Matt Young posted Entry 2416 on June 28, 2006 03:39 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2411

During the symposium on Teaching Evolution, on which I reported recently, someone asked why evolution denial was limited largely to the United States. If you count the Muslim world, then the question is off target; nevertheless, the US is unique among the European nations and their cultural descendants in the strength of its biblical literalist movement. I submitted that the fact may well be traced to the legacy of slavery. That response did not go over well, and someone noted that Europe had its slaves too.

I looked up slavery in the 2003 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Yes, Europe had its slaves, but slavery in western Europe died out during the late Middle Ages. In Germany and Russia, it was replaced by serfdom, which some will consider only a modest improvement. Britain made the slave trade illegal in 1807, and as a direct result much of South America abandoned slavery somewhat afterward. The British abolished slavery in India in 1843 and later moved inland into the continent of Africa specifically to interdict the slave trade. As far as I could learn, no one besides the US fought a civil war over slavery.

In the US, the invention of the cotton gin in 1793 increased the demand for slaves. Slaves elsewhere and in other times were regularly freed after a fixed period, sometimes 6 years, in accordance with a stricture in the so-called Old Testament. In the US, in part because of racial differences, slaves were generally not freed but often were enslaved for generations.

People often point, correctly, to the Abolitionist movement of the 1800’s as a triumph of religious people over slavery. The Abolitionists, however, were primarily northerners. Southern ministers so strongly opposed the Abolitionists’ views on slavery that two of the largest Protestant denominations, the Methodist Church and the Baptist Church, split into northern and southern branches in 1845. Indeed, specifically to oppose the Abolitionists, the southern clergy advanced the argument that Black people were destined to be servants because of the Biblical passages (Genesis 9:21-27) in which Noah gets drunk and falls asleep, naked, in his tent. Noah’s son Ham (the presumed ancestor of the Hamites, or Blacks) sees Noah naked, whereas his other sons, Shem and Japheth, cover him. Noah wakes up, realizes what has happened, and pronounces a curse on Canaan, the son of Ham (Genesis 9:24-27):

And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

To my mind, Noah is at fault for getting drunk—not Ham, and certainly not Canaan. Indeed, it is not at all clear why Noah curses Canaan, who did not see Noah naked, rather than Ham, who did. Nevertheless, religious apologists for slavery and segregation have pointed to this passage as justification for their stands on these issues. Other passages in the Bible support enslaving people other than your own. Steve Allen (in the book Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality) claims that not a single religion in the world condemned slavery until recently; this shift in attitude is very possibly the result of secular, Enlightenment thinking, not religious thinking. If religions have changed their positions on slavery, they have done so in part because of the influence of secular philosophy.

In 1845, the northern and southern churches formally split, as the southern churches became more and more literal in their interpretation of the Bible. It would be an exaggeration to say that the growing literalism was caused by the need to justify slavery alone, but the fact remains that what we call the Bible belt corresponds very closely with the slave-holding states of the antebellum South. Arguably, then, the US differs from Europe, Canada, and Australia because biblical literalism and hence evolution denial are the continuing legacy of slavery and racism.

I would be most interested in hearing substantive comments concerning this thesis.

Acknowledgement. I am indebted to Charles Silberman, in whose Crisis in Black and White I first read the argument about Genesis 9.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #109042

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on June 28, 2006 4:04 PM (e)

You’re probably going to get more than you bargained for with this one by bringing up the civil war.

However, I think you’ve largely ignored the periods of religious revival in the US, also known as the Great Awakenings. Much of the literalism we see today is a twenty-century product, begun by the Seventh-Day Adventists, and later adopted by the fundamentalist movement. This is also connected to the Pentecostal movement, which is also a twenty-century product.

Your thesis would also not explain why literalism is popular with African-American churches or why it is popular in rural areas outside of the South. It seems to me that you are depending much on the sterotypes of popular culture reflecting the complexities of reality.

Comment #109043

Posted by Jason on June 28, 2006 4:06 PM (e)

This is a not-too-terribly well-thought-out post conflating creationism with being ok with slavery. This is something that a creationist would do, but not a rational person. If there is a true conection, I have yet to see it. This is no better than a creationist conflating Darwin with eugenics and nazis.

I expect much more from thepandasthumb than this.

BTW, the US is not a European country.

Comment #109046

Posted by Chris Hyland on June 28, 2006 4:27 PM (e)

Reed A. Cartwright wrote:

Much of the literalism we see today is a twenty-century product, begun by the Seventh-Day Adventists

Agreed. Pretty much the entire creationist movement can be traced back to Adventist George McCready Price, who basically came up with the majority of major YEC geology arguments in the 20s to justify his religious beliefs. Most creationist testimonies you read involve them being religious but ok with evolution/geology until they read an older creationists book, which can be traced back to Price. I’m sure there’s an interesting discussion to be had on the psychology that makes them latch onto anything that allows them to more fully integrate their religion into their lives regardless of its factual accuracy.

An interesting question then is why creationism has taken off so much in Australia as well.

Comment #109047

Posted by Joao Carlos on June 28, 2006 4:28 PM (e)

Brazil had slavery until 1888. I don’t see much creationism here at Brazil.

Comment #109048

Posted by Jim Wynne on June 28, 2006 4:33 PM (e)

Jason wrote:

BTW, the US is not a European country.

You should read the complete sentence:

…the US is unique among the European nations and their cultural descendants

Comment #109049

Posted by Stephen Erickson on June 28, 2006 4:34 PM (e)

I think the view of evolution denial in the context of religious fundamentalism is right on target.

As far as the relationship between slavery and the Civil War to religious fundamentalism, however, I agree with other commenters that you are being far too glib. I was searching through google and amazon, it seems like George Marsden’s Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism might be a good place to start for fleshing out this idea. The second part of that book apparently tackles creation science.

Comment #109054

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on June 28, 2006 4:47 PM (e)

Please, people, let’s not get into the endless debate and subsequent flamefest of what started the civil war. That is not the point of Matt’s post. I suggest that you take up the issue After the Bar Closes.

Arguing over the civil war will get posts dumped to the bathroom wall.

Comment #109056

Posted by Grand Moff Texan on June 28, 2006 4:53 PM (e)

Our country has the dubious distinction of giving its name to the dual Genesis theory, the creationist notion that blacks were among the animals brought before Adam to be named in the Garden of Eden.

It’s called “The American School of Anthropology.”

(white) Southerners cannibalised their culture and even their religion to justify an economic institution that most weren’t wealthy enough to benefit from. Their descendents maintain the southern tradition of suffering for their betters’ prosperity by voting Republican.

No wonder they don’t believe in evolution.

Reed Cartwright: considering the geographic location of the roots of African-American Christianity, I don’t see how you could have missed the reason “why literalism is popular with African-American churches”. If Christianity weren’t so mobile a religion it would be lucky to still survive among the peoples of the Levant.
.

Comment #109061

Posted by Jason on June 28, 2006 4:59 PM (e)

Jim Wynne wrote:

You should read the complete sentence:

That part must have gotten added after I made the comment. It wasn’t there when I read it. Thanks.

It’s still a terrible post.

Comment #109063

Posted by Arden Chatfield on June 28, 2006 5:03 PM (e)

You don’t think the persistence of Creationism in the US is merely the result of the US being colonized by religious fanatics?

Comment #109064

Posted by Coin on June 28, 2006 5:04 PM (e)

Reed A. Cartwright wrote:

Arguing over the civil war will get posts dumped to the bathroom wall.

Whoops! Sorry about that.

Anyway, yeah, I think this initial post goes much too far. It would be extremely interesting to analyze the way that Christianity developed differently in the north and south, look into the question of how the Civil War and the things that caused it influenced that development, and trace whatever aftereffects from the Southern/Northern Baptist split still have in America’s political and religious landscape today. However claiming slavery lead to creationism is simply unreasonable because it ignores the complex and many-staged history of evangelical Christianity in the United States; excessively simplistic because it assumes the north v south rifts existed only becuase of slavery (ignoring, among many other things, the new and deep cultural rifts that Reconstruction caused); confusing because it ignores entirely the question of what happened to radical abolitionist Christianity; and unbecoming of a site which must sometimes defend against crazy creationist allegations that Darwin created the Nazis or whatever. The argument here is simply not very well thought out, and if it was a request for opinions rather than an argument it could have been more clearly stated as such.

Comment #109071

Posted by Matt Young on June 28, 2006 5:14 PM (e)

The religious revival in the early 2oth century is certainly relevant. I do not know whether it would have happened if people had not been ready for it. I am not entirely defending the thesis but throwing it out for discussion.

Literalism is indeed found outside the old South and also among Black people. I do not see a contradiction.

I did not imply that creationists today are “OK with slavery.” I merely question whether the origin of biblical literalism is related to slavery in the US. If it is not, then why is it so prevalent here? That is a serious, not a rhetorical question.

Nor do I think that slavery necessarily causes literalism, but I think it may have helped to do so in the United States. It did not in Brazil.

The Civil War was technically fought over states’ rights and probably other issues as well. But would the question of states’ rights have arisen if not for the strains over slavery? Why did Lincoln credit Harriet Beecher Stowe with causing the Civil War if slavery was not the principal underlying question?

The phrase regarding the European nations and their cultural descendants was unchanged.

Judging by Mr. Cartwright’s comment 109054, I must have missed something. I want to thank all the commenters for their civility, even in disagreement.

Comment #109072

Posted by Matt Young on June 28, 2006 5:17 PM (e)

You don’t think the persistence of Creationism in the US is merely the result of the US being colonized by religious fanatics?

The religious fanatics who colonized New England ultimately gave us some of our most liberal Protestant churches. If someone can explain that, I will be most grateful.

Comment #109074

Posted by Arden Chatfield on June 28, 2006 5:21 PM (e)

The religious fanatics who colonized New England ultimately gave us some of our most liberal Protestant churches.

Sure, but something like 200 years later.

If someone can explain that, I will be most grateful.

I daresay Creationism’s historical base in America over the last century has NOT been New England. Take the same religious fanaticism that the Puritans brought, transplant it to parts of the country much poorer and with much less of a tradition of education, and I can see Creationism as a logical outgrowth.

Comment #109075

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on June 28, 2006 5:22 PM (e)

Matt, I dumped three comments because it looked like the thread was going to derail into an argument over the origin of the civil war. As someone who has participated in that argument several times, I feel that our forum is a better place for it than your thread.

But if you want the majority of your comments to be about the civil war and not about your thesis, I’ll back off.

Comment #109076

Posted by Matt Young on June 28, 2006 5:24 PM (e)

…if it was a request for opinions rather than an argument it could have been more clearly stated as such.

A fair point, but in fact, here is how I concluded:

It would be an exaggeration to say that the growing literalism was caused by the need to justify slavery alone, but the fact remains that what we call the Bible belt corresponds very closely with the slave-holding states of the antebellum South. Arguably, then, the US differs from Europe, Canada, and Australia because biblical literalism and hence evolution denial are the continuing legacy of slavery and racism.

I would be most interested in hearing substantive comments concerning this thesis [italics added].

Comment #109077

Posted by Mark Paris on June 28, 2006 5:27 PM (e)

I think the strength of creationism in the US is directly related to the level of education; or, to put it another way, to the level of ignorance. I also think the strength of fundamentalist religion is directly related to the same thing. I doubt that slavery has much to do with it. Southerners used their religion to justify slavery, but religious people today use their religion to justify lots of different types of behavior.

Comment #109078

Posted by Matt Young on June 28, 2006 5:28 PM (e)

I dumped three comments because it looked like the thread was going to derail into an argument over the origin of the civil war.

Thank you - I was vacuuming the house.

But if you want the majority of your comments to be about the civil war and not about your thesis, I’ll back off.

Good heavens, no!

Comment #109079

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 28, 2006 5:30 PM (e)

This is a bit unfair:

Our country has the dubious distinction of giving its name to the dual Genesis theory, the creationist notion that blacks were among the animals brought before Adam to be named in the Garden of Eden.

It’s called “The American School of Anthropology.”

American Anthropology is best exemplified by its founder, the physical anthropologist Franz Boaz. This guy provided the antithesis to the fallacious Social Darwinism of his time. He was absolutely not a racist and was probably one of the first people to dispute the so-called empirical evidence of racial supremacy.

Also, the idea that non-whites are part of the fauna is pretty old, at least as old as the Valladolid debate of the 16th century where the Jesuit Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda claimed that Indians didn’t have any souls. I forget who won, but certainly Sepúlveda was pretty formal.

Comment #109081

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 28, 2006 5:37 PM (e)

I looked up slavery in the 2003 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

As an aside, trust nothing in the Britannica which pertains to anthropology.

It’s written by the same people who invented Social Darwinism, which IMHO is a big problem for scientific neo-Darwinism. Social Darwinism would provide a very readily available strawman to any serious anti-evolutionist.

Comment #109082

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 28, 2006 5:45 PM (e)

Sorry, Spotted a typo: The father of American anthropology was Franz Boas, not Boaz.

Comment #109084

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 28, 2006 5:48 PM (e)

Encyclopaedia Britannica as a primary source?

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #109085

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 28, 2006 5:53 PM (e)

Certainly Southern fundies did use the Bible to justify slavery. But I think the whole Biblical racism thing really took off in the 20’s, when the Klan ( a self-avowedly “Christian organization”) virtually ran much of the South (and much of the North, too). And it appeared again in the 50’s with the Brown v Board of Ed decision (many private “Christian schools” in the South were founded in the immediate aftermath of the Brown decision, so that the “good white Christians” could evade integration), and expanded further in the 60’s during the civil rights movement.

If anyone is interested, I have a short history of Christian fundamentalism in America, at:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/fundiehistory.ht…

Comment #109086

Posted by Arden Chatfield on June 28, 2006 5:57 PM (e)

Lenny, there’s a thread at ATBC (‘Chameleonic snake’) awaiting your herpetological insights.

Comment #109087

Posted by DragonScholar on June 28, 2006 5:58 PM (e)

An interesting idea, at least, but I’d say frankly far too specific. There’s many kinds of religious fundamentalisms, many different ways things happen, and slavery really is only one aspect of this. In fact, targeting it specifically ignores much of the other issues going on at the times - and after, and before.

I think however, it would be interesting to study the reasons for religious fundamentalism in our country in more detail.

Comment #109109

Posted by Terry Ward on June 28, 2006 7:09 PM (e)

If you read Hofstadter’s book on “Social Darwinism in America,” he has extensive notes and peiod-era cartoons from the early 20th century showing evolution from ape to African American to white. There is certainly some truth in your analysis. The south as you recall, brought us such terms as quadroons (1/4 black) and octaroon (1/8 black), etc. Descent from common ancestors (particularly with the earliest ancestors found by Leakey et al. in Africa) strengthens the racism argument you are making.

Comment #109112

Posted by Steviepinhead on June 28, 2006 7:23 PM (e)

Terry Ward:

Descent from common ancestors (particularly with the earliest ancestors found by Leakey et al. in Africa) strengthens the racism argument you are making.

Eh?

I followed the first part of your comment. But–though I’m reasonably sure you didn’t mean it the way it sounds–there seems to be a disconnect in the logic of the above statement.

Comment #109113

Posted by PZ Myers on June 28, 2006 7:26 PM (e)

I don’t know if I quite buy it. I don’t think the modern founders of creationism can be tied to any kind of pro-slavery feelings at all – it’s so indirect. If you wanted to argue that it was in part a residue of the resentment, isolation, racism, and poverty that were a legacy of the civil war, maybe. Perhaps the recovery from the conflict forced greater reliance on the church as a social institution, making religious dogma a more potent force in people’s lives…but that’s still all guesswork.

Comment #109116

Posted by Matt Young on June 28, 2006 7:49 PM (e)

Regarding Mr. Myers’s comment: I am afraid it had not occurred to me that someone might think I was trying to tie modern creationism or biblical literalism to modern racism. I am not. Nor am I saying that biblical literalism must be bunk because it has roots (if it does) in slavery and racism. That would be the genetic fallacy, and I am willing to let evolution deniers have a corner on that market.

I want to explore the hypothesis, not original to me, that the defense of slavery (obviously among other factors) led to biblical literalism. That fact, if indeed a fact, would, however, have no bearing on the truth or falsity of literalist claims.

Comment #109118

Posted by Troy Britain on June 28, 2006 8:41 PM (e)

Jason: This is a not-too-terribly well-thought-out post conflating creationism with being ok with slavery. This is something that a creationist would do, but not a rational person. If there is a true conection, I have yet to see it. This is no better than a creationist conflating Darwin with eugenics and nazis.

If Matt were explicitly conflating creationism with being pro-slavery you would be correct, but I don’t think he intended to do so (Matt, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that).

However there are little historical tidbits like the fact that Louis Agassiz (a creationist) was one of the scientists most often cited in support of the concept of polygenism, the idea that the “races” were independently created, in the arguments over slavery leading up to the Civil War.

Then there are comments like this from more modern creationists:

“Yet the prophecy had an obverse side as well. The Hamites [which are according to Morris: Black Africans, Asians, Polynesians, Native Americans and Australians – T.B.] have usually been able to go only so far with their explorations and inventions, and no further. The Japhethites [Europeans – T.B.] and Semites [Jews & Arabs – T.B.] have, sooner or later, taken over their territories and their inventions, then developed and utilized them to their own advantage in accomplishing their own “service” to mankind. Sometimes the Hamites, especially the Negroes, have even become actual slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane, practical matters, they have often eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites [Europeans] and the religious zeal of the Semites.” - Henry M. Morris The Genesis Record (1976), p.241 ](emphasis mine)

I have had creationists try and defend this statement saying that Morris was referring to “nations” not races, but nationality isn’t “genetic”. That said to be fair Morris explicitly denounced slavery elsewhere, but he still seemed to me to have had “race issues” despite his (and most YEC) claims that race is an “evolutionary concept”.

Regarding Matt’s thesis in general it is an interesting idea but I would say that at best it is only part of the cultural cocktail that seems to encourage the particular form of irrationality that is antievolutionism.

Comment #109124

Posted by Ric on June 28, 2006 9:26 PM (e)

Yeah, I don’t buy it. Biblical literalism is a creed that contributed both to slavery and creationism, in the same way that a common ancestor led to both apes and monkeys. Creationism did not stem from slavery, just as apes did not stem directly from monkeys. Slavery and creationism are both bad, of course, but your logic is flawed. It seems to me you make a common either in conflating correlation with causation.

Comment #109125

Posted by Ric on June 28, 2006 9:28 PM (e)

Uh, I meant “error,” not “either.”

Comment #109128

Posted by Moses on June 28, 2006 9:54 PM (e)

…this shift in attitude is very possibly the result of secular, Enlightenment thinking, not religious thinking. If religions have changed their positions on slavery, they have done so in part because of the influence of secular philosophy.

Sorry Matt,

Unless you’re going to drag the 18th Century Enlightenment back to the Renaissance, I don’t think you have much of a case. Many of the Anabaptist sects that broke away from the Roman Catholics in the early/mid 1500’s (including the proto-Mennonites) believed very strongly that slavery was wrong. As the Mennonites became distinct, that abolitionist belief became core to the practice and culture of the Mennonites.

I’ll spare you a more detailed over-view of the Early & Early American Mennonites and the Mennonite movement. But this abolitionist belief happened well before the Enlightenment and this belief, one of many Mennonite beliefs, was transmitted through-out the major religions here in America, especially abolition. But I will give you a brief run-down:

The earliest Mennonites that came to America, came in 1633, and were a mixture of Dutch, German & English and brought with them their strong anti-slavery and anti-war beliefs. Something the original pilgrims, Quakers, and other faiths later adopted in whole or in part (along with other issues, like no-infant baptism).

During the revolutionary war period in America, the original Mennonites, and the second and third wave Mennonites contributed a number of significant secular and religious (not all successful) ideas that helped form our country, culture and Constitution:

Separation of Church and State, anti-religious revivalism (something we’ve not escaped), opposition to the revolutionary war (pacifism), opposition to slavery (abolition), opposition to public education (bad idea, that) and a few others (like paying the indians, not killing them).

Comment #109130

Posted by Moses on June 28, 2006 10:12 PM (e)

As far as slavery persisting in America, I think it had more to do with cotton, indigo & tobacco, three very labor intensive cash-crops, than anything else. It wasn’t until the cotton picker became practical in the 1950’s, did slavery’s step-daughter - the cotton share cropper - get put to rest.

You’ve got to remember, until recently, the US was an agricultural/extractive economy. It’s only after Europe got blown up in WWII did we really become a first-rate industrial economy. Yet, even now, compared to Europe, we’re far more agricultural/extractive in our mix. I think sometimes things are what the are and getting caught up in rationalizations and philosophical arguments that are too complex hides what happened.

Back then, people were bastards so they could make money. Just like they do in the Marianna’s, China or any other sweat-shop economy today using slavery, company stores or whatever it takes to get cheap, forced labor. And, by-and-large the local preachers generally support the local culture/philosophy/social order that’s dictated by the men with the money. Because that’s what preachers tend to do.

Comment #109131

Posted by David on June 28, 2006 10:17 PM (e)

I think one of the things that’s relevant here is that slavery led to separate black and white churches in the South–so as much as there are differences between Baptists and Southern Baptists, there are also differences between Black Southern Baptists and White Southern Baptists. This leads to two groups that both seem to favor Biblical literalism, but often with very different values.

I think the frequency with which one finds Biblical literalism in the South and in African-American communities lends some anecdotal evidence to your ideas, but it doesn’t show causality. Because this is largely a scientific site, I’m not sure how you’d design an experiment.

You may be on to something, though. I know it has been theorized before that racists tend, if you’ll pardon the pun, to think in black and white. You might want to check out Anti-Semite and Jew by J.P. Sartre. There’s also a more modern psychology treatise on the topic, but I don’t recall title or author.

Comment #109138

Posted by Fross on June 28, 2006 11:24 PM (e)

yea, correlation isn’t causation. Divorce rates, belief in biblical literalism, racism, etc. are all pretty high in the Bible Belt. It’s possible that the different standards on education are involved, or maybe it’s economics? (or both?)

Either way, if you look at the trend society has been heading in for the past 100 years, the South is always a generation or two behind. It would be interesting to understand why that is.

Comment #109180

Posted by Carol Clouser on June 29, 2006 4:08 AM (e)

Matt,

“Steve Allen (in the book Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality) claims that not a single religion in the world condemned slavery until recently”

Well, Steve Allen is a pedestrian ignaramus who just doesn’t know what he is talking about. This is pure, unmitigated ignorance which I suspect you share, Matt. Too bad.

The Hebrew Bible makes it abundantly clear in Deuteronomy, three thousand years ago, that a slave, including one not of your own people, cannot be held against his will. If he escapes from his master you must NOT return him, instead he shall live with you under your protection. This at a time when the Code of Hammarabi and later Roman law a THOUSAND YEARS later prescribed the death penalty for anyone protecting an escaped slave.

The Hebrew EVED is unfortunately mistranslated (by those ignorant Christians, of course) as “slave”. It really means “worker” or “servant” from the word AVODA which means “to work”. It refers to the TEMPORARY sale by the court of one’s services in order to pay long overdue debts or to compensate for the act of stealing when other means of restitution are not available. Legal restrictions spelled out in the Hebrew Bible on the treatment of such people make it very clear that they are not owned by anyone and therefore are NOT slaves.

We can discuss whether this is a fair and effective deterrent, but slavery it is not. It does contrast starkly with our unfair bankruptcy laws.

Comment #109182

Posted by Bruce Kingsley on June 29, 2006 4:43 AM (e)

re Sepulveda and 16 Cent debates on Native Americans.

I believe that Sepulveda lost the debate, and the Emperor Charles V decided in favour of his opponent, Bartolome de las Casas.

In America, though, it was another matter.

Comment #109183

Posted by Pierre Yardin on June 29, 2006 4:51 AM (e)

I’m from South Africa where apartheid was probably just another form of institutionalised slavery. There, too, the biblical fanatics who instituted apartheid under their warped religious views opposed any kind of evolutionary thinking. In many schools, it was only after the country’s first multiracial elections and the new government of national unity that evolution was allowed to be taught.

So that probably supports your argument.

Comment #109194

Posted by Frank J on June 29, 2006 5:11 AM (e)

Here’s a thought (for comments - I’m not wedded to it):

Creationism, not just the 20th century “literalist” type, but any type that deliberately misrepresents science (and y’all know that I think ID is most obnoxious in that respect), and defense of slavery, share a common “ancestor” of authoritarianism. IOW, thinking of it more in terms of political ideology rather than religion, it’s not conservatives, but the “authoritarian right” that mostly defends anti-evolution pseudoscience. I don’t mean that all current authoritarians would defend slavery, but I bet that more than a few would if it weren’t “political suicide”.

Comment #109200

Posted by GT(N)T on June 29, 2006 5:58 AM (e)

Interesting thesis Matt. If true, I wonder why Creationism seems to be as rampant in the non-slave Northeast, Midwest, and California and it is in Texas and the South?

Comment #109203

Posted by Fuchsia Popper on June 29, 2006 6:38 AM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

The Hebrew Bible makes it abundantly clear in Deuteronomy, three thousand years ago, that a slave, including one not of your own people, cannot be held against his will. If he escapes from his master you must NOT return him, instead he shall live with you under your protection […]
The Hebrew EVED is unfortunately mistranslated (by those ignorant Christians, of course) as “slave”. It really means “worker” or “servant” from the word AVODA which means “to work”.

So what you mean is that the Hebrew Bible makes it clear in Deuteronomy that a servant (including one not of your own people), cannot be held against his will. In which case Steve Allen would be quite right to claim that not a single religion in the world condemned slavery until recently, no?

Perhaps I’m an ignoramus who has missed your point…

Comment #109208

Posted by Mats on June 29, 2006 7:03 AM (e)

The nation where there is much “evolution denial” is also “the country with the greatest scientific establishment the world has ever seen” (Darwinist Michael Ruse’s words).

Seems like Darwinism (NS+RM) is irrelevant for science.

Comment #109214

Posted by deadman_932 on June 29, 2006 7:19 AM (e)

I’ll go along with the people that pointed to econ/education here. Not only does the “Bible Belt” have a southern droop, it also girds some of the poorest states with the worst education. It seems to me that it’s nearly always useful to consider political and “moral” developments in light of economics..and the south certainly got stepped on.

I think most people would agree that economic change and concurrent educational investment would go a long way towards easing the fanaticism in the Middle East. With that in mind, if I look at the U.S., I think I can safely say that the south and plains states–combine weakened economies and fundamentalism. Oregon and Michigan..I think I can make a case there…and California has some hard-core fundamentalists, but …more than a few of these are the descendants of dust bowl migrants from the Bible Belt, per Steinbeck. Especially in (central) Northern Calif.

There’s certainly other historical factors that come into play, but my view remains that the ideology of fundamentalism simply masks a drive for politico-economic power. Nothing new there, but the odd thing to me is that in the States, fundamentalism is being driven in new ways by religious alliances and new modes of communicating and enforcing agreed-on standards of thought and strategies that draw in large numbers of believers in economically stable regions. That’s my two cents worth.

Comment #109215

Posted by ben on June 29, 2006 7:39 AM (e)

The nation where there is much “evolution denial” is also “the country with the greatest scientific establishment the world has ever seen” (Darwinist Michael Ruse’s words).

Seems like Darwinism (NS+RM) is irrelevant for science.

Seems like you have trouble connecting the dots in the arguments you make. What’s your point?

There’s plenty of ignorance of basic science in the society which has the most advanced scientific establishment. Granted. So what? How does it follow that an idea about which people are (often willfully) ignorant is therefore not relevant? Science is what it is, not what the average dolt on the street thinks or wishes it is.

Comment #109217

Posted by Keith Douglas on June 29, 2006 8:04 AM (e)

The other reason why the US gave rise to both fundamentalism and “liberal churches” is because both were antiestablishment wrt where they came from in Europe.

Comment #109219

Posted by Frank J on June 29, 2006 8:44 AM (e)

ben wrote:

Seems like you have trouble connecting the dots in the arguments you make. What’s your point?

The point is that when one cannot find fault with evolutionary biology, much less provide a testable alternative, one tends to use “Darwinism” a lot. I must add that “Darwinism (NS+RM)” is refreshingly original (almost subliminal with the “random” bit). My favorite, though, is David Ford’s “blindwatchmakingist.”

Comment #109220

Posted by Moses on June 29, 2006 8:47 AM (e)

Comment #109203

Posted by Fuchsia Popper on June 29, 2006 06:38 AM (e)

So what you mean is that the Hebrew Bible makes it clear in Deuteronomy that a servant (including one not of your own people), cannot be held against his will. In which case Steve Allen would be quite right to claim that not a single religion in the world condemned slavery until recently, no?

Perhaps I’m an ignoramus who has missed your point…

What she’s saying is the idiot who wrote the book didn’t know what he’s talking about. The issues of slavery in the bible are complex. The shortest I can write it, without going too far in glossing over the issue is:

It is written that you are to take-in any slave and not return him to his master, but instead to give him protection. This was directly in opposition to the Code of Hammurabi which required slaves to be returned to their masters. It also said you cannot take/hold any Hebrew as a slave unless he/she wished to become your slave and any non-Hebrew slave had the right to enter into the covenant having all the rights of any other Hebrew.

And believe me, there are some other issues with slavery (indentured servitude) in the old testament and it gets pretty complex and I don’t want to write about it. But to say that “not a single religion in the world condemned slavery until recently” is just complete effing bullshit. Even within Christianity, the Mennonites (from which I’m descended if it hasn’t been clear from my postings over time) were very much abolitionists from before “The Enlightenment” and have condemned slavery since their becoming a distinct religious group in the 1500s.

Comment #109221

Posted by Grand Moff Texan on June 29, 2006 8:53 AM (e)

GuyeFaux, I wasn’t talking about American Anthropology, I was talking about a 19th century vogue in the US for an admittedly old idea that came to be called The American School of Anthropology. Outside of Bob Jones University, I don’t think it’s taught much any more, so I’m not casting aspersions on anthropologists. Some of my best friends, etc.

Yes, I know it’s old, but most of the rest of the world had given up on it by the 1800’s. This thread is about precisely such kinds of (unfortunate) American exceptionalism.
.

Comment #109223

Posted by Grand Moff Texan on June 29, 2006 8:59 AM (e)

Pierre Yardin: IIRC, there was a radical branch of the Dutch Church that taught a radical form of predestination in which skin-color indicated whether or not you were saved. This may or may not have influenced the early Mormons, who taught the same thing until some time in the 20th c.
.

Comment #109224

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 29, 2006 9:02 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #109225

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 29, 2006 9:03 AM (e)

… I was talking about a 19th century vogue in the US for an admittedly old idea that came to be called The American School of Anthropology.

Can you please provide a link? I’m curious.

Comment #109226

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 29, 2006 9:04 AM (e)

It would be an exaggeration to say that the growing literalism was caused by the need to justify slavery alone, but the fact remains that what we call the Bible belt corresponds very closely with the slave-holding states of the antebellum South. Arguably, then, the US differs from Europe, Canada, and Australia because biblical literalism and hence evolution denial are the continuing legacy of slavery and racism.

The bible belt is, per wikipedia, “an area in which socially conservative Christian Evangelical Protestantism is a pervasive or dominant part of the culture”. Are you claiming that people in the region converted to Evangelical Protestantism so that they could interpret the bible literally so they could use Genesis 9 to justify holding slaves? That’s clearly overspecific. The ability to use biblical passages to justify policies and attitudes may well have played some role in the development of biblical literalism, but it wasn’t the predominate factor. And such justifications were and are used for many policies and attitudes, not just slavery. But “socially conservative Christian Evangelical Protestantism” has many aspects that are conducive to the “ethics” of slavery, and I think that an argument can be made that the cultural framework allowed slavery and the existence of slavery encouraged the cultural framework; they co-evolved to some degree. And that same cultural framework was also fertile ground for biblical literalism. So the causal lines are not as direct as you presented, but I think there is a good argument for a connection between slavery in the U.S. and the modern social conservative fundamentalist biblical literalist anti-science movement. See, for instance, http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/…:

Heyrman concludes that evangelicals initially stood outside and often in opposition to white southern culture. They were often served by a new generation of peoples’ preachers–young males, burdened by spiritual zeal and testosterone, who challenged the power structures of both church and society.

These preachers appealed to a predominately female constituency, Heyrman says, and initially offered women an expanded voice in religious affairs. Evangelical commitments often divided families, setting nonevangelical members against the newly converted. A concern for spiritual liberation led many evangelicals to oppose slavery.

But with the Revolutionary War and the expansion of the frontier, evangelicalism made itself more palatable to southerners, modifying its position on women’s roles, slavery and religious institutions. By the early 1800s, evangelicalism was adapting itself institutionally and theologically to southern society….

Comment #109230

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 29, 2006 9:15 AM (e)

Here’s the Amazon page for the book, Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt, being reviewed above:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080784716X/103-…

Amazon.com
It seems almost a given in the South these days that Christian conservatism is the rule rather than the exception. This part of the United States is, after all, the “buckle” of the Bible Belt. In her surprising history, Southern Cross, Professor Christine Leigh Heyrman shows that Evangelical Christianity was not always as popular in the South as it is today. In fact, the whole face of Evangelicalism has changed radically since its introduction in the 18th century. For example, early teaching and practice resoundingly opposed slavery, class privilege, and the traditional roles of men and women. Evangelicals encouraged women’s involvement in church affairs and–even worse–spiritual intimacy with other races. These unpopular political and social stands combined with their unbending view of hellfire and damnation placed Evangelicals on the margins of Southern religious practice until they themselves were “converted” to a different set of traditional values.

Heyrman’s book traces the evolution of Southern Evangelism from fringe movement to possessor of the Southern soul. In the span of a century, Evangelicalism began adopting Southern values, and a sect that had earlier preached against slavery and violence began defending both slaveholding and succession from the Union and the use of force in these ends, if necessary. The story of Christianity in the South is a fascinating one, and Southern Cross tells it well.

From Library Journal
Heyrman (history, Univ. of Delaware) traces the development of evangelical Christianity in early Southern history, from Colonial days to the early 19th century. The author shows how the primarily Methodist and Baptist evangelicals were able to overcome strong resistance to become a predominant force in Southern culture. Young and inspired preachers, fear of the devil, signs and wonders, and an appeal to the most disadvantaged members of society brought initial success. Later, a movement toward patriarchal church and family structures and racial separatism helped the radical movement establish a permanent niche for itself. Both strands of this heritage continue to have influence. The author points out the importance of understanding this powerful heritage when analyzing modern trends in conservative Protestantism. A fascinating work; recommended for public and academic libraries.

Comment #109231

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 29, 2006 9:26 AM (e)

Can you please provide a link? I’m curious.

Just google the phrase and you’ll find plenty. For instance,
http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/guides/vank/Mss… mentions that their manuscript collection contains both Darwin’s correspondence and

The American School of Anthropology – a school of thought which used morphology as the basis for distinguishing racial types and argued for a polygenetic theory of racial origins – was centered in Philadelphia, and there is a considerable number of Samuel Morton’s manuscripts and correspondence in the Library’s collections.

Comment #109233

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 29, 2006 9:38 AM (e)

Thanks for the link; interesting.

So the American School of Anthropology was based on unilinial evolution, which lasted up until Boas et al, at the end of the 19th c.

Comment #109235

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 29, 2006 9:44 AM (e)

I wonder then, if social darwinism is what the fundies objected to. This would imply that they were cultural descendents of their African slaves; I suppose this was unpallatable.

I suppose it’s not a far stretch to go from:

“I refuse to accept that I am the cultural descendent of a slave race”

to

“I refuse to accept that I am descended from monkeys.”

In which case I would agree with this post.

Comment #109237

Posted by Mark Paris on June 29, 2006 9:47 AM (e)

Moses, regarding Steve Allen and “religions” that did or did not condemn slavery – various sects of christianity are not “religions.” The religion is christianity; there are sects within that religion. I doubt that Allen meant to imply that no individuals of any religion condemned slavery, or even that no groups within a given religion did so. I am not quite in agreement that early judaism “condemned” slavery, despite your reading of the text. Not returning a slave is not the same thing as condemning slavery. I also suspect that the translation of slave, serf, servant or other related terms is not as clearcut as you indicate.

Comment #109259

Posted by Andrew Nolan on June 29, 2006 10:30 AM (e)

I have always enjoyed Panda’s Thumb, but I am really starting to think that the site could use a historian. The original point that Mr. Young made – that the strength of the biblical literalist movement “may well be traced to the legacy of slavery” – is breathtaking in its scope and in its inattention to historical sources and debates.

Rather than submit a tome, I would simply point out that George Marsden, Ferenc Szasz, and others have shown the degree to which Fundamentalism (as opposed to conservative Protestantism and evangelicalism) grew among the educated middle-classes of the urban and suburban northeast, west, and midwest in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some examples: Dwight Moody, who served as an inspiration for many of the men and women who engaged in this movement, established the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Aimee Semple McPherson worked out of Los Angeles, and _The Fundamentals_ were bankrolled by an industrialist based in California.

Slavery and racism existed hand-in-hand, and it is no accident that the region of the country where racism proved most virulent, even in the wake of emancipation, also saw dominant social institutions support institutionalized racism. Christianity was conservative in the South, true, but our sense that Fundamentalism is primarily a rural, Southern movement emerged as a result of the Scopes trial in 1925; it was not its cause.

I think you may be looking at two effects – slavery and conservative religious belief in biblical inerrancy – and hypothesizing a relationship that frankly ignores most historical evidence.

I am enjoying the comments, though.

Comment #109263

Posted by Chiefley on June 29, 2006 10:38 AM (e)

In the new book, “American Theocracy”, Kevin Phillips develops a strong case for something very similar to what Matt posted. But his claim is that the South’s emotional and spiritual recovery process after losing the Civil War caused a general religious, intellectual and cultural polarization between the North and the South that has never been reconciled. It’s what happened after the Civil War that is pertinent to this topic, not what happened before or during. He feels that the polarization effect of the healing process was so strong as to create an actual ethnic group out of the South as compared to the North.

He traces the history of Evangelism from colonial times to the present and shows how the two Great Awakenings along with the South’s postbellum attempt to redefine itself has led to such things as the present day Southern Baptist Convention, which is the axis on which the Southern culture revolves. There is a very strong anti-intellectualist component that along with Biblical Literalism in the SBC (and related denominations) and its influence is growing rapidly northward.

Phillips is an ex-Republican strategists and has written a number of prescient books in the past about the rise of Conservative politics. He has had it right each time. This time, however, he has gone from being a conservative republican strategist, insider, and supporter, to being a fierce critic and alarmist about the direction conservative forces are taking the country. The book is both scholarly and chilling.

Matt Young is on to something very important here in identifying the Civil War as a major factor in the uniqueness of the Creationist movement in the US. Don’t shoot the messenger. I strongly recommend anyone who is interested in this notion to read this extremely well researched book by Kevin Phillips.

A question to pique your interest: “From what region of the country have the last four presidents come from?”

Comment #109268

Posted by Dunc on June 29, 2006 10:43 AM (e)

I also have to throw my weight on the eduction side - specifically literacy. The whole concept of a “literal” reading of any book, especially one from a different era and culture which has been translated multiple times, requires a fairly low level of literacy. Literate people know that reading is always interpretive.

Comment #109282

Posted by Alann on June 29, 2006 11:40 AM (e)

I believe the civil war is connected to modern biblical literalism. This is not to say that literalism began in the south or is due to slavery. Biblical literalism evolved, and the south proved to be a natural breeding ground.

Literalism is a standard mutation of the theology, it continues to pop-up from time to time. In most environments it does not a beneficial mutation(enhanced survivability/acceptance of the theology) because it is opposed by several forces:

-The main branch of the religion: any change to the religion is opposed.
-Education: More educated individuals are more likely to question or analyze the literal interpretations and find contradictions they are unable to resolve.
-Diversity: General exposure to different ideas tends to question the absolute certainty demanded by literalists.

Leading up to and following the civil war there are a number of forces which made the environment more favorable to literalism allowing it to thrive:

-Slavery: Slavery had become an essential part of the economy. Literalism was used to justify slavery and was therefore more acceptable.
-Racism: Racism which was almost a necessary corollary to slavery and was thriving. Literalism was used to justify racism as well.
-Separatism: As the south was seeking to secede from the union, religious separatism was more viable mitigating any influence from the main stream of the church which did not favor literalism.
-Poverty: Post civil war the southern economy was severely depressed (from the loss of slavery, the cost of the war, and reparations demanded by the north). Poverty is a natural suppressor of education and diversity (population tends to avoid moving to depressed regions). Poverty also acts to promote religion in the general sense (people are more susceptible to promises for the afterlife, when there present lives are unpleasant).

Comment #109286

Posted by Drek on June 29, 2006 12:17 PM (e)

I suppose the views of the LDS Church on the subject might be instructive, given that a certain amount of racial inequality seems to be written into their scriptures. If they are equally vehement about opposition to evolution, it might be a point in your favor.

That said, as a Sociologist, I get the shudders whenever people make these sorts of cultural arguments.

Comment #109290

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 29, 2006 12:34 PM (e)

A question to pique your interest: “From what region of the country have the last four presidents come from?”

George W. Bush came from New Haven, Connecticut, just like Ann Coulter does, and his daddy came from Milton, Mass. Bill Clinton came from Hope, Arkansas but, like the Bushes, spent time at Yale (as well as Oxford and George Washington U.). Ronald Reagan came from Tampico, Illinois.

What was your point?

Comment #109291

Posted by Grand Moff Texan on June 29, 2006 12:35 PM (e)

GuyeFaux, I didn’t learn about it on the web. In fact, I remember reading about it under a Jamaican anthro prof back before I even had an email address!

It would be interesting to see what materials have graduated to the web.
.

Comment #109292

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 29, 2006 12:37 PM (e)

Oops, Coulter was born in NYC and grew up in New Canaan, not New Haven.

Comment #109295

Posted by DAS on June 29, 2006 12:46 PM (e)

I am not sure if you can blame “Biblical literalism” entirely for slavery in the US, although cf. Dagobert Runes, as you point out not all religious folk opposed slavery – many religious folk supported slavery and religious opposition to slavery seems to be a consequence of the secularization of religion. If Biblical literalism were responsible for slavery wouldn’t the slaves be freed every so often as per the requirements of the Bible. And how did they get that Hamite = Black = should be enslaved? Miriam was stricken with “leprosy” (not Hansen’s disease, FWIW) in part for criticizing Moses’ marrying of a Black woman. Wouldn’t a Biblical literalist using the Bible to justify slavery of Blacks be a bit afraid of being also so stricken?

There is a link between opposition to evolution and slavery, though. The issue, as Michael Lind points out in Made in Texas is that the confederacy is a lost cause and opposition to evolution is also a lost cause and a certain kind of conservative with a martyr complex has come to dominate American political discourse – and believes in all sorts of such lost causes (including not believing in global warming). Biblical literalism was not caused by the need to justify slavery much at all – but both had a common cause (and hence their co-occurance): the tendancy of a dying culture to embrace lost causes in the hopes of returning to a past which never really did exist (the hallmark of both Southern and today’s Southern-dominated Conservativism). I don’t agree with Lind entirely, but I think that Son of the South has the cultural dynamics correct.

Comment #109297

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 29, 2006 12:55 PM (e)

So the American School of Anthropology was based on unilinial evolution, which lasted up until Boas et al, at the end of the 19th c.

No; perhaps you meant to say multilineal, but even then your statement isn’t accurate because proponents of monogenic and polygenic views were contemporaries.
From http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v09n1/eugenics…:

The scientific racism movement of the mid-nineteenth century provided a number of important legacies to the eugenics movement. American scientific racism was primarily preoccupied with the attempt to establish that blacks, Orientals, and other races were in fact entirely different species of “man,” which the scientific racists claimed should be seen as a genus, rather than a species. The theory that the integrity of the human species derived from the creation of one Adam and one Eve was called monogenism or specific unity; monogenists believed that the races arose as a result of the degeneration of human beings since creation. The separate races were essentially the same human material, but different races had degenerated to different extents. Polygenists, by contrast, believed that the races were created separately in a series of different creations. The separate races were entirely different animals. The mid-century theory of polygenism, or specific diversity, was one of the first scientific theories largely developed in the US and was approvingly called “the American School of anthropology” by European scientists.

Boas is deemed the “father of American Anthropology” because he actually bothered to pay attention to the evidence and utilize the scientific method (he had a doctorate in physics).

Comment #109298

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 29, 2006 1:09 PM (e)

I am not sure if you can blame “Biblical literalism” entirely for slavery in the US

He didn’t blame bibical literalism for slavery; he suggested that biblical literalism is a “legacy of slavery and racism”, not v.v.

religious opposition to slavery seems to be a consequence of the secularization of religion

That’s not clear at all. As noted above (your contributions will be more valuable if you read what has already been posted before posting), “For example, early teaching and practice resoundingly opposed slavery, class privilege, and the traditional roles of men and women.” That early evangelical teaching came from “a new generation of peoples’ preachers—young males, burdened by spiritual zeal and testosterone, who challenged the power structures of both church and society”. Those young men preached “fear of the devil, signs and wonders”. But radicalism was coopted, as radicalism so often is: “a sect that had earlier preached against slavery and violence began defending both slaveholding and succession from the Union and the use of force in these ends, if necessary”.

Comment #109300

Posted by Adam on June 29, 2006 1:22 PM (e)

Uh, did you not notice that creationism is also running rampant in places where slavery never existed? Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kansas were all free states, in some cases militantly so.

Comment #109308

Posted by Carol Clouser on June 29, 2006 1:41 PM (e)

Mark Paris,

“I am not quite in agreement that early judaism “condemned” slavery, despite your reading of the text. Not returning a slave is not the same thing as condemning slavery. I also suspect that the translation of slave, serf, servant or other related terms is not as clearcut as you indicate.”

The Hebrew Bible goes much further than “condemn” slavery, it actually forbade it. You see, condemnation is cheap and easy, it is lip service, and the Bible is not a polemical document designed to issue proclamations. It is a guide for living to those who adhere to it. And the fact is that the ancient Israelites did not practice slavery.

Not returning a slave is far greater an act of rebellion against the perceived property rights of the person claiming the escapee than condemnation. It in fact abrogates the claim to those property rights.

If you find words and definitions confusing, you have no right to abuse them to make a claim. A servant is not a slave. But the real test is not in definitions but in the rules of behavior. The Biblical rules for EVED (one who works) in no way even remotely imply ownership.

According to Josephus (who was there), the Israelites were absolutely horrified on the lack of humanity and civilization demonstrated by their Roman rulers. The slaves and their treatment was one major sore point. Another was the public entertainment provided by the spectacle of watching gladiators knife each other to death or prisoners fighting animals. The Israelites pleaded with the Romans to take these practices back home, to no avail.

Make no mistake about it. History and the objective facts demonstrate the great ability of the Bible to humanize and civilize its adherents, the abuses of those who hijacked the document nonwithstanding.

Noah’s curse was never interpreted by Jews (the creators and owners of the Bible) as providing a license for anyone’s enslavement. First, a curse is not a license. Second, Noah is no great model of lofty behavior for anyone to emulate. Third, any such interpretation flies in the face of the Biblical statements against slavery.

Comment #109316

Posted by DAS on June 29, 2006 3:00 PM (e)

Jews (the creators and owners of the Bible)

So when fundies twist the Bible around in weird ways that have nothing to do with its clear intent, can we Jews sue them for copywrite infringement?

Comment #109319

Posted by Chiefley on June 29, 2006 3:29 PM (e)

Adam wrote:

Uh, did you not notice that creationism is also running rampant in places where slavery never existed? Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kansas were all free states, in some cases militantly so.

The exception proves the rule. Phillip’s point is that our current unique US brand of religious and political conservatism has its roots in the reshaping of the South after the Civil War. The effect was to actually create a kind of ethnicity that is now spreading northwards and westwards. The states you mention are border states and have been significantly affected by their proximity to the South. Although Kansas was once the most progressive state in the Union, today, their political and religous leanings are indistinguishable from those of the SBC and SBC growth has been rapid in Kansas over the last 20 years.

Phillip draws the “border” between the North and the South based on the demographics of denominational membership to the SBC and similar denominations compared to the more liberal ones. You can see a direct correlation between election results and the location and movement of that border for the last four or five presidential elections.

As to the other question: The last four Presidents have been considered “Southern” presidents even though they attended Northern universities.

Comment #109322

Posted by Matt Young on June 29, 2006 3:52 PM (e)

This is somewhat off task, and I will not allow an extended discussion, but I do not want to leave unrefuted the contention that the Hebrew Bible does not permit slavery. Wikipedia gives several biblical passages that refer to slavery. I looked up the first three in a Hebrew Bible: Leviticus 25:44 and Exodus 21:2,7. The first two refer to buying an ‘eved or an ‘amah, and the third to selling your daughter as an ‘amah. ‘Eved is usually rendered servant or slave, and ‘amah as maidservant. The key words, however, are buy and sell: people you buy and sell are slaves.

According to these passages, slaves are inheritable; Hebrew slaves must be freed after 6 years; under certain conditions, a freed slave’s wife and children may remain slaves; if he wants to keep them, a man must elect to remain a slave for life; and more.

You can read it for yourself here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible-based_advocac…

Comment #109323

Posted by Mark Paris on June 29, 2006 3:54 PM (e)

Carol Clouser,

Perhaps you are the one who is confused about words; if you read my comment, you will see that I am saying that the translation of ancient Hebrew words to modern English words is not as straightforward as you seem to think. Perhaps you are not aware of the difficulty of translating words from an entirely different and essentially unrelated language from several thousand years ago into modern English.

Also, it is odd that I have to point out that the Hebrew bible was written far, far earlier than the period of the Roman Empire.

I think perhaps you and I are coming to this discussion from different perspectives. Yours appears to be one of religious evangelism. Mine is not.

Comment #109325

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 29, 2006 4:08 PM (e)

Popper's Ghost wrote:

GuyeFaux wrote:

So the American School of Anthropology was based on unilinial evolution, which lasted up until Boas et al, at the end of the 19th c.

No; perhaps you meant to say multilineal, but even then your statement isn’t accurate because proponents of monogenic and polygenic views were contemporaries.

No, I meant unilinial evolution of culture. I should’ve been more clear. Social Darwinism assumes a ladder of cultures, with Anglo-Saxon protestants at the top (Hence my mistrust of the Britannica concerning anthropolgy: I don’t believe they’ve completely kicked their Social Darwinist bias).

I agree with your statement w.r.t. Boas. He correctly dismissed unilinial descent of culture as the farce that it is.

My point here though is that rejection of Social Darwinism on the grounds of racism (i.e. “I did not culturally descend from slaves”) is similar to rejecting real Darwinism on the grounds of speciesist biggotry (i.e. “I did not evolve from dumb monkeys.”)

Comment #109330

Posted by Jim Harrison on June 29, 2006 4:26 PM (e)

Carol writes “the Bible is not a polemical document designed to issue proclamations.” I suppose her next contribution will point out that the handful who really, really understand Hebrew know that the proper translation is the “Ten Suggestions.”

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

Comment #109338

Posted by MrKAT,Finland on June 29, 2006 5:55 PM (e)

As younger I once read one popular (astronomy?) book that claimed (from my memory)~”It has been speculated that The Leonid Meteor shower in 1866 has caused strong religiousness of citizens of USA”. Beside that was a drawing where american people were stairing at falling stars (60 000 / hour!). That was predicted in Bible in couple verses as mark of end of world so that many people in US got frightened.. ?

Some googling gives: “Ellen G. White claimed that the falling stars November 13, 1833, was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy of Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12,13.”
I might remember wrong or both 1833 and 1866 were spectacular Leonid showers in US. Didn’t Ellen G. White started 7th day adventist movement and so creationist (certain flood interpretation) movement too, did she ?

It “YES”and “YES” then this might be also another extra peculiar factor of creationism/fundamentalism origin quite unrelated to slavery or social factors..

Comment #109339

Posted by DAS on June 29, 2006 6:05 PM (e)

Carol writes “the Bible is not a polemical document designed to issue proclamations.” I suppose her next contribution will point out that the handful who really, really understand Hebrew know that the proper translation is the “Ten Suggestions.” - Jim Harrison

Actually, from a certain Christian perspective it is not designed to issue proclamations. While for some Christians, this leads to an attitude of tolerance, this actually causes a lot of confusion in certain corners of Dominionist type Christianity: on the one hand, they want to legislate morality based on the Hebrew Bible but on the other hand they don’t treat the practical aspects of Biblical law seriously, e.g. because they believe Jesus supercedes Biblical law anyway, they don’t put too much effort into figuring out how to impliment Biblical law in a reasonable manner. And it’s bad enough to try and, e.g., prescribe jail time for breaking religious laws in the manner of the Taliban. But at least the Taliban believe their law can be followed – the Dominionist types want to legislate something they think no-one can actually follow! They think that it would be A-OK if everyone were a law breaker and we were all in prison!

OTOH, those who really, really understand Hebrew know that the proper translation for what is typically called “the 10 commandments” is “the 10 sayings” … so your tongue-in-cheek remark really isn’t that far off. We Jews actually believe that Jews are obligated to follow not 10 but 613 commandments (with myriad implications and details of implimentation) while the morality that everyone should follow regardless of creed may be encapsulated in the 7 categories that constitute the Noachide laws – and not all of the 10 sayings are included in the Noachide laws which include other aspects of morality not in the 10 sayings.

Comment #109344

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 29, 2006 6:27 PM (e)

The Hebrew Bible makes it abundantly clear in Deuteronomy, three thousand years ago, that a slave, including one not of your own people, cannot be held against his will.

Numbers 31:

7] And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.
[8] And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.
[9] And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.
[10] And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
[11] And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.
[12] And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.
[13] And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.
[14] And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
[15] And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
[16] Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
[17] Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
[18] But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Hey Carol, when the Israelites took those virgins for themselves, did they ask permission from them first … ?

Comment #109358

Posted by Carol Clouser on June 29, 2006 7:11 PM (e)

Matt,

“This is somewhat off task, and I will not allow an extended discussion, but I do not want to leave unrefuted the contention that the Hebrew Bible does not permit slavery. Wikipedia gives several biblical passages that refer to slavery. I looked up the first three in a Hebrew Bible: Leviticus 25:44 and Exodus 21:2,7. The first two refer to buying an ‘eved or an ‘amah, and the third to selling your daughter as an ‘amah. ‘Eved is usually rendered servant or slave, and ‘amah as maidservant. The key words, however, are buy and sell: people you buy and sell are slaves. According to these passages, slaves are inheritable; Hebrew slaves must be freed after 6 years; under certain conditions, a freed slave’s wife and children may remain slaves; if he wants to keep them, a man must elect to remain a slave for life; and more.”

Well, I cannot leave unrefuted your baseless “refutation”. Perhaps the best YOU can do is consult wikipedia, but I am expert in Hebrew. First, Eved and Amah are not slaves, but servants. The Hebrew word “tikneh” does NOT mean buy but “obtain”, as in “aquire the services of”. Yimkor does mean “sell” but again it refers to selling services. As soon as she reaches 12 years of age, the girl can walk out on the deal as an adult. These Eveds and Amahs are not inherited against their will and if the Eved wishes to stay with his boss after the six years are up, he can stay only UP TO THE JUBILEE YEAR when he must leave, irrespective of his wishes. This is done to assure that no defacto slave-like relationships are perpetuated. No Eved can ever elect to remain for life. The previous (prior to becoming an Eved) wife and children of Eveds are not themselves in service, ever. The boss could however arrange for the Eved to get married while in service, with his consent. When the six years are over they ALL get out of service. These are the rules as derived from the Hebrew Bible thousands of years ago and as explicitely recorded by the Mishna, Talmud and Midrash.

Lenny,

If you use the Bible as a reliable source of history, then you cannot be selective about it. So you certainly know that the escaped Israelite slaves (to the Egyptians) were repeatedly attacked without provocation by various surrounding city-states. The midianites were merely one of many declared mortal enemies and this is the way they were dealt with. They perhaps over-reacted, but neither you or I were there to have a good understanding of the tensions, fears and threats. If you declare your intensions to kill, you cannot bitch when the threatened party rises up and kills or enslaves you first. But even captured-in-war virgins must be treated humanely, as specified in Deuteronomy. Go read.

Comment #109362

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 29, 2006 7:41 PM (e)

They perhaps over-reacted

“They”? Weren’t they following divine orders, or something?

But you’re right — Yahweh DOES seem to, uh, over-react an awful lot.

Maybe it’s from going so long without a girlfriend.

Comment #109367

Posted by Terry Ward on June 29, 2006 8:25 PM (e)

My refernce to common descent referred to numerous editorial cartoons cited by Hofstadter that showed a progression of mankind from ape to slave to white man. This was a common motif in early 20th century views of evolution. The modern day fact that our earliest human fossils are from Africa can only increase racist fears.

Comment #109368

Posted by Portia Hall on June 29, 2006 8:34 PM (e)

I find this thesis intriguing. More and more historians are realizing so much of what makes us unique is our history of slavery (and the mess that followed). A racialized slave class that was a minority of our population but vital to our economy has ended up with long repercussions in so many things. Our religion(s) and our slavery were linked in so many ways it makes sense to look towards this history when seeing things are also unusually American in our beliefs.

Comment #109369

Posted by Matt Young on June 29, 2006 8:49 PM (e)

Mr. Harrison’s comment was witty; Mr. Flank’s was puerile. This discussion has been on a fairly high level until about now. I will delete puerile or insulting comments if necessary.

Two people (maybe 3) have disparaged encyclopedias. I love encyclopedias - where else can you get instant and generally authoritative information?

I will not argue further with Ms. Clouser, except to note that I used Wikipedia as my card catalog and then looked up the 3 passages in the Hebrew Bible (in Hebrew, not a translation, in case that was not clear in my earlier comment). To be safe, I have just looked up kanah in 2 of my Hebrew dictionaries. According to a modern Hebrew dictionary, kanah means “buy, purchase; acquire, gain (lit.).” A somewhat more archaic dictionary says, “to buy, purchase, procure; to possess, own; to create.” I stand by my claim that the Hebrew Bible allows ownership of slaves. And I would add that it is not indentured servitude if you buy a slave from a third party.

May I suggest, however, that we drop this topic, since it will lead nowhere and cast no further light on the original thesis?

Comment #109371

Posted by Steviepinhead on June 29, 2006 8:58 PM (e)

Ah, thanks, Terry.

I was pretty sure it was something like that, but I was having difficulty parsing.

Comment #109395

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 29, 2006 11:33 PM (e)

Two people (maybe 3) have disparaged encyclopedias. I love encyclopedias - where else can you get instant and generally authoritative information?

I don’t mind encyclopedias in general, they are a good source of information. My beef is specifically with the Britannica and its cultural and social anthropology content.

And there’s loads of good stuff on slavery and racism in general. It’s a very old concept with mountains of literature.

Comment #109399

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 30, 2006 12:57 AM (e)

As to the other question: The last four Presidents have been considered “Southern” presidents even though they attended Northern universities.

Anyone who “considers” GHWB or RR to be “Southern” is seriously misinformed or is pushing an ideology not based in facts. Carter, Clinton, and GWB were all southern governors, but Carter isn’t in the last 4 and GWB was a Ivy League blueblood transplant. Putting on cowboy boots and affecting a drawl doesn’t make you “Southern”.

Comment #109402

Posted by bernarda on June 30, 2006 1:41 AM (e)

Just as slavery created racism, and not the other way around, it may be that it contributed to rejection of evolution. The southern whites may not have wanted to admit that they were the same as the black.

The Catholics though also supported slavery.

http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au/books/albon_man/c…

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/31774…

These are accounts of Catholic Irish race riots in NY City in 1863.

Comment #109417

Posted by djmullen on June 30, 2006 4:50 AM (e)

Carol, you’re a true creationist. You read what agrees with you and pass it on, misinterpret what doesn’t and ignore the rest. If anybody out there actually bothers to read the Bible to see what it actually says about slavery (and you don’t need Hebrew for that - we have lots of translations), here’s what they will find:

There are three master slave relationships described in the Old Testament:

1) A foreigner who owns a Hebrew.
2) A Hebrew who owns a Hebrew.
3) A Hebrew who owns a foreigner.

Generally, Hebrews who are owned by foreigners or fellow Hebrews get the clean end of the stick. Those are the people who have to be released during Jubilee years:

EXODUS 21:2 “If you [a Hebrew] buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.

and

LEVITICUS 25:39 ‘And if a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave’s service.
40 ‘He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner with you, until the year of jubilee.
41 ‘He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him(*), and shall go back to his family, that he may return to the property of his forefathers. (*) But see Exodus 21:4 below about letting him take his sons.

but that’s only if he wants to go:

EXODUS 21:5 “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man.’

EXODUS 21:6 then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the door post. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

Why would a slave “want” to stay a slave?

EXODUS 21:3 “If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him.

EXODUS 21:4 “If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to his master, and he shall go out alone.

So a slave whose wife and children are owned by a Hebrew has two choices: abandon his family or live as a slave forever (and get his ear pierced). Great family values! Defend marriage!

Of course, there are separate rules for female slaves:

EXODUS 21:7 “And if a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.

EXODUS 21:8 “If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her.

So the female Hebrew slave is a slave for life - or until the man who bought her finds that “she is displeasing in [his] eyes” and lets her go - and, luckily for her, he can’t sell her to a foreigner just because he’s displeased with her.

What kind of treatment can a Biblical slave expect?

EXODUS 21:20 “And if a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.
EXODUS 21:21 “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.

If you own a slave, you can beat him to death at your pleasure - so long as he “survives a day or two” after the beating. And why not? After all, he’s your property! Just make sure he survives a day or two before death or you’ll receive some sort of unspecified “vengeance”.

On a slightly more positive note:

EXODUS 21:26 “And if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.

EXODUS 21:27 “And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.

So you can beat your slave to death, providing he or she survives the beating by a day or two, but if you put out an eye or a tooth, you have to let them go. Biblical morality, you just can’t beat it.

Now when it comes to a Hebrew who owns a foreigner, everything comes up dirty end of the stick for the foreigner:

LEVITICUS 25:44 ‘As for your male and female slaves whom you may have - you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you.
45 ‘Then too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession.
46 ‘You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.

So you never have to let foreign slaves go, you own them forever, and you can bequeath them to your sons. Presumably not to your daughters, of course. And, you are specifically ordered to “not rule with severity” over your Hebrew slaves, but not a word is said about the poor foreigners. I presume they are covered by the “day or two” rule and the putting out an eye or a tooth rule, but I’d hate to be a foreign slave depending on that interpretation.

Leviticus 25:47-55 covers Hebrews purchased by foreigners:

LEVITICUS 25:47 ‘Now if the means of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a stranger’s family,
48 then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him,
49 or one of his blood relatives from his family may redeem him; or if he prospers, he may redeem himself.
50 ‘He then with his purchaser shall calculate from the year when he sold himself to him up to the year of jubilee; and the price of his sale shall correspond to the number of years. It is like the days of a hired man that he shall be with him.
51 ‘If there are still many years, he shall refund part of his purchase price in proportion to them for his own redemption;
52 and if few years remain until the year of jubilee, he shall so calculate with him. In proportion to his years he is to refund the amount for his redemption.
53 ‘Like a man hired year by year he shall be with him; he shall not rule over him with severity in your sight.
54 ‘Even if he is not redeemed by these means, he shall still go out in the year of jubilee, he and his sons with him.
55 “For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

The Hebrew slave can be bought back by his family or himself if he can raise the money at any time, the sale price is reduced according to how long till the jubilee year when he has to be released, regardless, with his sons. Nothing is said of what happens if his sons are owned by his foreign master.

But the New Testament reverses all of this, right? Of course not! Here’s the New Testament on slavery:

1 CORINTHIANS 7:21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

If you’re a slave, “Do not worry about it”, but if you can become free, do so. If not:

EPHESIANS 6:5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;
6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

Kiss your master’s backside in every possible way, “in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ”.

And we mean it, too:

COLOSSIANS 3:22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

But masters, you’d better be nice to your slaves:

COLOSSIANS 4:1 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.

The “survive a day or two” and “eye and tooth” rules will presumably be strictly enforced.

First Timothy underlines the “respect your masters” rule:

1 TIMOTHY 6:1 Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against.
2 And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are
believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.

So if you’re a Christian, you can own slaves and they had better treat you with respect or they’ll be letting Christianity down. And watch that “day or two” rule!

And here’s some more pro-slavery remarks from the New Testament:

TITUS 2:9 Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative,
10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

That’s just about all of the pro-slavery passages from the New Testament, except for the short book of Philemon, which is a letter that Paul sends to Philemon, along with his escaped slave, whom Paul is returning to his master. Give Paul some credit, though, he includes a strong lecture on treating slaves with respect.

So Carol, any thought to why the American South became the Bible Belt. Just how did what was once the least religious part of the US turn into the Bible belt? For a big hint, try to find anything in chattel slavery, as practiced in the Old South, that is prohibited in the Bible. And do you think that just maybe, “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” and “Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against. And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved.” might have sounded mighty good to a slave owner?

What category do you think that African slaves in America would have fallen under? That’s right, “you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you.” And ‘Then too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession.”

They’re foreigners owned by an American. They get the dirty end of the stick.

Here’s the facts: from the earliest days of colonization until the early 1800s, the American South was the least religious part of our nation. All the religious fanatics settled up north, very few settled in the South. (Or lived, if they did - the climate was hell.) This is born out by records of the number of churches per capita, church attendance, number of pastors, etc.

Slave owners were adamantly opposed to any form of education, religious or secular, for their slaves. They especially didn’t want them to all get converted to the same religion, which would have been a serious force in uniting them, so they refused all requests from preachers to proselytize their slaves.

Then, in the early 1800s, there were a series of nasty, violent slave revolts. Nat Turner’s was one of them most people have heard of. Needless to say, this scared the living hell out of the slave owners. The revolts were quite violent and the slaves certainly had plenty of reasons to passionately hate their masters.

So when the preachers came around again, and showed the slave owners the Bible passages I’ve quoted above (and many more in the same vein) and how those passages justify slavery and give God’s blessing to the institutions and specifically command slaves to obey their Christian masters, the slave owners relented and turned the preachers loose on their slaves, to great success. Pretty soon, all of the slaves were at least nominally Christian.

But that brought up a new problem - the slaves couldn’t help noticing that the slave owners were seldom seen to darken a church door - and the Bible isn’t so clear on respecting non-Christian slave owners. The preachers went to work on the slave owners and within a decade or two, the slave owners were regular church attendees and their preachers had plenty of pleasing Bible verses to read to them, telling them just how much God approved of slavery and of slave owners. And by the time a hand full of northern Christians started arguing against slavery, the Southern (and most of the Northern, for that matter) Christians were ready to fight, armed with God’s True Word that slavery was 100% Biblical and completely approved by God.

So I would say that the opening post was even more accurate than Matt Young suspected. Creationism (and it’s ID variant) is Christian and Fundamentalist in nature and the Bible Belt is Fundamentalist and Christian because of slavery. So there is a very direct connection between slavery and creationism - probably even more than Matt suspected when he wrote the opening post.

By the way, if anybody is wondering why I wrote this much in response to Carol’s post, it’s because one of the things that really, really, really gets my goat is when someone comes along who claims to believe the Bible is the Word Of God, but what they say and write makes it very clear that they either haven’t got the foggiest notion of what’s actually in it - even if they can read Hebrew - or they’re lying through their teeth. When I see one of those people, I assume that either they are 1)Total hypocrites or 2)Trying to scam us. Either way, I like to take the Bible and rub it in their faces. It feels good and it educates others who might have been fooled by them.

Comment #109441

Posted by Mark Paris on June 30, 2006 7:24 AM (e)

Bernarda, you probably have a point about southern whites who wouldn’t want to accept the fact that blacks are the same as they are.

djmullen, you chose the nuclear option. Perhaps it was the only option left. Nice.

Comment #109448

Posted by ben on June 30, 2006 7:50 AM (e)

Cue up Carol Clouser trolling along to inform us that she and Judah Landa are the only two people on earth who are qualified to tell us what the bible really says…

Comment #109454

Posted by Caledonian on June 30, 2006 8:59 AM (e)

People who are utterly committed to the preservation and replication of ancient memes frequently have the problem that those ideas conflict with modern beliefs about cruelty, justice, politics, and human worth.

The simplest way to deal with the resulting dissonance is to redefine the plain text of the religious beliefs, preserving their content while altering what that content is understood to mean. This permits the memes to perpetuate without forcing their holders to acknowledge their faults.

This pattern recurs in the same general way regardless of what the ancient beliefs are about – or in some cases, new beliefs, if they conflict with overall cultural beliefs.

There is a distinct similiarity between Evolution deniers, Holocaust deniers, Biblical literalists (whether Christian or Jewish), and racial supremacists. All need to insulate their followers from noticing the quite serious conflicts between their doctrines and generally-accepted facts.

Comment #109458

Posted by k.e. on June 30, 2006 9:08 AM (e)

Caledonian;

You forgot:-

Global warming(meltdown) deniers.
AIDS deniers.
Imperial Oil hegemonists.
Foreskin Collectors.

Comment #109459

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 30, 2006 9:28 AM (e)

Nice post, djmullen. I think that pretty much puts the hammer down on the Bible and slavery.

Nit-picking about the slave/servant distinction is moot. A servant who’s your property is a called a slave.

Comment #109472

Posted by Matt Young on June 30, 2006 11:31 AM (e)

Please no more comments on slavery in the Bible and no more wisecracks. Let us keep on task.

Comment #109477

Posted by Joe Blow on June 30, 2006 12:27 PM (e)

What happened to Kevin from NYC’s comments about Lenny? I thought they were accurate and insightfull.

Comment #109478

Posted by Matt Young on June 30, 2006 12:29 PM (e)

Wisecracks and ad-hominem arguments are beginning, so maybe it is time to sum up and close comments.

That said, as a Sociologist, I get the shudders whenever people make these sorts of cultural arguments.

You are gonna hate this then: When someone proposes an outrageous proposition, the first response is to denigrate or belittle it. It took a couple of generations or so before heliocentric theory was accepted and perhaps 30 years for continental drift to be accepted. Here on Panda’s Thumb, we compress history. I scanned the first 100 comments and rated them as supportive, unsupportive, neutral, and not applicable. Here, in bins of 10, are the results; + means supportive, - means unsupportive, and 0 means related but neutral. I did not include not-applicable comments in the count, so the numbers do not add up to 100. If you do it, your count may differ slightly, but I think I’ve got the trend right.

First 10:
- - - - - - - - - -

Second 10:

- - - - -
+ + + +
0

Third 10:
- - -
+ + +
0 0 0 0

Remainder:
+ +
0

One commenter noted that slavery and literalism coevolved; that is the word I should have used in my concluding paragraph, and I thank him for it. I do not think that slavery caused biblical literalism and therefore evolution denial, but I argue that it may well have been a major factor (the major factor?) in promoting biblical literalism. Mr. Mullin makes that point more strongly that I did. Why do we see evolution denial outside the Bible belt? Disease spreads.

I am gratified to learn that the Mennonites opposed slavery before the Enlightenment. To my mind, that does not, however, falsify Steve Allen’s claim that no religion has ever come out in opposition to slavery, but it certainly softens it.

Well, Steve Allen is a pedestrian ignaramus [sic] who just doesn’t know what he is talking about. This is pure, unmitigated ignorance which I suspect you share, Matt.

If you will permit me, I will indulge in my moderator’s prerogative and pen a wholly irrelevant digression on Steve Allen. I rarely use the word “brilliant”except in regard to colors, but Steve Allen was a polymath and may deserve the appellation. He has written 40-odd books on a variety of subjects, invented the “Tonight” show format, developed “Meeting of Minds” on PBS, and composed thousands of songs. I saw him in performance once, and he was nothing short of remarkable. I do not think he ever wrote fiction, but I sort of think of him as Isaac Asimov with a piano.

I never met Allen, but I corresponded with his secretary, and he graciously contributed a jacket blurb for my book No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe. I was greatly saddened when he died suddenly just before the book was published. Allen probably had more creativity in his little finger than certain of his critics have in their entire bodies.