The theory of Evolution is one of the touchier subjects a person can talk about. The theory of Evolution first started being discussed around the 1850s by a man named Charles Darwin. He claimed that with the help of natural selection, an organism can thrive or die off over time. The idea is based on the belief that while natural selection happens with animals, it can also occur with humans.
The struggle to thrive is favored toward stronger animals, or in this instance, humans. Darwin came up with this theory to explain how some species can go extinct and other can thrive in a certain environment. Because of this, some animals were deemed inferior or no good comparatively. Darwin believed that this applied to humans as well; that some were destined to succeed, and some were destined to fail.
Nearing the end of the 19th century, American intellectuals began to grasp the idea of Darwinism as a different way in how the world was created. although Darwinism was based on an atheist viewpoint, many people tied it into Christian beliefs. Because America was primarily Christian at the time, many people did not like this new worldview (Woodworth, 2010).
The main reason Darwinism was being attacked, was because it went against everything people believed and historical basis for human rights (Woodworth, 2010). In the Declaration of Independence, it states that all men have equal rights from their creator, but with a Darwinist point of view, these rights would not stand. The creation of Darwinism challenged many Americans who grew up believing everything they heard about God and the Church.
Another major issue with Darwinism is the idea that people who are lower class, do not have money, or resources to defend themselves are seen as inferior compared to people who were higher class, had money and had resources. This viewpoint caused a divide with American people. Social Darwinism’s main focus was to keep rich people rich and poor people poor (Dixon, 2009). People who were rich did not see an issue with this; they clearly benefitted from this, because nothing was being taken away from them.
The people who suffered were the people in the lower class who were constantly trying to stay afloat and survive. America is seen as a country that openly helps other people and is the place to come for a better life, but Darwinism took that from people of a lower class. The idea of creationism was more widely believes due to the fact that everyone was created equal by one creator (Dixon, 2009).
As mentioned earlier, Social Darwinism wanted to keep rich people rich and poor people poor. Social Darwinism was the thought that if you were born into the lower class and were poor, it was a fault in a person’s genes and there was no way of changing. This “genetic fault” carried onto a person’s children, and their children and so on, which created the idea of natural selection. Along with Social Darwinism, Eugenics helped to form the immigrant experience in the United States. This happened by allowing wealthy people to sustain the gap between the rich and the poor (Schultz, K. 2014).
Eugenics was introduced as a way to “alter” a person’s genetic makeup, so they could have a better life and improve the lives of future generations. Eugenics was a way to alter races to make them “better” and “more acceptable”. With so many people coming to America from different countries this became a popular way to, in a way, force people to assimilate and become socially acceptable (After Darwin: Genetics, eugenics, and the Human Genome, 1999).
Darwinism did not line up with Christianity when first theorized and still does not today. Many Christians were angered because Darwinism did not agree with the Biblical theory of Creation (Keas, M. N. 2010). Christianity is the belief that people are created equally by God and evolved from Adam and Eve. Darwinism and Christianity agreed on certain things, but Darwinism mostly challenged Christian ideals and beliefs. Darwinism and Christianity both believed that humans were not perfect and needed to be fixed; while Darwinism believes that if you are imperfect (poor) then you cannot change, Christianity believes humans can be saved and should not suffer for impurities (Keas, 2010).
When speaking about Darwinism, the belief is that we evolved from animals throughout time. Christians believe that God created us individually and that we are to rule over animals, not be made from them (Larson, 2009). While many Christians believe that Darwinism is not correct and is inappropriate, many followers of Darwin believe that the ideas and beliefs of Christianity are not correct.
Darwinism is one of the more controversial theories in American history. Charles Darwin was very risky when creating this theory for the sole purpose that America was a mostly Christian country at the time. All that aside the theories of Darwinism have become more and more popular in today’s day and age, as generations are starting to stray away from religion.
Many generations of kids are taking time to form their own opinions and thoughts when it comes to subjects such as these. Instead of blindly following something they may have been taught for years, people today are wanting to stray from the norm and look into different theories and are learning more and more about these controversial theories in classes every day.