Darwin Also Caused World War One

Everyone is familiar with the constant propaganda from creationists about all the evils caused by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution — the most egregious of such lies being that Darwin’s work inspired Hitler. The last time we wrote about it was Discovery Institute: Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Part II.

But did you know that creationists claim Darwin was also responsible for what was briefly called the Great War? That alleged legacy of Darwin isn’t mentioned much these days, because the horrors of what we now call World War I were totally eclipsed by WWII, but before then it was quite popular for creationists to blame Darwin for what was — at that time — the worst war imaginable.

Our authority for this is none other than that famous creationist hero, William Jennings Bryan — the Great Populist Blowhard — about whom we previously wrote:

Bryan supported Woodrow Wilson for the presidency in 1912, and he served as Wilson’s Secretary of State. Bryan also championed the income tax, the Prohibition amendment, and debased currency. He was opposed to free enterprise — especially banks and railroads — always favoring increased regulation and government control over the economy. Bryan also supported the 17th Amendment, which changed the process for selecting members of the US Senate from the original method — according to which they were appointed by state legislatures — to our present method of direct election. And Bryan always enjoyed the support of the Klan in his election campaigns. All in all, he was an extremely loathsome character.

In addition to being an all-round clown, fool, ignoramus, and maniac, Bryan also did some writing and quite a bit of speaking. Some of his speeches were gathered and published in a collection which is available online, titled: The menace of Darwinism. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added for emphasis:

Nietzsche’s philosophy would convert the world into a ferocious conflict between beasts, each brute trampling ruthlessly on everything in his way. In his book entitled “Joyful Wisdom’ Nietzsche ascribes to Napoleon the very same dream of power — Europe under one sovereign and that sovereign the master of the world — that lured the Kaiser into a sea of blood from which he emerged an exile seeking security under a foreign flag. Nietzsche names Darwin as one of the three great men of his century, but tries to deprive him of credit for the doctrine that bears his name by saying that Hegel made an earlier announcement of it. Nietzsche died hopelessly insane, but his philosophy has wrought the moral ruin of a multitude, if it is not actually responsible for bringing upon the world its greatest war.

His philosophy, if it is worthy the name of philosophy, is the ripened fruit of Darwinism — and a tree is known by its fruit.

Moving on a bit, we come to this:

To destroy the faith of Christians and lay the foundation for the bloodiest war in history would seem enough to condemn Darwinism, but there are still two other indictments to bring against it. First, that it is the basis of the gigantic class struggle that Is now shaking society throughout the world. Both the capitalist and the labourer are Increasingly class conscious. Why? Because the doctrine of the “Individual efficient for himself ” — the brute doctrine of the “survival of the fittest “ — is driving men into a life-and-death struggle from which sympathy and the spirit of brotherhood are eliminated. It is transforming the industrial world into a slaughter-house.

One more excerpt, and then you can read it all on your own:

Many have tried to harmonize Darwinism with the Bible, but these efforts, while honest and sometimes even agonizing, have not been successful. How could they be when the natural and inevitable tendency of Darwinism is to exalt the mind at the expense of the heart, to overestimate the reliability of the reason as compared with faith and to impair confidence in the Bible. The mind is a machine ; it has no morals. It obeys its owner as willingly when he plots to kill as when he plans for service.


Darwinism discredits the things that are supernatural and encourages the worship of the intellect — an idolatry as deadly to spiritual progress as the worship of images made by human hands. The injury that it does would be even greater than it is but for the moral momentum acquired by the student before he comes under the blighting influence of the doctrine.

So there you are — according to Bryan, Darwin’s work is responsible for the First World War. And in case you’ve forgotten, Bryan is one of the intellectual heroes of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

In an earlier post, John West & William Jennings Bryan, we quoted John West, Associate Director of the Discoveroids’ creationist “think tank,” as saying:

I should add that Bryan was far from the stick-figure buffoon portrayed in the film [Inherit the Wind]. Indeed, he was pretty thoughtful and well-read about contemporary scientific debates over Darwinian theory, which is more than can be said about some of his critics of the time.

Yes, Bryan was “pretty thoughtful.” What was it that Shakespeare had Mark Antony say of Caesar’s assassins? Here it is:

For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men;

In the same sense that Antony spoke, we say: Bryan was a thoughtful man. And so is West, and so are the other Discoveroids. They are all, all thoughtful men.

See also: Darwin Caused World War One, Part 2.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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2 responses to “Darwin Also Caused World War One

  1. WJ Bryan also claimed that God strongly opposed the gold standard as an economic policy (God is in favor of bimetallism instead). Which sounds quaint…until you realize people like Bachmann are essentiially using the same “God dislikes the economics I dislike” argument today.

  2. Ceteris Paribus

    In a Ted Talk lecture Steven Pinker argues that deaths by human violence have actually been going down ever since the Enlightenment began, for the good reason that societies based on rational thinking can discover more profitable ways to get along than simply killing off competitors for scarce resources.

    In a recent book tour interview Pinker also noted that the usual practice of accounting for war and genocide deaths is to look only at gross numbers rather than deaths as a percent of population.

    William Jennings Brian, as a bible scholar, would have been able to quote by chapter and verse the litany of divinely sanctioned wars and plagues that resulted in complete extermination of rivals.