Sunday, February 19, 2017


There is a new book out called The Book That Changed America about the period before the Civil War and the impact Darwin had upon slavery.

There was a time when it was debated whether humans had a single origin or several, with each race being separately created. The multiple-creation school, polygenism, was popular with apologists for slavery. If, as they supposed, the Adam-and-Eve creation produced whites, but other races derived from earlier and inferior acts of creation, then whites were justified in applying a different moral standard to people of nonwhite race, who were not created in God’s image. This requires a certain misunderstanding of "species." Or, perhaps an understanding of species that was specious.

But if humans had a single origin (monogenism), as Darwin proposed for other species, then all human races were genealogically connected: Blacks were every bit as human as whites — equivalent to distant cousins — and slavery became morally untenable. This is perhaps one of the very few times in the history of evolutionary biology that Darwin’s ideas aligned with a literal interpretation of the Bible. Like Darwin, the Genesis account suggests a single origin for all humans — courtesy of Adam and Eve — with no mention of multiple creations.

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