Science in Christian Perspective




Table of Contents

It Began in Babel: The Story of the Birth and Development of Races and Peoples, by Herbert Wendt. Transl. from the German by James Kirkup. Baden, 1958; Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1962. Illus. with 72 photographs, 444 pp. $6.50.
The Church and the Older Person, by Robert M. Gray and David 0. Moberg. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1962. 162 pp., $3.50.
Evolution After Darwin: Vol. I. The Evolution of Life, ed. by Sol Tax. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1960. 629 pp- $10.

It Began in Babel: The Story of the Birth and Development of Races and Peoples, by Herbert Wendt. Transl. from the German by James Kirkup. Baden, 1958; Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1962. Illus. with 72 photographs, 444 pp. $6.50.

This popular history of selected peoples, periods, and places can be read either as an anthropological history of the world or as an informal world history of anthropology. Historical sequences traced by the author are oriented not only to consideration of aboriginal peoples, but also to their discoverers and to the methods and theories espoused by their investigators. The author touches on the history of races and cultures in all con~ tinents, including such peoples as Gypsies, Canary Islanders, ancient Babylonians, Eskimos, and Tasmanians. He also delves into such mysteries as the lost trails of early Negroid migrations, the stone statues of Easter Island, and the strange mixture of Madagascan racial and cultural origins.

A work such as this is bound to be found wanting by regional or historical specialists because of its breadth of scope. Attention is frequently paid to the exotic and striking rather than to the comprehensive balance found in writings of more formal scholarly intent. Thus Wendt's discussion of the American Indians is sketchy and slightly distorted. The treatment of the Polynesians is largely romantic, whereas the discussion of Pacific migration theories is much more thorough, perhaps reflecting a deeper scholarly interest on the part of the author. Also, despite the inclusion of an excellent fourteen-page bibliography, Wendt frequently uses long quotations from unusual and valuable with no bibliographical clue in parentheses, footnotes or bibliography to their published source. A reader wanting to dig deeper into the fabulous accounts of early field approach of the Russian Miklucho-Makali among natives of New Guinea (pp. 362-3) will thus find himself frustrated.

The title of the book is hardly brought into any accurate focus as far as actual origins are concerned.
Wendt discusses Babel chiefly in terms of certain possible ziggurat rains, or, more importantly, in terms of
Babylonian civilization as a whole. Of course, much of the content of the volume concerns far earlier periods.
Regarding Christian missions, Wendt generally reveals a typical anti-missionary bias, not without provol cation, but certainly out of proportion to the facts in most cases. He recognizes with appreciation, however, the positive contributions made by many missionaries to ethnology.

Regarding the possibility of missionary success, the author seems at one point to imply that it has been possible to achieve it with some races but not with others. Concerning the latter he points out, "To these races belong the Pygmies, the Bushmen, Negritos, and Australians. It has never been possible to make such children of nature really useful members of western civilization without both uprooting and demoralizing them" (p. 367). We have here the typical unbeliever's misconception of what constitutes missionary successbut by no means secondary to this is the fact that missionary method has generally given cause for this misconception by operating under the same set of presuppositions! Does missionary success mean creating ..really useful members of western civilization"? If so, then Wendt's list could be considerably expanded by enumerating other peoples, including the American Indian. (I do not mean to imply that American Indians are not useful members of western civilization. I am only concerned with the traditional missionary presupposition that they must be in order to be "Christian.")

The real explanation for such an observation, and I am sure that Wendt would agree, lies not in the nature of the races themselves but in the nature of the missionary approach. To what extent has any sustained missionary endeavor ever attempted to communicate Christianity to the Pygmies, or to the Indians for that matter, in their own cultural sphere, in a truly indigenous form? Wendt puts his finger on the precise trouble spot in referring to "die very dangerous spiritual vacuum" resulting from an early, typical "civilizing" missionary approach among certain Papuans. Sufficient teaching was provided to successfully undermine the indigenous beliefs, but Christianity was not made culturally meaningful; therefore it was hindered from becoming spiritually meaningful.

Despite the above criticisms, many of which are to be expected in any semi-popular work attempting to cover so much ground, It Began in Babel is a valuable book. It is sure to leave a vivid and memorable impression of peoples, places, and times long passed upon the general reader, and also to create in him interest in more serious anthropology and its application to the development of modem man.-Reviewed by James 0. Buswell, III, Assistant Professor of Anibropology, Wbeaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

The Church and the Older Person, by Robert M. Gray and David 0. Moberg. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1962. 162 pp., $3.50.

This is a thought-provoking book that merits a wide reading. Social scientists will be stimulated by it to make further studies in this relatively untouched field, and pastors, social workers, and others who deal with practical problems will be helped by it. Dr. Gray is a sociologist at the University of Utah; Dave Moberg, of Bethel College, is well-known to readers of this journal.

The increase of the aged in the population is a social problem of significant implications which have not been grasped as yet by many. In 1900 one in every twenty-five persons in our total population was sixtyfive or over; in 1950 the ratio, was one in twelve and the rate was accelerating. The authors chose a chronological definition of "old age," recognizing that age is frequently a relative matter-President Kennedy is a 11 young" president, but a baseball player of the same age would be due for retirement. Far from being ideal 1. golden years" to be anticipated, old age for many proves to be filled with many problems-physical, economic, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Although these problems may be acute, the aged have been widely neglected both by church and societ7. The authors give a number of reasons for this neglect, pointing out that the values held in America tend to glorify youth above all other periods of life.

Moberg's doctoral dissertation, Religion and Personal Adjustment in Old Age, based on a study of 219 aged persons in seven institutions, indicates either that those who are well-adjusted engage in many religious activities or that engaging in such activities contributes to good personal adjustment in old age. Interview data from Gray's doctoral dissertation are cited to indicate seven contributions made by the church to adjustment of the aged: the church may alleviate anxiety concerning death; provide meaningful friendships and opportunities to participate in a social environment cordial to the aged; help the survivor adjust to the death of a spouse; give comfort in times of discouragement and crisis; and satisfy other basic socio-psychological needs. However, the authors also describe some of the real problems older people may face in the church: the feeling of being pushed aside by younger members; feelings of inferiority because of inability to give financial support or to dress well; difficulties with transportation, loss of hearing, increasing illness, etc., which make public worship less feasible or less joyful.

After presenting such data from sociological studies, the authors point out ten practical ways in which a church can better meet the needs of the aged, with emphasis on the role of the church in education-old people are able to grow mentally and to adjust to new circumstances, contrary to the opinions of many. In tarn, the final chapter of the book contains practical suggestions on what the older person can do for the church. While the authors believe that it would not be costly to put their suggestions into operation (except in terms of sacrificial love), they also believe that in terms of humanitarian and spiritual values, not to do so is tremendously expensive.

One appendix in the book cites the basic policy statement of the 1961 White House Conference on Aging and the recommendations of its section on religion; another contains suggestions for further study, several of which are particularly pertinent to the alert minister. It would be interesting to this reviewer to know whether liberal, conservative, or fundamentalistic churches tend to do the best job of showing intelligent love to the older persons in their midst.-Reviewed by Douglas A. Clark, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Wayland Baptist College, Plainview, Texas.

Evolution After Darwin: Vol. I. The Evolution of Life, ed. by Sol Tax. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1960. 629 pp- $10.

This is the first book in a three-volume series resulting from the Darwin Centennial Celebration held at the University of Chicago in 1959. The conference brought together leading scientists from eight nations for a compfeliensive and intensive examination of the impact of Darwin's ideas on all aspects of man and his known universe. Forty of the scientists who participated in panel discussions also prepared papers which were circulated in advance among the other participants; these authoritative papers comprise the first two volumes of this series, tracing the growth of evolutionary ideas over the past century and forecasting trends of research and thought in the century to come.

Contributors include such stalwarts as Julian Huxley, Harlow Shapley, Hans Gaffron, Earl Evans, Bernhard Rensch, George Simpson, E. B. Ford, C. L. Stebbins, A. E. Emerson, Ernst Mayr, C. H. Waddington, Th. Dobzhansky, Sewall Wright, A. J. Nicholson, Everett C. Olson, Marston Bates, C. L. Prosser, N. Tinbergen, and C. F. Gause. The content ranges from the origin of life itself to the alleviation of human suffering by genetical studies. This volume fairly portrays modern thinking on evolution exclusive of human evolution; it is certain to be the source book for a whole generation of biology textbook writers. It is written so well that most of it can be read by an intelligent layman, although some of it is "over the head" of many highly specialized scientists. Since it is impossible here to re view each chapter, a few remarks will have to suffice.

E. C. Olson dwells upon a facet of evolution scarcely touched upon in textbooks when he says that modern theory projects its generalizations from observations of very small changes over short periods of time to account for all evolutionary change. This kind of extrapolation of the widest order is not bad in itself unless someone becomes dogmatic in making the jump. Simpson makes the point that when the fossil species are compared to modem species quantitatively, we have a 0.03 per cent representation of possible forms in the fossil record. It is perfectly legitimate to make deductions from the data we have, but of course, here too, dogmatism is unseemly. Simpson also says that all sufficiently-known phyla and an absolute majority classes first appeared in the Cambrian and Ordovici To this reviewer it would seem therefore, that if organic evolution from simple to complex occurred, must largely have occurred prior to the beginning the record in the Cambrian-disregarding the supposed organic remains of the pre-Cambrian.

Finally, a quotation from Bergson presented Gaffron is well worth pondering, typifying as it does the evolutionary trends: - . . . a shell bursting into fragments which in tam burst and so on. All we see today are really the Last bursts.--Reviewed by Irving W. Knobloch, Professor of Botany, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.