Social problems and evolution

Russell Maatman (
Tue, 3 Mar 1998 16:00:00 -0600

To Steve Schimmrich, Janet Rice, Alan Harvey, Charles Cairns, George
Murphy, Bob De Haan, Glen Morton--and the others of the ASA listserv:

I've received quite a few responses in several threads, generally starting
with my "Social Problems" posts (Parts A-E) of February 12. I'll respond to
some of the most recent comments, mostly from the persons mentioned above.

1. Racism--again. I'd thought that in the last couple of decades
(especially since Kuhn) it's become generally accepted that nonscientific
ideas prevalent in a culture have almost unavoidably affected scientific
research. As I see it, it is therefore no surprise that Darwin indicates
his belief in "levels" in humankind even as he considers the nature of the
descent of man. That was the thing you did in the nineteenth century. He
also had the idea that women were inferior to men--a concept also relevant
to his studies. This latter aberration is so important that modern
evolutionists, women among them, have taken great pains to excise this idea
from Darwin's theory. (Alan: These ideas "crept into" Darwin's work because
they were related to what he was studying. Understandably, then, we don't
find these ideas in Maxwell's and Boltzmann's physics.) Has there been a
reverse effect, that is, has belief in human evolution fortified modern
racist ideas? Here the picture is very confused because some racists attack
belief in human evolution, while other racists use that belief. I would be
the first to admit that the former group is much, much larger. But in my
Mississippi experience (I really don't like personalizing this question) I
saw some racists attack the evolutionary belief, while _at the same time_
other racists used it to fortify their theory. (It's not so unusual for
nonscientists to use scientific ideas to justify their ideas; think of the
way relativists have claimed that Einstein said everything is relative; or
of what's happened re chaos theory, entropy, uncertainty, etc. A scientific
idea that gets bandied about that way better be correct; else, scientists
will be partially responsible for some ideas nonscientists hold.)

2. Image. It seems to me that we cannot understand Christ's restoration of
the image of God in men and women unless we realize that the need for
restoration arose when Adam and Eve, having been given that image, sinned
and therefore broke that image. I like the "relation" idea that has been
suggested (as I mentioned in an earlier post), provided we understand that
"image" is not equivalent to relation, but that the relations we have--to
God, to Creation, to each other--are made _possible_ because we possess
that image.

3. Genesis 1 and 2 and pre-Adamic image bearers. If Christ restores the
broken image (Paul) and, also according to Paul, Christ restores what Adam
broke, then what happens to the theory that there were pre-Adamic image
bearers? Also, is it correct (as Glen maintains) that Dick Fischer's theory
divides the human race in two? I admit I'm probably guilty of not studying
the claims re pre-Adamites carefully enough.

I hope this post isn't too long. Thanks, if you got this far!


Russell Maatman
Home: 401 5th Avenue
Sioux Center, IA 51250