Saturday, January 22, 2011

Scientific Racism's Enlightenment Origins

Modern secular humanists boast in being non-racist and
scientific. However, it was the Enlightenment--which secular
humanism came from--that opened the way to racial
classification into "higher" races and "lower" races.  This
pseudo-scientific practice was all in the name of true science.
The Enlightenment not only made reason racist, but science as well: 
"By the late eighteenth century, the Enlightenment was in full swing, and efforts were made for the first time to assure a scientific understanding of race.  Biologists, building upon the pioneer studies of Linnaeus and Buffon, turned to the classification of races.  Animals, as well as human beings, were arranged in systematic hierarchies.  Distinctions were made between “higher” and “lower” races.  European whites were placed at the summit in the hierarchy of races."[1]
Thus, “The scientific thought of the Enlightenment was a precondition for the growth of a modern racism based on physical typology.”[2]  Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, considered Europeans, Asians, American Indians, and Africans different varieties of humanity.[3]  Blacks he dismissed as “crafty, indolent, negligent. … Governed by caprice,” while Europeans he praised as “acute, inventive. … Governed by laws.”[4] 

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who produced the “most authoritative classification of the races” of the Enlightenment, considered Caucasians the first human race.  All other races, he held, had, as George M. Fredrickson writes, “diverged or degenerated.”[5]  “Whatever their intentions, Linnaeus, Blumenbach, and other eighteenth-century ethnologists opened the way to a secular or scientific racism by considering human beings part of the animal kingdom rather than viewing them in biblical terms as children of God endowed with spiritual capacities denied to other creatures.”[6] (Correction for Fredrickson’s statement: While his point is well taken, only Christians are children of God [Jn. 1:12], via adoption. However, all men, Christians and non-Christians alike, are creations of God and, unlike animals, are made in God’s image.)
Excerpt from the (Lord willing) upcoming book, God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws: Biblical Theocracy, Justice, and Slavery versus Humanistic Theocracy, "Justice," and Slavery by Steve C. Halbrook.  Copyright © 2010 by Steve C. Halbrook.  Based on the master's thesis, God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws.


     [1] Louis L. Snyder, “Racialism: Its Meaning and History,” in Ellis Cashmore and James Jennings, eds., Racism: Essential Readings (London: SAGE Publications, 2001), 92.
     [2] George M. Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 56.
     [3] Ibid.
     [4] Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, ed., Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader (Cambridge, Mass., 1997), 13.  Cited in Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History, 56.
     [5] Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History, 57.
     [6] Ibid.

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