Tag Archives: racism

What is racism and prejudice and how has evolution promoted these ideas?

According to Dictionary.com, racism is a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.  From the same source, prejudice is an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason, and it is also defined as unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

 

Source: Answers in Genesis

 

The Theory of Evolution, according to Charles Darwin, has posited that humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor.  The first of these evolved humans was the aborigines, then the African, then the Mongoloid (Asian), and finally, the Caucasoid, which is considered to be the most evolved (note that Darwin was Caucasian).  Evolutionary concepts have been a factor in racial discrimination and atrocities in history.  Even Darwin’s book was titled: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.”  A specific example of evolutionary-driven racism is what happened to Ota Benga.

 

Who was Ota Benga?

Ota Benga was a pygmy who lived in the Congo.  During the early 1900s, White colonists murdered Ota’s family, but Ota survived and was captured.  During this time in history, the Theory of Evolution was becoming more accepted and people were eager to find the “missing links.”  Ota Benga was thought to be that missing link.  In 1904, at the age of 23, he was put on display at the Bronx Zoo and was also displayed at the St. Louis World’s Fair as a “savage.”  Ota was horribly treated by people who came to see this “missing link,” “savage,” and “lowest form of human life.”  Eventually, he was released and taken back to his homeland, but he was not welcomed by his people because he had associated with Whites (remember that it was the White colonists who murdered his friends and family).  Ota was brought back to America and eventually placed under the care of some Black ministers.  They moved him to Lynchburg, Virginia where he worked on a tobacco farm.  Ota became a Christian, but the remainder of his life was filled with depression and isolation.  In 1916, he committed suicide.

 

Ota Benga: Fully Human

 

Ota Benga was not a savage or a missing link.  He was fully human but he was treated like an animal.  There have been other atrocities committed against people groups in the name of Evolution.  Ota’s life and mistreatment is a very sad event in history, and hopefully we can learn that there is value in all human life, regardless of your height, weight, gender, or abilities.  You can read more about Ota Benga’s life in this book: Ota Benga.