CROSSROADS BIBLE COLLEGE, Ind. - Darwin's book on human evolution, The Descent of Man, revealed him as what John West calls "a virulent racist."
"He did write extensively about how evolution by natural selection creates unequal races, and that in the evolutionary scheme of things, blacks are the closest to apes," he explained. West is the author of Darwin Day in America.
"It's not just residual racism," he added. "He's using his scientific theory as a justification for racism and countless scientists after Darwin latched on to that."
Hosea Baxter directs reconciliation ministries at Crossroads Bible College. He says racism had always been around, but Darwin gave it an air of scientific legitimacy.
"Darwinism is one of the most dangerous ideas in the world today," Baxter claimed.
"Blacks and Native Americans would be portrayed as savages, ignorant or people who could not be civilized [and had] no hope of being civilized," he added.
Making Racism 'Popular'
Baxter works with Charles Ware. He and Ken Ham co-authored Darwin's Plantation: Evolution's Racist Roots. They contend Darwin did more than anyone else to popularize racism.
On the last page of his book, Darwin expressed the opinion that he would rather be descended from a monkey than from a "savage."
In describing those with darker skin, he often used words like "savage," "low" and "degraded" to describe Native Americans, pygmies and almost every ethnic group whose physical appearance and culture differed from his own. In his work, pygmies have been compared to "lower organisms."
One professor in the 1880s wrote, "I consider the negro to be a lower species of man and cannot make up my mind to look upon him as 'a man and a brother,' for the gorilla would then also have to be admitted into the family."
"Since blacks were somewhere in the evolutionary scale between apes and men, they did not have souls," Ware explained. "And since they didn't have souls, some argued, 'We don't even have to preach the gospel to them.'"
Building a 'Better Breed'
Slavery and segregation kept the races apart, but maybe even more dangerous was how Darwin's theories led to active eugenics.
"[It's] the idea of trying to breed a better human being, often by trying to get the people considered defective not to be able to breed or have children," Baxter explained. "And this was a worldwide phenomenon but the U.S. really pressed it further than anyone else until Nazi Germany."
It led to the forced sterilization of 70,000 Americans, many of them blacks.
Then along came Margaret Sanger, founder of what would become Planned Parenthood.
"Margaret Sanger was very Darwinian and very much inspired by this overall idea," Ware said.
"Part of the impetus behind abortion was to annihilate the black race," Baxter added.
The 'Concern' of Interracial Marriage
There were also many laws to keep blacks from marrying whites. Baxter says lawmakers were made afraid by arguments in books like 1907's Race Mongrels.
"If we don't create this separation of the races, we're going to create this mongol race, this race of, say, retards," Baxter said of the book's content.
But Ware, the father of four interracial children, says that fear was ridiculous.
"People used to say interracial marriage is horrible. [That] it's going to destroy racial groups," he said. "It hasn't destroyed anything. We're still human beings."
Uniting through the Bible
Ware says he has dedicated his life and his ministry to undoing the damage of racism and "bringing red, yellow, black and white together based on biblical principle."
In Indianapolis, Ind., Ware heads Crossroads Bible, a small college, but one with big ideas about racial reconciliation.
It starts with showing what the Bible says about race -- a direct contradiction of Darwinism:
- "From one man he made every nation of men." (Acts 17:26, NIV)
- "Eve...was the mother of all the living." (Genesis 3:20, New American Standard)
- "These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated." (Genesis 9:19, New American Standard)
Race Only 'Skin Deep'
In their book, Ware and Ham point out modern genetics shows racial differences are in reality little more than skin-deep, and quote a scientist who says race is "a social construct...and it has no basic biological reality."
Crossroads Bible asks its students to push hard across race barriers.
"Get over the fear of failure, get over the fear of rejection," Ware urged. "We need to be intentional. We need to find people, meet people, talk to people."
"And we've got to figure out how to carry out Matthew 28:19-20," he added. "How do we make disciples of all...groups?"
Christians like Ware hope to convince the church to reject Darwinian thought and accept what the Bible says: there's only one race, the human race, and we have to love it in all its diversity.
*Original broadcast February 27, 2009.