Jon Garvey: Playing the Racist Card

In response to this comment by @Robert:

@jongarvey posts a very cogent reply: Playing the racist card | The Hump of the Camel

Joshua (far more than I, despite my working with GAE for a decade now) was from the start tarred with the dreaded brush of racism at BioLogos . In the first instance, this arose from a simple lack of comprehension of the GAE argument, decrying the possible division of the present human race into Adamic humans and some kind of subhumans who might suffer discrimination. This would presumably come from bands of marauding Christians brandishing copies of Rohde’s Nature paper as clubs.

But of course, the entire theory is about the current genealogical unity of humanity (a requirement of Christian theology) despite the special character (in some way open to discussion) of a recent Adam and Eve. So far the only flag waved for actual non-Adamic humans in our time has come from postulating that Tasmanian aborigines were uniquely isolated when discovered, and so might be seen by some as non-Adamic.

This is entirely academic, as far as the risk of “Non-adamophobia” goes, because it’s likely that the last pure-bred Tasmanian died in 1876. If there happened to be any today, they would be indistinguishable from those having mixed aboriginal and European (and therefore Adamic) ancestry. It’s hard to imagine bands of racist GAE supporters organising DNA testing in order to be able to discriminate against the handful of non-Adamic people they conceived might exist in Tasmania if GAE is wrong!

It’s true that the Tasmanians suffered terribly both from malicious and unintended genocide (and the story is more complex than often described), but not only did that occur a couple of centuries before the GAE hypothesis ever arose, but long after the 1656 non-Adamite theory of La Peyrère had ceased to have any traction on anthropologists or colonial powers. The Tasmanians were abused by those who, presumably, believed they too were children of Adam, probably even uninfluenced by the evolutionary racism of Galton or Haeckel at that early time.

Yet at Peaceful Science yesterday a skeptic (“atheist trending agnostic”) couldn’t resist playing the race card to smear the theory by commenting that in a previous GAE discussion: “some shockingly racist opinions [were] being expressed about non-Adamic humans.”

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@jongarvey the thing I can’t figure out is that Denis Alexander, John Walton, and all the “recent representative Adam” scholars were all implicitly teaching that there are, to this day, many non-Adamic people out and about.

So why exactly decry me for saying, “well, actually, in those scenarios we all descend from Adam and Eve, and there are not any more any non-Adamic people around”? Why would that claim be judged as toeing the line with “dangerous” theology, when the recent representative crowd was actually affirming non-Adamic humans in present day?

That is a puzzle for which I’ve never found a satisfactory answer.

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It’s tempting to conclude that “racist” has become just a handy way of demonising positions you disagree with.

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It’s still bizarre that some people in this organization have been making that accusation to this day. The embrace of, for example, Walton, while labeling my work this way is just incoherent.

To be clear, Walton’s position is not racist either, but his work is under the presumption that non-Adamic people still are out there. I’m just pointing out that is not the case.

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Quite so - as I’ve said before, the Rohde/Olson/Chang work was done specifically to show the biological futility of racism. There is no reason why the same is not true of GAE - except cheap denigration.

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But why? I still don’t have a handle on the answer to why yet…

I’m not sure a rational answer is to be found when people can make charges of racism against long-dead people they don’t even believe in anyway! It’s like accusing children at a Peter Pan pantomime of racism against fairies if they say they don’t believe in them.

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Well, I think they are implying “if it were true” then it would be racist, "therefore it is not true” or at least “we shouldn’t even consider if it’s true.” There are a lot of problems with that logic but I’m not sure it fails merely because they don’t think its true.

Personally, though, I think it fails because you can no more exhibit racism towards the long-dead than you can commit genocide on them. Otherwise, all historical disagreements about whether Genghiz Khan was a wise ruler or an evil butcher would be reduced to whether the historian is a racist.

Robert Byers makes one good point in a rambling post on this over at The Hump - there is an unspoken rule in polite society that all “humans” (undefined) are equal in every way. Clearly that has practical value in anathematising active prejudice against certain groups (monkey noises made by racists to black football players was prominent in the news here today).

But in fact it’s a polite fiction, as shown by the very fact that black players are greatly over-represented in English football, because they tend, overall, to be better at it - just as Kenyans seem to excel at long-distance running and Nepalese at altitude work. This does not contradict the truth, shown not least by GAE, that these are close family differences, not barriers… don’t the woke say that diversity, not uniformity, is our strength?

Perhaps society works better for ignoring any actual genetic differences, but to prefer the “social fix” in historical matters is absurd - and even more so when it overlaps with evolutionary science.

On any model other than 6-day creation, there was a time when some within the human population had language, and some far away did not; when some had gained or lost something through hybridization with Neanderthals and some had not. We already know that if evolution is true, some humans were profoundly different from us, to the extent thatr at some point in the continuum we would no longer call them human.What’s the big deal about Adam?

So maybe the problem with GAE and racism is a subtler form of the irrational “Yuk” factor about intermarriage: critical people have no clear idea what they mean by “human,” but they know for sure that all humans are, were, and ever more shall be not only of equal value in God’s eyes, but indistinguishable in their characteristics.

Since that belief has no foundation in any factual evidence, it can only be a kind of religious dogma or taboo, and (as Byers rightly says) you and I can never win with them.

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I’d say that straw dead horse is pretty well done in by now. I have questions.

Why not? If racism is an attitude, why can’t you exhibit racism toward the long-dead?

This should be a red flag for you.

Only if language pops up instantly rather than evolving gradually. Why would you think this?

Depends on what the difference is between Adam and the people (or are they people?) outside the garden. Consider an extreme case: what if those outside the garden were chimpanzees?

Show me one person who has that opinion.

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@jongarvey,

Nice clarifications!

It would also be a pseudoscientific test. Genetic test can’t tell us reliably about genealogical descent in this way.

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Yes but I’ve been clear from the beginning that they are biologically identical to AE and fully human.

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@jongarvey

This is one of the reasons I prefer GAE scenarios where Adam/Eve appear anywhere between 6000 ya and 10,000 ya.