Creationism Culture Darwinism Human evolution Intelligent Design

In any Darwinian scheme, someone must be the subhuman. Otherwise, there is no beginning to human history.

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adult female Homo erectus, Smithsonian/John Gurche (reconstruction), Tim Evanson (photography); CC

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.


Was Neanderthal man fully human? The role racism played in assessing the evidence. (J. R. Miller)

13 Replies to “In any Darwinian scheme, someone must be the subhuman. Otherwise, there is no beginning to human history.

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The term “sub-human” denotes a hierarchy of being. Darwin taught that some were more advanced than others.
    To overcome this, evolutionists realized that there can be no hierarchy. A human is not more advanced than a single-celled organism. For materialism, a human does not have greater intrinsic value than a rock or a single molecule.

  2. 2
    Denyse OLeary says:

    But, Silver Asiatic at 1, we can usefully distinguish between an actual hiearchy and an imposed one. There is much that a single-celled organism cannot do or be that a multi-celled one might manage.

    The need to find a subhuman means imposing a hierarchy. Neanderthal man and Homo erectus lived pretty much the way other humans did, and not the way a single-celled organism does. If these groups weren’t inferior, where are the subhumans that Darwinian evolution needs?

    Note: Not every thesis in human evolution would need subhumans but a Darwinian thesis does.

  3. 3
    john_a_designer says:

    Recently some people in the media and the political left took the U.S. President to task for calling members of the violent MS-13 gang “animals.”

    But why are they so upset? Aren’t humans mammals and aren’t mammals animals?

    Of course, as a Christian theist I believe in human exceptionalism. As humans we’re created in the image of God. But secular progressives embrace a Darwinian world view, so I am puzzled why they would be upset by anyone calling anyone else an animal. Well, maybe it’s because like the other animals they’re irrational.

  4. 4
    EDTA says:

    As human beings with a moral sense about us, we can head in one of two directions: away from the primitive state, or towards it. Each person has that choice (influenced by many things of course).

    Or as I sometimes say, we can _make_ mere animals of ourselves.

  5. 5
    john_a_designer says:

    Here is something that allegedly happened at the legendary Huxley-Wilberforce Debate

    Wilberforce said something – something about apes and grandmothers – which led Huxley to say to Brodie ‘The Lord hath delivered him into my hands’ and which gave rise to the legend of his having been completely obliterated by Huxley. According to the legend itself, he [Wilberforce] turned to Huxley and asked: ‘Is it on your grandfather’s or grandmother’s side that you claim descent from the apes?’ whereupon Huxley retorted: ‘I would rather be descended from an ape than a bishop.’ It is good repartee, of the sort likely to be treasured by undergraduates, but it cannot have been what was actually said. In the first place, it is badly attested. The chief ear-witness who supports it, Grandmother of Macmillan’s Magazine,[50] was writing almost forty years after the event: the main contemporary report to this effect, Lyell’s letter to Bunbury on 4 July, was giving only a second-hand account,[51] and saying that he had heard several different versions of the incident. (emphasis added)

    This account makes it sound like Huxley and his fellow Darwinians were offended by Wilberforce’s question. But why? Isn’t that what they believed, they were descended from apes?

  6. 6
    goodusername says:

    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.

    So what does a “non-racist” reading of the fossil record look like? At what point in the fossil record does it become racist to view the specimens as representing something other than “modern humans”?

    Creationists argue endlessly among themselves as to which fossils are apes and which are “fully modern human” (since the only thing they can agree on is that none of them can be intermediate). Many believe that H. erectus are apes, while others believe that erectus is human, but that habilis are apes, or that habilis are human, but that the australopithecines are apes, etc.

    Which of those are being racist? All of them?

    How about the ID proponents who aren’t Darwinists but also view H. erectus as sub-human – are they racist?

    I often see Ian Tattersall, for instance, being quoted here in approval for saying that there’s a gap between Homo sapiens and Homo erectus.

    Are those ID supporters/Creationists being racist? Or is only racist to view H. erectus as not “fully modern human”- but not as apes?

    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.

    Umm, where do Darwinists typically argue that modern humans originated?
    Does “Out-of-Africa’ ring a bell?

    If any fossils could be said to have “European features”, it’s the Neanderthals.
    Most Darwinists believe that the African Homo sapiens replaced the European Neanderthals.

  7. 7
    timothya says:

    The Jamaica Committee was formed in England in 1865, and Charles Darwin became an early member. If you think he was a racist, you need to explain why he would have done such a thing.

    That would require you to understand who Edward Eyre was, and what it was that Eyre did when he was Governor of Jamaica.

    Perhaps Kairosfocus can help you there.

  8. 8
    Silver Asiatic says:

    D O’L yes, good points. Thanks

  9. 9
    News says:

    TimothyA,there is no conflict between being a racist and opposing cruelty, or for that matter, slavery.

    Similarly, people who were not racists by any reasonable definition have supported both.

    The issue of racism turns on beliefs about humanity, not on beliefs about social policy.

    And what remains significant about Darwin’s beliefs is the influence they had and continue to have.

    See Do racial assumptions prevent recognizing Homo erectus as fully human?

    Nice try, though.

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Off topic and not sure where to put this, but in case it was missed:

    A German Scientist Speaks Out about Intelligent Design

    A 6 minute video – Scientist, Günter Bechly’s encounter with ID. I just caught this last night and was simply blown away. Amazing. Game over.

    This is sitting out in Youtube with 30K views and there is virtually no response from evolutionary-atheists. Comments are all pro-ID, just common sense responses. More and more people can see very easily that Darwinism is a fraud. It really is a fairy tale, made-up religion for atheists.

    And people are just tired and bored of the empty hostility that issues from evolutionists. All of that mockery and ridicule – it still works in academia, politics, hollywood. But once in a while someone just decides to look at the evidence, as Günter Bechly did.

    I would guess that more pro-ID support will come from continental Europe (as in Germany here) where Darwin is not as much a cultural hero as his is in Anglo-dominated societies.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, per Darwinist “Descent,” at some time there were no animals with characteristically human features and capabilities. Then, after a period of descent with modification per natural selection (so called) and any other blind watch making process you wish, there were. So, News is right, there has to be a more or less half-way house, sub-human. The issue is candidates, and that tends to get loaded with ticklish issues, given what happened because of racist ideologies 70 – 80 years back and more, but continuing down through to at least the 1960’s. KF

  12. 12
    john_a_designer says:

    The following is from a blog post by someone who describes himself as partial to the Darwinian point of view. He didn’t think Darwin was a racist but changed his mind after reading what Darwin actually wrote— imagine that!

    I’d only heard of Darwin’s dark side in passing, and I’d always assumed that Darwin’s critics were driven by ignorance or ulterior motives. But as I scrolled by debates online about Darwin’s theories, I noticed something peculiar: Darwin’s defenders most often cited his abolitionist identity, notes from his diaries, or quotes from people who knew Darwin. His accusers, on the other hand, often directly cited text from The Descent of Man. Conclusions drawn from the authorial approach to the question, in which defenders focused on proving that Darwin himself was not a racist, starkly contradicted conclusions drawn from the approach of consulting Darwin’s text itself. I’m familiar with Darwin’s theories, but I had never actually read his books; I suspect the same is true for most of you. However, I found that to determine whether or not Darwin’s theories are racist, the text of his books is revealing and conclusive. Information outside the text of The Descent of Man can help us understand the man behind the pen, but it does nothing to soften the brutal racism and white supremacism found in the text of his theory. (emphasis added)

    Here is a “key” paragraph:

    Darwin makes a disturbing link between his belief in white supremacy and his theory of natural selection. He justifies violent imperialism. “From the remotest times successful tribes have supplanted other tribes. … At the present day civilised nations are everywhere supplanting barbarous nations” (160). Darwin’s theory applies survival of the fittest to human races, suggesting that extermination of non-white races is a natural consequence of white Europeans being a superior and more successful race. Further, Darwin justifies violently overtaking other cultures because it has happened regularly throughout natural history. The arc of Darwin’s evolutionary universe evidently does not bend toward justice: He has no problem with continuing the vicious behavior of past generations. Claims such as those made evident in the title of a 2004 book, “From Darwin to Hitler,” may not be as alarmist as they seem.

    But it doesn’t end there. He then doubles down and then doubles down again.

    Read the whole blog post. It is well worth your time.

    BTW I’m not quite as hard on Darwin as he is. I’ll say more about that later.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, correct, and the quotes do come from Descent, reflecting patent sense and context. A little while back I laid out some of the materials from esp Ch’s 5 – 7 in a UD OP. The reaction was to try to suggest, we moved on. I took time also to point to the eugenics issue, which runs down to living memory and has impacts yet. The position was the scientific and educated consensus, for decades. KF

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