In response to the recent story “Do racial assumptions prevent recognizing Homo erectus as fully human?”, a friend wrote to say that many Darwin defenders miss the point, as follows:
The problem is not merely that Darwin, a man of his age, was a racist. The problem is that his bias resulted in him and others distorting the fossil record to suit a racist worldview.
To “get past” the fact that Darwin was a racist, we must be willing to undo science that begins by assuming that non-European features are sub-human. But the “hierarchy of man” is rooted in the fundamental assumptions of the “Descent of Man,” the idea that Darwin popularized. Rooting it out would call so many things into question as to produce a crisis. What will we be left with?
Indeed. But then an even bigger problem looms: In any Darwinian scheme, someone must be the subhuman. If not the current lot (formerly, the “savages,” currently the Neanderthals and/or Homo erectus), who will it be?
If they aren’t found, the Darwinist is looking down the maw of some sort of creationism. It need not be theistic creationism. But it does mean that a momentous event happened with explicable swiftness, like the Big Bang or the origin of language, findings naturalists do not like precisely because of their creationist implications.
Surely these are the true reasons Darwinists simply can’t confront the race issue and get past it, and so they resort to long-winded special pleading.
See also: Do racial assumptions prevent recognizing Homo erectus as fully human? (J. R. Miller) Discussion of this problem usually turns on: Okay, so Darwin was a racist, like almost all upper-class British men of his time. So what? Can’t you people just get over it? That was a long time ago, you know! Why not worry about racism today? But in this case racist assumptions are embedded in the very classification of some anatomically human fossils. It’s not going away on its own.