Are we suffering the consequences of Darwin Day in America?

While there are many who would deny that Darwin himself had anything to do with what became known in the last century as social Darwinism, the historical record on the subject is clear and unmistakable.

Available this November, Darwin Day in America by CSC Senior Fellow John West explores the cultural implications of Darwinism for our society. Ideas have consequences, and the American experience of the consequences of Darwinism and scientific materialism is well-documented in the nearly 500 pages of Darwin Day in America, representing a decade of exhaustive research by Dr. West. 

“This is provocative and important reading,” said Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship. “John West has done a characteristically excellent job in analyzing social Darwinism and the insidious ideology which has infected almost every area of American public policy.” 

Dr. West is quick to note that materialism existed long before Darwin, but that it was regarded as a fringe concept until Darwin’s theory gave it intellectual viability. Today Darwin is often misunderstood because many people don’t bother to actually read what he wrote, particularly in The Descent of Man, where he lays out the moral, social, and religious implications of his theory of evolution by natural selection. 

In Darwin’s own view, there is no fundamental difference between man and higher animals in their mental faculties, a key to understanding the animal rights movement today and the importance of human exceptionalism in countering this argument. While Darwin himself was reticent to take his ideas to their logical conclusions, his followers had no qualms with applying his theory to the breeding of humans, ushering in a new “scientific” crusade of eugenics. Though not mandated by the Darwinian view, forced sterilization was the result of leading biologists firmly believing that civilization was destroying the human race by allowing so-called “defectives” to propagate their kind. This was the consensus view of scientists for forty years in America, much to the detriment of our society and the more than 60,000 Americans who were sterilized.

“Dr. West gives a superb overview of what happens once we start seeing man as an overachieving worm,” said Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief, World magazine. “He shows how a Darwin Day worldview affects everything from sex and philanthropy to crime and euthanasia.” 

With harrowing studies in crime, welfare, education, and medicine, West built the compelling case for how Darwinism has affected views on matters as foundational as morality, free will, and religion. There is a human cost to scientific materialism, and Darwin Day in America is a sobering look at the consequences of carrying Darwinian logic out over the last century in America.

Anika Smith