Racism and Creationism in New Zealand

Thanks to a tip from one of our far-flung network of clandestine operatives — code named “Stonehenge” — we bring you the latest news from the underside of the flat earth. Agent Stonehenge will be amply rewarded from the overflowing coffers of the Darwinite Hegemony (or so our adversaries imagine).

We were alerted to this revealing article which appears in the New Zealand Herald (“New Zealand’s leading metropolitan newspaper”) published in Auckland. The story is headlined Creationists behind ‘offensive’ pamphlet. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Racist pamphlets horrified a top fashion model when she checked her mailbox last week. Danielle Hayes, who won NZ’s Next Top Model in 2010, was shocked to see a pamphlet equating people of colour to chimpanzees.

Miss Hayes might have been shocked, but your Curmudgeon isn’t. In spite of the creationist propaganda attempting to link Darwin’s theory with all the evil in the world, we’ve long been aware of the … ah, dark side of creationism (so to speak). See Creationism and Racism, in which we offended some of you when we said:

Let the truth be known! Racism is the always-present but never-mentioned motive for rejecting evolution and its corollary of common descent. Deep within every creationist is the secret fear that — gasp! — evolution means we’re related to … them! And you know who they are.

Let’s read some more about what’s going on in New Zealand:

It appeared the material had been downloaded from fanatical creationist websites. “Are you a racist? You are if you believe in evolution!” the letter states.

That’s typical. Creationists always say evolution is racist. The great irony is that the creationist pamphlet also says:

“Kids are taught in school that man evolved (changed) from a chimp. So I ask you who changed the most from a black chimp with black hair and brown eyes? A black man with black hair and brown eyes? Or a white man with blond hair and blue eyes?”

No racism there! Let’s read on:

People who received the pamphlet should “rip it up and bin it,” said Vicki Hall, a spokeswoman for Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres. “The commission’s position is that the pamphlet is clearly offensive. However, there is no law that prevents someone from publishing it.”

Despite the embarrassing presence of creationists, New Zealand is a civilized country. One more excerpt:

Racist pamphlets were distributed sporadically across New Zealand. Last August, the Right Wing Resistance group distributed pamphlets labelled “Stop The Asian Invasion” in Marlborough. Similar leaflets were found in Christchurch and Hawke’s Bay. Reports of creationist pamphlet drops were more unusual.

Unusual in New Zealand, perhaps, but we’ve seen that sort of thing before. Creationism claims to be based on noble religious ideals, but its appeal is all too often otherwise.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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36 responses to “Racism and Creationism in New Zealand

  1. I wonder what creationists think of the fact that our DNA is about two thirds African and one third Asian. And God made it that way! Bwahahaha!

  2. @SC:in which we offended some of you

    Only me I’m pretty sure. I’m starting to think that the misunderstanding is deliberate. The creationist pamphlet is not equating black people with chimpanzees. It is accusing (falsely) evolution of equating black people with chimpanzees. It is making an attempt to appeal to people who oppose racism.

    I have yet to see any evidence that any creationist believes that human races are not related, despite the many allegations of a secret motive to disbelieve evolution on that ground. The young-earth Biblical literalists of course explicitly reject the possibility, as they say all humans are descended from Adam and Eve.

  3. Gabriel Hanna says: “I’m starting to think that the misunderstanding is deliberate.”

    I enjoy your grumpiness, but there’s some history on my side. For example, see Christianity and History — Bible, Race & Slavery.

  4. I will happily stand corrected by someone who can run down the sources (which I am endeavouring to do now, myself), but I have a recollection that, not many years back, Bob Jones ‘university’ — which I believe remains a bastion of creationism? — had a ‘ban’ on inter-racial dating, as this was somehow unbiblical?

    I may be muddling the facts in my memory; anyone here able to point me toward a good source to confirm/deny this story?

  5. Yup Curm. There’s a correlation between the two.

  6. Ceteris Paribus

    @Megalonyx:

    Try this link at the blog of Hemat Mehta for a photo of a pre-2000 student BJU handbook.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/07/28/the-bju-interracial-datingban-in-print/

  7. Will anonymously says: “Yup Curm. There’s a correlation between the two.”

    It’s really not debatable. Before the American Civil War, clergy supported the South’s “peculiar institution.” Southern Baptists split with northern Baptists over the issue of race (and there were probably other issues too). Southern Baptists today aren’t what they used to be in that regard, but they’re still creationists. If racism and slavery had no religious support, they couldn’t have survived as long as they did.

  8. Chimpanzees have light-coloured skin.

  9. The “banana man” is an alien from New Zealand.
    Some of the best religious billboards are put up by the
    New Zealand Anglican church. My favorite is this one:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1236575/Semi-nude-Mary-Joseph-spark-outrage-challenging-stereotypes-virgin-birth.html

    I certainly remember the Ham sermons while growing up in the
    SBC church I attended. All intended to indoctrinate in the inferiority
    of the blacks. Reason to oppress and keep separate. Attitudes
    and prejudices have changed some. Mostly in keeping prejudices
    out of public discussion and confined to private gatherings. But
    easily spotted in voting. Especially in the last election.

  10. Uh huh:

    If racism and slavery had no religious support, they couldn’t have survived as long as they did.

    All intended to indoctrinate in the inferiority
    of the blacks. Reason to oppress and keep separate.

    had a ‘ban’ on inter-racial dating, as this was somehow unbiblical?

    These things are not in dispute. And they have nothing to do with SC’s claim that creationist believe black people are a separate creation unrelated to white people. Total evidence for this statement so far: zero. Have creationists been racist? Not in dispute–so have a lot of other people. Do they think black people are not descended from Adam and Eve? Ridiculous.

  11. An informal unscientific poll shows that 100% of commenters at SC’s blog think that creationists are confused, poorly educated, deceptive, and many or most of them are racist. (This includes myself, since I was the only one I polled.) But this does not imply that creationists are therefore guilty of any accusation we throw at them whatever. They are guilty of some things, sure, but this idea that they think black people aren’t related to white people is simply unfounded.

  12. Gabriel Hanna says: “They [creationists] are guilty of some things, sure, but this idea that they think black people aren’t related to white people is simply unfounded.”

    I don’t have any handy links, but I’m confident that some old sermons could be found claiming that blacks weren’t related to Adam & Eve. More common, undoubtedly, is the notion that blacks are an offshoot, separated and cursed, and although they descended from Adam & Eve, they’re not “our” ancestors because they’re not in our direct line of descent. That, of course, contrasts sharply with the “out of Africa” theory, in which there’s no Adam & Eve, and we’re all of African descent.

  13. I’m confident that some old sermons could be found claiming that blacks weren’t related to Adam & Eve.

    Find them and I’ll address them. Until then, it’s unsupported.

    More common, undoubtedly, is the notion that blacks are an offshoot, separated and cursed, and although they descended from Adam & Eve, they’re not “our” ancestors because they’re not in our direct line of descent.

    And no evidence for this one either. But modern African humans are not in my direct line of descent either, or those of most other white people. The story of Ham has nothing to do with this fact.

    That, of course, contrasts sharply with the “out of Africa” theory, in which there’s no Adam & Eve, and we’re all of African descent.

    There is no contrast. “African” descent does not mean racially African, as we use the term today. The humans who came “out of Africa” 250,000 years ago contained basically all of modern humanity’s genome–human races had not differentiated yet. Same with Adam and Eve.

  14. Ceteris Paribus

    @GH:

    Look up the US Supreme Court case Loving v Virginia, 1967

    It was the unanimous decision, struck down a state of Virginia law which had made interracial marriage illegal, and thus ended same practices in US.

    Answer me this: If christian creationists insist that marriage is a prerequisite for producing children, then what was the purpose of a law that prohibits interracial marriage?

    My own opinion is that the creationists consider(ed) whites and black to be separately created races, and that co-mingling the two was heterodoxy.

  15. Gabriel Hanna says:

    Find them and I’ll address them. Until then, it’s unsupported.

    Well, you could look at the last item in this link about Brigham Young. I don’t know how different that was from the views of non-Mormans at the time. I’m not going to spend what remains of today by reading old Southern sermons. You could also read the Dred Scott decision, which fairly well reflects the thinking of the South.

    But modern African humans are not in my direct line of descent either, or those of most other white people.

    Come on, Gabe. That’s not what I was talking about.

  16. @ceteris parabis: If christian creationists insist that marriage is a prerequisite for producing children, then what was the purpose of a law that prohibits interracial marriage?

    None of this is relevant for multiple reasons. Creationists today are not lobbying to ban interracial marriage. Bans on interracial marriage had nothing to do with creationism, they had to do with racism, and they were all over the country at one time, which was largely racist, creationist or not. And no one has produced ANY evidence whatever that creationists do not believe black people are related to white people. Which is SC’s thesis statement.

    No one denies that there have been racist creationists. But the fact that some people have embraced some forms of racist ideas does not give you a license to accuse them, on no evidence, of embracing every possible racist idea.

    If we believe here in evidence and logic and reason, isn’t it time we acted like it? Instead of deliberately conflating all sorts of people and ideas just because we don’t like them?

  17. @SC:You could also read the Dred Scott decision, which fairly well reflects the thinking of the South….

    Be a pal and just quote me the parts that say black people are not related to other humans. I suspect this quote will not be forthcoming.

    That’s not what I was talking about.

    We were talking about the common descent of human races. You were, even if you didn’t know it.

    In the time since human races differentiated there’s been some mixing along the east-west axis of Eurasia. There’s not been much along the north-south axis across the Sahara. It’s only started to pick up recently. So as a matter of scientific fact what I said is true. Few white people have modern African ancestors.

    The story of Ham is thought, by some, to refer to black Africans. Ham is a descendant of Adam and Eve and related to the rest of the human family, incontrovertibly. If that had happened, it all happened before there was much north-south racial mixing. It’s no different.

    I know you really want to tar creationists with them but you got nothing. They’re guilty of plenty as it is without making stuff up.

  18. Am I on crazy pills? Is the statement “Bill is prejudiced against black people” equivalent to “Bill thinks black people are not human”? If you say yes, I want you to show your work.

    It’s very simple, gentlemen. Draw a freakin Venn diagram if you have to.

  19. Gabriel Hanna says: “We were talking about the common descent of human races. You were, even if you didn’t know it.”

    *Sigh* There’s a difference between these two statements: (1) all (black & white) are descended from Adam & Eve; and (2) all (including whites) are descended from Africans. In the first statement, which I think is accepted by creationists, whites can trace their ancestry back to Adam & Eve without finding any Africans in their family tree [addendum: by that I mean among their ancestors].

    As for Dred Scott, I’ll try to find the time. But I recall that Tanney never specifically says that blacks aren’t human, just that they don’t have the rights about which Jefferson wrote. A subtle distinction, to which you may cling.

  20. Ceteris Paribus

    @GH:

    I’m beginning to suspect you are a student of Duane Gish, of “Gish Gallop” fame.

  21. Hey, fellas, none of us has the ability to read others’ minds. Besides, this argument has gone seriously off the tracks.

    At the time the US Constitution was written, everyone was a creationist, at least to some degree. The framers of the Constitution considered slaves, all of whom were of African descent, to be three-fifths human when it came to taking a census to determine congressional representation.

    Proof that creationists today think that blacks and whites are not of common descent? Of course not. It was a political compromise made to form a workable document that could be ratified.

    Now, creationists do believe that God made us in His image — sez so in The Bible. My question to a creationist would be, ” Which race most closely resembles that image?” All the pictures I’ve ever seen of Adam & Eve are decidedly Caucasian. Is that proof of anything, other than that the artists were probably also Caucasian?

  22. Gabriel Hanna says: “Be a pal and just quote me the parts that say black people are not related to other humans. I suspect this quote will not be forthcoming.”

    What are pals for? Here’s a link to the Dred Scott decision by Chief Justice Taney. It’s quite long, but I’ve pulled out a few excerpts. It doesn’t specifically say “Hey, Gabe, blacks aren’t human,” but it’s close enough. As you know, since the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, this case has no legal standing. Here ya’ go — all that follows is from the decision, but I’ve added some bold font:

    The question is simply this: Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, guarantied by that instrument to the citizen? One of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the United States in the cases specified in the Constitution.

    It will be observed, that the plea applies to that class of persons only whose ancestors were negroes of the African race, and imported into this country, and sold and held as slaves. The only matter in issue before the court, therefore, is, whether the descendants of such slaves, when they shall be emancipated, or who are born of parents who had become free before their birth, are citizens of a State, in the sense in which the word citizen is used in the Constitution of the United States. And this being the only matter in dispute on the pleadings, the court must be understood as speaking in this opinion of that class only, that is, of those persons who are the descendants of Africans who were imported into this country, and sold as slaves.

    […]

    The words ‘people of the United States’ and ‘citizens’ are synonymous terms, and mean the same thing. They both describe the political body who, according to our republican institutions, form the sovereignty, and who hold the power and conduct the Government through their representatives. They are what we familiarly call the ‘sovereign people,’ and every citizen is one of this people, and a constituent member of this sovereignty. The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate [60 U.S. 393, 405] and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.

    […]

    In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument.

    […]

    They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race.

  23. The whole truth

    Gabriel Hanna, do you believe that the biblical characters “Ham”, and “Adam and Eve” actually existed?

  24. @ Ceteris Paribus: many thanks for the link to the BJU student handbook.

    Chilling…

  25. I think both SC and GH are wrong. The history of racism among creationists is very, very, very complicated.

    There are few compilations of the history of racist thought among creationists. One is a brief article from ~1985 by scholar of creationism Tom McIver, in the magazine “Skeptic.”

    If SC or GH really care about the history of racism among creationists, leave your email addresses and I’ll email you a PDF of McIver’s article.

    But to summarize, creationists were all racist until the 1980’s, and some still are. Creationists employed many DIFFERENT arguments to explain the inferiority of black people. Different arguments rose or fell in popularity over time.

    Many creationists would combine more than one racist theory into a racist “cocktail”– and sometimes they would contradict themselves. For example, almost all racist creationists believed in “degeneration” theory, but many combined it with other racist theories.

    Here’s a brief summary of creationist racist theories. In theories 1,2,3, 8 and 9, all races are of a common origin. In theories 4, 5, 6 and 7, the black race (and maybe Asians/Native Americans) are of a different origin. Some of these are still popular today, as I could show with hyperlinks upon request.

    1. Degeneration, aka “devolution.” All races have devolved, but some devolved more than others. Very popular historically and still popular. Many creationists combined this belief with other theories into a racist “cocktail.” This argument was involved in Archbishop Whately’s fierce argument with Chuck over the Descent of Man. Whately was infuriated that Chuck said savages had improved themselves and could continue to do so; the Archbishop said Never!, they had only degenerated. See The Mis-portrayal of Darwin as a Racist. Embraced by many early twentieth century Young Earth creationists, e.g. founder of Flood geology George M. Price, founder of baraminology Frank L. Marsh. Further reading on early history of degeneration theory: see Patrick Brantlinger, Dark Vanishings.

    2. Curse of Ham. This was apparently believed in by uneducated Christians, but rarely appears in print in the nineteenth century; not favored by intellectuals. Further reading: see When Slavery Was Called Freedom: Evangelicalism, Slavery and the Causes of the Civil War by John Patrick Daly. It does, though, have a long history in Christianity, as the Father of the Church, Irenaeus, believed Hamites had inherited the “curse”, following Justin before him. See Irenaeus on Creation by Steenberg.

    3. Moralist / Capitalist. This was more favored by Southern Christian intellectuals than “Curse of Ham.” Language is modern and based on capitalist economic theory: Africans chose to fight wars in Africa, knowing that the cost of defeat was enslavement. Freedom requires that actions have consequences. Africans have to live with the consequences of their actions, otherwise civilization will degenerate into immoral chaos. Again see: When Slavery Was Called Freedom by John Patrick Daly.

    4. Polygenism. Many different races created separately by God in different places around the Earth. Popular with racist creationist intellectuals of the 19th. century. Infamously promoted by racist Louis Agassiz, a hero to creationists, who contributed a large introduction to the racist creationist magnum opus Types of Mankind (1854), which combined the work of several famous racist creationists, Josiah Nott (who gave “lectures in niggerology” to Southern slaveowners) and Samuel G. Morton (infamous measurer of Negro and Indian skulls), George Gliddon etc. Book included crude cartoons comparing various blacks to chimps, gibbons, orangutan etc. Very influential book; its racist arguments would be cited by creationists for decades into the future. Another, equally important polygenist creationist was Frenchman Arthur Comte de Gobineau, whose theory that race-mixing destroyed civilizations formed the basis of Nazi racial theory. For further reading: see Types of Mankind (1854) and Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man.

    5. Human /animal interbreeding. Blacks produced by humans (whites) mating with animals. Theory promoted by Prophetess of Seventh Day Adventist Sect, Ellen G. White. Because many early to mid 20th century Young Earth creationists were Adventists, this theory was popular with the founders of Young Earth Creationism. George M. Price, founder of Flood Theory, believed in human-animal breeding (and Degeneration Theory) for part of his life, as did Harold W. Clark, who founded “ecological zonation” theory to explain sorting of fossils during Flood.

    6. “Beasts of the Field”. Negroes are not humans descended from Adam, but bipedal, talking “beasts of the field” described in Book of Genesis; they are the highest order of ape, not human; have mind but no soul, and were created by God to serve as labor for humans (whites). Blacks cannot truly be slaves because they are not human. Asians and Native Americans are mixtures of human and animals, thus monstrosities who must all be exterminated. This was promoted by several Americans, most famously Charles Carroll in Negro A Beast (1900) but before him, Rev. Buchner H. Payne (“Ariel”) in The Negro: What is His Ethnological Status (1840), and Flood theorist Gottlieb Hasskarl in The Missing Link; or The Negro’s Ethnological Status (1898), and Keen Polk in Everything After Its Kind (1930s?). This idea is still very popular today with the extremist Christian Identity Movement, who resurrected Carroll’s Negro A Beast, and added to it even more bizarre ideas about the Jews being physically descened from Satan seducing Eve in the Garden. For further reading: Religion and the Racist Right by Michael Barkun.

    7. Whites created on Eight Day of Creation. Like polygenism and “Beasts of the Field”, this theory holds that God created blacks and whites separately. However, unlike “Beasts of the Field” and Adventist human/animal interbreeding, blacks are considered human not apes, but different, and must be kept separate and unequal. Blacks and other races were created on sixth day of creation in Genesis 1. Genesis 2 is not a repeat of Genesis 1 as commonly claimed, but is a description of the Eight Day of creation, when God made whites. Believed in by the modern Ku Klux Klan [Knights’ Party].

    8. Tower of Babel. Very popular theory, both historically and today. All races of common origin, but God miraculously introduced differences between races at the destruction of the Tower of Babel. God wanted races to be separate; so anyone who supports race mixing is an enemy of God. Among modern racist creationists, the “Kinists”, followers of racist fascist theologian Rousas Rushdoony, frequently invoke Tower of Babel to explain why it is evil and against God to support racial equality. However, the “Kinists” don’t really care about WHY or HOW the black race became inferior. Their main point is, it’s a simple, obvious observation that black people are by nature different; that’s God’s plan, no matter how it got that way.

    9. Mark of Cain: Cain slew Abel, his mark is that he’s dark. As Curm has pointed out, this was popular with prominent founding Mormons, e.g. Brigham Young.

  26. Thanks, Diogenes. I knew that historically there was a lot of racism mixed in with creationism, but I had no idea it was that complicated.

  27. @Diogenes: The history of racism among creationists is very, very, very complicated.

    Couldn’t agree more. Yeoman service as usual. Only a couple of comments.

    First, what you’ve shown is that separate creations of human races are not accepted by today’s creationists generally. You’ve shown that it was popular with influential creationists and religious figures of the 19th and early 20th century–more on this in a minute–and it exists among fringe groups like Klansmen, a few thousand people, and Christian Identity. Compare this to the literal Flood, the 6000 year Earth, biblical inerrancy, which are held by millions of creationists to be fundamental to creationism, though of course there are some who disagree.

    Second, what you’ve left out when mentioning Agassiz and other polygenists of the era is that the idea was ALSO held by many of those who accepted evolution, and for the same reason–scientific racism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygenism#Scientific_polygenism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygenism#Polygenist_evolution

    To sum up, the idea is not held by significant numbers of today’s movement creationists as essential to creationism, and it was held in the past by creationists and non-creationists alike. And as far as fringe groups like Christian Identity go, for every one of those I can show you a Raelian who accepts evolution but believes that humans races are unrelated. It wouldn’t be fair to paint today’s biologists as racists because of nineteenth-century biologists, or because of Raelians.

    @SC:There’s a difference between these two statements: (1) all (black & white) are descended from Adam & Eve; and (2) all (including whites) are descended from Africans.

    Yes, they are different statements, but both are false, if by “African” you mean “black people”. The other human races are not descended from today’s black people any more than humans are descended from chimpanzees. Contrary to the jheri-curled Adam and Eve on the 1988 Newsweek cover–a particularly pernicious bit of science-journalism jackassery–the “Africans” of the “out of Africa” hypothesis, from 250,000 years ago, are ancestors of all modern humans equally, and could more plausibly be described as a blend of all human races than identified with any one.

    The state of today’s science confirms that “white people” are not descended from “black people”. They are populations that both diverged genetically from the same original, not by creating many new genes, but by having differing distributions among genes of what is basically the same genome. Unless you have records that show you have black ancestors, if you are white it is orders of magnitude more likely that you have East Asian ancestors in the last thousand years than you have black ancestors.

    It doesn’t specifically say “Hey, Gabe, blacks aren’t human,” but it’s close enough.

    No, it’s completely irrelevant to the issue of whether he considered them unrelated to white people, so nothing you cited was “close enough”. A moment’s thought shows why–another oppressed group was once held to be the legal, physical, intellectual, and moral inferiors of the oppressors, and this state of affairs persisted legally, and worldwide, for many more years than it did for blacks in America. Yet no one who supported that system argued that modern women were unrelated to modern men.

    Even if he had said black people weren’t related to white people, Taney was not a movement creationist of today, and he is not cited approvingly by today’s creationists as an authority on creationism. He might well have been a racist, as were most men of his time, and a Biblical literalist, as were most men of his time. But claiming his corpse for creationism is like claiming Jefferson’s. The fallacy is the same, but much easier for you to see in Jefferson’s case.

    @ceteris paribus: If it were a Gish gallop, you could point to something untrue I said. Snark does not substitute for argument.

    @the whole truth: Are you f***in’ kidding me? You must be new here.

  28. Time out. This argument concerning whether creationists are racist or not is irrelevant to what should be our focus — namely, keeping religious dogma from diluting science instruction in our schools.

    Does anyone have a problem with that?

  29. The whole truth

    Gabriel Hanna said:

    “@the whole truth: Are you f***in’ kidding me? You must be new here.”

    So, is that a yes or a no?

  30. Gabriel Hanna says:

    The state of today’s science confirms that “white people” are not descended from “black people”.

    I would only claim otherwise if I were applying for something where affirmative action was a factor.

    Even if he had said black people weren’t related to white people, Taney was not a movement creationist of today, and he is not cited approvingly by today’s creationists as an authority on creationism.

    You are a worthy adversary (but sometimes a bit picky). Very well — henceforth I shall attempt to limit my references to the racist history of creationism (which definitely does exist) only when responding to creationist claims that “Darwinism” is responsible for racism and Hitler. I still consider creationism’s sordid past to be a good response and a true one — infinitely more true than their “Hitler” stuff.

  31. Ceteris Paribus

    @GH:

    “@ceteris paribus: If it were a Gish gallop, you could point to something untrue I said. Snark does not substitute for argument.”

    You are no doubt well aware that the Gish Gallop entails not responding directly to a question before putting the ball back in the other court; any lies, half-truths, and diversions employed to that purpose are optional.

    You provided several paragraphs of responses to my short question re the purpose of US state laws that denied legal marriage to inter-racial couples.

    And that was after you declared my question not relevant, although it is surely directly on point since Christians to this very day maintain that marriage is for the sole purpose of procreation.

    As to your assertion that “Snark does not substitute for argument”, it is mercifully concise, and I am in full agreement with you..

  32. I’ll pick on some nits in GH’s comment.

    GH: Second, what you’ve left out when mentioning Agassiz and other polygenists of the era is that the idea was ALSO held by many of those who accepted evolution, and for the same reason–scientific racism.

    Polygenism, especially in the English, American and French traditions, was overwhelmingly creationist and/or Anti-Darwinist. An exception might be the German tradition, because of Haeckel. The Anthopological Society of London was formed, post-Origin of Species, by anti-Darwinist polygenists and included the most extreme scientific racists in the Britain of its time (the name “Anthopology” derived from the French polygenist school of Anthropologie.)

    But Chuck fought polygenism, as did, so far as I know, almost all of the English and American Darwinists. Almost all, a few exceptions. Chuck was the most formidable opponent to polygenism of his era. The Descent of Man included attacks on polygenism that, in its era, had to be interpreted as attacks on racism, and which are still irrefutable today.

    The section in DoM where Chuck tots up the disagreements among scientific racists over how many races of mankind there are is a classic (see The Mis-portrayal of Darwin as a Racist). Even to this day, Chuck’s argument is devastating: is “race” a useful concept, if the experts disagree wildly on how many races even exist?

    In the quote below, many of the scientists named were polygenist racist creationists: Agassiz, Morton, Virey, Desmoulins, Crawfurd.

    Darwin: “But the most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other, independently in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having inter-crossed. Man has been studied more carefully than any other animal, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should be classed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four ([Immanuel] Kant), five (Johann Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven (Hunter), eight ([Louis] Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two ([Samuel G.] Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke. This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them. [Descent of Man, 1871]

    This argument was recapitulated just recently at Panda’s Thumb in a knock down, drag out argument over whether science can, or can’t, prove the existence of human races. Those who said “can’t” implicitly invoked Chuck’s argument, that science can’t even count how many races there are, so how is this a useful concept?

    Moreover, Darwin (rightly or wrongly) believed that evolution was incompatible with polygenism. (Turns out Chuck was wrong on this point, because Haeckel popularized evolutionary polygenism, but Chuck thought no evolutionist would believe it.)

    Darwin: “Those naturalists, on the other hand, who admit the principle of evolution… will feel no doubt that all the races of man are descended from a single primitive stock.

    Darwin: ““Although the existing races of man differ in many respects, as in colour, hair, shape of skull, proportions of the body, &c., yet if their whole structure be taken into consideration they are found to resemble each other closely in a multitude of points. Many of these are of so unimportant or of so singular a nature, that it is extremely improbable that they should have been independently acquired by aboriginally distinct species or races. The same remark holds good with equal or greater force with respect to the numerous points of mental similarity between the most distinct races of man. The American aborigines, Negroes and Europeans are as different from each other in mind as any three races that can be named; yet I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Feugians on board the “Beagle,” with the many little traits of character, shewing how similar their minds were to ours; and so it was with a full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate.”

    There are many quotes from Darwin like this.

    This point is emphasized in Graves’ The Emperor’s New Clothes, a history of scientific racism. I agree the evolutionism is not a perfect “cure” for polygenist racism, obviously Haeckel is a counter-example. Graves concludes that, all things considered, Chuck did more good than harm.

  33. @The whole truth:

    Hanna is not a creationist. You will tick him off if you imply that.

    No one on this blog is a creationist. This is our Fortress of Solitude: one of the rare blogs were creationists never go, not even closeted creationists. I repair here for some R&R after battles with the creatins.

  34. More nits picked on GH’s comment.

    GH: Yes, they are different statements, but both are false, if by “African” you mean “black people”. The other human races are not descended from today’s black people any more than humans are descended from chimpanzees.

    This is nuts. White people are certainly descended from black Africans. The ancestors of whites and Asians left Africa 70-80,000 years ago. Anatomically modern humans are about 250,000 years old. Hominids have certainly had no body hair for much longer than that.

    The (geological) minute that an ape (originally light-skinned) loses its fur, it must evolve dark skin, or the sun of Africa will kill it with skin cancer. It doesn’t take long, geologically speaking, to evolve color changes. Certainly almost 200,000 years is MUCH MORE than enough for a hairless ape to evolve dark skin, and 70,000 years is more than enough to evolve light(er) skin.

    So yes, white people are descended from black African people. They were not “modern” African blacks, this is obvious. But they were black skinned and African, so they’re black Africans.

    However, it is important to recognize that Africa has much more genetic diversity than any other continent, and “black” is not the same as “Negro”. Even sub-Saharan Africans are very genetically diverse and not all “Negroes” by the traditional definition.

    By the traditional definition, “Negro” would include Zulu, Xhosa, Bantu, Kenyans etc., but would exclude Khoi-San (“Bushmen” and “Hottentots”) usually Ethiopians, of course Berbers etc.

    Modern genetics shows that the Khoi-San branched off first from all other human groups. Of course, they must have evolved derived characters, and are not identical to our ancestors. But they are a useful outgroup for phylogenetic comparison.

    The Khoi-San are traditionally not considered “Negro” ethnically, but would be called “black” in American terminology. They have a few features which resemble Asians (nose, eyes), darker skin than whites, but lighter skin than Negroes. If you want to imagine that the ancestors of all humanity looked like the Khoi-San (this is an oversimplification), then white people are descended from black Africans but not from Negroes.

    We must not think of “black” as a package containing all “characteristic” Negro features. “Black” means dark skin here, and that’s all. Each separate feature (thickness of lips, curl of hair, etc.) must be considered separately and skeptically.

    About other Negro characteristics, like the thickness of lips– I don’t know of positive evidence, but I doubt that the common ancestors of mankind were thick-lipped, because apes are thin-lipped. That’s from induction, not positive evidence. By some measures, whites are more similar to apes than Negroes are.

    GH: ….the “Africans” of the “out of Africa” hypothesis, from 250,000 years ago, are ancestors of all modern humans equally, and could more plausibly be described as a blend of all human races than identified with any one.

    A “blend”? No way. No geneticist would call our ancestors a “blend.” We know certain major mutations occurred separately in whites, Asians and/or Africans. Obviously the mutations for blondism and rufism (red hair) are recent, and did not exist in white people’s black African ancestors. Also, as has been widely discussed, the mutations that help adults digest lactose in milk are two (or more) different mutations in Europeans vs. Africans, and not present in Asians at all.

  35. Good comment, Diogenes. That is the first time the word “polygenism” has appeared in this humble blog. It probably won’t be the last.

  36. Far from being offended at your marvelous post on “Creationism and Racism,” I linked to it in one of Dr. Jerry Coyne’s posts at http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/another-creationist-drops-by-to-show-that-theres-no-evidence-for-evolution/ where I referred to your post as “hugely perceptive.”