ICR: Darwin, Slavery, & the Enlightenment

We found another winner at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page.

The title of ICR’s article is Lincoln Laments at Gettysburg: Biblical Creation and Civil War Insights. It’s by James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. He has two middle initials, which is very classy, and he not only has a law degree, but he’s also a Doctor of Theology. He’s described at the end as “Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.”

Johnson starts out with a discussion of Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address, and the “all men are created equal” phrase in that and in the Declaration of Independence. You know about that so we won’t dwell on it. Instead we’ll skip to the attack on Darwin. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Although the majority of the 1787 U.S. Constitution’s provisions are admirable, and many are much better than their 18th-century counterparts [whatever that means], the Constitution’s treatment of slaves is clearly unbiblical. For example, notice how it bars runaway slaves from being legally emancipated if they escape to a free state:

Then he quotes from Article IV, Section 2, which is about extradition. The first part is about extraditing criminals from one state to another, and that’s still in effect. The rest has been superseded by the 13th Amendment. As originally written, it said:

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Yes indeed, that used to be there. There wasn’t any other way to get the southern states to ratify the Constitution. Okay, that’s history. But you’re wondering what that — drafted in 1787 — has to do with Charles Darwin, who wasn’t born until 1809. You’ll see. Johnson continues:

Compare how the preceding constitutional mandate for the return of runaway slaves blatantly contradicts Deuteronomy 23:15-16:

[Johnson quotes scripture:] Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee; he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best; thou shalt not oppress him.

That sounds surprisingly enlightened. Nevertheless, the bible is definitely a pro-slavery book. Tolerance of slavery is even in the Ten Commandments (“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”) Servant is “slave” in many translations. And in Colossians 3:22 (and other places) it says: “Servants [i.e., slaves], obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.”

Johnson seems to have found the only emancipation-type passage in the bible. Because he has pointed out those inspiring words in Deuteronomy 23 in order to criticize the Constitution, let’s see what else could have been included in the Constitution from that same source:

Deuteronomy 23:1 He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 23:2 A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 23:17 There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

Okay, let’s put aside that enlightened Deuteronomy stuff and return to ICR to see what Johnson has to say about Darwin:

In light of the creationist liberty tenet [Aaaargh!!] in America’s Declaration of Independence, why did our predominantly Christian forefathers put an opposite mandate into the Constitution? Could it be that America’s slavery policies are evil fruit from the same corrupt tree that produced evolutionary science? If so, what is that corrupt tree, and why does it produce such evil fruit?

See? It took a while, but we’re getting there. Let’s read on:

There is a logical correlation between American slavery and evolutionary theory: Both are effects produced by the same cause, namely, disregarding the Bible when it applies to secular topics such as politics and science. But some might protest that American slavery preceded Charles Darwin’s influence — so how can evolution and slavery be related?

Ah, that question is a rare intrusion of reality. Very unusual in an ICR article. But it will be skillfully disregarded. We continue:

Darwin is not to blame for American slavery practices. However, Darwin does share the blame for promoting racist attitudes and abuses after America’s Civil War.

See? Post-war racism was Darwin’s fault. At this point we have to link to Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin, in which we debunked all of that nonsense, but let’s not abandon Johnson now. He’s just getting warmed up. Here’s more:

Darwin’s own words proposed a theory that all men were not equal, and Darwinism’s promoters used preexisting racist attitudes to help sell Darwin’s natural selection theory, teaching that darker-skinned humans were less evolved than lighter-skinned humans:

To support that, Johnson gives us this quote:

No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man.

That didn’t look like anything Darwin wrote, so we looked at Johnson’s footnote. That quote is attributed to Henry Morris, who was purportedly quoting Thomas Huxley. Big whoop! Johnson even admits that the Huxley quote pre-dates the influence Darwin’s theory. He doesn’t care! He says:

Yet Darwin’s theory and American slavery practices can both be traced to the same kind of humanistic thinking—closed-Bible thinking about secular topics — called “rationalism” or “free-thinking.” Led by leaders of the deism movement, rationalism experienced a popular revival in the 1700s and early 1800s.

Now he’s attacking the Enlightenment. Of course — he’s a creationist! They all hate the Enlightenment — well, those who know about it hate it. For more on that, see Discovery Institute: Enemies of the Enlightenment. Moving along:

Deism-dominated science concepts — taught since the late 1700s — sowed tragic misinformation and destruction. Those ideas influenced America’s slavery policies and the pseudo-sciences of natural selection and social Darwinism.

From here on it gets really crazy. He blames slavery on the Enlightenment, as if it never existed before. Oh, if only we had stuck to the bible! We’ll give you one more excerpt:

Just like many popular “intellectuals” of today, many leaders of the “Enlightenment” (in the late 1700s) exalted the powers of human reason over the authority and reliability of the holy Bible. They closed their Bibles and chose to study nature (including human nature) without the benefit of Genesis’ data. Freeing themselves from the framework of biblical revelation, these free-thinkers relied only upon human reason as they strove to analyze and understand their world — including geologic beginnings and human and ethnic origins.

As the American experiment with slavery tragically proved, a closed-Bible approach to human relationships will never prove satisfactory.

Okay, that’s enough. Johnson is a hard-core fan of the Dark Ages. We’re not surprised.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “ICR: Darwin, Slavery, & the Enlightenment

  1. Charley Horse

    Wow! Barton preaches that the US Constitution is
    copied from the Bible. Even indoctrinating the Republican
    Congress members.
    Now this nut job is complaining that the Founders were a
    bunch of devil worshipping Genesis deniers.

    How much you wanna bet this guy is a racist? I would bet
    the farm on it.

    Remember, he is also the legal wizard that handled ICR’s
    civil suit to get State accreditation. The judge reamed him
    a new one for his idiotic filings and ruled against ICR.

  2. doodlebugger

    Deuteronomy 23:1 Interpretation: Lorena Bobitt was doing creationist work during her well known escapades.
    Deuteronomy 23:2 Interpretationl: Bobby Jindals grandchildren are in deep dookie
    Deuteronomy 23:17 Interpretation: Jerusalem ain t cool if you ‘re gay.

    Thank you counselor Johnson. Got it!

  3. Jim Thomerson

    If I remember correctly, Captain FitzRoy kicked Darwin off the Beagle, at least once, and maybe twice, because Darwin argued against slavery.

  4. Not much to say about the article, other than its all good. But that site, just came across it an hour ago looking for something else, leading to here from a twitter search. I’m all for debate, evidence and raising points, however the articles I read came across as pretty arrogant and obnoxious, always on the attack against ‘evolutionists’.
    I think the writers feel threatened in some way that they take on that stance, or maybe just like that anyway, so deeply entrenched in their views they need to, in a sense, belittle other ideas or theories.
    I don’t know 😀

  5. 18th century counterparts? I literally can’t imagine what that’s supposed to mean.

  6. Whenever we visit the old home place in Northern Indiana, I see that racism is alive and well, and would bet dollars to donuts [1960’s prices] that virtually all of the racists are also fundamentalist YEC xians. [I refuse to call them Christians]

  7. This is in “not even wrong” territory.

  8. Charley Horse:

    Remember, he is also the legal wizard that handled ICR’s civil suit to get State accreditation. The judge reamed him a new one for his idiotic filings

    Do you have a reference for that? I’d love to see it.

  9. Curm:

    Didn’t you write a post about Klinghitler blaming Darwin for the Civil War?

  10. Anonymous asks: “Didn’t you write a post about Klinghitler blaming Darwin for the Civil War?”

    There was this: Discovery Institute: Civil War Was Darwin’s Fault.

  11. James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. stretches the logic so thin trying to make a point that he loses any credibility he may have had. Moreover, it’s doubtful that his intended audience has the capacity to decipher his turgid and turbid writings.

    The world is what it is regardless of the writings of philosophers. Darwin was different — he went out into the field and studied the reality of the world, and proposed a theory that would explain his observations. In other words, he practiced science. The religious types want to consider Darwin as just another philosopher dreaming up ideas that have no observational basis, but that is not an accurate portrayal of Darwin. He was a scientist, not a philosopher. His writings are based on factual observation.

    “Hasten thee to the field, and when there, studyeth the petrology, for therein is found truth.”

  12. Yet Darwin’s theory and American slavery practices can both be traced to the same kind of humanistic thinking—closed-Bible thinking about secular topics — called “rationalism” or “free-thinking.”

    What an idiot! Free-thinkers opposed slavery and conservative Christians demanded it and defended it. Every major Christian theologian in the US south defended slavery on the basis of the Bible, some continuing to do so after the war.

    Famous anti-Darwinists of the era supported slavery, including

    1. Charles Hodge, president of the Princeton Theological Seminary, who wrote “What is Darwinism?” (1874) which included the phrase “intelligent design”; he defended slavery on the grounds that God created blacks inferior;

    2. Captain Fitzroy, captain of the Beagle, who violently argued with Darwin on the voyage about slavery, and who (decades later) spoke at the start of the famous Huxley-Wilberforce debate, to denounce the theory of evolution as anti-Christian.

    Here are some free-thinkers publicly opposed to slavery:

    1. Charles Darwin. Hated slavery all his life, and signed the Aborigine Protection Society’s memorial letter to Lord Canarvan, on the topic of giving South African blacks the right to vote and be citizens. Argued with Christian Captain Fitzroy on the Beagle over the subject.

    2. Robert Green “Bob” Ingersoll, most famous American atheist of the 19th century.

    3. Ben Franklin, deist, president of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society.

    4. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, atheist and friend of Darwin, fought on the side of the Union in command of a colored regiment.

    5. Walt Whitman, deist.

    6. Ernestine Louise Rose, atheist feminist, and abolitionist, leader of the women’s movement.

    This idiot is trying to blame slavery, a major topic of the Bible, on rationalism!

    Led by leaders of the deism movement, rationalism experienced a popular revival in the 1700s and early 1800s.

    Is he insinuating that DEISTS are to blame for slavery? The south was more theologically conservative than the north.

    The abolitionist movement was founded by deists, Unitarians, and Quakers. Again: Ben Franklin, a deist, was president of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society.

  13. Charley Horse

    Anonymous…You can read all about the case at NCSE.
    In the final order: ….ICRGS cites no legal support for its argument whatsoever, but instead relies on rambling, repetitive assertions and a hodgepodge of legal terminology, most of which are irrelevant to its argument. Thus, before evaluating ICRGS’s vagueness claim, the Court is faced with the exasperating task of determining exactly what the claim is……………..

    Plaintiff attorneys:
    James J.S. Johnson
    The Institute for Creation Research
    1806 Royal Lane
    Dallas, TX 75229

    John A. Eidsmoe,
    One Dexter Ave.
    Montgomery, AL 36014


  14. Charley Horse-
    Thanks for that. It goes in my notes.

    I’ve been trying to find a website listing all the times creationists lied in court under oath, or just freaked out– like the guy in the 1980’s case who testified that UFOs were demonic visitations. If I can’t find a source, I’ll have to write it myself.

    — Diogenes

  15. It would be a lot shorter list if you just documented
    when they tell the truth…..

  16. Charley Horse

    It would be a lot shorter list if you just documented
    when they tell the truth…..

  17. Charley Horse

    Seems there is good evidence for demon UFOs
    throughout history. Good reports in the link below.
    Now take this seriously as intended…or perish.
    Small excerpt:
    ….The resemblance between modern UFO abduction reports and ancient
    accounts of demonic visitations are striking, indeed. Ulrich
    Molitor’s De Laniis et phitonicis mulieribus (1489) shows the
    first known engravings of demons who abduct and then have sexual
    relations with humans. Olaus Magnus’ Historia de gentibus
    septentrionalibus (1555) contained engravings of the devil and
    demons carrying women (witches) away for sex. The early
    accounts of these are similar to UFO abductions; however, in
    that era it was not seen as a good thing to happen to you (as
    contrasted to many UFO abductees who view it as a positive and
    special experience).

    In the early days of the church, people who told of having
    visitations by “demons” were tolerated. Somewhat later, they
    were fined or removed from the church. It was in the 15th
    century that the church was no longer content to simply throw
    the “witches” and “sorcerers” out of the church. From that
    point onward they sought to wring confessions out of suspected
    witches and then burn or hang the accused. To have sex with a
    demon meant you were a witch or a sorcerer. Witches almost
    always had sexual relations with the demons or Satan himself
    and they were said to have some power over elemental demons.
    It is the lower orders of the demons that supposedly take on
    the appearance of UFO-like beings and fairies. In fact, in many
    of the witch trials in the 15th and 16th centuries, the “lower
    orders” of demons were described as leprechauns, gnomes, and
    other fairies.

    According to this ancient witch lore, Satan and demons had their
    favorite humans for sex. Both women and men were abducted for
    sex, but women were favored. Most victims were unwillingly
    abducted in their bedrooms at night. Many victims described
    several demons (of different types) being present at the time of
    their abduction. Some of the demons “stood by” just watching
    during the act.

    The first written mention of Satan himself forcing sex on a
    victim was probably at the trials of Artois. The writer Vignate
    (1468) chronicled the trial. Here too, was the first mention of
    Satan’s sexual organ as being cold as ice. This statement is
    similar to what some UFO abductees have said about their
    abductors who forced sex on them — particularly the insects or
    grasshopper-like creatures.

    Far more frequent was mention of sexual intercourse forced on
    victims by demons known as incubus or succubus. “Essentially
    the incubus is a lewd demon or goblin which seeks sexual
    intercourse with women …the corresponding devil which appears
    to man is the succubus” (Dictionary of Witchcraft & Demonology).
    Guazzo’s (1608) Compendium Maleficarum stated: “(The demon) can
    assume either a male or female shape; sometimes he appears as a
    full-grown man, sometimes as a satyr.” St. Augustine firmly
    believed that demons abducted people and forced sexual relations
    on them: “(Demons) have often injured women, desiring and acting
    carnally with them.”……..

  18. doodlebugger

    In Dallas, many people are fed the type of gibberish the ICR article SC so ably reviews for us, puts out every single week to a rapt audeince for an hour or more. There are radio shows about people meeting to discuss angels and the different types of angels and how you can recognize them. You usually get those radio shows late afternoons and evenings during rush hour so everyone can be kept up to date on the latest scientific updates and of course, the latest outrage perpetrated by a certain, minority status President . No worries 🙂

  19. I wrote: I’ve been trying to find a website listing all the times creationists lied in court under oath, or just freaked out– like the guy in the 1980′s case who testified that UFOs were demonic visitations

    After checking:
    The guy was Norman Geisler, one of the most important Evangelical theologians. The creationist court case where he freaked out was McLean vs. Arkansas, 1981.

    See this PT post for more on Geisler, including his support for use of force to make creationism taught in public schools.

  20. Curm,

    I think you dropped the ball regarding the Huxley quote. This is actually a common creationist quote mine, and we should not let it pass simply by saying, “Big Whoop.”

    If you look at Huxley’s quote in context, he’s celebrating the end of slavery in America (the year was 1865) and arguing that because free blacks cannot on average compete with whites, abolishing slavery is not a threat to white people. Abe Lincoln, of course, used similar logic on Stephen Douglas.

    Here is a fuller quote.

    Huxley, 1865: “The question [emancipation of slaves] is settled; but even those who are most thoroughly convinced that the doom is just, must see good grounds for repudiating half the arguments which have been employed by the winning side… It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but [QUOTE-MINE BEGINS HERE] no rational man, cognisant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the average white man. And, if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest.

    But whatever the position of stable equilibrium into which the laws of social gravitation may bring the negro, all responsibility for the result will henceforward lie between nature and him. The white man may wash his hands of it…

    The doctrine of equal natural rights may be an illogical delusion; emancipation may convert the slave from a well-fed animal into a pauperised man; mankind may even have to do without cotton-shirts; but all these evils must be faced if the moral law, that no human being can arbitrarily dominate over another without grievous damage to his own nature, be, as many think, as readily demonstrable by experiment as any physical truth. If this be true, no slavery can be abolished without a double emancipation, and the master will benefit by freedom more than the freed-man.” [Source]

    Upon googling part of this phrase, I find dozens and dozens of creationist websites, yet the actual source is not in the first 30. Then again, all the creationists write “cognizant” while the original is “cognisant.”

    The start of the sentence, “It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men”, is never quoted by any creationist. Most cite the founder of the ICR, the racist Henry Morris, who quoted this bit often in an attempt to blame Darwin for the crimes of Christendom. So Morris might have originated this quote mine. He might have changed the spelling of “cognisant.”

    Morris himself was at least as racist as Huxley, and in no place to judge.

  21. Diogenes, I don’t know why your fine comment got stuck in the spam filter. It wasn’t my doing.

    Excellent point on Huxley’s quote. I donno why I didn’t bother to check it. Morris is the godfather of all quote-miners, so I should have been suspicious. As for the mining typo, “cognizant” while the original is “cognisant” I once found that sort of thing in another mined quote. I referred to it as DNA-type evidence that shows the origin of the evil deed. Kinda like “cdesign proponentsists.”

  22. doodlebugger

    Charley Horse…….Barton gets lots of coverage on tfn also. He is as bad an historian as he is a theologian and his “book ” “The Jefferson Lies ” was recently discontinued due to “inaccuracies “, according to the publisher. A gun web site for nutters was recently found to have his posts on it. He is a raving creationist, Barton ‘s got it all.

  23. Doodlebugger:

    A gun web site for nutters was recently found to have his posts on it.

    I would like to see that if you have the link.

  24. Lots of links on the web posting Barton’s stated
    views on guns. He says over and over that every
    citizen should have the same weapons that the
    US government has. So does many other of the gun
    nuts such as the Texas attorney general.