Darwin and Malthus
“All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”
Social Darwinism, taken to the extreme, can manifest in cruel ways. It can be seen as opposed to helping the disabled or the poor, arguing that many such people are less fit to survive than the main populace. If one views certain people groups as more or less highly evolved, it can also lead to the justification of racist ideas.
In response, some evolutionists have joined the criticism of Social Darwinism. They have argued that Darwinism is a scientific principle and that it is not necessary, or even desirable, to apply Darwinism as a social practice. Popular atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins has said: “What we need is a truly anti-Darwinian society. Anti-Darwinian in the sense that we don’t wish to live in a society where the weakest go to the wall, where the strongest suppress the weak, and even kill the weak.”
The problem with a denial of Social Darwinism by Darwinists is that Darwin was a Social Darwinist. In his critical biography of Charles Darwin, A.N. Wilson has pointed out that Darwin was as much influenced by Malthus as by Lyell.
It was Thomas Malthus who argued that increased resources and care for the poor would lead to a burdensome increase in population, thus wiping out the benefits. This supposed population problem is therefore known as the Malthusian Catastrophe. Malthus’s opposition to care for the poor was to influence Darwin’s views on the mechanism of animal evolution.
It is no mistake that God created mankind in complete contrast to the way he created animals. This separate creation emphasizes our unique status before Him.
Prayer: I thank You for the privileges with which You have endowed me and ask that I may have Your heart for those who are in need. Amen.
Ref: Wilson, A.N. (2017), Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker, (Harper). Image: Thomas Malthus (1766 – 1834), license: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.
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