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Please answer the three questions posted on the bottom of the page:

Background:

Darwinism

Today the theory of evolution is a well-supported, unifying principle in biology, which explains how life on earth began and developed. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the idea that all living things share a common ancestry.

Charles Darwin, a British naturalist, is the person most remembered for his contribution to how the process of evolution works. He wrote a book, published over 150 years ago, called On the Origin of Species, which was very controversial at the time.

His scientific explanation of how evolution occurs was essentially correct, but incomplete. On the basis of newer knowledge, and particularly advances in genetics and molecular biology, many of Darwin’s concepts have developed into the more complete modern theory of evolution.

Science and religion

In the 19th century, Darwin’s discoveries made an enormous impact in England, Western Europe, their colonies, and the USA, where Christianity was the dominant religion. Darwin’s theory was seen to be in conflict with the literal interpretation of special creation to be found in the Bible in the Book of Genesis, and even today Darwin’s work raises emotional responses among fundamentalists.

It can be argued that religion does not explain how the world works. Religion is about faith and hope and answers questions about ‘why’. Science on the other hand, is rational and evidence-based and answers questions about ‘how’. Religion and science should not be seen as two different worldviews as they do not provide solutions to the same questions.

What is Social Darwinism?

Darwinism and Social Darwinism have very little in common, apart from the name and a few basic concepts, which Social Darwinists misapplied. The theory that there is a hierarchy of human species into ‘races’ has affected international politics, economics and social development across the globe.

Social Darwinism is a false application of Darwin’s ideas such as adaptation and natural selection, and does not really follow from Darwinian thinking in any way. Social Darwinism is a belief, which became popular in England, Europe and America, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher in the 19th century was one of the most important Social Darwinists.

Social Darwinism does not believe in the principle of equality of all human beings. It states that:

?Some human beings are biologically superior to others

?The strongest or fittest should survive and flourish in society

?The weak and unfit should be allowed to die

There was a constant struggle between humans and the strongest always would win. The strongest nation was the fittest, therefore the best, and consequently had an inherent right to rule.

Social Darwinism applied the ‘survival of the fittest’ to human ‘races’ and said that ‘might makes right’. Not only was survival of the fittest seen as something natural, but it was also morally correct. It was therefore natural, normal, and proper for the strong to thrive at the expense of the weak. White Protestant Europeans had evolved much further and faster than other “races.”

So-called ‘white civilized’ industrial nations that had technologically advanced weapons had the moral right to conquer and ‘civilize’ the ‘savage blacks’ of the world. Social Darwinism was used to rationalize imperialism, colonialism, racism and poverty.

The beliefs associated with Social Darwinism were discredited during the 20th century, as the increasing knowledge of biological, social, and cultural phenomena does not support its basic tenets.

The concept of ‘human races’ is scientifically invalid. Physical characteristics do not relate in any way to mental or behavioral attributes. Many people argue that the word ‘race’ should no longer be used for the following reasons:

?Most scientists today would say that there is no such thing as race.

?The misinterpretation of the term ‘race’ to classify people has gone hand in hand with contempt for human rights.

Social Darwinism is by no means dead, as traces of it can be found in the present.

Prompts:

1) In what ways does social Darwinism still exist?

2) Should we still be using the word race when it has been scientifically proven to not exist?

3) How have you seen ‘race’ be used to justify behavior?

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