Re: Social Problems and evolution

George Murphy (
Sat, 28 Feb 1998 07:52:29 -0500

Steven Schimmrich wrote:
> At 05:15 PM 2/27/98 -0600, Russell Maatman wrote:
> >
> >In my original article, posted in five parts (A to E), I was using the
> >complaints about species-ism as only one example of what can arise when one
> >accepts human descent from animals. Other bad things can flow from assuming
> >human evolution. My family observed this when we lived in Mississippi in
> >the late fifties and early sixties. I taught at the University of
> >Mississippi. The University students were radical--but not today's kind of
> >radical. They were radical racists. And so it was no particular
> >surprise--although extremely upsetting--to read (citing a nationally-known
> >anthropologist) in the student newspaper that blacks evolved several
> >hundred thousand years after whites, and so of course blacks were inferior.
> >I cannot demonstrate it, of course, but I have a strong suspicion that over
> >the world racism rests on the perception of different levels among human
> >beings, and that teaching human evolution has (unwittingly, I am sure)
> >reinforced that idea. I am NOT saying that your average racist is a
> >conscious evolutionist. But this average racist has some unexamined
> >assumptions, and it seems to me that were opposition to human evolution "in
> >the air," instead of the opposite, fewer people would have those bad
> >unexamined assumptions and, as a result, we would have less racism.
> I think this is nonsense. Religious belief in the historicity of Genesis
> has also been used to justify racism because of the curse of Ham in Genesis
> 9:25. There are no "different" evolutionary levels among human beings since
> we all belong to the same species (we can mate and produce fertile offspring).
> Some of the strongest opponents of the idea of using evolution to justify
> racism are evolutionists like Stephen Jay Gould (e.g. read his book "The
> Mismeasure of Man").

IMO Steve is completely correct. Furthermore, it's clear that,
historically, racist attitudes among Americans were around long before
human evolution was taken seriously by anyone. Of course if one is a
racist one can use use evolution, or Genesis 9, or whatever seems
authoritative, to justify it. & those evolution or the Bible can blame
those things for racism. But these are quite different from showing any
causak connection. _Post hoc ergo propter hoc_ is still a logical

George L. Murphy