The Latest Effort to Smear Evolution By Natural Selection
As a biographical sketch, Darwin: Portrait of a Genius is brisk and sufficient. But as an exploration of Darwinâ€™s theory and its effect on the world, the book feels like Paul Johnsonâ€™s weird, bitter vendetta against a scientist who was always more interested in mollusks than men.
Johnson attributes to Darwin a startling majority of the 20th centuryâ€™s tragedies. In the later pages of his book, we are informed that Darwinâ€™s theory led directly to the development of eugenics and forced sterilization, and that the United Statesâ€™ pre-World War II anti-immigrant policies â€œcan be traced back to the publication of Origin.â€ Even more sinisterly, Darwinâ€™s book was allegedly relied upon by the Nazis in developing their racial theories, and Marx cited it in support of communism. Johnson marches again and again up to the line of actually blaming Darwin for millions of deaths, relying on guilt by association to make his point. Itâ€™s a dirty game, and a dangerous one, for character assassination can be a much more effective way of rejecting natural selection than is flat-out denial.