Atheism has no rational basis upon which to call anything objectively just or unjust, including racism. If mankind is merely the result of billions of years of mindless evolution and is nothing more than animals (as atheistic evolution contends; Marchant, 2008), then man can logically make evolutionary-based racist remarks that are consistent with the godless General Theory of Evolution. In fact, Charles Darwin’s “Bulldog,” atheist Thomas Huxley, did just that in his 1865 essay, “Emancipation—Black and White.” He alleged, for example, “no rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less superior, of the white man.” In truth, if there is no God, mankind could just as easily look down upon and mistreat others (whom he deems are less evolved), as he does roaches, rats, and orangutans (Lyons, 2011; Lyons and Butt, 2009). Those who are Christians, however, logically contend that since (1) God exists, and (2) the Bible is the Word of God, racism is morally wrong—and completely ridiculous for the following five reasons.
#1—All Human Beings Are Made in the Image of God
Not only did God specially create Adam and Eve in His image and vastly different than all other living things on Earth (Genesis 1:26-27), since then, every human being has been made according to God’s likeness. While preaching to Gentiles in Athens thousands of years after the Creation, Paul, a Jew, did not contend that man was once the offspring of God; he said, “We are” the offspring of God (Acts 17:28-29). [The Greek word esmen in 17:28 is the first person plural of eimi (to be). This recognition of being God’s offspring served as a basis for his argument, as the next verse indicates: “Being then the offspring of God….”]
James wrote: “But the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren these things ought not so to be” (3:8-9, ASV, emp. added). [The English verb “are made” (ASV) derives from the Greek gegonotas, which is the perfect participle of the verb ginomai. The perfect tense in Greek is used to describe an action brought to completion in the past, but whose effects are felt in the present (Mounce, 1993, p. 219).] The thrust of the expression, “who are made after the likeness of God” (Greek kath’ homoisosin theou gegonotas), is that humans in the past have been made according to the likeness of God, and they are still bearers of that likeness. For this reason, praising the Creator at one moment, while hurling unkind, racist remarks at another time, is terribly inconsistent in a most unChristlike way. All human beings (of every color and ethnicity) are divine image bearers.
#2—God Only Made One Race—The Human Race
Although people come in different colors, shapes, and sizes, and although they often associate more closely with those whom they find more similar in ways to themselves, the fact is, there is only one human race. Racism is ridiculous because we are all related, not by means of naturalistic evolution, but by special Creation. No one person is inherently of more value than another person. We are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve—the specially created couple whom God made thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:20). What’s more, we are also sons and daughters of Noah and his wife, through whom the Earth was repopulated after the worldwide Flood of Genesis 6-8.
As the apostle Paul informed the idolatrous Athenians 2,000 years ago, God “made from one blood every nation to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Adam and Eve had children, who had children, who had children…who had you and me. We are all physically related. We are all of one race—the one human race. We are all (as modern science classifies us) of the same human species—Homo sapiens. We all trace our ancestry back to Noah, and then back to Adam. We may have different skin color, facial features, hair texture, etc., but we are all brothers and sisters! We are family—a part of the same human race.
#3—God Doesn’t Play Favorites…and Neither Should We
Although God is omnipotent, He is actually color-blind. His all-loving, perfectly just nature will not allow Him to love someone more than another based upon the color of a person’s skin or the nation in which one was born. Similar to how God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), God cannot show favoritism.
Moses wrote: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). Peter said: “God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35, emp. added). According to Paul, God “does not receive a face” (Galatians 2:6, NASB literal footnote rendering); that is, “God does not judge by external appearance” (Galatians 2:6, NIV).
In short, it is impossible to hold “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, (the Lord) of glory, with respect of persons” (James 2:1, ASV). The Christian’s care and concern for his fellow brother by Creation and by Christ is to be color-blind.
#4—Love is Not Racist
Whereas racism is fueled by earthly ignorance and hate, the Christian is filled with the fruit of Heaven’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The child of God is directed by an omniscient, omni-benevolent Father Who expects His children to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). To the Philippians Paul wrote, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (1:9-11, emp. added).
In two of the more challenging sections of Scripture, Paul wrote: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, ESV). “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…. Repay no one evil for evil…. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:9-18).
No Christian can be a racist, and any racist who claims to be a Christian is, in truth, a liar. As the apostle John explained, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).
“[W]hatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor [regardless of his or her color and ethnicity—EL]. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10, NIV).
#5—Jesus is EVERYONE’S Savior
In one of the earliest Messianic prophecies, God promised Abraham that it would be through One of his descendants that “all the nations” and “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18; 12:3, emp. added). It certainly was an honor for Abraham’s family to be chosen as the one through whom the Savior of the world would come, but Jesus did not come only to save the Jews. God did not enact a plan of salvation to save one particular color of people. He did not send Jesus to take away the sins of a particular ethnic group or nation. Jesus is the answer to the whole world’s sin problem; He is “the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17, emp. added).
“God…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4, emp. added). For this reason, “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47, emp. added)—to people of all colors, in all cultures, in whatever countries.
The Gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16, emp. added). And when individuals in the world “obey the Gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8; see Lyons and Butt, n.d.) and are added to the Lord’s Church by God Himself (Acts 2:47), we all become one in Christ Jesus. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:29).
I do not claim to be an expert on race relations, but I know that some people genuinely struggle with the sin of racism. Some struggle with being the recipients of racism, which in turn may cause them to be tempted to react in racist ways. Others struggle with cowardly silence as they tolerate the sin of racism in their homes, churches, schools, businesses, and communities. Still others seem so preoccupied with advancing their own racial agenda that they appear to hastily interpret most everything as a racial problem, when most things are not.
Jesus once taught the hypocrites of His day, saying, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). May God help us to see as He sees: “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). What a better world this would be if everyone realized the foolishness of judging a book by its cover. Racism really is ridiculous.
Huxley, Thomas (1865), “Emancipation—Black and White,” http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE3/B&W.html.
Lyons, Eric (2011), “The Moral Argument for the Existence of God,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4101&topic=95.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (no date), Receiving the Gift of Salvation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), https://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Receiving%20the%20Gift%20of%20Salvation.pdf.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2009), “Darwin, Evolution, and Racism,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=2654.
Marchant, Jo (2008), “We Should Act Like the Animals We Are,” New Scientist, 200:44-45, October 18-24.
Mounce, William D. (1993), Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).