Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor

Evolution Not Open to Racism
Mark K. Presis 
5013 Anita Lane 
Santa Barbara, Calif. 93105

From: JASA 21 (June 1969): 60

After reading the contribution by Russell Maatman on "Biological Evolution" (Journal ASA 20, 119
(1968) ), I took note of a series of statements, which leave much to be desired.

His statement that the "evolutionist allows for differences between groups of men, depending upon how far along the evolutionary path each group has travelled", which "leaves the door open to racism" is indeed in error. We must first look at the purpose of the A.S.A.

"The A.S.A. studies relationships between Christianity and science in the conviction that the frameworks of scientific knowledge and evangelical Christian faith are compatible."

With this in mind, we could say we have two classes of evolutionists, the informed and the uninformed. The informed evolutionist is the scientist, the anthropologist, archaeologist, ethnologist, sociologist. The uninformed evolutionist is the one who does not take the time to study his position. Therefore, the latter's view is not within the "framework of scientific knowledge."

To quote Clifford Geertz, Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology, Univ. of Chicago, ("The Transition to Humanity", Horizons of Anthropology, edited by Sol Tax, 1964.)

"The established fact that there are no significant differences in innate mental capacity among the living races of man is not contradicted, but if anything supported and deepened by the postulation of differences in the capacity to acquire culture among different farms of presapieos men. The physical divergence of the human races is, of course, a very recent matter, beginning perhaps only fifty thousand years or so ago, or, by the most conservative estimates, less than one hundredth of the length of the whale hominid, i.e., man forming, line. Thus mankind has not only spent the overwhelming proportion of its history in an altogether common evolutionary process, but this period now seems to have been precisely the one during which the fundamental features of its humanity were forged. Modern races are just that: modern. They represent very late, and very secondary, adaptation in skin color, facial structure, etc-probably mainly to climatic differences-as Homo sapiens dispersed throughout the world toward the close of the glacial period."

When we speak of mankind, we must, therefore, throw "race" out the window, for, truly, no such thing as race exists, We are all of one, and only one, species, Homo sapiens, evolving from one common ancestor.
If one still insists on using the term "race" to distinguish peoples, lie must then refer this definition to cultural, not biological, development. To this most can subscribe, being basically ethnocentric, that there exist cultures, at a lower cultural evolutionary level, but certainly not men on a lower biological level.

Without expounding at great length concerning my own views, I visualize the biological evolution of mankind as the most beautiful, most Divinely guided, and obviously the most important of all of God's creations, and if this view is not compatable with the Bible, I pray that God will show me the way.