Sunday, March 04, 2012


I have started a new blog on Charles Darwin's racism. There is a link to it at the right under "My Web Site" and "Email". Right now there is just my first post. I am allowing for comments on the Darwin's racism blog. It is http://darwinsracism.blogspot.com.

Why Darwin's racism? And what, if anything, does that have to do with the historical, Jewish Jesus? There is more in common between the two subjects than you'd think.

What draws me to both is love of evidence. In both cases, there is plenty of evidence to establish certain things beyond any reasonable doubt. I love anything that has so much evidence. It is not my idea that Jewish leaders tried to save Jesus from a Roman execution. The evidence, a humongous amount of it, tells us it happened that way. It is not my idea that there is a fair amount of racism in Darwin's anthropology. The facts tell us this is true. It is important to point out that Darwin was not a virulent racist, he did not harp on it and seek to draw the most vicious conclusions, but he definitely had ideas that some human races were intellectually inferior to the European races and would, as a result, become extinct. This was, for him, just a result of natural selection. It's sad to tell about it and investigate, but it is there in his work.

There is a lot of denial about this in Darwin studies just as there is a lot of denial about Jesus' Jewishness in historical Jesus studies along with denial of the true nature of Jewish culture at the time and a misrepresentation of what Jewish leaders were like. There is a fair amount of racism in historical Jesus scholarship. Jewish culture is still falsely portrayed in ways that will make it seem like a foil for the superior Jesus. Racism is a big problem in both Darwin studies and with the study of the historical Jesus.

To put it another way: Irrationality plagues both fields. A simple inability to face the evidence is a problem for both because there are a priori convictions in both. Darwin is a hero who can do no wrong for many scholars. Ancient Judaism is a villain which can do nothing right for most historical Jesus scholars. The evidence is slanted to make Darwin look beyond reproach, the evidence in the Gospels is slanted to make it look like Jewish enemies did Jesus in, when the clues do not rationally add up to that. In both fields, everything is arranged beforehand to reach a desired conclusion.

Paying strict attention to the evidence can be be liberating in both fields. But the crucial thing is to face the fact that bad assumptions and preconceptions about the evidence has done incredible harm in the study of the history of 1st century Judaism and the history of evolutionary thought.

Leon Zitzer

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