Category Archives: slavery

We need to talk about race—and historical facts | Psephizo

There is so much talk about race with all the stuff from Black Lives Matter.

In 2019 a black pastor from London wrote “We need to talk about race” Many including the Archbishop recommended it, but this blog exposes glaring errors.

It is an excellent read and a warning that slovenly arguments on race will in fact increase racism. These apply to the history of the slave trade and colonialism in particular. Note little was made of the Royal Navy’s gunboat diplomacy against the slave trade after 1807 and how this killed the Transatlantic slave trade.

Knowing a little about the history I find the article is historically very good, though it goes against the trendy hymn sheet.

enough of me , so read it.

Source: We need to talk about race—and historical facts | Psephizo

TH Huxley’s legacy, a campus building renaming controversy, and appeal for signatures

A silly exercise as probably all in the 19th century were in a sense racist by our present standards, and terribly so by the woke! I doubt if the Wilberforce family would pass today’s test either.

Primate's Progress

Western Washington University, a well-respected publicly funded university in Bellingham, WA, is conducting a review of the naming of its buildings, in the course of which demands were expressed for the renaming of the [TH] Huxley Building, which houses the College of the Environment, and as a result the University’s Legacy Review Task Force has invited comment. Background information including links to solicited academic comment is available at https://president.wwu.edu/research-and-resources.

My own initial reaction was outrage, but closer examination convinced me that serious engagement is a more appropriate response, given aspects of Huxley’s legacy of which I was not aware. There is no doubt, however, that the movement to rename is seriously misguided, and can be traced back to the long-standing creationist tradition of pretending that evolution science is responsible for racism. The attack on Huxley, as spelt out in a submission by one member of the Task Force (

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Lying for Jesus by lying about Darwin on slavery and racism

An article about Darwin and race has been recirculating. It was written back in 2013 by Phil Moore of the Everyday Church, London . It is on The Gospel coalition website and was originally in ThinkTheology. Depsite its title it is really a claim than Darwin was an out and out racist and supported genocide.

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https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-your-biology-teacher-didnt-tell-you-about-charles-darwin/

What Your Biology Teacher Didn’t Tell You About Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is a great British hero. That’s hardly surprising, since he was one of the most influential thinkers of the past 200 years. I happened to live opposite Darwin’s former lodgings when I was a student at Cambridge University, so I looked out each morning on a blue plaque hailing him as one of the greatest Britons who ever lived. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve that commemorative plaque, but I should point out that he wasn’t a British hero but a British villain. You don’t need to be a Bible-thumping evangelical to question whether Darwin’s thinking deserves to be given a bit more thought.

Whatever your views on origins and evolution, we can hopefully all agree that, at present, we give far too much honor to the British thinker who justified genocide.

Devaluation of Humans

Darwin didn’t hide his view that his evolutionary thinking applied to human races as well as to animal species. The full title of his seminal 1859 book was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. He followed up more explicitly in The Descent of Man, where he spelled out his racial theory:

The Western nations of Europe . . . now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors [that they] stand at the summit of civilization. . . . The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races through the world.

Thankfully, most British people today are embarrassed by the racist rhetoric that undergirded the late-Victorian British Empire. What’s astonishing is how little they understand that Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution provided the doctrine behind its white supremacism. Whereas the British Empire of the early 19th century had been dominated by Christian reformers such as William Wilberforce, who sold slave badges that proclaimed, “Am I not a man and a brother?”,

Darwin’s writings converted an empire with a conscience into an empire with a scientific philosophy. Four years after Darwin published The Origin of Species, James Hunt turned it into a justification for slavery. In his 1863 paper, “On the Negro’s Place in Nature,” he asserted: “Our Bristol and Liverpool merchants, perhaps, helped to benefit the race when they transported some of them to America.”

Christian reformers had spent decades in the early 19th century teaching Britain to view non-European races as their equals before God.

In a matter of years, Darwin swept not only God off the table, but also the value of people of every race with him.

Enabling Genocide

Victorian Britain was too willing to accept Darwinian evolution as its gospel of overseas expansion. Darwin is still celebrated on the back of the British £10 note for his discovery of many new species on his visit to Australia; what’s been forgotten, though, is his contemptible attitude—due to his beliefs about natural selection—toward the Aborigines he found there. When The Melbourne Review used Darwin’s teachings to justify the genocide of indigenous Australians in 1876, he didn’t try and stop them. When the Australian newspaper argued that “the inexorable law of natural selection [justifies] exterminating the inferior Australian and Maori races”—that “the world is better for it” since failure to do so would be “promoting the non-survival of the fittest, protecting the propagation of the imprudent, the diseased, the defective, and the criminal”—it was Christian missionaries who raised an outcry on behalf of this forgotten genocide. Darwin simply commented, “I do not know of a more striking instance of the comparative rate of increase of a civilized over a savage race.”

Meanwhile, several thousand miles away, Cecil Rhodes was gleefully embracing Darwin’s thinking as justification for white expansion across southern Africa. He was so inspired by Darwinian evolutionist Winwood Reade’s The Martyrdom of Man that he later confessed, “That book has made me what I am.”

What it made him was the architect of one of the most brutal and immoral acts of European expansion and genocide in history. Rhodes wrote in 1877:

I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. . . . It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race, more of the best, the most human, most honorable race the world possesses.

If what Rhodes believed sounds shocking to you—and I hope it does—then understand that he was simply stating what he drew from the works of both Darwin and Francis Galton, Charles Darwin’s cousin, who extrapolated his cousin’s thinking to pioneer racial eugenics.

Select Your Choice

I’ve used British examples because I’m British, and it seems more polite to point out the errors in my own national worldview than in that of other nations. I could’ve pointed out how Darwin’s thinking was used by late 19th-century Americans to justify acts of genocide against Native Americans. I could’ve pointed out how Hitler and his Nazi philosophers used it to justify wars of expansion and horrific holocaust. I could’ve pointed out how Communist Russia used Darwinian evolution to justify its liquidation of non-Russian people groups within the Soviet empire. I could’ve pointed out how it was used by Serbs to justify their genocide against Croatians and Kosovans.

But I don’t have to. The British example is enough to make us question whether Charles Darwin was truly a British hero at all. At least we should strip him of his place on our £10 banknote and stop protecting his thinking from the scrutiny it deserves in school classrooms, in TV documentaries, and in the corridors of power.

Because whether or not you agree with his thoughts on evolution, you should at the very least want to discover he was wrong.

Whom would you rather discover was right all along? The Christian reformers of the early 19th century, like William Wilberforce and the Earl of Shaftesbury, who argued from belief in divine creation that slaves should be freed and that children shouldn’t be forced to work themselves to death in factories for having been born to the wrong parents? Or Charles Darwin, who argued from belief in a godless beginning to the universe that natural selection is a virtue and that, consequently, acts of genocide are part and parcel of the way the world was always supposed to be?

In the words of Jesus himself, “By their fruits you will be able to judge their teaching.”

Phil Moore leads Everyday Church in London. He also serves as a Bible teacher and evangelist within the Newfrontiers family of churches. He is the author of the Straight to the Heart series of devotional commentaries. Phil is married to Ruth, and they have four young children. Together, they love eating strange and exotic food, watching movies with lots of popcorn, and reading books by Roald Dahl. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Here’s an excellent reply by the Christian historian of science Ted Davies . He’s saved me the bother of doing all the fact checking. Moore is a disgrace.

https://biologos.org/articles/did-darwin-promote-genocide

I was about to respond to the essay but felt Ted had given a good response pointing out the many errors and misquotes etc. But there are a few things I’d like to add. I ought to say I’ve been researching aspects of Darwin’s geology and religious views for 30 years and have published academic papers on his geology.  I have all his publications and his correspondence going up to 1862, when the money ran out! It’s all online now anyway..

First to consider are Darwin’s views on slavery. His family of Darwins and Wedgwoods had been abolitionists for 3 generations . Josiah Wedgwood, his grandfather, designed and made the medallion;

Am I not a man and a brother

It is almost daft that Moore referred to Wilberfoce giving out these medallions, designed by Darwin’s grandfather.

Darwin’s parents were very involved in abolition, which was not surpising as his mother was a Wedgwood. For several generations the Darwins and Wedgwoods were the radical, Unitarian side to abolition in contrast to the evangelicalism of Wilberforce and others.  In fact the Abolitionist movement was a coalition of Evangelicals, Quakers and Unitarians.

The first volume of Darwin’s Correspondence often refers to slavery and how his family were involved with the local archdeacon in abolition.

And so at the end of 1831 Charles set sail on The Beagle and was appalled by slavery in Latin America. He rejoiced when he read of the probable coming of abolition in 1833 in a letter to his sister, Catherine; (Correspondence  May 22 1833)

. How famously the Ministers appear to be going on; I always much enjoy political gossip, & what you at home think will etc etc take place. I steadily read up the weekly Paper; but it is not sufficient to guide one’s opinion: and I find it a very painful state not to be as obstinate as a pig in politicks. I have watched how steadily the general feeling, as shown at elections, has been rising against Slavery.—What a proud thing for England, if she is the first Europæan Nation which utterly abolishes it. I was told before leaving England, that after living in Slave countries, all my opinions would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the Negro character. It is impossible to see a Negro, and not feel kindly towards him; such cheerful, open, honest expressions & such fine muscular bodies. I never saw any of the diminutive Portuguese, with their murderous countenances, without almost wishing for Brazil to follow the example of Hayti; and considering the enormous healthy looking population, it will be wonderful if at some future day it does not take place. There is at Rio a man (I know not his titles) who has large salary to prevent (I believe) the landing of slaves: he lives at Botofogo, & yet that was the bay, where during my residence, the greater number of smuggled slaves were landed. Some of the Anti-slavery people ought to question about his office; it was the subject of conversation at Rio amongst some of the Lower English.

Of course, some would see white privilege here, but it was written in 1833

His main recorded argument with Capt Fitzroy was over slavery, which Fitzroy supported.

Reading his correspondence it is clear that Darwin was easily triggered over slavery and responded to attack its cruelty.

Slavery contnued to trigger Darwin as it did when he read Lyell’s  Travels in north America (1845),  in which Lyell criticised American racial attitudes,  but disapproved of the Abolitionist movement.  That was too much for Darwin. There seems to be a missing letter of August 1845 where Lyell toned down his views. Even so Darwin was so triggered that he revised his conclusion with all guns blazing  with this superb piece of morally-charged writing on the horrors of slavery, which he inserted into the second edition of The Voyage of the Beagle (1845).

I don’t know how anyone can say Darwin was a racist after reading it. Here Darwin had gone into a strident autoethographic mode!

“On the 19th of August we finally left the shores of Brazil. I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate. I suspected that these moans were from a tortured slave, for I was told that this was the case in another instance. Near Rio de Janeiro I lived opposite to an old lady, who kept screws to crush the fingers of her female slaves. I have stayed in a house where a young household mulatto, daily and hourly, was reviled, beaten, and persecuted enough to break the spirit of the lowest animal. I have seen a little boy, six or seven years old, struck thrice with a horse-whip (before I could interfere) on his naked head, for having handed me a glass of water not quite clean; I saw his father tremble at a mere glance from his master’s eye. These latter cruelties were witnessed by me in a Spanish colony, in which it has always been said, that slaves are better treated than by the Portuguese, English, or other European nations. I have seen at Rio de Janeiro a powerful negro afraid to ward off a blow directed, as he thought, at his face. I was present when a kind-hearted man was on the point of separating forever the men, women, and little children of a large number of families who had long lived together. I will not even allude to the many heart-sickening atrocities which I authentically heard of;—nor would I have mentioned the above revolting details, had I not met with several people, so blinded by the constitutional gaiety of the negro as to speak of slavery as a tolerable evil. Such people have generally visited at the houses of the upper classes, where the domestic slaves are usually well treated, and they have not, like myself, lived amongst the lower classes. Such inquirers will ask slaves about their condition; they forget that the slave must indeed be dull, who does not calculate on the chance of his answer reaching his master’s ears.

It is argued that self-interest will prevent excessive cruelty; as if self-interest protected our domestic animals, which are far less likely than degraded slaves, to stir up the rage of their savage masters. It is an argument long since protested against with noble feeling, and strikingly exemplified, by the ever-illustrious Humboldt. It is often attempted to palliate slavery by comparing the state of slaves with our poorer countrymen: if the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin; but how this bears on slavery, I cannot see; as well might the use of the thumb-screw be defended in one land, by showing that men in another land suffered from some dreadful disease. Those who look tenderly at the slave owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children—those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own—being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one’s blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty: but it is a consolation to reflect, that we at least have made a greater sacrifice, than ever made by any nation, to expiate our sin. “

Well, it is absolutely clear that Darwin loathed slavery and his faimilies had done their part for abolition.

[A review of a book on Darwin and slavery http://friendsofdarwin.com/reviews/desmond-moore-sacred/  }

But was Darwin a racist?

YES, YES, YES according to all woke anti-racists. He was a typically evil Victorian full of white privilege and a condescending attitudes to the poorer classes and inferior races.

NO, NO, NO, when judged fairly by moral standards and the standards of his day.

no, no, no when judged by the standards of today.

I am amused by this comment from Moore ;

The full title of his seminal 1859 book was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.

If Moore had read The Origin he would know that, apart from a cryptic sentence

“light will be thrown on the origins of man and his history.”

Darwin did not mention humans at all and thus even less than zero on races! In the title Darwin was referring to different races, or groups, or families of plants and animals. It was a vague and general term. From reading much Creationst stuff on Darwin and race, I reckon this was just lifted from an article on Darwin’s alleged racism!! I often come across it and facepalm when I do. I also doubt the integrity of the writer.

The long quotation I gave from The Voyage of the Beagle should suffice for most people as it shows deep compassion and concern for those who suffer. In The Diary he makes a few comments about slavery , which though critical seem dispassionate. I get the impression he was a strong decoupler so did not feel he always had to make strong moral judgements. However this quote on leaving Brazil was most passionate and should be required reading for all on matters of slavery and race. It is haunting writing.

His writings and especially his letters often bring out his compassion, as he was not constrained by “academic” impartiality. He supported a charity for chimney sweep boys and, to the surprise of many, supported the South American Missionary Society which worked in Patagonia. SAMS was and is a very evangelical Anglican missionary society. I’ve never found out why he supported it beyond geographical links. I suggest he was more concerned by the physical welfare of Jeremy Button’s compatriots.

As Ted Davis points out , some of his comments  in books, especially The Descent of Man can, at a push, be taken as racist, but as I said above he was a strong decoupler. Often his descriptive statements are seen as prescriptive. Note he knew how original inhabitants of Americas died of disease when the Spanish and Portugese came. Disease enabled the conquest more than guns. Further he had witnessed how indigenous peoples were losing out to settlers, not so much as by war, or even genocide, but by disease and their inability to compete.

Against this, if you read more about Darwin – and for me it is the first 11 volumes of his Correspondence and his son’s Life and Letters, reams of semi-legible notes, transcribed notebooks, his various writings and much about him, like me, you will have to conclude he was a compassionate and moral person, with severe questions about God, an abhorrence of slavery, and a concern for those in need. However he had the assurance of a successful and wealthy Victorian that his style of life was somewhat better than anyone else. I suppose to those who protest below the statue of his “follower” (?????) Cecil Rhodes at the front of Oriel College might make him guilty of valuing his “white privilege”  – and that would make him a racist of the vilest kind.

As Moore concluded his article;

 In the words of Jesus himself, “By their fruits you will be able to judge their teaching.”

I think that Darwin’s fruits and teaching on race were quite good and for the 19th century and excellent example

Darwin and the last of the Aboriginal Tasmanians

One of horrors of colonialism was the treatment of aboriginal Tasmanians as within a century their culture was destroyed. It was a moral blot on the British empire. No one should feel comfortable reading about this. (or smug  that they are totally anti-racist now.)

I confess that I have not delved into this as much as is needed as it raises so many moral issues both how we consider our past (Brits on empire, Americans on slavery) and where we are today when we often wish to claim the moral high ground.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_Tasmanians

Last of the Tasmanians Woodcut 6 - Wooreddy.jpg

Even Sir John Franklin, later to die in the Arctic, found himself in an impossible position when he went to be Governor of Van Diemens Land in 1837 a year after Darwin paid a flying visit.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/franklin-sir-john-2066

untitledjohn-franklin-northwest-passage-z

On his Arctic travails see;

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/sir-john-franklin-great-explorer-and-evangelical/

A few decades later all aboriginal Tasmanians of solely aboriginal descent had gone photo in 1860s. Today thousands from Tasmania claim some descent from aborigines. (Thanks to John Clarke for pointing out my error.)

Thus the demise of aboriginal Tasmanians is an excellent of finding a rod to beat Charles Darwin with , who visited Hobart from 5th to 17th February 1836 while on the Beagle. The rod is, of course, to accuse Darwin of racism and what better example than this.

Charles DarwinImage result for beagle voyage tasmania

Here is what he wrote in his Voyage. He cites the many problems  and how things had turned vicious both by settlers and natives. I am sure some looking for racism will find it here.

All the aborigines have been removed to an island in Bass’s Straits, so that Van Diemen’s Land enjoys the great advantage of being free from a native population. This most cruel step seems to have been quite unavoidable, as the only means of stopping a fearful succession of robberies, burnings, and murders, committed by the blacks; and which sooner or later would have ended in their utter destruction. I fear there is no doubt, that this train of evil and its consequences, originated in the infamous conduct of some of our countrymen. Thirty years is a short period, in which to have banished the last aboriginal from his native island,—and that island nearly as large as Ireland. The correspondence on this subject, which took place between the government at home and that of Van Diemen’s Land, is very interesting. Although numbers of natives were shot and taken prisoners in the skirmishing, which was going on at intervals for several years; nothing seems fully to have impressed them with the idea of our overwhelming power, until the whole island, in 1830, was put under martial law, and by proclamation the whole population commanded to assist in one great attempt to secure the entire race. The plan adopted was nearly similar to that of the great hunting-matches in India: a line was formed reaching across the island, with the intention of driving the natives into a cul-de-sac on Tasman’s peninsula. The attempt failed; the natives, having tied up their dogs, stole during one night through the lines. This is far from surprising, when their practised senses, and usual manner of crawling after wild animals is considered. I have been assured that they can conceal themselves on almost bare ground, in a manner which until witnessed is scarcely credible; their dusky bodies being easily mistaken for the blackened stumps which are scattered all over the country. I was told of a trial between a party of Englishmen and a native, who was to stand in full view on the side of a bare hill; if the Englishmen closed their eyes for less than a minute, he would squat down, and then they were never able to distinguish him from the surrounding stumps. But to return to the hunting-match; the natives understanding this kind of warfare, were terribly alarmed, for they at once perceived the power and numbers of the whites. Shortly afterwards a party of thirteen belonging to two tribes came in; and, conscious of their unprotected condition, delivered themselves up in despair. Subsequently by the intrepid exertions of Mr. Robinson, an active and benevolent man, who fearlessly visited by himself the most hostile of the natives, the whole were induced to act in a similar manner. They were then removed to an island, where food and clothes were provided them. Count Strzelecki states, 196 that “at the epoch of their deportation in 1835, the number of natives amounted to 210. In 1842, that is, after the interval of seven years, they mustered only fifty-four individuals; and, while each family of the interior of New South Wales, uncontaminated by contact with the whites, swarms with children, those of Flinders’ Island had during eight years an accession of only fourteen in number!”

It seems racist but Darwin was commenting on a hellish situation. However it is easy to make a Victorian a racists by our standards of 2020, especially if we are woke.

Yet Darwin, along with ALL his family and the Wedgewoods had a long tradition of being anti-slavery going back to his grandparents. Charles Darwin fulminated against slavery and when he was revising the Voyage for a second edition, he had an argument with Lyell over slavery. Lyell had just returned from the USA and defended slavery. Charlie was irate!! Thus, possibly in a state of moral indignation, add this to the account of his departure from Brazil.

180px-charles_lyell

Darwin may not pass the woke test on racism, but this and his other actions and comments on slavery shows him to be non-racist, and a person of very high moral principles.

On the 19th of August we finally left the shores of Brazil. I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate. I suspected that these moans were from a tortured slave, for I was told that this was the case in another instance. Near Rio de Janeiro I lived opposite to an old lady, who kept screws to crush the fingers of her female slaves. I have stayed in a house where a young household mulatto, daily and hourly, was reviled, beaten, and persecuted enough to break the spirit of the lowest animal. I have seen a little boy, six or seven years old, struck thrice with a horse-whip (before I could interfere) on his naked head, for having handed me a glass of water not quite clean; I saw his father tremble at a mere glance from his master’s eye. These latter cruelties were witnessed by me in a Spanish colony, in which it has always been said, that slaves are better treated than by the Portuguese, English, or other European nations. I have seen at Rio de Janeiro a powerful negro afraid to ward off a blow directed, as he thought, at his face. I was present when a kind-hearted man was on the point of separating forever the men, women, and little children of a large number of families who had long lived together. I will not even allude to the many heart-sickening atrocities which I authentically heard of;—nor would I have mentioned the above revolting details, had I not met with several people, so blinded by the constitutional gaiety of the negro as to speak of slavery as a tolerable evil. Such people have generally visited at the houses of the upper classes, where the domestic slaves are usually well treated, and they have not, like myself, lived amongst the lower classes. Such inquirers will ask slaves about their condition; they forget that the slave must indeed be dull, who does not calculate on the chance of his answer reaching his master’s ears.

Yet some comments made by Darwin on “other races” have long been used by Young Earth Creationists to show how wicked Darwin was and thus the theory of evilution is evil and racist.

Darwin’s Body-Snatchers?
Recently John van Wyhe, a Darwin AND Wallace scholar at the National University of Singapore wrote an article in   Endeavour Vol. 41 No. 1 p29-31 entitled “Darwin’s Body Snatchers” He began his paper with;

For decades creationists have claimed that Charles
Darwin sought the skulls of full-blooded Aboriginal
Tasmanian people when only four were left alive. It is
said that Darwin letters survive which reveal this startling and distasteful truth

Following up his references was difficult as they seem to have undergone some mutations!

The main one in the Australian-based Creation Ministries International (CMI) is by Carl Wieland

https://creation.com/darwins-bodysnatchers-new-horrors

Which says

Darwin [allegedly] wrote asking for Tasmanian skulls when only four full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigines were left alive, provided his request would not ‘upset’ their feelings.

I am afraid the original CMI article from 1990-2 seems have gone extinct and I can only find edited versions. In the nearest article I could find it claims that the article is based on ;

Monaghan, D., ‘The body-snatchers’, The Bulletin, November 12. 1991, pp. 30–38. (The article states that journalist Monaghan spent 18 months researching this subject in London, culminating in a television documentary called Darwin’s Body-Snatchers, which was aired in Britain on October 8, 1990.)

which ends with a later P. S.

Note added by author Feb. 2017: I was just made aware of a short (Dec. 2016) article by a Discover blogger, in which it was reported that when the (non-creationist) author Monaghan, whose work this article reports on, was asked to justify the existence of this alleged letter by Darwin, he was unable to and in fact seemed to back away from it. So in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the account must be regarded as apocryphal. Note that the blogger attempts to distract from the horrors for Australian Aboriginal people reported (and fairly widely acknowledged overall) that were unleashed by the ideas of Darwin (who, as indicated in my book One Human Family, was personally the antithesis of the image of a racial supremacist), by mockingly suggesting that this article implied that Darwin was personally responsible for the Tasmanians’ extinction. But even this incorrectly reported item about ‘Darwin’s letter’ made it clear that when he made his alleged request, their extinction was well under way, with only four left alive. The blog item was also wrong in its claim that the word ‘upset’ in this article was a direct quote when it was clearly in single quote marks, which as examples in the first few lines of my article already show were used not for direct quotations, but as indicating either ‘scare quote’ or ‘definitional’ usage. The blogger also gives a link to this article (prior to this addition), but not on the CMI website; rather, a republication of it as a pdf (without permission)—perhaps to minimize any risk that readers would be influenced by all the other information and evidence on creation.com. Nonetheless, I appreciate the opportunity to correct misinformation—CW.

So much for the
extraordinary claims about Darwin, or followers at his
behest, snatching the corpses of the tragically dwindling
Tasmanians. So rather than body snatchers, what we have
here is a case of snatching at straws.

Not so much clutching at straws but the partaking of an infinite number of pork-pies

Anyway, better than reading my comments based on a cursory look read van Wyhe’s excellent brief paper. It sums up the usual problem of those who approach Darwin with an agenda, as, in the process of their research, facts with mutate  or go extinct

 

Darwin’s Body-Snatchers?
John van Wyhe

 For decades creationists have claimed that CharlesDarwin sought the skulls of full-blooded Aboriginal
Tasmanian people when only four were left alive. It is
said that Darwin letters survive which reveal this startling and distasteful truth. Tracing these claims back to
their origins, however, reveals a different, if not unfamiliar story.
As a Darwin scholar, I thought I had heard all the myths
concerning Charles Darwin but one of my students surprised me with one that was new to me. She had been
debating evolution with a Christian creationist friend who
told her that Darwin was partly responsible for the extermination of the Aboriginal Tasmanian people! This startling claim had the apparent sheen of credibility because it
was accompanied by a purported quotation from a letter by
Darwin. Could this be true? As the Director of Darwin
Online it is my responsibility to track down any unrecorded
appearance of unique Darwin words in print, especially
those made during his lifetime. I had no record of this one.
Here is the quotation I was sent: ‘Darwin wrote asking
for Tasmanian skulls when only four full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigines were left alive, provided his request would
not ‘upset’ their feelings.’ This quotation turned out to
come from a creationist newsletter from 1992.1 Although
it attributes only one word to Darwin himself, it suggests
the existence of a real Darwin letter to this effect and only
the word ‘upset’ was quoted from it. If this were true, then
the letter must have been written around the 1860s when
there were only four known full-blooded Tasmanians left
alive, including the well-known individual named Truganini (c. 1812–1876), who was supposedly the last survivor.
As I dug a little deeper, the scale of this creationist claim
became apparent. Indeed the full quotation above is given
in many creationist books, articles and websites.2 T

Carry on reading here;

http://darwin-online.org.uk/people/2017,%20John%20van%20Wyhe,%20Charles%20Darwin’s%20body%20snatchers.pdf