BACKGROUND: Charles Darwin's "The Origin of the Species" (1859) has been appointed by a hundred Norwegian scholars as the most important scientific work of modern age. This has evoked debate about the significance of Darwin's thoughts today. The current work is an attempt to study darwinism's cultural environment.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two works on cultural history has been studied, Oswald Spengler's "The Decline of the West" (1923) and Egon Friedell's "A Cultural History of our Age" (1933). Both are written in a time when darwinism was widely debated. They have been studied in the same holistic attitude as their authors hold.
RESULTS: Spengler presume that scientific results are governed by culture. The Western mentality is to look for lasting truths, either religious or scientific. Modern scientific discoveries are presumed to be objective, arguing that they are pragmatic. However they spring from a principle of cause-and-effect that tells only half the truth about human life. In German philosophy before the Second World War, such principles where being judged as insufficient for scientific progress. The struggle for survival has been described in Shakespeare’s dramas. While Shakespeare believed in destiny, Darwin trusted reason. Both are mere beliefs, according to Spengler.
INTERPRETATION: The study discusses the uncertainties of scientific theory and experiments, and comments on to which extent an objective science without any cultural bias is possible. A conclusion is drawn that a secular science is limited to describing nature and can not describe its origin or destination.