Evolution is Not the Same as Social Darwinism

While Confusion of the Two is Common, Evolution and Social Darwinism Are Two Separate Things
There seems to be some confusion, especially in the conservative Christian community, between the Theory of Evolution and Social Darwinism.

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" which came out in 2008 was a film created to arouse anti-science and anti-evolution sentiments among viewers. To that end the film purposely confused the meaning of Social Darwinism and the Theory of Evolution implying that the Theory of Evolution
caused the Holocaust and created communism. The writers of "Expelled" didn't come up with the idea that the Theory of Evolution and Social Darwinism were one and the same. That particular misconception has existed for some time and some natural confusion is completely understandable. However, they used and built upon the misconception for their own purposes.

The confusion about Social Darwinism and The Theory of Evolution is so common that many people repeat the misconception innocently and thus spread misinformation.

Charles Darwin was the writer of "On the Origin of Species" and is considered the father of the Theory of Evolution via natural selection. When his name was applied to the elitist ideology, Social Darwinism, the confusion began.

Social Darwinism is an ideology which holds that competition between human beings drives social evolution in that humanity improves as the strong reproduce and the weak die off. Rich and powerful people have used Social Darwinism to support the idea that the social elite are inherently better and that it is their natural place in the order of things to flourish by stepping on the weak and powerless.

Social Darwinism is actually a misnomer - Charles Darwin himself did not support the ideas behind the ideology, holding that principles of natural selection resulting in fitter offspring should not apply or be applied to human beings. Darwin outright stated that it was man's responsibility to care for weaker members of society and that we have evolved feelings of sympathy to that end.

The Social Darwinism movement also substantially predates the publication of Darwin's treatise - "On the Origin of Species." It wasn't given the name Social Darwinism until much later when key words used to describe natural selection such as "survival of the fittest" struck a chord in
those who followed the ideology.

The Theory of Evolution is a scientific theory regarding the origin of the myriad of species of life on earth via process of natural selection. The Theory of Evolution is a description of a natural process. It isn't a moral judgment; it's a description of natural forces and probable events as interpreted by scientists.

Social Darwinism bears as much relation to the Theory of Evolution as child molestation bears to making love. Social Darwinism is a perversion. Or you could say Social Darwinism bears as much in common with the theory of evolution as the message of Christ bears to the Spanish Inquisition.

Via: AC

Views: 234

Comment by JustCurious on February 24, 2009 at 5:35pm
I would like to point out that the movie's scientific sentiment was not anti-science. I felt rather indifferent towards the film; it made a few good points and also dealt unnecessarily low blows. But it was not anti-science. He wants the scientific community to be more, in his eyes, open minded. He doesn't want science to be destroyed. There is a difference.

But otherwise, good point. I hate it when Christians point out evils done in the name of atheism, because christianity, while supposed to be about peace and love, has quite a bit of dirty laundry itself. It's sad but true.
Comment by Johnny on February 25, 2009 at 2:22pm
There is a sad irony. Expelled and much of the Religious Right have associated 'Social Darwinism' to Darwin through name alone, and thus condemned it by linking that association with evolution. Break-down social darwinism though and you'll find that its principles are exactly what the the Religious Right, Christian Right, and Fundamentalists in general practice as policy. They are all about 'survival of the [religiously, socially, and financially] fittest.'
Comment by JustCurious on March 1, 2009 at 1:01pm
That's the problem today: people think faith is more important than love.
In fact, the Bible itself states that love is more important than faith (1st Corinthians 13 - you should read it). Love without faith and love with faith both cause good. Faith without love is destructive: i.e. terrorists, social darwinists, fundamentalists.
But Christianity as I understand it should be about love first, and that love should come from faith. I feel that if you have faith but not love, you don't really have true faith, but hollow faith. And love is about sacrafice, sharing, community, and selflessness. If your faith doesn't give you that, then it's empty faith.

But here I am ranting about faith on an atheist website. Sorry.


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