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Evolution is racist (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Evolution is racist (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CA005:

Evolution promotes racism.

Source: Morris, Henry M. 1985. Scientific Creationism. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 179.


CreationWiki response:

Evolution does promote racism. The Talk Origins response does not demonstrate why evolution does not promote racism - but instead tries to demonstrate why historically certain groups have been more racist than Darwinists.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. When properly understood, evolution refutes racism. Before Darwin, people used typological thinking for living things, considering different plants and animals to be their distinct "kinds." This gave rise to a misleading conception of human races, in which different races are thought of as separate and distinct. Darwinism helps eliminate typological thinking and with it the basis for racism.

This is an argument against a very specific viewpoint which is not common. It is equivalent to saying, "Darwinism is less racist than <x>, so therefore is not racist." In this case Darwinism helps eliminate one foundation for racism (typological thinking) but introduces a different foundation altogether (Darwinism). This argument refutes nothing. Young earth creationists teach that all humans belong to the same kind, sharing a common ancestor made distinct from all animals by God, and does not have the grounds for racism listed here.

2. Genetic studies show that humans are remarkably homogeneous genetically, so all humans are only one biological race. Evolution does not teach racism; it teaches the very opposite.

The argument here is:

  1. Humans are remarkably homogeneous
  2. Race is determined by homogeneity
    Therefore,
  3. All humans belong to the same race.

There are three problems with this argument.

1 - It involves a redefinition of the word 'race'. This argument tries to portray the competition for survival as one of humans vs other species. Therefore, under this definition, 'racism' is the discrimination against different types of animals. A race[1] is better defined as:

A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution Racism [2] is:
  1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
  2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

This is what is commonly understood by 'racism' when one person accuses another of it.

2 - It is not adequately demonstrated that the homogeneity of the human race is the best determiner of race.

3 - It tries to convince the reader that it is the similarities which are important. It is a fact that not all races (as is commonly defined) are equal. Because they are unequal, some must be superior to others. Natural selection will favour some over others, preserving those who are superior and those who are inferior will be wiped out. It is the differences between races that make one race better fitted to survival than another. Within the earth, species compete with species. Within those species, they compete with communities. Within those communities, individuals compete. Thus Darwinism cannot be divorced from the concept of one being fitter than another. Talk.Origins tries to establish that it is our similarities that make us one race, whereas the Darwinist history demonstrates that it is our differences that are important.

3. Racism is thousands of years older than the theory of evolution, and its prevalence has probably decreased since Darwin's day; certainly slavery is much less now. That is the opposite of what we would expect if evolution promotes racism.


4. Darwin himself was far less racist than most of his contemporaries.

Irrelevant. This argument does not claim that Darwin was not racist, so his relative racism to other contemporaries does not answer the claim. Even if Darwin was not racist, it does not matter. The logical conclusion of Darwinism is racism. Darwin may simply have not been willing to admit the conclusion to himself, kept the argument to himself, or did not reason about whether his view encouraged racism or not. Many people do not consider the logical outcomes of all their beliefs.

5. Although creationism is not inherently racist, it is based upon and inseparable from religious bigotry, and religious bigotry is no less hateful and harmful than racism.

The issue for this argument is racism. Religious bigotry is something entirely independent. Proving that creationism is "based upon and inseparable from religious bigotry" does absolutely nothing to refute the claim that Darwinism encourages racism.

6. Racism historically has been closely associated with creationism (Moore 2004), as is evident in the following examples:
  • George McCready Price, who is to young-earth creationism what Darwin is to evolution, was much more racist than Darwin. He wrote,
    The poor little fellow who went to the south, Got lost in the forests dank; His skin grew black, as the fierce sun beat, And scorched his hair with its tropic heat, And his mind became a blank.
    In The Phantom of Organic Evolution, he referred to Negroes and Mongolians as degenerate humans (Numbers 1992, 85).

Anti-creationists like to make a big deal about George McCready Price, but claiming that he is to YEC what Darwin is to evolution is ridiculous. A better comparison would be to say that Price is to YEC what Erasmus Darwin (Charles' grandfather) was to evolution. That is, neither invented the idea, both believed their respective ideas and possibly had some influence on those who followed, but neither popularised their respective ideas either.

  • During much of the long history of apartheid in South Africa, evolution was not allowed to be taught. The Christian National Education system, formalized in 1948 and accepted as national policy from 1967 to 1993, stated, among other things,
    that white children should 'receive a separate education from black children to prepare them for their respective superior and inferior positions in South African social and economic life, and all education should be based on Christian National principles' (Esterhuysen and Smith 1998).
    The policy excluded the concept of evolution, taught a version of history that negatively characterized non-whites, and made Bible education, including the teaching of creationism, and religious assemblies compulsory (Esterhuysen and Smith 1998).
  • The Bible Belt in the southern United States fought hardest to maintain slavery.
  • Henry Morris, of the Institute for Creation Research, has in the past read racism into his interpretation of the Bible:
    Sometimes the Hamites, especially the Negroes, have even become actual slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane, practical matters, they have often eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites (Morris 1976, 241).

This example, properly understood, actually undermines Talk.Origins' argument. One of Africa's political leaders early in the 20th Century had written a book trying to combine God/spirituality and evolution. And apartheid had its basis in evolution, as Carl Wieland explained:

Significantly, the so-called ‘architect of apartheid’, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd (1901–1966, Prime Minister 1959–66), had undertaken studies as a psychologist in prewar Germany. There, he became enamoured with the ‘racial hygiene’ theories and policies of the Nazis, which were of course completely inspired by Darwin (via Nietzsche and Haeckel)! What seems to have happened is that such notions and attitudes were ‘grafted onto’ the Bible in an unholy union, with various distortions of Genesis used as rationales to justify these ideas about ‘race’. The most common such distortion seems to have been varieties of the gap theory, with not only millions of years, but ‘pre-Adamic races’.

Any "creationism" taught by the South African education system was little more than in name only.

7. None of this matters to the science of evolution.


References

  • Stephen Jay Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1977), p. 127. (Quoted in The Ascent of Racism (Impact #164) by Paul G. Humber, M.S.

See Also

Related claims