Objectivity is important for any seeker of truth. An espouser of any philosophy always claims to answer all possible doubts. Capitalism is the answer to all problems, say the capitalists and their ilk; socialists claim that the best answers lie with them. We have communists too, with their propositions claiming that their way is the best way. All these philosophies have been proved inferior by the passage of powerful time. Throughout history we have seen mankind being cheated time and again by selfish pretenders, claiming to have solutions to all problems of life.
So, although there is abundant propaganda by Darwinists proving efficacy of Darwinism in explaining all questions that anyone might have about the nature of life, an objective thinker will not give in very easily. In times when Darwinian thought has been accepted as the de facto understanding of the world, it will be difficult to stay clear of any prejudices but we stand to gain a lot from having an open mindset.
As the theory of evolution explains things that have happened in the past, it has also given rise to several phenomena that have been born as a result of wide propagation of Darwinian thought. Whether Darwin himself knew about the consequences of his theory is not clear, but the impact of his thought on people after him is clear and evident.
The established Christian view of creation was challenged by Darwin’s theory. The idea of a Creator who is reposnsible for creation of life is definitely not coherent with Darwin’s explanations.
But, since the beginning of the nineteenth century, serious thinkers had come to realize that at least some metaphorical interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis was necessary as most early evolutionists were believers, not in the Christian conception of God, but God as a supreme being. These individuals were not intent at promoting atheism; their effort was rather to overcome the stumbling block of possible incompatibility with evolution in the future. Thus, as time progressed, it became necessary to prove that belief in God did not contradict belief in evolution.
In this way was born the theory of Deism. It proposes that although God is responsible for creation of matter and life, presently He does not play any role in its day-to-day working. He is aloof from it.
This reduces God to some kind of a powerless and helpless king who has no power over His kingdom, which He rules over. He becomes a mute spectator. thus, although this theory accepts God, the central belief reduces Him to virtual non-existence.
Richard Dawkins is a famous man today. He has authored more than six books actively and viciously promoting atheistic thought. His most famous contribution however, is The God Delusion. He blasphemes God with choice words in this book, calling Him by names not fit for publication. Dawkins clearly admits that he became an atheist at 15 or 16, when he read Darwin. His lastest offering is “The Greatest Show On Earth—The Evidence For Evolution.” Thus, what started off as a reading of Darwinian literature has led him to become one of the leading atheists of the day and then becoming one of its most active propagators.
At the Darwin Centennial in 1959, Julian Huxley, the President openly admitted that Darwin’s theory of evolution had excluded the idea of God from all rational discussion.
Thus, we see that atheism is another offspring of Darwinism.
The Englishman most associated with early social Darwinism, is sociologist Herbert Spencer. Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” to describe the outcome of competition between social groups. In Social Statics (1850) and other works, Spencer argued that through competition, social evolution would automatically produce prosperity and personal liberty unparalleled in human history.
A social version of natural selection formed part of the framework for the development of Nazism. This view embraced the assumption that the strong were superior, and thus ordained to prevail. Thus, if two countries were to make war on each other, the victor was biologically superior to the loser. It was therefore right and proper for that victor to subjugate or even eliminate the inferior opponent. One can only imagine the harmful consequences of such a dangerous philosophy.
This was an offshoot of Darwinian thought.
Another way some pseudo-evolutionary concepts were applied to human interaction was in the development of cut-throat capitalism in the United States. Here the ideology was that the cream of the society naturally rose to the top; the successful made a lot of money simply because they were superior to the unsuccessful. Those who found themselves in poverty were poor because they were intrinsically inferior. This political philosophy resisted suggestions like universal education, welfare, minimum wage — in short, anything which interfered with the business of the “superior” ascending to the top of the heap and squashing the unfit beneath their expensive shoes.
Man has always wanted to play God. The more the better. If only we were able to select desirable qualities that one would want in the human race and be able to propagate it in the future generations, it would help advance the human race. Undesirable characteristics would be weeded out. The desirable would be breeded. Francis Galton’s eugenics made this possibility into a reality. Francis Galton proposed that certain “fit” individuals be allowed to reproduce while the “unfit” be not allowed.
It seemed to be the future of the world. By the early 1900s, reality had begun to reflect something closer to this.
There were adherents to the philosophy in all the major nations around the world. The US and Germany especially seemed to show a keen interest. A nexus between the rulers and the scientists was seeming probable now. It would solve social problems by racial segregation, sterilizing the “feebleminded,” and closing the nation’s borders to “inferior hordes of degenerate peoples.”
After the humiliating defeat post-World War I, some Germans identified certain races as “inferior.” Other pointed to the “useless eaters” who stayed at home because of their incapacity to fight while nation’s finest young men were murdered on the battlefields. In their efforts to protect the “race” by “breeding the best with the best,” these Germans found inspiration and encouragement in the eugenics movement.
This philosophy was central to the changes advocated by Hitler and his party. After coming to power in 1933, Hitler used these principles to build a “racial state.” Hitler was fast in applying the principles on a social level. Eventually, Nazis used this belief for the holocaust that involved the mass murder of millions of Jews, gypsies and “inferior people.” In Germany, eugenics was known as “racial hygiene.”
To address the problem, he advocated a new kind of hygiene—one that promoted the health not only of the individual but also of the “race.” As a result, by 1937, the Nazis had sterilized nearly 225,000 individuals. Meanwhile in 1914, twelve states in the USA had enacted sterilization laws. By 1924, 3000 people had involuntarily been sterilized also in America.
The horror didn’t end here. In 1933, a German minister proposed that even “mercy killing” or euthanasia be allowed. Just as the courts were deciding whom to sterilize, they could also decide who to be killed. It would “end the tortures of the incurable, in the interests of true humanity.” This program was later proposed to include children born with mental diseases etc. In fact, by 1939 Hitler had even started such a program. The mother of any child born with a disability or deformity had to fill up a questionnaire and would be checked by a committee to determine the fate of the child. Later even teenagers and adults were included. In the two years to come, around 70,000 were killed.
In 1912, the eugenicists held their first international conference in London. Between 1907 and 1912, eight states in the US had passed laws authorizing or requiring the sterilization of “certain classes of defectives and degenerates” and several others were considering similar legislation. It is also interesting to note that the first president was Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin.
Throughout this euphoria, research pointing in the other direction had been neglected. In 1913, A. H. Sturtevant, a student of Thomas Hunt Morgan, produced the first gene map. It showed that genes are located in a specific order on a chromosome. Gregor Mendel was mistaken in thinking that genes (hereditary particles) are always randomly arranged during reproduction. If Mendel had looked at traits associated with genes on the same chromosome, he might have discovered that his ratios of dominant to recessive traits do not work. Heredity is more complicated than he realized. Herman Muller, another student of Morgan’s, found that X-rays can cause mutations in fruit flies. By showing that the physical environment can alter genes, it undercut the eugenic notion that genes are immune to outside influences.
Geneticists were also learning that repeated breeding within a so-called “pure” line does not lead to better specimens, as eugenicists predicted. Instead, it results in a general decline in health and hardiness. Because inbred strains lack genetic variation, they experience more hereditary defects. On the other hand, crossing strains leads to what scientists call “hybrid vigor.” Such discoveries contradicted eugenic beliefs about “purity” and “superiority.”
Other geneticists like Reginald Punnet contested the belief that sterilization of the feebleminded would reduce feeblemindedness in society. Even if a recessive gene caused feeblemindedness, Punnet pointed out that sterilization was not the solution. After all, a person could still carry the gene without himself being feebleminded. How then could it be decided whom to sterilize?
Although Darwinism doesn’t directly mention eugenics, the idea that certain individuals are superior and certain are inferior is widely believed to have been originated from there. However, it is clear that it was and is not necessary that the ordinary masses do not beget bright children. Nor was it imperative that celebrities always had future celebrities as their children. Common sense and history has provided us scores of examples to prove otherwise. Do mentally retarded parents give birth only to mentally retarded children? Of course not! Thus, eugenics remains one of the greatest blunders committed by man.
And it all started from adherence to Darwinian thought. It is also noteworthy to mention that Francis Galton is a first cousin of Charles Darwin.
Major Frauds:Piltdown Man Fraud
The Piltdown hoax is perhaps the most famous paleontological hoax in history. It has been prominent for two reasons: the attention paid to the issue of human evolution, and the length of time (more than 40 years) that elapsed from its discovery to its full exposure as a forgery. The “Piltdown Man” is famous for its finding of the remains of a previously unknown early human. The hoax find consisted of fragments of a skull and jawbone collected in 1912 from a gravel pit at Piltdown, a village in England. The fragments were thought by many experts of the day to be the fossilised remains of a hitherto unknown form of early man. The specimen even got a Latin name viz. Eoanthropus dawsoni. The significance of the specimen remained the subject of controversy until it was exposed in 1953 as a forgery, consisting of the lower jawbone of an orangutan that had been deliberately combined with the skull of a fully developed modern human.
From the British Museum’s reconstruction of the skull, Woodward proposed that Piltdown man represented an evolutionary missing link between ape and man, since the combination of a human-like cranium with an ape-like jaw tended to support the notion then prevailing in England that human evolution began with the brain.
The forgery was constructed by combining a human skull of medieval age, a 500-year-old lower jaw of a Sarawak orangutan and chimpanzee fossil teeth. The appearance of age had been created by staining the bones with an iron solution and chromic acid. Microscopic examination revealed file-marks on the teeth, and it was deduced from this someone had modified the teeth to give them a shape more suited to a human diet.
The Piltdown man fraud had a significant impact on early research on human evolution. Notably, it led scientists down a blind alley in the belief that the human brain expanded in size before the jaw adapted to new types of food. Discoveries of Australopithecine fossils found in the 1920s in South Africa were ignored owing to Piltdown man, and the reconstruction of human evolution was thrown off track for decades. The examination and debate over Piltdown man led to a vast expenditure of time and effort on the fossil, with an estimated 250+ papers written on the topic.
ERNST HAECKEL’S DRAWINGS
Ernst Haeckel had submitted drawings of the different stages of a human embryo in 1874. Haeckel emphasised the similarities unduly ;some of Haeckel’s drawings were fabricated. Haeckel rejected the claims of fraud but did admit one error which he corrected. Ludwig Rutimeyer, a professor of zoology and comparative anatomy, at the University of Basel, reviewed Haeckel’s work and Haeckel’s mistakes were brought to the attention of the professors at Jena. Charged with fraud by five professors and convicted by a university court at Jena, he agreed that a small percentage of his embryonic drawings were forgeries. Haeckel alleged he was merely filling in and reconstructing the missing links when the evidence was thin. During the trial, Haeckel confessed that he had altered his drawings, but excused himself by saying: “I should feel utterly condemned and annihilated by the admission, were it not that hundreds of the best observers and biologists lie under the same charge. The great majority of all morphological, anatomical, histological, and embryological diagrams are not true to nature, but are more or less doctored, schematized and reconstructed”.