Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Scott Foust, a german literature student at the University of Cincinatti, is the winner of February’s Robert O’Brien Trophy (formerly known as the Idiot of the Month award) for this breathtakingly ignorant article in the newspaper of that university. In it, Foust takes the commonly heard, and utterly false, claim that evolution supports racism and adds to it a whole new set of lies and falsehoods. His particular specialty is the unsupported assertion. Right off the bat, he trots out this one:

If evolution is to be believed, black history would include the notion that blacks are still an inferior race – still evolving, but far behind the evolution of white people.

Does he cite a single evolutionary study to back this up? Nope. Does he cite a single evolutionary scholar who believes that blacks are “less evolved” than whites? Of course not. You know why? Because there aren’t any. Anthropologists simply do not believe that there are any subspecies of Homo sapiens that exist at all, much less that any of them are “less evolved” than any other. What we casually refer to as races are primarily social categories, not biological ones; they do not correspond to a subspecies. All human beings are equally evolved, and 99% of the anthropologists in the world would agree with that statement. Hence, Foust’s naked assertion that evolutionary theory posits that blacks are less evolved than whites is either rank ignorance, or simply a lie.

During 1859, Charles Darwin, in his book Origin of the Species, popularized the idea of “social evolution.” He said that the European was the “fittest to survive” and that Aborigines, for example, were doomed to die out, similar to the dodo and the dinosaurs. In fact, although almost never taught, the subtitle of his books reads The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for life (emphasis mine). The beloved father of evolution was a racist.

One lie piled on top of another. First, Darwin’s use of the term “favored races” did not mean races of men, but species of plants and animals. Second, nowhere in Origin does Darwin even mention social evolution in humans, or any competition between European men and non-European men, nor does he mention the Aborigines of Australia at all. You can do a simple word search here, in the full text of the book, and find out for yourself. The only mention he makes at all of differences between different races of human beings is on pages 54 and 55, where he briefly discusses the idea that hot and cold weather would fix different adaptations, particularly in skin color. Has Foust even bothered to read the book he is allegedly citing as evidence? It would appear not. He then tries to tar Darwin by association:

One of Darwin’s evolutionary partners in crime was Thomas Huxley.

After the 13th Amendment freed the slaves, Huxley said, “No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal… of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed… he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out by thoughts and not by bites.”

Notice the strange logical leap here. If someone is associated with Darwin, that apparently is enough for Foust to claim that evolution itself is inherently racist. But that’s absurd. In fact, it is completely counter to reality. He doesn’t bother to mention, almost certainly because he does not know, that Darwin was a fierce opponent of slavery, in contrast to much of his creationist opposition. In a letter to the great American biologist Asa Grey, Darwin wrote:

I have not seen or heard of a soul who is not with the North. Some few, & I am one, even and wish to God, though at the loss of millions of lives, that the North would proclaim a crusade against Slavery. In the long run, a million horrid deaths would be amply repaid in the cause of humanity. What wonderful times we live in. Massachusetts seems to show noble enthusiasm. Great God how I should like to see the greatest curse on Earth Slavery abolished.

This is in sharp contrast to many of the prominent creationist scientists who opposed evolution. Louis Aggasiz, for example, a Harvard biologist and opponent of evolution, was the foremost American expositor of polygenism, the notion that each race was a separate biological species. Darwin, on the other hand, wrote an entire chapter in Descent of Man where he rejects polygenism and rejects the notion that the races are subspecies as well. The notion that the races are separate species or subspecies was an artifact of Christian theology, and evolutionary biology flatly denies it, and Darwin himself began the work that disproved it.

In fact, true evolutionists should praise Hitler’s efforts.

Only if by “true evolutionist”, Foust means someone as ignorant and credulous as himself. Surely a German literature student doesn’t need to be told of the long history of anti-semitism in Christian theology, particularly in the nation that was home to Martin Luther, and how it influenced both Hitler and the people who followed him. But perhaps he is as ignorant of that issue as he is about evolution.

Possibly a more recent example happened in Rwanda with the Hutu-Tutsi slayings. We can trace this back to when Belgium took over Rwanda in 1917. Belgian Roman Catholic missionaries began working there, establishing many social projects. However, this “church/state” alliance held to the belief that one tribal group involved with its work was superior to the other tribes having “less evolved” tribal members.

Uh, yeah. I’m straining to see even a hint of evidence connecting that to evolution. Foust, of course, provides none at all. What is going on in Rwanda is a war between tribes and it has nothing at all to do with anything evolution says. This is sheer idiocy on display.

Black people who adhere to evolution as the answer for their existence should readily embrace racism.

Black people should also understand when white people discriminate against them, the survival of the fittest theory pits blacks as the “evolutionary inferior,” of no value anyway.

Black people should understand that their destiny just might be an encounter with the KKK, if evolutionists are to be believed.

More substance-less assertions without a shred of evidence to back them up. And they just get dumber and dumber as they go. Was the KKK motivated by evolution? Not on your life. The KKK preaches Christian Identity and they base their racism on the notion that blacks are the cursed sons of Ham in the bible. You won’t find any evolutionary biologists in the KKK, but you’ll find lots and lots of ministers from the sinister underbelly of the Christian religion.

People with midget intellects, such as professors who believe in evolution, are the breeding ground for racism.

At this point, the notion that Mr. Foust would be referring to someone else as a “midget intellect” after this brilliant display of ignorance and stupidity is laughable. He is ignorant of both science and history and this absurd screed is little more than unsupported assertions and logical fallacies piled on top of one another. For that, he is the landslide winner of this month’s Robert O’Brien Trophy for stupidity above and beyond the call of duty.

P.S. For a more thorough refutation of creationist claims concerning evolution and racism, see this paper by Joe Conley, presented at a conference at Princeton in 2001. For information on the legacy of creationism and racism, see this paper by Lippard, Trott and McIver.

Comments

  1. #1 Steve Reuland
    February 15, 2005

    Huxley said, “No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal… of the white man.

    Abraham Lincoln said pretty much the same thing.

  2. #2 raj
    February 15, 2005

    I would expect something like Foust’s from a high school student, not a 4th year university student. It makes one wonder whether UnivCincinnati has a science requirement in order to graduate.

  3. #3 SteveS
    February 15, 2005

    Wow. You really need to come up with new words to describe someone like this, because the old standbys like “cretin,” “imbecile,” “moron” and “microcephalic” just don’t cut it. I’m tempted to propose the new term “foust,” which would be defined as “someone who challenges our ability to find terms to adequately describe his abject ignorance,” but I’m sure there are plenty of decent people with that name. Maybe “scottfoust” is the term I’m looking for.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    February 15, 2005

    Wow. You really need to come up with new words to describe someone like this, because the old standbys like “cretin,” “imbecile,” “moron” and “microcephalic” just don’t cut it. I’m tempted to propose the new term “foust,” which would be defined as “someone who challenges our ability to find terms to adequately describe his abject ignorance,” but I’m sure there are plenty of decent people with that name. Maybe “scottfoust” is the term I’m looking for.

    I know what you mean. I really need to get a thesaurus and find some new terms, I’m tired of using the same ones over and over. There’s only so many ways you can say “stupid”, ya know?

  5. #5 g_money
    February 15, 2005

    Nice job Ed! To denounce evolution by labeling it racist is one of the worst arguments out there. Foust is clearly a believer in not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

  6. #6 Scott
    February 15, 2005

    Your premise is false that there is anti-semetic roots in “Christian Theology”…The anti-semetic roots you describe (in Germany) are of the Catholics — a sect or cult that started long after Christianity began. (300s AD with the Counsil of Necia)

    You claim that I gave no evidence. You claim that Christian Science (Creation Science) is an absurdity. But you provide no facts…you do exactly what you accuse me of. Pretty poor rebuttal.

    And, if evolution is true, then Darwin’s reference to Favored Races only being animals and plants, then humans would fall under animals, would they not?

    Thanks for trying though!

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    February 15, 2005

    Your premise is false that there is anti-semetic roots in “Christian Theology”…The anti-semetic roots you describe (in Germany) are of the Catholics — a sect or cult that started long after Christianity began. (300s AD with the Counsil of Necia)

    It is rather laughable that a student in German literature would need to be reminded that the roots of German anti-semitism come not from the Catholic church, but from the great revolutionary against the church, Martin Luther. One can also trace the beginning of Christian anti-semitism back before the Council of Nicea, at least to Origen in the early 3rd century, who denounced the “abominable crimes” of the Jews in forming a “conspiracy against the Savior” and said that Jerusalem was destroyed as punishment for that crime. The point, which you seem to have missed entirely, is that one can even more easily tar Christianity with the stain of anti-semitism, in contrast to your ridiculous claim that evolutionists should applaud the actions of Hitler.

    You claim that I gave no evidence. You claim that Christian Science (Creation Science) is an absurdity. But you provide no facts…you do exactly what you accuse me of. Pretty poor rebuttal.

    Perhaps you need to brush up on your reading comprehension skills. I did not claim that creation science is an absurdity (though it is), so there was no need for me to defend that argument. If you’d like to discuss that, I’d be happy to, but I suspect that you are as ignorant on that subject as you are on evolution. I did point out, however, that nowhere in your article did you bother to cite a single evolutionary study that shows that one race is “less evolved” than any other, and in your reply you still did not do so. The answer is obvious – there is none to cite.

    You repeated half a dozen times in your article that evolution says that blacks are inferior to whites, yet you don’t cite a single study to that effect. The closest you came is a quote from Huxley from nearly 150 years ago showing that he was, as most people of that day were, a racist. But the fact that someone who believes in evolution held other false views has no bearing whatsoever on the truth or falsity of evolution, any more than the fact that Newton believed in alchemy disproves the laws of celestial mechanics. This is very shoddy reasoning, the sort of thing that would earn you a failing grade on even a high school paper, for crying out loud.

    And, if evolution is true, then Darwin’s reference to Favored Races only being animals and plants, then humans would fall under animals, would they not?

    Once again, your reading comprehension leaves something to be desired. You skipped right over the key word in my statement on this matter – species. Darwin used the term “races” to mean “species”, not the sociological construct we call races today. Had you actually bothered to read the book you are purporting to criticize, you would know that. But it’s painfully obvious that you did not bother to read The Origin of Species because you make numerous false claims about its contents. Nowhere in that book does Darwin even address human evolution, much less the subject of human races. Nowhere in it does he mention the Aborigines, despite your claim that it does. You simply did not read the book, yet you make claims about it. Some people would call that highly dishonest and ignorant. I would be one of them.

    Thanks for stopping by and reinforcing everyone’s view of your utter stupidity. It’s been fun.

  8. #8 Rachelle
    February 15, 2005

    That is absolutely amazing, Scott. You totally missed the point about Favored Races, which is that all humans, no matter their skin color, are only one race. That means that, whether humans are categorized as plants or animals, (I’m voting for animals!) your Favored Races argument is meaningless.

  9. #9 eon
    February 15, 2005

    Scott:

    Pull your head out of your ass, sir. It’s embarassing that I share a name with you.

    Your claims regarding Catholicism are an excellent example of what thinking people refer to as the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Roman Catholics have never been alone in advocating racist sectarian and secular policies. Other “sects or cults” among the mainline protestant denominations have throughout history used the Bible to defend the institution of slavery, for example. Particularly noteworthy are those among the southern delegates to the Constitutional convention that used their protestant interpretations of various books of the Bible, including the letters of Paul, to justify the contemporary practice of slavery. Christians of the Reconstructionist and Identy movements continue to do so to this day.

    For further evidence of mainline protestant denominations supporting and/or advocating for slavery from 1800 to the present, please view this site: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_slav2.htm.

    And, btw, you still equivocate — and obtusely so — between the conception of human races in the context of sociology and the conception by which Darwin used the term.

    You should present your article to the board of trustees at your university, as exhibit “A” in your bid to have your tutition refunded.

    Scott Fierro
    Elmira, New York

  10. #10 eon
    February 15, 2005

    Of course, I meant to write “tuition.”

  11. #11 Ian Gibson
    February 15, 2005

    A worthy Bill O’reilly Trophy (as I would rename it) winner!

    Of course, people like this know their constituency consists almost entirely of ditto-heads who are hardly going to be inclined to fact-check a word they say, especially as all the words they say are slandering the hated non-Christians.

    Such unthinking agreement is present within all ideologies, but the less fact-based the ideology, the more necessary this attitude is in order to be ably to go on believing.

  12. #12 Leni
    February 15, 2005

    Hey Scott,

    Congrats on that award!

    Watch out for logical fallacies again!
    Your equivocating again! Changing the intended use of the word animal ro suit your needs doesn’t improve your argument.

    And your assertion that Catholicism isn’t Christian Theology is almost as lame as your original article.

    Scott do yourself a favor and google “logical fallacy”. Then spend however many years you need to get them worked out in your head.

    And facts are provided. He left a link above where you can do a word search to satisfy yourself. GO DO IT instead of accusing others of not doing it for you.

    Plus his audience is a little more savvy about this than you Scott- most of us are familiar with these things and can readily find them on our own. He doesn’t need to tell us because we already know. Anyway he told you right where to look. Quit whining and go look.

  13. #13 Gary Hurd
    February 15, 2005

    Thanks for the links. GH

  14. #14 RPM
    February 15, 2005

    Even if human races (or clades) were distinct, and even if there were behavioral or intellectual differences between those races, the disparity would not be between blacks, whites and asians. The majority of human genetic diversity is found in Africa, and if we construct a phylogeny for all of the people in the world those three “races” would not appear as distinct clades. Europeans (whites) and Asians are merely a small tip on the larger tree of human existence — most of the tree is made up of individuals of recent African ancestry. Evolutionary data actually refutes the claim that one of the artificial “races” is intellectually superior.

  15. #15 Ed Darrell
    February 15, 2005

    Oh, and if one bothers to read Descent of Man, one might notice that Darwin designates the aboriginal inhabitants of Tasmania as superior to Europeans, not inferior. Darwin sadly noted that the Tasmanians were wiped out by blundering Europeans with guns. Superiority in fitness to a land and climate does not always triumph when stupidity is much better armed, in other words.

    And, has Foust never heard of the reason for the dispute between Darwin and Capt. Robert FitzRoy, the captain of the H.M.S. Beagle? If you’ve forgotten, let me remind you that FitzRoy defended slavery as a Christian imperative over people of color, because, as FitzRoy argued, the Bible demanded such discrimination. Darwin found the argument offensive and walked out.

    You’d think a student of language would at least have read the history.

  16. #16 Dave S.
    February 15, 2005

    Steve Reuland said:

    ” Huxley said, “No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal… of the white man.”

    Abraham Lincoln said pretty much the same thing.

    Of course he did.

    Lincoln-Douglas Debate #4 – Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858

    “While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

    “I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness-and that is the case of Judge Douglas’s old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson. [Laughter.]”

    Far from being the norm. The idea of perfect equality between the races in Lincoln’s time (which is also Darwin’s) would have been seen as a bizarre and silly position to hold.

  17. #17 Ed Brayton
    February 15, 2005

    Ian Musgrave, in an email a few minutes ago, pointed out that the quote from Huxley is actually part of a larger document arguing against slavery and against oppression of women as well. Here is the full quote:

    It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but no rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the average white man. And, if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favor, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilization will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest. But whatever the position of stable equilibrium into which the laws of social gravitation may bring the negro, all responsibility for the result will henceforward lie between nature and him. The white man may wash his hands of it, and the Caucasian conscience be void of reproach for evermore. And this, if we look to the bottom of the matter, is the real justification for the abolition policy. (Huxley 1865, pp. 17-18)

    Now, by modern standards we would consider that very racist. And with what evolutionary biology and genetics has taught us about the subject since Huxley’s day, it would be. But in that day and age, it was actually quite enlightened and liberal. The same is true of many statements made by Darwin. Even the most enlightened men of that day were still racist by today’s standards. But the important point is that the ideas they all held to about racial inferiority were disproven precisely because of evolutionary biology and the study of genetics.

  18. #18 Joe Blough
    February 15, 2005

    Maybe one of those “midget intellects” in the U. of Cincinnati biology department could let Scott sit through a semester of Intro. to Biology, free of charge. At least he could perhaps, maybe, get a bit of an understanding of what biological evolution is really about.

  19. #19 Jillian
    February 15, 2005

    Why, how dare Darwin use a term like “Race” in an archaic and unusual fashion – using it to mean the equivalent of “species”, indeed! His use of that term requires us to have a historically based understanding of his writing, and that – why, that requires us to have to actually *work*! It requires us to *study*!! The nerve of him! He should have used “race” in the same fashion that all twenty first century Americans understand it, and the fact that he died a century ago is no excuse.

  20. #20 mynym
    February 16, 2005

    …but from the great revolutionary against the church, Martin Luther. ….The point, which you seem to have missed entirely, is that one can even more easily tar Christianity with the stain of anti-semitism, in contrast to your ridiculous claim that evolutionists should applaud the actions of Hitler.

    I would agree that Luther provided an anti-Semitic tradition. However, the Nazis would not care very much about what Luther wrote because they aimed to “destroy Christianity.”

    Evolutionism and Nazism,
    “Our whole cultural life for decades has been more or less under the influence of biological thinking, as it was begun particularly around the middle of the last century, by the teachings of Darwin, Mendel, and Galton and afterwards has been advanced by the studies of Ploetz, Schallmeyer, Correns, de Vries, Tschermak, Baur, Riidin, Fischer,Lenz, and others. Though it took decades before the courage was found, on the basis of the initial findings ofthe natural sciences, to carry on a systematic study of heredity, the progress of the teaching and its application to man could not be delayed any more.”
    (Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in
    Germany’s Crimes Against the Jewish People
    By Max Weinreich
    (New York:The Yiddish Scientific Institute, 1946) :33)

    Contrast with religion and Nazism, on aiming to “destroy Christianity”:
    (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History
    of Nazi Germany
    William L. Shirer
    (Simon and Schuster) 1990 :238-40)
    and
    The Pagan Chant Grows Louder.

    The claims of science are typical for socialists.

    Note Haeckel, Darwin’s popularizer:
    “To be sure, other movements, Marxism and Soviet Communism, for instance, have also claimed scientific validity. But only the Nazis have seen themselves as products and practitioners of the science of life and life processes–as biologically ordained guides to their own and the world’s biological destiny.
    What ever their hubris, and whatever the elements
    of pseudo science and scientism in what they
    actually did, they identified themselves with
    the science of their time.
    ……
    The contribution of the actual scientific tradition to this ethos was exemplified by the quintessentially German figure of Ernst Haeckel, that formidable biologist and convert to Darwinism who combined with ardent advocacy
    of the Volk and romantic nationalism, racial
    regeneration, and anti-Semitism. He was to become what Daniel Gasman has called “Germany’s major prophet of political biology.” ”
    (The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the
    Psychology of Genocide
    By Robert Jay Lifton :441)

    How quickly it seems that modern progressives want to forget all history, including their own socialist eugenics movement similar to the National Socialists, etc.

    Example,
    “For the biologists, the test of a scientific outlook was generally identified with a society’s attitude towards eugenics; that is, its willingness to adopt a genuinely scientific stance towards questions of what used to be called “race betterment.” The Marxist and Fabian biologists believed that Western societies had largely failed this test.”
    (Eugenics and the Left
    by Diane Paul
    Journal of the History of Ideas,
    Vol. 45, No. 4. (Oct. – Dec., 1984), pp. :569)

    See also:
    (“In The Finest, Most Womanly Way:” Women
    in The Southern Eugenics Movement
    By Edward J. Larson
    The American Journal of Legal History,
    Vol. 39, No. 2. (Apr., 1995), pp. 139)

    The Leftists here seem to want to forget quite a bit about the normal progressive claims about science, science! Why it’s just the science of things, only ignorant people would deny it! And so on. As if that is not the claim typical to Leftist totalitarians

  21. #21 mynym
    February 16, 2005

    “But the important point is that the ideas they all held to about racial inferiority were disproven precisely because of evolutionary biology and the study of genetics.”

    There are still anthropologists who will tell you about the negroids etc., privately, the supposed “99%” that someone pulled out of thin air notwithstanding. It is right in the basic elements of their philosophy to blindly attempt to reduce humans to the sum of their parts. They were “disproven” because of cultural and historical patterns. Mainly because some people had the sense to see that the Nazi implementation of biopolicies was just like any of the utopias of hell that socialists typically make.

    Looking back, it’s easy to say, “That was wrong.” But at the time, the full weight of “science” and so on was set against the moral voices. Besides, “moral”…why, that sounds almost religious…and at that point Leftists start running around screaming their heads off thanks to their phobias.

    This is amusing,
    “All human beings are equally evolved….”

    How convenient! It seems like “science” just happens to say whatever progressives want to say at any given moment in time or history.

  22. #22 mynym
    February 17, 2005

    “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized 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 civilized 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 and the gorilla.”
    –Darwin
    (Blacks Less Likely to Accept Charles Darwin’s Dethronement of Mankind
    The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 21. (Autumn, 1998), p.40)

  23. #23 mynym
    February 17, 2005

    His use of that term requires us to have a historically based understanding of his writing, and that – why, that requires us to have to actually *work*! It requires us to *study*!!

    Uh huh.

  24. #24 mynym
    February 17, 2005

    …this breathtakingly ignorant article in the newspaper of that university. In it, Foust takes the commonly heard, and utterly false, claim that evolution supports racism and adds to it a whole new set of lies and falsehoods.

    Maybe you should give yourself your own award, because you seem ignorant and are promoting “lies and utterly false” ideas here.

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