Ideas have consequences
Social Darwinism is generally understood to use the concepts of struggle for existence and 'survival of the fittest' to justify social policies which make no distinction between those able to support themselves and those unable to support themselves.
The western nations of Europe, who now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors, and stand at the summit of civilisation, 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 anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
The text of The Descent of Man is undeniably racist. Darwin regarded the Caucasian white race to be superior to all other human races. He propagandized that negros and Aboriginal Australians were more closely related to gorillas. It's truly a monkey theory. This is called racism. See also scientific racism.
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
Social Darwinism has also motivated ideas of eugenics. Yale University professor William Graham Sumner argued that assistance to the poor actually weakens their ability to survive in society. Historian Mike Hawkins argues thatit is accurate to describe Sumner as a social Darwinist because Sumner draws directly upon evolutionary theory to explain society and dictate policy.The bible of evolution, On the Origin of Species, carries the subtitlePreservation Of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life.
Greed and inequality
Darwin's ideas also played to the dangerously receptive imaginations of certain members of Victorian society, who threw caution to the wind and hastily carried Darwinian ideals beyond the realm of basic science.
Capitalists all, they took what they thought were the lessons of Darwin's book and applied them to human society. Their hard-hearted conclusion, of which a 17th-century religious puritan might have been proud, was that people got what they deserved — albeit that the criterion of desert was genetic, rather than moral. The fittest not only survived, but prospered. Moreover, the social Darwinists thought that measures to help the poor were wasted, since such people were obviously unfit and thus doomed to sink.
It is hard to overestimate the influence of Darwinian and eugenic ideas in the Progressive Era. I believe one cannot fully understand the economic ideas that underwrote labor and immigration reform without also understanding the biological thought that crucially informed them.
Darwin, himself a member of a prosperous family of the Victorian era, certainly inspired his fellow Victorian elite to use and abuse his monkey theory to seemingly justify their greed and the inequality it caused in disfavor of the rest. How convenient and what a "coincidence" again that Darwin and his most influential fellow naturalists, who were practically all Victorian elite from wealthy families, came up with such a monkey theory. The motive is right there of course. Social Darwinism stresses competition between individuals in laissez-faire capitalism. It was used to justify the stratification of the wealthy and poor. The evolutionary worldview obviously fits into a materialistic world with ideas likesurvival of the fittest. With the rise of materialism comes the decline of morality. It is sold to the world as social Darwinism but in reality it is very anti-social.
Truly, this earth is a trophy cup for the industrious man. And this rightly so, in the service of natural selection. He who does not possess the force to secure his Lebensraum in this world, and, if necessary, to enlarge it, does not deserve to possess the necessities of life. He must step aside and allow stronger peoples to pass him by.
No, this was not Darwin, it was Hitler. In fundamental ways Hitler was influenced by Darwin and evolved similar ideas about races based on natural selection. Alan Bullock said thatThe basis of Hitler’s political beliefs was a crude Darwinism.Just like Darwin in his time, Hitler had a close relationship with a certain part of the aristocracy of his time which used his ideas and beliefs in support of their agenda. Darwin and his fellow naturalists provided the idea, Hitler and his Nazi henchmen practiced it. What happens when one believes that humans are mere animals? One starts behaving like one...
Ideas have consequences
Once the old Christian idea of a total difference in kind between man and beast has been abandoned, then no argument for experiments on animals can be found which is not also an argument for experiments on inferior men. If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing up our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies or capitalists for the same reason.
Naturalism faces a dilemma: Either humans in some sense "transcend" nature by their moral sensibility and agency, or they are mere by-products of evolution, in which case there is no ontological ground for saying they 'ought' to behave any less aggressively than other predatory creatures in the food chain who are looking out for their own good.
The belief in the idea that human beings are merely animals or descendants of animals can and will easily lead to moral relativism. Obviously, ideas have consequences. People who don't believe in a God Who will hold them accountable for their lives will certainly behave that way. Naturalism provokes these practices because if human beings do not possess a mind that transcends matter and energy there would be no point in discussing morality and every human being would ultimately be allowed to outcompete any other by whatever means available. According to a fanatic evolutionist and atheist...
According to a fanatic atheist and evolutionist...
In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
It is obvious what evolution does with people's minds. Richard Dawkins is a fanatic evolutionist. The belief in evolution will tend to lower the bar of morality, or even exclude morality from reality. Good and evil are concepts only understood by humans but many evolutionists deny their value. If evolution is true then there is no reference for morality because it ultimately originated from dead matter and nobody will be accountable for his or her deeds to a higher existence like God. But the truth is that evil exists. No sane person will argue that for example the Nazi Holocaust or Stalin's Holocaust weren't evil. Richard M. Weaver wrote a book called Ideas Have Consequences in which he wrote thatThe catastrophes of our age are the product not of necessity but of unintelligent choice.The philosophy naturalism undermines absolute morality. With the rise of materialism comes the decline of morality and naturalism plays a crucial role in this. The world is experiencing the rise of the planet of the self-proclaimed monkey descendants.
Edwin Black - War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race
Richard Weickart - From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany
C. S. Lewis - The Abolition of Man
Jerry Bergman - The Dark Side of Charles Darwin
Jerry Bergman - Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian worldview
Rutledge M. Dennis - Social Darwinism, Scientific Racism, and the Metaphysics of Race
Richard Weickart - Was Hitler Influenced by Darwinism? A Response to Robert Richards
Salon - Hitler, Darwin and the Holocaust: How the Nazis distorted the theory of evolution