This continues the review of Ken Ham et al, One Blood: I continue with item 1 of the list of topics: the hypothesis that the genetic diversity seen today could have emerged in a short time from one pair of parents if they were mulattos.
As Ham is at pains to point out, a pair of mulattos can generate children exhibiting a whole range of racial characteristics. This is how he explains the eventual divergence of humanity into races. Adam and Eve would have had a brood of children including Negroes, Aryans, and other Mulattos (I am simplifying the model to make the discussion tractable). Free intermarriage leading to an ongoing mulatto mixing-bowl continued until Babel (p. 69). After Babel, groups separated from each other based on language (p. 71). Initially, each group had the full spectrum of racial characteristics, including the mulatto base stock. Then, survival of the fittest sifted out the non-optimal traits from each “people-group” according to climate and geography (pp. 71-73).
The first question Ham’s Mulatto Model raises is what the divine creation intent of that diversity would be for history, looking forward in time from the moment of creation. The instability of the genetic reproduction should either be maintained through history, or accommodated. If the divine intent in creation were (1A) to maintain the “humanity as mulatto” model, then it would have been incumbent on the offspring to seek out such mates as would make that likely — that is, the Aryan children should actually seek out and prefer the Negro children of the mulatto couple; while the mulatto children could mate with other mulatto children. Otherwise, there would be a tendency toward racial sifting and refinement, leading to the separations that we in fact see today, which by hypothesis is counter to the creation intent.
On the other hand, suppose the creation intent of Adam and Eve as mulattos was (1B) to look forward to a gradual historical diversification, in which the racial diversity would serve as a refractive rainbow-creating medium to reveal the glory of God in its diversity-in-unity. This model has intuitive appeal since it would give a telos to the genetic differentiation of humanity analogous to the diversification of gifts and callings; it would do so in terms of the Trinitarian unity-in-diversity principle; and would apply the organizing principle of the glory of God, which can be more fully reflected from many facets. See my colleague’s speculation on how racial diversity could be carried out eschatologically (even though that reflection does not presuppose the Mulatto Model).
Unfortunately, Ham excludes the B variant explicitly. We mention it only as a logical possibility for rescuing his model.
If we call Ham’s Mulatto view model #1, consider the opposite model, #2, whereby Adam and Eve were of one of the sifted, refined races such as we see today, contrary to Ham’s proposal. In that case, the racial diversity that ensued would have been brought about by providential changes in time. Whether such changes should be classified as “mutations” or something else, would need to be debated by geneticists and philosophers. That is not important here, so much as the decision, would the changes fall under the category of chance or covenant? By chance I do not of course mean a view of ultimate randomness, but rather, a manifestation of the decree of God that is ethically neutral as it were. In this view, the question then is, is the historic diversification of humanity from a primeval pure form, a manifestation of (2A) an ethically-neutral, “random” throwing of the dice, or (2B) under the rubric of covenant, governed by blessings and curses?
The table presents the four views in their 2×2 structure. Row 1 represents “Adam and Eve as mulattos” view, and Row 2 represents “Adam and Eve as a telic (i.e. stable, planned, desirable) race.” Column (A) represents subsequent history as value-free or non-eschatological, while column B represents history as value-laden, teleological, or eschatological.
1. Adam & Eve as mulattos
Mixing bowl to be re-mixed each generation
Racial diversity as telos of creation
2. Adam & Eve of a telic race
Diversity by mutation governed by “chance”
Diversity governed by blessing/curse motif
We can summarize the problems using the table to aid in organization:
• The (A) column (value-free history) is counter to the warp and woof of Scripture. In general, Ham’s book does not entertain a view of Providence characterized by blessing and cursing. Yes, there is plenty of curse (pp. 27, 29, 31, 36, 44) but no blessing, and no historical coloring of the curse-motif: it is all Fall. There is no common grace within Providence, nor specific curse that might differentiate the “people groups.” The “curse” is simply the new “natural law” of genetic mutation and natural selection. But Scripture presents the history-producing aspects of creaturely reality as ethically and covenantally charged, and overlaid with sovereign grace. Ham’s view of history is homomorphic with a naturalistic view.
• The Ham model (Row 1) sets up a pattern of development that is in stark contrast to the creation principle of like begetting like (“each after its kind,” Gen 1:11,12,21,24,25). Birds beget “birds of a feather,” not all kinds of different colored birds. Humanity’s basic look and sound would be unstable in contrast to all the other species.
• Which came first, the chicken or the egg? the tree or the seed? How you answer that in large part reveals whether you are a creationist or evolutionist in the bones. The purpose of the chicken is not merely to produce eggs, but the purpose of the egg is only to produce chickens. There is an asymmetry. Creation breaks the apparent symmetry and establishes the teleology of type by putting the chicken, and the tree, first in time, before the egg or seed. But this creation principle is disrupted by the mulatto model (row 1). The mulatto is genetically unto something else, not an end in itself.
• More specifically the 1A version (perpetual mixing-bowl telos) means that the mulatto start is potentiality that is never fulfilled. Its inherent power of diversity is never exemplified fully.
• Likewise, the 1B version (mulatto start unto the end of racial diversity) means that the mulatto start is potentiality that is not fulfillable except in something other than what it is. This would be different than every other pattern we see in Creation.
• 2a has, in addition to its anti-covenantalism, a conceptual problem: Even if some genetic mutation were governed by the category of chance, yet how could the outcomes be regarded as value-neutral? Is an IQ of 120 of equal value to 80? Is a tribe that produces all eye- and hair-colors equal to one that can produce only one? Is a tribe that can grow enough food to export equal to one that ceteris paribus cannot grow enough for itself?
Though the (1b) form of their model is more appealing than (1a), note also it does not support their agenda of favoring miscegenation. For, if racial refinement and diversification were the creation intent, then it would be natural and normative for fathers or tribesmen to resist an amalgamation that ends the refinement and moves back toward the generic mulatto. The teeth would be taken out of Ham’s acceptance of miscegenation. To put it bluntly, anti-miscegenation would be a creation mandate. Moreover, as people spread out over the earth and developed individuated cultures, it would be natural to do so on ethnic lines. The citizen/alien distinction would be largely coterminous with “race.” Dialects would develop on ethnic lines. In short, history would develop exactly as we see that it in fact has developed and this would be ethically normal on the (B) variant of the model.
Striking out the rejected possibilities from the discussion to this point, we are left with 2B as the only theologically-sound possibility. Note that this view also leads to the unpacking of history as outlined in the previous paragraph, but does so in terms of covenant, in terms of blessing and cursing, and common grace that may be distributed equally or unequally, according to God’s will.
Where did Ham go wrong here? I submit it was a failure to think theologically in two main areas. (1) The eschatology of his racial model. Ham has painted himself into an embarrassing corner, as unpacked above. (2) The relation of science and creation. Creation is a necessary presupposition for the possibility of science, but creation is itself opaque to science. The same comment applies to Providence when it reflects free sovereign choice. It is interesting that the authors conceive Babel to be a miraculous creation of languages – which would therefore not be subject to Grimm’s Laws or any other linguistic insight – but they cannot entertain that the genetic dispersion might have been of such origin as well – and thus not subject to ordinary genetic research.
At the end of the day, Ham’s worldview is thoroughly naturalistic. Not surprisingly, “nature red in tooth and claw” in the form of survival of the fittest governs his view of the emergence of races, not God’s loving Providence.
As covenantal thinkers, we are left with the (B) column in any case, and probably 2B. Unfortunately for Ham’s thesis, regardless of which row governed by (B) is lighted upon, it would not lead to a “race-neutral” outlook.
But perhaps Ham’s party will attempt to escape between the horns of the dilemma I have presented by recourse to Christian libertarianism: individual freedom governed by covenantal categories that do not ever apply to collectives. Perhaps the divine intent in creating a mulatto couple was to enable the exhibition of maximum freedom of the individual in tribe-less autonomy, governed only by conformity to specified precepts, and to be judged in individual eschatology at the end of history. Examining that outlet will be the burden of the next section.