Browse Search Feedback Other Links Home Home
The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Creationism Implies Racism?

by Richard Trott and
Copyright © 1993-2004
[Last update: July 17, 2003]

Is the ICR's Henry Morris racist?

By Richard Trott

Henry M. Morris, among many other creationists, has tried to discredit evolutionary theory by arguing that evolution is a pillar of racism. For example, in The Troubled Waters Of Evolution (1974), Morris writes (p. 164):

As the 19th century scientists were converted to evolution, they were thus also convinced of racism. They were certain that the white race was superior to other races, and the reason for this superiority was to be found in Darwinian theory.

It is instructional to examine the following passage by Morris in that light. [1] I should note first, however, that I personally don't believe that Morris is a racist. Morris may have simply written this particular passage somewhat more carelessly than he should have. Or it may reflect views Morris once held years ago but no longer holds. Still, considering his attempts to tie evolution to racism, it is quite interesting to see Morris, in a creationist context, deal with race in a way that would give comfort to racists. Morris's reactions to questions about this passage are also of interest.

From Morris's The Beginning Of the World, Second Edition (1991), pp. 147-148:

The descendants of Ham were marked especially for secular service to mankind. Indeed they were to be 'servants of servants,' that is 'servants extraordinary!' Although only Canaan is mentioned specifically (possibly because the branch of Ham's family through Canaan would later come into most direct contact with Israel), the whole family of Ham is in view. The prophecy is worldwide in scope and, since Shem and Japheth are covered, all Ham's descendants must be also. These include all nations which are neither Semitic nor Japhetic. Thus, all of the earth's 'colored' races,--yellow, red, brown, and black--essentially the Afro-Asian group of peoples, including the American Indians--are possibly Hamitic in origin and included within the scope of the Canaanitic prophecy, as well as the Egyptians, Sumerians, Hittites, and Phoenicians of antiquity.

The Hamites have been the great 'servants' of mankind in the following ways, among many others: (1) they were the original explorers and settlers of practically all parts of the world, following the dispersion at Babel; (2) they were the first cultivators of most of the basic food staples of the world, such as potatoes, corn, beans, cereals, and others, as well as the first ones to domesticate most animals; (3) they developed most of the basic types of structural forms and building tools and materials; (4) they were the first to develop fabrics for clothing and various sewing and weaving devices; (5) they were the discoverers and inventors of an amazingly wide variety of medicines and surgical practices and instruments; (6) most of the concepts of basic mathematics, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry were developed by Hamites; (7) the machinery of commerce and trade--money, banks, postal systems, etc.--were invented by them; (8) they developed paper, ink, block printing, movable type, and other accoutrements of writing and communication. It seems that almost no matter what the particular device or principle or system may be, if one traces back far enough, he will find that it originated with the Sumerians or Egyptians or early Chinese or some other Hamitic people. Truly they have been the 'servants' of mankind in a most amazing way.

Yet the prophecy again has its obverse side. Somehow they have only gone so far and no farther. The Japhethites and Semites have, sooner or later, taken over their territories, and their inventions, and then developed them and utilized them for their own enlargement. Often the Hamites, especially the Negroes, have become actual personal servants or even slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane matters, they have eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites.

Morris concludes that this is not racist by invoking a strange definition of racism. Somehow, if other human beings are responsible for the plight of a group of people, that is racism; however, if someone (such as Morris) believes that a general line of people (such as the Hamites) are "possessed of a genetic character" that makes them innately less "intellectual," "philosophical," and "religious" than the other approximately two-thirds of humanity, this is not racism. (Although it was not his intention to make Morris's passage look even worse, Jerry Bergman has brought it to my attention that in at least one edition of the Morris book--probably the first edition--it's not "genetic character" but "racial character.")

Morris, for additional mitigation, couples this with an allowance for individual exceptions. Morris writes (ibid., p. 148):

These very general and broad national and racial characteristics obviously admit of many exceptions on an individual genetic basis. It is also obvious that the prophecy is a divine description of future facts, in no way needing the deliberate assistance of man for its accomplishment. Neither Negroes nor any other Hamitic people were intended to be forcibly subjugated on the basis of this Noahic declaration. The prophecy would be inevitably fulfilled because of the innate natures of the three genetic stocks, not by virtue of any artificial constraints imposed by man.

I questioned Henry Morris about this issue personally in North East, Maryland, on July 18, 1993 shortly after he made an address at a Christian service. Morris claimed that these pronouncements are not racist because there are "black Jews" and black "Indians" who are not Hamitic. (Note that this appears to be flatly contradictory to Morris's claim, quoted above, that "all of the earth's 'colored' races,--yellow, red, brown, and black" may be Hamitic.) Furthermore, Morris pointed out that there are whites who have been "slaves" and are Hamitic. These white Hamites are not mentioned in Morris's book. Morris also confirmed for me that he believes that African Americans are Hamitic.

It may be difficult for some to understand why I conclude that Morris is, in fact, not really a racist. After all, Morris has written that the "racial character" of a certain population results in that population being "less intellectual," "philosophical," and "religious" than the other approximately two-thirds of humanity. Furthermore, Morris sometimes defended these statements to me and other times simply contradicted them, but never rescinded them. However, I believe that it is possible for generally tolerant individuals to occasionally slip up and write something careless and insensitive. These errors do not necessarily reveal anything sinister, and an individual's beliefs and views change over time. I am happy to give Morris the benefit of the doubt.


[1] A special "thank you" to Dan Ashlock for tracking down the relatively obscure Morris book, The Beginning Of the World, in a library at Iowa State University.

Creationism and Racism

By Jim Lippard

Originally posted to the Usenet newsgroup on January 15, 1994. Jerry Bergman has published a response to this article, and Jim Lippard and Tom McIver have published a reply to that.

Tom McIver, an anthropologist who has written several articles for Creation/Evolution, NCSE Reports, and the Skeptical Inquirer, as well as the book Anti-Evolution: An Annotated Bibliography, has a book on creationism that will be published by the Univ. of California Press. Chapter 15 of the book is titled "Creationism and Racism," and the history of connections between creationism and racism. A shorter version of the chapter will be published in a future issue of Skeptic magazine (probably the issue after next, i.e., vol. 2, no. 4).

Anyway, I wanted to share some of it here. McIver begins with a bunch of quotes from creationists who maintain that racism comes from belief in evolution--Henry Morris, Ken Ham, Bert Thompson, Malcolm Bowden, etc.--it's a pretty long list. This part really caught my eye, though:

"Evolution and racism are the same thing," declares Jerry Bergman (McIver 1990:21; see Bergman's "Evolution and the Development of Nazi Race Policy" in Bible-Science Newsletter [1988] and articles in Creation Research Society Quarterly [1980], CSSHQ [1986], and Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal [1991, 1992]).[2]

[2] Bergman has been featured in many creationist publications for his complaint that he was denied tenure and dismissed from Bowling Green State University "solely because of my beliefs and publications in the area of creationism"; a cover story, for instance, in the Creation Science Legal Defense Fund's magazine Creation ("The Jerry Bergman Story," 1984). In Bergman's The Criterion (preface by Wendell Bird, foreword by John Eidsmoe), Luther Sunderland said Bergman was fired "solely" because of his religious beliefs--his creationism (1984:64). But in a signed letter published in David Duke's National Association of White People newsletter, Bergman stated that "reverse [racial] discrimination was clearly part of the decision"--i.e., that it was not solely religious discrimination (Bergman 1985:2).

McIver goes on to look at the racism that arises from a particular interpretation of Noah's three sons and the curse on Ham, from polygenism (inferior pre-Adamite people), connections with the Ku Klux Klan, Anglo-Israelism, and the Christian Identity movement, etc. Some interesting points of connection:

There's lots more (36 pages in this chapter), but you'll have to wait for the book (or at least the Skeptic article).

All this shows that racism is perfectly happy to rely for its foundation on creationism rather than evolution.

Home Browse Search Feedback Other Links The FAQ Must-Read Files Index Evolution Creationism Age of the Earth Flood Geology Catastrophism Debates
Home Page Browse | Search | Feedback | Links
The FAQ | Must-Read Files | Index | Creationism | Evolution | Age of the Earth | Flood Geology | Catastrophism | Debates