In a couple of different Facebook strains around the Martin Luther King holiday, I read suggestions that Martin Luther King was a creationist. This is, as far as any evidence I’ve seen, a total fabrication.
First, a sidebar: apparently, there’s a narrative out there that suggests that philosophically – it is a Darwinian worldview that allows racism to exist, while a biblical perspective does not, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Implicit was the notion that King must be a creationist because he believed all people were created equal.
The problem is the only “evidence” to support this theory about King is the fact that he was a Baptist preacher, and aren’t all Baptist preachers creationists? (No.)
Dr. King’s understanding of the Bible is quite simple: he believed it was written in a pre-scientific world and used language that was representative of its era. He flatly rejects a literal interpretation of biblical stories, claiming such a reading would be “absurd” in a Copernican world.
For Dr. King, the value of biblical stories is not diminished by their mythological nature. Rather, the myth serves to take the reader beyond the idea or thought within the mind. In short, he accepts the standard methods for critically examining the Bible. …he explains that this modern method “sees the Bible not as a textbook written with divine hands, but as a portrayal of the experiences of men written in particular historical situations.” Textual and literary criticism, archaeology, and history revealed to King the inadequacy of a literal biblical interpretation. He claimed that this critical approach to the Bible was “the best or at least the most logical system of theology in existence.”
Also, read what he said fairly early on in his papers. No public record suggests a fundamental change from this viewpoint.
For those who have found reading the Bible confounding because it contradicts itself, or for a myriad of other reasons, King’s viewpoint may make the reading more understandable.
Daniel Nester on why Maple Shade, NJ is important in the MLK story.