Evolutionists Publish Racist Book
“Disturbing” is how Robert N. Proctor (Penn State) describes a new book by two prominent evolutionists in the Feb. 5 issue of Nature.1 The book is Race: The Reality of Human Differences by Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele (Westview, 2004), and Proctor has a lot of politically correct diatribe to heap on it, though reluctantly:
This is a disturbing book, especially given the stature of its primary author, Vincent Sarich, as one of the founding pioneers of molecular anthropology. In 1967, in a paper with Allan Wilson, Sarich, then a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, used a simple protein-molecular clock to show that humans share a common ancestor with the great apes from as recently as 5 million years ago – overturning previous estimates of more 20 million years.
Miele is a senior editor of Skeptic magazine. Both men are ardent anticreationists. Sarich has debated Duane Gish four times, and each time characterized the debate as the “science game” being superior to the “faith game.” So what is Sarich doing here promoting emphasis on racial differences, in a day when the world is trying to put the abuses of racism behind? Proctor would like to know. But in his attack, he thinks evolutionary anthropology can, in moderation, put racial studies to good use:
The authors’ ‘case for race’ draws heavily on contentious claims by raciologists such as Arthur R. Jensen and J. Philippe Rushton, notorious for having postulated natural racial hierarchies in intelligence, criminality, athletic performance, sexual endowment and the capacity to accumulate wealth. This is a shame, because there are good reasons to believe that certain aspects of race are very real, and that important questions of human origins, prehistoric migrations and medical therapeutics can be fruitfully addressed by properly re-examining human biovariation.
Here, though, we have an exercise in bombast and overstatement….
Flaws in this book are so numerous that it would be difficult to list them all.
Proctor is especially upset that they made broad-brushed claims without proof or attribution. After some examples, he continues that “Stronger claims are made that border on the incendiary,” particularly about affirmative action, intermarriage and eugenics. He also finds it “remarkable” that the authors would simply accept, “with so little supporting evidence,” a claim of inherent low IQ for sub-Saharan Africans, “ignoring the many ways that such a sweeping and grotesque generalization could be flawed.” Not all anthropologists were racists, he assures the readers, and proper study of anthropology might find racial studies useful:
The authors scoff at the idea of race as a social construct, but the historical account they present is full of idealized white-and-black polarities. The authors side with Ernst Haeckel over Rudolf Virchow, Madison Grant over Franz Boas, and Carleton Coon over Ashley Montagu. There is little effort to explore which of the myriad historical ‘realities’ postulated for race might have alternative explanations.
I suspect that the impact of this book could be the opposite of the authors’ intentions. There is much to be said for studying human genetic variability to explore questions of prehistoric ancestry and migration, and to investigate how different human populations respond to medical interventions. But the leap from these to immoderate speculations about the permanence of present-day inequalities is likely to give sceptics even more reason to question racial ‘realities’.
Anthropology has a mixed history of dealings with human racial injustice (think of Carleton Coon’s view that Africans became human some 200,000 years after white Europeans). The present book, so full of flim-flam and loose speculations, is more likely to re-arm than to deflate sceptics.
1Robert N. Proctor, “When is it helpful to categorize people according to race?” Nature 427, 487 – 488 (05 February 2004); doi:10.1038/427487a.
Mixed history, indeed. Evolutionists cannot whitewash the atrocities and genocide committed in the name of Darwinian survival of the fittest. Charlie himself, and many of his followers, were confirmed racists, although some were more ardent than others. Darwin maintained, at least outwardly, a deep concern for social justice, but Huxley and Haeckel flaunted their European chauvinism. Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin and admirer, was the father of eugenics. (Virchow, by contrast, was a vigorous anti-Darwinist, so Proctor cannot place him in any evolutionary pantheon.) For more on the racism of the Victorian-era Darwinians, see ch. 8-9 in Janet Browne’s Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002). She describes Darwin’s racist beliefs as expressed in his second-most influential book, The Descent of Man (1871):
He ventured onto thorny ground…. His naturalism explicitly cast the notion of race into evolutionary and biological terms, reinforcing contemporary ideas of a racial hierarchy that replicated the ranking of animals. And he had no scruple in using the cultural inequalities between populations to substantiate his evolutionary hypotheses. Darwin certainly believed that the moral and cultural principles of his own people, and of his own day, were by far the highest that had emerged in evolutionary history. (p. 345).
Darwinian apologists can, and do, point to misguided Christians who used Bible verses to support racism and slavery. But judging from the quote above, which belief system – evolutionary naturalism or Christianity – leads directly from its core doctrines and founding statements to racism? Darwin used evolution to explain and rationalize racial differences; the subtitle of his initial revolutionary book was The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Yet the Bible teaches that we all descended from one human pair, Adam and Eve. Paul reinforced this core doctrine of both Christians and Jews when he taught the Athenians that God had made all mankind of one blood (Acts 17:26). The teachings of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere are the antithesis of racism. Jesus continually exalted the outcast, the poor, the underprivileged, and the weak as better than the mighty (the fittest). So does the rest of Scripture when each passage is understood in context. Faith, not race, is always the criterion for fellowship in God’s family, whether Rahab, Ruth, the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius, or countless others of any nationality, ethnicity, sex, or social standing. Between Darwinism and Christianity, the core doctrines and teachings of chief spokesmen lead in opposite directions regarding race.
Creationists might have some agreement with Proctor, in that there is some room for analyzing slight variations between people that resulted from their histories (to be able to provide appropriate medical care, for instance), but these variations are not due to differences in human origins or to prehistoric migrations, because the historic migrations of mankind are documented in the Bible. Biblical creationists explain the skin colors, eye slants, susceptibility to certain genetic diseases and other identifiable characteristics of ethnic groups as resulting from the separation of peoples after the Tower of Babel. But they would claim these very minor and superficial changes all occurred within just a few thousand years, and in no way reflect on the truth that we are all created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Proctor’s belief, on the other extreme, would put these “racial” differences far back, millions of years, into our alleged evolutionary ascent from ape-like ancestors. That could easily provide scientific justification to modern racism. The Bible, by contrast, teaches that for all who come to the foot of the cross, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” ( Colossians 3:11). A direct line can be drawn from orthodox Darwinism to racism, but not from the cross of Christ. (Note also that theistic evolutionism has no advantage over naturalistic Darwinism in this regard.)
Answers in Genesis has taken a lead role in revitalizing the concept that a Genesis understanding of human origins is the solution to racial tensions in the world today. So Vincent Sarich, the anti-creationist, sowed his core beliefs, and now they have sprouted. By their fruits you shall know them.