Ken Ham Wants To ‘Cancel’ Charles Darwin

This one popped up a week ago, but it was so weird that we ignored it. No longer. It’s by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. This is what he posted at Answers in Genesis (AIG), his creationist ministry: Should We “Cancel” Charles Darwin? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Most people are familiar with the “group shaming” concept of “cancel culture.” [We aren’t!] It’s defined as “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (i.e., canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.” Well, as people “cancel” celebrities and organizations for various things, including supposed racist statements, why haven’t they “cancelled” Charles Darwin?

Have you ever heard of this “cancel culture” stuff, dear reader? Well, thanks to ol’ Hambo we know about it now. Then he quotes someone we never heard of:

A recent opinion piece by Peter Heck on the news site Disrn made this very argument — one I’ve been making in presentations and social media posts for a long time. Heck writes,

[Hambo quotes Heck:] Even by the most generous of measures, the intellectual and philosophical heritage of Charles Darwin is one of the most hideously racist legacies one can fathom. [Gasp!] And yet, his inherently racist dogma is not only presented in public schools across America, it is state and federal policy that every student in America demonstrate proficiency in understanding and applying his dangerous ideology.

We found a Wikipedia article about a science fiction writer by that name, but that can’t be the same guy — can it? Oh, wait — we also found a preacher by that name: Peter Heck. Okay, that’s cleared up. Now Hambo tells us:

Yes, there is hypocrisy among individuals and institutions who claim they’re against racism and remove statues or rename buildings — and yet exalt Darwin, a man who published in his book The Descent of Man and in various letters some of the most inherently racist material you could read! Of course, most people (including teachers and professors) have never read The Descent of Man or Darwin’s other writings.

Absolute hogwash, as we’ve explained many times before. See, e.g.: Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin. For his next move, Hambo quote mines Stephen J. Gould — which is popular among creationists lately — and then continues:

Yes, Darwin’s ideas fueled racism. Hitler (and his idea of a superior race) used Darwin’s writings to justify what he did to the Jews and others.

Here’s yet another post of ours debunking that Hitler stuff: The Ultimate Hitler-Darwin Debunking. After yet another Darwin-racism claim from Hambo, we’re told:

Surely that alone should be enough to cause the “cancel culture” to ban Darwin from libraries, schools, and universities. But no! They won’t touch Darwin because he is like a god to them. Why? Well, his ideas give people a supposed justification to reject God and do whatever they want with sex, determine “right” and “wrong” for themselves, have an abortion, and so on. Ultimately, it’s a spiritual issue!

Isn’t this great? Let’s read on:

So if the inconsistent and hypocritical “cancel culture” is not the answer to racism, what is? How do we understand things like skin “color,” people groups, supposed “races,” racism, the origin of languages and cultures, cavemen, and more? Well, these and many more topics are covered in stunning exhibits at the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, as well as in many of our books, resources, and curricula.

Had enough? We have, so although Hambo goes on a bit more, we’re done with this one. What did you think of it, dear reader?

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

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44 responses to “Ken Ham Wants To ‘Cancel’ Charles Darwin

  1. Yes, an example of this cancel process involves the sponsors who support Facebook and Zuckerberg (sic). Many have moved away due to his support of Trump’s, and the like, obnoxious language and extreme gibberish.

  2. chris schilling

    Ken practices his own form of literal “cancel culture”: glossing over upwards of forty to fifty thousand years of indigenous culture in his native Oz; making believe that — as descendants of Noah — aboriginal people turned away from the one true god, and “degenerated” into paganism. Now, apparently, they just need to get with the program and embrace Jesus.

    Today’s version of Mao’s Cultural Revolution will come for Darwin, too. The earnest left-liberal young firebrands probably understand Darwin and his works about as well as creationists.

  3. In all fairness, the Shinto Japanese raped and murdered their way across Asia minus any Darwinian foundation in their education system, most likely. Their racism was founded on their alleged heavenly heritage birth from the Gods idea. The Emperor was divine, until Mac Arthur made them stand before him on the USS Missouri to sign the peace. Chris.

  4. Dave Luckett

    Yes, I’ve heard the term “cancel culture”. It was invented by conservatives to describe a procedure used by political radicals of the critical social theory movement. Whenever a person has done or said anything “problematic” – a word that has a rather variant definition, among radicals – that person must be prevented from communicating their ideas. Not exactly shunned – on the contrary, they must attract activism. But they must be silenced, shouted down, prevented from being heard. Not debated, not refuted. Where possible, they must be removed from any position that gives them the power to be heard. But whatever, the object is never to engage the ideas so expressed. It is to destroy the utterer and thus suppress the ideas.

    This is what Ken Ham wants done to Charles Darwin. Well, of course, he would, wouldn’t he? And why not? The classical liberal reaction to “problematic” ideas is to engage them. To demonstrate by reasoned discourse from evidence, that they are in error, and would have undesirable implications and consequences. To put them into the public arena, not attempt to suppress them, so that they can be defeated there.

    But what of that? Ham is no liberal, in any sense. He is most certainly not in favour of greater individual liberty, consonant with common rights, weal, peace and justice. He has no interest in material prosperity becoming ever greater for an ever greater proportion. He desires theocracy, rigid conformity, submission, and authority. Of course he wants to use the methods that have worked to create theocracies, conformism, and submission to authority.

    And the fact that Ken Ham wants to use those methods – does that tell us nothing about the people who actually use them? Does it say nothing about their ideas, as well?

  5. Oy vey…Why stop at canceling Darwin? Why not cancel natural selection, then cancel all of biology. Simple, no?

  6. Dave Luckett

    genuinehistorianx7: The theory of evolution was certainly taught in relevant courses in Japanese universities, from the nineteenth century on. It was subjected to much the same perversions as in the west, but it is true that it had little cultural impact. Japanese education up to year eleven, at least, was and still is primarily concerned with creating a good level of literacy, given the extraordinary complexity of the written language, with its three different scripts, mostly ideographs.

    The Emperor of Japan was divine until he renounced his divinity in public. It is true that the Americans in general and General MacArthur in particular insisted on it, but that came after the surrender.

    If racism is founded on a claim of “heavenly heritage birth from the gods”, wouldn’t it be a good idea to dispense with gods? Or at least, with the notion that anybody is descended from them, or has authority, purpose or insight granted by them?

  7. Everything that I’ve read says that the only science that H referenced in support of his anti-semitism was the idea of a disease, in particular the germ theory of disease, with Robert Koch as an ideal. I don’t know why Gould said that, if he did. See the article in rationalwiki.org on “Hitler and evolution” for some details, and section 12 in the Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on “Creationism”.

  8. Michael Fugate

    Of course, if one read the Voyage of the Beagle and knew that Darwin and his family opposed slavery and he learned taxidermy from John Edmonstone, https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/freed-slave-darwin-taxidermy
    then why would anyone write such nonsense? Oh it is Ham.
    One might as well accuse Jesus of fomenting religious wars – even between Christians.
    I am all for stopping hero worship; no one ever works alone.

  9. Michael Fugate
  10. chris schilling

    Another Ken classic: “Hitler…used Darwin’s writings to justify what he did to the Jews and others.”

    Picture this: Hitler as a naughty schoolboy, picking on Jewish kids. When he’s called out on it by teacher, young Adolf responds: “Darwin told me to!”

  11. Michael Fugate

    Here’s your chance to submit a “scholarly” paper to AiG.
    https://answersingenesis.org/answers/research-journal/call-for-papers/
    Maybe one on racism before Darwin? How the “Christian” founding of the US included slavery? Maybe women and children as property? Or human exceptionalism excludes non-Christians? Protestant anti-abortion stance really a response to women’s autonomy?
    It is your chance to make something up!

  12. Having recently read this article: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/01/883115867/white-supremacist-ideas-have-historical-roots-in-u-s-christianity

    … I find a bunch of White US Evangelicals accusing others of racism to be entirely hypocritical.

  13. “Have you ever heard of this “cancel culture” stuff, dear reader?”
    Yes, but only yesterday. Dutch right wing nuts have developed last 15 years or so. A pretty extreme aspect of this ‘cancel culutre’ stuff is demanding from an employer to fire an employee because the latter has said something those right wing nuts don’t like. Originally it applies to social media:

    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Cancel%20Culture

    But I think the real life version far, far more serious. Of course I’m biased because I hardly use any social media.

    “Absolute hogwash”
    And that’s a very charitable verdict – I would have expressed myself much harder.

    “Hitler used Darwin’s writings to justify what he did to the Jews and others”
    Which shows that an excellent biologist can be a doofus on history, even as recent as that Schicklgrüber guy.

    “Isn’t this great?”
    No, not even from my twisted point of view. It’s way too predictable.

  14. @DaveL: “To put them into the public arena, not attempt to suppress them, so that they can be defeated there.”
    A strategy that has totally failed regarding to creationists, jesusmythologists, brexiteers, anti-socialdemocrats, racists, black bloc activists, extreme feminists etc. etc. The reason has been known, thanks to psychologists, for decades: people are unreasonable and irrational.
    The strategy you describe at the other hand incorrectly assumes that people are reasonable and rational . Every time our dear SC bans a creationist he recognizes the impossibility of the approach you describe.
    No, that doesn’t mean that I’m a fan of cancel culture. What I’m saying that buried deep under all the [bleep!} Ol’Hambo produces here

    @TomS: you’re right – I shouldn’t have assumed without any further do, as I did in my previous comment, that Gould said that. Thanks for correcting me.

  15. Dave Luckett

    No, FrankB, that strategy has not “totally failed”. It has been a moderate and on-going success, in the creationist debate, at least. The number of creationists and their influence and power, has been, and is, shrinking – to the express disgust of Ken Ham, among others. Oh, of course they’ll never be completely gone. Nothing is ever completely anything in human society. Only totalitarians think anything ever can be.

    Liberals and rationalists were taken by surprise by the attack from the social radicals of the cancel culture. The fundamentals of social grievance activism – the assumption of narrative over measurement, of reality being an artefact of culture and sectionality, of the impossibility of objective truth, and others – seem to be impregnable. The very act of employing reason and evidence against them is scornfully dismissed by the radicals as fundamentally fraudulent. Nevertheless, they are under attack from rationalists, liberals and humanists, not by any means all from conservatism or “right-wing” perspectives, and the attack is being mounted by rational discourse in public.

    Not everybody will ever be convinced, of course, most especially those who have an interest in denial. But while all people are irrational about some things, and some people are irrational about a lot of things, nevertheless, human societies are devices evolved for survival in a real environment, and they must actually work in that environment. Human beings, in the mass, must accurately perceive and deal with reality. Sure, as individuals they sometimes refuse. But I remain convinced that most of them, most of the time, for most issues, can manage it. If that is not true, we’re all doomed anyway.

  16. In the original post, AiG does correctly quote Gould, In his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny, the late evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould wrote, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.” Yes, Darwin’s ideas fueled racism. You can easily Google this quote, and read it embedded in its context. Gould, as he often did, is attacking the abuse of evolution science to justify racism, and in the passage quoted was specifically attacking recapitulationist interpretations of embryology, and the claim that non-whites were less fully evolved than whites.

    AiG’s fallacy is to confuse correlation with causation. The dominant superstition, whatever it may be, will recruit the dominant intellectual ideas of its time, whatever they may be. So you had a shift from Biblical justifications of racism to biological justifications of racism. The latter lingers on today among the advocates of today’s Free Market Superstition, in the form of the claim that the rich are rich because they deserve to be, and that the hereditary upper class deserves its privileges because of inherited good genes. Trump makes this argument explicitly; see https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/trump-boasts-of-genetic-superiority-german-blood-2/

  17. Blockquote didn’t work: thry this version:

    In the original post, AiG does correctly quote Gould,

    [Begin quote from AiG:] In his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny, the late evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould wrote, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.” Yes, Darwin’s ideas fueled racism. You can easily Google this quote, and read it embedded in its context. Gould, as he often did, is attacking the abuse of evolution science to justify racism, and in the passage quoted was specifically attacking recapitulationist interpretations of embryology, and the claim that non-whites were less fully evolved than whites. [End quote]

    AiG’s fallacy is to confuse correlation with causation. The dominant superstition, whatever it may be, will recruit the dominant intellectual ideas of its time, whatever they may be. So you had a shift from Biblical justifications of racism to biological justifications of racism. The latter lingers on today among the advocates of today’s Free Market Superstition, in the form of the claim that the rich are rich because they deserve to be, and that the hereditary upper class deserves its privileges because of inherited good genes. Trump makes this argument explicitly; see https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/trump-boasts-of-genetic-superiority-german-blood-2/

  18. All statues should be made with detachable heads so they can be more readily, safely and cheaply changed as our understanding of our history changes.

    This brilliant idea is copyright © Megalonyx 2020.

  19. There was at least one influential development in biology which dates
    from the mid-19th century, the germ theory of disease. Pasteur’s experiments seem to date to 1860-1865.
    But I would point to Robert Koch. I have no idea about Koch’s personal opinion about races. But H referred to Koch – he called himself the Koch of politics. The Robert Koch Institute, founded by Koch (he died in 1910) was directly involved in concentration camp experiments.
    You will find far more involvement of the germ theory of disease than survival of the fittest. Some of the precursors of H explicitly rejected “Darwinism”, and remember that before the Modern Synthesis that natural selection was out of favor among scientists.

  20. @PaulB: thanks, but still I should have waited for confirmation first.

    “AiG’s fallacy is to confuse correlation with causation.”
    Obviously; moreoever it’s not the only one. Another one is that Darwin’s groundbreaking work has been improved and expanded so much that eventual racism connected to Origins says nothing about evolution theory as we understand it now. Moreover our modern version of evolution theory has been cleansed from judgments like “Homo Sapiens has more value than Periplatena Americana”. I’ve given up counting fallacies in crappy blogposts like Ol’Hambo’s; I won’t be surprised if others will point out more yet.
    However all this is still not an excuse for me being so naive that I trusted Ol’Hambo merely on face value. Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often.

  21. @FrankB
    Quote mines are seductive because so often, even if accepted at face value, they don’t support the case. It isn’t worth the effort to track them down.

  22. Michael Fugate

    Gould obviously made that comment, but is it true? Has anyone independently verified 100s or 1000s more “biological-based” racist claims?

    Linnaeus made “biological-based” racist claims. Then again can one define “inferior “ biologically?

  23. @Michael Fugate
    There certainly were biologically referenced racist claims in the early 20th century. They were often based on the germ theory of disease. I mentioned Hitler and Koch. But there were also the claims that inferior immigrants were carriers of disease.

  24. @TomS, I don’t think Gould was being in any way misrepresented, so I wouldn’t call it a mined quote. The error is in Ham’s misattribution of causation, an error which I’m quite sure Gould did not make. For example in his The Measurement of Man, he describes how one researcher misreported data on the relative cranial capacities of Africans and Europeans, not out of mendacity but because of the tendency to see whatever one expects to see. In other words the racism was endemic, and the biology was recruited as a rationalisation.

    “But there were also the claims that inferior immigrants were carriers of disease.”; ISTR that Trump applied that argument to Mexican Would-be immigrants in the US, and I did see it used occasionally in arguments in the UK about the appropriate level of immigration

  25. Michael Fugate

    As science became more authoritative, more people would use it to justify racism.

  26. Paul Braterman, I have no idea why your comment was delayed.

  27. @SC, No problem. @Michael Fugate, exactly. The causation is directly opposite to what Ham says it is. And his “Yes, Darwin’s ideas fueled racism” is a lie. “Darwin’s ideas fueled racism” would just be a misinterpretation, but that “Yes,” turns it into a definite, and clearly untrue, statement about what the Gould quotation means

  28. @Paul Braterman
    There is a long (by USA standards)
    history of anti-immigrant feeling in the USA. In the 18th century, the inferiors included Germans, in the 19th century, there were the Irish, and then southern and Eastern European, including Jews.
    And lots more. But I was thinking of the early 20th century when it was fueled by a scare of disease. Whatever works to stir up nativism. Not to mention native or long-time residents like African American and Latino.

  29. Michael Fugate

    There is no evidence that secularization leads to an increase in crime – especially violent crime. Consenting adults having sex is not a crime. Worshipping different gods or no gods is not a crime. Abortion could be largely eliminated by improving education – especially sex education, reducing poverty, respecting women and their choices, respecting people of color.

    “Racial capitalism, as a term popularised by the scholar Cedric Robinson (with its roots in apartheid-era South Africa), is a way of understanding capitalism’s processes of exploiting who it racialises and racialising who it exploits. We see this through the dispossession of indigenous people from their land, the transatlantic slave trade and colonial enterprise.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/07/anti-racism-checking-privilege-anti-blackness

  30. Breaking news: a missing link has been found: between non-flying protodinos and (flying) pterosaurs.

    https://www.ibtimes.com/kongonaphon-kely-bug-length-fossil-found-madagascar-may-have-links-larger-dinosaurs-3006726

    Prediction: creacrappers will rejoice too, because now they can demand two more missing links.

  31. Jim Roberts

    I’d be inclined to say that evolution did accelerate racism, but not bigotry, where racism is a particular type of bigotry.

    That is, people always tended to regard Our Group as superior to Those Groups, however the notion that Those Groups were discrete categories of people to which you could apply a taxonomy, which is the basic definition of racism, is essentially a 19th century innovation. Prior to that, bigotry was typically driven by nationality, which lead to an interesting, if despicable, crossover period where “the Irish,” for example, were defined as a “race.”

  32. The Dred Scott decision said that Africans were a “subordinate and inferior class of beings”.

  33. Jim Roberts

    Dred Scott’s an excellent example of this kind of twisted reasoning, as I understand it. At least one of the justices basically signed on to the decision for the “greater good” of African Americans.

  34. It may shock creationists and leave them wondering how such a thing could happen, but the Dred Scott decision was in 1857, two years before Darwin’s Origin of Species was published.

  35. A rational discussion with Ken Ham is not possible — his entire mindset is not based on rational reason, but on a fixed ideology that allows for no variation.
    So what is the point of any debate with him?

    by the way, “Peter Heck” is a heck of a name for a preacher.

  36. Michael Fugate

    If one cares to read the decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford – it is brutal and twisted in spelling out its justifications for slavery. To claim this is on Darwin and evolutionary biology shows how truly craven Ken Ham and David Klinghoffer are. What has either done to promote anti-racism – nothing.
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/60/393

  37. @Michael Fugate, There is actually quite a lot of stuff on Answers in Genesis, arguing that are common descent from Adam and Eve is good reason for rejecting racism.

  38. Michael Fugate

    But that doesn’t really help anyone. Declaring one is not racist – heck even Trump can do that!

  39. @MF, I think you’re being a bit unfair. Ham does not just saying “I’m not a racist”. He says that racism is wrong and unbiblical, because all humankind is descended from Noah and his wife. Here he is certainly looking over his shoulder at the really nasty nasties, who say that Blacks are not descended from Noah, but from Cain, or from the Nephilim, or a completely separate creation distinct from Adam and Eve. And Noah’s family as depicted at the Ark Encounter are definitely brown rather than white. Which is a lot more than can be said about most church images of Jesus.

  40. Karl Goldsmith

    The Ken Ham who thinks he can say anything racist just by claiming he is not white and there is only one race.

  41. @Karl Goldsmith, has Ken Ham actually said anything racist? If so, I would like to know about it, for my upcoming book

  42. Michael Fugate

    Hired any Black people in high positions? Donated money to anti-racist causes? Marched against police violence? As Jesus supposedly said, “all lives can’t matter until blank lives matter and LGBTQ lives matter and especially Black trans women’s lives matter.”

  43. Michael Fugate

    This guy doesn’t think much of Ham’s “commitment” to racial equality.
    https://rightingamerica.net/the-murder-of-george-floyd-and-ken-hams-very-loud-silence/

  44. Jim Roberts

    He pretty consistently treats racism, and acts of racial violence, as a chance to promote creationism and nothing more. I can’t recall a time when he did otherwise.