There I found myself, in the unfortunate position of stumbling into a conversation with a Scientian (my word).
You know who I mean.
Stereotypically, they are the atheist type who claims they have no religion, are completely anti-establishment as relates to any formalized religion, are prone to outright mock the ‘fantasy’ of religion, and maybe they say they believe in ‘spirituality alone’ or other such similar things.
But then they start talking, and they eventually bring the subject around to science, and then you see what their real religion is.
The scientists they love are as Gods to them, their words heard as ‘facts’ so golden and untouchable as to be gospel.
Above all, they tolerate no other Gods before their true Gods.
So there I was, with this God-forsaking science worshiper bluntly telling me that the fools who were revered in The Age of Enlightenment had created racism in this world by creating the concept of separate races based on physiological differences.
I have to admit to being somewhat taken aback. It is not often, after all, that I hear someone throw around references to people like Voltaire, Newton, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Descartes, Hobbes, and Adam Smith as… all fools in their view.
Of course I was curious.
“Why?” I wondered aloud, the burning question having been seated right besides the niggling curiosity over whether or not she was a bit touched.
Ah but perhaps I should have known, never to underestimate a Scientians’ ability to state guesswork as certain truth.
“Because they have been proven wrong. We all emerged from South Africa. We are all black people. And apes.” She retorted smugly.
“Mmhhm.” I got mentally sidetracked contemplating whether or not it was considered politically correct or not to infer that black people were apes.
I couldn’t help myself.
“Well then, you must not have heard about the new fossils.” I said slowly. “It is fairly new, after all. Only a year or two old, I’m sure many people don’t know yet.”
“What fossils??” She demanded to know with a sudden hitch to her voice.
“Well you know, of course, that humans were biologically categorized a long time ago as three primary groups, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid? And that some suggested a Native peoples variant as a possible fourth, and a few other variations, but there was argument over whether or not they were unique variants or —”
“Yes yes, I know all that. It’s how racism started.” She jumped in impatiently.
“So… it seems they found another one. The Mongoloid ancestor remains, in Asia. So now we have two, the Negroid and the Mongoloid.”
She quickly inserted something about how she’d have to go look that up and scurried off for what seemed to be a hot date with Google and the last couple of years of science research. (I’ll save you the trouble and give you a couple of links to get you started.)
No doubt, she will find some way to rationalize the discovery and fit it neatly into what she wants to believe about her religion.
The truth is that scientific ‘fact’ is being rewritten all the time.
Which is to say that it was clearly not fact, merely theory treated as such, but there seems to be a generational problem with being able to tell the difference.
For years now it has been the ‘out of Africa, one origin ancestor’ but this past year or so there has been much talk about the discovery of parts of an originating ancestor found which is the Asian precursor.
Of course, that discovery has ended up leading down a couple of roads of new unfounded assumptions.
The first I’ve heard is that science needs to figure out how this new discovery ‘fits’ into the ‘out of Africa’ story, and that has lead to some people wanting to say that they came from Asia to Africa and then left again. It appears that concept derives from a protective response related to having invested so much time and energy and research (and reputation?) into this ‘out of Africa’ concept that it is ‘too big to fail.’
Likewise there are others who are saying that it means we have found now 2 skeletal remains (one African, one Asian), in 2 different geographical locations, both ancient and different enough to be each their own origin piece, and that it means we have merely to locate yet the 3rd (that being the Caucasoid ancestor) because we have now found 2 early human origin ancestors.
Who knows. We may scrap all our racial designations and redo them all in another couple of hundred years. One of these days I’ll write about the debacle that has been the different methods of dating artifacts and how much of a mess that is.
And on the whole bit about racism… no, I don’t think it is offensive to say there are races.
If you can discern, from a skeleton, significant enough differences to classify people accurately according to their race, then the differences are real – at least on a biological/structural level.
It doesn’t mean any one is better than another, and it is no more wrong than pointing out that a Labrador is physiologically different from a Collie, or that a boy is has physical variations from a girl.
The only thing I wish is that scientists would stop rushing to act as if the very first discovery is necessarily the last because it supports what they have already decided.
Even more concerning, does any discovery have a legitimate claim to be the ultimate proof of anything definitively, since we have no idea what we will discover in the future?
Of course, if nothing can be proven, and it is all belief, then Scientians have a good start to their religious texts.