Opinion

Science and the Bible can help ease racial tensions

People of different races hold hands as they gather on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston, S.C., on June 21, 2015, after the first service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church since a mass shooting left nine people dead. Hundreds of people packed the sweltering church for an emotional memorial service just days after a gunman, identified by authorities as Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, shot dead nine black church members. Photo couretsy of REUTERS/Carlo Allegri *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-HAM-OPED, originally transmitted on Oct. 5, 2016.

(RNS) As racial strife troubles this nation, it is tragic that many of the leaders who claim they are dealing with the problem are actually fueling tensions. For one, there is an issue over proper terminology. Second, there are problems over the ways in which race issues are being approached both scientifically and historically.

In 2000, researchers with the Human Genome Project unanimously declared there is only one race: the human race. The word “race” once meant “ethnic group.” Charles Darwin referred to “civilized races” versus “savage races.” Sadly, Darwinian thinking has influenced the way many people view the word “race,” even into the 20th century.

For example, a biology textbook used in many U.S. public schools around the time of the 1920s Scopes trial said: “At the present time there exist upon the earth five races … the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.” Sadly, even some Christians have used such wrong ideas to perpetrate various injustices on different-looking members of the one human race.

More than half a century has passed since the horrors of the racial extermination camps of the evolutionary-thinking Nazis. Yet the struggle against ethnic hatred and violence remains one of the burning issues of our time. Billions of dollars are spent fighting it. Presidents consult civic and religious leaders for answers, while many Americans take to the streets to give voice to their dissatisfaction. Everyone seems to be wrestling with the problems of racial prejudice … yet solutions seem to evade us. But here are some suggested remedies.

From a genetic standpoint, today’s scientists have abandoned the word “race” for humans — and so should everyone else. I urge President Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others to abandon the word “races” and use “people groups” instead — to emphasize we are all one race, one blood and one family, and get away from any racist connotations.


COUNTERPOINT:  No, Ken Ham, whites are not colored people


It’s a fact of science that all humans are the same basic color, just different shades. The main substance in our bodies that determines skin color is melanin. There are no truly “white” people or “black” people. Humans have different shades from light brown to very dark depending on how much and the type of melanin. It’s a fact that all humans are colored people. (By the way, albinism — a lack of the pigments — is a rare condition that can occur in all people groups.) I challenge the president and others currently weighing in on race matters that we are all colored people — just different shades of brown.

We should heed what the Bible teaches, namely that God “made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Yes, God’s word declares that all humans are one race, descendants of Adam and Eve. Further, we are also all descended from Noah and his wife. After the global flood, as Noah and his family left the ark, it was from these eight individuals that all people groups arose. At the Tower of Babel, Noah’s descendants were dispersed throughout the Earth, populating the continents with the same genetic makeup that each of us still carries today.

Ken Ham, founder of the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Photo courtesy of A. Larry Ross Communications

Ken Ham, founder of the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Photo courtesy of A. Larry Ross Communications

We are one blood, one family. What a difference it would make if we all started looking on each person, wherever they are in the world, as our relative — each is a family member deserving our love and care. Each of us needs to judge our actions against the absolute authority of God’s word and recognize that we are all made in God’s image, but are sinners and fall short of his glory.

How grateful I am that we have the Bible to guide us in healing these wounds.

(Ken Ham is president of the newly opened Ark Encounter as well as Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry. He is co-author of the book “One Race, One Blood”)

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  • The problem with such approaches to racism and bigotry is that science and religion are not cures for being hateful and stupid.

  • I was pretty behind this article until, suddenly:

    “I urge President Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others to abandon the word ‘races’ and use ‘people groups’ instead”

    Look, the problem is the concept of races. You can’t just fix it by calling it something DIFFERENT. If we implement your ideas, our society will STILL have a racial divide in it, we’ll just be calling it a “people group divide” instead.

    This is a plain ridiculous idea. It’s like if we decided we could end all forms of Classism by simply renaming the concept of economic classes to be “people money groups”, or if we decided to end the problems of India’s caste system by renaming it to the “group system”.

    It’s just adding a fresh coat of paint to the problem. Your “people groups” are the problem, not what we call your “people groups”. Unity of Mankind requires an abolition of the concept and division of race, not simply renaming the division to something that sounds better.

  • Ken, this nonsense is exactly the reason why silly biblical platitudes will not help solve racial tensions…

    “…After the global flood, as Noah and his family left the ark, it was from these eight individuals that all people groups arose. At the Tower of Babel, Noah’s descendants were dispersed throughout the Earth, populating the continents with the same genetic makeup that each of us still carries today…”

    Ignorance and delusions like this have no place in racial solutions. Instead, your bible is responsible for much of racism and slavery, with “chosen people”, associated anti-Semitism and racial division — also a vengeful, hate-filled god, preparing eternal damnation for those who resist his tyranny.

    Instead, real scientific facts that show evolution produced humans — deserving of equal rights and protection. Going forward, science, not biblical fiction and myths, are solutions to racial reconciliation.

    So Ken, go back to your Ark-Encounter amusement park, and perhaps with your level of knowledge, a position at the ice-cream stand is more appropriate than any contribution to racial understanding.

  • Goshes, daddy! I’m old enough to remember when the bible was used to justify racism, bigotry, Jim Crow, and segregation . And I’m old enough to remember all of the biblical justifications for owning people of the incorrect skin color.

    Why, someone would almost think you could use the bible to justify just about anything!

    Well, that’s enough for now. I have an auto-da-fe to get to.

  • Actually Damien, in Darwin’s book “The Descent Of Man”, Darwin forcefully argued for the INFERIORITY of blacks and women, based on the theory of evolution.

    Here’s the idea: the theory of evolution says that us humans originated by naturalistically evolving from a non-human animal called the “common ancestor of apes and humans.” Well, that particular claim means that SOME races of humanity might have evolved faster and farther up the evolutionary ladder than OTHER, “inferior”, races of humanity.

    And so Darwin argued in his book that the **white** race was the most evolved and the most advanced, while the black or **Negroid** race was the least evolved race, indeed only one or two notches above “the gorilla” (Darwin’s term). Also women were “inferior” to men, he wrote.

    And lots of people accepted that racist/sexist mess as scientific fact, because people were suckered into believing the theory of evolution was true. They should have believed the truth of the Bible instead, which ALWAYS showed that all humans, all colors, both men and women, are created equal.

    By the way, evolutionists weren’t really able to produce any Damage Control arguments to off-set Darwin’s evolution-based racist/sexist mess, until the advent of genetics.

  • “Mark of Cain”, Christianity propagated racism long before Darwin’s time, and our loving Christians threw in the “Blood Libel” for good measure. Mathew 27:25 “…His blood is on us and on our children…”

    Millions died because of this for centuries, god didn’t lift a finger to stop it, Jesus didn’t give a damn either.

  • ????

    Heck if I know. Best guess:

    One part making bigotry socially unacceptable. One part knocking down barriers to integration of populations. Its much harder to be hateful towards people you see and deal with on a daily basis as your peers. Not impossible, but harder.

  • It’s a shame the author didn’t add the inexact science of Economics. A relevant example: If 75% of black women birth children out of wedlock without support from their live sperm-donors and before they have achieved sufficient education and post-secondary job training to support those children, then there’s a vey high probability they will grow up in poverty. The young men without the influence of a father to show them how to manage their explosive rage, will have a very high likelihood of turning to guns and crime and tangling with the police, who will have to assume the role of father and enforce some limits. Many of these young men will then consider cops their enemy, and do their best to kill them.

    I’ve read my Bible through and through, and it doesn’t speak to any of this. The major relevant passage is the one that states we reap what we sow.

  • Possibly the most reasonable thing Ken Ham ever wrote, but the bar is damn low where he’s concerned. As he implores us to recognize our common ancestry (ironic, that; I chuckled), he reveals his cretinous “all lives matter” bias, casting people of color and Darwinian evolution (no Ken Ham screed is complete without a jab or two at his favorite scapegoat) as the sources and fuel for lingering racial strife in the U.S..

    RNS can (and often does) do better than to publish this man’s nonsense.

  • “And I’m old enough to remember all of the biblical justifications for owning people of the incorrect skin color.”

    What are you, a Highlander??

  • “It’s a shame the author didn’t add the inexact science of Economics. A
    relevant example: If 75% of black women birth children out of wedlock
    without support from their live sperm-donors and before they have
    achieved sufficient education and post-secondary job training to support
    those children, then there’s a vey high probability they will grow up
    in poverty. …”

    So that means you support unhindered access to contraception and abortion? Because both of those things greatly reduce the number of out of wedlock births from impoverished people. 🙂

  • No he didn’t.

    “Darwin in The Descent of Man
    (chapter 7), after much consideration, concluded that all human races
    were probably the same species. He used the word “sub-species” for
    races, to designate that there were different varieties which did not
    differ significantly enough to be considered independent species. He
    thus undercut one of the major arguments for racism. Later discoveries
    by evolutionary biologists would further fatally undercut any scientific
    basis for racism by showing just how similar and united the human
    species is, especially when compared to other far more diverse species.”
    http://evolutionwiki.org/wiki/Darwin_himself_was_racist

  • Is this also true?

    “If 75% of white women birth children out of wedlock without support from their live sperm-donors and before they have achieved sufficient education and post-secondary job training to support those children, then there’s a vey high probability they will grow up in poverty. The young men without the influence of a father to show them how to manage their explosive rage, will have a very high likelihood of turning to guns and crime and tangling with the police, who will have to assume the role of father and enforce some limits. Many of these young men will then consider cops their enemy, and do their best to kill them.”

    BTW, this is a good argument for mandatory vasectomies for sperms donors who abandon or mistreat their children.

  • could be. I’ll have to check me kilt.
    But no, I was in high school when we studied the civil war, the civil rights act, and slavery. That was before the far-right school boards in Texas started ot determine what should be taught.

  • Ken’s distance from the history of historic Biblical racism is understandable, given he keeps himself hunkered down in a historically & scientifically repudiated Young Earth creationist box. I’m adding Ken’s posting (and Lupfer’s rejoinder, which Ham did NOT link to when he puffed his own piece in a Twitter link just a bit ago) to my #TIP anticreationism dataset at http://www.tortucan.wordpress.com (with htmls of the newer modules at http://www.tortucan.com for those on pdf-averse Iphones), which I do invite all to make use of as I delve into the fundamentally flawed methodology underpinning antievolutionism, from Ken Ham’s Young Earth model to the squishier Creationism Lite of Intelligent Design. Chapters 5 & 6 of the main #TIP work includes sections on the racism & slavery issues and how Biblical apologetics has tried to sidestep them in recent years.

  • Oh c’mon, Spuddie. EvoWiki is totally UNABLE to save your primordial bacon this time! Read Darwin’s own words in “The Descent Of Man”:

    “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

    Darwin is predicting, on the basis of natural selection, that all blacks will someday be exterminated. (Adolf Hitler would later parrot this concept.)
    But meanwhile, ***please examine those last 12 words.***

    Darwin is saying, (based on the no-good Theory of Evolution), that not only is “the Caucasian” higher & more advanced than “the negro”, but also THE ONLY THING LOWER THAN A NEGRO ON THE EVO-LADDER, IS A GORILLA.

  • Yet the quote I gave undercut your assumption entirely.

    From Evowiki

    “Since this Creationist argument is implicitly dependent on the
    proposition that the racism of a theory’s proponents is a valid reason
    to reject a theory, it is worth noting that a number of prominent
    Creationists have been racist. The list includes Louis Agassiz, who denied that blacks and whites were even of the same species; George MacCready Price, who held that Negroes were a degenerate form of Homo sapiens; and Henry Morris,
    who, in 1976, argued that the “genetic character” of “Hamites”
    (including both Asian and African peoples) is such that they are often
    “displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the
    Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites”. Indeed, the
    religious alternatives to Darwin’s theories during his time were not
    racially egalitarian at all: the major debates prior to Darwin were
    whether Africans were a separate species created inferior, or whether
    they represented a more advanced state of “decay” form of the original
    purer race of human being”

    Professor Schaaffhausen’s work predated Darwin, nice try there.

    Of course it misses the point that Evolution Darwin’s writings. It has grown far past that. Your remark is like saying Newton’s laws of gravitation are invalid because he spent his last years trying to turn lead into gold.

  • I like your restaurant, Spuddie — you offer a delicious and nutritious 2-course dinner along with the golden music of “Getting to Know You”!

  • Actually I was just describing Thanksgiving with my extended family.

    My family is very mixed demographically, both interfaith and interracial, plus a few close relatives in homosexual marriages. Its amazing how one avoids prejudiced rhetoric and whatnot when you are trying to avoid making a scene or starting an argument with someone close to you. Its one thing to talk about such issues in a general sense. Its quite another when you know it affects a loved one directly.

  • I can only dream of the spectrum of experiences and challenges and the wealth of knowledge and insights you must gain from your extended family, Spuddie!

  • We wind up celebrating a lot of holidays. Mostly as excuses for getting together to eat interesting food and get drunk. Booze is a great uniter.

  • So from 8 we get the human race….momma/sister/cousin rapers…….
    20 million have fled the faith in 6 yrs. Your god is becoming a myth…..Go pray

  • I urge President Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others to abandon the word “races” and use “people groups” instead….

    “People groups” is such an unwieldy phrase. Why not just bring back the Middle English word for “people group”: leod?

  • Well, I’m partial to mass murder and the rape of virgins, but what else would you expect from an atheist?

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