Answering the Atheists

Bible and History

Drawing, shell

Drawing, shell

Drawing, skull, Museum of Natural History

White Racism

When Moses married an Ethiopian woman, the local 'White Citizen's Council' grumbled. God indulged in a little 'symbolic speech' to set them straight: "Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman...So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed. And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. So Aaron said to Moses, 'Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.'" (Numbers 12:1-11 NKJV).

Mark of Cain

God having made His feelings about white racists plain, where do the atheists get their information that the Bible teaches blacks are inferior to whites? From solid, substantial Bible arguments, that summarize the plain, unvarnished truth of the Bible, or from imaginative Bible interpretations that don't pass the straight-face test? The two major ones are the 'mark of Cain' and the 'curse of Ham.' Cain committed the first murder and was subsequently marked, for protection from vengeance:

"And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." (Genesis 4:13-15).

Whatever the 'mark of Cain,' the first murderer, may have been, it was not a trait he was born with. Are acquired characteristics passed on to offspring, or not? So why would an acquired characteristic like the 'mark of Cain' be passed on to Cain's descendants at all? The Bible says nothing about Cain's descendants inheriting the 'mark', which was placed on Cain to protect him from vengeance. Why his descendants would need such protection is far from obvious, if they had not murdered: "Then the LORD said to him, 'Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.' And the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him." (Genesis 4:15). If Cain was not born with this characteristic — and he was not — then in the ordinary course of nature, his descendants would not inherit it. While God could certainly change Cain's genetic make-up if He willed the 'mark' to be inherited, where in the text does it suggest He wished to do so?

Even if the 'mark of Cain' were imagined to be a heritable character versus 'a tattoo', where does the text even hint that the 'mark' is 'black complexion', versus 'a birthmark shaped like the State of Utah', or 'red hair', or an 'epicanthic fold'? Nor is the 'mark' placed on Cain to mark him out for ill-treatment, but rather precisely to protect him from ill-treatment. Reassembling the atheist/racist house of cards for the moment, if we were to allow the speculation that the 'mark of Cain' were heritable, and that the 'mark of Cain' were black skin, and that the 'mark of Cain' was intended to mark its possessor out for ill-treatment, then why would only one of Noah's sons have inherited this character? One commonly expects brothers to be of the same race, not different ones. Who, of the eight persons saved aboard the ark, from whom all subsequent humanity trace their ancestry, was a descendent of Cain? If one of the wives of Noah's sons is imagined to be a descendent of Cain, then realize that the same cannot be said of her sons, because descent is reckoned patrilineally.

There is no descendent of Cain who disembarked from the ark. This 'Bible argument' implodes upon itself. Enter Jefferson Davis, who explains that the people who inherited Cain's mark, and who entered Noah's ark though they were not in the lineage of Noah, are unmentioned by the Bible because black people are just advanced animals, who did not merit mention:

"Adam had driven away the first White criminal, his son Cain, who was 'no longer the fit associate of those who were created to exercise dominion over the earth,' Davis lectured the senators. Cain had found in the 'land of Nod those to whom his crime had degraded him to an equality.' Apparently, Blacks had lived in the Land of Nod among the 'living creatures' God had created before humans. Blacks were later taken on Noah's ark with other animals." (Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning, Chapter 16, p. 28 of 43).

This is not a Bible argument. Biblical interpretation seeks to pry out from the text its meaning. This is an imaginative riff improvising off of Biblical characters and place names. But any interpretation is good enough if you don't really care what the Bible says.

Curse of Ham

Next, the white supremacists move on to Noah's curse against Canaan. This 'Bible argument' is not simply willed into existence as is the 'mark of Cain,' but it involves of necessity a sleight of hand, a shell game, the switch of one party for another, because Noah cursed the 'wrong' grandson for the intended purpose. Noah uttered a curse against Canaan, the ancestor of the idolatrous nation displaced by Israel: ". . .he said, 'Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.'" (Genesis 9:25). How can this be transformed into a blanket condemnation of Ham, Canaan's father, and also the father of Cush (black Africans are called 'Cushites' in the Bible). Generally, the racist interpreters transform into a curse upon Africans, by displacing it back a generation, from Canaan to Ham:  What they need is for Cush, the progenitor of the black Africans, to be cursed. But that never happened. Canaan, whose descendents inhabited the Holy Land, is not the ancestor of black Africans. . .though as we'll see, some of them even went to this length, to imagine that he was.

This is not generally an accepted move in Biblical interpretation. If I started to talk about 'the Curse of David,' and when people asked me what I meant I responded by pointing out that Jeconiah was cursed, they would simply say 'wrong guy.' You can't shuttle a curse up and down the lineage like that. Another interpretive difficulty is, what are the implications for human conduct if we know that God has cursed a given nation? Does it then become a free-for-all, with any private party who does the accursed convicts a disservice confident he is clear of all charges, even if he steals and murders?

The beginnings of this interpretive shift leave a trace in the Talmud, which says "Our Rabbis taught: Three copulated in the ark, and they were all punished — the dog, the raven, and Ham. The dog was doomed to be tied, the raven expectorates [his seed], and Ham was smitten in his skin." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 108b). This interpretive approach can then be traced through a medieval Kabbalist named Isaac ben Judah Abravanel, and like most Kabbalistic interpretation, it makes little effort to connect with the text. It's also found amongst Muslim commentators. The Koran contained the suprising information that one of Noah's sons did not board the ark but drowned:

"And the Ark moved on with them amid waves like mountains: and Noah called to his son —for he was apart — 'Embark with us, O my child! and be not with the unbelievers.'
He said, 'I will betake me to a mountain that shall secure me from the water.' He said, 'None shall be secure this day from the decree of God, save him on whom He shall have mercy.' And a wave passed between them, and he was among the drowned." (Sura 11:44-45).

Which son? Ham? Ibn Khaldun, a Tunisian commentator, describes it this way in the fourteenth century, writing: "'. . .that Negroes were the children of Ham, the son of Noah, and that they were singled out to be black as the result of Noah's curse, which produced Ham's color and the slavery God inflicted upon his descendants.'" (Ibn Khaldun, quoted in Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi, Chapter 1, p. 24 of 26). Reportedly, this substitution of Ham for Canaan goes back through the Muslim Persian scholar Tabari. Muslim interpretation of the Bible often shows little respect for what the text actually says. There may have been political tensions behind this idea, because Ham is Egypt, a power in the Muslim world. Even in the ancient world, relations between the numerous Alexandrian Jews and the ethnic Egyptians, descendants of Ham, were toxic for a very long time. There were deadly anti-semitic riots in Egypt when Flaccus was governor. It may be that some interpreters found opportunity to transfer the curse onto those they wished had been cursed; if you want to say 'I hate the Egyptians' when it is not politically possible to say 'I hate the Egyptians,' talking about the 'Curse of Ham' is one way to do that. But the Bible is not silly putty. Is it so easy for the curse against Canaan to be picked up and placed on rollers, transferred from a target no one cares about today,— the Canaanites are extinct,— to African Americans?

What is clear is that the Southern racists did not invent this interpretive approach, of substituting Ham for Canaan. What is also clear is that it's not a valid interpretive strategy; you can't just substitute one party for another like that. It actually does have a long history, though; even early Christian writers can be found who do it, "For the wickedness of Ham’s disposition overcame the laws of nature, and cast him not only out of the nobility which he had in respect of his father, but also out of his free estate." (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew, Homily 9, Section 7, ECF_1_10, p. 145). Though old and widespread, however, it is not legitimate, and pointing out the sleight of hand should be enough to put a stop to the practice.

Some Southern racists who defended slavery, realizing it was a problem that Noah cursed the wrong grandson, introduced the idea that black Africans were descended from Canaan. Southern doctor Samuel Cartwright had 'discovered' a new disease, drapetomania, defined as a pathological longing for freedom on the part of Southern blacks. He justified this new diagnosis by a resort to the Bible:

"Lest anyone doubt that drapetomania was a real disease — and, evidently, some Northern doctors did — Cartwright offered proof. First of all, he said, we know that Negroes are descended from the people of Canaan, a name that means 'submissive knee-benders.'" (The Book of Woe, Gary Greenberg, p. 2).

The people of Lebanon, and thus Carthage, a Punic colony, were allied to the Canaanites. Were they indeed the ancestors of black Africans? Were they even black? According to Virgil, Queen Dido of Carthage had "golden" hair: "She knew the waterfront now empty, bare of oarsmen, beating her lovely breast three times, four times, and tearing her golden hair, 'O Jupiter,' she said, 'will this man go, will he have mocked my kingdom. . .'" (Virgil Aeneid, Book IV, 814-820, p. 117). Virgil, to be sure, was a poet, writing more than a thousand years after the events described, if indeed they ever happened. But the Romans knew the Carthaginians well, having fought three punishing wars against them that spanned generations, ending not in magnanimous pardon but extermination. They did not think they were black. As do most colonists, the Phoenician immigrants probably intermarried with the local folks at some point. But in any case, the people brought to our country in chains were not descended from Canaan.

Is it linguistically possible to trace African languages to a Semitic original? Is it Biblical? This old lynch-pin of the slave-owners' case typifies what atheists consider to be a stellar Bible argument: it mentions some name or place also mentioned in the Bible, but then proceeds to say something about it entirely different from what the Bible says. Biblically, African blacks are, as it happens, not descended from Canaan. Cush, black Africa, was also a son of Ham, but this is not the nation Noah cursed. The Egyptians, who held Israel in slavery until the LORD liberated them, were also Ham's descendants: "Then Israel came to Egypt, Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham." (Psalm 105:23). The Egyptians, descendants of Ham, enslaved Israel, but were never enslaved by them. For the racists' purposes, the wrong nation was cursed; it ought to have been Cush. Josephus confirms that Cush is the progenitor of the black Africans (names transliterated into, and out of, Greek):

"Some indeed of its names are utterly vanished away; others of them being changed, and another sound given them, are hardly to be discovered; yet a few there are which have kept their denominations entire. For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Chus; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Chusites. The memory also of the Mesraites is preserved in their name; for all we who inhabit this country [of Judea] called Egypt Mestre, and the Egyptians Mestreans. Phut also was the founder of Libya, and called the inhabitants Phutites. . .We will inform you presently what has been the occasion why it has been called Africa also. Canaan, the fourth son of Ham, inhabited the country now called Judea, and called it from his own name Canaan." (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 6, Section 2, p. 96).

The handsprings and somersaults which the racists must perform are not over yet; Noah's intention was plainly to wish catastrophe on his grand-son, but they wish him to have stated rather that the institution of slavery is natural and benign. And so, they say, he does not curse Canaan from any motive of vengeance, but rather speaks as God's mouth-piece, uttering God's perfect will, not his own wishes: "In this transaction, Noah acts as an inspired prophet, and also as the divinely chosen, patriarchal head of church and state, which were then confined to his own family." (Robert Lewis Dabney, Defense of Virginia and the South, Kindle location 1205)). It is true that God would not enacted Noah's curse had it offended His sense of justice. In this author's peculiar method of analysis, the fact that God did punish these people, the Canaanites, with dispossession from the holy land, is proof that slavery is right "in itself:" "But this inquiry is not essential to our argument, is found where God has authorized domestic slavery, the principle is settled, that it cannot necessarily be sin in itself." (Dabney, Robert Lewis. Dabney's Defense of Virginia and the South, Annotated. (Kindle Locations 1236-1237)).

New Genus Curse of Ham
White Supremacy Confederate States of America
Slavery Malum in Se
Replacement Theory One Master
Master Debater Two-Step
Man of His Times Douglas Wilson
They Bad Theology Proper
A Dabney Miscellany Whither White Supremacy?
Church History French Revolution
Freedom and Democracy

Certainly God, the righteous judge of all the world, has the right to enact punishments as He sees fit, employing for the purpose such instruments as the murderous Assyrian hordes. It would be strange indeed if this circumstance made mass murder righteous "in itself." In the listing of punishments to which Israel may be subject in Deuteronomy 28, this one is indeed included: "You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity." (Deuteronomy 28:41). The yoke of iron is a punishment that awaits the disobedient, but this fact is no license to try it at home for yourself, on your harmless neighbors. Why not strangle them, or starve them? Why anyone would take a threat of God's wrath as a blanket permission for private parties to act this way at their own discretion, to any objects they see fit, is a mystery.

So beyond the problem that the racists and atheists have to change the object of the curse from 'Canaan,' as written, to 'Ham,' as preferred, is the further ethical question. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Noah, and the God they say he is speaking for as a prophet, had indeed cursed Ham, not Canaan. Would that entitle anybody who walked by Ham laying at the side of the road to give him a kick? Are Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate morally innocent, because they were doing what God had foredained them to do? Or must they answer for their own actions, regardless of how those actions fit into the larger plan? Let us try the thought experiment, supposing you had come across the Jews exiled to Babylon. Knowing, from the Bible, they were there as punishment for their disloyalty, should you then feel free to mistreat these people in any way you cared to, even by carrying out atrocities forbidden under the law? No! God doesn't need your help in carrying out His just sentences. He punished Israel by the hand of the king of Assyria, the razor hired from beyond the River: "In the same day the Lord will shave with a hired razor, with those from beyond the River, with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the legs, and will also remove the beard." (Isaiah 7:20). And then he punished Assyria for doing it! Israel did not invade Canaan on the strength of a self-derived instruction from Noah's curse, but because God commanded them to do so. It is always best to follow divine instructions, and God told none of these avaricious slave-merchants to enslave even Canaan, much less the blameless Cush.

Israel in Babylon

Why did Noah curse Canaan instead of Ham, the offender? The sectarians who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls speculated, it was because God's blessing of Noah and his three sons was irrevocable: "And he did not curse Ham, but rather his son, because God had already blessed the sons of Noah." (The Dead Sea Scrolls, Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, Commentaries on Genesis, p. 276). According to the Bible, eight souls were rescued by the ark: ". . .who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water." (1 Peter 3:20). The eight were Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their wives. God specifically granted His gracious favor to those living creatures carried on the ark: "And God blessed Noah and his sons. . .And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, and I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth." (Genesis 9:1-10).

It may be that Noah realized it was futile to curse one whom God had blessed, as Balaam too came to realize: "And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?" (Numbers 23:8). Balaam was a pagan but open-minded seer tasked with cursing Israel. The problem was God had blessed Israel: "Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it." (Numbers 20:20). How indeed can a finite human being overturn God's blessing and make it into a curse? To try is futile at best, rebellious at worst. In substituting Ham for Canaan, the atheists aren't asking for much. They're just asking for the right of a man to overturn God's blessing and impose his own will on the Almighty because yes, as a matter of fact, a man can curse one whom God has blessed!

Or proportionality might be involved. One wonders at the drinking habits of racists, if they really do feel that proper etiquette toward intoxicated persons would justify the desolation of the earth. The racists aren't asking much, in transferring the curse from Canaan to Ham. They just want a whole quarter of the earth to be cursed, rather than one nation.

Noah did not curse Ham, he cursed Canaan. Was he aiming for poetic justice? What had his son Ham done to him? Disappointed him. Noah, disappointed in his hopes for one of his sons, wishes the same misfortune upon Ham, not a different one: one of Ham's sons will not live up to the lively hopes his father placed upon him.

Whatever the reason, the racists cannot rescind it after the fact. Do they feel the magnitude of the offense required cursing a wide swath of the planet and its inhabitants, rather than one nation? That doesn't give them license to rewrite it to their liking. The fabled 'Curse of Ham' is simply not found in the Bible, it is an invention of the racists: Ham was never cursed, not by God, nor by Noah. The small nation which Noah did curse supplied none of the slaves brought to America.

 Negro Slavery Unjustifiable 
Alexander MacLeod

Mixed Multitude

Another verse racists and atheists advance to claim the Bible teaches racism is Nehemiah 13:3, "Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude." Of course, northern Europeans were as much part of Nehemiah's "mixed" multitude as any African would have been!: "When the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent." (Nehemiah 13:3 NRSV). People in equatorial Africa were Gentiles, Scots were Gentiles. To this extent that this is an argument that 'works' in any sense for the white racists, it is an argument by analogy: God is not averse to making distinctions between people based on their lineage, not their own endeavors.

God had instructed His chosen people not to form marriages with the pagans surrounding them, on grounds that this would put a snare and temptation in their way to corrupt the worship of the true and living God with paganish practices: "Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods." (Deuteronomy 7:3-4); "And you will take wives from among their daughters for your sons, and their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods." (Exodus 34:16).  Often enough they defied God's instructions, and just what He predicted happened: worship of foreign gods was introduced to the people of Israel.  The infamous Jezebel was only following the religion she'd been taught as a child when she introduced Baal-worship to Israel: "And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him." (1 Kings 16:31).

This isn't necessarily a question of 'race', because those foreigners who chose to cleave to the God of Israel were welcomed: "But Ruth said, 'Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die, I will die — there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!" (Ruth 1:16-17).  Ruth, of Moabite racial origin, is in the family tree of King David: "...and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David." (Matthew 1:5-6). And thus of the Lord in His incarnation, as also is Rahab, a Canaanite, a descendant of Ham.

Anthropologist Ruth Benedict defined 'racism' as "an unproved assumption of the biological and perpetual superiority of one human group over another." Is there even a loose analogy between God's election of nation Israel and the racist's claim of superiority of whites over blacks?  No; nation Israel was not chosen to be a "kingdom of priests" because they were superior to the other nations.  Quite to the contrary, God rubs their noses in how inconsequential they were: "It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you -- for you were the fewest of all peoples." (Deuteronomy 7:7).  Far from stressing the innate superiority of the Jews, the Bible stresses their pitiful state versus God's great mercy in choosing them for His own: "No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you out of compassion for you; but you were thrown out in the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.  I passed by you, and saw you flailing about in your blood. As you lay in your blood, I said to you, 'Live!...'" (Ezekiel 16:5-6).

This is a recurring theme of scripture; God's election is not of the elder but of the younger, not of the strong but of the weak, not of the superior but of the inferior: "Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose of election might continue, not by works but by his call) she was told, 'The elder shall serve the younger.'" (Romans 9:11-12).

Neither Jew nor Greek

There was no racial segregation in the early church. Believers were united in one body: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28). One of the first Gentile converts to Christianity was an Ethiopian: "So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet...Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, 'See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?'...So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him." (Acts 8:27-38).

There is a "Simeon who was called Niger" mentioned in Acts 13:1. It is sometimes suggested that Simon of Cyrene, who carried Jesus' cross, was Black:

"The thing that I thought about at that moment was the fact that when Jesus fell and stumbled under that cross it was a black man that picked it up for him and said, “I will help you,” and took it on up to Calvary. . .And I think one day God will remember that it was a black man that helped His son in the darkest and most desolate moment of his life. It was a black man who picked up that cross for him and who took that cross on up to Calvary. God will remember this." (Martin Luther King, Jr., A Walk Through the Holy Land, Easter Sunday Sermon, March 29, 1959).

Cyrene was in North Africa. Some people from North Africa are referred to in ancient literature as dark-complected, for instance, the celebrated Latin dramatist Terence. But Simon's ethnicity isn't stated; he might have been a man of Jewish ethnicity who happened to make his home in North Africa. He could also, of course, have been a proselyte; but even then his complexion is unknown. So that instance will have to be left as a question mark.

There was a flourishing Christian church in Ethiopia while the savages of northern Europe were dancing around sacred trees.  If North African church fathers Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine, and Victor, Bishop of Rome, had all boarded a time machine and tried to hop on a bus in the American Southland in the 1950's, they might have been obliged to go to the back of the bus. Their precise ethnic affinities are in dispute but what is certain is that none of these gentlemen would have looked like Heidi. Realizing these facts, it is somewhat of a puzzle how Christianity ever got bound up with white supremacy, but so it did, in some quarters.

The remedy, however, cannot possibly be black supremacy. This is not a cure, but just another dose of the same poison. There is a tendency nowadays for some people to claim that lots of people, including Jesus, His mother Mary, and even St. Nicholas of Asia Minor, were black. Is this very likely?:

Petronius Ezra
U.S. Census Herodians
Paul the Egyptian White and Ruddy
Proof-Texts Mistaken Identity
Black Madonnas The Samaritans

Ilya Repin, St. Nicholas Saving Three Innocents

One Blood

What does the Bible teach on these matters? Are the various tribes of humanity different by creation, or are we all of one lineage, both as to spiritual paternity and human descent?:

  • “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
  • “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
  • “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. ”

  • (Acts 17:24-29)

All humankind are of the same parentage, by both streams, tracing directly to our Creator, and also following back our human descent: "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?" (Malachi 2:10); "Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?" (Job 31:15).

The implications of this truth, that all humankind are one species, did not fail to be drawn by Bible students:

"Like as on earth therefore, there is spread over the whole world but one, and that the same human nature; and, as many nations have arisen out of this, and the manner of life of every race, its fashions, modes, and governments, are different, not only of the barbarians and wild, but also of the peaceable, fashionable, and wise; and, (as) there are among these both slaves and freemen, poor and rich; those also who differ in colour, as the Scythians, and those whose lot it is to dwell without, in the west; the Hindoos also, at the rising of the sun, and the Ethiopians at its setting; Greeks, too, and others whose destiny it is to reside among princes; and, among all these again, some bear rule over portions of the nations, and others are wholly subject:. . .still, the whole of these are men, and one is the common species of them all."
(Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius of Caesarea: Theopania (Kindle Locations 557-568).)

We were made in the image of God: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Genesis 1:27). Not only are we all creatures of the one God, but reckoning also by physical lineage, we are all descendants of Adam: "From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live..." (Acts 17:26 NRSV); "...for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:22); "Thus it is written, 'The first man, Adam, became a living being'...Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven." (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

"Consider the starting point in the gospel: the creation of man and woman in the image of God with equal dignity before God. This means that no human being is more or less human than another. All are made in God's image." (David Platt, Because We Are Called to Counter Culture, p. 45).

Age of Reason

The Deist Ethan Allen was well aware that his racist ideas could not co-exist with the plain Bible teaching that all mankind are of one lineage, one blood. He actually advances this manifest conflict between the Bible and racist arrogance as an argument against the Bible:

"Those adventurers, who have sailed or travelled to the several parts of the globe, inform us, in their respective histories, that they find the habitable part of it more or less populated by one kind or other of rational animals, and that considered as tribes or nations, there is evidently a gradation of intellectual capacity among them, some more exalted and others lower in the scale of being; and that they are specially diverse from each other with respect to their several animal natures, though in most respects they appear to have one sort of nature with us, viz: more like us that like the brute creation; as they walk erect, speak with man's voice, and make use of language of one sort or other, though many of them are more or less inarticulate in their manner of speaking: and in many other particulars bear a general likeness to us. . .

"So also concerning the difference which subsists between us and the negroes; their black skin is but one of the particulars in which they are different from us; their many and very essential differences fully evince, that the white nations, and they, could not according to the law of their respective generations, have had one and the same lineal original, but that they have had their diverse kind of original progenitors.

"It is true that the several nations and tribes of the earth, comprehended under the general term man, notwithstanding their diversity to each other in bodily shape and mental powers, bear a nearer resemblance to one another than the brute kind, for which reason they are known by one common appellation: though it is manifest that they could never have lineally descended from the same first parents, whether their names were Adam and Eve, or what not. . .

"The acquaintance, which we have had with the negro nation in particular, fully evinces the absurdity of supposing them to be of the same blood and kindred with ourselves. . .

"For that we and they are in nature inherently and uniformly diverse from each other in our respective constitutions and generations, and have been so time immemorial. So that the negroes are of a different species of rational beings from us, and consequently must have had their distinct lineal original. . .

"The Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope have enacted laws to punish with death such of their Dutch subjects as may be convicted of copulating with the Hottentots: for that their nature is adjusted to be of an inferior species to theirs, so that mixing their nature with them would essentially degenerate and debase their own."

(Ethan Allen. Reason, The Only Oracle of Man / Or a Compendious System of Natural Religion, Chapter X, Section II.)

Thus, according to the Bible, we are all one family, one blood, the children of Adam. This view, of one common origin to all the races of mankind, is called monogenesis; it is clearly taught in the Bible. Most of the people who discarded it were honest enough to admit they were abandoning the Bible on this point. A common origin with other races conflicts with Deist Ethan Allen's self-image. What a surprise, he believes the group to which he belongs is superior to the others. Ah, the Age of Reason, thank goodness it is over. The Bible teaches that all humanity, all tribes and tongues, are descended from one couple, Adam and Eve. But this doesn't 'work' for the Age of Reason. Skeptic David Hume also believed in polygenesis, the idea that the various races of man were not siblings who shared a common descent. Guess which race this learned unbeliever found lacking: "I am apt to suspect the negroes, and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent in either action or speculation. . ." (David Hume, quoted in footnote p. 104, from ed. Haakonssen, p. 86, Political Essays, On National Character, cited in Benjamin Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity).

Voltaire was another 'enlighted' one who thought little of Africans. He personally invested his money in a trading company that dealt in slaves, because,

  • “It is a serious question among them whether they [Africans] are descended from monkeys or whether the monkeys come from them. Our wise men have said that man was created in the image of God. Now here is a lovely image of the Divine Maker: a flat and black nose with little or hardly any intelligence. A time will doubtless come when these animals will know how to cultivate the land well, beautify their houses and gardens, and know the paths of the stars: one needs time for everything.”

  • (Voltaire, Les Lettres d'Amabed (1769), retrieved from LibQuotes)

Immanuel Kant was another savant of the Enlightenment who thought little of Africans:

"Incidentally, humid warmth is beneficial to the robust growth of animals in general and, in short, this results in the Negro, who is well suited to his climate, namely strong, fleshy, supple, but who, given the abundant provision of his mother land, is lazy, soft and trifling." (Immanuel Kant, On the Different Races of Human Beings, Chapter 3).

While not a polygenesist like Voltaire and Hume, Kant thought little of the intellectual capacities of the Black race:

"Humanity exists in its greatest perfection in the white race. The yellow Indians have a smaller amount of talent. The Negroes are lower, and the lowest are a part of the American peoples." (Immanuel Kant, Physische Geographie, as quoted by Neugebauer).

While political scientist John Locke was no atheist like Voltaire, like Voltaire, he chose to invest his money in a slave-trading company. It is disputed how much of his own thought went into the Constitution of Carolina; was he merely a secretary taking dictation from the people he worked for, or did he whole-heartedly endorse sentments like, "One hundred and ten. Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his negro slaves, of what opinion or religion soever." (John Locke, The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, March 1, 1669). One must sincerely hope the former. Yet this movement in thought, which is sometimes erroneously identified as the origin of anti-slavery sentiment, did undeniably play a role in the rise of so-called 'scientific racism.' This is not so much a blind spot which could be overlooked; rather, these very authors opened up a pitfall into which much of humanity slid or was pushed. It is not so much that these thinkers uncritically passed along inherited prejudices; the prejudices were not inherited. Rather they created a new system, into which invidious distinctions between people-groups could be readily slotted. The others you can keep, but Locke admittedly hurts:

Regrettably, even Thomas Jefferson, who penned the Declaration of Independence, held to the suspicion that Blacks and whites are not the same species: “I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications.” (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, pp. 153-154).

There is a wishful reinvention of history which tries to make these authors into the fountainhead of abolitionist thought. But they were nothing of the kind. For that, one must look to Christianity. In some ways the Enlightenment's favored authority, pagan antiquity, played them false. They wanted a republic because ancient Rome had been a republic, and so should we all. But they didn't necessarily want to see an end to slavery, because in addition to being a republic, Rome had also been a slave state, not to mention an imperial power. In taking classical antiquity as their model, they did succeed in burrowing underneath the hypertrophy of an ostensibly Christian, though perhaps in reality more 'Gothic' than Christian, civilization. But in the process they undid some of the real progress that Christianity had made against social evils like slavery.

But the Enlightenment did also bring new ideas into the world. Certain ideas popular with the enlightened ones were only spottily present in antiquity, like the idea of 'progress.' The ancients were more likely to think in terms of a decline, from a Golden Age to a Silver Age and on down. Pliny the natural historian thought that people were getting shorter. The ancients did not ask, which of all the people groups is most highly evolved. If the question ever should need to be asked, dear Reader, you can just mail in the answer: the narrator's own group is the most highly evolved. So Charles Darwin's English were more highly evolved than those backward Irish. So Adolf Hitler's Germans were more highly evolved that the Slavic peoples, etc. The ancients were capable of understanding, at times, that race is not a moral issue: "For a man is not found fault with for being tall or short in his stature, or white or black, or because his eyes are large or small, or for any bodily defect whatsoever; but he is found fault with if he steal, or lie, or practice deceit, or poison another, or be abusive, or do any other such-like things." (Bardesan, The Book of the Laws of Diverse Countries, ECF 8, p. 1447). These fateful 'Enlightenment' ideas would ultimately harden into the scientific racism of the nineteenth century:

"A good many observers, who judge by first impressions and so take extreme views, assert that there are such radical and essential differences between human families that one must refuse them any identity of origin. The writers who adhere to such a notion assume many other genealogies by the side of that from Adam. To them there is no original unity in the species, or rather there is no single species; there are three or four, or even more. . ." (Arthur de Gobineau, An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, p. 123).

Gobineau, while himself convinced the Bible account is no more than mythology, resolves the conflict to his own satisfaction by claiming that Adam and Eve are the parents of the white race! But that dodge quickly reaches a dead end, because the black Africans, specifically, are descended from Cush, one of Ham's sons, not from any alien lineage. The people he most wants to exclude from the human family, are there no matter what. This programmatic racism is no longer popular even where it started, in the academy, but it should not be forgotten what it was and where it came from.

Shouldn't the reverse be a positive thing? 'Anti-racism' must be a wonderful thing, right? It should be, if it weren't damaging and destabilizing to American patriotism, which is not tied to blood or soil: "America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens." (George W. Bush, First Inaugural Address, January 20, 2001). Some people, unfortunately, stumble at the stumbling-stone of "blood"; they cannot get beyond this, and cannot evaluate others as individuals. They then announce that because 'white people' are responsible for slavery, therefore 'white people' must pay reparations. Assigning moral responsibility on the basis of skin pigmentation is not anti-racist, it is racist:

Bible-believing Christians can wholeheartedly join hands with the 'anti-racists' in their condemnation of racism, because the Bible's teaching about man and his origins is incompatible with this way of thinking. But it is not realistic to expect them to believe the rest of this bizarre and convoluted conspiracy theory. Like all conspiracy theories, it alleges that things are not as they appear. On the surface, there is talk of 'equal opportunity,' but the reality is just the opposite. Who ever heard of a conspiracy which fooled the conspirators, but no one else? Yet we are to believe that white hegemony fooled the white people, not into believing that they were superior but into believing there was no white hegemony. Liberating them from this illusion puts an end to their cooperation with the oppressors. Do conspirators invent conspiracies to fool themselves, or others? When the white people become 'woke' and realize they are oppressors, they are expected to beg for forgiveness. Why don't they just say, 'Drat! You weren't supposed to know!' The Spartans did not need to become 'woke' to realize they were oppressing the Helots, that was the whole basis of their society. Everyone knew it, not just the Helots and their 'allies.'

Reptile aliens is a more convincing conspiracy theory than this one. And it does not seem plausible that a legal system which has resorted so far as to affirmative action is founded on white supremacy. To claim that meritocracy is a form of white supremacy is a gross insult against the populations for which they claim to feel sympathy. If so, why is it always little Vietnamese children who win the spelling bees? Maybe they just work harder at it.

Interracial Marriage

What does the Bible say about interracial marriage? The Bible includes a love story, the Song of Solomon, whose narrator says, "I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem. . .Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me. . ." (Song 1:5-6). Put more bluntly, "Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, for the sun has burned me." (NAS). This suggests, to modern readers, that she cannot possibly be black, because such persons are not burnt by the sun. But what does the word 'Ethiopian' originally mean, in ancient Greek? 'Burnt-face.' It is often stated by ancient travel writers that the Ethiopians are burnt by the sun. Nor has modern science discovered that this is a fable. The popular modern theory of Darwinian evolution, after all, purports to show, not that organisms can in no way be changed or affected by their environment, but rather advances a conjectural method as to how this could happen. Because manifestly it does happen. It is not the work of an afternoon. While this theory has its problems, including a predilection for racism, the underlying natural fact need not be gainsayed. Her spouse is the other hue: "My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand." (Song of Solomon 5:10).

Jacques Joseph Tissot, By The Waters of Babylon

Scientific Racism

The Bible has plenty to say about Africa and its inhabitants. The "Cush" of the older translations is approximately equivalent to Ethiopia, i.e., black Africa: "Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel? says the LORD..." (Amos 9:7).  But nothing the Bible says is unflattering to the inhabitants of that region.  Since this is what the Bible teaches, where could the white racists of nineteenth and twentieth century American have gotten contrary information?

One fertile source was the 'science' of anthropology, which throughout the period of the nineteenth and early twentieth century was putting out the hokum that the various races of man were of different origin and of differing worth.  Paul Broca (1824-80), professor of clinical surgery at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris, thought he'd found solid, measurable proof that whites are superior to other weighing brain size!: "In general, the brain is larger in men than in women, in eminent men than in men of mediocre talent, in superior races than in inferior races.  Other things equal, there is a remarkable relationship between the development of intelligence and the volume of the brain." (Paul Broca, quoted p. 150, The Panda's Thumb, Stephen Jay Gould.)  Another 'scientific' anthropologist, E.A. Spitzka, found an evolutionary lesson in brain size: "Spitzka, nonetheless, was undaunted...he arranged, in order, a large brain from an eminent white male, a bushwoman from Africa, and a gorilla.  Spitzka concluded...'The jump from a Cuvier or a Thackeray to a Zulu or a Bushman is no greater than from the latter to the gorilla or the orang.'" (pp. 150-151, The Panda's Thumb, Stephen Jay Gould.) (Brain size tracks with body size; if these 'scientific' anthropologists were even correct that European male brains out-sized oriental or aboriginal brains, the likely reason was better nutrition, thus larger overall body size, amongst the former. Tall men have larger brains than short men do.) This pretentious twaddle about 'inferior races' and 'superior races' was the bread-and-butter of Darwin and his successors. The seed planted by the misnamed 'Enlightenment' had born its poisoned fruit. Here evolutionist Herbert Spencer imagines that childhood development recapitulates the 'advance' from the 'barbarous race' to 'civilized man:'

  • “Do not expect from a child any great amount of moral goodness. During early years every civilized man passes through that phase of character exhibited by the barbarous race from which he is descended. As the child's features—flat nose, forward-opening nostrils, large lips, wide-apart eyes, absent frontal sinus, etc.—resemble for a time those of the savage, so, too, do his instincts. Hence the tendencies to cruelty, to thieving, to lying, so general among children—tendencies which, even without the aid of discipline, will become more or less modified just as the features do.”

  • (Spencer, Herbert. Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects, Everyman's Library (p. 153). Kindle Edition.)

These 'scientific' anthropologists quite pointedly turned up their noses at the Christian sentimentality of the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God.  Louis Agassiz, famed American naturalist, was very well aware his contention that each major race had begun as a separate biological species rebutted the Bible's teaching of common descent.  He reserved the right to pursue science untainted by religion: "Naturalists have a right to consider the questions growing out of men's physical relations as merely scientific questions, and to investigate them without reference to either politics or religion." (p. 171, The Panda's Thumb, Stephen Jay Gould). Unfettered by the Christian sentimentality of a common origin, he gave full voice to the racism then prevalent in his profession: "The indomitable, courageous, proud Indian — in how different a light he stands by the side of the submissive, obsequious, imitative negro, or by the side of the tricky, cunning, and cowardly Mongolian! Are not these facts indications that the different races do not rank upon one level in nature." (Louis Agassiz, quoted in the Panda's Thumb, Stephen Jay Gould, pp. 171-172). The Darwinians were, if anything, even more virulent in their contempt for the 'lower races.' The evolutionists all did, it was their stock in trade:

"In proof of the first of these positions, we may cite the fact that, in the relative development of the limbs, the civilized man departs more widely from the general type of the placental mammalia than do the lower human races. While often possessing well-developed body and arms, the Australian has very small legs: thus reminding us of the chimpanzee and the gorilla, which present no great contrasts in size between the hind and fore limbs. But in the European, the greater length and massiveness of the legs have become marked—the fore and hind limbs are more heterogeneous."
(Spencer, Herbert. Essays: Scientific, Political, & Speculative, Vol. I (Kindle Locations 275-279).)

This is not an unfortunate happenstance, as if these people simply picked up the racism that was present as a background noise in their culture. This is what they brought to the table. They sat down at the table of the great conversation, and belched out just this.

  • “No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the 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.”

  • (Thomas H. Huxley, quoted p. 302, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion)

Where did this stream of the 'zeitgeist' come from? It is no mystery. The academy of the day was promoting it. Call it 'pseudo-science' if you like, but it didn't lack for peer-review. Certainly it is no objective account of reality, but all the gate-keepers were agreed, it was the high science of the day. One powerful accelerant was the theory of evolution. The reader who wants to understand need look no further than the full title of Charles Darwin's magnum opus, "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life."

But while scientific racism did not arrive in all its maleficent horror until Charles Darwin put the finishing touches on it, the project was already well underway during the misnamed 'Enlightenment.' Those who would defend this movement in the present day realize that you must praise 'reason,' not dwell on the reasoners, because you simply can't defend this cast of characters to a contemporary audience:

"For all the prescience of the founders, framers, and philosophes, this is not a book of Enlightenolatry. The Enlightenment thinkers were men and women of their age, the 18th century. Some were racists, sexists, anti-Semites, slaveholders, or duelists." (Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now, Part I, Chapter 1, p. 23 of 24).

Well, goodness, what's the problem? Seriously, you are against reason? A few little things. The philosophes who gave the world the French Revolution could not stop talking about how fervently committed to reason they were. They, unlike others, were reasonable, and probably also courageous and good-looking, too. They claimed credit for inventions of long ago and far away, like democracy and the rule of law. The Bible says, "Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips." (Proverbs 27:2). Did people not belonging to the club ever remark that the self-identified Enlightened Ones were noticeably reasonable, or committed to democracy, or human rights, or anything else good? Realize that these people used to pack Catholic priests onto ships, and then pull out the bottom plank, sending them to a watery grave. This is one thing the Enlightenment did legitimately invent, the mass drowning:

They hated religious folk, to the death. And, yes, they were racists. The problem in a nut-shell is that Europe, on the dawn of modernity, looked around the world, and saw themselves bestriding the globe like a colossus, with the senescent and decayed empires of old scattering about like ants at their feet. Europe was the most technologically advanced and politically powerful force in the world. How on earth had that happened? In classical antiquity, the northern Europeans were barbarians prowling through the forest. The subsequent ages lurched from one catastrophe to another; it is a wonder civliization survived the Black Death. How had they made up all that ground, and gone from being backwards to leading from the front? Religious folk had a ready answer: God had blessed Europe for its faithfulness. They had not apostatized, through all their trials, but had held the line against Islam and other threats to the faith. The Enlightened Ones could not bear to hear that answer. Anything but that, they thought. And so they made up the fable that Europeans were intrinsically and biologically superior to all the other peoples of the earth. It wasn't an innocent or a harmless fable, it had consequences.

And what what was their vision of reason? Something positive or affirmative? Does the observer descry any hints of Logos-worship? Not at all. When they said that they, unlike others, were reasonable, they meant, as do their modern-day fellow-travellers, that they hated religion. In presenting the Enlightenment, Steven Pinker can do no better than to explain what it is not: "Let me introduce some of the popular alternatives to reason, science, humanism, and progress. . .The most obvious is religious faith. To take something on faith means to believe it without good reason, so by definition a faith in the existence of supernatural entitites clashes with reason." (Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now, Part I, Chapter 3, p. 5 of 22). Simple enough. They said it, and they meant it, and mass drownings were the outcome.

These 'scientific' anthropologists strained at the bit to find an 'evolutionary sequence' in the races of man, marching upward from lower to higher. Bible-readers always knew better. Science is not, as its acolytes sometimes represent it, an Olympian activity taking place at aetherial heights where ordinary human cultural concerns do not reach; in the nineteenth century, northern Europeans and especially the British, found themselves sitting atop the globe, and began busily making up reasons why it was right and proper for them to dominate other peoples. We are still saddled with some of these enabling ideologies to this day, although they have outlived their usefulness. Britain is by now a second-rate power that does not dominate anything, so can we please just drop this nonsense? The reason for this glaring inequality cannot be, as the Darwinians maintained, the inherent ineptitude of the 'inferior races,' because those among the 'inferior races' who adopt certain political institutions, such as democracy and free markets, can fairly rapidly find themselves beating their former colonial masters at their own game.

Scientific racism was a horrid ideology which acted as gasoline poured onto a fire, exacerbating conflict between the developed world and the under-developed, and hardening the attitudes of Southern slave-owners from their original diffidence into 'slavery forever.' But which came first, the ideology or the exploitation it enabled? The Marxist answer, of course, is that the economic arrangements came first, and crafted, for their own perpetuation, the ideology. This is always the Marxist answer; this is where Marxists believe ideology comes from, whether it be science, religion, or philosophy. It is surprising how many people, who will deny being Marxists, nevertheless believe the Marxist explanation in this particular case; they have been taught that, when it comes to racism, Marxism is correct, even though it is demonstrably not correct when it comes to forecasting current economic conditions. "The idea of racial inferiority was created to justify unequal treatment; belief in racial inferiority is not what triggered unequal treatment. . .As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, 'But race is the child of racism, not the father.'. . .Exploitation came first, and then the ideology of unequal races to justify this exploitation followed." (White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo, Chapter 2, p. 8 of 98). This of course is the way it always works in Marxist analysis; ideology is the step-child of the current deployment of the means of production. In Marxism, ideology is the dependent variable, material conditions the independent; it is a variant of philosophical materialism. But just suppose, for a moment, that Marxism is wrong? Suppose the people who invented evolutionary racist ideology had free agency, suppose they could have done differently? Suppose human choice is not determined by material conditions? Europeans on the cusp of the modern era found themselves confronting distant peoples, even vast empires which had once made them shudder, like Islam, with overwhelming technological superiority solidly in their pocket. That's a given, race science did not create the field of play. The explanation that race science gave for the current state of affairs: that Europeans were inherently, biologically, superior to other people,— was by no means an inevitable explanation. The world had gotten smaller as the navigators circled it; people who would never otherwise have heard of each other came into contact. Race science turned a meeting of people groups, now wielding wildly unequal technology platforms, toward the dark side.

It was adopted domestically as well, with a similarly tragic outcome. The Irish potato famine, which caused 2 million Irish to emigrate and 1 million to starve, received a very tepid and belated response in the form of a half-hearted relief effort from the British rulers who had become convinced that relieving the poor only encourages them to breed. Unfortunately this flood of pseudo-scientific, racist anthropology warped and stunted human lives. Not only that, upon its adoption by the Nazis, it killed millions of human beings. But the atheists have no concept of intellectual honesty or moral accountability; they do not care that their own ideas have caused harm. To whom shall the butcher's bill be forwarded? To the Christians, of course! One moral of this unimpressive story is that science does not fall down from the heavens, it is a human cultural activity which observers will do well to consider from a gimlet-eyed stand-point of healthy skepticism.

Drawing, skeleton


There is an unholy alliance in the world today between atheists, red-state racists, and 'paleo-Confederates,' all united in their claim that the the Bible really does, when all is said and done, support slavery, and that the abolitionists were simply mistaken in their belief to the contrary:

  • “But neither do I want to ignore the biblical teaching on slavery and act as though the Christian defenders of antebellum slavery had no clue what the Scriptures said about this. They knew the apostolic instructions precisely, had their exegesis in hand, and consistently bested the abolitionists in debate.”
  • (Douglas Wilson, Black and Tan, Kindle location 303).

Who actually holds the Bible high ground in this matter? How did the abolitionists succeed in convincing millions of Christian Americans that slavery is wicked and unbiblical in spite of losing every debate? Let's get down to cases. Had the law of Moses been scrupulously followed, debt slavery should not have existed at all within nation Israel:

"If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. And then he shall depart from you -- he and his children with him -- and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God." (Leviticus 25:35-43).

Every 49 years Israel was to hold a year of jubilee.  At this time, farmlands that had been sold were reclaimed by their original owners, debts were remitted, and anyone who had fallen into a condition of servitude was liberated.  Every 49 years the deck was reshuffled and economic inequities that had built up in the meantime were drawn back to the starting point.  For many years after the Civil War, African Americans celebrated the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation as 'Jubilee Day'.  We have a sort of rolling jubilee built into our own law code, in the form of bankruptcy law.

The law of Moses, while providing a high standard of justice and righteousness within nation Israel, was not universal in its scope; Jews were allowed to treat Gentiles unjustly.  Chattel slavery as it existed in the American South was perceived by Moses as an injustice; one Israelite cannot keep another in a state of lifelong involuntary servitude.  The slave trade was strictly forbidden: "He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death." (Exodus 21:16).

The Mosaic law does not have a universal perspective, though; Moses permitted Jews to treat Gentiles unjustly, purchasing them as slaves, charging usurious interest, etc.  Jesus addressed this very issue of Moses' particularism, when asked, 'who is my neighbor': But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was.  And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him...'So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?'  And he said, 'He who showed mercy on him.'  Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.'" (Luke 10:33-37).

In theory, under Leviticus 25, debt slavery should not have existed within nation Israel. Should one of the people fall into slavery through this route or through the common ancient route of capture during time of warfare, even before hitting the backstop of the Jubilee year, the term of servitude was limited to six years:

"Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them: If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing." (Exodus 21:1-2).
"If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress.  From what the LORD has blessed you with, you shall give to him.  You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today." (Deuteronomy 15:12-15).

The Mosaic law on slavery seems to have been observed mostly in the breach.  Jeremiah 34:8-22 reports a fitful, inconsistent effort by King Zedekiah to proclaim a jubilee: "...after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem to proclaim release to them: that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman; so that no one should keep them, a Jew his brother, in bondage.  And all the officials and all the people obeyed...But afterward they turned around and took back the male servants and the female servants, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection for male servants and for female servants." (Jeremiah 34:8-11).

The economic provisions of Mosaic law were not made binding upon Gentile churches, but it has always been assumed that Mosaic law will inform the consciences of Christians on issues of economic equity: "For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath." (Acts 15:24).

The law of Moses ameliorated rather than totally corrected existing social conditions within nation Israel.  The early church went Moses one better, not just practicing the jubilee, but sharing all: "And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need." (Acts 2:44-45).  The church came to realize that "...God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him." (Acts 10:34-35).  With this realization, Gentiles too were admitted to one brotherhood: "...and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all." (Colossians 3:10-11).

The Mosaic law's distinction between Jew and Gentile was overcome in Christ, who tore down the wall of partition: "So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.  He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it." (Ephesians 2:11-16).

It's precisely because of the Bible's teaching against slavery that evangelicals like Wilberforce agitated against it.  Atheists misrepresent Paul's instructions to slaves to work hard for their masters as an unconditional endorsement of slavery, because they can't think of any reason why slaves should work hard unless it's because slavery is hunky-dory.  But Christian ethics does not deal with injustice the way they expect, teaching non-resistance to evil: "Slaves, accept the authority of your masters will all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh.  For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.  If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that?  But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps...When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross..." (1 Peter 2:18-24).

Paul doesn't recommend slavery, telling the Corinthians, "Were you called while a slave?  Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that....You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men." (1 Corinthians 7:21-23).  He tells Philemon to receive Onesimus, a runaway slave, as a brother: "For perhaps he was for this reason parted from you for a while, that you should have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.  If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me." (Philemon 1:16-17).

Eyre Crowe, Slaves Waiting for Sale at Richmond, Virginia

Those who worked most diligently against the evil of slavery were believers whose consciences were informed by the Bible: "Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love, and His gospel is peace; Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease." (O Holy Night, Adolphe Adam).  Had the practice of the early church continued, there would have been little cause for complaint: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common." (Acts 4:32).

This practice did not continue, however; John Chrysostom would later look back wistfully, "Should we do as much today, we should all live much more happily, rich as well as poor...Let us imagine things as happening in this way: All give all that they have into a common fund. No one would have to concern himself about it, neither the rich nor the poor.  How much money do you think would be collected?  I infer -- for it cannot be said with certainty -- that if every individual contributed all his money, his lands, his estates, his houses (I will not speak of slaves, for the first Christians had none, probably giving them their freedom), then a million pounds of gold would be obtained, and most likely two or three times that amount.  Then tell me how many people our city [Constantinople] contains?...What could we not undertake with our huge treasure!...Will we not make heaven on earth?" (John Chrysostom, quoted in Foundations of Christianity, Karl Kautsky, Book Four, 1, pp. 280-281)

The topic of this page, the equality of the races, intersects with the question of slavery at several junctures. But in fact, the two ideas can occur in every possible permutation: some abolitionists believed in equal rights for black and white, some did not; some proponents of slavery believed in a common descent of mankind, some did not. Historically, the nations of western Europe had turned away from slavery, understanding it was not Christian; but when trade routes to Western Africa opened up, justice took a giant step backward. The idea some people formulated, that Africans were not quite human, weighed heavily. And we are told by the atheists that these racist ideas are found in the Bible, and that it was the South which held the Bible high ground in the Civil War. If so, what were the abolitionists thinking? Didn't they know the Bible endorses slavery? In reality, they had the Bible, and they flaunted it. For more resources on slavery, the Bible, and Christianity, see:


The Confederacy

We have seen, on American soil, the rise of a state devoted to the ideal of the racial superiority of one group, whites, over another, blacks. Historians of the 'woke' tendency, like Jemar Tisby, say that that state was 'America.' The federal government extirpated this seditious experiment by force of arms. Certainly it is true that the Confederacy really was what the 'woke' crowd thinks America always was. Some people in the present day, like Douglas Wilson, who presides over what some label a cult in Moscow, Idaho gathered around his personality, aver that the American Civil War was a conflict between Christian civilization (the South) and godless atheism (the North). What would this imply for the content of Christian civilization?:

A good exemplar of the Confederate system is the nineteenth-century Presbyterian theologian, Robert Lewis Dabney, who fought for the Confederacy and ever afterwards proclaimed the righteousness of its cause. His views might well be summarized as "white supremacy:"

"And, if it shall appear that this Africanizing of our Church is not duty, then, how wretchedly untimely is the policy of fixing the odium of it on Presbyterianism, at this time, of all others, when the whole American people are so manifestly beginning to array themselves on the issue between the white man's party and black man's party; when this one issue is so completely absorbing all others; when the party of the white man's supremacy is gathering in such resistless might, and is so surely destined ultimately to sweep its opponents out of existence." (Robert Lewis Dabney, Speech Against Ecclesiastical Equality of Negro Preachers in the Church, and Their Right to Rule over White Christians, 1868, p. 9).

One might like to imagine that this man's views are of interest only to historians of the Civil War, but the venomous Dabney has found readers in the present day amongst the Neoconfederates, and even a champion in Douglas Wilson, who nevertheless vehemently denies being a racist. How is this possible?

The roots of the racism found in the movement which has coalesced around this individual, which includes participants like James White, Stephen Wolfe, John MacArthur, and other well-known personalities, go very deep. Rousas Rushdoony, the founder of modern theonomy, was a racist:

"Fourth, St. Paul referred to the broader meaning of these laws against hybridization, and against yoking an ox and an ass to a plow (Deut. 22:10), in 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Unequal yoking plainly means mixed marriages between believers and unbelievers and is clearly forbidden. But Deuteronomy 22:10 not only forbids unequal religious yoking by inference, and as a case law, but also unequal yoking generally. . .The burden of the law is thus against interreligious, interracial, and intercultural marriages, in that they normally go against the very community which marriage is designed to establish. Unequal yoking means more than marriage. In society at large it means the enforced integration of various elements which are not congenial." (Rushdoony, R. J., The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 1 (p. 296). Chalcedon Foundation.).

They have not overcome the racism that was inherent in their founding, nor are they even attempting to do so.

Adolf Hitler

Was Adolf Hitler a Christian? By the Nazis' own ideological writings, they espouse a pagan nature mysticism with more affinity for the racist Social Darwinism of their day than to Christianity. This is sometimes represented as a late deviation from Charles Darwin's thinking, but it was really present at the outset. Thomas Malthus' dismal population reckoning was political before Charles Darwin ever applied it to the animal kingdom. This is the kind of thinking that warns repeatedly of a 'Population Bomb,' dooming us to imminent starvation. As critics pointed out, Darwin's politics of the animal kingdom are a half truth at best. Nature is not characterized solely by the struggle of all against each, but by mutual aid, and for that matter, human societies have not always found that assisting the poor leads to over-population and starvation:

"And while in a savage land, among the Hottentots, it would be scandalous to eat without having loudly called out thrice whether there is not somebody wanting to share the food, all that a respectable citizen has to do now is to pay the poor tax and to let the starving starve. . .It is the religion of the day, and to doubt of its efficacy is to be a dangerous Utopian. Science loudly proclaims that the struggle of each against all is the leading principle of nature, and of human societies as well. To that struggle Biology ascribes the progressive evolution of the animal world. History takes the same line of argument; and political economists, in their naive ignorance, trace all progress of modern industry and machinery to the 'wonderful' effects of the same principle." (Peter Alekseevich Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, A Factor of Evolution, Chapter VII, p. 161).

The massive death toll of the Irish potato famine was partly caused by these policies. The idea is that, if you feed the poor, you encourage them to breed. Try it and see what happens; not what Malthus predicted. Unfortunately, while this author's critique of Social Darwinism is incisive and on the money, his own social thinking was more than a little bit dangerous. But this accusation, that Adolf Hitler was a devout Christian whose crimes were motivated by zeal for Jesus, is oft repeated in the present day by atheists like Richard Dawkins. Is it accurate? Where do ideas like survival of the fittest come from? From Christianity?:

Hitler's racial scheme was elaborated in more detail than the white/black dichotomy of Alexander Stephens' presentation of the race ideology of the Confederacy. He thought the Slavs, the people of Eastern Europe, were a natural slave race, their destiny to be pushed out of their existing homes by Germans seeking 'lebensraum,' living space. Part of the reason the Russians did not greet the German invaders as their liberators from the shackles of Bolshevism, is that liberating the Russian people was not really what Hitler had in view for their future. Displacement by German colonists was more on target. Russians are white folks, but the Russian prisoners of war at Auschwitz and elsewhere did not enjoy any white privilege. Just as Charles Darwin, looking for an example of a degraded race, found one, to his satisfaction, in the Irish, right next door, so Hitler did not have to turn his eyes to distant lands and climes to find lower-value people, as he perceived them. The Germans, not 'white people' in general, were the master race. Still there is a certain affinity. What both do have in common is a shared heritage from contemporary evolutionary biology, with its forthright opposition to the idea that all men are created equal. And besides, some racist white Southerners do take the view, not that Hitler's Germans are the master race, but that 'Anglo-Saxons' or Celtic peoples or some such are. As a rule, whatever the group to which the author belongs, that very group will be discovered to be the very last word in evolutionary progress.

Hitler's contempt for Christians and the Bible was genuine and well-attested. Although of Roman Catholic upbringing, he evinced no interest in Christianity as an adult, other than for purposes of political posturing. He was, however, a theist, who seems to have had a vague religious faith, attributing his escape from Stauffenberg's bomb to "Providence." (Colonel Stauffenberg had placed a briefcase containing a bomb at the Fuhrer's feet, then hastily departed. Not owing to any break in the course of nature, but simply because somebody found the clumsy briefcase to be in the way, it had been moved before exploding, and Hitler survived.) He spoke to the nation: "The bomb planted by Colonel Count Stauffenberg exploded two meters to the right of me...I myself an entirely unhurt, aside from some very minor scratches, bruises and burns. I regard this as a confirmation of the task imposed upon me by Providence..." (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer, p. 1069).

But he was no Christian, and his movement was no celebration of Christianity. He thought ill of Christianity, preferring Islam for its warrior spirit:

"You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?" (Adolf Hitler, quoted by Albert Speer, p. 96, Inside the Third Reich.)

The "meekness and flabbiness" to which Hitler objected in Christianity fell straight from the lips of its Founder:

  • “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
  • (Matthew 5:39).

Our own "War President" Bush deals with such troublesome verses mostly by ignoring their existence.

This new pagan nature mysticism, a hot-house plant springing up under Nazi care, lacked coherent definition, but owed its martial character to Charles Darwin's conception of nature as a theater of struggle. The Nazis also took from Darwin and his successors their preference for racial eugenics. Other streams converged to make up this muddy flood, including atheist Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the Superman. Germany's Lutheran Church was so hollowed out by decades of liberalism that it provided very little resistance when the Nazis pushed on it, like a post hollowed out by termites. Adolf Hitler cannot join the ranks of the twentieth century's atheist mass killers, because he was a theist entranced with the occult, not an atheist, but he was certainly no Christian either, cautious political pose to the contrary.

Drawing, skull, Museum of Natural History
Return to answering Atheism...

I don't know why they are always making up new words for old things, but nowadays when someone describes something to you that sounds very much like old-fashioned white supremacy, you might hear a new term to identify it: 'kinism.' What is 'kinism,' and is it actually anything new?:

Rousas Rushdoon
Robert Lewis Dabney
Douglas Wilson
Wall of Separation
Church of the Apostles

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