Todd Wood: Is Evolution Racist?

I am not sure this is true… Eugenics is still alive and well… Now its main emphasis has shifted from Race to issues such as Down Syndrome.


You are pointing to the widespread practice of Racism by Christians and looking for books by people from AIG exposing that.
Your counterexample is that of a Scientist who exposes Racism in Science.

What you should be looking for is books by Christians exposing and denouncing Racism in their community.

I keep seein this tendency in you comments equating people in AIG with all American Christians. It seems to be a persistent blind spot in your thinking.

I agree with you, Ashwin. Christine Rosen of New Atlantis magazine stressed this kind of notion (that eugenics is still with us, in different forms) when she spoke on my campus about ten years ago, and so did Ed Larson of Pepperdine Law School. I mention those two people in this context, because few people today know more about eugenics than they do. Rosen wrote the splendid book, “Preaching Eugenics,” and Larson wrote (among many other excellent books) one on “Sex, Race, and Science: Eugenics in the Deep South.” In other words, they are more entitled to an opinion on this than most other people. That doesn’t make them right, of course, but their opinions ought to count more than most.


The discussion is about science on the one hand and creationists specifically on the other. I have NO doubt that many Christians have written eloquently and forcefully on matters of race. The primary movers of the civil rights movement in the 1960s were predominantly conservative Christians. So no. I’m not saying Christians don’t denounce racism.

I’m saying creationists have not expended the same amount of effort dealing the with racism within creationism as scientists have spent dealing with dealing with the racism in science. That’s all.

Also I would note there is a lot of discussion about eugenics and racism. There is an intersection of those issues but they are not necessarily the same thing.

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This is also correct. Edwin Grant Conklin, one of the eugenics supporters on that AAAS committee to oppose Bryan, had a more nuanced view of eugenics than most of his contemporaries, and criticized some of the standard scientific understanding no later than the 1920s. I have forgotten the details, but remember the broad fact of it. Nevertheless, eugenics remained scientifically viable in the professional sense well past the 1920s–you could have a career doing it. Davenport’s title at the Carnegie Institution made explicit reference to eugenics, and the term was used in the titles of scientific papers and the names of organizations. The Cold Spring Harbor lab closed only in 1939, a few years before Davenport died, and in the year of his death (1944) its records were sent to the Dight Institute Institute for the Promotion of Human Genetics at the U of Minnesota–I doubt that was simply for archival purposes, though I do not know the details of that story.

A common distinction at the time, incidentally, was eugenics vs euthenics. The former emphasized mate selection and breeding, whereas the latter emphasized child rearing and general health practices (including mental health). One could strongly buy into the latter, without necessarily supporting the former, though many folks advanced both. The negative and the positive, as it were–just as Darwin’s natural selection principle had a negative (extinction) and a positive (adaptation).

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This might be a result of how I have spoken of it. I do so, because eugenics in its heyday was hard to separate from scientific racism. There were goals behind the “good breeding” practices that reflected racist assumptions–and not just in the USA, even if we were world leaders in some aspects of eugenics. In my research on liberal Protestants and science in that period–and many promoters of eugenics were liberal Protestants–I’ve run across numerous examples of racist language in the context of advancing eugenics, far too many examples to make them trivial or merely add-ons.

It was Mendelian genetics, of course, rather than Darwinian evolution, that made eugenics more “scientific” than otherwise it would have been. But, it was evolution (in the sense of descent with modification) that gave eugenics its grand vision–the creation of a new human race that would be more advanced that we are at present, better suited to the natural environment, with higher mental capabilities and morally superior. The moral thrust is a big reason why so many liberal Protestants (and liberal Jews too) found it so attractive. Perhaps the leading popularizer of evolution and eugenics in the 1920s, West Chester Normal School naturalist Samuel Christian Schmucker, a huge name at the national and regional Chautauquas and at the American Museum in NYC, once put it like this: "Driven by a Spirit that groans and travails through all creation,” the animal and vegetable kingdoms “have steadily risen to higher and higher levels, without leaving unoccupied the lower ranks.” Out of all “has risen a creature capable of recognizing the Power which has made and is making him what he is, and filled with a striving to work towards His likeness.” “Truly,” Schmucker concluded with a nod to the apostle Paul, “it doth not yet appear what we shall be.”


As soon as it is humans choosing which traits are desirable it is no longer the theory described by Darwin. That is the bright line that separates the theory of evolution from eugenics. Humans can apply any of the knowledge we have learned about the natural world to get outcomes we want, but there is nothing inherent in any scientific theory that prescribes what outcomes humans should be choosing. More specifically, there is nothing in the theory of evolution that says which human traits should be artificially selected for, nor which traits define human worth and value.

The eugenics argument is similar to debating the use of nuclear weapons. Physics tells us we can build and use nuclear weapons, but that doesn’t tell us if we should.

I’ve never understood those who do this. Because all those people hold to some type of common ancestry. Whether it be progressive creation or YEC post-flood hyperspeciation models. Without Darwin they couldn’t begin to explain how their models work. So I’ve never understood the Darwin hate

It’s called race baiting. YECs aren’t the only ones who do it. It isn’t an appeal to reason, so it doesn’t have to make rational sense. It is an appeal to prejudice.

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A post was split to a new topic: Every Campus: The World is Fallen

And that hate is alive and well. I saw an example of FB just yesterday.

I don’t agree with this. Humans are part of the human environment, and hence we can become part of the natural selective pressures that affect our own evolution. It has analogies to both sexual and artificial selection, both of which are part of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

No, but there also isn’t anything in Darwin’s theory that says which traits nature should select for, or which traits females should find attractive. The theory only describes what happens if there is differential survival and reproduction. In so far as there is differential survival and reproduction, that is manifestly a case of Darwinian evolution. That would make eugenics a manifestation of Darwinian evolution.

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WIldlife management might be a good analogy to use. At times, we humans feel the need to micromanage ecosystems to bring them to a “natural” state when all we should do is just leave it alone and let the ecosystem recover on its own. If there are unfit traits in the human population then they will naturally decrease. We don’t have to do anything about it. If we change the human environment so that these traits are no longer unfit, then those traits are no longer unfit.

At least in my eyes, Social Darwinism and eugenics is an oxymoron. If you truly accepted Darwin’s theory then you wouldn’t do anything to the human population, just let it be.

Well that depends on the efficacy of selection in the human population. If “deleterious” traits are largely compensated for by technology and ingenuity, then they aren’t actually removed by selection. And I’m not saying this to advocate for eugenics.

But of course this raises another problem, which is what exactly we mean by unfit or deleterious? If the traits don’t actually cause people in technologically advanced societies to have lower reproductive success, then strictly speaking they aren’t deleterious in the current human environment. And then I can imagine someone who is a eugenicist say that it’s not actually about reproductive fitness at all, but instead about some other sort of “performance” ideal’(strength, endurance, intelligence bla bla), perhaps imagined to be somewhat related to Darwinian fitness, but in a different environmental context.

But now you can get a bit philosophical about it, and say that in so far as a eugenicist is controlling who gets to reproduce and who does not, the eugenicist has made certain traits be more reproductively fit than others. So in this sense it’s still Darwinian evolution, but from the perspective of an imposed, artificial selective pressure. Selective breeding. That’s de facto Darwinian evolution.

Here I have to disagree because you’re in a way buying into the sort of argument a eugenicist or “social Darwinist” might engage in, by saying that the way Darwinian evolution really works is how we should structure society.
You seem to be saying that if you believe that Darwinian evolution is true, you should “let it run it’s course” so to speak.

But it doesn’t follow that we should do any such thing. Accepting as a fact that evolution in the wild happens according to certain principles(such as Darwinian natural selection) says nothing about how we should organize society, who should get to have children or not, or anything of the sort. It’s essentially the naturalistic fallacy.


Exactly. Fitness only makes sense within the context of the environment.

A better way to put it is if the eugenicists think humanity should be subject to Darwinian evolution then they don’t need to do anything because humans are already subject to that process.

As discussed earlier, Darwinian evolution does not say which traits humans should strive for, so any traits we select have nothing to do with the theory itself because it would be deriving an Ought from an Is. If they want to invoke the Naturalistic fallacy, then humans deciding which humans should breed is contrary to their claimed goal.

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Exactly how can one make creationism racist? All of humanity was created at one point in time in God’s image.

Racism among Christians is rooted in culture and cultural identity, not creationism, and Christians have tried to read their culture into the Bible to justify their racism. But has there been anyone who makes an appeal to Genesis 1 or 2 to justify their racism?

Racism among white Christians has been horrific. I actually look forward to when “Christianity” is no longer the dominant culture and white Christians are forced to think about their identity and whether it was actually racial and cultural and had nothing or very little to do with the Bible.

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Does the Mormon Church count? Until the 1970’s blacks were were excluded from the priesthood because they bear “the mark of Cain”.

The events described in the “Black 14” occurred in my home town shortly before we moved there.

Not Genesis 1 or 2, and neither is the curse of Ham. This was a very specific requirement, possibly related to questions of the difference between Genesis 1 humans and Genesis 2 Adamites.

Genesis 4.


I just found out today that Abraham Lincoln thought all blacks should emigrate to Central America to make everything better and relieve white suffering. :sob:

Some slaves were sent back. That is the origin of the nation of Liberia.