Remember my preference

 

Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V


     

Part V: A Christian World View: The Framework of History

Chapter 5

Theology and Science

     IT IS CUSTOMARY to view Western Man as the most inventive creature who ever lived, and other peoples as unimaginative and backward by comparison. For this reason it has never surprised those who write textbooks of history that our own civilization has advanced so far ahead of all that had preceded it. Obviously we are more inventive, so we have achieved a higher civilization.
     Very few people until quite recent]y were aware of the achievements of other ancient and modern cultures whichl have not shared our tradition. It had been popularly admitted tllat their arts and architecture were remarkable enough; but their technology was of little account except for the occasional odd device like the compass or a very inefficient gunpowder. The indebtedness of our own technology to others completely escaped notice, and even now is not widely recognized.
     However, with every study in depth of the historical background of technology in the Western World, it becomes more and more apparent, difficult though it may be to believe, that Indo-Europeans are basically uninventive. And the same may be said with equal force of the Semitic people, including the Arabs whose contribution to our civilization in the field of technology can be shown to have been that of "carriers" of the genius of others rather than innovators themselves.
     One often hears it said that many notable advances are owed to outstanding Jewish scientists. This is undoubtedly true. But as Jessie Bernard has pointed out, it is not the Jews who remain true to their cultural heritage who contribute in this way; it is

     pg 1 of 17     

those, like Freud and Einstein and even in a sense the Apostle Paul who break with that tradition in thought and language, identifying themselves with Japheth. (147)
     The inventiveness of Hamitic peoples has been elaborated at considerable length in another Doorway Paper and we shall not unnecessarily repeat what is said there.
(148) However, some repetition is desirable to put the picture into focus. But for the most part we will give some further illustrations of a historical circumstance which can be documented so completely that no serious student can any longer doubt the fact either of the uninventiveness of Japheth and Shem or the genius in this direction of Ham.
     What follows must inevitably read rather like a catalogue for, after all, that is essentially what it is. To fill out the context of each statement would lengthen the paper undesirably, but the reader will have the documentation in full and can therefore look up the context for himself and judge whether there is any exaggeration.
      Consider first a few random quotations from widely separated sources, separated both in time and space. George Sarton has quoted Hudson as having remarked in 1892:
(149)

     It is sad to reflect that all our domestic animals have descended to us from those ancient times which we are accustomed to regard as dark and barbarous, while the effect of our modern so-called humane civilization has been purely destructive of animal life.

     It is true that there is one animal we may have been responsible for domesticating, though under somewhat amusing circumstances. Sarton commented: (150)

     The only animal domesticated in historic times is the ostrich; this was a poor achievement which was justified only because some women and generals wanted feathers for their hats.

     All the archaeological researches and studies of other cultures

147. Bernard, Jessie, "Can Science Transcend Culture?" Scientific Monthly, Oct., 1950, p.271.
148. "The Technology of Hamitic People", Part IV in Noah's Three Sons, vol.1 of The Doorway Papers Series.
149. Hudson, W. H., quoted by George Sarton, A History of Science, Harvard, 1952, p.5, footnote 2. The destructiveness of Western Man in this respect is appalling. According to Dr. James M. Dolan, associate curator of the San Diego Zoological Gardens, more than forty kinds of mammals have been exterminated by man since the beginning of the present century (Letter to the Editor, Time, Feb. 23, 1968, p.8).
150. Sarton, George, A History of Science, Harvard, 1952, p.5.

     pg.2 of 17     

since that time have not essentially altered the picture. Carleton S. Coon has stated categorically: "Linguists tell us that Indo-European speakers did not initially domesticate one useful animal or one cultivated plant.'' (l5l)
     W. J. Perry, whose reconstructions of history are not too well accepted since he believed that every cultural element spread only by diffusion and never by independent invention, was nevertheless essentially correct when he wrote, "The Celts, like the Teutons, never invented anything; the whole of their culture shows signs of derivation from the Mediterranean.''
(l52) And Lord Raglan said the same thing with respect to the Romans, "The old Roman ritual gave little encouragement to inventiveness, and later cults were imported ready-made from the East. As a result, the Romans invented almost nothing.'' (l53) Or to quote Joseph Needham again, "The only Persian invention of first rank was the windmill. . . .  And unless the rotary quern be attributed to them, the ancient Europeans of the Mediterranean Basin launched only one valuable mechanical technique, namely, the pot chain pump." (154)
     Speaking of how little Europeans contributed to the know-how of the American Indians within their own environrnent, J. Grahame Clark observed, "During the four centuries since the Discovery (1492) the White Man had failed to make a single contribution of importance.''
(l55)
     What has been said of Indo-Europeans is true of the Semites also. Thus, speaking of the Babylonians and Assyrians (both Semitic) who succeeded the Hamitic Sumerians in Mesopotamia, Vere G. Childe said, "In the next two millennia one can scarcely point to a first class invention or discovery. . . ." Childe mentions two possible exceptions -- the alphabet and iron smelting.
(l50) There is some doubt, however, about the latter. It seems more likely that the credit for this must go to the Hittites, (l57) who,

151. Coon, Carleton S., The Races of Europe, Macmillan, New York, 1939, p.178.
152. Perry, W. J., The Growth of Civilization, Penguin, London, 1937, p.157.
153 Raglan, Lord, How Came Civilization?, Methuen, London, 1939, p. 179.
154. Needham, Joseph, Science and Civilization in China, Cambridge, vol.1, 1954, p.240.
155. Clark, J. Grahame D., "New World Origins," Antiquity, June, 1940, p.118.
156. Childe, Vere Gordon, New Light on the Most Ancient East, Kegan Paul, London, 1935, p.203.
157. Hittites and iron smelting: see Sabatino Moscati, Ancient Senetic Civilizations, Elek Books, London, 1957, p.52.

     pg.3 of 17     

although their ruling class appears to have been Indo-European (somewhat analogous to the situation in early Indian history) are nevertheless placed within the family of Ham in Genesis 10. Indeed, they may conceivably be related to the Chinese who also made extensive use of cast iron long before the Indo-Europeans had learned to use it. As far as I know, the raw materials did not exist in Mesopotamia. Ralph Linton supported Childe in his contention when he observed categorically, "Not a single item of later technology was introduced by the invading Semites": (158) they were strictly "invaders" coming into possession of Sumerian civilization ready-rnade. Elsewlhere Linton also noted that "the Semitic language triumphed but not a single item of the later technology was introduced by them." (159)
     As for the Arabs, who are essentially Semitic, though somewhat mixed because they have always been great traders and travellers, Lord Raglan having discussed the uninventiveness of the Romans, said:
(160)

     Much the same can be said for the Moslems. There was a period of mild inventiveness while their religion was settling down into various sects, but since that process was completed about 900 years ago, no Moslem has invented anything.

     Yet this is quite contrary to popular opinion. Their role as carriers from the Far East and from Africa has led to the somewhat widespread belief that they originated what we received from them. But on this point Rene Albrecht-Carrie wrote: (101)

     What is really relevant in this context is that the Arabs -- or ratler the wide variety of peoples whom they brought under their control and who came to pass under their name -- were not so rnuch innovators as collectors, organizers, synthesizers, and, most important, carriers of the contributions of other times and peoples. This is not to deny or minimize the crucial importance of their role or to ignore the fact that they made some valuable contributions of their own, but it remains largely true that the initiation of the "Scientific Revolution" was not of their own making. Nevertheless to this rnaking they contributed mightily. . . . But the Arab contribution was, to repeat, mainly in the form of a transfer of ancient learning.

     The role of thle Arabs has been remarked upon by a number

158. Linton, Ralph, The Tree of Culture, Knopf, New York, 1956, p.300.
159. Ibid.
160. Raglan, Lord, How Came Civilization, Methuen, London, 1939, p.179.
161. Albrecht-Carrie, Rene, "Of Science, Its History and the Teaching Thereof,'' Scientific Monthly, July, 1951, p.19. Even the so-called Arabic numerals are of Indian origin (Ralph Linton, The Tree of Culture, Knopf, New York, 1956, p.295.

     pg.4 of 17     

of writers in recent years. Arthur Koestler in his study of man's changing views of the universe and speaking of the dawn of the Renaissance has confirmed Carrie's observations in a way that contributes to my thesis very pointedly. He wrote: (162)

     But the Arabs had merely been go-betweens, preservers and transmitters of the heritage (i.e., of Classical Greek philosophy) up into Europe. They had little scientific originality or creativeness of their own. During the centuries when they were the sole keepers of the (Greek) treasure, they did little to put it to use. They improved on calendrical astronomy and made excellent planetary tables; they elaborated both the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic models of the Universe; they imported into Europe the Indian system of numerals based on the syrmbol zero, the sine function, and the use of algebraic methods, but they did not advance theoretical science. The majority of the scholars who wrote in Arabic were not Arabs but Persians Jews, and Nestorians; and by the 15th century, the scientific heritage of Islam had largely been taken over by the Portuguese Jews. But the Jews, too, were no more than go-betweens, a branch of the devious (cultural) "gulf-stream" which brought back to Europe its Greek and Alexandrian heritage, enriched by Indian and Persian additions. It is a curious fact that the Arabic-Judaic tenure of this vast body of knowledge which lasted two or three centuries, remained barren; whilst as soon as it was reincorporated into Latin civilization, it bore immediate and abundant fruit.

     Similarly, Desmond Stewart, writing on "Early Islam," observed: (163)

Although ninth century Muslims had a passionate desire to learn what the Greeks had discovered, they were lirnited by two factors. First, the only manuscripts accessible to them were those that had been preserved by the late Greek schools, thus Homer and Sophocles were not to enter the Islamic heritage, because these Hellenistic schools had shown no concern for drama and poetry.
     Second, the Muslim's own primary interest was in practical rnatters, and it was mainly the works of Greek physicians, astronomers, mathematicians and geographers that appeared anew in Arabic dress. Although Greek philosoply had no such practical value, it was related to Greek science and was therefore translated along with the other works.

     Thus the Arabs were not really interested in Greek literature in so far as it was philosophical but only in so far as it had practical

162. Koestler, Arthur, The Sleepwalkers, Hutchinson, London, 1959, p.105.
163. Stewart, Desrnond, Early Islam, in The Great Ages of Man, Time-Life Publication, New York, 1967, p.85.

     pg.5 of 17     


importance. (l64) Although the Greeks themselves were not practically minded, it is notewortlly that they did regard science as a branch of philosophy, and in fact did not discern between the two. We have perpetuated this by calling a scientist a Doctor of Philosophy.
     The Arabs seem to have contributed to the sum total of the world's philosophical wealth, but it is an appearance only: as Sir Edward S. Creasy wrote some years ago:
(165)

     Much of Hindoo science and philosophy, much of the literature of the later Persian kingdom of the Arsacidae, either originated from, or was largely modified by Grecian influences (arising from the conquests of Alexander the Great). So also, the learning and science of the Arabians were in a far less degree the result of original invention and genius, than the reproduction, in an altered form, of the Greek philosophy, and the Greek lore acquired by the Saracenic conquerors, together with their acquisition of the provinces which Alexander had subjugated nearly a thousand years before the armed disciples of Mohammed commenced their career in the East.

    St. Chad Boscawan, one of the earlier cuneiform scholars to popularize the findings of archaeology in the Middle East, came to the same conclusion with respect to Babylonians: "There is a powerful element in the Semitic character which has been, and still is, a most important factor in their national life: it is that of adaptability. Inventors they have never shown themselves to be.'' (166) As an illustration of this adaptability, James Breasted points out some of the borrowings of the Babylonians from the Sumerians. He wrote: (167)

     Some of the Semites now learned to write their Semitic tongue by using Sumerian cuneiform signs for the purpose. The Semites in time, therefore, adopted their script, their weights, their measures, their mathematics, their system of numerals, their business terms, and a large measure of their judiciary systems.

    The extent of this borrowing is reminiscent of the borrowings of the Romans from the Etruscans. Authorities are still not

164. Fothergill, Philip C., Historical Aspects of Organic Evolution, Hollis & Carter, London, 1952, p.9.
165. Creasy, Sir Edward Shepperd, "The Battle of Arbela" in Decisive Battles of the World, vol.10 of The World's Great Classics, Colonial Press, New York, 1900, p.62.
166. Boscawen, St. Chad, The Biole and the Monuments, Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1896, p.18.
167. Breasted, James, Ancient Times: A History of the Ancient World, Ginn, New York., 1935, p.160.

     pg.6 of 17     


in complete agreement about the origin of the Etruscans, but one thing upon which there is unanimity of opinion is that their language was not Indo-European. (168) Sir Gavin de Beer in a broadcast in England, observed: (169

     It may seem remote to us (to ask who the Etruscans were) and yet it affects us closely for the following reasons. We regard the Romans as our civilizers, and we look up to them as the inventors of all sorts of things that they taught us. But it is now clear that, in their turn, the Romans learned many of these things from the Etruscans.

     George Rawlinson, the great Orientalist and Classical Scholar, says in this regard: (170)

     The Romans themselves notwithstanding their intense national vanity acknowledged this debt to some extent and adlmitted that they derived from the Etruscans their augery, their religious ritual, their robes and other insignia of office, their games and shows, their earliest architecture, their calendar, their weights and measures, their land surveying systems, and various other elements of their civilization. But there is reason to believe that their acknowledgment fell short of their actual obligations and that Etruria was really the source of their whole early civilization.

     To this list D. Randall MacIver adds their military organization, and in all probability, even the name of the city itself. (17l)
     To return for a moment to the Arabs: R. F. Grau pointed out that the pure Arabs developed "no new industry or technique or trade. Tle only thing they did invent was a new style of architecture.''
(172) This situation is complicated somewhat by the fact that in the so-called Golden Age of Islam they owed much to Persian influences. J. J. Winter remarks that the language of Iran had at that time assumed a new significance, and those who wrote in this language made the greatest contribution. (173) This, it seems to me, tends to favour my argument, for the language of Iran belongs within the Indo-European family, and some of the

165. Tz'he Etruscans not Indo-Europeans: M. Pallottino, The Etruscans, Penguin Books, London, 1955, p.26.
169. De Beer, Sir Gavin, "Who Were the Etruscans?" reported in The Listener, BBC, London, Dec. 8, 1955, p.989.
170. Rawlinson, George, The Origin of Nations, Scribner, New York, 1878, p.111.
171. MacIvor, D. Randall, "The Etruscans," Antiquity, June, 1927, p.171.
172. Grau, R. F., The Goal of the Human Race, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton & Kent, London, 1892, pp.88, 91.
173. Winter, H. J. J., "Muslim Mechanics and Mechanical Appliances," Endeavour, Jan., 1956, pp.25, 26.

     pg.7 of 17     


best known Arab writers who used this language, such as Ibn Sina (930-1037), were noted for their "theoretical postulates." Some extracts are given by Winter of Sina's postulates, and these are completely in the tradition of modern scientific observation. Some Islamic treatises dealt with ingenious mechanical contrivances, but the contrivances were elaborate water clocks derived from China.
     As we have already noted, Semites have indeed made notable contributions to the technology of civilization, as for example, Weismann in chemistry and Einstein in physics. But as we have also noted, they were Semites who had adopted an alien culture. In this connection Jessie Bernard observes:
 (174)

     It is not the Jews who remain within their cultural setting who make the greatest contribution. . . . It is only, as Veblen says, "When the gifted Jew escapes from the cultural environment created and fed by the genius of his own people, and becomes a naturalized, though hyphenate, citizen in the Gentile republic of learning that he comes into his own as a creative leader in the world's intellectual enterprise."

     I think this is a significant circumstance, for in a manner of speaking Shem and Japheth are combined in one individual and the amalgam sometimes bears quite exceptional fruit. Perhaps if we knew enough of the background of certain individuals in terms of their genetics as well as their early culture contacts and the influence of other minds upon their own as they matured, we might find that some of the exceptionally outstanding individuals of Renaissance and later times owed their extraordinary ability to a kind of mixed "inheritance" from Shem, Ham and Japheth which came together in them as individuals due to circumstances. It would appear to me that the vitality of the New World, especially for a certain period of its history, may have resulted from a similar mixing, as a result of tremendous immigrational influx of people from all over the world to form a kind of Shem-Ham-Japheth potpourri. Little by little as the patterns of thought and native languages of these immigrants were exchanged for the English of the Americas, the capacity may to some extent have declined, although so long as its culture remains basically Christian there will continue to be an amalgam at least of Shem and Japheth. Perhaps we are making a mistake in not recognizing the capabilities of the native Indian population in the Americas, although as these people also forsake their

174. Bernard, Jessie, "Can Science Transcend Culture", Scientific Monthly, Oct., 1950, p.271.

     pg.8 of 17     


native languages their own special capability may be depressed or surrendered altogether.
     Sir Flinders Petrie, speaking of the cycles of civilization, which have so intrigued philosophers of history, says in this connection:
(175)

     We have represented the wave of Civilization as falling to a minimum, and suddenly rising again. To what is this change due? In every case in which we can examine the history sufficiently we find that there was a fresh wave coming into the country when the earlier wave was at its lowest.
     In short, every civilization of a settled population tends to incessant decay from its maximum condition, and this decay continues until it is too weak to initiate anything, when a fresh race comes in and utilizes the old stock to graft on, both in blood and culture.

     This has been the case, it seems, in both tlhe Old and the New World. Ernst Kretschmer arrived at the conclusion, in regard to the share that the Nordic race has had in Western Culture, that their most marked contributions were developed only in those regions where this race has been exposed to intensive mixture with other races. (176) And he holds it to be certain that regions inhabited by tlie purest Nordic breeds are relatively poor in genius and cultural activity. The most advanced European cultures never had their spiritual centres, he argues, in Scandinavia, in the northern coasts of Germany, or in Scotland: but always where racial mixture has taken place.
     The sudden emergence of lligh civilizations in the New World in pre-Columbian times is not so easy to account for. But the sudden upsurge in the New World since the Discovery is surely traceable to this factor of race mixture. Speaking of this, Harry L. Shapiro pointed out that, although the figures are very approxirnate only, there are sorne six million people of mixed racial origin in Europe, whereas the relative number of people of mixed racial origin in the New World is vastly greater so that, as he puts it, "we can have little hesitation in recognizing that the latter is the main centre of race mixture in modern times."
(177) And in the same way Fenton B. Turck says: (178)

175. Petrie, Sir Flinders, Revolutions of Civilization, Harper, London, 1911, p.114.
176. Kretschmer, Ernst, quoted by Franz Weidenreich, Apes, Giants and Man, University of Chicago Press, ]948, p.90.
177. Shapiro, Harry L., Race Mixture, The Race Question in Modern Science, UNESCO, 1953, p.21.
178. Turck, Fenton B., "The American Explosion," Scientific Monthly, Sept., 1952, p.191.

     pg.9 of 17     


Americans have captured the extraordinary vitality which Science has proved is typical of the first few generations of a people with mixed blood strains.

     This shows to some extent why ancient high civilizations did not proceed further. Their World View so homogenized their own particular culture that they were not willing or capable of accommodating much in the way of an exchange of values or ideas. Some exchange occurred of course, but not comparable at all to the phenomenon of our own age. And in primitive society the pattern is even more concretely apparent. Such societies are in most cases so homogeneous that any disruption of the pattern practically destroys the whole structure. And this has been the testimony of history ever since the White Man began to explore and exploit the world for himself from the destruction of the Indus Valley culture by the Aryans to the virtual destruction of American Indian culture. C. G. Seligman has noted the same thing about China: (179)

     The T'ang period perhaps that of China's greatest brilliance was marked by the influx and ready acceptance of foreigners and of foreign (Western and Indian) ideas.

     E. B. Reuter, of the University of Iowa, published a paper on the consequences of race mixture some years ago in which he gave illustrations of the remarkable results of "mixed blood" both in societies and in individuals so long as the culture does not degrade individuals of mixed blood socially. (180) At the time he made it in 1930 this was quite a bold statement, because much was then being made of the desirability of purity of racial origins. The argument of Kretschmer is given added weight by the observation of Reuter: (181)

     The same general position is supported by a body of negative evidence. The population groups in the modern world with the highest approximation to racial purity are just those groups of most meagre cultural accomplishment. The fragments of primitive groups still living are the purest in blood and the lowest in culture of existing
populations. . . .

     The thesis of this paper is strongly reinforced by a statement made by J. C. Curry: (182)

179. Seligman, C. G., "The Roman Orient and the Far East," Antiquity, Mar., 1937, p.10.
180. Reuter, E. B., "Civilization and the Mixture of Races," Scientific Monthly, Nov., 1930, pp.442f.
181. Ibid., p.446.
182. Curry, J. C., "Climate and Migrations," Antiquity, No.7, 1928, p.301.

     pg.10 of 17     


     After the third migratory period, civilization burst suddenly into full flower along the southern slopes of the mountain chain, in India, in Persia, in Asia Minor, in Greece, and in Italy. In each case it occurred after a fusion of the Aryan, or Indo-European, races with the earlier inhabitants in a climate suitable to agriculture and to a high stage of development of the Indo-European.

     Reference to the potential contribution of the American Indians brings us to a counter consideration, namely, the non-philosophical nature of the members of the family of Ham. For we have now considered briefly some of the evidence which shows that (1) Semites have been religiously inclined but not inventive, and (2) Japhethites intellectually inclined but also not inventive. We have now to show that the Hamites are inventive but not philosophically minded taking the word philosophy to mean something more than merely wisdom in dealing with life situations. Carpenter, in a lecture in the University of Toronto dealing with native ways of handling abnormal individuals within their own community, noted that some research had been done by Indo-Europeans using these abnormal individuals as subjects. Carpenter observed: "The results showed nothing except in several instances a tendency towards abstract thinking." This is an incidental observation, yet it is interesting because it suggests what Levy-Bruhl and others have noted at some length, namely, that native people on the whole look upon abstract thinking as a rather foolish waste of time. Indeed, in so far as it involves dealing with situations which are entirely hypothetical, i.e., which are contrary to present fact, many native people, as we have noted, find themselves quite unable even to contemplate the abstractions.
     Levy-Bruhl, because of an unfortunate choice of a descriptive term for this kind of native thinking, which he decided to refer to as "prelogical," but which his readers misunderstood to mean "illogical," brought himself and his ideas into disrepute. (
183) This was indeed unfortunate because his researches were based not upon personal judgments, but upon the experiences and conclusions and findings of a very large number of individuals who had personal acquaintance with primitive cultures, as well as non-Indo-European cultures of a higher order from every part of the world. So he was not really expressing an opinion, but pointing up a conclusion which was logically to be drawn

183. Levy-Bruhl, Lucien, How Natives Think, Allen & Unwin, London, 1926.

     pg.11of 17     


from the evidence of a great number of different sources all of which were in essential agreement. These other cultures, primitive and civilized, were not illogical but did not readily think in abstract terms or use languages which, as a reflection of this, were highly specific in their vocabulary and in many cases virtually prohibited the formation of generalizations. Paul Radin, in protest against the above conclusions, has written a book entitled, Primitive Man As Philosopher. In this he tries to show that the American Indians often thought deeply about philosophical problems that were in no sense directed toward practical ends but constituted pure intellectual exercise. However, again and again in his book he refers to the individuals whom he quotes as having been strongly influenced by the white man and Christian missionaries. He admits this frankly, but in doing so, it appears to me that his subjects cannot be used to demonstrate what he is seeking to show, for they have been deculturized. In fact, he says at one point: (184)

     It is from instances where we know European and Christian influence to have been definitely present that our best evidence for the existence of thinkers, and for the philosophical quality of their thoughts, can be derived.

     Jacques Maritain would not distinguish essentially between modern primitive people and the ancient non-Indo-European cultures: (185)

     Philosophic speculation . . . is unknown to all the so-called primitive races. Indeed, even of the civilizations of antiquity the greater part either have possessed no philosophy or have failed to discover its true nature and distinctive character.

     H. Frankfort published a valuable collection of papers under the title The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man. He was not referring to prehistoric man but to the Sumerians and the Egyptians and certain other Middle East cultures. Later he republished this under a new and significant title, Before Philosothy. In his introductory remarks he makes the following observation: (186)

     If we look for "speculative thought'' in the docunents of the ancients, we are forced to admit that there is very little indeed in our written records which deserves the name of

184. Radin, Paul, Primitive Man as Philosopher, Dover Publication, New York, 1957, p.387.
185. Maritain, Jacques, An Introduction to Philosophy, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1955, p.23.
186. Frankfort, H. and H. A. Frankfort, The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, University of Chicago Press, 1946, p.3.

     pg.12 of 17     


"thought" in the strictest sense of the term. There are very few passages which show the discipline, the cogency of reasoning, which we associate with thinking.

     It is very important to realize that when one speaks of the absence of "thought" in this way, it is not intended for a moment to imply that such people were any less intelligent than ourselves. There is no question of "racial superiority." It is not the ability to think through a problem that has advanced our Western Culture beyond theirs in its technical aspects. James B. Conant wrote recently: (187)

     To be sure the way an experimental scientist proceeds to find a solution to a given problem is not dissimilar to the way the very same person as a householder endeavours to find what is wrong when all the lights go out. . . . The various formulations of the Scientific Method I have read are hardly more than a description of the trial and error procedures which have been employed in the practical arts ever since our distant ancestors became tool makers. What was new about the time of Galileo was the slow merging of the inventive tinkering of artisans with the abstract reasoning of mathematicians [my emphasis].

     Elsewhere we have reviewed the evidence touching upon the probable intelligence of Paleolithic man (188) and shown with some measure of force that the inventions he was responsible for required just as much intelligence as modern inventions which, after all, are largely built upon theirs. It is not proper to credit the improver with greater intellectual powers than the originator. What Conant is underscoring is the fact that two kinds of activity, perhaps one should rather say of capacity, were merged: the skill of the technician and the intellectual acumen of the philosopher. This is what led to science. And as we have seen already, science does not emerge unless this amalgam takes place. Hamites have not produced science out of their technology, nor Japhethites out of their philosophy. In isolation neither produces what they can produce when they cooperate.
     The achievements of the Sumerians and the Egyptians never cease to cause amazement even in our technically surfeited age. Farrington has said:
(189)

     We have as yet no proof, in all this evidence from technique, of the attempt to organize even a particular branch

187. Conant, James B., "Scientific Principles and Moral Conduct," American Scientist, vol.55, no.3, 1967, p.312.
188. "Establishing a Palaeolithic IQ", Part III in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 of The Doorway Papers Series.
189. Farrington, B., Science in Antiquity, Home University Library, Oxford,1947, p.15.

     pg.13 of 17   


of knowledge in a scientific way. Technical achievement itself is not proof of the power of conscious abstraction, of the capacity to detect general laws underlying the variety of phenomena and to utilize these general conceptions for the organization of knowledge. To put the point in another way, we have no evidence . . . that they were attempting to classify . . . that they were asking how one thing could apparently change into another, how bread for instance which a man ate could turn into flesh and blood. . . . We have no certain proof . . . of that kind of curiosity and that gift for speculation which are necessary for the creation of Science in the full sense.

     And Kramer has noted that the Sumerians did not even try to correct the anomalies of their cosmology, because these anomalies never struck them. Also Butterfield in his Origins of Modern Science observed, "There does not seem to be any sign that the ancient world before its heritage had been dispersed was moving towards anything like a scientific revolution.'' (190)
     Some time ago, long after this thesis had been elaborated and published by a government agency, I came across the following keen insight written in 1898 by that great Christian scholar and defender of the Faith, John Urquhart.
(191)

     The Hamitic race appears to have been more practical, sharp, and wide awake than the others. It lived with its whole energies in the present and for the present. The other two races were more reflective, and, as we say, had more heart. . . These two have furnished the philosophers and the poets of humanity. This reflective tendency has shown itself in the languages of the two families; the unreflective tendency has equally manifested itself in the Hamitic. The Sumerians, for example, invented the use of signs to indicate words, and thus were the first to enable men to picture their thoughts to the eye as well as to breathe them into the ear. But they never advanced beyond this point. Neither they nor the Chinese have ever had the idea of using signs to represent letters, or even syllables. Spelling is a process that has no existence for the Chinaman. The Semitic, and the Japhethic or Aryan families, took up the invention of their Hamitic brethren and carried it further. By degrees, they made the art of writing the flexible and perfect instrument which it
is today.

     Because I wish to refer to it again, I think it is worth noting the fact that while the Hebrews did perfect alphabetic writing, which formed the base of all other European alphabets, this is

190. Butterfield, Herbert, Origins of Modern Science, Bell, London, 1949, p.163.
191. Urquhart, John, Modern Discoveries and the Bible, Marshall, London, 1898, p.255.

     pg.14 of 17     

about the sum total of what was contributed by Shem and Japheth to the art of disseminating the written word. The Egyptians produced the first paper, though the Chinese also had superb papers as did the Central American Indians; the Chinese provided us with printer's ink; and the Koreans developed a technique of block-printing which we have simply copied. It seems that there is very little to which we can point, when we pick up a book, and say, "This is our invention." All types ot fibers and fabrics originally used for bookbinding were of non-Indo-European origin, the dyes used to colour those fabrics and the glues to stick them together all these were provided for us. As Crawford has said: (192)

     As a matter of fact Europe has never produced a single original natural fibre or any dye except perhaps Woad. She las not contributed a single fundamental or original idea to thle basic mechanics of textiles, nor a single original and fundamental process of finishing, dyeing, or printing.

      And the techniques of metal-working, wherewith gold was beaten thin enough to use for lettering, originated elsewhere than in Europe.
     What we can say, if the context has a philosophical subject matter, is that here we made our contribution. When we have philosophized about Hamitic technology we have written books on science, and when we have philosophized about Semitic religious insights we have books on theology. I suppose the highest mental exercise occurs when the theologian explores science, or the scientist theology. At any rate, I think it is safe to say that we have here a framework of history, a kind of paintbox with three colours with which God could, by the providential directing of the movements of history, produce any kind of painting He desired whether monochrome or polychrome, depending on the need. In spite of all the mixing that has taken place in human history, there still remain pockets of pure colours. And as we have already noted, since there seems to be some connection between "natural bents" and the particular families of language which are associated, it should not surprise us to find that just when the world seems on the border of adopting some single universal language, circumstances arise, unforeseenl, which engender a rebirth of nationalistic feelings and a fresh interest and concern in a native tongue which was in danger of being lost:

192. Crawford, M. D. C., The Conquest of Culture, Fairchild, New York, 1918, p.146.

     pg.15 of 17     

just as Kroeber said, language barriers are among the most persistent of all cultural dividing lines.
     P. M. S. Blackett, writing in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, wrote
: (193)

     One of the fascinating unsolved questions of history is why the scientific and industrial revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries happened in Europe rather than in one of the great ancient civilizations of the Near and Far East. Craft technology may be said to have evolved to a very high level about 5000 years ago in the river valley civilizations of the Near East, and in India and in China. By 2000 B.C. the level of building, woodwork, fine metalworking, ship building, and transport had reached a point which was not surpassed for nearly 3000 years. Then, for one reason or another, the great civilizations of North India, Egypt, and Mesopotamia became static and finally declined. Then China arose and was socially and technologically pre-eminent from 500 B.C. to 1500 A.D. when Europe started the extraordinary movement which produced the scientific and later industrial revolutions, which were, in three centuries, to transform man's life on the earth.
     The essential foundation on which the Revolution was based was the high level of Technology which was largely of North and Far Eastern origin. What it was that prevented these ancient civilizations from making the scientific breakthroughis not fully understood. There is no evidence to suggest that there are any demonstrable differences of innate ability between different races of world. . . .
     The only sound working rule is that the different peoples of the world, even though they are now at very different levels of development, have the same innate capacity for science and technology as do the rich and proud Western Europeans who created the scientific revolution. Thus the vast differences between the material wealth of Europeans, North America and Australia on the one hand, and India, China, the Middle East, Africa, and most of South America on the other hand, cannot be ascribed to racial differences. Almost certainly the differences were of complex social origin.

     In the light of the thesis presented here and it is fundamentally of biblical origin I think we may be able to provide an answer. It is certainly true that there are no innate deficiencies in other races, because when they completely absorb the language of Western Man they demonstrate their capacity to enter into the spirit of science. But for reasons which we have already explored all too briefly, God has appointed boundaries to the

193. Blackett, P. M. S., "The University's Mission," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May, 1962, pp.14-18.  

     pg.16 of 17    


nations, (194) knit them together into larger families, and appointed to them certain forms of language in order to ensure that each would be dependent upon the other, in order to realize the maximum capacity of man with his tremendous creative potential. This is a protective measure, and any attempt to unify the world's language with the overt intention of making all men share equally in this potential will only serve to defeat its own purposes in the end. It is in a manner of speaking; a repetition of the Confusion of Tongues effectively preventing man's wickedness from being armed disastrously to his own terrible hurt.

194. Boundaries of nations appointed: Acts 17:26, "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation."  

     pg.17 of 17     

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

Previous Chapter                                                                      Next Chapter



Home | Biography | The Books | Search | Order Books | Contact Us