Doublespeak on Calling Out Racist Ideas?

So I am genuinely confused by this, and wanted to ask for some help interpreting this. I’ve put this in a new thread, and removed the name of the person I’m dialoguing with here. This is not really about him, and I do not want it to be about him. I’m just confused and want some help.

Look at this chain of quotes.

The claim is that my ideas are associated with racism. Does this not mean they are an example of racist theology? Does this not mean I am being called out for racism?

What exactly is the difference between calling my ideas racist and calling me a racist? Can someone explain what is going on here? It seems like doublespeak, or perhaps passive aggressiveness, or maybe even gaslighting. I can’t make sense of this. Can you?

A post was split to a new topic: Byer’s Thoughts on Race

Pardon me for being a thick-headed agnostic, but does this phrase:

… some similar elements to such models of the past …

refer to some doctrine that races (some some definition) may have been created separately? I’ll assume this is true for my remaining comments.

First, the special creation of two individuals does not constitute a class of people, a sub-population, or a biologically meaningful change in allele frequencies of humans as a whole. I don’t buy into this special creation myself, but see no hallmarks of racism in this; the is no grasp at power or control, no claim of superiority or priviledge.

It you want to talk about Creation, Adam and Eve, great. If you want to talk about God creating genetically diverse populations of humans, that’s OK too, and seemingly a necessity for some beliefs. IF we were made, we then weren’t all made the same. Just noting the fact that some people are a little different is not intolerance. Acting in a discriminatory way based on this differences is. I don’t see that happening here.

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It refers to polygenesis, which I explained here: What is Polygenesis?. We’ve also discussed it here: Reckoning With Human Zoos.

There are two cannonnical types of polygenesis, one arose as a heresy in theology (center) and one arose as a now falsified theory in evolutionary science (right):

The key claim of polygenesis is always in all cases:

The suggestion was that in important and salient ways, the Genealogical Adam is like polygenesis, and this justifiably concern us. And, at the same time, we are not calling you out for racism.

This seems to be obvious to everyone except people from one organization in the origins debate. Notably, one canonical version of polygenesis didn’t even include the special creation of Adam and Eve, and is closely connected to evolutionary science. Of course, we have thankfully moved past this, and that mistaken past is not a reason to reject evolutionary science. If we were that sensitive to polygenesis, we couldn’t affirm evolution.

This is a side track though. The insinuation is that I am putting forward a version of polygenesis, this is concerning to them, but they are not calling me out for racism? I don’t get it.

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The original quote starting the exchange seems to be:

Some of the versions of such a model in the past have been racist, though I certainly do readily agree that your model was so far removed from such that it is absurd to even hint at such.

I don’t see how this is an accusation of racism or holding racist ideas.


Thanks for a mediating perspective. I really want to know what I am missing. What if we add this quote to it:

All this to say if I am an organization (which this again is not any official BL position, just speculation) that is virtually the only or at least main Christian one who accepts the overwhelming evidence for evolution I am going to tread very lightly on certain topics. A de novo couple amongst millions of other without the imago dei does not help things exactly as it opens up a whole can of worms thanks to unfortunate models of the past, though the idea does deserve engagement and discussion in time.

And this quote, which is in our shared past. Remember that the person who made this claim continues to argue it is valid. The person in conversation now is defending this claim too, as not an example of playing the race card.

If only those who descend from Adam and Eve have the Imago Dei, as Swamidass seems to be suggesting here, then there are a few hundred thousand years of human history where everyone else is not made in God’s image— and they only become made in God’s image once they interbreed with Adam’s descendants. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I find this idea horrific. Humans are widely dispersed on the planet at 6,000 years ago—in the Americas, in Australia and Tasmania, and so on. Do we really want a theology that names them all as subhuman animals until their lineage happens to encounter and interbreed with Adam’s (Eurasian) offspring? God forbid. Likely this was not Swamidass’s intent, of course, but it seems to me that models like these lead to this decidedly unsavory conclusion.

Remember, this was a quote put in print by this organization. This is an example of a quote that our friend explained:

I’m not sure how to read that quote without seeing an accusation of racism.

Do those have anything to do with racism, specifically? Perhaps “unfortunate models of the past” refers to such. But, the entire first quote is referring to a possible motivation of Biologos to “tread lightly” on the issue and avoid conflict, something which they do generally seem concerned about to me. I don’t really know the history of this stuff any more than vaguely. Nor could I say if your ideas are well-connected to any historical ideas; I don’t understand some of the concepts well enough. All that being said, if historical linkage is a concern, is pointing out that is exists and could potentially be a problem an accusation of racism against you? Even if totally incorrect and thus deserving of criticism, I don’t think it rises to that level.

I find this idea horrific .

I don’t think any of this quote has anything to do with racism. I read it as saying that some subset of humans, from any part of the globe, did not receive God’s full concern. Again, this may or may not be correct, but that’s not the issue at hand.

It seems to me that this is either factually correct or it’s not. All I can say is that even if it is, and disregarding whether the issue deserves to be raised or not, or whether raising it deserves any criticism, I don’t read it as an accusation of racism.



1] i think it is quite clear that they can call your proposal Racist, or similar to Racist proposals, without meaning YOU are racist.

2] however it does imply that you are tone-deaf and dont get it, or that you dont care.

3] i agree with you that this position is actually worse because they oppose the idea MORE than they oppose you!

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Once again @John_Dalton, thank you for wading into a contentious thread to help me out. I appreciate it.

So you don’t think these two quotes are an allusion to racism?

To be clear, all of this is imagined too. I never put forward any of this.

That is exactly how I read it. The fact that we are still talking about this 1.5 years later is concerning. Why has no one on their end come out publicly to say that this is nonsense? I’ve been told several times in private that it is nonsense. To date, no one one their end has made this clearly publicly.

@John_Dalton, I can see a bit more clearly though that some of my assessment of our friend’s initial statements are colored by this past history. As the conversation unfolds though, I don’t understand why he must insist that it is “in the class” of polygenesis. His comment here also is a defense of Venema’s statement.

I also find it interesting they are objecting to claiming that I was called racist. In this conversation, however, I never claimed I was called racist. As @gbrooks9 puts it, my ideas were called racist.

God created the heavens and the earth; the rest was made in China.
Racism is easy to allege, but saying it has occurred in a particular instance may actually say more about the accuser than the accused.
My two cents.

It seems here that the indigence is about insisting that they did not call me personally racist, but just called my ideas racist. I think they are trying to maintain that they did actually accuse me of anything.

I am not certain I understand correctly, but I recall @Agauger mentioning something similar, fearing that there would be a racist or racial situation if some humans were related to Adam and others were not. She had “hoped” that her theory was correct so as to avoid a racist situation. I really don’t know if this is the same situation… (Apologies Ann, if I misquoted you or misunderstood.) @Dan_Eastwood , I believe, alluded to something similar in his response to your post, above.

The only thing that I can say is that I don’t understand how the issue (if I understand it correctly) could be racist anyhow. The worse that it seems to me is that the situation could potentially allow for a new and different kind of discrimination. As with race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual preference, etc., these aspects are not racist at all… they are merely aspects from which discrimination can stem. They are neutral. It is racism (or any associated “ism” that is negative…) But this “ism” is not the fault of the aspect, it is the fault of the discriminator.

Again, I don’t even know if I’m speaking out of line here… But if I am right, it seems that your entire argument is about nothing…

As to whether or not your idea being referred to as potentially racist being the same or similar to you being called racist, I don’t see that being the case. But, as I said above, and if I even understand the issue correctly (and I may not), the entire discussion seems silly, because I don’t see how it is racist. Only how it could potentially allow for discrimination, which is potentially a form of racism.

Please, if I’m misunderstanding, someone bail me out…


The whole genius of “genealogical Adam” is to clarify just how all of current humanity is, in fact, related to Adam. There is no room for charging racism, even if --which he is not – Josh was actually advocating polygenism. The whole list of misguided criticisms is laughably inaccurate.
A de novo Adam whose lineage eventually universally interbred with “imago Dei” outside the garden humans is a monogenesis scenario.


Guy, the way you put it reminds me how often it’s argued that universal common descent is still an accurate description of evolutionary theory, even if (as per Karl Woese) it arose multiple times and coalesced through HGT.

If Genealogical Adam is polygenist, then so is universal common descent.

Time for “the unnamed organisation” to get with the programme.


We can parse the technicalities of exactly what someone did or didn’t say, but to me the bigger issue is what many people will hear.

This arises often with many anti-evolution origins ministries. They constantly tell the public, “Darwin was a terrible racist.” and “The Theory of Evolution is utterly racist and brought the ruthless oppression of Australia’s aboriginal peoples and the horrors of the Holocaust.” So, what do many of their followers hear? They hear: “Evolutionary biologists promote a dangerous lie which justifies racist horrors.” How much difference is there between “Evolutionary scientists are enthusiastically devoting their professional careers to working full-time to promote a dangerous, Satanic, racist lie” and “Evolutionary scientists are racists.”? Does that difference really matter all that much?

This also brings to mind Ken Ham saying that he has never claimed that evolution-affirming Christians can’t be true Christians. I’ve heard him and various other YEC leaders absolve themselves of that charge, and then two minutes later in the same presentation they will say things like “Those who affirm the Theory of Evolution are aiding and abetting God’s enemies” and “Evolution doctrine is an evil rebellion against God and the truth of His Holy Word, the Bible. The evolution lie was authored by Satan himself and comes from the pit of hell.” So, if I’m allegedly working to assist the enemies of God and I’m allegedly affirming hellishly vile lies authored by Satan, does it really sound like anyone is acknowledging that I’m a True Christian™?

The whole “Idea X must be avoided because it sounds racist” smacks of the Guilt by Association fallacy and even the Genetic Fallacy. Answers in Genesis plays the race card logic fallacy on a daily basis in trying to taint evolutionary biology (and anybody who affirms the science) with every possible evil which can somehow be tied to it, even if it requires considerable exaggeration and downright fabrication. It is such a tiresome tactic that I’m amazed that presumably wiser heads at other organizations have any desire to recycle the tactic.

Should we avoid talk of relativity theory and universal gravitation because the physics was essential to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? (And is that physics dangerously “racist” because so much of American attitudes towards the Japanese—and even American citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII—was sickeningly racist?)

Again, it is not just a matter of what various authorities say. I’m concerned about what many of their readers and followers will hear and assume.

I’m reminded of some people’s response to the “Black lives matter” protests. Some said, “No! That’s racist. ALL lives matter!” They entirely missed the point of the “Black lives matter” protests. Some even managed to think themselves morally superior because they were supposedly “rising above racism” with their smugly “profound” and “inclusive” response: “All lives matter!” (As someone already observed in this thread, accusations of racism often tell us more about the accuser than the accused.)

Meanwhile, is virtually everyone who affirms Common Descent vulnerable to racist accusations simply because there was some generation in the ancient past which had human characteristics in greater measure than the previous generation which lived contemporaneously alongside it in the same tribal community? Indeed, were their parents’ and grandparents’ generations thereby “sub-human”? Does that make Common Descent “racist”?


The situation where there was a point in history where some humans had Imago Dei and some did not seems like a logical outcome of your model. However, all modern humans now have the Imago Dei according to your model, so it can’t be used in modern times to put people into human and sub-human groups. It is certainly an interesting question, although I would stop short of calling it racist.


Let’s say that some modern humans do not have the image of God. In that case, it is still not “racist”… The fact that you apply the prefix “sub” to “human” could be considered to be “racist” but it does not have to be. People who are not bald could “feel” superior to those who have lost their hair. The criteria used to discriminate is not “racist”… it is the attitude of superiority that becomes “racist”.

Those with the image of God could be referred to as “augmented” whereas the others could be “normal.” So the terminology can facilitate the process of discrimination, but it is important to note that this is a choice. It’s not the fault of the criteria, per se.


I don’t understand the context (either historical or local) well enough to be offering an opinion on who’s wrong and what any of the people involved were trying to say, so I’ll just offer a general observation(*). Humans, for all our highly developed brains and social intelligence, are often not very good at communicating with each other, and we’re particularly bad with written communication. When a subject as emotionally and morally laden as racism is on the table things are especially dicey, with a high probability of talking past one another. Clarifying matters is best done person-to-person (rather than through statements addressed to the public), best done in person rather than in writing, and best done by asking a lot of questions about what the other side is trying to communicate. Obviously, this assumes both sides want to communicate, which may not be the case here.

(*) I’n which I will endeavor to be both banal and pompous. One should play to one’s strengths, I always say.