Creationist Wisdom #1,049: He’s Back Again!

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Rockdale Citizen of Rockdale County, Georgia. It’s titled PEARRELL: God created us all as one family, and the newspaper has a comments section.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher — John Pearrell, pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington, Georgia. The church’s website says they’re affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The rev is a big favorite around here. He’s been featured in this collection eight times before. The last was #954: Darwinism Is Depravity, which will get you back to all the others. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his newest letter, enhanced with some bold font for emphasis and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Okay, here we go:

It is with a heavy heart that I write this particular article. I know you have been watching the news, which has shifted away from focusing on COVID-19 and is now focused on the protests and riots that have rocked various cities. They have also rocked my own heart and mind. [He’s so compassionate!]

Then he says this about the news on TV:

[A]s Dr. Bernice King was speaking, she mentioned that it was time to stop viewing the white race as the superior race. At first I was disturbed and viewed her comments as a form of reverse discrimination (revealing the evil that exists in my own heart — Jeremiah 17:9). Then I asked, “where did the idea that the white race was a superior race originate?” I did not have to look far for the answer.

Great question — where did that idea originate? The rev tells us:

While modern evolutionists work hard to distance themselves from their deplorable past in this area [Verily, they are all wretches!], when Darwin published his book “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, it was here where the idea of the white race being the superior race was popularized. [Gasp!] By the way, the full title of his book is “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.”

That’s standard creationist garbage. To refute it we often link to an old post of ours, Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin. The TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims also debunks it — see Evolution promotes racism.

The rev continues:

Darwinian evolution was and still is inherently a racist philosophy teaching that different groups or “races” of people evolved at different times and rates so that some groups are more like their apelike ancestors than others. … Stephen J. Gould claimed, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of the magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.”

Gould said that? We doubt it. Let’s read on:

Unfortunately, the church is not innocent in this deception. [Wow! Preachers rarely admit that!] The church often has been guilty of trying to look intelligent by capitulating to the pseudo-science of evolution. [Oh wait — we thought the rev was going to actually going to tell the truth.] We did this with our new understanding of the Genesis account, trying to make it agree with accepted dating methods of evolution (i.e., “The Gap Theory”). Basically, we have been guilty of following the lead of society and then supporting that decision by our faulty theology. When it came to the problem of races, the faulty claim that many churches defaulted to was the wrong teaching that the cursing of Ham (really Canaan) was a curse of “blackness” because of the fact that Canaan was to be “the lowest of slaves to his brothers.” That is a sad example of twisted scripture.

Yeah, they never should have tried to accommodate science. Another excerpt:

As a Christian and a Creationist (by study) [Hee hee!], I believe that we are one race with different ethnicities. We are all related to Adam through the line of Noah. I believe that what we commonly call “the races” resulted from mankinds’ [sic] dispersal at the Tower of Babel.

Then it gets even crazier:

I believe that when God changed the languages of men, he did it along genetic lines [Oh yeah!]; that is, he did it in such a way that our dominant and recessive genes resulted in the different people groups we now see. But, and this is important, we are all the same on the inside because ultimately we are all just one family!

It seems that language is a genetic thing. And now we come to the end:

Whether or not you agree with my view is a matter of opinion. [It’s more than that, really.] Let’s agree to at least live by what is called “the golden rule:” [No problem!] “Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.” (Matthew 7:12, CEV)

Thus endeth another great letter from the rev. We look forward to the next one.

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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37 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #1,049: He’s Back Again!

  1. Gould did say that (Ontogeny and Phylogeny,p 129), and is stating quite correctly that there were plenty of people using arguments based on Darwinian evolution to support racism. Creationists, of course, up to and including Henry Morris, have been using the Bible to justify racism, and bringing evolutionary thinking into this is intellectually dishonest cherry picking, but we do ourselves no favours by pretending that the cherries is not there to be picked

  2. Paul Braterman says: “Gould did say that”

    Okay, but it would seem to be taken out of context to claim that Gould admitted the theory of evolution actually is racist.

  3. Gould’s context, Which you can readily find by googling the exact quotation, is that Darwin was used to put a pseudoscientific gloss on racism. Gould’s point is, Not that Darwinism (as we can call it in the context of the late 19th and early 20th century) led to racism, but that it did increase the use of specifically biological arguments to justify it.

    Of course, the Reverend’s “it was here [in 1859] where the idea of the white race being the superior race was popularized” Is garbage, as is his misunderstanding of the meaning of the word “race” in the relevant context, and it would be worth pointing out that at that stage Darwin carefully avoided saying anything at all about human evolution.

    I’m always amused by the Tower of Babel story. I wonder if there is a kind of linguistic baraminology, according to which the undeniable changes in languages in the past 3000 years or so are all examples of microevolution from types created at Babel.

    Or perhaps I shouldn’t give them ideas should any of them read this

  4. Formely Holding The Line In Florida

    Seems to me that the Rev has been getting his info from Hambo especially with his Tower of Babel horse pucky. .

  5. @Paul Braterman
    Robert Koch and the germ theory of disease provide an example of the misuse of science by the Nazis, with Hitler himself being quoted as saying that he thought of himself of the Robert Koch of politics, and the Robert Koch Institute in 1940s Germany involved in Nazism. I don’t have any idea about the personality of Koch, himself, but he did cooperate with at least one Jewish scientist, Paul Ehrlich.
    A couple of Nobel prize winning physicists, Phillipp Lenard and Johannes Stark were Nazis.
    As far as giving creationists ideas, have no fear, for there is the book by Robert T. Pennock:
    Tower of Babel; The Evidence against the New Creationism
    MIT Press, 1999
    I don’t remember much of the book frm 20 years ago. I’ll have to skim through it before sayig more about it.

  6. Michael Fugate

    In my copy of Ontogeny and Phylogeny it is on page 127.
    He discusses the recapitulation argument that adults of some “races” are equivalent to the children of others. Then…

    Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory. The litany is familiar: cold, dispassionate, objective, modern science shows us that the races can be ranked on a scale of superiority. If this offends Christian morality or a sentimental belief in human unity, so be it; science must be free to proclaim unpleasant truths. But the data were worthless. We never have had, and still do not have, any unambiguous data on the innate mental capacities of different groups–a meaningless notion anyway since environments cannot be standardized. If the chorus of racist arguments did not follow a constraint of data, it must have reflected social prejudice pure and simple–anything from an a priori belief in universal progress among apolitical but chauvinistic scientists to an explicit desire to construct a rationale for imperialism.

  7. @TomS (and @me!); yes some do say just that. I mention this here: https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/linguistic-creationism/ (h/t John Zande)

  8. If we’re going to connect “scientific racism” to Darwinian evolution, one thing that requires explaining is that Darwin’s theory of natural selection was out of favor until the “modern synthesis” in the 1930s or so. Herbert Spenser, who is often mentioned wrt “social Darwinism” is one opponent.
    I brought up the germ theory of disease. It was a major development in biology at the same time as evolution. Can anyone separate the influence of germs vs natural selection on scientific racism?

  9. Eddie Janssen

    “I believe that when God changed the languages of men, he did it along genetic lines that is, he did it in such a way that our dominant and recessive genes resulted in the different people groups we now see.”

    This is the most beautiful nonsense I have ever seen used by a creationist.

  10. Btw the title of the book was suggested by the publisher. Darwin’s original title was
    An abstract of an Essay on the Origin of Species and Varieties Through natural selection
    No “races” mentioned.

  11. Michael Fugate

    He sticks Dr. in front of his name – think he ordered a diploma online?

  12. Hi ! Our cute little pastor says ““where did the idea that the white race was a superior race originate?” Young John then tells us ! Darwin !!! And all this time I thought it was THESE guys :
    Confederate General Robert E Lee the slave owner said “The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things.” Lee was known for breaking up slave families through sales.
    Confederate President Jefferson Davis the slave owner said “We recognize the negro as God and God’s Book and God’s Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him. Our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude”
    Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest : Tennessee historic marker notes :“From 1854 to 1860, Nathan Bedford Forrest operated a profitable slave trading business at this site,”
    Confederate South Carolina statesman said “Calhoun asserted that slavery, rather than being a “necessary evil,” was a ” positive good,” benefiting both slaves and slave owners.”
    The Southern Baptist Convention disclosed in a report in 2017 that its four founders together owned more than 50 slaves,
    Rev Richard Furman of First Baptist ,Charleston said in 1822 “In proving slavery justifiable by Scriptural authority, its morality is also proved; for the Divine Law never sanctions immoral actions.”
    South Carolina’s secession letter of 1861 states ” an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations”.
    Finally pastor, the Georgia secession letter in its SECOND SENTENCE says
    ” For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against non-slave-holding states with reference to the subject of African slavery.”
    Sorry big fella. Nobody mentioned Charles Darwin. Facts are pesky things reverend. You richly deserve to be included in the Curmudgeons august pantheon of creationist buffoons and in your case southern racist history deniers..

  13. Just another interesting snippet. The last notable biologist in the USA who didn’t accept evolution was Agassiz. He was a racist, notably so even by the standards of his day.

  14. chris schilling

    “They have also rocked my own heart and mind.”

    Another pious fraud, in the David Menton mode. Evangelicals aren’t concerned with racism, per se, but only with trying to discredit Darwin and evolution.

    Their earnest handwringing over the issue of racism is their way of paying lip service to current events; an all-too transparent means to appear topical and au courant. But for them, all roads lead back to the Bible — ‘vangies like the rev and AiG, or the Discoveroids for that matter, can’t actually offer any real practical solutions to the crisis afflicting the US, other than to invoke Jesus, or post an anti-Darwin screed.

    If the rev trawled alt-right sites, he’d find they, too, identity as evangelical, and they hate Darwin(ism) just as much as they do black people, Jews, etc. Who’s to say the alt-righters are not “true” Christians? They can quote the scripture to support their positions, just as the slave-owners did.

  15. Michael Fugate

    If racists use the Bible to justify racism, does that discredit the Bible?

  16. Dave Luckett

    As I remarked before, of course Darwin’s theory was used by racists to attempt to justify their racism. So was scripture. So was anything at all that they could give the necessary malign twist to. TomS, you have given us an example of an extreme racist unhinged enough to call on the germ theory of disease to justify racism – in fact, genocide. Admittedly he did it by demented and horrifying analogy, but still.

    The Rev says that scripture had to be “twisted” to justify race-based slavery. He’s right. Noah’s son Ham must be assumed to be the ancestor of all blacks – which is ridiculous – and the curse on him, servitude, had to be assumed to be actual chattel slavery, that is, not merely servitude, but to be owned as property. Further, the regulations on slavery found like the pustules of a vile disease in scattered references in the Pentateuch are quite explicit. Such ameliorations as they prescribe apply only to Hebrew slaves and runaway slaves from masters of other races. Hebrews may take slaves from other peoples and treat them as they will; and the slaves’ offspring are also slaves.

    The Bible allows slavery with a fine inclusivity. Anyone can be a slave. Only for Hebrews are the conditions somewhat less hideous. Well, in theory, at least, although Jeremiah 34:9-16 complains at length that the seven year limit on Hebrew slavery was ignored. And of course we have the usual apologist’s quibbles about the distinction between “slavery” and “debt-bondage”. Sure, sure. But the point the Rev would like to make is that even the Bible’s explicit and repeated condoning of slavery did not condone racism, as such, oh dear me, no.

    This is chop-logic of the first water. The very fact that the Bible says that one people – Hebrews – are to be treated differently from others is by its very nature racist. But that is nothing to the awesome fundamental racism that pervades the Old Testament and even makes its way into the New. That is the notion, many times explicitly repeated, that God has a Chosen Race. If that’s not racism, what the bleep is?

    Darwin’s work has to be seriously perverted to support racism. His entire panoply of belief and his lifelong membership of the Anti-Slavery Society has to be ignored to implicate him in condoning slavery. The Bible, on the other hand, has racism at its core, and explicity allows slavery throughout.

    When it comes to racism, Biblical literalists like the Rev live in houses of particularly fragile glass. It would be basic common sense not to throw stones. But then again, to be a Biblical literalist is to lack any tincture of common sense, by definition.

  17. @Dave Luckett
    Indeed, racists have twisted anything available to justify their racism.
    Yet I am not convinced that “Darwinism” was of interest to the racists of the early 20th century.
    They had the germ theory of disease.
    It wasn’t just Hitler.
    For one thing, Darwinism, in the form of the theory of natural selection, was not widely accepted before the Modern Synthesis in the 1930s. Even TH Huxley
    was not convinced.
    And early theorist influence on Hitler, Houston Stuart Chamberlain had distain for Darwin. See the article on “Hitler and evolution” in RationalWiki,org.
    On the other hand, Germany had a Robert Koch Institute active in Nazism. In the USA, there was the Ku Klux Klan, which certainly had no liking for Darwin. The KKK had the Bible.
    I am not claiming any expertise on the topic, but i have my doubts about the popularity of Darwin among early 20th century racism.

  18. Good to read that everything I wrote the last time about Pastor Johnny still fully applies. Some things simply don’t change.
    It’s also good that he gives me the opportunity to provide one of my favourite links:

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

    I’m pretty sure this Afro-Dutch theologian was not a “darwinist”.

    @TomS: “Yet I am not convinced that “Darwinism” was of interest to the racists of the early 20th century.
    They had the germ theory of disease.”
    One doesn’t exclude the other. Survival of the fittest did make its way to nazi-ideolog, just like the germ analogy (which fits in the nation-body metaphor) and the myth of the Aryan race (taken over from Hindu-mytology that goes back to Alexander the Great), including symbols like the swastika.
    The nazis were exceptionally unoriginal.

  19. Dave Luckett

    I take your point. A perusal of “scientific” racist writings from the later nineteenth and early twentieth century shows an astonishing variety of extraordinary perversions of fact, but distorting Darwinian evolution is not prominent among them. I suspect that the, er, “theorists” (I’m sorry, but that’s the only word I can think of) who purported to cite actual scientific data to support their racism were uninterested in Darwin’s work because they didn’t understand it at all; but also because it did offer a challenge to the mainstream religions of the time.

    Can you believe it? The tendency of slaves to try to escape being described in learned language as a mental disorder? The proposal seriously advanced that blacks have less capacity to feel pain because of their African ancestry? Compared to such – words fail me – a malign misunderstanding of Darwinian evolution such as the Rev’s, above, seems almost rational. It isn’t, of course. It’s only a reminder that there is no limit to human wickedness and depravity, and that things can always get worse. Perhaps, given idiots like the Rev in positions of prestige, it’s as much as we can do to prevent things from getting worse. I would hope for better, myself.

  20. Retired Prof

    Paul Braterman, if you are amused by the Tower of Babel story, you will be doubly so by the Theory of Wrathful Dispersion. Here is the URL: https://q-pheevr.livejournal.com/33337.html

  21. @Retired Prof, thanks. Your link takes me to a critique of the Theory, but I can’t find a good source for it. I’ve also only been able to find one source, a church worker in the Hebrides whom we have discussed here before, for the claim that the Babel story undermines linguistics.

    I’d be grateful if anyone can point me to places where such creationist theories of language are set out at greater length, preferably by organisations rather than individuals. Forgive me if you think I’m being a humourless pedant; actually, I’m just trying to milk the joke

  22. och will: Robert E. Lee was far more complex than your one quote suggests. The slaves at the Arlington plantation were his wife’s — she was a granddaughter of Martha Washington, and Arlington had once been part of the Mt. Vernon estate. Before resigning from the US Army and accepting command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee prevailed on his wife to free the Arlington slaves — which was a considerable sacrifice. He wanted to make a statement that the reason he was “taking up the sword” against the United States was to defend Virginia — and not to preserve slavery.

  23. While RE Lee was far more complex indeed this

    “Lee prevailed on his wife to free the Arlington slaves …..”
    is also far more complex according to English Wikipedia – which refers to all kind of sources, unlike you.

  24. Michael Fugate

    If one defend Lee, then one can defend anybody – stick your fingers in your ears chanting la la la la la. It is easy.

  25. Interesting SC. Thank you for sharing that .My favorite Arlington story is that of Quartermaster General Meigs of the Union army, who insured that Union soldiers who died in battle were buried outside Lee’s kitchen window very early in the sites evolution into a war dead cemetery. The other is that the Lee family received the grand total of $17,000 for Arlington years after the war. I push back against the lost cause narrative of Lees nobility (not that you’re doing that). . When all of the southern states cited slavery as the cause for their secession, either in the secession documents or by numerous comments supporting slavery by their statesmen, if Lee let go some of his slaves, that’s seems a drop in the bucket to the slave holders he fought for, like uh Jefferson Davis There is a narrative about slavery not being the reason for Lee’s decision to be a traitor. Seems flimsy. He held slaves in several plantations, like many southern leaders.Their economy was based on it.

  26. Is there a major figure of the Confederacy who urged compatriots to accept the freedom of African American citizens and denounced violence against them? Such a figure should be celebrated throughout the land.

  27. Michael Fugate

    And freedom is a pretty low bar. We know that banning slavery didn’t stop it, as banning alcohol didn’t stop its manufacture and consumption. Nor did granting rights lead to people actually being able to exercise those rights. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were passed in the 1860s – just look at all the court cases that have followed in attempts to actually uphold the constitution. Still not being upheld today. It wasn’t until 1919 that women could vote – 50 years after the 15th amendment.

  28. Formerly Holding The Line In Florida

    @ TomS. See MG Patrick R. Cleburne “The Stonewall Jackson of the West”. Wikipedia will give you the short version as they do with all.

  29. @Formerly Holding the Line in Florida
    Thank yoiu.
    How about LG James Longstreet?

  30. MG Patrick Cleburne was killed while still fighting for the Confederacy

  31. Formerly Holding The Line In Florida

    @TomS. Yes Cleburne was killed leading his division in one of most ill conceived attacks (Franklin TN) in Civil War history or any war for that matter. Ranks up there with Fredericksburg, Pickett’s Charge, and Cold Harbor. That doesn’t change his opinions. Very progressive for a Confederate General. Kept him in Division command when he should easily been a Corps Commander. As to Longstreet, a controversial figure except when on the field. Then one of the finest Corps Commanders of the war. He had two major issues 1. He went Republican and was a friend of Grant before and after the War. His friendship got him a great job in New Orleans. That didn’t sit well with the powers that wanted to be. 2. He criticized some of Lee’s actions during the War. This led him to be attacked by the Jubal Early faction. It didn’t help that his observations were correct as Lee fully knew. He admitted his mistakes and inability to accomplish what he desired. The whole affair started AFTER Lee died. Lee always fully trusted Longstreet and believed to be among the best. Lee would not have tolerated the attacks upon Longstreet.

  32. I am not very informed about the Civil War. That’s why I’m asking.

  33. I’ve just heard that there are some changes in the US armed forces about Confederate symbols. For example, army bases named after Confedate generals. It seems odd that there are bases named after enemy generals. Is there a Fort Benedict Arnold?

  34. @TomS, there *is* a Georgetown

  35. There are a lot of places in the USA which bear names from pre-independence times. Georgia and so on. But, to take one example which is puzzling, Fort Bragg – I just looked it up in Wikipedia – it was renamed in 1922 after a Confederate general.

  36. Formely Holding The Line In Florida

    @TomS Most Army Camps, later, Forts were named during WWI. Almost all were named for a Civil War Generals. This was also a time of a reconciliation between North and South, lots of veterans still around and in positions of influence. In the north, they were named after Union Generals, and in the south, Confederate Generals. Remember that is was the greatest call up of soldiers in American history up to this time. Most of the Divisions were really National Guard formations so it made sense that each State had their own Camps of Instruction. A few interesting exceptions. The 29th Infantry Division. The Blue/Gray Division. Division insignia a Blue/Gray Yin/Yang. Half of the unit was formed from New Jersey and the second half from Virginia and Maryland. The 82d Infantry Division, later Airborne, was the All American Division. It was part of the National Army with soldiers from each of the then 48 States in its units hence the name. The Camps of instruction were generally called after the states most significant military leader. Fort Benning, Ga “Rock” Benning was a superb brigade commander in The Army of Northern Virginia. What I always found amusing was that the some of the more significant Forts were named for the most the incompetent Southern Leaders. Fort Bragg, NC for Braxton Bragg for instance. He was thought by some to single handily lose the war for the south. Strange name for home of the XVIII Airborne Corps! “The Fighting Bishop” Leonidas Polk, got one in Louisiana, he did his best but was generally lacking in success, he under Bragg too. Fort Lee, Va on the other hand is primarily an unknown Quartermaster School! So ends the history lesson for today!

  37. Thank you.
    I told you that I had a lot to learn about the Civil War.