. Although we enjoyed greatly your visit to Down, my wife and myself have over and over again regretted that we did not know about the black regiment, as we should have greatly liked to have heard a little about the South from your own lips.

Your descriptions have vividly recalled walks taken forty years ago in Brazil. We have your collected Essays, which were kindly sent us by Mr. Conway, but have not yet had time to read them. I occasionally glean a little news of you in the 'Index'; and within the last hour have read an interesting article of yours on the progress of Free Thought.
- Letter from Darwin to Thomas Higginson,  February 27, 1873

While on the voyage of the HMS Beagle Darwin wrote:

I was told before leaving England that after living in slave countries all my opinions would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the negro character. It is impossible to see a negro and not feel kindly towards him; such cheerful, open, honest expressions and such fine muscular bodies. I never saw any of the diminutive Portuguese, with their murderous countenances, without almost wishing for Brazil to follow the example of Haiti; and, considering the enormous healthy-looking black population, it will be wonderful if, at some future day, it does not take place.
- Letter from Darwin to J.S. Henslo, March 1834

In Haiti the African slaves rebelled and formed their own democratic government in 1803. For Darwin to have endorsed the idea of negro slaves rebelling and taking control of countries is quite extraordinary and was definitely an extreme minority position among Europeans.

When Darwin was eighteen he recorded his acquaintances with a black man in the UK, whom he had spent time with. His notes were later published in his autobiography.

By the way, a negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Waterton, and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently: he gave me lessons for payment, and I used often to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.
- Charles Darwin; The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 1887

In the autobiographical chapter of The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Darwin recalled the following about the conflicts that arose during his voyage on the HMS Beagle over the issue of slavery.

Fitz-Roy's temper was a most unfortunate one. It was usually worst in the early morning, and with his eagle eye he could generally detect something amiss about the ship, and was then unsparing in his blame. He was very kind to me, but was a man very difficult to live with on the intimate terms which necessarily followed from our messing by ourselves in the same cabin. We had several quarrels; for instance, early in the voyage at Bahia, in Brazil, he defended and praised slavery, which I abominated, and told me that he had just visited a great slave-owner, who had called up many of his slaves and asked them whether they were happy, and whether they wished to be free, and all answered "No." I then asked him, perhaps with a sneer, whether he thought that the answer of slaves in the presence of their master was worth anything? This made him excessively angry, and he said that as I doubted his word we could not live any longer together. I thought that I should have been compelled to leave the ship; but as soon as the news spread, which it did quickly, as the captain sent for the first lieutenant to assuage his anger by abusing me, I was deeply gratified by receiving an invitation from all the gun-room officers to mess with them. But after a few hours Fitz-Roy showed his usual magnanimity by sending an officer to me with an apology and a request that I would continue to live with him.
- Charles Darwin; The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 1887

With all of this, however, opponents of evolution would have us believe that Darwin and evolutionary theory are responsible, at least in part, for the racism of the early 20th century. Yet 20th century racism was strongest in America in the South, where evolution was least accepted and barely even taught. The Ku Klux Klan, which reached its height in the 1920s, was both the leading institution of violent racism and also an opponent of evolution.

Ku Klux Klan meeting, 1925

The KKK was (and still is) a Protestant based organization.

In 1915 D.W. Griffith's silent film, The Birth of a Nation, was released and it quickly became a national hit. The film did cause controversy, but went on to become the highest grossing silent film of all time.


The Birth of a Nation described how Abraham Lincoln had undermined state sovereignty and created a powerful federal government. It depicted Northern blacks and freed slaves as monstrous villains who were destroying white civilization and abusing their new-found power after the Civil War. The major villain of the film is a mulatto, a  man of "mixed white and black race".

Near the final climax of the film, where the Ku Klux Klan unites to save a town from "Negro anarchy", the film's protagonists retreat to a cabin that is occupied by a Union Civil War veteran and the following scene commences:


The final scene of the film shows Jesus appearing as an apparition among a group of celebrating white people, signifying his protection of the nation.


To be sure racism has many causes and it would not be accurate to place all of the blame on religion, but clearly racism and hatred of blacks was strongest among the opponents of evolution. It is not mere coincidence that both the Scopes Trial and the height of the KKK movement took place in the 1920s.


In the Journal of American History Jeffrey P. Morgan writes the following about racism and the Scopes trial:

In the year after the 1924 Democratic convention, where [William Jennings] Bryan [the prosecutor of the Scopes trial] had thrown his weight against a resolution condemning the Ku Klux Klan, Pickens lumped Bryan together with the Klan as a matter of course. Bryan's offense, suggested J. A. Rogers in the Messenger, A. Philip Randolph's radical journal, was the same hypocrisy that tainted Fundamentalists throughout the South: "Bryan from the pulpit preaches the domination of Christ; in politics he practices Ku Kluxism and white domination, the bulwarks of which are lynching, murder, rape, arson, theft, and concubinage." ... And Bryan was one of the more racially benign antievolutionists. One of his allies, South Carolina's former governor and current U.S. senator, Cole Blease, not only endorsed a rigid antievolution law but also virulently and publicly supported the extralegal lynching of black men. Blease had earned notoriety by planting the severed finger of a lynched African American in the gubernatorial garden.


Secular black commentators charged that the goad to the antievolution movement, from the top on down, was fear of Darwinism's racial implications. If black and white had a common ancestry, as evolutionary theory suggested, then the South's elaborate racial barriers might seem arbitrary rather than God-given.


Most black writers discerned a more direct connection between racial prejudice and the antievolution movement. In their view white southerners opposed evolution because it implied a common heritage for the races and therefore threatened white supremacy. In the volatile racial atmosphere of the 1920s South, the logic of evolutionary thought seemed to point in the direction of racial kinship and intermarriage. Black observers interpreted antievolutionism as a white attempt to quash such implications and thereby to preserve the campaign for racial separation that had begun in the 1880s.

Evolution did imply an uncomfortable kinship between the descendants of Africans and of Europeans. The Chicago Defender maintained that Tennessee's legislators were suppressing evolution because of the Darwinian implication "that the entire human race is supposed to have started from a common origin." "Admit that premise," the editorialist continued, "and they will have to admit that there is no fundamental difference between themselves and the race they pretend to despise." Echoing "Cimbee's Ramblings," William N. Jones in his "Day by Day" column for the Baltimore Afro-American asserted emphatically that white Tennesseans believed God had "CREATED SOME HUMAN BEING[S] DIFFERENT AND DISTINCT FROM OTHERS." Evolution clearly contradicted such a belief. Nor were black critics the only ones who claimed to see a strong racial component in antievolutionism. The southern white journalist W. J. Cash, who observed the controversy at close range, recalled later, "One of the most stressed notions which went around was that evolution made a Negro as good as a white man-that is, threatened White Supremacy." Although the race question did not arise explicitly in the Scopes trial itself, African American intellectuals believed that the white South was seriously troubled by evolution's destabilizing implications for Anglo-Saxon supremacy.


For the secular black elite, science did more than merely contradict the Nordic dogma; it promised a way out of the stagnation and parochialism of life in the South. In another cartoon commenting on the Scopes trial, under the caption "Where Sunshine Reaches Darkness," Wilbert Holloway of the Pittsburgh Courier presented a map of the United States east of the Mississippi River. Upon the northern states and the upper South, the sun pours down rays of enlightenment labeled "Science," "Research," "Development," "Progress," and "Intelligence." Only the states of the Deep South, below what Holloway denotes "The New Mason and Dixon Line," remain in a darkness that science and its allies cannot penetrate. Given the context, it is odd that Holloway allowed the sun to shine on Tennessee, but the accompanying article, entitled "Ignorance vs. Science," made clear the author's opinion that science was indeed fighting a war against the dominance of ignorance in Tennessee and the South in general. "For the sake of those yet to be born in the South," concluded the author, "we hope science wins."


Scientific progress and the evolutionary hypothesis held particular meanings for the African American elite. Black leaders embraced the racial implications of evolution-the common origins of humanity and the importance of environment as well as heredity-and they believed that evolutionary science itself embodied the spirit of progress that would lift the race higher. In a series of columns for the Baltimore Afro-American during spring 1925, William N. Jones found two reasons to appreciate evolutionary progress. First, the lessons of evolution had created greater racial sympathy in the short term. As he celebrated the hundredth anniversary of T. H. Huxley's birth, Jones claimed that few white men had done as much as Huxley to help race relations, for Huxley had followed Darwin's scientific line of reasoning to question the idea that some men "by Divine right" were born kings, while others "by Divine curse" were born slaves. "Science won," Jones asserted, "and as a result the world, in spite of hidebound and narrow dogmas, is heading towards real brotherhood."


Not surprisingly, during the Scopes trial many African American leaders identified with the scientific elite in opposition to the white southerners who were prosecuting the young science teacher.
- Jeffrey P. Morgan; Reading Race into the Scopes Trial: African American Elites, Science, and Fundamentalism, Journal of American History, Vol. 90. No. 3; 2003

While there certainly were both Christians who preached the doctrine that God had created all men equal, and those who used evolutionary concepts to support their racist views, on the whole evolutionary views came down solidly on the side of breaking down racial barriers and promoting a view of progress for all, while many people used Christianity to support ideas of racial segregation, "purity of race", and the legitimization of subordinates and masters.

Anti-Semitism, Genocide, Eugenics, and Nazism

Anti-Semitism and eugenics are not directly related subjects, but they are both heavily associated with the Nazi movement. Anti-Semitism really has nothing to do with evolution whatsoever, so I will deal with the subject of eugenics first.

Eugenics is defined as:

The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.

Eugenics is not, in any way, reliant on evolutionary theory. Eugenic type behavior has been present in human civilization for thousands of years. Indeed, traditional arranged marriages are a form of eugenics, a practice that dates into pre-history. One of the cultures with the most firmly established traditions of selective marriage is the Hindu culture of India, with its cast system and long history of arranged marriage. Traditional Indian culture is a culture of eugenics.

Selective marriage, and even arranged marriage based strictly on physical and mental traits, was practiced among the ancient Greeks as well, and indeed it has been documented in many instances among tribal people. Many of the Native American and African tribes selected brides by lining them up and choosing based on their physical features.

So, certainly, eugenics is not reliant on evolutionary theory. What scientific eugenics is reliant on is genetics, not evolution. The science of eugenics is the science of heredity, which is not denied by anyone today, at least not any reasonable person.

Eugenics is sometimes also taken to mean, however, not only selective breeding, but also selective killing or sterilization of "unfit" individuals. It is this concept that is most often associated with the Nazis. This practice too, however, has been employed by many different cultures for thousands of years.

When Darwin was publishing his works on evolution, eugenic concepts did come up and he did address them. What then did Darwin have to say about eugenic ideas?

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but 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.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

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. Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man's nature is concerned there are other agencies more important. For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c., than through natural selection; though to this latter agency may be safely attributed the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

Clearly there was an acknowledgment of the implications of inheritance, and this was framed in the light of evolution, however, Darwin's main conclusions were that:

  • Neglecting the weak, much less killing them, would be an unallowable "evil"
  • Cultural factors played a more important role in the advancement of mankind than selection
  • The most that could be hoped for was that people living in poverty would not bring children into poverty
  • Progress was open to all people, and there should be no laws to give favoritism to specific groups

In From Darwin to Hitler, however, Dr. Weikart asserts that:

In Hitler's mind Darwinism provided the moral justification for infanticide, euthanasia, genocide, and other policies that had been (and thankfully still are) considered immoral by more conventional moral standards. Evolution provided the ultimate goals of his policy: the biological improvement of the human species.
- Dr. Richard Weikart; From Darwin to Hitler, 2004

Darwinism by itself did not produce the Holocaust, but without Darwinism, especially in its social Darwinist and eugenics permutations, neither Hitler nor his Nazi followers would have had the necessary scientific underpinnings to convince themselves and their collaborators that one of the world's greatest atrocities was really morally praiseworthy.  Darwinism - or at least some naturalistic interpretations of Darwinism - succeeded in turning morality on its head.
- Dr. Richard Weikart; From Darwin to Hitler, 2004

It must be noted that in all of Hitler's writings he never mentions Darwin or even Ernst Haeckel, Dr. Weikart just reads his interpretation of Darwinism into Hitler views.

What, then, were Adolph Hitler's views, and on what did he base his racism and his strive for "improvement of the human species"?

Everybody who has the right kind of feeling for his country is solemnly bound, each within his own denomination, to see to it that he is not constantly talking about the Will of God merely from the lips but that in actual fact he fulfils the Will of God and does not allow God's handiwork to be debased. For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties. Whoever destroys His work wages war against God's Creation and God's Will.


Thus men without exception wander about in the garden of Nature; they imagine that they know practically everything and yet with few exceptions pass blindly by one of the most patent principles of Nature's rule: the inner segregation of the species of all living beings on this earth.

Even the most superficial observation shows that Nature's restricted form of propagation and increase is an almost rigid basic law of all the innumerable forms of expression of her vital urge. Every animal mates only with a member of the same species. The titmouse seeks the titmouse, the finch the finch, the stork the stork, the field mouse the field mouse, the dormouse the dormouse, the wolf the she-wolf, etc.


This is only too natural.

Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents. This means: the offspring will probably stand higher than the racially lower parent, but not as high as the higher one. Consequently, it will later succumb in the struggle against the higher level. Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life. The precondition for this does not lie in associating superior and inferior, but in the total victory of the former. The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he after all is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development of organic living beings would be unthinkable.

The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice.


The result of all racial crossing is therefore in brief always the following:
  • Lowering of the level of the higher race;
  • Physical and intellectual regression and hence the beginning of a slowly but surely progressing sickness.
imageTo bring about such a development is, then, nothing else but to sin against the will of the eternal creator.


With satanic joy in his face, the black-haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from her people. With every means he tries to destroy the racial foundations of the people he has set out to subjugate. Just as he himself systematically ruins women and girls, he does not shrink back from pulling down the blood barriers for others, even on a large scale. It was and it is Jews who bring the Negroes into the Rhineland, always with the same secret thought and clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily resulting bastardization, throwing it down from its cultural and political height, and himself rising to be its master.

For a racially pure people which is conscious of its blood can never be enslaved by the Jew. In this world he will forever be master over bastards and bastards alone.


We must bear in mind that in the time when the American continent was being opened up, numerous Aryans fought for their livelihood as trappers, hunters, etc., and often in larger troops with wife and children, always on the move, so that their existence was completely like that of the nomads. But as soon as their increasing number and better implements permitted them to clear the wild soil and make a stand against the natives, more and more settlements sprang up in the land.
- Mein Kampf; Adolph Hitler, 1925

During his time as leader of Germany Hitler worked on a sequel to Mein Kampf, which was later published under the title Hitler's Secret Book. In this manuscript Hitler had written:

Sparta must be regarded as the first folkish state. The exposure of the sick, weak, deformed children, in short their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more humane than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject.


Neither Spain nor Britain should be models of the German expansion, but the Nordics of North America, who had ruthlessly pushed aside an inferior race to win for themselves soil and territory for the future.
- Adolph Hitler; "Hitler's Secret Book"

Just in the same way Cortez or Pizarro annexed Central America and the northern states of South America, not on the basis of any claim of right, but from the absolute inborn feeling of the superiority of the white race. The settlement of the North American continent is just as little the consequence of any claim of superior right in any democratic or international sense; it was the consequence of a consciousness of right which was rooted solely in the conviction of the superiority and therefore of the right of the white race.
- Adolph Hitler; Dusseldorf Speech, 1932

Hitler and Nazi ideology held that race was sacred. Darwin's evolutionary theory was about much more than simply inheritance and "survival of the fittest" (a term that was coined by the economist Herbert Spencer to defend capitalism in 1851, but then latter became associated with Darwin's theory of evolution). Darwin took away the scared view of race and species, he showed that there were no significant distinctions between races and between species. Hitler viewed his eugenic policies as being rooted in ancient practices, not evolutionary theory, and he viewed the extermination of natives in America as a model for his actions in Europe. Compare the above views espoused by Hitler to the statements of Darwin:

Hereafter we shall be compelled to acknowledge that the only distinction between species and well-marked varieties is, that the latter are known, or believed, to be connected at the present day by intermediate gradations, whereas species were formerly thus connected. Hence, without quite rejecting the consideration of the present existence of intermediate gradations between any two forms, we shall be led to weigh more carefully and to value higher the actual amount of difference between them. It is quite possible that forms now generally acknowledged to be merely varieties may hereafter be thought worthy of specific names, as with the primrose and cowslip; and in this case scientific and common language will come into accordance. In short, we shall have to treat species in the same manner as those naturalists treat genera, who admit that genera are merely artificial combinations made for convenience. This may not be a cheering prospect; but we shall at least be freed from the vain search for the undiscovered and undiscoverable essence of the term species.
- Charles Darwin; The Origin of Species, 1858

It is certain that distinct species of birds occasionally pair in a state of nature and produce hybrids. Many instances could be given: thus Macgillivray relates how a male blackbird and female thrush "fell in love with each other," and produced offspring. Several years ago eighteen cases had been recorded of the occurrence in Great Britain of hybrids between the black grouse and pheasant; but most of these cases may perhaps be accounted for by solitary birds not finding one of their own species to pair with. With other birds, as Mr. Jenner Weir has reason to believe, hybrids are sometimes the result of the casual intercourse of birds building in close proximity. But these remarks do not apply to the many recorded instances of tamed or domestic birds, belonging to distinct species, which have become absolutely fascinated with each other, although living with their own species.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

[T]he distinctive characters of all the races [are] highly variable. ... It may be doubted whether any character can be named which is distinctive of a race and is constant.


This diversity of judgment ... shews that they [races] graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

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.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

He who is not content to look, like a savage, at the phenomena of nature as disconnected, cannot any longer believe that man is the work of a separate act of creation.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

Hitler stated that "racial purity" was "God's Will". Darwin showed that there is no such thing as racial purity in the first place, and that secondly, races and species are not formed by God.

Hitler said that segregation of species and races is a "rigid law" of nature. Darwin showed that there are no such rigid laws in nature.

Hitler said that species only naturally mate with members of their same species. Darwin showed that many species naturally hybridize (in fact, research now shows that more than 10% of "species" hybridize in the wild).

Hitler said that species are uniform in character. Darwin showed that there is a high degree of variation within species.

Hitler advocated the use of race laws to favor only "Nordic" peoples. Darwin stated that no such laws should be made.

Hitler despised sympathy and said that sympathy should not extend to all races. Darwin stated that sympathy was the highest moral value, that indeed sympathy was an important attribute for human success, and that we should extend our sympathy to all people.

Clearly, Hitler's views reflected the traditional "pre-Darwinian" views of nature. Hitler viewed race as sacred, he viewed the Germans as "God's chosen people", and he justified racism, genocide, and eugenics through his sacred views. The sacredness of race is what made race worth fighting for to the Nazis.

Hitler's views are more appropriately reflected by the views of the American creationist Josiah Nott:

Nations and races, like individuals have each an especial destiny: some are born to rule, and others to be ruled. And such has ever been the history of mankind. No two distinctly marked races can dwell together on equal terms.
- Josiah Nott, M.D.; Types of Mankind,  1854

This is further evidenced by many other pieces of Nazi literature.

In 1936 Dr. Gerhard Wagner gave a speech titled Race and Population Policy at the Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally. In his speech he stated:

We can only say to these learned critics that our genetic and racial thinking stems in the end not from our scientific, but rather from our National Socialist convictions, and that it was not learned scientists, but rather our Führer Adolf Hitler, and he alone, who made genetic and racial thinking the center of our National Socialist worldview and the foundation of the rebuilding of our people's state. The doctrines of blood and race are not first of all an important and interesting piece of biological science to us, but rather above all else a political-ideological attitude that fundamentally determines our attitudes to things and to the questions of life.

More important than these two groups, however, are those who reject or oppose us because they hold to another worldview.

Those who base their materialist image of the world on the doctrines of a liberal or Marxist era cannot understand how we can have dethroned their idols of "the economy and Mammon," replacing them at the center of our National Socialist process of construction and renewal with the German man, with the German people.


"Only racial comrades may be citizens. A racial comrade can only be someone of German blood, without regard to religious confession. No Jew can therefore be a citizen."


Finally, a word to those who reject our racial policy as "unchristian." God has chosen to create humanity in the form of various races, as he has done in all of the rest of nature. Those who ignore race and its laws are not acting in a Christian manner, but rather we claim to be following the will of God, who has created the various racial types of this world so that each may maintain the greatest possible racial purity that will enable to develop its particular strengths.


To those who claim that we act in an unchristian way, sinning against the will of God, we reply that we are convinced that we are acting consistent with the will of the creator when we prevent unhealthy life from being propagated, saving children and their children from new and enormous misery. The creator himself established the laws of life, which harshly and brutally let all that is unworthy of life to perish to make room for the strong and healthy to whom the future belongs. This is necessary for the preservation and development of all that lives on this earth.

Obviously there was controversy within Germany about their racial policies, which this speech was meant to address, but it is significant that Dr. Wagner stated that Nazi racial policy was not based on science, but rather on the will of the Fuhrer and their view of the will of God.

The Nazis published many educational materials on their beliefs and policies. One of these popular works was a book called Faith and Action, which states:

You carry in your blood the holy inheritance of your fathers and forefathers. You do not know those who have vanished in endless ranks into the darkness of the past. But they all live in you and walk in your blood upon the earth that consumed them in battle and toil and in which their bodies have long decayed. Your blood is therefore something holy. ... But if your blood has traits that will make your children unhappy and burdens to the state, then you have the heroic duty to be the last. The blood is the carrier of life. You carry in it the secret of creation itself. Your blood is holy, for in it God's will lives.


Race means to be able to think in a certain way. He who has courage, loyalty and honor, the mark of the German, has the race that should rule in Germany, even if he does not have the physical characteristics of the "Nordic" race. The unity of the noble and a noble body is the goal to which we strive. But we despise those whose noble body carries an ignoble soul. ... But the Nordic race must dominate in Germany and shape the soul of each German. It must win out in the breast of each individual. Today our ideal is not the artist or the citizen, but the hero. Our highest treasure is the soul that we have been given. He who mixes his blood with that of foreign inferior races ruins the blood and soul that have been given to him to pass on impurity to his children. He makes his children impure and miserable, and commits the greatest crime that he as a National Socialist can commit.

From beginning to end, the basis of Nazi ideology was the idea of sanctity of race. Nazi ideology was not based on any kind of scientific view of evolution. Nazi ideology did embrace ideas such as the struggle for survival, but "struggle for survival" is an ancient concept that has long been recognized, and evolutionary theory is about much more than simply the role of competition in the development of life.

In a 1943 pamphlet on racial policy the Nazis specifically cited the works of  Arthur de Gobineau. As is usual with Nazi literature, there is no mention of Darwin or evolution. This pamphlet was an anti-Christian and pro-scientific work, which, in typical Nazi fashion, unified spiritual and pseudo-scientific concepts.

Warning voices were raised in the 18th and 19th centuries when Liberalism began to destroy the peoples of Europe. Gobineau recognized with sure perceptiveness the danger of race mixing. H. St. Chamberlain followed him, as did many others, above all F. K. Günter, who wrote The Racial Nature of the German People.

We owe to these Nordic scientists this revolutionary knowledge: Humanity is not equal. Just as plants and animals are of different types, so too are people. Each of these types inherits certain characteristics, which distinguish it from all other types, from all other races. Racial differences are physical, spiritual, and intellectual. The most important differences are in the spiritual and intellectual areas, in life styles. Racial science is further supported by advances in genetics. Nordic scientists probed ever deeper into the secrets of life and nature. Gregor Mendel was the first to discover the laws of genetics, opening the way to understanding one of God's greatest secrets, the nature and continuation of life.

Genetics tells us that characteristics are passed unaltered from generation to generation, and that spiritual and other characteristics are inherited along with physical ones. The environment can only influence what is already present in the genes. Unlike animals, a person does not have a single environment, but also lives in the cultural world of his race and people. This too determines the development of his inherited traits. His culture comes from his inheritance. Therefore, the race to which we belong determines the life we are born into, and the life we pass on.
- Der Reichsführer SS/SS-Hauptamt, Rassenpolitik, 1943

As stated earlier, eugenics is not reliant on evolutionary theory, it is reliant on genetics. That some people would seek to abuse this science for racist purposes is not a fault of the science however.

During the Nuremberg trials the influences on German racial thinking were openly discussed. In all of the Nuremberg trials there was no mention of Darwin. During the proceedings of July 29, 1946 the influences on Alfred Rosenberg, one of the leading intellectuals of the Nazi Party, were reviewed.

When, at the Trial, Rosenberg was asked: "Were you not one of Hitler's closest collaborators?" he did not even speak-he shouted in reply: "That is not true, I never was." But however hard Rosenberg tried to deny his "Fuehrer," he has not succeeded in washing away the stigma of being "one of the oldest and the most faithful of Hitler's comrades-in-arms." For 25 years Rosenberg, first acting as Hitler's collaborator and afterward under his direction, worked out and assisted in the realization of the fantastic plan for world supremacy, having chosen, for the justification of this criminal plan, the misanthropic theory of racism.

The fact that Rosenberg utilized for his purposes garbled science and borrowed theories from Karl Lueger and Paul Lagarde, Count [Arthur de] Gobineau, Oswald Spengler, and Arthur Moeller cannot affect the question of Rosenberg's guilt and responsibility. The important fact is that Rosenberg, having assembled all these "scientific excrete," raised the racial theories to a degree of racial fanaticism and educated in this spirit the members of the Nazi Party and the youth of Germany. And when the representatives of the "master race" elaborated and committed acts of aggression, when the German occupation troops enslaved and exterminated nations and peoples, when the factories of death were created at Maidanek and Auschwitz, Treblinka and Chelmno, Rosenberg's share in all these crimes was not insignificant. All this was the outcome of the fascist racial ideology, the essence of which consists in the idea that the 'Aryan, North Germanic" race is a "master race," and that all other races and nations belong to "lower strata."

There are, however, even more examples of the influences on Nazi racial and eugenic policies. The archives of the Nuremberg Trials lists as a piece of evidence a book titled Eugenics and Christianity: Questions of sterilization, northernization, euthanasia, marriage. This book was in the possession of Dr. Karl Brandt, the personal physician of Adolph Hitler. Excerpts from the book, taken from the trial transcripts (there is no English publication of this book), are given below:



In England too, eugenics have already been recognized by a part of the Church. A comprehensive work has been published by Hinton. We consider it a sin against the idea of personality and conscience "to insist upon the propagation of degenerate and sick life, if means are available to oppose such a calamity. It seems blasphemy to imagine that the birth of sick children could be at all God's will and Divine providence".
    Hinton J.P. and Caloutt Josefine: Sterilization, A Christian Approach, London 1935.

The exercise of immediate pressure is naturally excluded. Thus the Anglican bishop of Birmingham publicly defined his attitude in favor of sterilization, expressing his regret that the various proposals concerning voluntary sterilization had not been considered by the British Government.


Health as a Standard:


A Protestant clergyman, Hans Schmidt, emphatically declares: "It appears to us to be a direct affront against the faith in God, the benign Creator, to regard the misery wards of the patients in Neuendettelsau and Bethel as a revelation of God's Will, and to declare that these people are forever predestinated by God to this form of misery! Also Catholic theologians mostly agree with these points of view. Muckermann considers it wrong to regard inferiority as valuable in itself. All efforts in the long run must serve the elimination of inferiority."


Death and Sin:

Death as the end of the life of the individual has therefore nothing to do with sin. It does not belong to the category of moral but of natural evaluation. In the compass of natural evaluation death is a relative evaluation. It is judged by the life of the person concerned. If the natural evaluation has been positive, death is a negative solution, because it destroys something that is good.

If the natural evaluations have been negative (incurable painful disease), death is a positive solution, because it does away with something that is bad. Ethical evaluation is not affected by the disintegration of the body. If a man led an evil life he has been spiritually dead already before his physical death. If he has lived a moral life he will have a share in eternal life, more or less in proportion to the standard of his morality.


The Church and Euthanasia:


[Martin] Luther also advocated the killing of imbecile children. In his time they were called "Wechselbalg" or "Kielkroof" (both words not translatable). People believed they were exchanged by Satan in the place of robed normal children or were begotten by Satan himself. Luther's standpoint was prompted by a case in Dressau. There he saw a 12 years old "Wechselbalg" which outwardly looked like a normal child. Its life, however, was limited to reception -  and elimination - of food. It only laughed and cried incoherently at everything happening around it. Luther expressed his opinion that - if he had to decide - he would have killed the child by drowning. Such creatures were only a lump of human flesh without a real human soul. The Church in these days also acknowledged euthanasia in some individual cases. (Vid. Meltzer: "The Problem of Shortening Worthless Life")
- Wolfgang Stroothenke; Eugenics and Christianity, 1940

Dr. Karl Brandt was the leading physician of the Nazi Party and the head of the euthanasia program. It would not be correct to characterize the views of the Nazis as being in line with the majority views of Christians around the world at the time, certainly not. The Nazis defined their own brand of Christianity, which they called "Positive Christianity". They claimed that many Christians of the 20th century had become corrupted by liberalism, but that Positive Christianity was active in supporting and defending its core principles, instead of bowing to the liberalism of the day. Nazi documents themselves repeatedly indicate that their views were known to be in the minority, but they did, however, repeatedly use calls to religion to support their ideology and policies. They did seek out religious justifications, both Christian and non-Christian, for their policies. What you don't find among the documents of the Nazis are arguments appealing to Darwin, Darwinism, or evolution. In the rare cases that evolution or evolutionary concepts are mentioned, their comments on the subject show a complete misunderstanding of the science, as is indicated in the comments made by Hitler in Mein Kampf.

The Nazi regime was a highly religious regime that viewed everything in terms of sacred and holy meaning. Faith was, again and again, touted as the foundation of Nazism. One of the very first actions of the Nazis when they came to power was to wage a campaign against atheism.

"We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."
-Adolph Hitler,  1933 Berlin Speech

"The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, is creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life.

The advantages of a personal and political nature that might arise from compromising with atheistic organizations would not outweigh the consequences which would become apparent in the destruction of general moral basic values. The national Government regards the two Christian confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. It will respect the agreements concluded between it and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed. But the Government hopes and expects that the work on the national and moral regeneration of our nation which it has made its task will, on the otherhand, be treated with the same respect."
- Adolph Hitler, 1933 Reichstag speech

"God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany. " 
-Hermann Göring

"We believe that the Fuhrer is fulfilling a divine mission to German destiny! This belief is beyond challenge."
-Rudolf Hess, speech, 20 June 1934

"Bolshevism denies religion as a principle, fundamentally and entirely. It recognizes religion only as an "opium for the people". For the help and support of religious belief, however, National Socialism absolutely places in the foreground of its program a belief in God and that transcendental idealism which has been destined by Nature to bring to expression the racial soul of a nation."
-Joseph Goebbels, 1935

Life comes from God and returns to God. All life and all races follow God's ordinances. No people and no race can ignore them. We want the German youth to again recognize the religious nature of life. They must realize that God wants the individual as well as the whole people, and that they lose contact with life when they lose contact with God! God and nation are the two foundations of the life of the individual and the community. We want no shallow and superficial piety, but rather a deep faith that God guides the world, that he controls it, and a consciousness of the relationship between God and each individual, and between God and the live of the people and the fatherland. The National Socialist state will promote such a deeply religious educational system. We want parents to support and strengthen this by honesty and by good example.

Race, military training, leadership, religion! These are the four unshakable foundations of the new German National Socialist education!
- Educational Principles of the New Germany; What Schools and Parents Need to Know About the Goals of National Socialist Education, 1937

We can see that the Nazi concepts about race and euthanasia are not rooted in Darwin's evolutionary theory, and certainly have nothing in common with the ethics of Charles Darwin.

So where does this leave Dr. Weikart's claim that, "[i]n Hitler's mind Darwinism provided the moral justification for infanticide, euthanasia, genocide, and other policies that had been (and thankfully still are) considered immoral by more conventional moral standards. Evolution provided the ultimate goals of his policy: the biological improvement of the human species."

Well, even Dr. Weikart admits that there is no direct support for this whatsoever.

[No one] has pursued the thesis of a single dominating influence on Hitler more relentlessly than Daniel Gasman with his Haeckel-to-Hitler hypothesis. […] However, Gasman's approach is too blinkered, ignoring the huge disparities between Haeckel and Hitler.  In many respects Haeckel lined up with liberal progressives of his time, promoting the peace movement and homosexual rights, among other liberal causes.  Gasman makes altogether too much ado about Haeckel's anti-Semitism, which, though misguided, was not a likely source for Hitler's anti-Semitism.  For one thing, Haeckel's anti-Semitic utterances are extremely rare, and they are much milder than Hitler's.  Also, there were many anti-Semitic thinkers in the early twentieth century whose views are much closer to Hitler's.  Even many socialists, including some Marxists, jumped on the eugenics bandwagon.

Also, Gasman cannot prove that Hitler ever actually read any of Haeckel's works, so whatever influence Haeckel allegedly exerted on Hitler may have been mediated by others.  Indeed Haeckel's works were widely read in the early twentieth century, and it would not be surprising if Hitler read one or more of them.  However, many eugenicists, racists, and anti-Semites peddled Haeckel's ideas, too, and they were widely discussed in the popular press, so it is not at all unlikely that Hitler imbibed them through others.  Thus, Gasman is right to point out that Haeckel's ideas were an important influence on Hitler, but they by no means provided the ideological foundation for facism, and Haeckel was by no means a proto-fascist.
- Dr. Richard Weikart; From Darwin to Hitler, 2004

The entire claim that "Darwin inspired the Holocaust" rests on conjecture and a reading of one set of ideas into another, while also, obviously, ignoring an entire body of facts. The claims of so-called "scientific racism" predate Darwin and were in fact refuted by Darwin.

The Darwin to Hitler claim rests first on a Darwin to Haeckel connection which ignores other influences on Haeckel, though Haeckel himself was influenced by the works of many other people than Darwin, and then on an imagined Haeckel to Hitler connection, which is not concrete. Yet, here I have presented direct connections between several thinkers, including Martin Luther, and Nazi ideology. The connection between Martin Luther and Nazi eugenic policy is not the only connection between the founder of Protestantism and the Nazis however. An even more significant connection between Martin Luther and Nazi policy is in regard to anti-Semitism.

In fact, the basis of anti-Semitism is Christianity. Hatred of Jews has been endemic in European culture for the past 2,000 years.

Despite the fact that Christians inherited their religion from Jews, Christians quickly turned against their Jewish predecessors and enacted fierce punishments against them for having "killed the Son of God." From the time that Christians gained power in Rome until the Holocaust itself, Christians passed laws against Jews, persecuted Jews, and often blamed Jews for the ills of society.

367 - 376: St. Hilary of Poitiers referred to Jews as a perverse people who God has cursed forever. St. Ephroem refers to synagogues as brothels.

380: The bishop of Milan was responsible for the burning of a synagogue; he referred to it as "an act pleasing to God."

393: "No Jew shall retain the customs of his race relating to marriage; nor shall he marry in accordance with his religion; nor shall he contract several marriages at the same time."
- Given during the Consulate of the Emperor Theodosius

415: St. Augustine wrote "The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus."

As you can see from the timeline of Jewish persecution linked below, Jews have been consistently persecuted by Christians from the 3rd century until the Holocaust: A History of Anti-Semitism

In 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council decreed that Jews had to be distinguished from Christians in order to prevent sexual intercourse between the two.

In several provinces, a difference in vestment distinguishes the Jews or the Saracens from the Christians; but in others, the confusion has reached such proportions that a difference can no longer be perceived.

Hence, at times it has occurred that Christians have had sexual intercourse in error with Jewish or Saracen women and Jews or Saracens with Christian women. That the crime of such a sinful mixture shall no longer find evasion or cover under the pretext of error, we order that they [Jews and Saracens] of both sexes, in all Christian lands and at all times, shall be publicly differentiated from the rest of the population by the quality of their garment, especially since this is ordained by Moses.

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance Jews were forced to wear yellow badges in order to distinguish themselves from Christians, as shown below:

Man and woman wearing the Jewish badge.
Drawings, Germany, 16th century.

The marking of Jews by yellow badges in Nazi Germany was not a new policy, it was the re-enactment of old laws.

The mass murder of Jews at the command of Christian authorities took place several times between the 13th and 19th century in Europe, with several occasions where thousands of Jews were killed in less than a years time.

In 1543 Martin Luther of Germany, the founder of Protestantism, wrote a book titled The Jews and Their Lies. In The Jews and Their Lies Luther outlined seven points of action to take against Jews:

"First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], "You are Peter," etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (...remainder omitted).

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause.

Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants."

It is significant that the anti-Semitism of Martin Luther was heavily used in Nazi propaganda and heavily believed among the Nazi Party. The actions taken by the Nazis against the Jews were the fulfillment of Luther's seven points.

In Hitler's Willing Executioners Daniel Goldhagen wrote:

One leading Protestant churchman, Bishop Martin Sasse, published a compendium of Martin Luther's antisemitic vitriol shortly after Kristallnacht's orgy of anti-Jewish violence. In the foreword to the volume, he applauded the burning of the synagogues and the coincidence of the day: 'On November 10, 1938, on Luther's birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany.' The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words 'of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews.'

In Why Aryan Law?, published in 1934, Dr. E. H. Schulz and Dr. R. Frercks stated:

Martin Luther wrote this of the Jews in his book "The Jews and their Lies": "They hold we Christians captive in our own land. They have seized our goods by their cursed usury, they mock and insult us because we work. They are our lords, and we and our goods belong to them." If in the coming days the Jewish race is driven out of the non-Jewish world, it will have at least this consolation: It has made clear to them for all time the value of maintaining the purity of race and blood in clear, understandable and unforgettable ways.

National Socialist racial legislation has reduced the influence of Jewry in all professions, and above all excluded them from the leading offices of the nation. That is an important step in the relationship between Germans and Jews, but one cannot ignore the fact that we have not yet fully eliminated the influence of the Jewish foreign body in German national life.

In John Conway's discussion of the role of Protestantism and Martin Luther in Nazi society, he commented on a 1946 study into the issue of Luther's legacy after Nazism:

Nazi propaganda had made much use of Luther's anti-Jewish writings, but as Lehmann showed, postwar Protestants found ways to avoid confronting that stain on their hero.

In 1848 Pope Pius IX, who stated that Jews were "dogs of which there are too many present in Rome, howling and disturbing us everywhere," forced Jews back into the ghettos from which they had only recently been allowed to leave.

In 1910 the award winning American author Reverend Arthur T. Abernethy published The Jew a Negro, Being A Study of the Jewish Ancestry from an Impartial Standpoint, in which he sought to show, using "Scriptural proofs", that Jews were in fact the descendants of negroes.

In the 1920s Henry Ford, a Protestant, started an anti-Semitic periodical called The Dearborn Independent, went on to publish The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a fraudulent writing which was claimed to be the secret hidden agenda of Jews to rule the world, and then published The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem.


The International Jew outlined a brief history of Jewish involvement in America and labeled New York City as the "center of the Jewish population." Articles in The International Jew stated:


  Simply identify the source and nature of the influence which has overrun our schools and universities. Let the students know that their choice is between the Anglo-Saxons and the Tribe of Judah. Let the students decide, in making up their allegiance, whether they will follow the Builders or those who seek to tear down. It is not a case for argument. The only absolute antidote to the Jewish influence is to call college students back to a pride of race.

  We often speak of the Fathers as if they were the few who happened to affix their signatures to a great document which marked a new era of liberty. The Fathers of our nation were the men of the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic race. The men who came from Europe with civilization in their blood and in their destiny. The men who crossed the Atlantic and set up civilization on a bleak and rock-bound coast; the men who drove north to Alaska and west to California; the men who opened up the tropics and subdued the arctics; the men who mastered the African veldt; the men who peopled Australia and seized the gates of the world at Suez, Gibraltar and Panama; men who have given form to every government and a livelihood to every people and an ideal to every century. They got neither their God nor their religion from Judah, nor yet their speech nor their creative genius- they are the Ruling People. Chosen throughout the centuries to Master the world, by building it ever better and better, and not by breaking it down.

  Into the camp of this race, among the sons of the rulers, comes a people that has no civilization to point to, no aspiring religion, no universal speech, no great achievement in any realm but the realm of "get," cast out of every land that gave them hospitality, and these people endeavor to tell the Sons of the Saxons what is needed to make the world what it ought to be!

  If our sons follow this counsel of dark rebellion and destruction, it is because they do not know whose sons they are, of what race they are the scions. Let there be free speech to the limit in our universities and free intercourse of ideas, but let Jewish thoughts be labeled Jewish, and let our sons know the racial secret...



 Judah has begun the struggle. Judah has made the invasion. Let it come. Let no man fear it. But let every a man insist that the fight be fair. Let college students and leaders of thought know that the objective is the regnancy of the ideas and the race that have built all the civilization we see and that promises all the civilization of the future; let them also know that the attacking force is Jewish.

  That is all that will be necessary. It is against this that the Jews protest. "You must not identify us," they say, "You must not use the term 'Jew'." Why? Because unless the Jewish idea can creep in under the assumption of other than Jewish origin, it is doomed. Anglo-Saxon ideas dare proclaim themselves and their origin. A proper proclamation is all that is necessary today. Compel every invading idea to run up its flag!

It is known that Adolph Hitler ordered many copies of The International Jew and he awarded Henry Ford with a Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle. At the Nuremberg Trials Baldur Von Schirach, a Nazi Youth leader, claimed that Henry Ford was the primary inspiration for his anti-Semitism.

The transcripts of Von Schirach's trial, in which he was convicted of crimes against humanity, reads:

VON SCHIRACH: I shall only say in one sentence that these were works which had no definite anti-Semitic tendencies, but through which anti-Semitism was drawn like a red thread. The decisive anti-Semitic book which I read at that time, and the book which influenced my comrades...

DR. SAUTER: Please...

VON SCHIRACH: ... was Henry Ford's book, The International Jew; I read it and became anti-Semitic. In those days this book made such a deep impression on my friends and myself because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success, also the exponent of a progressive social policy. In the poverty-stricken and wretched Germany of the time, youth looked toward America, and apart from the great benefactor, Herbert Hoover, it was Henry Ford who to us represented America.

During the Nazi Holocaust 12 million people were killed (this does not count the military deaths, only those who were put to death or died in concentration camps). Half of these people were Jews, the primary target of Nazi aggression. The other half consisted of various other ethnic minorities, such as gypsies, in addition to homosexuals, atheists, Communists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and general enemies of the State.

One can easily see that the targets of Nazi aggression were the traditional "enemies" of Christianity. The Bible calls for putting homosexuals to death. Atheists have always been despised by Christians. Communists, of course, were enemies of Christianity, and it is significant that Jehovah's Witnesses were targeted, because no one in the world would care anything about Jehovah's Witnesses except for Christians. Jehovah's Witnesses are considered a heretical pseudo-Christian sect. They deny the doctrine of the trinity, believing that Jesus is subordinate to God, they don't believe Jesus was killed on a cross, they reject ties between church and state, and, critically, they believe in the significance of using the Hebrew name for God - Jehovah.

It is very clear that violent anti-Semitism has a long history in Europe, and that this history is inextricably linked to Christianity.


Opponents of both abortion and evolution try to associate abortion, as it is practiced in America and Europe today, with abortion as it was practiced in Nazi Germany.

In Nazi Germany, however, abortion was not a legal personal choice. Healthy German women in Nazi Germany had a duty to have children, and were not allowed to have abortions by their own choice. Other women, however, could be forced to have an abortion if they were deemed inferior or unwanted for some reason.

The right to abortion and birth control today is very different from the abortion policy of the Nazis, where abortion decisions were made by the State.

Margaret Sanger, the legendary American women's rights advocate who founded Planned Parenthood, had this to say about a women's right to reproductive choice:

Eugenists imply or insist that a woman's first duty is to the state; we contend that her duty to herself is her first duty to the state. We maintain that a woman possessing an adequate knowledge of her reproductive functions is the best judge of the time and conditions under which her child should be brought into the world. We further maintain that it is her right, regardless of all other considerations, to determine whether she shall bear children or not, and how many children she shall bear if she chooses to become a mother.
- Margaret Sanger; The Birth Control Review, 1919

The widespread legalization of abortion in the 20th century is not a product of "Darwinism", it is a product of several different factors, including the recognition of a women's right to control her own body, the increased demand for people to regulate birth due to changes in society brought about by capitalism and industrialization, and the fact that the human population of the earth has increased dramatically.

Human population over the last 10,000 years

The explosion of the human population over the past 100 years has put extraordinary new pressures on societies and resources that never existed before. In addition to that, capitalism has transformed societies from home-based and agricultural economies, where large families lived and worked together at home, to societies were children go to school and remain economically unproductive until after age 18 and adults work separately outside of the home. Under these conditions raising large numbers of children is no longer economically viable or personally desirable to most people.

None of these factors are impacted by "Darwinism"; these are practical concerns that influence policy irrespective of any given ideology, science, or philosophical framework.

Social Darwinism

"Social Darwinism" is perhaps one of the most misused and misunderstood terms in the political sciences. The term is most often used today in a defamatory way to describe a callous approach to social policy, and it is typically also assumed that Charles Darwin had something to do with the development of this term and that Darwin was a "Social Darwinist".  Pretty much all of these things are incorrect.

The biggest irony, perhaps, is when American Christian conservatives such as Dr. Weikart use the term "Social Darwinism" in an attempt to tie Nazism and Charles Darwin together, because the term "Social Darwinism" was originally developed by an atheist Marxist who used it to discuss a variety of ways in which people had employed evolutionary concepts in their political and economic ideologies, the most well known of these cases being the economic ideology of Herbert Spencer in his defense of laissez-faire capitalism. So, in reality, the term "Social Darwinism" was originally a term that was most widely used to describe the policies of laissez-faire capitalism by a Marxist opponent of capitalism, yet today American conservatives flock to the term simply because it has a negative connotation to it and it has Darwin's name in it.

The term "Social Darwinism" made its debut in 1944 with the publication of Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860-1915, by Richard Hofstadter. When Hofstadter joined the Communist Party in 1938, because of his opposition to Nazism and his interest in fighting against fascism, he did so with the following remark, "My fundamental reason for joining is that I don't like capitalism and want to get rid of it." He left the Communist Party shortly afterwards when the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was announced, creating a temporary alliance between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

The overall thrust of Hofstadter's work, however, was that evolutionary concepts were employed by many different groups of political and economic thinkers during the period after the publication of Darwin's work, from those like Herbert Spencer, who argued for a "survival of the fittest" capitalism, to Karl Marx who applied evolutionary concepts to communism, to others who appealed to evolutionary concepts in support of moderate government regulation and cooperative social paradigms. Hofstadter did not claim in his book that all of these applications were bad or that there was anything inherently wrong with applying evolutionary concepts to political theories. Ironically, despite being written by an anti-fascist Jew in 1944, right at the end of World War II, the Nazis and Nazism are not mentioned in the book.

None of these political and economic theoreticians, however, who employed evolutionary concepts, strictly adhered to the known evolutionary science of the time, or to the ideas and ethics of Charles Darwin. In addition to that, many of the ideas held by these various thinkers, especially Herbert Spencer, have since been proven wrong by evolutionary science. These political theoreticians were typically not men of science. They instead gleaned generalities from popular evolutionary notions and applied them in arguments that furthered their pre-existing ideas, sometimes rightly, but often in ways that really contradicted even the known science of the time.

Again, the term "Social Darwinism" was employed most critically by Hofstadter against capitalism, and specifically against American style capitalism. This term never even existed during the lifetime of Charles Darwin, and we can plainly see from Darwin's own writings that his social, political, and economic ideas have nothing in common with the ideas that have come to be associated with the term "Social Darwinism", which is a term that reflects really a tremendous misunderstanding of evolution, not an application of evolutionary science.

Conclusion and Summary

Opponents of evolution, in desperation, use any means to try to slander Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. No doubt many of these people truly believe their own accusations, but they do so out of a desire to see evolutionary theory in a negative light and out of a desire to believe that it is harmful to society.

The underlying idea, however, that Nazism and the Holocaust were products of a divergence from "traditional Judeo-Christian values", influenced by the rise of "Darwinian thinking", is not only completely false, but completely the opposite of the truth. The belief that Nazi policy was a product of "new Darwinian thinking" can only exist when people are ignorant of the history of anti-Semitism, racism, slavery, and genocide in Western Civilization, often associated with Christianity.

Indeed, Nazism and the Holocaust were expressions of traditional values with the use of modern technology. The Holocaust follows a clear pattern of events in European civilization. The Holocaust shows us the tragic results of traditional human behavior empowered by powerful new technology. The immorality of the Holocaust was not new, rather the ability to carry it out is what was new.

As Albert Einstein stated, "[i]t has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."

Indeed the ethics of Darwin are the exact opposite of the ethics of the Nazis. Darwin can be counted among the secular humanist philosophers who promoted the breaking down of racial barriers and the expansion of sympathy as essential for continued human success. Darwin provided not only a philosophical appeal to sympathy, but indeed a scientific basis to view sympathy as a primary social value.

With mankind, selfishness, experience, and imitation, probably add, as Mr. Bain has shown, to the power of sympathy; for we are led by the hope of receiving good in return to perform acts of sympathetic kindness to others; and sympathy is much strengthened by habit. In however complex a manner this feeling may have originated, as it is one of high importance to all those animals which aid and defend one another, it will have been increased through natural selection; for those communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.


The moral faculties are generally and justly esteemed as of higher value than the intellectual powers. But we should bear in mind that the activity of the mind in vividly recalling past impressions is one of the fundamental though secondary bases of conscience. This affords the strongest argument for educating and stimulating in all possible ways the intellectual faculties of every human being.


As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience unfortunately shews us how long it is, before we look at them as our fellow-creatures. ... This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually becomes incorporated in public opinion.
- The Descent of Man; Charles Darwin, 1871

These views were later echoed by Albert Einstein as the basis for his views on ethics and humanity.

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
- Albert Einstein, "Religion and Science" New York Times Magazine, 1930

Yes, the language of some of Darwin's work on race is crude by today's standard, but it was revolutionary in its opposition to the established ideas of the day, which held that the "savages" were inferior and had no hope of ever living in a state of equality with whites.

Instead of being criticized as a racist, Darwin should rightfully be honored as one of the leaders of opposition to racism, who showed through his careful study, and through his theory of evolution, that we are indeed all related and that the key to social success as a species lies in extending our cooperation, sympathy, and assistance to people of all races and all nations. If Darwin had any social message, that, certainly, was it.

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