What does Young-Earth Creationism have to do with the Apology to the Stolen Generations?

23 06 2008

According to John Stear of No Answers in Genesis, Carl Wieland of Creation Ministries International has claimed that his organisation is in possession of an 8-page draft of the Apology to the Stolen Generations tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. In an article in which he also lauds the denialism of Andrew Bolt on this issue, Wieland claims that the draft contains the following paragraph, excised from the final version of the speech:

‘Prior to 1861, missionaries were prepared to accept according to the principles of their religions, that Aboriginal people were every bit as capable as Europeans. But with the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origins [sic] of the Species in 1859, a new theory starts to take hold and the conception that Aboriginal people are a “disappearing race” starts to take hold in Australian public life. This had equally catastrophic consequences for Aboriginal people and communities.’

Wieland celebrates this passage as supporting the Biblical view that “we are all made in God’s image,” against the “Darwinist” view that “some [humans] must be more ‘highly evolved’ than others.” But he also bemoans, for obvious reasons, a reference to “over 50,000 years of Aboriginal wisdom and knowledge that has never been properly acknowledged or understood by Australian governments,” describing this statement as “inherent[ly] racis[t].” He asserts:

A biblical framework of history, where Australia’s indigenous population arrived here a relatively short time ago, having lost some ‘know-how’ due to the dispersion at Babel and the resulting migration/dispersal, makes more sense of the facts while at the same time intrinsically assigning greater dignity to indigenous peoples.

Wieland then goes on to tell lies about evolution and those who accept it . . .

Whereas the eugenic/racist viewpoint is not only consistent with a Darwinian history of man, it is its logical corollary. So where modern Darwinists shy away from racist views, it is in spite of their Darwinism, not because of it.

. . . and says that he is “grateful that the draft apology at least recognized the role that Darwin had to play in causing much suffering.”

So, what does a YEC account of Aboriginal history look like? Stear quotes Ken Ham:

… let us apply a Biblical perspective on history to the Australian Aborigines (hopefully with sensitivity). Their ancestor Noah had the knowledge of the true God. He also had ship building technology, farming ability, knew how to work alloys, etc. Remnants of this true knowledge of God, of creation and of Noah, can still be seen in their mythology, e.g. they have many legends of a world wide flood. All of which means that somewhere in their history, this knowledge has been forgotten, lost, or deliberately discarded. The culture Captain Cook discovered was spiritist. They did not have the knowledge of the true God and only had a ‘stone age’ culture. [. . .] Someone, somewhere in their history, has turned away from the true God, devised their own religion and successfully persuaded their fellow Aborigines to accept it. They have suffered the consequences of this…

From this unsubstantiated garbage, Stear notes, Ham derives his opposition to indigenous land rights:

It should be obvious that unless you have a correct view of the Aborigines’ history— you will be unlikely to have a correct view about land rights.For instance, on the basis of a literal Biblical view of world history, aborigines have been in Australia less than 4,000 years (not 40,000). Many want land rights so that Aboriginal sacred or religious sites can be kept. Is this valid? Again, before we can decide, we must have a correct view of why they want sacred sites preserved. Is it that they want to preserve all things associated with their religion? If this is the case then to understand their religion, you have to understand their true history. Isn’t their religion anti-God? Shouldn’t Christians rather be telling the aborigines [sic] they need to turn to the true God of history and turn their back on pagan worship?

The concept of ‘land rights’ (or ownership of land) is not known in traditional Aboriginal culture. It is a terminology introduced from European materialistic culture and imposed upon the Aborigines.

Back to Wieland’s claims about being in possession of the draft: as Stear points out, if that is the case, Creation Ministries International should produce it so that its allegations about missing pro-creationist paragraphs may be verified. Stear also mentions that he wrote to the Prime Minister on behalf of Australian Skeptics seeking verification of CMI’s claims, and remarks that the reply was “less than helpful”: denying that a draft version of the speech was released prior to its delivery in Parliament, but saying nothing about whether the paragraph cited by Wieland had been purposely edited out.

Via NRT in the comments at Pharyngula.

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9 responses

23 06 2008
Bruce

To be honest, I have seen “Darwinian Evolution = Social Darwinism” used to implicate evolution in the acts of racist anthropologists, specifically in the case of Australian Aborigines.

Said people I’ve seen use the meme are people in the humanities who also happen to be progressives. They also didn’t actually understand Darwinian Evolution very well. Sadly they were also attached to the (South Australian) Labor left, albeit informally.

Mendelism has long been regarded as bourgeois science by some, if not many Marxists, I might add. While not entertaining the possibility that it could happen in Australia (settle down farmers), this precipitated the adoption of LaMarckist principles in Lysenkoism as an intellectual vacuum was generated with the displacement of geneticists. Of course, a good bit of real politik was necessary to get this into practice, ideology alone wasn’t enough (or even central to its application).

There are just some older lefties in the humanities who really don’t like Darwin and don’t understand his work either. I can understand how Wieland’s quote got in there (if indeed it did), not that it isn’t a historical falsehood.

24 06 2008
arthurvandelay

cdavidparsons, wherever you are: don’t spam my blog again.

24 06 2008
arthurvandelay

Bruce:

While not entertaining the possibility that it could happen in Australia (settle down farmers), this precipitated the adoption of LaMarckist principles in Lysenkoism as an intellectual vacuum was generated with the displacement of geneticists.

OT: I heard a podcast on Lysenko recently. I can’t remember where, but I’ll try to track it down.

24 06 2008
ninglun

I find that tale about the 8-page draft hard to believe, but even if it were true the spin put on it by Wieland doesn’t hold up. I mean, it is almost a truism that social Darwinism in a form Darwin may not have rejected did sustain the “doomed race” theory; nothing terribly surprising there. If the draft is real, Rudd may have excised the reference because he realised what someone like Wieland would do with it.

In fact the existence of my own Aboriginal ancestors has been for me a very powerful argument against Biblical (and Koranic) literalists on this one. I have just been editing old posts and came on Creationism? a few minutes back.

I reject it totally, if by that you mean accepting a literal interpretation of Genesis with its two or three different creation stories. I also reject the literal historicity of just about all the rest of Genesis as well. None of that would surprise very many Christians, including just about everyone in The Vatican these days. To the annoyance of my atheist friends of course I still see God as creator and sustainer of the universe, though I have no idea how this happened/happens or even exactly what it means.

What I do know is my own ancestry. I know that 40,000 years before Noah, let alone Adam and Eve, some of my ancestors were here in Australia. Really. I know that when the millennia finally ran round to c.4,000 or 3,000 BC my ancestors knew nothing of the Middle East and cared even less… Makes literal belief in Genesis very hard to swallow indeed. Fortunately as a Christian I don’t have to swallow it, and neither do you.

You may remember that one.

24 06 2008
ninglun

may not have rejected should be may not have recognised!

24 06 2008
Bruce

may not have rejected should be may not have recognised!

I was wondering about that ;-)

Darwin didn’t have too much interest in Social Darwinism for a few reasons.

Firstly, it wasn’t so much of a science during his time (nor is it now – it’s a set of philosophical principals) and only made predictions to ambiguous for use or for discrete investigation. He only saw is as a curio in the form around during his time, a whole heap of maybes.

Secondly, he thought/said that if Social Darwinism did make usable predictions, it should only inform people as to their choices, rather than being enforced by the state, because it would deprive people of liberty. Here we have a clear and unambiguous barrier between Darwin and all state run Eugenics programs.

Thirdly, if Social Darwinism was ever scientifically sound in its observations, when implemented in a voluntary fashion, wouldn’t work due to non-participation (people have been known to fall in love and mate irrespective of breeding).

Whatever the Social Darwinists drew from Darwin, they didn’t draw approval, nor does Darwinian Evolution validate the politics of Social Darwinism. Darwinian evolution doesn’t, nor is it supposed to (nor can it if you recognise Hume’s is-ought problem) tell us what ought to be.

28 06 2008
Christopher

Quote “Prior to 1861, missionaries were prepared to accept according to the principles of their religions, that Aboriginal people were every bit as capable as Europeans.”
Very doubtful. Europeans at that time period were every bit capable of using quotes from the bible to justify their racism.

Continued quote “But with the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origins [sic] of the Species in 1859, a new theory starts to take hold and the conception that Aboriginal people are a “disappearing race” starts to take hold in Australian public life.”

This may in fact refer to the belief that the aboriginal people were dying out thanks to European settlement. Given the official belief that the aboriginal population dipped sharply during the 19th century the belief that they were a “disappearing people” was not an illogical assumption, nor was it particularly racist.

On the whole I don’tthink Weiland has proved his point. But then I wouldn’t tust Weiland as far as I could throw him.

28 06 2008
Bruce

This may in fact refer to the belief that the aboriginal people were dying out thanks to European settlement. Given the official belief that the aboriginal population dipped sharply during the 19th century the belief that they were a “disappearing people” was not an illogical assumption, nor was it particularly racist.

I still think the caveat needs to be emphasised that it wasn’t central to Darwinian biology as it was to the humanities end of anthropology, which at the time. Also, I think that your statement is true in as far as what has been discussed thus far, however, while the “dying race” theory was in circulation, there was also a practice amongst anthropologists and pseudo-scientists to catalogue and read far too much into measurements of brows and so forth.

Some of the observations were quite bizarre, as were the prohibitions on breeding that prevented someone of mixed heritage from mating with “full blooded” Aborigines. These aspects were clearly racist and robbed people of liberty on such a basis. Given the views expressed by Darwin on such matters as state directed procreation/”Social Darwinism”, I rather doubt that he’d have approved.

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