Answer with a yes or a no.
Do you think that people who are convinced that humans descended/evolved from apes will, by and large, subscribe to ideas that any one human "race" is superior to another?
Or, to put it differently, do you think that people who deny that we descended/evolved from apes might possibly belong to supremacist groups, or might operate with a sense of one human "race" being superior to another?
As I look at the American socio-political landscape, I see among the Republican Party a great overlap between those who deny evolution and those who are also convinced about their white supremacy.
Apparently there is a reason for me to think along those lines. Darwin’s theory of evolution might have encouraged the abolition of slavery. How? First, what did Darwin himself say about where humans came from?
Darwin was so concerned about the heretical nature of his message that he decided to avoid mentioning the most incendiary of all his conclusions: that humans, supposedly created in the image of God, were in fact nothing more than modified great apes. He therefore devoted just 12 timid words to human evolution in the entire 500-page work: “Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.”The man buried the lede, eh!
What's the connection to abolishing slavery?
Darwin, whose birthday is today--and, hence, this second post of the day--published his opus in 1859. In that era, prior to his publication:
At the time, it was debated whether humans had a single origin or several, with each race being separately created. The multiple-creation school, polygenism, was popular with apologists for slavery. If, as they supposed, the Adam-and-Eve creation produced whites, but other races derived from earlier and inferior acts of creation, then whites were justified in applying a different moral standard to people of nonwhite race, who were not created in God’s image. Polygenists sometimes saw blacks as subhuman intermediates or even as members of a different species, justifying their subjugation and enslavement.You can see where this is going. And you can, therefore, see why those who championed white supremacy in the American South even made a lawsuit out of the teaching of evolution. (Click here for an older post on this topic.)
So, back to 1859. Darwin's ideas are heretic.
But if humans had a single origin (monogenism), as Darwin proposed for other species, then all human races were genealogically connected: Blacks were every bit as human as whites — equivalent to distant cousins — and slavery became morally untenable.Aha, you say!
Of course, even by 1859, there were enough abolitionists, and enough of a momentum to abolish slavery. Darwin's book might have added that much more to the abolitionists' arguments.
Things haven’t changed much since 1860. A 2014 Gallup poll showed that 42 percent of Americans are young-Earth creationists, while another 31 percent are theistic evolutionists like Gray, accepting some form of human evolution but insisting it was directed by God. And only 19 percent of us — 1 in 5 — adhere to Darwin’s view that humans evolved in a purely naturalistic way with no supernatural help. Slavery, thankfully, is no longer with usOnly 1 in 5 view that humans evolved without a divine intervention. Only one in five! Oh My Darwin! ;)