Richard Weikart, who has provided much scholarship in the links between Darwinism, eugenics, and scientific racism, offers a review of Darwinian philosopher Michael Ruse’s new book, The problem of war: Darwinism, Christianity, and their battle to understand human conflict at Metascience:
One of the biggest problems with Ruse’s analysis is that he simply ignores or misinterprets many contrary lines of evidence. He does not cite some of the most important secondary literature on the topic, such as Mike Hawkins’s Social Darwin-ism in European and American Thought, 1860–1945. Hawkins argues, contra Ruse, that “it is important not to lose sight of the fact that Social Darwinist rationalisations of warfare did exist and were highly influential” (Hawkins 1997, 207). Ruse also never cites H. W. Koch’s essay, “Social Darwinism as a Factor in the ‘New Imperi-alism’” (Koch 1972), nor Nancy Stepan, “‘Nature’s Pruning Hook’: War, Race and Evolution, 1914–1918” (Stepan 1987). There are more omissions, but you get the point. These scholarly works are directly on topic and present evidence that runs contrary to his position, yet he seems blithely unaware of them.Richard Weikart, “Science and religion at war about war” at Metascience
Although he only uses the term “misrepresents” once, Wekart makes clear that Ruse misrepresents the participants in the discussions and in some cases makes claims that are contradicted by the facts:
Oddly, even Charles Darwin is misconstrued. In an early section of his book, Ruse properly explains that Darwin saw war as a progressive force in the past, but expressed hope that it would be unnecessary in the future. However, later in the book, Ruse stumbles. He states, “The Descent, for all that it did reflect the concerns of a middle-class, Victorian gentleman, was no clarion call to racial superiority. Darwin was explicit that when the races met and (as so often was the case) the non-Europeans suffered, it came not from intellectual or social superiority but because non-Europeans caught the strangers’ diseases, fell sick, and died” (148). This is balderdash.
In chapter 5 of Descent, where Darwin discusses human intellectual and moral faculties, he stated, “At the present day civilized nations are everywhere supplanting barbarous nations, excepting where the climate opposes a deadly barrier; and they succeed mainly, though not exclusively, through their arts, which are the products of the intellect” (Darwin 1981, 1:160).Richard Weikart, “Science and religion at war about war” at Metascience
Ruse can get away with simply misrepresenting Darwin on the subject of race. Being a Darwinist means, among other things, never having to answer critics. Critics can be dismissed, in all senses of the word. It’s true that nothing is learned but, under the circumstances, nothing need be learned.
Darwinism is the default setting for pop science culture. It will always be preferred to evidence. One must wait until that culture self-destructs.
See also: Ideologies That Devalue Human Life – With Historian Richard Weikart
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