Survival race

Death of Captain James Cook, George Carter—Bernice P. Bishop Museum

I hope you’re not offended by this story. But when I was in junior high school art class, a group of white guys painted a black kid white. I know, it’s terrible, and I’m sorry. Our teacher went ballistic, screaming about how what they did was so demeaning. And it was.

But it was interesting, because the black kid, the class clown, had encouraged the prank. He said, “No biggy, Miss, we’re just speeding up the evolutionary process.” She didn’t think it was funny. And it wasn’t.

But the painted kid was just voicing the horrific implications of the evolutionary theory we were all being taught in the class before hers.

Not too many people stop to think through the implications of evolutionary theory. Have you taken a look at Charles Darwin’s famous book that started it all? The Origin of Species? Are you aware of the full original title Darwin gave this book?

On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Yeah, really: “Favoured Races.”

Darwin made certain that the essence of his theory was front and centre; right there in the title. Let’s break it down.

First, we see that the book is about origins—Darwin is attempting to inform us where we came from. According to him, our existence is a purely accidental naturalistic phenomenon.

Then he moves into the process by which he believed we came into existence: By Means of Natural Selection. That simply means that the strong survive and the weak don’t, also described by Darwin as “the survival of the fittest”.

It’s natural, Darwin says, that those with stronger traits will conquer those with weaker traits. The survivors will then breed, thus preserving and strengthening the traits most suited for survival. Things get gradually better as the weak are slaughtered and the strong survive to propagate.

So evolution is dependent on the elimination of the weak. In fact, to the degree that any of the weak survive, the evolutionary process will be hindered. In this sense, competition and conquest are good for the advancement of life. The highest law is self-preservation and the brutal cycle of killing is merely an amoral (neither right nor wrong) necessity.

Which brings us back to my art class and to the final part of Darwin’s title. It’s a mouthful for a book title, but get these words: The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

The language confronts even Darwin’s admirers; they recognise the racial impli­cations and cringe. They rush to claim that, biologically, there is no such thing as race; it’s a cultural construct. And yet, no explanation can alter what Darwin means when he speaks of “favoured races”. Sure, he used the word “races” to refer to all life forms, both vegetable and animal, but that does not lessen the racism because the human species was included in Darwin’s theory.

The theory of evolution unavoidably teaches that some ethnic groups are favoured above others.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Darwin’s disciple, Francis Galton, was the father of modern “eugenics”, which is the Greek word for “well-born”.

Taking Darwin’s evolutionary theory to its logical conclusion, Galton taught that the more evolved humans should treat the less favoured among us with kindness—so long as they maintain celibacy. He went on to say, “If these continued to procreate children inferior in moral, intellectual and physical qualities, it is easy to believe the time may come when such persons would be considered as enemies of the state.”

Galton’s dark prophecy came true when Nazi eugenicists extrapolated Darwin’s favoured races theory into the horror of Hitler’s Final Solution. Millions who were regarded as less evolved than the Aryans were slaughtered with survival-of-the-­fittest gusto. Kill or be killed was the rationale, and why feel guilty, because, after all, if self-preservation is the highest law, and if the “triumph of the strong over the weak” is simply necessary for the advancement of mankind, well, then, may the best race win!

Which begs the chilling question: If Darwin was right, then who are the “favoured races”? Which of us are more highly evolved? Which of us are better than the rest of us? The Nazis thought they were answering the question with their Aryan supremacist ideology and their gas chambers.

The Preservation of Favoured Races. Can you see it on the Angus & Robertson bestseller shelf? Those words are there, after all, in the original title. Like it or not, that is the end-point of Darwin’s theory in all its debasing “glory”. Somehow, I don’t think Favoured Races would sell too well today. The kids in my seventh-grade art class understood the implications of Darwin’s theory.

The question is, do we?


Ty Gibson is director and speaker of Lightbearers, based in Oregon, USA. This article is adapted, with permission from the <> video series.

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