A Denominational Embarrassment

By D. Anderson

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Many Adventists agree that these statements are the most shocking ever penned by Ellen White:
"But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere."1

"Every species of animal which God had created were preserved in the ark. The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood. Since the flood there has been amalgamation of man and beast, as may be seen in the almost endless varieties of species of animals, and in certain races of men."2

A Summary of Mrs. White's main points about Amalgamation

  1. It was "a sin" serious enough to require "the destruction" of the human race.

  2. It was a vile, "base crime".

  3. This vile sin "defaced the image of God."

  4. It occurred both before and after "the flood."

  5. Its effects can be seen "in certain races of men."


There is no doubt that Ellen White understood her statements to be describing the sexual union between man and beast. At the time Mrs. White penned this "inspired" section, it was believed by some...
"...that crosses between men and animals had created a no-man's-land between man and beast, populated by gorillas, chimpanzees, wild bushmen of Africa, Patagonians, and Hottentots."3
Of course, we now know that to be false. Science has long ago proven that it is impossible for humans and animals to produce offspring.

This leads to the question: If she did not receive the amalgamation ideas from God, then where did she get them? One likely source is the Book of Jasher. Many of Mrs. White's statements about the pre-flood era appear astonishingly similar to statements in the Book of Jasher, a fictional account of earth's early history published in 1840. In that book we find that the pre-flood humans experimenting with amalgamation...

"... the sons of men in those days took from the cattle of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and taught the mixture of animals of one species with the other."4

Which race is a product of amalgamation?

Mrs. White said the results of amalgamation could be seen "in certain races of men." The question that has haunted the SDA Church for more than 140 years is, which races are the result of amalgamation of man and beast?

Ellen White's statement provoked instant controversy and stinging criticism of her in the 1860s forced church leaders to attempt to defend their prophet. In 1868, four years after the amalgamation statements first appeared in print, Adventist leader Uriah Smith5 published his defense of Ellen White. In that book he conjectured that the union of man with beast had created "such cases as the wild Bushmen of Africa, some tribes of the Hottentots, and perhaps the Digger Indians of our own country".6

James White "carefully" reviewed Smith's book prior to its publication, and then recommended it in glowing terms to the readers of the church's official magazine, the Review and Herald:

"The Association has just published a pamphlet entitled, 'The Visions of Mrs. E.G. White, A Manifestation of Spiritual Gifts According to the Scriptures.' It is written by the editor of the Review. While carefully reading the manuscript, I felt grateful to God that our people could have this able defense of those views they so much love and prize, which others despise and oppose."7
As noted, the prophet's husband carefully read Smith's book. It is inconceivable that the statements about the Bushmen of Africa passed by James White without notice. His endorsement of the book indicates his implicit approval of the explanation. In fact, because it supposedly established Mrs. White's claims, James and Ellen took 2,000 copies of Smith's book with them to peddle at camp meetings that year!8 By promoting and selling Smith's book the Whites placed their stamp of approval on his explanation of the amalgamation statement.

Without Smith's explanation, anyone reading Ellen White's statement might easily be confused as to exactly which race she was talking about. While Smith may have limited the amalgamation to the Bushmen, a few Adventists have gone further and applied the statements to the negro race.9

SDA Scholars Perform Mental Gymnastics

While the "Bushmen of Africa" explanation was good enough for the Whites and Smith, it eventually fell out of favor with SDA leaders. It became increasingly difficult to explain these statements to an increasingly educated and racially tolerant denomination.

Despite the controversy, both the critics and supporters of Ellen White agreed that Mrs. White was talking about the union of man with beast. However, by 1947 an Adventist biologist named Dr. Frank Marsh convinced an SDA panel to interpret Mrs. White's statement to mean the interbreeding among species, not interbreeding between man and beast. Dr. Marsh argued convincingly that the union of man and beast is impossible. Despite the fact that James White, Uriah Smith, W.C. White (her son), and D.D. Robinson (her secretary) all indicate Mrs. White believed her statement to refer to the interbreeding of man with beasts, the mounting scientific evidence made it impossible for Adventists to continue to defend her statement based upon its intended meaning.10 Thus, they developed a new meaning for the statement, a meaning which was unknown to Ellen White, and a meaning which is extremely difficult to extract from the text of the amalgamation quotes themselves.

One recent Adventist scholar, Francis D. Nichol, in his book Ellen G. White and Her Critics, informs us that the word "amalgamation" was used commonly in the 19th century to refer to intermarriage between the black and white races. He also notes that Ellen White used the word "amalgamation" to refer to the intermarriage between those of different faiths. Nichol argues that Mrs. White's statement was referring to amalgamation between "man and "man", namely, the interbreeding between humans of different races or different religions.

Intermarriage between the races?

This explanation raises more questions than answers:

Intermarriage between godly and ungodly?

Another theory proposed by those wrestling to come up with a way to explain away this statement is that Ellen White meant the intermarriage between the righteous sons of Seth and the wicked. However, this interpretation seems to contradict the context of the statement. Gordon Shigley explains:

"It was difficult to read the statements within their context without seeing a series of sins, of which the last sin--the 'one sin above another'--was obviously the climax. It was not likely that Ellen White was talking about intermarriage since she already had described that sin in an earlier paragraph. is impossible to make the amalgamation of beast with beast or man with man the one sin greater than idolatry, adultery, polygamy, theft, or murder."11
Again, this interpretation raises far more questions than it answers:

White Estate Plays Word Games: What does Amalgamation mean?

While the current defenders of Mrs. White at the White Estate cannot seem to provide a definitive explanation as to what Mrs. White was talking about, they assure us on their web site that whatever it was that Mrs. White was talking about, it was not the union between man and beast:

"No dictionary has ever used 'amalgamation' to describe the cohabitation of man with beast. ... Mrs. White never hinted of subhuman beings or any kind of hybrid animal-human relationship. ... The burden of proof rests on those who affirm that Mrs. White gave a new and alien meaning to the term."12
The word "amalgmation" comes from "amalgam" which has two primary meanings:
1 : an alloy of mercury with another metal that is solid or liquid at room temperature according to the proportion of mercury present and is used especially in making tooth cements
2 : a mixture of different elements14

How was the word used in the 1800s? Webster's 1828 dictionary:

Amalgamation - The mixing or blending of different things.15
Webster's 1913 dictionary:
A*mal`ga*ma"tion (#), n. [Cf. F. amalgamation.]
The mixing or blending of different elements, races, societies, etc.; also, the result of such combination or blending; a homogeneous union.16
While dictionaries do not explicitly describe amalgamation as the union of man and beast, they certainly allow for that definition. The word "amalgamation" is widely used in the English language to describe a mixture of any two or more different elements. For example, the word is used today to describe the following combination of the human with the non-human:13 Thus we can see by these few examples that it is a perfectly valid usage of the word to describe the combination of an animal with a human.

A "new and alien meaning"?

The White Estate claims that we are under a "burden" to prove that Mrs. White was talking about the union of man and beast because that specific definition never appears in a dictionary. They write:
"The burden of proof rests on those who affirm that Mrs. White gave a new and alien meaning to the term."17
Is that true? Are we under the burden to prove the word can be used in that manner? Or is this simply a "smoke-screen" used to hide the truth?

Let us examine some of Mrs. White's other uses of the word to determine whether or not they appear in the dictionary:

"Every noxious herb is of his [Satan's] sowing, and by his ingenious methods of amalgamation he has corrupted the earth with tares."18

" union with the world, the character of God's people becomes tarnished, and through amalgamation with the corrupt, the fine gold becomes dim."19

No dictionary specifically describes Satan mixing evil properties into herbs to produce tares as amalgamation. Neither does any dictionary specifically describe the union of Christians with the world as a process of amalgamation. Therefore, is Mrs. White giving a "new and alien meaning to the word" by such uses? Of course not! All of Mrs. White's usages of the word amalgamation clearly fit within the dictionary's definition of the word. The word is used in thousands of ways to describe the hybrid union of any two things that are different. How could a dictionary possibly list every potential use of the word amalgamation? It would take thousands of pages for just a single word! Just because a particular usage of a word does not appear in the dictionary does not prove that the usage is incorrect!

For Mrs. White to use the word to describe the union of man and beast is not "new and alien," nor is it without precedent. As noted above, the word is used in reference to the Sphinx, the Werewolf, half-human, half-alien beings, and a host of similar unions.

"Base Crime" proves White Estate and Nichol wrong

Mrs. White describes amalgamation as a base crime. Why? What is a base crime? What does the dictionary say? First, let us look at Webster's 1828 dictionary:
Base - Mean; vile; worthless; that is, low in value or estimation; used of things.20
Webster's 1913 dictionary:
Base - Morally low. Hence: Low-minded; unworthy; without dignity of sentiment; ignoble; mean; illiberal; menial; as, a base fellow; base motives; base occupations. A cruel act of a base and a cowardish mind.21
Here are the synonyms to the word "base" from Webster's 1999 dictionary:
Synonyms: BASE, LOW, VILE mean deserving of contempt because of the absence of higher values.
If the amalgamation was "human with human, and beast with beast," then how could these relationships be described as base crimes? How could sexual relations between married human partners be described as base crimes? Doesn't God honor marriage, whether or not both partners are of the same race or religion? How could union between different species of animals be a base crime? Animals have no such moral capacity to commit a base crime!

If the union of human with human is not a base crime, and if the union of animal with animal is not a base crime, then what is a base crime?

A base crime is an act of vile immorality. Mrs. White uses the phrase base crime only one other time in her writings. She used the phrase to describe Potiphar's wife's vile and adulterous sexual advances upon the youthful Joseph.23

The Bible is very clear that sexual relations between humans and animals is a vile, base crime. It is condemned in the Bible as an abomination worthy of the death penalty.24 Notice carefully that the crimes of adultery and bestality are in close context with one another in the Levitical law:

Lev. 18:20 - "Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her."

Lev. 18:23 - "Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it [is] confusion."

To reiterate, Mrs. White uses the term "base crime" only two times in her entire writings. One, the sexaul assault upon Joseph, refers to a violation of Lev. 18:20. The second, the amalgamation statement, refers to a violation of Lev. 18:23. Furthermore, Mrs. White says the amalgamation "caused confusion everywhere", clearly linking it to Lev. 18:23 which states that bestality "is confusion". Mrs. White's choice of the words "base crime" and her allusion to the resulting "confusion" is irrefutable evidence she was describing bestiality, not intermarriage between humans with racial or religious differences.

Genetic amalgamation?

A recent and even more outlandish defense of Mrs. White's statement has arisen with the advent of genetic engineering. Some have suggested the ancients performed genetic manipulations in the laboratory. This sounds plausible to those who do not understand the difficulties of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is an extremely complex process that science is only now beginning to grasp. It requires the use of super-computers and highly advanced technology. While there is no evidence that the people before the flood possessed this type of enabling technology, Mrs. White says this amalgamation also happened after the flood! There is absolutely no evidence that the advanced technology needed to accomplish genetic engineering ever existed in any society after the flood. It is pure conjecture--mental gymnastics at its best.

Is Amalgamation the greatest reason for the flood?

If Ellen White is correct, that the "one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race" was amalgamation, why was that sin never mentioned in Genesis? Moses mentions the sins of corruption and violence in Genesis 6:11-13, but never amalgamation. One would think that if amalgamation was the "one sin above another" that caused the flood, Moses would have at least mentioned it! How could such a grievous sin pass by Moses without mention?

Why were these "inspired" statements removed?

If the amalgamation statements were true, then why not include them in the book Patriarchs and Prophets? Why remove them from this edition? If this sin caused the flood, shouldn't people should be warned about it so that they don't repeat it? If the "bushmen of Africa" are the result of union between man and animals, doesn't the world have a right to know about it? The White Estate is always bragging about how Ellen White was "years ahead of science". Well then, why not let the world know about this amazing scientific finding of Ellen White? Shouldn't the world's leading scientists be made aware of this so that they can begin studying the bushmen? Wouldn't it be a wonderful proof of Ellen White's divine inspiration if scientists were to examine the bushmens' DNA and prove they are indeed half-animal? Why should prophetic utterances need to be deleted from later editions of a prophet's writings?

We are not the first to ask these questions. People have been asking those questions for over 100 years. The removal the amalgamation statements created such a controversy that the White Estate decided it was important for them to provide an explanation for the omissions. Her son W.C. White writes:

"Regarding the two paragraphs which are to be found in Spiritual Gifts and also in The Spirit of Prophecy regarding amalgamation and the reason why they were left out of the later books, and the question as to who took the responsibility of leaving them out, I can speak with perfect clearness and assurance. They were left out by Ellen G. White. No one connected with her work had any authority over such a question, and I never heard of anyone offering to her counsel regarding this matter.

"In all questions of this kind, you may set it down as a certainty that sister White was responsible for leaving out or adding to matters of this sort in the later editions of our books.

"Sister White not only had good judgment based upon a clear and comprehensive understanding of conditions and of the natural consequences of publishing what she wrote, but she had many times direct instruction from the angel of the Lord regarding what should be omitted and what should be added in new editions."25

Now you know the reason, straight from the pen of the prophet's son. Supposedly she removed them because an angel instructed her to do so. That leads us to our final question:

Why didn't the angel instruct her to omit the lines before they were published?


1. Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 3, p. 64.

2. Ibid., p. 75.

3. Gordon Shigley, "Amalgamation of Man and Beast: What Did Ellen White Mean?", Spectrum, vol. 12, no. 4, p. 13. Gordon Shigley wrote this article while a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin.

4. Jasher 4:18.

5. In 1868 Uriah Smith still professed belief in Ellen White as a prophet. By 1883 he did not hold the same degree of conviction: "It seems to me that the testimonies, practically, have come into that shape, that it is not of any use to try to defend the erroneous claims that are now put forth for them." (Smith to Canright, March 22, 1883).

6. Uriah Smith, The Visions of Mrs. E. G. White, A Manifestation of Spiritual gifts According to the Scripture, p. 103, (Steam Press, Battle Creek Michigan, 1868). NOTE: This book is not available in any SDA bookstores today. Here is the full quotation from pages 103-104:

"Since the flood there has been amalgamation of man and beast, as may be seen in the almost endless varieties of species of animals, and in certain races of men." This view was given for the purpose of illustrating the deep corruption and crime into which the race fell, even within a few years after the flood that signal manifestation of God's wrath against human wickedness. There was amalgamation; and the effect is still visible in certain races of men." Mark, those excepting the animals upon whom the effects of this work are visible, are called by the vision, "men." Now we have ever supposed that anybody that was called a man, was considered a human being. The vision speaks of all these classes as races of men; yet in the face of this plain declaration, they foolishly assert that the visions teach that some men are not human beings! But does any one deny the general statement contained in the extract given above? They do not. If they did, they could easily be silenced by a reference to such cases as the wild Bushmen of Africa, some tribes of the Hottentots, and perhaps the Digger Indians of our own country, &c. Moreover, naturalists affirm that the line of demarkation between the human and animal races is lost in confusion. It is impossible, as they affirm, to tell just where the human ends and the animal begins. Can we suppose that this was so ordained of God in the beginning? Rather has not sin marred the boundaries of these two kingdoms?

7. James White, Review, Aug. 15, 1868.

8. Shigley, p. 18, footnote #11: "This information appears as a handwritten note at the bottom of a copy of Uriah Smith's 'Objection 39: The Negro Race Not Human,' provided by [Professor] Frank Marsh."

9. The author is saddened to say, that as an SDA for 33 years, I know for a fact that behind closed doors in private conversations a few white American SDA's still believe this "inspired" statement applies to the entire black race. One person claimed to have seen an unpublished manuscript in the White Estate vault indicating such, but proof is lacking. In a statement received from a former SDA via e-mail, October 2004: "I found the testimony from the guy that was in the vault and Dr. B showed him where EGW wrote about women being with apes. Well, I wanted to tell you back in the early 1980s my husband had a good friend that went to Andrews. He told my husband about seeing this writing while doing research in the vault. We wondered all these years about it. I was pleased to confirm it with that part of your site. We suspect he was kicked out of school, as bearing that statement he began preaching to kids on campus about what he had found, referring to black people as monkeys."

10. See Shigley, pp. 11-18.

11. Shigley, p. 11.

12. See web site, "Comments Regarding Unusual Statements Found In Ellen G. White's Writings".

13. For example, in a review of the book Blood of the Wolf, the reviewer makes this statement: "This has nothing to do with Tribes or Auspices, just the physical and psychological aspects of being spirit, flesh, human and wolf all rolled up into a single disturbing amalgamation." (reference found on on the date Nov. 26, 2006). A second example is the Sphinx: "Some scholars believe that the famous Sphinx, with its lion's body and human head, was an amalgamation of Leo and the nearby constellation of Virgo, the Maiden." ("Leo the Lion may have inspired the Great Sphinx", Feb. 19, 2006, For an example of the word "amalgamation" used to describe human-alien union, see Christ Links forum posting #25114, March 14, 2006: "There are people in hiding, underground citys and such, who are amalgamating man and beast. ... The grays appear to be a human/animal amalgamation of some kind." (

14. Merriam-Webster Dictionary 1999 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

15. Webster's 1828 Dictionary.

16. Webster's 1913 Dictionary.

17. See web site, "Comments Regarding Unusual Statements Found In Ellen G. White's Writings". White Estate quoting F.D. Nichol, Ellen G. White and Her Critics, p. 308.

18. Ellen White, Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 288.

19. Ellen White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, August 23, 1892.

20. Webster's 1828 Dictionary.

21. Webster's 1913 Dictionary.

22. Merriam-Webster Dictionary 1999 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

23. See article written by Ellen White, Signs of the Times, Jan. 8, 1880.

24. Leviticus 18:23, 20:16.

25. W.C. White, Selected Messages, Vol. 3, p. 452.