Creation: a form of white supremacy?
More mendacious agitprop from Scientific American
The Bible has been a thorn in the side of racists and white supremacists in the West for centuries (Adam’s Brothers? Race, Science, and Genesis Before Darwin). Indeed, Darwin’s main propagandist in Germany, Ernst Haeckel, lambasted the Bible for teaching unity of races instead of his preferred white supremacism.
This has not been without its setbacks and compromises, of course. Many in the church embraced slavery and racism, justified by twisting the Scriptures to say the opposite of what it actually says. Both sides of the picture, and the right framework for dealing with racism, are found in One Human Family.
But there was one idea that gave racism an air of credibility like no other ever had: evolution. How to explain the technological and cultural supremacy of ‘white’ Europeans? Was it God’s undeserved grace and the particulars of history and culture? (Of course it was.) Or was it innate? Maybe it had a biological basis? Ideas about the biological superiority of whites floated around for a long time. But Darwin’s theory of evolution was the first idea to give a plausible sounding story that seemed to explain the ‘data’. Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002), a leading evolutionist who was staunchly antiracist, admitted that evolutionary racists appealed to science at the expense of Scripture:
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 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.1
And what was the result? Abuses to ‘inferior’ races that became much more explicitly racially motivated than ever before. The Nama and Herero genocides? Racism. Trading the body parts of Australian Aborigines as supposed missing links? Racism. Caging Ota Benga and Abraham Ulrikab in zoos? Racism. The Holocaust? Racism. All fueled by Darwin’s idea (Darwinism and racism—are they linked?), such as this quote from The Descent of Man:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian [i.e. Aboriginal] and the gorilla” [emphases added].2
The Races of Man. – At the present time there exists upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.
Scientific American vilifies creationists
So, it might be surprising to hear that “Denial of evolution is a form of white supremacy”.3 This is a joke, right? I mean, denying evolution, the one idea that has done more to uphold the intellectual legitimacy of white supremacy throughout history, is a form of white supremacy? I mean, it was even put forward by a white guy in a white culture, and avidly promoted by other white guys in other white cultures! Sadly, this is no joke. This op-ed from Scientific American tries to flip the script completely and argue that evolution is ‘anti-racist’ and evolution denial is a form of ‘white supremacy’:
I want to unmask the lie that evolution denial is about religion and recognize that at its core, it is a form of white supremacy that perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies.
Scientific American was actually founded by the creationist Rufus Porter (1792–1884). But it has lurched 180° since then to become a bigoted anti-creationist rag. 20 years ago, we had to refute one of their articles in 15 ways to refute materialistic bigotry: A point by point response to Scientific American. It must have stung them, because they tried to bully us into removing the article.
But now they have gone even further from science and towards attacking Christianity in this latest piece. The author, one Allison Hopper, has no qualifications listed in either science or history, and it shows! Rather, her qualifications are in educational design. But evidently for the SciAm board, incompetence and lack of qualifications are no bar as long as she is saying something they want to hear. And while they did put a disclaimer on the end of the article saying “This is an opinion and analysis article; the views expressed by the author or authors are not necessarily those of Scientific American”, the history of their dealings with creationists shows clearly their support for such baseless and vitriolic anti-creationist rhetoric.
Sanctifying the racism of human evolution
But before Hopper ‘unmasks the lie’, she first sets up the ‘good guy’: evolution. Key to her inversion of reality is her re-telling of the human evolutionary narrative in a way that praises black Africans for being the original humans:
The global scientific community overwhelmingly accepts that all living humans are of African descent. Most scientific articles about our African origins focus on genetics. The part of the story that is not widely shared is about the creation of human culture. We are all descended genetically, and also culturally, from dark-skinned ancestors. Early humans from the African continent are the ones who first invented tools; the use of fire; language; and religion. These dark-skinned early people laid down the foundation for human culture. Considering the short life span of our early ancestors, these original innovators were probably also very young. No one who follows artistic trends will be surprised to learn that, from the beginning, human culture was essentially invented by teenagers. And by culture I don’t just mean the arts, I mean the whole shebang.
Isn’t this grand! But Hopper is leaving out something important: the evolutionists who first came up with this story used it to say that black Africans are primitive compared to the superior whites. That whites are ‘more evolved’. After all, they reasoned, didn’t whites dominate everyone else? Indeed, that was a dominant theme of human evolution from Darwin until well after WWII! We’ve had some success in fighting it since only because of things like the revelation of the horrors of the Holocaust, the tireless work of Civil Rights campaigners (much of which was driven by black churches), and biology finally catching up to the Bible in affirming our unity as a species. And many of the anti-slavery abolitionists such as Wilberforce would be called Bible-thumping fundamentalists if they were alive today (and were even in their own day!).
Evolution denial and the KKK
But there’s a potential confusion in Hopper’s verbiage: what does she mean by “white supremacy”? Are we talking about classical white supremacy, i.e. the belief that whites are superior to all other races? Like the philosophy of Nazis, the KKK, and the heretical Christian Identity movement? Or are we talking about the recent revisionism of that term according to ‘Critical Race Theory’ (CRT):
By ‘white supremacy’ I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily re-enacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.4
Surely, it’s just the latter, right? Indeed, much of the article is written from a CRT framework. But it’s not that simple.
First, Hopper sets up the standard ‘problem’ of evolution denial in US public schools:
Under the guise of ‘religious freedom,’ the legalistic wing of creationists loudly insists that their point of view deserves equal time in the classroom. Science education in the U.S. is constantly on the defensive against antievolution activists who want biblical stories to be taught as fact.
Now, CMI has often urged care in pursuing these sorts of legal moves, and we have refrained from engaging in such legal advocacy (The teaching of creation in schools). At any rate, Hopper tells us these legal moves are done “Under the guise of ‘religious freedom’”. False. It’s explicitly about “religious freedom”. We really do believe those ‘Bible stories’. That’s why people want to see them taught as fact. This is very simple to understand.
But she says this is really just a ruse masking our ‘racism’. But are we talking ‘racism’ merely of the CRT sort? That is, couched in terms of ‘implicit bias’ and things that, if they really do exist, it’s hard to control or be held morally responsible for? No. She doesn’t position evolution denial as a form of white supremacy merely in the modern CRT sense. She says that it’s also racism of the KKK sort! I’m not kidding. Her very next sentence reads:
In fact, the first wave of legal fights against evolution was supported by the Klan in the 1920s.
What!? So, creationism per se is a form of white supremacy because the KKK supported evolution denial in the 1920s? But such an obvious guilt-by-association fallacy was fine with the SciAm editors.
And where does Hopper get this tripe? A usual suspect: the evolution-promoting NCSE.5 But the picture the NCSE article paints is a little less favourable for evolution than Hopper lets on. While of course doing his best to tar creationists with the KKK brush, author of the NCSE article Moore still has to admit this:
In 1925, the Klan became the first national organization to urge that creationism and evolution be given equal time in public schools.
Of course, Moore says things changed for (some in) the KKK, apparently because William Jennings Bryan “was soft on the Klan” and consequently received political support from them. After he died a mere five days after the infamous Scopes trial, Moore claimed the KKK (or some within the Klan) eulogized him in part by taking up his anti-evolution cause.
However, there’s a problem neither Moore nor Hopper seem to notice. The forms of ‘anti-evolution’ among the KKK were anything but biblical.6 They would usually either hold that Adam and Eve were only the ancestors of whites (Pre-Adamic man: were there human beings on Earth before Adam?), or some form of Anglo-Israelism that excluded blacks from salvation (Is Christianity ‘for whites only’? A refutation of the ‘Christian Identity’ heresy). Furthermore, the KKK bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, 15 Sep 1963, which killed four black girls. This shows once more the virulently anti-Christian attitudes held by fanatical racists.
Plus, considering the story Moore paints of the Klan’s switch on evolution in the 1920s, much of the KKK support for the anti-evolution campaign seemed to be as much about political opportunism as it was for any religious reason.
So, rank heresy and political opportunism. That’s what drove the KKK’s opposition to evolution. How on earth is any of this relevant to most evolution deniers?
What makes creationism per se guilty of white supremacy?
Still, Hopper is at least aware that to make her guilt by association tactic stick, she has to show that white supremacy is at the heart of the creationist narrative. And she doesn’t disappoint:
At the heart of white evangelical creationism is the mythology of an unbroken white lineage that stretches back to a light-skinned Adam and Eve. In literal interpretations of the Christian Bible, white skin was created in God’s image.
Well, maybe I was a little hasty about Hopper not disappointing us. If ever there were two sentences better suited to make one laugh and cry at their sheer absurdity, they would be extremely hard to find. Yes, creationism is committed to the idea of an unbroken lineage back to Adam and Eve. But not an unbroken white lineage to white parents. No, it’s an unbroken lineage of all skin colours. Why? All humans are descended from Adam and Eve. As Paul makes clear in Acts 17:26–27:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.
We’ve argued this point on this website myriad times in the past (Racism Questions and Answers). For decades, we have portrayed Adam and Eve as medium-brown in our literature and talks. We have consistently explained that only this way could they be the ancestor of all people groups, regardless of skin shade. We have also stressed that universal common descent from Adam is essential to the doctrine that Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer (Isaiah 59:20). This means He must be related by blood to those whom He redeems, which is possible because He also came from Adam (Luke 3:23–38). Paul’s Gospel/Resurrection chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 also links the death and resurrection of Jesus, “the last Adam”, with the sin and death of our ancestor, “the first man, Adam”.
And we’re not the only creationist group to have done so. Indeed, anti-abolitionists were complaining about the use of this passage to argue for the essential unity and equality of all races before the American Civil War.7 Wherever white evangelicals have fallen for this racist garbage, it has not been because Scripture convinced them to be racists. It’s because they read their pre-existing racism into the Scriptures.
Was the mark of Cain dark skin?
Continuing on this farce, Hopper claims:
Dark skin has a different, more problematic origin. As the biblical story goes, the curse or mark of Cain for killing his brother was a darkening of his descendants’ skin. Historically, many congregations in the U.S. pointed to this story of Cain as evidence that Black skin was created as a punishment.
Apparently this nonsense gained some traction in certain fundamentalist churches in the American South. It may not be as well-known as the infamously absurd ‘Curse on Ham’ (How did all the different ‘races’ arise (from Noah’s family)?), probably because this idea is even more ridiculous.8 The curse was on Canaan, and nothing to do with skin shade—the Canaanites were not even black.
Still, we have never addressed this idea on our website, as far as I’ve been able to find. So, it will be useful to refute it clearly.
The fact is the mark of Cain wasn’t even a curse. God did punish Cain, but not with the mark. But his punishment had nothing to do with skin colour, as Genesis 4:10–12 explains perfectly clearly:
And the LORD said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.’
Cain was cursed to fail at farming the land and forced to be a fugitive. Nothing to do with the mark, and nothing to do with dark skin.
But then, what was the mark, and what was it for? The only data we have is the exchange between God and Cain in Genesis 4:13–15:
Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ Then the LORD said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.
Cain complained about the punishment, but also feared for his life. Why? He was likely near 130 years old when he murdered Abel. After all, Cain was the firstborn, Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born, and Eve explicitly named Seth as a replacement for Abel (Genesis 4:25), all of which suggests Seth was the next son born to Eve after Abel’s murder. Since “other sons and daughters” would’ve been born to Adam and Eve between Cain’s birth and Abel’s murder, there would’ve been plenty of kin around for Cain to fear retribution from for murdering his brother (How old was Cain when he killed Abel?).
Moreover, we’re not told what the mark was. But God marked Cain to stop people from killing him. So, the mark was a reprieve from his curse. Ironically, then, if Cain’s mark was dark skin (which there is no evidence for), it would’ve been a blessing, not a curse! This is proof that the white lynch mobs cared nothing for Scripture, distorted or otherwise, or else by this ‘reasoning’ they would not have dared to kill a black man for fear that God would avenge sevenfold.
At any rate, Cain’s mark is irrelevant to races today. For a start, it was never said to apply to anyone except Cain. His descendant Lamech claiming a 70 times sevenfold vengeance on anyone who murders him compared to Cain’s sevenfold vengeance (Genesis 4:23–24) is pure hubris. Cain was a jealous murderer, whereas Lamech was ‘seven times worse’. Oh, how far Cain’s line descended! But it had nothing to do with dark skin.
Further complaints and misrepresentations
In all honesty, the rest of the article is rather banal in comparison to these early ‘highlights’. It’s mostly just the standard complaints of ‘science denialism’ from evolutionary propagandists lightly dressed up in CRT garb. There are nonetheless a few ‘highlights’ worth noting:
The fantasy of a continuous line of white descendants segregates white heritage from Black bodies. In the real world, this mythology translates into lethal effects on people who are Black. Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible are part of the ‘fake news’ epidemic that feeds the racial divide in our country.
Hopper is right about one thing: a continuous line of white descendants is a fantasy. The Bible never taught it. It’s a heretical distortion of the Bible. But still, her target is “Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible”. Most people will call the proper interpretation of the Bible a ‘fundamentalist interpretation’. It’s hard to believe Hopper isn’t aware of this. But if she is aware of this, she’s guilty of fake news, herself. It would scurrilously lump in the proper interpretation of the Bible, which is an antidote to racism, with this heretical racist distortion under the umbrella of “fundamentalist interpretations” (note that she uses the plural) she says is “part of the “fake news” epidemic that feeds the racial divide in our country.” Unfortunately, with the absurd and scandalous nature of her rhetoric to this point, this is believable.
I did find rather funny her complaints about creation book publishing:
If you go on Amazon and look up “children’s books on evolution” you will find about 10–15 relevant titles. … On the other hand, there are hundreds of children’s books available on Amazon that focus on biblical origin stories. Science deniers are pumping money into a well-funded antievolution machine.
Of course, if evolution has a monopoly on the public school science classroom, why buy kids evolutionary books? And wouldn’t this also create an economic demand for non-evolutionary kids’ books among parents who don’t want their kids imbibing evolution unchallenged? In other words, the systemic privilege evolution has in our culture today probably helps to fuel an economic ‘counterculture’. Maybe we should start discoursing on a ‘Critical Evolutionary Theory’ …
Then there’s this little ‘gem’:
In the Adam-and-Eve scenario, the Creator bestows both physical and cultural humanity on the first people. From the get-go Adam knows how to name the animals. No one has to invent language or figure out how to make tools. Science, of course, tells us otherwise. The process of natural selection shaped our bodies and capacities. Our humanity emerged over the millennia as creative ancient people figured out the crucial skills—from storytelling to cooking to rope making—that we now take for granted.
This is so confused. First, evolution has long had trouble explaining things such as language, music, and morality. At least nobody need doubt that God can make us capable of these things! Second, even in the biblical picture people had to invent tools. Has she never read Genesis 4:20–22?
“Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.”
Hopper does at one point hit on some truth:
And yet, even in the current literature about human origins that we do have, the end point of evolution is often depicted as a white man carrying a spear. This image not only eliminates our African heritage but also erases women and children from the picture.
Right. But that’s not an ‘evolution denial’ problem. It’s a ‘history of evolutionary thought’ problem. Not that she would deal critically with the history of evolutionary thought, though:
“Because evolution is foundational knowledge, we need the story to be told in many different ways, by many different voices.”
It is extremely desperate to blame creation for an evolutionary invention. Indeed, tell it to all those non-whites slaughtered by Darwin-inspired ideas.
Should we be surprised at mendacity?
According to the evolutionary world view, “There is no ultimate foundation for ethics … ”9; and our universe has “no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”10 So evolutionists are acting consistently with their world view if they stretch the truth.
Nobody can deny the history of racism in some sections of the church. Nor should we deny it. But the correct biblical response is not to tolerate or embrace racism, but for everyone who has been guilty of it to repent of it, because it is the sin of partiality (James 2:1). More than that, we should fight strenuously to root it out of the church completely.
And that’s part of what we at CMI do: we fight to root out racism from the church by pointing out what the Bible really teaches. The best corrective to eisegesis is good exegesis! We point out that the biological unity of the human race is consistent with the Bible. Indeed, the Bible predicted it when evolution didn’t! And we do everything in our power to persuade those in the church to follow the Bible’s solution to racism. And what is that? The Gospel!
Evolution has no answers to our racial divides. In fact, evolution was the major scientific justification for many of the causes of the racial divides that continue to plague us. Evolution is a white man’s idea, from a white culture, used for much of its history to justify white supremacy. Biblical creation is God’s idea mediated through non-white Scriptures that ultimately call all races to bow the knee to a non-white Mizrahi Jew: Jesus of Nazareth. So, which one has a better claim to be a form of white supremacy? Evolution. It’s no contest.
References and notes
- Stephen Jay Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Belknap-Harvard Press, p. 127, 1977. Return to text.
- Darwin, C., The Descent of Man, 2nd ed., John Murray, London, p. 156, 1887. Return to text.
- Hopper, A., Denial of evolution is a form of white supremacy, scientificamerican.com/article/denial-of-evolution-is-a-form-of-white-supremacy, 5 Jul 2021. Return to text.
- Ansley, F.L., Stirring the ashes: Race, class and the future of civil rights scholarship, Cornell Law Review 74:993–1077, 1989; p. 1024. Return to text.
- Moore, R., Racism and the public’s perception of evolution, Reports of the National Center for Science Education 22(3):16–18, May-Jun 2002; ncse.ngo/racism-and-publics-perception-evolution. Return to text.
- Woodmorappe, J., Darwinism has remade Western society—for the worse, J. Creation 29(1):42–44, 2015. Return to text.
- Priest, J., Slavery as it Relates to the Negro or African Race, Printed by C. Van Benthuysen, Albany, p. 133, 1843; archive.org/details/slaveryasitrela00priegoog/page/n135/mode/1up. Return to text.
- Even anti-abolitionists in the 19th century rejected the idea: Priest, ref. 7, p. 134. Return to text.
- Provine, W.B., Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy? The Debate at Stanford University, William B. Provine (Cornell University) and Phillip E. Johnson (University of California, Berkeley), videorecording © 1994 Regents of the University of California. Return to text.
- Dawkins, R., River out of Eden, Weidenfeld and Nicolswi, Chapter 4, 1995. Return to text.