In a recent blog post Steve Wiggins wrote, “The white man doesn’t believe in evolution because that makes race random rather than a deliberate act of God at the appropriately named tower of Babel.” While I found much of his advocacy for a “color blind” approach problematic, his passing suggestion that there might be a connection between racism and evolution denial seemed worth exploring further. I know that nowadays Ken Ham claims that his brand of anti-evolutionism is anti-racist whereas evolution is associated with racism. But Ham and his ilk also claim that they represent “true science” while evolutionary biology (and geology, and astronomy, and linguistics) do not. And so the distancing of young-earth creationism from racism may in fact be just another attempt to obscure the truth of the sort that characterizes YEC from start to finish. Young-earth creationism finds its main stronghold in precisely those parts of the southern United States in which slavery, segregation, racism, and discrimination are woven into the fabric of its history. Perhaps this is not a coincidence. Of course, I blogged previously about how the same approach to information (whether about biological evolution or about black people) is at work in both phenomena. And of course, many of those who embraced evolution early on interpreted it through a racist lens. Nevertheless, the fact that evolution offers an alternative to the racist quasi-biblical claim that Africans bear the mark of Cain and/or are descendants of the cursed Ham may have been a significant motivation for white southern fundamentalist Christians to reject it.
Turning to look into this, I found that Henry Morris, the grandfather of modern young-earth creationism, most certainly did hold views of this sort. And young-earth creationist literature always (and perhaps without exception, unless this has changed somewhat recently?) seems to depict Adam and Eve as white rather than as African or anything else. I’ve even come across racist nonsense online that claims the serpent in the Garden of Eden was a black man tempting the white humans God created! And so, even if they are trying to distance themselves from it now to some extent, there does seem to be a close connection between racism and young-earth creationism.
Of related interest: