Theories of organizing peoples have existed since the beginning of recorded human history, but the systematic implementation of these theories has wreaked havoc upon the earth in ways that localized squabbles never could. A few examples, by no means comprehensive, include: Aristotle’s climate theory justified Greek slaveholding practices, where “extreme hot or cold climates produced intellectually, physically, and morally inferior people who were ugly and lacked the capacity for freedom and self-government,” which persisted for centuries. Various implementations of the Great Chain of Being, an ancient theory (third century CE) developed by Plotinus who said, “All things follow in continuous succession from the Supreme God to the last dregs of things, mutually linked together and without a break.” Inanimate and animate objects fall into place, including humans in all their variety. Christian interpreters of the Old Testament prooftexted scriptures to fit their racist needs: the Curse of Ham (Gen 9:18-29) to rationalize institutional slavery in America, the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9) and Levitical passages (Lev 19:19) were marshalled to claim God desired peoples to remain separated; Ezra 10:10, which details a prohibition against inter-religious marriages, is extended to interracial marriages. Global conquests in the fifteenth century by the Portuguese justified the slave trade as missionary expeditions, and other nations followed suit with the full power of their respective monarchies and religious leaders behind them. Stories festered from the frontlines of exploration and were recorded in popular published works for the masses that sparked the imagination of European intellectuals and necessitated in their view justifiable reasons to enslave some and not others.
From “Know Your Place: Helping White, Southern Evangelicals Cope with the End of The(ir) World” by Justin R. Phillips