Evolution Is Racist, Evolutionist Writes
A well-known science writer is in hot water for linking evolution to alleged differences in racial abilities. But where will his evolutionary critics run?
Geneticists and evolutionists are stepping on themselves to condemn Nicholas Wade’s politically-incorrect new book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, where the author makes links between alleged racial inequalities in IQ to evolution, concluding that’s why African countries can’t handle democracy. Writing for Nature, Ewen Calloway reports that “More than 130 leading population geneticists have condemned a book arguing that genetic variation between human populations could underlie global economic, political and social differences.” Ditto for Michael Balter, reporting in Science Magazine that “Geneticists decry book on race and evolution.” Balter writes,
The book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, contends that human races are a biological reality and that recent human evolution has led to racial differences in economic and social behavior. In the book, Wade suggests that such genetic differences may help explain why some people live in tribal societies and some in advanced civilizations, why African-Americans are allegedly more violent than whites, and why the Chinese may be good at business.
Trouble is, Nicholas Wade is one of the evolutionists’ own. “Wade is former staff reporter and editor at the New York Times, Science and Nature,” Callaway notes. We remember him giving his now-scandalized evolutionist colleague Marc Hauser good press for his 2006 book, Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong (see 11/05/02, #10). We remember him saying “humans are selfish by nature” when trying to evolutionize human kindness in 2009 (12/01/09).
Apparently Wade didn’t learn his PC lessons in 2006, when his previous book Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors received widespread scorn by other evolutionists who found Wade determined to”find simplistic natural selection behind every trait, and by a lack of attention to issues that are known to inhibit a credible understanding of complex traits, never mind their evolution” (6/14/06). Either that, or he doesn’t care what his peers think. If evolution explains racial IQ differences, so be it—that seems to be his mindset. His book “argues that opposition to racism should be based on principle, not on the anti-evolutionary myth that there is no biological basis to race,” Callaway quotes him saying.
Wade responded to critics of his “dangerous book” in the Huffington Post in June, claiming that the book’s thesis is that “exploration of the human genome lends no support to racism.” Yet the very subtitle of his book, Genes, Race and Human History, links historical racist behaviors with genetics, not just culture. Others seem to get the implications. On Amazon.com is this summary by Publishers Weekly:
“Wade ventures into territory eschewed by most writers: the evolutionary basis for racial differences across human populations. He argues persuasively that such differences exist… His conclusion is both straightforward and provocative…He makes the case that human evolution is ongoing and that genes can influence, but do not fully control, a variety of behaviors that underpin differing forms of social institutions. Wade’s work is certain to generate a great deal of attention.”
Unable or unwilling to go that far, other evolutionary geneticists are trying to stay PC but keep their Darwin. Callaway describes the reaction of Sarah Tishkoff (U of Pennsylvania), who studies human variation in Africa, and whose work Wade cited for evidence of his claims:
Tishkoff also acknowledges that natural selection has created biological differences that vary with geography. For example, her team discovered mutations that allows some African populations to digest lactose. But she scoffs at the idea, proposed by Wade, that natural selection has shaped cognitive and behavioural differences between populations around the world. “We don’t have any strong candidates for playing a role in behaviour,” she says.
But she and the other letter signers are most riled by what, they feel, is Wade’s contention that his book is an objective account of their research. “He’s claiming to be a spokesperson for the science and, no, he’s not,” she says.
Their strategy is to challenge the interpretation of studies Wade cites in his book in support of his evolutionary racism. But it appears that, if Tishkoff were to be convinced of “strong candidates” for natural selection “playing a role in behavior,” she would have no choice but to side with Wade.
Update 8/14/14: Human evolution specialist Darren Curnoe (U of New South Wales) debunks any scientific justification for race in The Conversation, calling it a cultural delusion, not something in the genes. Surprisingly, “humans are genetically much less diverse than most mammals, including our chimpanzee cousins,” he points out; indeed, human similarity “…contrasts with most mammals, which show much greater differences on continental scales.” We are all members of one species, Homo sapiens, he stresses. Intermarriage has ensured that no people group will remain isolated from others for any great length of time. “The facts are that the races recognised by anthropologist [sic] during the 19th and 20th centuries simply don’t hold up to scrutiny from physical or genetic evidence; besides, races never were scientific to begin with.”
Every once in awhile an evolutionist raises a stir for following Darwin’s principles to their logical conclusion. Nick Lane is just the latest episode (12/11/07, (2/16/11, #5). Even James Watson, the DNA guy, proudly let his evolutionary racist stripes show (10/17/07).
Evolutionism is not just racist because of (1) its purposeless, blind mechanism, that should cause different people groups to evolve at different rates. Nor is it racist just because (2) it has such a dark history of racism and racist eugenics. Those are true, but evolutionary racism also derives from (3) its long ages of time. People don’t think about that often, but shouldn’t millions of years be a long time for different tribes of hominids in scattered parts of the globe to diverge in their mental capacities? No wonder Nick Wade is saying these things. The Biblical chronology is far too short for significant differences to appear, even for creationists willing to accept a role for natural selection. This is why theistic evolutionists and old-earth creationists belong in the same hot kettle with Nicholas Wade.
The genetics-based racism is easily dismissed when we consider human beings as rational souls. If Wade were correct, there would be no black conservatives, many of whom grew up as leftists but rationally changed their minds when confronted with reasoning about market capitalism and personal responsibility, and are acknowledged as scholarly intellectuals (consider Thomas Sowell, Ben Carson, Clarence Thomas). If Wade were correct, there would be no Chinese dropouts or communists. What does he make of North Korea? This broad-brush painting of people groups determined by their genes is the fundamental fallacy behind racism. All humans are interfertile; their genetic differences are trivial compared to their commonalities. All humans have language, personhood, and conscience. A common fault of leftist ideology is lumping people into groups: whites, blacks, hispanics, haves, have-nots, the rich, the poor, etc., as if they all are trapped in their racial/economic identities and all think and feel alike. Exceptions to groupthink are legion! Save for those with brain damage, who need care appropriate to their innate human dignity, each person needs to be seen as an individual, capable of rational decision-making if given the chance and the right information. Even with that, there will be many who irrationally choose evil, because of a primal bent in human nature running contrary to what is good, true, and beautiful (see John 3:19).
Let us offer a Biblical creationary alternative. Intelligence is not a quotient determined by genetics (12/22/12). We have souls within our animal bodies. The Bible teaches we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, made in the image of God, unlike the other creatures. We are all, therefore, of one race—the human race. But we are a fallen race; that’s why the innate bent toward evil, including racism. Christians believe the image of God in humankind was tarnished but not obliterated (see one analysis by W. Gary Cranford, for instance). Thousands of years after humans were created, Paul affirmed to the Greeks that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26) and affirmed that even the Greeks were God’s offspring. The apostles taught that all God’s children are equal in his sight. In the church of those redeemed by Christ, there is neither male nor female, bond or free, barbarian, Scythian—whatever the socioeconomic/ethnic background—everyone is created equal. The Declaration of Independence affirmed this foundational view of humanity many centuries later. Racism, therefore, is irrational and immoral in the Judeo-Christian tradition. If you want to rid the world of this evil, kick Darwin out the door (good riddance) and embrace Genesis.