The following article was co-authored by Carolyn Reeves and Marni Kendricks.
What are the two things that should not be discussed over dinner in polite company according to rules of etiquette? Politics and Religion. They can be controversial and emotional, cause anxiety, and ruin a good meal. Well, I suggest this time we DO couple them together for a serious conversation that needs to take place in our society.
Hardly a day goes by without a racial issue being raised in our news reports, social media, and daily conversations. We are well aware of uncomfortable symbols all around that remind us of an obvious racial divide—songs, flags, monuments paintings, graveyards—and even more so we have tough issues of racial profiling, neighborhood and church segregations, social media frenzy, and protests that often turn violent. I don’t think anyone can deny that racial tensions exist today, but have you ever wondered WHY? Where did this begin? What is this powerful force we face that still lingers decades after the start of the Civil Rights movement led by brilliant, ethical, strong leaders of our time?
Race struggles have existed for centuries throughout history. There have been and still are many horrible periods in world history where religion, ethnicity, and race were the catalyst for awful events. Still, there is no doubt that increasing racial discord is one of America’s big problems, and it is occurring on our watch.
If you continue reading this article, know that the authors have chosen to tackle sensitive issues. The purpose is certainly not to contribute more strife, but to try to lay bare before you a few significant events in our recent history that we believe could be underlying contributors to society’s misguided views.
For a moment let us first consider the world-wide influence of a scientist named Charles Darwin. Any high school student in any public school in America has studied about the “Father of Evolution” and many have fully accepted and praised his life’s work. For me, there is something that doesn’t seem quite right about Darwin’s famous book, Origin of the Species. If you read the full title of the book, you may begin to see the problem: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
Years before Darwin got around to publishing this book, he had come to believe that humans evolved over millions of years by natural selection in the same way he thought other animals had evolved. He concluded that the first humans were not a distinct creation of God, but rather a product of evolution from ape-like animals that produced different species of humans.
Darwin wrote another book, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, in 1871. He wrote a follow up book, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, in 1872. In these books he tried to show that man was just another primate. He tried to show that humans were similar to “higher” animals in physical characteristics, emotions, and intelligence. This was his chief argument for concluding that humans had evolved from other animals.
At first the idea that humans had descended from some kind of ape-like animal was met with a great deal of opposition, especially from the British clergy. Most people today are skeptical of accepting all the tenants of modern evolution, even though they may accept micro-evolutionary concepts. However, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, a number of scientists and intellectuals fully accepted Darwin’s beliefs about the evolution of human races. It was the writings of Darwin’s fans who most spread the idea that there were differences in the races and that some races were separate species.
Hitler began reading books and articles by extreme followers of Darwin as a young boy. By the time he had become an adult, he had read a large number of materials on human evolution in which a frequent conclusion was that the time had come to take more control of human evolution. These authors proposed that there should be policies to help the superior races increase in numbers and the inferior races to decrease in numbers
The tiny poisonous seeds sown by both intellectuals and uneducated racists led to unthinkable beliefs and actions in the 20th century. Unfortunately, these lingering racial beliefs seem to pervade our culture in a way that most people do not recognize. The kind of persuasive articles that promoted ideas about superior and inferior races can be seen in a 1931 Popular Science Monthly magazine. The article showed Java man, Peking man, Heidelberg man, and Neanderthal man as races that became extinct, but Piltdown man was proposed as the ancestor of the Australian race and the Mongol race, while Cro-Magnon man was said to be the ancestor of the white race. This is known as a polygenetic view of evolution and leads to the conclusion that the races are not equal and some are more primitive than others. This could even lead people to believe that certain races were part human and part ape, when the truth is that all human races are 100% human.
To Hitler, the favoured race was the Ayran race (mostly blue-eyed, blondes) whom Hitler believed were superior in intellectual and physical characteristics to Jews, Slavics, Mongolians, Negroes, and several other races and groups. Another notorious group who promoted the idea of a superior white race and an inferior black race was the Ku Klux Klan, which became prominent during the early 1900s.
Hitler passionately believed a “Master Race” of the most favoured races would be able to solve the world’s problems if the inferior races with their undesirable inherited traits were eliminated. He believed this so fervently that he set out to purify a master race by first systematically eliminating or sterilizing as many of the “inferior” races (in his opinion) as possible, along with people who had mental or physical defects. He targeted the Jewish race as the race that first needed to be eliminated from the earth, because he thought they had the greatest percentage of subhuman characteristics of all races. But, his perverted plans were to eventually get rid of the other races, including African Americans, whom he considered “inferior” or even “subhuman.” Hitler’s Master Race idea has been thoroughly discredited, but as long as the possibility of polygenetic evolution survives, the idea of “inferior” races will linger.
The idea that human evolution needed to be guided and directed may not have come directly from Darwin himself, but some of the influential disciples of Darwin during the late 1800s and early 1900s had no problem proposing this. It was also fully embraced by many in the eugenics movement, who were able to get laws passed in America to forcibly sterilize people whom they believed would pass flawed traits on to their children. These laws have since been repelled, but the underlying belief remained long after World War II ended that some races are hopelessly flawed and society would be better off if their numbers did not increase.
In America there has been a pervading belief that the Negro race was somehow inferior to other races, not as smart, not as capable. Thankfully that belief is rapidly fading today in America, but it is shocking and puzzling why so many people bought into the idea in the first place. Undoubtedly this idea was fueled by the writings of some scientists and eugenicists who gave credibility to it.
Darwin himself wrote about differences in races, which he considered to be separate species or subspecies. He expressed his beliefs cautiously in Origins, but wrote much more boldly in Descent of Man, where he began by suggesting that one could read his book and then decide whether or not “ man is the modified descendant of some pre-existing form.” (1871, p. 395). He then went on to argue that humans were indeed descended from primitive primates and savage tribes, and as a result of the evolutionary process, some races were superior to others.
He cited the Fuegians of South America as evidence to support his theory that humans had evolved from savage or barbaric tribes. In chapter 21, he wrote: “The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely that man is descended from some lowly organized form, will, I regret to say, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians.” When the Beagle’s voyage (which carried Charles Darwin) came to the Straits of Magellan at the southern tip of South America, the crew encountered a tribe of Fuegians for several days. They were dirty, almost naked, and spoke in a language with many guttural sounds. Darwin immediately concluded that they had evolved from ape-like animals and similar tribes were once ancestors of humans.
Many of Darwin’s ardent followers wrote boldly about the problems caused by the evolution of humans. One of Darwin’s trusted fellow scientists was a physician by the name of Ernst Haeckel. He classified different human races as separate species or sub-species and ranked different races from “highest’ to “lowest.” He reached this conclusion based on Darwin’s teaching that ape-like animals were the ancestors of humans. Haeckel wrote a book in 1868 entitle Natural History of Creation. He illustrated the ancestors of modern humans by showing six human races and six animals species in descending evolutionary order: an East Asian, a Fuegian, an (Aborigines) Australian, a black African, and a Tasmanian followed by a gorilla and other apes. The twelve illustrations supposedly represented their gradual intellectual and physical evolutionary development.
Another one of Darwin’s strongest defenders was Thomas Huxley, an extremely intelligent young man whose early training was largely from being self-taught. An opportunity to study physiology and anatomy enabled him to serve in as a surgeon in the Navy. He is most famous for applying Darwin’s ideas about evolution to races of humans. His book, Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature, contained line drawings that supposedly showed the course of evolution from gibbon to orangutan, chimpanzee, gorilla, and man. He assumed that the black man was inferior to the white man, saying, “ No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less the superior of the white man.” (in Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews. 1871, p. 20)
Huxley did not say this because he disliked black men and women. Both Huxley and Darwin despised the slave trade and thought it was immoral. Yet, they persisted in their beliefs that the Negro race was inferior to the Caucasian race, because of how they had evolved. Incredibly, they were blind to the fact that their own words were providing a justification for slave owners to own slaves and that they were spreading a dangerous lie. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, Darwin’s ideas about human evolution spread around America. Even Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, thought the Negro race might need to be helped and cared for because of their lower intellectual abilities.
Darwin’s ideas about the evolution of humans continued to morph until it became a full grown racist view of the “inferior” races. The Civil Rights Movement did much to end racism in America, but there are lingering beliefs about some groups that defy the end of racism.
Without doubt, slavery, genocide and mistreatment of certain races of people were present before Darwin. However, the period after Darwin introduced human evolution may have been the first time in history when leading intellectuals attempted to provide a scientific justification for forced sterilization of some humans. Ideas like “favored race,” “inferior race,” “subhuman race,” and “master race” opened the door to some of the most horrific acts in human history, one of the most notable being the Holocaust.
Equally horrific, thousands of Aborigines were hunted like non-human wild animals and killed. Their bodies were sold to medical and scientific institutions who wanted to study “living missing links” and compare them with people they considered to be fully human. Shamefully, some of their remains are still housed in medical and scientific institutions around the world, even though anatomical differences were not found.
In America the racist views of Darwin’s disciples persuaded many people to view Africans, black Americans, and other races as inferior or even less than fully human. It justified terrible unfair treatment of so-called “inferior races.” It has been used to justify slavery; segregated schools and housing; unfair court decisions; and limited voting rights and jobs. It is why the discredited eugenics movement began and fueled the early abortion movement as a way of reducing undesirable races.
The absolute tragedy of these beliefs that have adversely affected millions is that they are not true! All humans–past, present, and future—are part of the same human race. Fuegians from South America, Aborigines from Australia, and slaves from Africa were never subhuman. These people may have been forced into primitive living conditions at some point. If you have ever seen the TV series, Naked and Afraid, consider how perfectly rational humans would have great difficulty surviving if they were isolated in a remote area without metal tools, weapons, and basic supplies. However, they, like all humans, were descendants of the first two original humans, Adam and Eve—not from a Common Ancestor randomly birthed in a warm pond. Stated in Biblical language, all people are of one blood and are descended from Eve.
Almighty God purposely planned, designed, and created humans in His image. And because of this fact, every person deserves to be treated with respect. There is no justification for treating anyone with contempt because of his or her race.
One of the major planks of any person’s worldview is finding a satisfactory answer to the question, “Who am I?” Bible-believing Christians would probably include something like this in their answer: “I am a child of God, created in His image, and I relate to all other humans as people who were created in His image”
Thomas Jefferson, along with the signers of the Declaration of Independence, believed that God created all humans with the same basic rights, because all humans are made in the image of God. The worldview accepted by most Americans is incorporated in Jefferson’s elegant words found in the Declaration of Independence, “. . . it is a self-evident truth that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. . . . .”
The tragic history of the effects of Darwin’s proposal of human evolution has been documented in Evolution’s Fatal Fruit by Tom DeRosa with a forward by Dr. D. James Kennedy (available from www.CreationStudies.org).
A more detailed account of the unbelievable treatment of Aborigines can be read in Carl Weiland’s book, One Human Family, which can be ordered at www.https://usstore.creation.com/one-human-family.
There is an interesting account of four young Fuegian people who Captain Fitzroy decided to take to England to be educated and then returned to their original homes. See www. Creation.com/Darwin-and-the-fuegians.
Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview by Jerry Bergman is a thoroughly documented book on Hitler’s quest to produce a superior race. Hitler’s worldview beliefs, along with the main scientists, academians, doctors, and leaders who supported him, are discussed and analyzed.