Critical Race Theory is Today’s Flat-Earth Theory, and Just as Believable
The problem with critical race theory isn’t so much that it’s complicated. Or that it’s revolutionary. Or that it’s trying to tear our world apart. The biggest problem with CRT is that it doesn’t live in the real world. It inhabits a different world altogether. They’re today’s flat-earthers.
Don’t confuse that with anything you’ve heard about blacks and whites living in different worlds. This has nothing to do with that. It’s about crits (critical race theorists) versus the rest of us. I’ve spent hours upon hours seeking to understand what crits are saying. For all its famous complexity, I think ultimately it comes down to something really quite manageable: the strangely one-dimensional way it answers six basic questions about reality.
Six Basic Questions
You’re probably familiar with “worldviews,” often described as “lenses” through which we see reality. Each of us has a worldview. We might not have thought about it much, but we still have one, built upon our answers to six basic questions about reality:
- What is ultimate reality? Is it God, or nature, or something else; and what kind of God, or nature, or whatever?
- What does it mean to be a human being?
- What’s our basic problem as humans?
- What’s the solution to that basic problem?
- What is the “good” towards which all persons should strive (if there is such a thing)?
- Where are we headed in the long run?
Critical Race Theory’s Basic View of Reality
I’ve studied CRT long enough to distill some answers out of it. Crits don’t usually articulate them, but they’re there anyway. CRT assumes:
- There is no God, or if there is, he doesn’t have much to do with our lives.
- Humans are evolved creatures, just another part of nature.
- Our basic problem is racism, which is less about racist people and more about systems and institutions where “whiteness” reigns — which is the other side of the basic problem. Racism shows up as unequally distributed money and power.
- The solution is to tear down and then rebuild every institution that produces racial inequity. Meanwhile the solution for whites is to accept the shame for what we’ve done, and to actively help tear down all those racist structures.
- The good we should strive for is equal money and power among all races.
- No one knows where we’re headed on earth in the long run, and no one seems to care whether we’re headed for anything else beyond.
Someone’s going to complain this lacks “nuance.” That same someone probably also believes if you say anything you think about CRT, then you have to say everything you think about it. And if you don’t, it means you never thought it. I’m cutting that off in advance: It’s a stupid thing to expect, and a stupid conclusion to draw.
Money and Power and a Flat World
Look at what they count as “justice”! Nothing else ever enters in. Not relationships, not love, not joy, not aesthetics, and certainly nothing eternal. Just money and power. In CRT’s world that’s all we need to measure, all we need count toward justice. So apparently nothing else matters.
Everything is for the short term. There’s no significant spiritual reality. Most importantly, though, nothing really matters but money and power.
Is that overstated, you ask? Oversimplified, maybe, sure. But look at what they count as “justice”! Nothing else ever enters in. Not relationships, not love, not joy, not aesthetics, and certainly nothing eternal. Just money and power. In CRT’s world that’s all we need to measure, all we need count toward justice. So apparently nothing else matters.
It’s a strangely flat, one-dimensional view of reality. And we’re all supposed to believe it?
Contrast Christianity’s Answers
Contrast that with the Christian worldview:
- God is the good, just, holy, loving, righteous, powerful Creator, King, Judge, and Ruler of all.
- God created humans in his image, and we bear the worth that comes from being loved by Him.
- Our basic problem is sin. Guilt is real, now and forever. It shows up in myriad ways, but it starts with a broken relationship with our loving God.
- The solution is forgiveness: mutual forgiveness with each other, and forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ. It follows repentance, and may lead to restitution where appropriate. Natural and judicial consequences also serve to deter further wrongdoing and to protect others from harm.
- The chief good we should strive for is a mature and godly soul, ready for eternity with God; to worship Him, to love Him; and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
- Eternity makes every human decision count forever, while also allowing justice to prevail for every individual in the end, no matter how it may fail on earth.
This is much too quick again, of course. A full answer to item 5 would include everything from family to vocation to art and music to education to medicine, and on and on it could go. Nuance isn’t the point, though. There’s plenty there to show that CRT and Christianity view the world in very different ways.
If It’s Wrong at the Roots, It’s Wrong
And it really does come down to how one views reality. Crits and Christians both want to solve racism. Crits think it’s mostly about systems and money and power. Christians think it’s mostly about the human heart, and there’s a whole lot more to life than how you’re getting ahead (or staying even).
Crits and Christians both want justice. Crits say it’s about equalizing money and power, and it has to happen now or it’s too late. Christians want justice now, too, but for us it’s about equal treatment under the law; and if we’re inadequate to achieve it now, absolute justice is still assured: God will take care of it in eternity.
If CRT’s worldview is right, then so is pretty much everything else it teaches. But that also means that the world is a very strange, flat place to live in. And you thought flat-earthers were fringe people? In this version they’re everywhere, and they’re trying to convert you and me. But their error is just as obvious as the original flat-earthers’.
So the reason I stand against critical race theory isn’t because I don’t like its analyses or its prescriptions. Whether I like them or not doesn’t matter. If a system is true, it’s true. But if it’s not sound at its roots, it can’t be sound in the branches. I don’t oppose CRT because I don’t like it. I oppose it because I’m convinced it’s wrong: Wrong at the roots, therefore wrong almost everywhere else.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the recently released Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.