Think About IT: The Cruelty of Darwinian Compassion

Darwin says, “The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts…” ((Charles Darwin, Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, (originally published 1871: reprint with introduction published New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004), 111))  He further states,“Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.” ((Darwin, Descent, 111.))  Hard reason says that this sympathy is deleterious, because he said regarding natural selection, “And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.” ((Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, (Originally published by John Murray, London, in 1859:  reprint with introduction by Michael T. Ghiselin, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2006), 307))  Consequently, we can’t stop it even though reason and the path to perfection demands it, and it thwarts the noble work of “natural selection” which produces, “the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals…” ((Darwin, Origin of Species, 307.))

He talks about the surgeon knowing that he is “acting for the good”, but in light of the perfect being reached through natural selection, is it fair to ask, what good, good for whom, temporary or ultimate good….He says that to “intentionally…neglect the weak and helpless” can be only with “contingent benefit” and even that brings “overwhelming present evil.” ((Darwin, Descent, 111.)) What evil?  His conclusion, “We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely, that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is  more to be hoped for than expected.” ((Darwin, Descent, 111 -112.))   Note the he says the weak surviving produces “bad effects”, whereas Christianity would say the opposite.  However, he is heartened that these “hereditarily inferiors” are less likely to marry as the fit, thereby giving the secularist some hope, and hopefully they will refrain all the more, but that is just Darwin’s wishful musings.