'The Origin of Species' (1859)

"To believe in Marxism, one had to believe in inexorable forces pushing mankind, or at least the elect, to inevitable progress, through set stages (which could, however, be skipped). One had to believe that history was a violent, hereditary class struggle (almost a ‘racial’ struggle); that the individual must be severely subordinated to the group; that an enlightened group must lead the people for their own good; that the people must not be humane to their enemies; that the forces of history assured victory to those who were right and who struggled. Who taught the Chinese these things? Marx? Mao? No. Darwin." — James Pusey

It’s the sesquicentennial of the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, and many people (including mainline religious denominations) are celebrating the event. (And this despite the fact that Darwin’s book never did explain the origin of any species.)

A few thinkers, however, are subjecting the social implications of Darwin’s theory to relatively intense critical scrutiny:

"The ideology that led Mao to murder 77 million of his own people began with a view of nature that values struggle and fitness over the individual. Though acknowledging that the political currents in China were complex, with reformers like Yan Fu and Sun Yat-sen incorporating Darwinian principles without radical revolution, [James] Pusey placed the worldview that empowered Marxist ideology squarely at the feet of Darwin.  Darwin was Mao’s ideological mentor…. Darwinian ideas can produce murderous results in individuals, too. The Sunday Times Online printed an article that described the Darwinian motivations behind some of the serial killers of recent memory."

Such sobering reports, however, are aberrations among the Anglo-American press, who prefer to think of Darwinism as a simple truth without any bad consequences. Thus the media will continue to make sure that news and analyses such as these receive malign neglect.

You may read the entire article in which the above passages appeared at the Creation-Evolution Headlines weblog. Scroll down to the entry for 11/12/2009: "Where Chairman Mao and Teenage Nihilists Got Their Motivation."

Yes, Virginia, ideas do have consequences.

Mike Gray