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Atheism, Christians and Science, Jesus Is the Hope of the World, Nazism, Slavery/Racism

The Human Zoo: A Result of Embracing the Scientific “Truth” of Social Darwinism over the Truth of the Bible

I recently came across this video on YouTube and remembered that I had written about human zoos in my first book.

 

At the end of the 19th and into the beginning of the 20th century, human zoos were set up at the many different world’s fairs as a way to display social Darwinism. These zoos, while having a certain amount of entertainment value to the crowds, were actually scientific endeavors. The Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 was a primary example of this scientific theory put on display.

Along the Midway, fair-goers could walk through the evolutionary history of man. Beginning with the African race and moving forward through the red and yellow races, villages were set up and people of color were put on display. The exhibit ended with the European villages and culminated with the glorious “White City,” which was the final goal toward which humanity was moving.

This  wasn’t a sideshow; it was the latest science!  Since the goal of the fair was to showcase humanity’s progress, the best minds were put to the task.

To lend anthropological legitimacy to their enterprise, Chicago’s exposition directors placed the Midway under the nominal direction of Harvard’s Frederic Ward Putnam, who had already been chosen to organize an Anthropology Building at the fair.

Putnam envisioned the Midway as a living outdoor museum of “primitive” human beings that would afford visitors the opportunity to measure the progress of humanity toward the ideal of civilization presented in the White City. (1)

Putnam was a student of Louis Agassiz, the influential Harvard professor who embraced scientific racism and immersed a whole generation of students in its precepts. Scientific racism (a.k.a. polygenism) was the belief that each of the races had different parents (not just Adam and Eve). In contrast, the belief that all the races came from one set of parents was called “monogenism.”

Thomas Jefferson, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Voltaire were all polygenists. The abolitionists were monogenists. They based their beliefs on Acts 17:26, which says God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.

In polygenism, racial subjugation was defended because some of the races could be considered to be sub-human. In Darwinism, darker races were less evolved. Supposedly, the lighter the skin, the more evolved the race was.

When Darwinian evolution made the claim that all life evolved from a common ancestor, monogenism became vogue again, and scientists abandoned polygenism and  flocked to the new scientific view.

Regardless, neither polygenism, nor Darwinism placed the darker races in a position of equality with the lighter races, but monogenism, as taught by Bible-believing Christians, taught that all races came from “one blood,” which meant that people with darker skin were human beings just like people with lighter skins.

The impact of social Darwinism, although rarely heard of today (perhaps due to the embarrassment felt by the scientific and intellectual community for supporting it), was widespread. In 1864, the Atlantic Monthly declared that Herbert Spencer (who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” and is considered to be the founder of social Darwinism) was a “power in the world” and that he represented the “scientific spirit of the age.” (2)

And yet, Herbert Spencer was wrong and those who trusted in the truth of the Bible were right. In fact, while social Darwinism’s proponents (of whom Hitler is counted) are rarely remembered, those who stood on the Word of God (Wilberforce, Newton, the Clapham Sect, Douglass, and Garrison) are now our heroes.

(1) Robert W. Rydell, “World’s Columbian Exposition,” Encyclopedia of Chicago (Chicago Historical Society, 2006), http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1386.html (accessed 08/11/2008).

(2) Joseph L. Graves, The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002), 75.

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About Diana Lesperance

I'm passionate about Jesus and I love to defend the gospel of grace and truth. I have a large and active family that keeps me busy and overwhelmed on a daily basis.

Discussion

14 thoughts on “The Human Zoo: A Result of Embracing the Scientific “Truth” of Social Darwinism over the Truth of the Bible

  1. Great blog on a rare and important topic.
    Excellent!

    Posted by Christ Centered Teaching | August 12, 2017, 4:28 am
  2. I have no idea how you think Biblical truth would stop this, given that you are allowed to take slaves from the foreigners around you.
    The reason this stopped is because we observed that all humans are capable of (more or less) the same level of intellectual and emotional engagement. It might not be “science”, as the observation is so glaringly obvious once you account for language and culture barriers, but it is still rational open discussion — not a 2,000 year old book that explicitly mandates racial slavery.

    Posted by Allallt | August 12, 2017, 6:49 am
    • Hi Allallt, The Bible actually says that the Hebrews were allowed to “purchase” slaves from the surrounding nations. They didn’t “take” them. This is actually a beautiful allowance for the people since the nations surrounding Israel were violent, idol-worshiping, child-sacrificers. The fact that the Jews could redeem (purchase) people from the surrounding nations and take them into their family (forever if the people wanted!) was actually a picture of Christ redeeming us (even Gentiles!) from the world and grafting us into Abraham’s family.

      Posted by Diana Lesperance | September 5, 2017, 12:00 pm
      • You seem to be doing a few things:
        (1) confusing what one is allowed to do to foreigners and what one is allowed to do to other Jews
        (2) Simply getting it wrong: it is not up to the slave how long they are slaves for

        Leviticus 25:44-46New International Version (NIV)

        44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

        Posted by Allallt | September 5, 2017, 12:06 pm
      • Deuteronomy 23:15 says:

        “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not oppress him.”

        1) The Hebrews were never allowed to hold slaves against their will–whether foreigners or Jews who were paying off a debt or paying restitution. (Why was God so upset with Pharaoh? Because he wouldn’t let the Hebrews go.)

        2) Slaves are allowed to become bondservants if they love their owners and want to stay with them. (Abraham had 318 servants/slaves who were armed for battle, but they didn’t rebel. They wanted to stay in Abraham’s family. )

        The Year of Jubilee also applied to ALL the inhabitants of the land. (Lev. 25:8-10). Oppresively holding slaves against their will was prohibited by God. Hebrews were also forbidden from selling slaves or trading them. They could only purchase them…to redeem them and give them an opportunity to enter into a covenant relationship with their God.

        Posted by Diana Lesperance | September 5, 2017, 9:35 pm
      • Deut 23 seems to be talking about rules for setting up camp for war. And the following context from BibleTrack is an interesting consideration:
        “Most students of the Old Testament agree that this regulation concerns a slave who has escaped from his master in some foreign land and sought refuge in Israel. We do know that, in addition to slaves captured in battle, debt slavery and voluntary slavery existed in Israel and was protected by law, so it seems unlikely that this law applies to those two categories of slaves. We simply aren’t given any detail beyond these two verses.”
        While we’re on the topic of Deut 20 and war, it worth noting that God commanded everyone of any city Its people declared war on be taken as slaves or slain:
        10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

        Lev says you can buy a slave, not that a slave may volunteer themself.

        Pharaoh wasn’t allowed to keep God’s people as slaves, but God’s people are allowed to keep slaves — that seems to me the only consistent interpretation of that. Clearly God had different ideas for “foreigners” and God’s own people.

        Exodus 21:4 explains how a child can be born a slave and how a woman can be made a permanent slave:
        If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.

        Posted by Allallt | September 6, 2017, 2:58 am
      • The whole war scenario is actually pretty humane. God wanted the Israelites to be at peace, but if their enemy didn’t want peace, then they would fight them and kill them. It was either kill or be killed! (Israel could make their enemies become their subjects in order to change their culture, which was one of violence, lawlessness, and idol worship. How could they ever stop their enemy from hating and attacking them if they didn’t change their way of thinking and show them a compassionate God?) They didn’t abandon the women and children. They took them in and treated them with kindness.

        We know this was the case because of other laws such as Exodus 22:22-23:

        21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry,

        There was no specification that the law was only for Hebrew widows and orphans.

        I think it’s wonderful that a slave from a foreign land would seek refuge in Israel.

        As for debt slavery, it was allowed, especially in the case of restitution for stealing, or some other injustice. This is still done today. People have to serve time, do community service, pay fines, etc…

        There were many reasons people volunteered for slavery. Jacob became a slave in order to obtain his wife, Rachel. He worked for 14 years. He was running away from Esau because he cheated him out of his birthright and took refuge with Laban who agreed to give him his daughter in exchange for seven years of work. This was the economic/social system of the shepherds of that day.

        As for Exodus 21:4, yes a child could be born a slave. Eliezer, Abraham’s slave, was born into Abraham’s family. He was a treasured servant who was set to inherit all of Abraham’s wealth. Slaves were often part of the family. They observed the Sabbath and had to be circumcised, just as the Jews, (Abraham was 99 when he was circumcised!) [Genesis 17: 12-13) They can join in the covenant relationship with God–just as Gentile Christians could join in the covenant relationship with God and be grafted into the olive branch (Israel) [Romans 11:17-24]

        A Hebrew woman slave is obviously paying a debt or restitution and is obligated to pay off her debt. She will be free in the seventh year. He can wait for her, or if he wants, can commit himself to lifelong service to his master and become a bond-slave. (Even so, Leviticus 25:39-42 commands that the master treat his brother with kindness.) After he served for seven years, the law demanded that they not be sent away empty-handed. They were to be given, flocks, grain, and wine. This law was applied to women also. (“If any of your people–Hebrew men or women–sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress.” [Deut. 15:11-14])

        I don’t see injustice in the law. I see a God who is compassionate, loving, and just. He’s working with people who are selfish and greedy and cruel, in many cases. It’s too bad some people have to pay restitution, or that wars are fought, or some people take advantage of the poor. Too bad the hearts of people aren’t more perfect.

        Posted by Diana Lesperance | September 6, 2017, 1:53 pm
      • In your last comment, slavery was voluntary. You abandoned that trope pretty quick, and don’t even acknowledge that you did.

        Now you’re saying wholesale slaughter to anyone entire culture doesn’t yield to being a slave is just and humane, because the foreigners are accused of being bad people.

        But — to the post — apparently the Bible is the book that would have taught the mean that scientists to respect other tribes and cultures.

        I doubt we have an audience, so it’s not worth labouring the point. But the Bible commands slavery and war as subjugating other cultures — with no mention of their heinous ways. It says to do this to all cities (Deut 20: 15).

        Posted by Allallt | September 6, 2017, 2:06 pm
      • The Hebrews were not in the slave trade. They could not sell slaves. They assimilated foreigners into their midst. This was a voluntary process, except in the case of war or repayment of money. What else should the Hebrews have done in this case? Allow their enemies to continue? Abandon the women and children? Not have a person pay a debt or make restitution for a crime? Where is the involuntary slavery that is unjust? The Hebrews were not allowed to kidnap slaves. They were never allowed to hold them against their will. The slaves could even assimilate into Jewish families as they took them in. All the surrounding cities were Canaanite. Leviticus 18 describes their sins. They were heinous. Bestiality, incest, child sacrifice, etc….

        Posted by Diana Lesperance | September 6, 2017, 2:55 pm
      • Why are you focusing on the Hebrews? What about the Israelites? I’m focusing on the moral messages, with particular sight on what it teaches people on treatment of people from other cultures. After all, that is the topic of your post, isn’t it? The idea that if people had read the Bible, they’d respect other cultures.
        Leviticus 25:
        44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

        And it’s not just the Israelites. Exodus 21 tells you you can buy Hebrew slaves:
        “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. 2 When you buy a Hebrew slave,[a] he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone.

        So, yes, slave trade run by the Isrealites and slave buying by the Hebrews. And it’s not restitution slavery either: that isn’t mentioned until Exodus 21:33 — you just buy a Hebrew slave. There is no mention in Exodus 21:1-32 that these purchases are limited to those who owe you money or have done you wrong.

        Posted by Allallt | September 6, 2017, 3:09 pm
      • The Israelites and the Hebrews are the same people.

        The Hebrews voluntarily sold themselves to each other to pay debts or restitutution. The longest time they could sell themselves for was six years. In the seventh year it was the law that they had to go free being supplied with food and flocks. The person who was in need was to be respected and treated well. There was no abusive master/slave relationship.

        Again, the Hebrews weren’t involved in the slave trade. They merely purchased slaves from the surrounding nations to redeem them and take them into their families under the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision. They were never allowed to oppress foreigners or mistreat widows and orphans. They had to treat the poor with generosity and not charge interest when they loaned them money. If a man killed a slave, his life would be forfeited. If he injured a slave, and the slave died, he lost the money he spent for the slave, but he may not have intended to kill the slave, so he couldn’t be charged with murder.

        These laws must be weighed against each other. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us we must “rightly divide the word of truth.”

        I see no evidence that God endorsed any kind of slavery where a person could be kidnapped and held against their will under harsh treatment. I see that God is compassionate toward the poor and widows and orphans. He demands justice in relationships. Those in the surrounding nations could find refuge in Israel. They didn’t have to live in their evil societies. But they also had to contribute when they came in. They had to assimilate to the Hebrew culture. They couldn’t be subversive. They couldn’t just take. They had to work and serve others. I think it’s a wise and beautiful picture. Even the New Testament church had similar rules. If a man didn’t work, he couldn’t eat. (2 Thess. 3:10)

        Posted by Diana Lesperance | September 6, 2017, 4:30 pm
      • I see no Biblical defence of the claim that Hebrews only ever bought other Hebrews as a form of restitution slavery. At all. There are an entire 32 verses before the chapter talks about restitution. Sure, I can see why you need that to morally be the case. But I don’t see the reason to believe it is the case.

        I see a loophole you can drive a tank through, in that that if the slave owner gives his slave a wife, they are going to stay a slave forever “voluntarily”.

        It is a master/slave relationship. If they master beats the slave and the slave does not die, there is no punishment for the simple reason that the slave is the master’s money.

        I see no moral defence of buying people from other cultures because of the accusation of child sacrifice and beastiality. The defence might as well be written “people from other cultures are barbaric monsters and need to be saved”. That sounds a lot like the defence used in other slave trades — civilising the savage.

        More over, the command to declare war on distant cities is so broad as to not ensure this war slavery only gets dished out to debauched cities. Instead of writing “This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby” (Deut 20:15) it could say “this is how you are to treat all cities that sacrifice children”. But it doesn’t; it’s an indiscriminate command for war and subjugation.

        More importantly, I see no reason in all of this to assume that reading the Bible would teach someone to treat other cultures with respect. And your post makes that claim.

        Posted by Allallt | September 7, 2017, 3:05 am
  3. Also, concerning “racial slavery,” the Bible does not promote racism. The “curse of Ham” was a very wrong reading of the Bible.

    https://narrowwayapologetics.com/2017/08/27/the-southern-slaveholders-twisted-view-of-the-curse-of-ham/

    Posted by Diana Lesperance | September 5, 2017, 9:52 pm
  4. I don’t know what the Curse of Ham is, and I don’t care. The Bible promotes racism in the passages below. Both are passages I’ve already used in this discussion.

    (I’m glad you’ve moved on from racism, but you didn’t use this book to do it.)

    Leviticus 25:
    44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Just in case you need it spelt out: you can buy foreign people as slaves. The explicit command to not rule over Israelites ruthlessly and silence on the issue of ruling over foreigners is implicit permission. Plus, the rules for slavery are different down race lines.

    Deut 20:
    10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

    Just in case you need it spelt out for you: people are to declare war on all distant cities. (There is no mention of needing to distinguish between cities that are basically okay and those that are heinous.) They make take all these foreigners as slaves (and that is considered ‘peace’) or slay the men and take the children and women as slaves. If this passage were in the Koran, you’d have no problem identifying how this is horrific.

    Posted by Allallt | September 7, 2017, 3:19 am

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Why am I WAITING for “Shalom?”

"They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven . . ."
(1 Thessalonians 1:9b-10a)

The word "shalom" in the Hebrew has many meanings which indicate restoration, renewal, friendship, peace, safety and so on. At one time, God placed his creation in a perfect garden--a place of safety, security, provision and peace--and we disobeyed God, losing 1) our relationship with God and 2) paradise.

Since that time, we've attempted to bring back both of these losses in our own way. Religion is our attempt to gain back our relationship with God, and politics is our attempt to gain back paradise.

The solution to both of these losses is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet the world refuses to believe the good news! Instead they try to attain the restoration--the shalom--in their own way through their own effort.

I believe that the kingdom of God is restored in the hearts of men as they receive Christ's finished work, but the kingdom of God doesn't come physically to earth until Christ comes.

Any effort to bring about the promise ahead of time in our own strength is akin to Abraham going to Hagar for fulfillment of the promise instead of waiting with Sarah for the birth of the promised child through whom the nations of the earth would be blessed.

The evangelical church is rushing en masse to bring about shalom through their own effort, power, and influence. Men like Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Jim Wallis, and Donald Miller are losing their faith in the promise of Christ that he would prepare a place for them and they're attempting to restore paradise now.

I want to let it be known that I'm WAITING for shalom. I won't be a part of their dream. They are moving ahead of God rather than waiting on God and they will create another Ishmael as a result.

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