History Podcasts

Darwin Theory

Darwin Theory

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

On the 24 th of November 1859, Charles Darwin published his famous work titled On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection , thus setting the basis for the development of evolutionary biology.

In this body of work, Darwin explains the theory of natural selection, which claims that all life on Earth evolved over successive generations. Of course, this postulation was not new; many ancient Greek philosophers, like Anaximander and Empedocles, had already speculated on the development of life through evolution, as well as the descent of man from animal. What Darwin did was to identify the mechanism which he termed ‘natural selection’. This means that if a member of a species develops a new characteristic then its offspring will inherit that characteristic, and if it this characteristic is favourable for survival then the members of that species which do not have that characteristic will gradually die out. Therefore, life ever evolves only towards something better.

However, advancements in science—specifically in biology, biochemistry and genetics—and the discovery and decoding of DNA in the last decade and a half, have cast doubt on Darwin’s theory as they have proven that some systems appear too complex to be a result of natural selection. This adds obscurity to the already notorious missing link in Darwin’s theory, which admits the difficulty in linking fossil records in a way that illustrates a gradual transition from one form of life to another. As more and more fossils are discovered, these gaps in the fossil records remain, causing most evolutionists to have withdrawn full support of Darwin’s theory more than twenty years ago.

An interesting article by Brian Thomas in 2011 titled “New Study Shows Enzymes Couldn't Evolve” shows that enzymes, which are highly engineered miniaturized machines, must have somehow purposefully been created instead of resulting from the random progression of chemical combinations.

In conclusion, there is not enough evidence to support Darwin’s theory as fact, and evolution is still under scientific scrutiny as it may now be understood to explain some evolutionary changes in life on Earth but not all of the creation. As a result of this lack of sequential evidence for the theory of evolution—and the discovery of the complexities of our DNA—more and more scientists are returning to the ‘God’ hypothesis of creation (and by God we mean an intelligent influence of some kind).

Related Links

Related Books

    Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin and his observations while aboard the HMS Beagle, changed the understanding of evolution on Earth.

    Biology, Earth Science, Geography, Physical Geography

    Charles Darwin

    British naturalist Charles Darwin is credited for the theory of natural selection. While he is indeed most famous, Alfred Wallace, simultaneously came to a similar conclusion and the two corresponded on the topic.

    Photograph by Chronical/Alamy Stock Photo

    Charles Darwin was born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. His father, a doctor, had high hopes that his son would earn a medical degree at Edinburgh University in Scotland, where he enrolled at the age of sixteen. It turned out that Darwin was more interested in natural history than medicine&mdashit was said that the sight of blood made him sick to his stomach. While he continued his studies in theology at Cambridge, it was his focus on natural history that became his passion.

    In 1831, Darwin embarked on a voyage aboard a ship of the British Royal Navy, the HMS Beagle, employed as a naturalist. The main purpose of the trip was to survey the coastline of South America and chart its harbors to make better maps of the region. The work that Darwin did was just an added bonus.

    Darwin spent much of the trip on land collecting samples of plants, animals, rocks, and fossils. He explored regions in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and remote islands such as the Galápagos. He packed all of his specimens into crates and sent them back to England aboard other vessels.

    Upon his return to England in 1836, Darwin&rsquos work continued. Studies of his samples and notes from the trip led to groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Fossils he collected were shared with paleontologists and geologists, leading to advances in the understanding of the processes that shape the Earth&rsquos surface. Darwin&rsquos analysis of the plants and animals he gathered led him to question how species form and change over time. This work convinced him of the insight that he is most famous for&mdashnatural selection. The theory of natural selection says that individuals of a species are more likely to survive in their environment and pass on their genes to the next generation when they inherit traits from their parents that are best suited for that specific environment. In this way, such traits become more widespread in the species and can lead eventually to the development of a new species.

    In 1859, Darwin published his thoughts about evolution and natural selection in On the Origin of Species. It was as popular as it was controversial. The book convinced many people that species change over time&mdasha lot of time&mdashsuggesting that the planet was much older than what was commonly believed at the time: six thousand years.

    Charles Darwin died in 1882 at the age of seventy-three. He is buried in Westminster Abbey in London, England.

    British naturalist Charles Darwin is credited for the theory of natural selection. While he is indeed most famous, Alfred Wallace, simultaneously came to a similar conclusion and the two corresponded on the topic.

    Slideshow: Unraveling History’s Medical Mysteries [slideshow exclude=”1746″]The man who popularized the term “survival of the fittest” was not terribly fit himself. Born into a freethinking family of English physicians in 1809, Charles Darwin suffered from a host of conditions . read more

    British naturalist Charles Darwin sets out from Plymouth, England, aboard the HMS Beagle on a five-year surveying expedition of the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Visiting such diverse places as the Galapagos Islands and New Zealand, Darwin acquired an intimate knowledge . read more


    As Darwin wrote, he posted chapters to his daughter Henrietta for editing to ensure that damaging inferences could not be drawn, and also took advice from his wife Emma. Many of the figures were drawn by the zoological illustrator T. W. Wood, who had also illustrated Wallace's The Malay Archipelago (1869). The corrected proofs were sent off on 15 January 1871 to the publisher John Murray and published on 24 February 1871 as two 450-page volumes, which Darwin insisted was one complete, coherent work, and were priced at £1 4 shillings. [1]

    Within three weeks of publication a reprint had been ordered, and 4,500 copies were in print by the end of March 1871, netting Darwin almost £1,500. [2] Darwin's name created demand for the book, but the ideas were old news. "Everybody is talking about it without being shocked," which he found, ". proof of the increasing liberality of England". [note 1]

    Editions and reprints Edit

    Darwin himself and some of his children edited many of the large number of revised editions, some extensively. In late 1873, Darwin tackled a new edition of the Descent of Man. Initially, he offered Wallace the work of assisting him, but, when Emma found out, she had the task given to their son George, so Darwin had to write apologetically to Wallace. Huxley assisted with an update on ape-brain inheritance, which Huxley thought "pounds the enemy into a jelly. though none but anatomists" would know it. The manuscript was completed in April 1874 and published on 13 November 1874, and has been the edition most commonly reprinted after Darwin's death and to the present.

    Part I: The evolution of man Edit

    Evolution of physical traits Edit

    In the introduction to Descent, Darwin lays out the purpose of his text:

    "The sole object of this work is to consider, firstly, whether man, like every other species, is descended from some pre-existing form secondly, the manner of his development and thirdly, the value of the differences between the so-called races of man."

    Darwin's approach to arguing for the evolution of human beings is to outline how similar human beings are to other animals. He begins by using anatomical similarities, focusing on body structure, embryology, and "rudimentary organs" that presumably were useful in one of man's "pre-existing" forms. He then moves on to argue for the similarity of mental characteristics.

    Evolution of mental traits Edit

    Based on the work of his cousin, Francis Galton, Darwin is able to assert that human character traits and mental characteristics are inherited the same as physical characteristics, and argues against the mind/body distinction for the purposes of evolutionary theory. From this Darwin then provides evidence for similar mental powers and characteristics in certain animals, focusing especially on apes, monkeys, and dogs for his analogies for love, cleverness, religion, kindness, and altruism. He concludes on this point that "Nevertheless the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind." He additionally turns to the behaviour of "savages" to show how many aspects of Victorian England's society can be seen in more primitive forms.

    In particular, Darwin argues that even moral and social instincts are evolved, comparing religion in man to fetishism in "savages" and his dog's inability to tell whether a wind-blown parasol was alive or not. Darwin also argues that all civilisations had risen out of barbarism, and that he did not think that barbarism is a "fall from grace" as many commentators of his time had asserted.

    Natural selection and civilised society Edit

    In this section of the book, Darwin also turns to the questions of what after his death would be known as social Darwinism and eugenics. Darwin notes that, as had been discussed by Alfred Russel Wallace and Galton, natural selection seemed to no longer act upon civilised communities in the way it did upon other animals:

    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. The aid we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected. (Chapter 5) [5]

    Darwin felt that these urges towards helping the "weak members" was part of our evolved instinct of sympathy, and concluded that "nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature". As such, '"we must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind". Darwin did feel that the "savage races" of man would be subverted by the "civilised races" at some point in the near future, as stated in the human races section below. [6] He did show a certain disdain for "savages", professing that he felt more akin to certain altruistic tendencies in monkeys than he did to "a savage who delights to torture his enemies". However, Darwin is not advocating genocide, but clinically predicting, by analogy to the ways that "more fit" varieties in a species displace other varieties, the likelihood that indigenous peoples will eventually die out from their contact with "civilization", or become absorbed into it completely. [7] [8]

    His political opinions (and Galton's as well) were strongly inclined against the coercive, authoritarian forms of eugenics that became so prominent in the 20th century. [8] Note that even Galton's ideas about eugenics were not the compulsory sterilisation which became part of eugenics in the United States, or the later genocidal programs of Nazi Germany, but rather further education on the genetic aspects of reproduction, encouraging couples to make better choices for their wellbeing.

    For each tendency of society to produce negative selections, Darwin also saw the possibility of society to itself check these problems, but also noted that with his theory "progress is no invariable rule." Towards the end of Descent of Man, Darwin said that he believed man would "sink into indolence" if severe struggle was not continuous, and thought that "there should be open competition for all men and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring", but also noted that he thought that the moral qualities of man were advanced much more by habit, reason, learning, and religion than by natural selection. The question plagued him until the end of his life, and he never concluded fully one way or the other about it.

    On the Races of Man Edit

    In the first chapters of the book, Darwin argued that there is no fundamental gap between humans and other animals in intellectual and moral faculties as well as anatomy. Retreating from his egalitarian ideas of the 1830s, he ranked life on a hierarchic scale which he extended to human races on the basis of anthropology published since 1860: human prehistory outlined by John Lubbock and Edward Burnett Tylor combined archaeology and studies of modern indigenous peoples to show progressive evolution from Stone Age to steam age the human mind as the same in all cultures but with modern "primitive" peoples giving insight into prehistoric ways of life. Darwin did not support their view that progress was inevitable, but he shared their belief in human unity and held the common attitude that male European liberalism and civilisation had progressed further in morality and intellect than "savage" peoples. [9] [10]

    He attributed the "great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies" to extinction, and as spreading civilisation wiped out wildlife and native human cultures, the gap would widen to somewhere "between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla." While there "can be no doubt that the difference between the mind of the lowest man and that of the highest animal is immense", the "difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, is certainly one of degree and not of kind." [11] [12] At the same time, all human races had many mental similarities, and early artefacts showing shared culture were evidence of evolution through common descent from an ancestral species which was likely to have been fully human. [13] [14]

    Introducing chapter seven ("On the Races of Man"), Darwin wrote "It is not my intention here to describe the several so-called races of men but to inquire what is the value of the differences between them under a classificatory point of view, and how they have originated." [15] In answering the question of whether the races should rank as varieties of the same species or count as different species, Darwin discussed arguments which could support the idea that human races were distinct species. [16] [17] This included the geographical distribution of mammal groups which was correlated with the distribution of human races, [18] and the finding of Henry Denny that different species of lice affected different races differently. [19] Darwin then presented the stronger evidence that human races are all the same species, noting that when races mixed together, they intercrossed beyond the "usual test of specific distinctness" [20] and that characteristics identifying races were highly variable. [21] He put great weight on the point that races graduate into each other, writing "But the most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other, independently in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having intercrossed", [22] and concluded that the stronger evidence was that they were not different species. [23]

    This conclusion on human unity was supported by monogenism, including John Bachman's evidence that intercrossed human races were fully fertile. Proponents of polygenism opposed unity, but the gradual transition from one race to another confused them when they tried to decide how many human races should count as species: Louis Agassiz said eight, but Morton said twenty-two. [24] [22] Darwin commented that the "question whether mankind consists of one or several species has of late years been much agitated by anthropologists, who are divided into two schools of monogenists and polygenists." The latter had to "look at species either as separate creations or as in some manner distinct entities" but those accepting evolution "will feel no doubt that all the races of man are descended from a single primitive stock". Although races differed considerably, they also shared so many features "that it is extremely improbable that they should have been independently acquired by aboriginally distinct species or races." He drew on his memories of Jemmy Button and John Edmonstone to emphasise "the numerous points of mental similarity between the most distinct races of man. The American aborigines, Negroes and Europeans differ as much from each other in mind as any three races that can be named yet I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Fuegians on board the Beagle, with the many little traits of character, shewing how similar their minds were to ours and so it was with a full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate." [25] [26] Darwin concluded that ". when the principles of evolution are generally accepted, as they surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and the polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death." [27] [28]

    Darwin rejected both the idea that races had been separately created, and the concept that races had evolved in parallel from separate ancestral species of apes. [29] He reviewed possible explanations of divergence into racial differences such as adaptations to different climates and habitats, but found inadequate evidence to support them, and proposed that the most likely cause was sexual selection, [30] a subject to which he devoted the greater part of the book to, as described in the following section.

    Early life and education

    Darwin was the second son of society doctor Robert Waring Darwin and of Susannah Wedgwood, daughter of the Unitarian pottery industrialist Josiah Wedgwood. Darwin’s other grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, a freethinking physician and poet fashionable before the French Revolution, was author of Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life (1794–96). Darwin’s mother died when he was eight, and he was cared for by his three elder sisters. The boy stood in awe of his overbearing father, whose astute medical observations taught him much about human psychology. But he hated the rote learning of Classics at the traditional Anglican Shrewsbury School, where he studied between 1818 and 1825. Science was then considered dehumanizing in English public schools, and for dabbling in chemistry Darwin was condemned by his headmaster (and nicknamed “Gas” by his schoolmates).

    His father, considering the 16-year-old a wastrel interested only in game shooting, sent him to study medicine at Edinburgh University in 1825. Later in life, Darwin gave the impression that he had learned little during his two years at Edinburgh. In fact, it was a formative experience. There was no better science education in a British university. He was taught to understand the chemistry of cooling rocks on the primitive Earth and how to classify plants by the modern “natural system.” At the Edinburgh Museum he was taught to stuff birds by John Edmonstone, a freed South American slave, and to identify the rock strata and colonial flora and fauna.

    More crucially, the university’s radical students exposed the teenager to the latest Continental sciences. Edinburgh attracted English Dissenters who were barred from graduating at the Anglican universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and at student societies Darwin heard freethinkers deny the Divine design of human facial anatomy and argue that animals shared all the human mental faculties. One talk, on the mind as the product of a material brain, was officially censored, for such materialism was considered subversive in the conservative decades after the French Revolution. Darwin was witnessing the social penalties of holding deviant views. As he collected sea slugs and sea pens on nearby shores, he was accompanied by Robert Edmond Grant, a radical evolutionist and disciple of the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. An expert on sponges, Grant became Darwin’s mentor, teaching him about the growth and relationships of primitive marine invertebrates, which Grant believed held the key to unlocking the mysteries surrounding the origin of more-complex creatures. Darwin, encouraged to tackle the larger questions of life through a study of invertebrate zoology, made his own observations on the larval sea mat (Flustra) and announced his findings at the student societies.

    The young Darwin learned much in Edinburgh’s rich intellectual environment, but not medicine: he loathed anatomy, and (pre-chloroform) surgery sickened him. His freethinking father, shrewdly realizing that the church was a better calling for an aimless naturalist, switched him to Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1828. In a complete change of environment, Darwin was now educated as an Anglican gentleman. He took his horse, indulged his drinking, shooting, and beetle-collecting passions with other squires’ sons, and managed 10th place in the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1831. Here he was shown the conservative side of botany by a young professor, the Reverend John Stevens Henslow, while that doyen of Providential design in the animal world, the Reverend Adam Sedgwick, took Darwin to Wales in 1831 on a geologic field trip.

    Fired by Alexander von Humboldt’s account of the South American jungles in his Personal Narrative of Travels, Darwin jumped at Henslow’s suggestion of a voyage to Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of South America, aboard a rebuilt brig, HMS Beagle. Darwin would not sail as a lowly surgeon-naturalist but as a self-financed gentleman companion to the 26-year-old captain, Robert Fitzroy, an aristocrat who feared the loneliness of command. Fitzroy’s was to be an imperial-evangelical voyage: he planned to survey coastal Patagonia to facilitate British trade and return three “savages” previously brought to England from Tierra del Fuego and Christianized. Darwin equipped himself with weapons, books (Fitzroy gave him the first volume of Principles of Geology, by Charles Lyell), and advice on preserving carcasses from London Zoo’s experts. The Beagle sailed from England on December 27, 1831.

    In 1801, French zoologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck suggested a theory for evolution based on the development of new traits in response to a changing environment. His theory was that variation is acquired, and it involved two ideas:

    1. A characteristic which is used more and more by an organism becomes bigger and stronger during its lifetime, and one that is not used eventually disappears

    2. Any feature of an organism that is improved through use in that organism’ is passed to its offspring.

    On the right is an example of Lamarck’s theory on giraffes. We now know that this evolutionary theory is wrong. Organisms cannot pass on skills or traits to their offspring. Only the traits that are linked to their DNA can be passed to their offspring.

    The Institute for Creation Research

    The racism of evolution theory has been documented well and widely publicized. It is known less widely that many evolutionists, including Charles Darwin, also taught that women are biologically inferior to men. Darwin's ideas, including his view of women, have had a major impact on society. In a telling indication of his attitude about women (just before he married his cousin, Emma Wedgewood), Darwin listed the advantages of marrying, which included: ". . . constant companion, (friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, object to be beloved and played with&mdashbetter than a dog anyhow&mdashHome, and someone to take care of house . . ." (Darwin, 1958:232,233).

    Darwin reasoned that as a married man he would be a "poor slave, . . . worse than a Negro," but then reminisces that, "one cannot live the solitary life, with groggy old age, friendless . and childless staring in one's face. " Darwin concludes his discussion on the philosophical note, "there is many a happy slave" and shortly thereafter, married (1958:234).

    Darwin concluded that adult females of most species resembled the young of both sexes and from this and the other evidence, "reasoned that males are more evolutionarily advanced than females" (Kevles, 1986:8). Many anthropologists contemporary to Darwin concluded that "women's brains were analogous to those of animals," which had "overdeveloped" sense organs "to the detriment of the brain" (Fee, 1979:418). Carl Vogt, a University of Geneva natural history professor who accepted many of "the conclusions of England's great modern naturalist, Charles Darwin," argued that "the child, the female, and the senile white" all had the intellect and nature of the "grown up Negro" (1863:192). Many of Darwin's followers accepted this reasoning, including George Romanes, who concluded that evolution caused females to become, as Kevles postulated:

    . . . increasingly less cerebral and more emotional. Romanes . . . shared Darwin's view that females were less highly evolved than males&mdashideas which he articulated in several books and many articles that influenced a generation of biologists. Romanes apparently saw himself as the guardian of evolution, vested with a responsibility to keep it on the right path. . . . University of Pennsylvania . . . paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope wrote that male animals play a "more active pan in the struggle for existence," and that all females, as mothers, have had to sacrifice growth for emotional strength . . . (Kevles, 1986:8,9).

    One reason nineteenth century biologists argued for women's inferiority was because Darwin believed that "unchecked female militancy threatened to produce a perturbance of the races" and to "divert the orderly process of evolution" (Fee, 1979:415).

    Darwin taught that human sex differences were due partly to sexual selection, specifically because men must prove themselves physically and intellectually superior to other men in the competition for women, whereas women must be superior primarily in sexual attraction. Darwin used examples of cultures that require the men to fight competitors to retain their wives to support this conclusion. Because "the strongest party always carries off the prize," the result is that "a weak man, unless he be a good hunter . . . is seldom permitted to keep a wife that a stronger man thinks worth his notice" (1896:562).

    Other examples Darwin uses to illustrate his conclusion that evolutionary forces caused men to be superior to women included animal comparisons. Since humans evolved from animals, and "no one disputes that the bull differs in disposition from the cow, the wild-boar from the sow, the stallion from the mare, and, as is well known through the keepers of menageries, the males of the larger apes from the females," the same must be true with human females (Darwin, 1896:563). Further, some of the traits of women "are characteristic of the lower races, and anti therefore of a past and lower state of civilization" (1896:563,564). In summary, Darwin concludes that men attain,

    . . . a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women&mdashwhether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive of both composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on "Hereditary Genius" that . . . the average of mental power in man must be above that of women (Darwin, 1896:564).

    Obviously, Darwin totally ignored the influence of culture, the environment, social roles, and the relatively few opportunities that existed in his day, as well as historically, for both men and women.

    The conclusion that women are evolutionarily inferior to men is at the core of Darwin's major contribution to evolutionary theory: natural anti-sexual selection. Since selection in the long term prunes out the weak, all factors which facilitate saving the weak work against evolution. Males are subjected to more selection pressures than women, including the supposed tack that, in earlier times, the stronger, quicker, and more intelligent males were more apt to survive a hunt and bring back food. Consequently, natural selection would evolve males to a greater degree than females. Since women historically have focused primarily on domestic, often menial, repetitive tasks and not on hunting, they were less affected by selection pressures. Further, the long tradition of males has been to protect women: only men went to battle, and the common war norms forbade deliberately killing women. War pruned the weaker men, and only the best survived to return home and reproduce. The eminent evolutionist, Topinard, concluded that men were superior because they fought to protect both themselves and their wives and their families. Further, Topinard taught that males have

    all of the responsibility and the cares of tomorrow [and are] . . . constantly active in combating the environment and human rivals, and thus need] . . . more brains than the woman whom he must protect and nourish . . . the sedentary women, lacking any interior occupations, whose role is to raise children, love, and be passive (quoted in Gould, 1981:104).

    Women's inferiority&mdasha fact taken for granted by most scientists in the 1800s&mdashwas a major proof of evolution by natural selection. Gould claims that there were actually "few egalitarian scientists" at this time. Almost all believed that "Negroes and women" were intellectually inferior. These scientists were not repeating prejudices without extensive work and thought they were attempting to verify this major plank in evolutionary theory by trying to prove, scientifically, that women were inferior.

    One approach which was seized upon to substantiate that females were generally inferior to males was to prove that their brain capacity was smaller. Researchers first endeavored to demonstrate empirically that female cranial capacity was smaller, and then that brain capacity was related to intelligence, a more difficult task (Van Valen, 1974:417-423).

    Among the numerous researchers that used craniology to "prove" the intellectual inferiority of women, one of the most eminent was Paul Broca (1824-1880). One of Europe's "most prestigious anthropologists" and a leader in the development of physical anthropology as a science, Broca, in 1859, founded the prestigious Anthropological Society (Fee, 1979:415). A major preoccupation of the society then was measuring various human traits, including skulls to "delineate human groups and assess their relative worth" (Gould, 1981:83). Broca's conclusion was that human brains are:

    . . . larger in mature adults than in the elderly, in men than in women, in eminent men than in men of mediocre talent, in superior races than in inferior races . . . other things equal, there is a remarkable relationship between the development of intelligence and the volume of the brain (Gould, 1981, p. 83).

    And, as Gould notes, Broca's research was not superficial: "One cannot read Broca without gaining enormous respect for his care in generating data" (1981:85).

    Broca was especially concerned about proving women's inferiority to men: "Of all his comparisons between groups, Broca collected most information on the brains of women vs. men . . ." (Gould, 1981:103). He concluded that ''the relatively small size of the female brain depends in part upon her physical inferiority and in part upon her intellectual inferiority" (Gould, 1981:104). Broca also concluded that the disparity between men's and women's brains was still becoming even greater, which he explained was the "result of differing evolutionary pressures upon dominant men and passive women" (Gould, 1981:104).

    These views were expounded by many of the most prominent evolutionists of Darwin's day. The thunder of the field of social psychology and a pioneer in the collective behavior field was Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931). This scientist, whose classic study of crowd behavior (The Crowd 1895) is familiar to every social science student, wrote that even in:

    . . . the most intelligent races . . . are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment only its degree is worth discussion. . . . Women . . . represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and . . . are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconsistency, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without a doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads consequently, we may neglect them entirely (Gould, 1981:104,105).

    Re-evaluation of the conclusion that females were less intelligent found major flaws both in the evidence that "proved" women's inferiority and in major aspects of evolution theory.

    Fisher even argues that the whole theory of natural selection is questionable, quoting Chomsky's words that:

    . . . the processes by which the human mind achieved its present state of complexity . . . are a total mystery. . . . It is perfectly safe to attribute this development to "natural selection," so long as we realize that there is no substance to this assertion, that it amounts to nothing more than a belief that there is some naturalistic explanation for these phenomena (1972:97).

    Another method used to attack the female-inferiority conclusion of evolution was to attack the evidence of evolutionary theory itself. Fisher, for example, makes the following observation:

    The difficulties of postulating theories about human origins on the actual brain organization of our presumed fossil ancestors, with only a few limestone impregnated skulls&mdashmost of them bashed, shattered, and otherwise altered by the passage of millions of years&mdashas evidence, would seem to be astronomical (1979:113).

    Actually, many of the attempts to disprove the evolutionary view that women are intellectually inferior to men attacked the core of evolutionary theory because it is inexorably bound with human-group inferiority, which must exist, from which natural selection may select. The inferiority-of-women conclusion was so ingrained in biology, Morgan concludes, that thinkers in this area tended to "sheer away from the sole subject of biology and origins," hoping they could ignore it and "concentrate on ensuring that in the future things will be different" (Morgan, 1972:2). She stresses that we cannot ignore evolutionary biology, though, because believing the "jungle heritage and the evolution of man as a hunting carnivore has taken root in man's mind as firmly as Genesis ever did." She concludes that evolution must be reevaluated, and that scientists have "sometimes gone astray" because of prejudice and philosophical prescriptions. She argues that the prominent evolutionary view that women are biologically inferior to men must be challenged, and in this and scores of other works that preceded her, dozens of writers have adroitly overturned the conclusion that women are biologically inferior to men, and, by so doing, have undermined a major plank in evolutionism.

    Chomsky, Noam. 1972. Language and Mind. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World.

    Darwin, Charles. 1896. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. New York: D. Appleton and Company.

    -----. (Nora Barlow, Ed.). 1958. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809-1882. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

    Dyer, Gwynne. 1985. War. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.

    Fee, Elizabeth. 1979. "Nineteenth-Century Craniology: The Study of the Female Skull." Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 53:415-433.

    Fisher, Elizabeth. 1979. Woman's Creation: Sexual Evolution and the Shaping of Society. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday.

    Gould, Stephen Jay. 1981. The Mismeasure of Man. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

    Kevics, Beltyann. 1986. Females of the Species: Sex and Survival in the Animal Kingdom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Morgan, Elaine. 1972. The Descent of Woman. New York: Stein and Day.

    Van Valen, Leigh. 1974. "Brain Size and Intelligence in Man." American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 40:417 423.

    * Dr. Bergman is on the science faculty at Northwest State College, Ohio.

    Cite this article: Bergman, J. 1994. Darwin's Teaching of Women's Inferiority. Acts & Facts. 23 (3).

    Social Darwinism

    Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

    Social Darwinism, the theory that human groups and races are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin perceived in plants and animals in nature. According to the theory, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the weak were diminished and their cultures delimited while the strong grew in power and cultural influence over the weak. Social Darwinists held that the life of humans in society was a struggle for existence ruled by “survival of the fittest,” a phrase proposed by the British philosopher and scientist Herbert Spencer.

    The social Darwinists—notably Spencer and Walter Bagehot in England and William Graham Sumner in the United States—believed that the process of natural selection acting on variations in the population would result in the survival of the best competitors and in continuing improvement in the population. Societies were viewed as organisms that evolve in this manner.

    The theory was used to support laissez-faire capitalism and political conservatism. Class stratification was justified on the basis of “natural” inequalities among individuals, for the control of property was said to be a correlate of superior and inherent moral attributes such as industriousness, temperance, and frugality. Attempts to reform society through state intervention or other means would, therefore, interfere with natural processes unrestricted competition and defense of the status quo were in accord with biological selection. The poor were the “unfit” and should not be aided in the struggle for existence, wealth was a sign of success. At the societal level, social Darwinism was used as a philosophical rationalization for imperialist, colonialist, and racist policies, sustaining belief in Anglo-Saxon or Aryan cultural and biological superiority.

    Social Darwinism declined during the 20th century as an expanded knowledge of biological, social, and cultural phenomena undermined, rather than supported, its basic tenets.

    Galapagos Islands

    Charles Darwin and the rest of the HMS Beagle crew spent only five weeks in the Galapagos Islands, but the research performed there and the species Darwin brought back to England were instrumental in the formation of a core part of the original theory of evolution and Darwin's ideas on natural selection which he published in his first book . Darwin studied the geology of the region along with giant tortoises that were indigenous to the area.

    Perhaps the best known of Darwin's species he collected while on the Galapagos Islands were what are now called "Darwin's Finches". In reality, these birds are not really part of the finch family and are thought to probably actually be some sort of blackbird or mockingbird. However, Darwin was not very familiar with birds, so he killed and preserved the specimens to take back to England with him where he could collaborate with an ornithologist.

    How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Changed the World

    Evolutionary thinking is all around us. Anytime we visit a zoo or natural history museum, watch a nature program or read a science or wildlife magazine, we will likely be exposed to evolutionary concepts.

    In most public schools and universities, evolution is a major part of the biology and science curricula. We&rsquore bombarded from nearly every avenue with the idea that life originated by chance and eventually developed into the organisms we see today.

    It&rsquos had a major effect on our society. A 2019 Pew Research Center study reported that a total of 81 percent of American adults believe in evolution. This includes 33 percent who hold that humans evolved due to processes like natural selection with no involvement by a Creator, along with 48 percent who think human evolution occurred through processes guided or allowed by a higher power.

    Rewind 160 years to the beginning of Darwin&rsquos theory of evolution

    Historically speaking, the belief in evolution is a relatively new phenomenon. Throughout the history of Western civilization, people in most cultures believed that humankind and all forms of life were specially created by God (or other deities, albeit false).

    It wasn&rsquot until 1859, when British scientist Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species, that the public began to think otherwise. This was a major turning point in history, because it influenced people&rsquos decisions to turn their backs on God, the Bible and religion.

    In his book, Charles Darwin outlined the basics of his evolutionary theory. He claimed that animal and plant species have changed over time and will continue to change, giving rise to new, more advanced species. He contended that evolutionary changes were a result of natural selection, meaning the organisms with the most advantageous inheritable traits survive and reproduce at a higher rate than weaker individuals, perpetuating the strongest variations and eliminating the unfavorable ones.

    Eventually, Darwin reasoned, this could result in a species changing enough of its characteristics to develop into a totally new creature. He maintained that ultimately all life-forms are related, from finches to monkeys to tulips, sharing a common single-celled ancestor that existed millions of years ago.

    Human beings weren&rsquot directly addressed in Origin of Species, yet Darwin was convinced that natural selection also applied to mankind. For that reason, he wrote another book. Darwin&rsquos The Descent of Man was published in 1871.

    He stated his purpose in Chapter 2: &ldquoto show that there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties.&rdquo He insisted that humans are just another type of animal, not much different from the great apes, except for the acquisition of a few beneficial traits.

    Charles Darwin wasn&rsquot the first to espouse evolutionary concepts. A number of scientists before him entertained the notion that species could evolve, but had no plausible hypothesis for what caused the changes. It was Darwin&rsquos theory of evolution by natural selection that provided the world&rsquos scientists and philosophers with the explanation to &ldquoprove&rdquo in their minds that evolutionary changes could occur and had indeed happened.

    Paving the way for disbelief

    Today evolutionists hail Charles Darwin as a hero of discovery. But for those who believe in God and that the Bible is His infallible Word, Darwin&rsquos ideas are hardly something to celebrate. Darwinism seeks to explain all the wonder, beauty and variety we see in nature without a supernatural Creator. For those who are so inclined, this means the whole concept of God can be done away with.

    Darwinism seeks to explain all the wonder, beauty and variety we see in nature without a supernatural Creator. A move toward secularism started building in Europe during the mid-19th century, right about the time Darwin wrote Origin of Species. Secularism is the belief that mankind does not need God or His laws. It is based on the philosophy known as naturalism, meaning there is no spirit realm and physical matter is all that exists.

    Secularists want religion and all references to God and the Bible out of schools, governmental bodies and public life. Darwinism provided them with the fuel to spread their ideology far and wide. Sadly, that&rsquos exactly what has happened.

    Once the Bible is no longer the basis for understanding our lives, life ultimately becomes meaningless. The only purpose evolutionists can claim for human existence is survival&mdashto get whatever they can for themselves in this life (since they do not envision an afterlife) and reproduce and pass on their genes.

    Naturalist Chet Raymo admits as much in his book Skeptics and True Believers (1998). He explains that Darwin&rsquos theory of evolution teaches that &ldquoour lives are brief and inconsequential in the cosmic scheme of things&rdquo (p. 110). He also proposes that Darwinism is a major reason the scientific community concluded years ago that, in the words of Steven Weinberg, &ldquothe more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless&rdquo (p. 154).

    Evolutionists don&rsquot believe what the Bible clearly spells out: that God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:27) with a special plan in mind&mdashto bring &ldquomany sons to glory&rdquo (Hebrews 2:10-11)&mdashand that the purpose for our lives is to prepare for future roles in God&rsquos eternal Kingdom.

    What about theistic evolution?

    Darwinism is opposed to God&rsquos truths. Yet there are those who try to integrate evolutionary theory with the biblical creation account. Known as theistic evolutionists, they believe God created the universe and everything in it, but did so using evolutionary processes over billions of years.

    Both concepts can&rsquot be true. Trying to reconcile them leads to the idea that there wasn&rsquot a literal creation over a set period of time, and that the biblical creation account is merely metaphorical. This paves the way for disbelieving other parts of the Bible as well.

    Like traditional evolution, theistic evolution reduces God&rsquos Word to insignificance and opens the door to ungodly thinking. (See our online article &ldquoTheistic Evolution.&rdquo)

    Immorality&mdashthe unavoidable result of Darwin&rsquos theory of evolution

    When society stops believing in God and the Bible, people start deciding for themselves how to live. They no longer recognize God&rsquos laws as binding or believe they are accountable to Him. The inevitable outcome is a decline in morality.

    Some people are actually drawn to evolution because it gives them a reason to not believe in God and thus free themselves of moral restraints.

    Writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley, an ardent proponent of Darwinism, stated candidly in his 1937 essay Ends and Means: &ldquoFor myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was &hellip from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.&rdquo

    The apostle Paul addresses this mind-set in Romans 1:28-29. He warns us that rejecting God leads to a &ldquodebased mind&rdquo and, in turn, unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit and evil-mindedness.

    There are other ways, too, that espousing Darwinism can lead to ungodly behavior. Some reason that if mankind is evolving, it follows that what&rsquos right and good also changes. Therefore, morality must be relative to the conditions of life at any given time&mdashspurring the thinking that there are no fixed rules we must live by.

    Social Darwinism

    Others have applied Darwin&rsquos biological theory to how people interact with each other. This is known as social Darwinism. The thinking is, if animals and plants are locked in a struggle for existence, preserving the strong and eradicating the weak, this same process of &ldquosurvival of the fittest&rdquo also applies to societies.

    Social Darwinism has been used to try to excuse some of mankind’s most corrupt and vile practices, including cutthroat business competition, corporate greed, eugenics, racism and genocide. Social Darwinism has been used to try to excuse some of mankind&rsquos most corrupt and vile practices, including cutthroat business competition, corporate greed, eugenics, racism and genocide. These have all been justified under the guise of it being natural to exploit, crush and eliminate weaker individuals and businesses.

    The most infamous application of social Darwinism was when Adolf Hitler tried to justify killing millions of Jews&mdashwhom he saw as &ldquounfit&rdquo&mdashand establish his master Aryan race.

    Darwin himself was critical of society&rsquos efforts to help the impoverished and sickly. He wrote in Chapter 5 of The Descent of Man that these practices were &ldquohighly injurious to the race of man.&rdquo Darwin believed natural selection should be allowed to run its course for those who were destined to be eliminated. That is the terrible, but logical conclusion of Darwinism.

    Nothing &ldquoright&rdquo about evolution

    The truth is, nothing good can come from accepting Darwin&rsquos theory of evolution or its modern adaptations. It is a cruel, depressing and hopeless approach to our existence. Without knowing that we have a loving God who&rsquos in control and that there&rsquos an incredible purpose to our lives, it is impossible to have a truly positive outlook.

    Moreover, no culture can survive when individuals make their own rules and live for themselves.

    Ruthless competition at the expense of others is the exact opposite of how God wants mankind to live. The Bible instructs the strong to help the weak (Romans 15:1-3).

    The other major problem with Darwin&rsquos theory of evolution is that it&rsquos unprovable. If evolution were true, there should be abundant evidence in the fossil records of transitional forms between species and proof of new species developing in the wild&mdashbut there isn&rsquot. The only proof has been for microevolution&mdashadaptation, or minor changes within existing species&mdashwhich we do not dispute. (See our online article &ldquoMicroevolution vs. Macroevolution.&rdquo)

    Furthermore, neither Darwin nor any other scientist has been able to come up with a credible answer for where the original single-celled organism came from.

    Still, many people cling to the idea of evolution and insist it&rsquos true. This is to be expected. Romans 8:7 says that &ldquothe carnal mind is enmity against God.&rdquo Human nature would rather believe there is no God and no purpose for life, rather than submit to a higher power.

    The Bible tells us that &ldquoscoffers will come in the last days&rdquo (2 Peter 3:3). There will be those who doubt God&rsquos existence and ridicule those who don&rsquot believe in evolution, right up until the time Christ returns.

    But that&rsquos when the scoffers and all of mankind will learn the truth&mdashthat we do have a Creator, and submitting to Him is the only way to a truly happy, meaningful existence.


    1. Yeshurun

      I consider, that you commit an error. I can defend the position.

    2. Johnathan

      I am sorry, that I interrupt you, there is an offer to go on other way.

    3. Crowell

      In my opinion you are not right. I am assured. Write to me in PM.

    4. Vudojind

      What a curious topic

    Write a message