Monday, February 2, 2009

Interesting, But Misleading

I just found out that Charles Darwin may have hoped to end slavery with his theory on the evolution of man.

Check out this article for a larger discussion of these facts.

For some reason, I found this extremely interesting. Black people have regularly been called monkeys and apes as a way to demean them. Yet, the person who first tried to connect all humans to primates believed establishing that link would help black people get out of bondage. It's a weird footnote in history.

What I found more interesting, was a comment about this article that I found on Racialicious. Here's the comment:
A big theory of mine is that the whole “intelligent design”/natural selection debate is deeply rooted in the struggle between those who would seek to extend the white Christian hegemony and those who would seek to dismantle it through science. Unfortunately, the media always portrays it as some dense philosophical debate, without any implications for social power structures.

Hmmm, where to begin?

I'll admit that I'm no expert on intelligent design, but my basic understanding is that it's based on the idea that the world was created by an omnipotent being. Since most of y'all know I'm a Christian, with traditional Christian beliefs, y'all can probably guess that I don't have a problem with this concept. In fact, I think it's silly that so many people have decided that if you believe in evolution you can't believe in creationism or natural selection, since from what I understand about Darwin, he actually never tried to go to deep into the origins of life.

What got me, was the idea that belief in God and creationism was part of some sort of vast plot to maintain, white, Christian power.

I'm not naive. I understand how religion has been used to oppress people over the course of time. I know it's considered an opiate for the masses by many people. I get that.

What I also understand is that for most regular folks their belief in God, no matter what form it takes, is a deeply personal thing that provides some sort of succor to their lives. From what I've seen, an intense connection to God does not lead to a desire to subjugate folks. In fact, it's typically the exact opposite.

It's also somewhat insulting to be told that there is no deep philosophical meaning behind my belief in God and my belief that he created the world. It's demeaning to be told that I'm just a lemming who has been co-opted by the dominant structure. I think it's dangerous to make those kind of blanket assumptions about people.

The fact that many racists have used the Bible as a tool for control does not make the Bible inherently evil. In fact, what it does confirm is that humans have the ability to corrupt and misuse just about anything, a central tenet of the Bible.

There is no doubt that Christianity has been paired with a "white power" and "male power" ethos over the years, and its followers have often wreaked havoc on the lives of people of color, gays and women. Yet, I don't feel that's the fault of religion, but more the fault of people in power trying to exert control over the less powerful. Most people need a justification to commit wrong deeds, and if you search and twist the Bible you can find justification for almost anything.

Anyway, I thought the new information about Darwin was interesting, but I could not agree with the other point the connection between creationism and white Christian hegemony. I think the two things are connected by chance, not because of some deep flaw in the Biblical explanation of the word's origins.

It's an interesting theory, but I ain't buying it.



oyster said...

Let's alter the Racialicious comment to say that "MUCH OF the current debate about inserting bogus 'alternatives' to the theory of evolution* into science classes is being pushed by reactionary 'Christian' reconstructionists".

I would agree with that claim.

* "Let's explore the alternative theory that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church!"

Bemused said...

link to the original article? i'm preparing for a discussion on Darwin and the rhetoric of inquiry and this would be an AWESOME argument to add to the discussion.

Big Man said...


I had a link to the article in my post, but for some reason it's not working properly. Let me try to correct that.

Anonymous said...

You ain't buying it because you been brain washed since childhood

Big Man said...


You're right, I was indoctrinated pretty young. But, you're assuming that I've never had doubts about God, or gone through periods where I wondered if the whole faith thing was a big scam.

You are wrong.

I think non-believers have a tendency to assume that believers are unintelligent, despite the fact that many of the most intelligent people in the history of mankind have believed in some sort of higher power. It's a myth that believing in Jesus makes you dumb, just like it's a myth that being a non-believer makes you evil.

Besides, everybody's been indoctrinated into something. I think I a do a good job of looking at the world critically and examining my faith on a regular basis. It works for me.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:41's blanket statement also fails to account for someone like me, who while technicall raised Catholic had almost zero interest in going to church and didn't really start taking Jesus and God seriously until I was almost 30...and I didn't have any particular driving force behind me either (no despair, no empty feelings about life, no major crises, etc.).

In any case, Big Man, I like the post a lot. Here I am slacking in the spiritual stuff lately as I get caught up in writing and posting installments for the novel, and here you are picking up the spiritual debate slack.

Big Man said...

I got your back man.

D C Cain said...

I agree with your post 100%.

Anonymous said...

Admitting I don't know you like this...

But, through what I've read on this blog over the last months, you appear to be a person where at the end of the day somethings need to be reconciled. I've never got the impression that you're okay with questions resulting in questions. That is to say that you're not necessarily afraid to raise the questions, but that those questions better lead to some answers that make sense--or rather make sense to you.

Just interesting to me.

Personally, I do see the argument between creationism and Christian white hegemony, but may that's because I'm at this bastion of black liberation theology in seminary, came out of Trinity United Church of Christ or maybe just because I've read so damn much. But yes, for the most part I do believe that after doing basic church history that much of what we do on Sunday morning was borrowed from the theology and practices of the white parent denominations--especially that of the first independent Baptist churches in South Carolina and Georgia and the only difference between the Methodist Episcopal church and the AME church founded by Richard Allen was the friggin name.

Go figure.

But, hey, you're where you are, and I'm where I am, I aint hatin' on ya bruh. Do ya thing.

Big Man said...


I don't doubt that black churches are modeled after white ones and many of our traditions are the same. They are the ones who introduced many Africans to Christianity.

What I was trying to say is that I'm finding it hard to see the link between intelligent design and white Christian hegemony. Maybe that's because I don't truly understand the issue, and if that's the case, I'd like to be enlightned.

It seems to me that white people have used Christianity as a tool of oppression, but that doesn't mean that the basic idea that God created the Earth in validates the idea that white is right.

Also, you're right about me in questions, although there are some issues where I've learned to just let it go and be cool with no answers. But, those are few and far between.

Mr. Noface said...

Great post man!

It sort of irks me when wars, slavery, torture and every other kind of injustice is blamed on religion.

What many people fail to realize is that religion (or belief in a higher power) is not the cause of these evils. Indeed, religion is really just an excuse used to convince a vast majority of people that these evils are not evil. If everyone on this planet were atheists we would still have torture, wars, and slavery (there would just be another excuse for why it was all "ok").

For instance, it wasn't a belief in a higher power that prompted Stalin or Hitler to commit such devastating acts of genocide. These were just horrible men that corrupted an idea in order to justify their evil (Communism and Socialism respectively). I won't even get into the whole era of Eugenics and how that pseudoscience was used to justify the dominance and abuses of the white race.

The bottom line is that people can be bent towards evil regardless of whether or not religion (or science) is involved.

Raving Black Lunatic