Was Charles Darwin a Racist?

Right, I only heard it from a real old timer. Google the name: Ithi Junger.

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It seems one learns something new every day. Sadly, in this case.


By the way, a point I forgot to mention in my earlier post was this.

Darwin was, no doubt, well aware of the activities of some of his fellow humans. Not least the activities of several of his fellow Britons, who at the time were pursuing colonialism and imperialism with frightening vigour. History teaches us that on numerous occasions, said pursuit of colonialism and imperialism involved lethal military force.

Even given the quaint and archaic prose he chose to deploy in his writings, it’s obvious to any honest reader of his work, that he regarded the likely elimination of indigenous peoples as a tragic, brute fact, and not, as sleazily asserted by creationists, some sort of desirable future objective. He saw the writing on the wall in an age where the first ironclad warships were still new technology, and breech loading artillery an experimental development. He was well aware that some would use these tools for conquest and resource theft, and that indigenous peoples armed with little more than bows and arrows would find themselves fighting a harrowingly unequal war.

Indeed, his view that imperialists would eventually erase indigenous peoples from the face of the Earth, has taken a new twist in recent years, with the advent of wars fought for resources by states acting on behalf of global corporations, and the use thereby of barely controlled mercenary armies.

But, in his day, his prediction was being made all the more tragically likely, by, wait for it, Christian missionaries sent out from imperial Britain to “convert” the natives. These missionaries acted with uncontrolled zeal to eliminate indigeous cultures, and replace them with a slavish devotion to a carefully cultivated religiosity, the real aim of which was to pave the way for imperial conquest. Those same missionaries were also ready to call upon military assistance to deal with any recalcitrant resistance to conversion.

One doesnt have to exert much effort, to learn how the Christian religion was weaponised in pursuit of colonial and imperial conquest, not just by the overlords of the British Empire of course. Spain had been involved in the same business since the time of Columbus, and even elementary history textbooks cover such topics as, for example, the Conquistadors, and the manner in which they effectively wiped out at least three Mesoamerican indigenous civilisations. A process conducted, of course, at least three centuries before Darwin was born.

Racism, and the verminous pressing into service thereof for reasons of conquest and political control, has been a festering sore upon human history for a very long time, and Abrahamic religions have their fair share of indulgence therein to account for. Indeed, the whole “Hamitic Races” garbage was wielded on a grand scale by the Ku Klux Klan, which was erected specifically as a Christian and creationist organisation. This particular piece of venomous nonsense is still peddled today in Ken Ham’s sleazy “creation museum”.

Finally, I’ll mention a basic fact about evolutionary biology, though doing so will be superfluous to the honest readers of my posts, namely, that what evolutionary biology teaches us, is that genetic diversity is an essential protection against extinction. Failure to maintain genetic diversity in a population weakens it, someties fatally, and the scientific data informing us of this is voluminous. Indeed, those who read Darwin’s works properly also become aware of this fact.

Variation is the fuel for evolution, and the farcical “monoculture” view of people like Hitler is so violently at variance with this fact, that only a fool or a liar could possibly claim that Hitler based his racial policies no the work of Darwin, even in the absence of the other issues I’ve presented above. The manner in which European royal families became inbred, sometimes to the point of producing heirs that were visibly riddled with deleterious mutations, teaches us this lesson even if no other source of data is examined - the Habsburgs in particular left a frankly scary legacy in this vein.

Though once again, I predict that facts of this sort will be ignored by the usual suspects.

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Oh, and as for what Darwin really thought about “races”, let s turn to pages 214-216 of The Descent of Man, viz:

Note how he opened that exposition with the words “the several so-called races of men”. Already, he was starting to think in terms of differentiating between superficial and rigorous characteristics. Indeed, I’ll repeat this part of his exposition, because it provides a valuable insight:

Oh look, possibly the first explicit statement in the history of science, of the biological species concept.

Now I’ll admit that I only had the “light bulb” moment with respect to this about ten minutes ago, while looking for more refutations of the “Darwin was racist” bullshit and lies, but while looking for the requisite passages, that one suddenly stood out for the reason I’ve just given.

You’ll also notice that he manifestly regards so-called “racial differences” as superficial from the standpoint of actual biology, in the last paragraph of his exposition. Unlike actual racists.

Later on, we have this, from page 226:

Incidentally, footnote 17 reads as follows:

See a good discussion on this subject in Waitz, ‘Introduct. to Anthropology,’ Eng. translat. 1863, p. 198-208, 227. I have taken some of the above statements from H. Tuttle’s ‘Origin and Antiquity of Physical Man,’ Boston, 1866, p. 35.

Oh look, honest citation of prior art. Something else we never see in mythology fanboy apologetics.

Oh, and pages 227 and 228 cover some of the issues that have faced taxonomists ever since Linnaeus launched the discipline as a rigorous scientific enterprise, and which even today, sometimes results in consternation among the taxonomic fraternity until the sledgehammer of DNA analysis is brought to bear on the matter.

Indeed, as an invertebrate zoologist, I’m aware of a particualrly fascinating example of the issues involved, courtesy of a South American butterfly known as Styx infernalis. This species ended up with this taxonomic designation for a reason - namely, that an analysis of its detailed anatomy, revealed this insect to be, in effect, a “parts bin” special, containing features found in four different Lepidoptera Families. Over the past 100 years or so, this unfortunate insect has been causing taxonomists to scratch their heads with respect to its exact Family placement, hence it being handed a taxonomic name effectively translating as “the butterfly from Hell”.

Staudniger originally placed this insect in the Pieridae, whereupon a re-examination led to it being moved to the now defunct Family Erycinidae. Ehrlich classified it as part of the Lycaenidae, in a SubFamily called the Styginae, while one worker in the field proposed that it be classified in its own unique Family, the Stygidae. Other workers proposed that it reside in the Riodinidae, where it enjoyed a tenuous status until DNA analysis was brought to bear upon it, which finally cemented its place in the Riodnidae, but with a twist - instead of being in the SubFamily Euselasinae, where almost all of the other South American members of the Family are placed, it was found to be part of the SubFamily Nemeobiinae, which is of Old World origin and distribution.

Now if this sort of hoo-ha can arise from a butterfly, it should come as no surprise that a species as diverse in apperance as Homo sapiens should have caused 19th century taxonomists some headaches.

Once again, the data is informative here.


Uh, hey… Uh, where can I get some of those? (Asking for a friend.)


Thanks for posting. Sorry for the inappropriate post.

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Well, they are baked in Washington DC, but distributed in New Orleans…

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You forgot Hitler ice cream cones:

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We’re all guilty by association claims the man who worships a god who is a genocidal, baby killing, tyrant.
None of us think Darwin is infallible and right about everything.


A spectacularly silly claim, but it’s not all bad, you seem to have invented a new word at least.


None taken. As long as you don’t mention anything about “spit” :slight_smile:


Let me guess, racism is awful… Darwin may have been racist, therefore the theory of evolution and darwinian natural selection are awful.

That’s right up there with Isaac Newton hated people with asthma, therefore hes a bigoted anti-weezy-ist and the laws of gravity should no longer apply.

Come on, come up with something original, this bollocks is the sort of 4th rate views one would expect from muppets like Kent Hovind.


Exactly, it’s another of those tedious poisoning of the well fallacies creationist seem to love.


Very well said Sheldon.

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The University of Arizona website I cited above is now defunct. However, its contents are replicated in full at this address.

Scroll down to the part covering page 279 of Die Bücherei, and read both the original German text of section 6, and the accompanying English translation, which I quoted in full above.

I suspect we won’t see any mythology fanboys exhibit this sort of diligence in the foreseeable future …

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Meanwhile, I’ve compiled another Google Docs document, dealing with the two egregious creationist lies peddled in this thread. Interested readers can find it here:

I’ve xepanded upon my critique in that document, and I suspect the regulars will find the expanded critique useful.


I’m wondering who said Darwin was not racist. Promoting Nazism on the other hand would be very difficult to prove. Darwin probably held some racist views, it would be up to you to demonstrate those. However, the entire culture of the time likely held similar views, and you would be hard-pressed to demonstrate Darwin to be any more radical than his environment. On the other hand, you have this:

“But Darwin was an early opponent of slavery and, precisely because he identified a common origin in nature, he did more than anybody to debunk the notion that different races belong to different species.”

I think the OP is confounding “Social Darwinism” with Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Many historians recognize Hitler to be a Social Darwinist. There is no science backing the theory of social Darwinism. Social Darwinism in the hands of the Nazis stressed the immutability of the German race. They did not believe in “EVOLUTION.” Remember the Nazis were “God’s Chosen Race,” and their destiny was to rule the world. Social Darwinism and its “Survival of the Fittest” had no grounding in the scientific theory of Darwin’s theory of “Natural Selection.” “Survival of the Fittest” did not mean the same thing in Darwin’s theory as it did in Social Darwinism.

According to Darwin: Survival of the fittest: organisms best adjusted to their environment are the most successful in surviving and reproducing

Social Darwinism: Survival of the fittest: the idea that certain people become powerful in society because they are innately better . Social Darwinism has been used to justify imperialism, racism, eugenics and social inequality at various times over the past century and a half.

As previously shown - Darwin’s theory showed everyone with a common ancestor. No one was innately better than anyone else. Evolution was not a journey from point A. to point B. but a process of adaptation to the environment in which a species found itself. There is no higher or lower. There is just survival in an environment.

Good luck demonstrating Darwin was prejudiced.


Indeed, the postulate that all living organisms are related to each other via inheritance is probably the biggest blow to racism that’s ever been dealt.


I assume that you mean that Darwin’s ideas should be suspect and/or tossed out because he was a flawed human being?

We are all flawed. Does this mean that one shouldn’t contribute to society unless one is perfect?


He’s a using a false equivalence fallacy, comparing ideas that are subjective opinion, with ideas that have been rigorously tested and evidenced, because they (allegedly) come from the same person.

A popular version of this is where religious apologists use appeal to authority fallacies, by citing the subjective unevidenced religious beliefs of elite scientists, as if those beliefs have equal merit as their scientific ideas. IN this example @sprinterforchrist is reversing the fallacy and comparing scientific ideas to flawed subjective beliefs to decry the scientific idea that contradicts the creation myth Genesis, you have to see the irony of apologists both decrying scientific ideas they don’t like, because scientists hold flawed subjective beliefs, and trying to lend some gravitas to their own flawed subjective religious beliefs by attaching them to scientists.