Re: ICR's ACTS & FACTS for May, 2005

From: Steven M Smith <>
Date: Thu Apr 28 2005 - 17:42:58 EDT

Michael & Bob,

Thanks for the enlightenment. I had suspected that there were many more
dimensions to the story than that presented by Grigg and AiG. Earlier
today, another list member sent me a note off-line saying that they had
checked on Kingsley's quote and confirmed that he had written what AiG
wrote. My response to that email is also, in a sense, a response to what
has been said on-line so I will attach it here. Many of the questions I
wrote then have already been answered.

Thanks for checking this quote out.
I really didn't doubt that Kingsley had written those words.  What I
question is the context.  And the context is often so much broader than
just the single letter that was quoted.  The context also includes the
times, the culture, the education, and the past history that surrounds the
quote -- especially in a letter where so much can be left unsaid due to
familiarity between the writer and the reader.  I am afraid we all fall
into the error of commonly reading words from the past out of the context
of their time and judging them in the light of our own time.  Certainly the
words of Kingsley are reprehensible.  If a clergyman were to say something
like this today, I would hope that he would be immediately removed from his
position in the church and castigated for his unChristlike example.  But
what I want to know is whether the culture in which Kingsley wrote these
words not only accepted them without comment but also considered them as
normal.  This is where we need the historian to help place the words in
their true context.  My very limited knowledge of British history has shown
me that there has been a long history of tremendous hatred and bigotry
between the English and the Irish for several reasons--different cultures,
ethnicities, and religions tempered by atrocities from both sides. Though I
am not sure, I suspect that were we to go back to Kingsley time, his words
would not be very far out of line with the majority opinion of people in
his culture.
When I think about our propensity for judging people of the past by our own
current and differing set of values (and hopefully improved values!), I
shudder to think of what those in the future, 150 years from now, will say
in judgement of us.  And that brings me back to the AiG story.  I suspect
that the first 3 paragraphs are reasonably accurate as far as they go.
However, I question the implications, interpretations, and judgements given
in the last two.  Was Darwinism and 'evolutionary thinking' the reason for
Kingsley's racism?  Does Kingsley actually reject and distort God's word as
a result of Darwin?  Or do Kingsley's words reflect the common opinions of
his time where similar statements could be pulled from numerous writers?
... and has AiG removed Kingsley's words from their cultural context and,
not so subtly, used them to slant the story and push their own agenda that
Darwin's ideas are a cancer that destroys a man's religion?
These are the questions that I would put to the historians.
[Attach disclaimer statement here - opinions, blah, blah, blah]
 Steven M. Smith, Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
 Box 25046, M.S. 973, DFC, Denver, CO  80225
 Office: (303)236-1192, Fax: (303)236-3200
 -USGS Nat'l Geochem. Database NURE HSSR Web Site-
--- Original Message ---
Mea Culpa, I forgot to mention Kingsley tremendous social concern for the
needy . He was a founder of the Christian Socialists and his record on
things was exemplary.  I am surprised he hasn't been got for being a
socialist! His speciality was the Gospel of Sanitation as he stressed the
need for good sewerage after the Cholera outbreaks.
Incidentally the Water Babies has a parody of the Huxley Wilberforce
in 1860  written a short time after he met his close friend Huxley and
Wilberforce in about 1862.
Like all Christians CK had his flaws but not as many as us.
"Judge not, and you will not be judged. Condemn not and you will not be
> condemned." (Anyone need chapter and verse?)
Who said that?
Received on Thu Apr 28 17:46:20 2005

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