RE: [asa] Re: Campolo gets it wrong

From: Jon Tandy <>
Date: Sun Mar 01 2009 - 23:37:27 EST

Thanks Charles, those are some good take-away quotes. Good question, asking
for quotes with chapter and verse to the contrary. Anyone?

At least from these quotes, it seems clear that Darwin was not only against
slavery, but against infanticide and genocide "to every one not of their own
small tribe".

Oh, and that the more prudent, gifted, and moral among us should have more
children in order to help ensure the survival of their kind.

Jon Tandy

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Austerberry, Charles
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 6:28 PM
Subject: [asa] Re: Campolo gets it wrong

Dear Colleagues:

First, let me say that I appreciate Campolo's admission that common descent
(including humans) is compatible with Christianity. Maybe it took courage
for him to voice such a view in CT.

Second, let me say that Campolo clearly hates racism, and correctly sees it
as completely contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But third, I need to get something off my chest.

I am disgusted by how Campolo represents Darwin's views. Either he did not
read The Descent of Man, or he did not understand what he read, or
worse. Essentially, Campolo takes Darwin's predictions and portrays
them as Darwin's prescriptions. What Darwin thought inevitable, Campolo
portrays him as desiring, advocating, or hastening. Don't get me wrong
- Darwin was no saint. But the Darwin-bashing that gets published in CT and
other "respectable" publications is disgraceful, because it's
grossly inaccurate.

Below is the worst of Campolo's charges. Then, below them I have pasted
everything that I could find from Darwin's book that is even remotely
similar to Campolo's caricature of Darwin's views. I've checked the 2nd
edition as well, but again found nothing to suggest that Darwin "proposed"
the elimination of what he called the lower races, nothing to suggest that
he "proposed" their extermination, nothing to suggest that we should not
care for the insane or those born with birth defects.
Campolo writes:

Then, if they had gone on to read his second book, The Descent of Man, it is
likely that they would be shocked to learn that among Darwin's
scientifically based proposals was the elimination of "the negro and
Australian peoples," which he considered to be savage races whose continued
survival was hindering the progress of civilisation. In The Descent of Man
(1871), Darwin went so far as to rank races in terms of what he believed was
their nearness and likeness to gorillas. He further proposed the
extermination of those races which he "scientifically" defined as inferior.
To not do so, he claimed, would result in those races, which have much
higher birth rates than his designated superior races, exhausting the
resources needed for the survival of better people, and eventually dragging
down all of civilization. Darwin even argued against advanced societies
wasting time and money on caring for those who are insane, or suffer from
birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to

If Darwin really wrote, spoke, or acted in such ways, will someone please
cite chapter and verse? Maybe I just missed it. Below is what I found in
The Descent of Man. You tell me if you find that he "proposed"
the elimination any peoples, etc. That he in fact donated money to mission
groups trying to help "savages", that he actively opposed slavery, that he
befriended an ex-slave, etc. - well, Campolo conveniently ignored such

Frankly, I'm tired of false witness and deception. Francis Collins was
tricked by the late D. James Kennedy's ministry; a portion of an interview
was used in a film out of context, making it seem as though he completely
rejected evolution! Campolo's charges above are not quite as bad, but not
my better.

First edition of Charles Darwin's "Descent of Man", 1865, Vol I, starting on
page 134:

"Malthus has discussed these several checks, but he does not lay stress
enough on what is probably the most important of all, namely infanticide,
especially of female infants, and the habit of procuring abortion. These
practices now prevail in many quarters of the world, and infanticide seems
formerly to have prevailed, as Mr. M'Lennan has shewn, on a still more
extensive scale. These practices appear to have originated in savages
recognising the difficulty, or rather the impossibility of supporting all
the infants that are born.
Licentiousness may also be added to the foregoing checks; but this does not
follow from failing means of subsistence; though there is reason to believe
that in some cases (as in Japan) it has been intentionally encouraged as a
means of keeping down the population. If we look back to an extremely
remote epoch, before man had arrived at the dignity of manhood, he would
have been guided more by instinct and less by reason than are savages at the
present time. Our early semihuman progenitors would not have practised
infanticide, for the instincts of the lower animals are never so perverted
as to lead them regularly to destroy their own offspring. There would have
been no prudential restraint from marriage, and the sexes would have freely
united at an early age. Hence the progenitors of man would have tended to
increase rapidly, but checks of some kind, either periodical or constant,
must have kept down their numbers, even more severely than with existing
savages. What the precise nature of these checks may have been, we cannot
say, any more than with most other animals."

Vol I, page 238

"Extinction follows chiefly from the competition of tribe with tribe, and
race with race. Various checks are always in action, as specified in a
former chapter, which serve to keep down the numbers of each savage
tribe,-such as periodical famines, the wandering of the parents and the
consequent deaths of infants, prolonged suckling, the stealing of women,
wars, accidents, sickness, licentiousness, especially infanticide, and,
perhaps, lessened fertility from less nutritious food, and many hardships.
If from any cause any one of these checks is lessened, even in a slight
degree, the tribe thus favoured will tend to increase; and when one of two
adjoining tribes becomes more numerous and powerful than the other, the
contest is soon settled by war, slaughter, cannibalism, slavery, and
absorption. Even when a weaker tribe is not thus abruptly swept away, if it
once begins to decrease, it generally goes on decreasing until it is
extinct. When civilised nations come into contact with barbarians the
struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to the native
race. Of the causes which lead to the victory of civilised nations, some are
plain and some very obscure. We can see that the cultivation of the land
will be fatal in many ways to savages, for they cannot, or will not, change
their habits. New diseases and vices are highly destructive; and it appears
that in every nation a new disease causes much death, until those who are
most susceptible to its destructive influence are gradually weeded out; and
so it may be with the evil effects from spirituous liquors, as well as with
the unconquerably strong taste for them shewn by so many savages. It further
appears, mysterious as is the fact, that the first meeting of distinct and
separated people generates disease."

Vol II, p. 403

"The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem:
all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their
children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own
increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr.
Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless
marry, the inferior members will tend to supplant the better members of
society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present
high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid
multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher he must remain subject
to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would soon sink into indolence, and the
more highly-gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life
than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to
many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. 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. Important as the struggle for existence has been and
even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man's nature is concerned
there are other agencies more important. For the moral qualities are
advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of
habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c., than through
natural selection; though to this latter agency the social instincts, which
afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense, may be safely

The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely that man is descended
from some lowly-organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly
distasteful to many persons. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are
descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a
party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be forgotten by me,
for the reflection at once rushed into my mind-such were our ancestors.
These men were absolutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair was
tangled, their mouths frothed with excitement, and their expression was
wild, startled, and distrustful.
They possessed hardly any arts, and like wild animals lived on what they
could catch; they had no government, and were merciless to every one not of
their own small tribe. He who has seen a savage in his native land will not
feel much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of some more humble
creature flows in his veins. For my own part I would as soon be descended
from that heroic little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to
save the life of his keeper; or from that old baboon, who, descending from
the mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of
astonished dogs-as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers
up bloody sacrifices, practises infanticide without remorse, treats his
wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest

Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not
through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the
fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed
there, may give him hopes for a still higher destiny in the distant future.
But we are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as
far as our reason allows us to discover it. I have given the evidence to the
best of my ability; and we must acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man
with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most
debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the
humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated
into the movements and constitution of the solar system-with all these
exalted powers-Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of
his lowly origin."

Obviously, Darwin accepted the racism of his time. But to charge him with
advocating for the genocide of any race, or of the disabled, is like
claiming that those eager for Christ's return want to start wars to hasten
His coming. Such false witness is inexcusable.

Charles (Chuck) F. Austerberry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Hixson-Lied Room 438
Creighton University
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
Phone: 402-280-2154
Fax: 402-280-5595
Nebraska Religious Coalition for Science Education

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Received on Sun Mar 1 23:37:41 2009

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