Exactly 200 years ago today, two very famous people were born. Both men greatly impacted the world, but their legacies were quite different.

Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on February 12, 1809. Among President Lincoln’s famous achievements, of course, was the abolition of slavery in several states during the Civil War. At this same time, Darwin’s famous book On the Origin of Species (published 1859) was gaining in popularity. But Darwin’s view of dark-skinned people like the former slaves was different from that of Lincoln.

The subtitle of On the Origin of Species gives a hint to his racist beliefs: The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Now, Darwin is known to have used the word races to apply to animals, but his use of the term races as it also relates to people became clear a few years later with his book The Descent of Man. In that book, Darwin called those with dark skin “degraded,” and wrote that he would rather be descended from a monkey than such a “savage.”

While most educated people in England during Darwin’s time held similar views, Darwin’s writings fueled racism. The late evolutionist Stephen J. Gould stated: “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.”1

Sadly, evolutionist educators and scientists are celebrating a man today and all this year with a terrible racist legacy. Interestingly, Darwin’s defenders—in an attempt to revise history—have recently been stressing his humanitarian side to minimize his racist beliefs.2

The focus today should really be on a man like Lincoln, who, while he may have said things that would be considered racist today, eventually wrote that all men are created equal and should be treated equally before the law and God. Let us use this time to honor a man who saw all people as God’s creation, not a man whose ideas spurred and justified the devaluing of human life.

Starting this Sunday night and continuing through Tuesday evening, Answers in Genesis is hosting a free East Coast conference to counter the Darwin celebrations that are occurring this month. “Answers for Darwin” will be held in Virginia at the large Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, and I will be speaking there with my colleague Dr. Andrew Snelling, along with Liberty University professors Dr. David DeWitt and Dr. Marcus Ross. This unique, faith-building conference is for ages 13 and up, and no pre-registration is needed.

Find out more: Answers for Darwin

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Footnotes

  1. Stephen Jay Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (Belknap-Harvard Press, 1977), pp. 127–128. Back
  2. See, for example, “Hatred of Slavery Drove Darwin Ideas, Book Says.” Back