Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Garden of Eden

The story of Adam and Eve is fascinating. It is fundamental to creationism, and in some sense to Christianity itself, as the Fall was the incident that necessitated Jesus. Let us have a look at this story...

Life and breath


7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
I have asked Christians several times when a baby receives a soul and have yet to receive a firm reply from anyone. I realised recently that the answer is here. It is clear from this verse that having a soul is associated with breath. God breathes, man has a soul. The implication is that a baby has a soul the moment she draws her first breath.

Most Christians will not like that answer, now that we have ultrasound scans and can see the baby in the womb, and those who enjoy bombing abotion clinics will be particularly upset by it; if they can find Biblical support for their position, I am happy to listen.

Those two trees


9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Okay, three verses into the narrative, and I have questions. God decided to create these two trees why exactly? What is their purpose? God has no need of them personally, being all-knowing and all-powerful. All they are is a plot device.

Do they still exist today? Is there some hidden corner of the world where the the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil still grow to this day? It seems unlikely that the tree of life would die, but so much of the world has been searched, it is hard to imagine where. Are they visible on Google Maps? Perhaps they were destroyeed in the flood...

Why did God plant them in the middle of the garden where he put Adam. There are half a trillian stars out there, just in our galaxy, and perhaps an infinite number of galaxies. That gives God a lot of scope for putting those trees out of Adam's reach. God is all-present, it makes no difference to him where they are - and any way he is all-knowing and all-powerful, so does not need them any way.

The only reasonably conclusion is that God created and situated the two trees specifically because he wanted them near to Adam. Now, bear in mind he is all-knowing, and knew that Adam would eat the fruit even before he created the trees...

Geography before the Noachian flood


11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
What is curious about these verses is that they refer to the post- flood world. If we believe creationists, the flood laid down the entire geological column; it completely rewrote the surface of the planet. They are particular fond of claiming the Grand Canyon formed in the flood, and yet here are a bunch of rivers that seemingly were unaffected by the flood. More remarkable, the countries of Assyria and Ethiopia somehow survived a flood that destroyed all but eight people.

Adam's Rib


21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
There is a theory this originally said his baculum, which makes all sorts of sense.

So who was lying again?

3 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
That naughty snake, lying to Eve like that.

Or so we are taught to believe. But the fact is that what the snake says is true. God has said they will die that day, but they do not, and instead the learn about good and evil. The snake speaks the truth.

God, on the other hand... Well, he said they would die that day, and in fact they did not. God was the one who lied to Adam and Eve.

Of course, God is very angry when his lies are discovered...

The Serpent

14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
God curses not just the serpent, but all the serpent's descendants. Clearly this is not Satan, this is just a snake. There is nothing in Genesis that gives the slightest indication that this is Satan (or Satan talking through a snake). That does not stop many Christians (including creationist organisation AiG) promoting this idea though.

There are other verses they cite that refer to this, such as this, by Paul:
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
But this has no mention of Satan either, so how can it support the claim that the serpent was Satan? Another is this one:
Ezekiel 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
But as verse 2 of the chapter makes clear, this is addressed to "the prince of Tyrus"; Eden is used as a metaphor and again Satan is not mentioned (see here  for more).

Three verses in Revelation are also mentioned:
Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Rev 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Note that in Rev 12:9 this is refering to being cast out of heaven, not the Garden of Eden. These may be linking Satan to the Garden of Eden, however:
  • This may be because the author is confused (Catholics reject the whole of Revelation for a reason...)
  • It is entirely possible the author is using "that old serpent" merely as a derogatory term
  • It is clear from the Book of Job that Satan is on good terms with God at that time - despite disagreeing with each other about Job - so the explusion from heaven must be after that.
  • Even if Satan is a serpent, there is nothing to indicate he was the specific snake in the Garden of Eden story.
In fact, what we see here is a bunch of verses that people have sown together to create something that just is not there. Snakes bruise the heels and are crushed on the head because they crawl on the ground ("it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel"); that makes no sense at all for Satan.

Just-so stories in the Bible

By the way, this is a great example of a Biblical just-so story. Why do snakes not have legs? Because God cursed them all in the Garden of Eden. Two others appear later. Why do women suffer so much in child birth? and Why is life such a struggle? Again, these facts are "explained" by God cursing the respective parties.

The Problem of Evil is a perplexing one for monotheism. The Garden of Eden is the the just-so story that answers it.

The Fall

God was very annoyed that Adam had discovered the lie, and so we get the Fall.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
...
22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
This is a pivotal event in creationism. This is when carnivores appeared, when viruses and bacteria and parasites begin. Before, they were all living in harmony, the sharks, the tyrannosaurs, the polio and small pox virus, the  tuberculosis bacterium, toxoplasmosis parasites.

Note that the Fall was not a direct effect of eating the fruit, unlike the knowledge of good and evil. The Fall occurred because God willed it to happen to punish Adam and Eve. God caused the sharks and the tyrannosaurs to become carnivores, the polio and small pox virus to become so devastating, the  tuberculosis bacterium, toxoplasmosis parasites to become horribly debilitating diseases.

All diseases are exist because God chose to make them so when Adam and Eve annoyed him.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Darwin and Hitler

A common tactic for ceationist is to link Darwin to racism, slavery and hitler. It is a bizarre idea because well, what are we supposed to think? Darwin was a racist, therefore his ideas must necessarily be wrong? How does that work? Or are they saying we should pretend Darwinism is wrong? You know, like they do. It just makes no sense. Virtually all biologists today accep the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence and the opinions of he originator of the theory are irrelevant.

But what makes this tactic so odious is that the links to Christianity are far stronger. This is part four in a series of four posts.

Darwin and Hitler

Whole books have been written that pretend to a strong, direct link from Darwin's theory to Hitler's holocaust, such as From Darwin to Hitler: evolutionary ethics, eugenics, and racism in Germany by Richard Weikart, and there is even a movie that tries to make the case, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Perhaps there are other possible links we should consider, and see which looks the strongest. What I am going to do on this page is compare Darwin with Martin Luther (founder of protestantism) and with the Bible, and see where the links to Hitler are strongest, firstly comparing the ideas advocated by Darwin, Luther and the Bible, and secondly by comparing the sort of esteem Hitler regarded them in.

If creationists say we should abandon evolution because it leads to Hitler, would they also say that we should abandon Christianity if it can be shown that it leads to Hitler?

Comparing the ideas

Darwin and Hitler

As discussed in an earlier post, Darwin wrote a book arguing that mankind was all one race; he was a pioneer against racism. In contrast, Hitler saw the Jewish people as a race apart.

Creationists make a big thing of "survival of the fittest". This was not a philosophy Darwin advocated, it was a phenomenon he observed. Further, what Darwin observed was a natural process, he even called it natural selection. Contrast that to Hitler's attempt to exterminater the Jews. This was not natural selection. Hitler's plan for a master race came not from Darwin, who stated we are all the same race, but from the Spartans (see the quote in the earlier post) and animal husbandry.

Comparing the ideas of the Bible and Hitler

Hitler considered the Jews to be a race apart, and this is exactly how the Old Testament portrays them. Of course, Hitler held them in low regard, while the Old Testament describes them as God's chosen people, but that difference is in the Bible too. The Jews are the Christ killers, the ones who rejected Jesus' message. The crucifiction account in Luke goes to some pains to absolve the Romans and blame the Jews for Jesus' execution (Luke was probably trying to sell the idea of Christianity to the Romans).
Luke 23:13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,
14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:
...
20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
These verses have been a source of anti-semitic feeling from the very early days of the Christian church.

Comparing the ideas of Luther and Hitler

Sadly, this is all too easy. Luther sets out a blueprint for the holocaust in his book On The Jews and their Lies:

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:

First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire...

Second, that all their books-- their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible-- be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted...

Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country...

Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it...

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)
The comparison was well recognised by the German people of the time. For instance:
Many people confess their amazement that Hitler preaches ideas which they have always held.... From the Middle Ages we can look to the same example in Martin Luther. What stirred in the soul and spirit of the German people of that time, finally found expression in his person, in his words and deeds.
-"Geist und Kampf" (speech), Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf, [cited from Richard Steigmann-Gall's The Holy Reich]

Comparing How Hitler Regarded Them

How Hitler Regarded Darwin

Hitler required all books about Darwin's theories to be banned. That alone is enough to destroy the claims of the creationists that Hitler held those theories in any regard.

6. Schriften weltanschaulichen und lebenskundlichen Charakters, deren Inhalt die falsche naturwissenschaftliche Aufkl?rung eines primitiven Darwinismus und Monismus ist (Haeckel).

6. Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Haeckel).
- From here
Of course, that it is a documented fact that the Nazis wanted Darwin's theories burned does not stop the creationists pretending that the Nazis held Darwin's theories close to their hearts. Who cares about facts, when you have religious dogma to peddle?

How Hitler Regarded the Bible

The Nazis were predoninantly Christians, as was pretty much everyone in Europe at that time. The Wehrmacht (the army forces other than the Waffen-SS) had "Gott mit uns" (God with us) on their belt buckles. This page has numerous examples of artefacts connecting Christianity to Nazis.

Many prominant Nazis certainly saw themselves as carrying out God's will. For example:

…I have repeatedly emphasized the fact that the Jews should serve as an example to every race, for they created the racial law for themselves—the law of Moses, which says, ‘If you come into a foreign land you shall not take unto yourself any foreign women.’ And that, Gentlemen, is of tremendous importance in judging the Nuremberg Laws. These laws of the Jews were taken as a model for these laws
 - Julius Streicher, Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1945, Vol. 12

Many Christians claim Hitler was not a Christian. The truth is that the evidence is not at all clear. He was certainly not a conventional Christian, but his mother was a devout Christian, and sent him to a monastry school (from which he was expelled for smoking; see here).

Also:

Did Hitler believe in God? He believed deeply in God. He called God the Almighty, master of all that is known and unknown.
Propagandists portrayed Hitler as an atheist. He was not. He had contempt for hypocritical and materialistic clerics, but he was not alone in that. He believed in the necessity of standards and theological dogmas, without which, he repeatedly said, the great institution of the Christian church would collapse.
- Leon Degrelle, The Enigma of Hitler (from here)

What did Hitler actually say (taken from Wiki)?

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

The individual may establish with pain today that with the appearance of Christianity the first spiritual terror entered into the far freer ancient world, but he will not be able to contest the fact that since then the world has been afflicted and dominated by this coercion, and that coercion is broken only by coercion, and terror only by terror. Only then can a new state of affairs be constructively created. Political parties are inclined to compromises; philosophies never. Political parties even reckon with opponents; philosophies proclaim their infallibility.

The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God's will, and actually fulfill God's will, and not let God's word be desecrated. For God's will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord's creation, the divine will.

Hitler seems to have had some regard as Jesus, who he believed was an aryan and an enemy of the Jews, and most importantly, not the son of God. But Hitler was not an atheist; perhaps Deist would be the best word.

In any event, although his religious views were unorthodox, it seems as though the Bible was a significant influence on him. I am not arguing Hitler was a Christian, but that the Bible was a bigger influence on him than Darwin was. I think the evidence is quite clear that this is the case.


How Hitler Regarded Luther


Whether Hitler planned Kristallnacht at all is unknown, but Kristallnacht indicates the power of anti-semitism in Germany at that time, and it was this anti-semitism that Hitler exploited and symbolised. Kristallnacht was the 455th birthday of Martin Luther.

It has already been shown that Hitler advocated burning Darwin's books. What did Hitler think of Luther?

To them belong, not only the truly great statesmen, but all other great reformers as well. Beside Frederick the Great stands Martin Luther as well as Richard Wagner.
- Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf", Vol. 1, Chapter 8

Summary


What he advocated How Hitler regarded him
Darwin All mankind is one race His books should be burnt
Luther Jews should be persecuted He was one of "the truly great statesmen"... "great reformers"
Bible Jews are a race apart, the Christ killers "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

Now, my thinking is not the same as a creationist, and to me it looks like there is a much stronger link from Hitler to Luther than to Darwin. But then, I am looking at facts, not make believe...



Addendum (5/Nov/13)

Just came across a web page that makes the point that there is no evidence Hitler read any of Darwin's books, but there is evidence that Churchill did:
From November to May I read for four or five hours every day history and philosophy. Plato’s Republic it appeared he was for all practical purposes the same as Socrates; the Politics of Aristotle, edited by Dr. Welldon himself; Schopenhauer on Pessimism; Malthus on Population; Darwin’s Origin of Species: all interspersed with other books of lesser standing.
From here:
http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/hitler-darwin-and-winston-churchill/

Also see this interesting paper:
http://home.uchicago.edu/~rjr6/articles/Was%20Hitler%20a%20Darwinian.pdf

And this forum post:
http://forums.carm.org/vbb/showthread.php?221628-What-purpose-does-disseminating-dishonest-declarations-about-Darwin&p=6621376&viewfull=1#post6621376

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Darwin and Eugenics

A common tactic for ceationist is to link Darwin to racism, slavery and hitler. It is a bizarre idea because well, what are we supposed to think? Darwin was a racist, therefore his ideas must necessarily be wrong? How does that work? Or are they saying we should pretend Darwinism is wrong? You know, like they do. It just makes no sense. Virtually all biologists today accep the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence and the opinions of he originator of the theory are irrelevant.

But what makes this tactic so odious is that the links to Christianity are far stronger. This is part three in a series of four posts.

Eugenics and Racial Purity

Eugenics is animal husbandry applied to mankind. No more and no less than that. We know animal husbandry works, so it seems a safe bet that eugenics too will work, and it must be accepted that its objective, the improvement of the human race, is a noble one. Unfortunately that noble goal cannot be achieved in what we today consider a moral way - it would require forcing certain people to mate, others not to mate - and in extremes, sterilising or even killing those considered less desirable.

Related to eugenics is the idea of racial purity. Racial purity is eugenics with the assumption that one race (your own, of course) is superior, other races are inferior. From this it follows that only members of your race should marry, and certainly no inter-racial marrying.


History of Eugenics

Certain creationists like to pretend that eugenics started with Darwin. While the term may be relatively modern, the idea is older than Jesus. Here is Plato on the subject, advocating selective breeding for women and men.

“It follows from our former admissions,” I said, “that the best men must cohabit with the best women in as many cases as possible and the worst with the worst in the fewest, and that the offspring of the one must be reared and that of the other not, if the flock is to be as perfect as possible. And the way in which all this is brought to pass must be unknown to any but the rulers, if, again, the herd of guardians is to be as free as possible from dissension.”
 - Plato, Republic

Various civilisations practiced infanticide, including Rome, Athenes and Sparta. I wonder if these civilations had a view to prove their gene pool, or only wanted to be rid of offspring that only be a burden, however, Hitler was particularly taken with the Spartan model, which he considered to be eugenics:

At one time the Spartans were capable of such a wise measure, but not our present, mendaciously sentimental, bourgeois patriotic nonsense. The rule of six thousand Spartans over three hundred and fifty thousand Helots was only thinkable in consequence of the high racial value of the Spartans. But this was the result of a systematic race preservation; thus Sparta must be regarded as the first Völkisch State. The exposure of sick, weak, deformed children, in short their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more humane than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject, and indeed at any price, and yet takes the life of a hundred thousand healthy children in consequence of birth control or through abortions, in order subsequently to breed a race of degenerates burdened with illnesses.
- Adolf Hitler (from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler)

Modern eugenics was founded by Francis Galton (who invented the word), who it must be noted, was a half-cousin of Darwin and inspired by Darwin's book. But that does not mean that Darwin advocated eugenics or that Darwin's theory was wrong.

Recent Eugenics and Racial Purity

True engenics is about promoting procreation in the best, and preventing it in the least suitable. Historicially, most so-called eugenics has been more akin to ethnic cleansing. "My race is superior, so we can breed, your race is inferior, so should be sterilised." Hitler did not care how intelligent or fit the Jews were, he used eugenics as an excuse to try to wipe out the race. This is racial purity - and remember, Darwin was a big proponant of the idea that humans are all one single race, as discussed here.

Before World War 2, this form of eugenics was very popular across the US (and not just there), as this Wiki page explains.

Also:
Hitler and his henchmen victimized an entire continent and exterminated millions in his quest for a co-called "Master Race." But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn't originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little known, role in the American eugenics movement's campaign for ethnic cleansing.

Eugenics was the racist pseudoscience determined to wipe away all human beings deemed "unfit," preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in twenty-seven states.
- Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race (excerpt here)

See also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-06-23-eugenics-carrie-buck_N.htm?csp=34

Eugenics and Darwin

Creationists attempt to link this to Darwin using Darwin's theory of natural selection. The thing about eugenics is that it very much is NOT natural selection.

Furthermore, creationists confuse Darwin observing natural selection with Darwin advocating natural selection. That is, Darwin saw that  selection happens in the natural world, and appreciated that this fact could explain a lot, but he never argued that this was something anyone should actually do.

Now, if Darwin had written a book extolling the merits of animal husbandry then the creationists might have a point. Such a book - arguing that selective breeding is a good thing that benefits the breed - would be a step to eugenics.

Here is what Darwin actually said:

Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. ... We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.
- Charles Darwin,  The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1882

Note that he acknowledges that eugenics would work (though the term had yet to be coined at that time), but, as he points out, this is clear from animal husbandry, and requires no insight into evolution to realise. Then he states clearly that the practice would be "evil".

Unfortunately, "social Darwinism" muddies the waters, so let us be clear. Social Darwinism was not proposed by Darwin, and neither did he support it. Social Darwinism is not and has never been a part of the theory of evolution. So whatever social Darwinism says about eugenics has no impact on either Darwin himself or the theory of evolution.

Racial Purity in the Bible

There is (as far as I am aware) nothing in the Bible about eugenics itself, but racial purity is a common motif in the Old Testament. There are certainly examples of Israelites marrying gentiles in the Bible, but as far as God's commands go, it seems he wants to keep the blood of his holy people pure.

Genesis 24:3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living,

Deuteronomy 7:3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

Exodus 34:15 "Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

Joshua 23:12 "But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.

1 Kings 11:2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.

Ezra 9:2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness."

Ezra 9:12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.'

Nehemiah 10:30 "We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.

Hosea 5:7 "They have dealt treacherously against YAHWEH: for they have begotten STRANGE children:"

As an aside, I find it curious that this God is so worried that his chosen people will abandon him for the imaginery false gods of the other tribes. It is almost as though worshipping this all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god is about as effective or attractive as worshipping a god that does not exist...

The instructions of Leviticus 19:19 seem likely to be there to reinforce the ideal of purity and separation.

Leviticus 19:19 “‘Keep my decrees.
“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.
“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.
“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

Understandably, most Christians today shy away from this, and reinterprete the verses in a more politically correct way (eg here) but not all (see here). I am sure the world is a better because of this!

Summary

Darwin advocated the idea that we are all one race, and stated that enforcing selective breeding would be with "an overwhelming present evil". The Bible, on the other hand, makes numerous demands on racial purity for God's chosen people.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Darwin and Slavery

A common tactic for ceationist is to link Darwin to racism, slavery and hitler. It is a bizarre idea because well, what are we supposed to think? Darwin was a racist, therefore his ideas must necessarily be wrong? How does that work? Or are they saying we should pretend Darwinism is wrong? You know, like they do. It just makes no sense. Virtually all biologists today accep the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence and the opinions of he originator of the theory are irrelevant.

But what makes this tactic so odious is that the links to Christianity are far stronger. This is part two in a series of four posts.

Darwin on Slavery


Darwin was against slavery, as this passage makes clear:

Those who look tenderly at the slave-owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter;--what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children—those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own—being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder!  And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth!  It makes one’s blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty.

 - Voyage of the Beagle 496-98

Indeed, there is a theory that Darwin's desire to promote the theory of evolution was down to his desire to abolish slavery (see here).

To be fair, most creationists accept that Darwin was anti-slavery - the evidence is just overwhelming. Instead, they employ an indirect tactic, via "social Darwinism". Social Darwinism was not proposed by Darwin and is not and has never been a part of the theory of evolution, so how does a fault in social Darwinism impact the theory of evolution?

Well, you would have to be a creationist to explain that one!

The Bible on Slavery

Now let us compare what the Bible says. Leviticus says how Israelites cannot take fellow Israelites as slaves, but everyone else, God is happy for thoem to be slaves.

Lev 25:44 “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

Many Christians like to pretend that actually slavery in those days was a fine and jolly thing, just a way to help poor folk, rather than the brutal slavery of the Southern States. Such fairy tales do not stand up against passages like this, which makes it clear that beating your slave to death is fine as long as he takes a few days to die:

Exodus 21:20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

Slavery as a form of social security can, with some looking the other way, be made to work for enslaved Israelites - they could expect to be freed in a jubilee year (but not his children necesarily). Not so lucky the gentile slaves, with no hope of freedom.

Some try to excuse the Bible's position on slavery as the norm for the time. But think about that. Why was it the norm at that time for God's chosen people to keep slaves? All their laws came supposedly from God; if we believe the Bible, then it was the norm at that time because God made it so!





In the New Testament, St Paul has a thing or two to say about slavery - all supporting it.

Epheians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

1 Timothy 6:1 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slaves.

There is nothing in the Bible to directly condemn slavery; it is an institution apparently condoned and supported by God. And slave-owners for centuries used the Bible to  show that slavery was morally right (Google the "Curse of Ham" for how it was rationalised).

So Darwin against slavery, Bible for slavery. Remember that when creationists argue we should abandon evolution because Darwin was a bad person.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Darwin and Racism

A common tactic for ceationist is to link Darwin to racism, slavery and hitler. It is a bizarre idea because well, what are we supposed to think? Darwin was a racist, therefore his ideas must necessarily be wrong? How does that work? Or are they saying we should pretend Darwinism is wrong? You know, like they do. It just makes no sense. Virtually all biologists today accep the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence and the opinions of he originator of the theory are irrelevant.

But what makes this tactic so odious is that the links to Christianity are far stronger. This is part one in a series of four posts.

Racism

Darwin wrote in the language of his time, and in our time, it certainly is not "politically correct". So before looking at what Darwin said, let us see the language a contempory of his used. This is from a debate Abraham Lincoln was having before getting elected to be US president, and going on to abolish slavery.

... 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. ..
- Abraham Lincoln; Fourth Debate with Stephen Douglas, September 18, 1858
It is worth pointing out that Lincoln was trying to get elected, so perhaps was telling people what they wanted to hear, but the point is this was what they wanted to hear; most people at that time just accepted that "there is a physical difference between the white and black races".

Compare to what Darwin said:

But the most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other, independently in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having inter-crossed. Man has been studied more carefully than any other animal, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should be classed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two (Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke. This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.
Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

The American aborigines, Negroes and Europeans are as different from each other in mind as any three races that can be named; yet I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Feugians on board the "Beagle," with the many little traits of character, shewing how similar their minds were to ours; and so it was with a full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate.
...
There is good evidence that the art of shooting with bows and arrows has not been handed down from any common progenitor of mankind, yet as Westropp and Nilsson have remarked, the stone arrow-heads, brought from the most distant parts of the world, and manufactured at the most remote periods, are almost identical; and this fact can only be accounted for by the various races having similar inventive or mental powers.
- Charles Darwin; The Descent of Man, 1871

Darwin uses terms like "savage", but these were standard terms of the age, and here he is advancing the claim that really we are all alike, all just one race. Think about that. While Lincoln was talking about the white race being different to the black race Darwin was arguing there was only one race.

Unfortunately, creationists are in the habit of deliberately misrepresenting Darwin and the theory of evolution, and a clear example can be seen here, where these "liars for Jesus" pretend that:

Darwinian evolution was (and still is) inherently a racist philosophy, teaching that different groups or “races” of people evolved at different times and rates, so some groups are more like their ape-like ancestors than others.

This is the opposite of what Darwin was arguing for. But hey, why worry about the truth when you have religious dogma to promote?

Another example here:
So the fact of the different races is attributed by evolutionists to the belief that
one race is more evolved (superior) and that another race is less evolved – closer to
our common ape-like ancestor (inferior). Yes, full-blown racism, though nicely
hushed up in today’s evolutionist textbooks and all other evolutionism throughout
global academia, the media, the political arena, the seminaries, and even the Black
community.
The sad fact is that many honest Christians are fooled by these lies, and end up believing the falsehoods (which is one big reason I started this blog).

And another here:
Darwin was a racist, pure and simple. Why can’t people just accept that fact, and get PAST it?
 You know what? Pretending it is a "fact" does make it one. Not in the real world anyway.

What of the Bible?

It might be instructive to see how the Bible handles racism...

The Old Testament is full of racism, right down to the Israelites being God's chosen people. God makes it clear he does not what them marrying foreigners (blood purity was as important to God as it was to Hitler). These verses are sadly typical of many in the Old Testament.

Deu 7:1 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.[a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.

 Joshua 23:12-13 "if ye do in any wise go back and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriage with them and go in unto them and they unto you: know for a certainty that they shall be snares and traps unto you and scourges in your sides and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish off from this good land which the Lord your God has given you."

Ezra 9:2 "For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the HOLY SEED have MIXED themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this TRESPASS."

Nehemiah 9:2 "And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all STRANGERS and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers."

Nehemiah 10:30 “We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.

Hosea 5:7 "They have dealt treacherously against YAHWEH: for they have begotten STRANGE children:"


Some Christians will point out that the directive to love your neighbour is clearly anti-racism, but that rather depends on what you consider a neighbour. As these two verses make clear, only a fellow Israelite counts as a neighbour.

 Leviticus 19:17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Jesus himself was a racist, calling a Canaanite woman a dog:

Mat 15:25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Jesus' message was not for the gentiles, after all, it was the Jews who were God's chosen people.

Mat 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.

Jesus was quite clear that all he cared about was his own people, the Jews. His instruction to love your neighbour is actually better translated as love your fellow Jew (see here). When St Paul started to spread Christianity among the gentiles it causes a big rift in the early church (and St Paul actually said some good things, such as Galatians 3:28).

Now remember, these Creationists are telling us we should give us evolution because of the racist roots they pretend it has. Should we not also give us Christianity because of its racist roots?

In fact, the modern creationist movement is full of racism itself:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/racism.html
http://chem.tufts.edu/science/Stear-NoAiG/no-AiG/cg_science_of_racism.htm

Also worth looking at the constitution of the KKK.
https://archive.org/stream/ConstitutionLawsKnightsOfKKK/constitution%20laws%20knights%20of%20KKK_djvu.txt