Table of Contents
Part II: Primitive Cultures: The Problem
of Their Historical Origin
Some Considerations, Some Causes,
and Some Conclusions
prehistoric times who occupy themselves with imaginative reconstructions
of man's origin and original estate at a time when he was very
little removed from the animals, never fail to stress the idea
that his position must have been precarious in the extreme. Compared
with the other creatures who competed with him for possession
of the earth, he is pictured as a pretty poor animal. Without
either a natural covering or dependable instincts, with a long
period of almost complete helplessness in childhood, and a population
growth rate far below that of most other species, he was, as
Kipling said of Mowgli, "indeed a naked frog."
Even granting that his superior
intelligence made up somewhat for other physical deficiencies
in this unequal engagement, his energies must have been so completely
occupied with the problems of mere survival that he could have
had no more free energy for the creation of culture than his
supposed modern counterparts among lower primitive peoples have
had. Grahame Clark expressed this limitation very forcibly: (168)
The basic characteristic of
savagery is dependence on wild sources of food supply with all
the disadvantages that this implies. The idea that savages enjoy
some advantage over civilized man through consuming only "natural"
foods is very far removed from the truth, when in fact we find
among them an "extremely wide prevalence of malnutrition,
deficiency diseases, and a general lack of resistance to infection"
(A. I. Richards, "Land, Labour, and Diet in Northern Rhodesia,"
London, 1939, p.l), not to mention a low average output of energy.
The ever-present fear of starvation causes the bulk of economic
effort to be turned directly to the quest for food, the chief
occupation of every active member of the community. This preoccupation
with the basis of subsistence combined with a low average of
vitality, is of itself sufficient to set narrow limits to the
possibilities of cultural achievement under a state of savagery.
. . .
168. Clark, Grahame, From Savagery to Civilization,
Cobbett Press, London, 1946, p.28.
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cultural status of savage societies can best be illustrated by
considering the amount of energy at their disposal. . . Taking
one man-power as the equivalent of one-tenth horsepower, and
making due allowance for infants, the aged, and the sick, we
arrive at one horsepower as a fair measure for the maximum energy
of the largest social groups normally encountered under conditions
of savagery. . . .
It has to be remembered also that
not even this meager supply was adequately applied among men
subject to a greater or lesser degree of malnutrition and incapable
of long sustaining labor.
as such figures are, I think they are at least of the right order.
In experimental work, my own findings are that one-sixteenth
horsepower of work sustained for an hour or so requires a man
to be in good shape. The figure of one-tenth horsepower given
by Clark is, if anything, on the high side. Yet consider the
average home as we know it. There may be at least one small electric
motor of one-eighth horsepower and probably of one-quarter horsepower
in a mixer or floor-polisher, and we employ this "to save
ourselves the work involved," even though we have all the
food and rest one could ask for. In other words, with every advantage
of modern living from the mechanical point of view, we still
find mixing a cake or whipping cream a burden sufficient to justify
the use of a power-source, and in the New World at least, a floor-polisher
has now become almost a "necessity." For all this,
we may still find ourselves with hardly sufficient energy to
sew on a button. Yet somehow we imagine that people who must
be hunting for food perhaps 75% of their time would have all
kinds of free energy to build a civilization by the continual
improvement of their own circumstances, and this without the
stimulation (or provocation) of the example of the "Jones"
Lyell formulated the principle
that in seeking to explain geological phenomena we ought not
to make any appeal to the action of forces which cannot be shown
to be operating at the present time. If this rule were to be
applied to prehistory, we would be hard put to find anything
within the historic period to support current reconstructions
of the origins of civilization. One must conclude that such reconstructions
are therefore figments of the imagination; philosophical concepts,
not scientific ones. Yet virtually no one apparently feels there
is really any difficulty in squaring current theories with known
facts. Sir Francis Galton, in his justly famous work Hereditary
Genius, had no hesitation whatever in asserting: (169)
My view is corroborated by the
conclusion reached at the end of each of many independent lines
of ethnological research ‹ that the
169. Galton, Sir Francis, Hereditary Genius,
Watts, London, 1950 reprint, p.337.
human race were utter savages in the
beginning; and that, after myriads of years of barbarism, man
has but very recently found his way into the paths of morality
And very few
would quarrel with him today. The emphasis is laid on the superiority
of man's brain, though how this came about is not quite clear.
But it is held that in this, and in this alone, lies the secret
of the appearance of culture, that phenomenon of human activity
which is uniquely his and entirely lacking among the animals.
C. E. M. Joad argued that this intellectual superiority was more
than merely a greater cleverness. (170) It included also man's moral and his artistic sense;
the former being important because man's long childhood, so greatly
to his advantage in extending his period of teachability and
flexibility, was a great gain only because man was also capable
of willingly making the necessary sacrifices for his children
to advance themselves even beyond his own capabilities during
this learning period. Animals permit their young to learn up
to their level of learning, but not beyond this point if they
can prevent it. As soon as an animal offspring shows any signs
of having achieved superiority over the parents, the latter will
if possible see to it that the process stops right there. For
various reasons, man has the capacity of sacrificing his own
interests and by this making progress of this kind possible.
His artistic sense led to the development ultimately of symbolic
forms of communication and opened the way for the introduction
of writing, that great extender of knowledge and spur to cultural
But, true though all this
may be, it does not really solve anything, because virtually
all authorities are also agreed that the human brain evolved
by very small stages and therefore in the beginning when the
test was most severe, the superiority would also be exceedingly
slight. Everything might work out very reasonably once the first
critical period was over, but how did man survive this period?
Somewhere there had to be a first man and a first woman who were
of the species Homo sapiens. If they were evolved, these two,
what were they like when they first arrived on the scene as newborn
It is possible, of course, that
some kind of half-man and half-ape creature might have wandered
away from his immediate family and "parental" influences,
and thereafter have continued his evolution alone thus establishing
a new species, Homo sapiens. But this is surely a very hypothetical
and unlikely event. Quite apart from the fact that speciation
involves a chromosomal change and that such a
170. Joad, C. E. M., For Civilization,
Macmillan War Pamphlets, no.7, 1940, p.3 especially and pp.4-7.
change must have taken
place at the same time in at least two such creatures,
there are equally serious difficulties to be faced in another
direction. Suppose we assume that a baby was born to some primate
family whose brain was like that of a man but whose body
was also essentially human (because it is increasingly apparent
today that a human brain in an animal body would be a monster
and not a man): what chances of survival would such a strange
creature have in such a setting? Are we to imagine that the ape-family
is going to make a supreme effort to keep this new man-child
alive despite the fact that he must be warmed, fed and guarded
for so much longer a period of time than his own generation of
"brothers and sisters" who remained apes? And having
survived this unusual circumstance and been raised by the extraordinary
"forbearance" of all the rest of the band, did he then
chance to find that another primate group somewhere nearby had
produced, conveniently for him, an equally unusual female child
with whom he could mate and thus propagate a new species, the
race of man? Probably such a reconstruction would strike most
evolutionists as completely absurd. Yet the break had to be made
somewhere and no one, as far as I know, has actually attempted
seriously to visualize what the first steps would be. The effect
of mutations is sudden and if man's qualitatively different brain
was suddenly changed, a new situation such as we have postulated
seems inescapable at some point along the line. (171) The child who suddenly
thought to arm himself with weapons would presumably also think
to use them against his own family when food was scarce. Such
a child would surely invite disaster and would need to have not
only an inventive mind capable of devising a new way of increasing
his own fighting strength but also a superior cunning to survive
the immediate reaction of a host of contemporaries. It is a mistake
to assume that if man had just the right kind of brain at the
beginning he could have overcome his other physical deficiencies.
So he might, after a period of learning. But the question is
whether he could survive while he learned. His brain made him
teachable in a unique way, but we cannot look for this first
teacher among the animals.
Granted that a body of knowledge
and fund of wisdom and experience is at hand, man is beautifully
equipped to make the best use of it. But at the beginning this
fund did not exist. How did it arise? As we have already noted,
primitive people do not tell us much, for they are not progressive.
Such people may not be like our
171. It is generally agreed that the possession
of language, that "Vehicle of Culture," which is man's
peculiar creation, was the result of a "lucky mutation."
See on this, A. L. Kroeber, Anthropology, Harcourt Brace,
New York, 1948, p.71; and Ernst Cassirer, Essay on Man, Yale,
New Haven, 1948, p.30.
ancestors, but the reason they are denied this privilege is not
because they are "primitive" (which our distant ancestors
are also assumed to have been), but because they are found to
be as intelligent and as fully human as the rest of us which
our earliest ancestors are assumed not to have been. But
if they were less intelligent than our primitive contemporaries
and if the latter do not today show any progressive tendencies,
what likelihood is there that they would have or could have created
culture in the first place? A superior child has only an advantage
in the presence of a superior teacher. Without any teacher whatever
such a child is at a disadvantage, as we know from the few authenticated
instances of infants deserted by their parents who nevertheless
by some strange circumstance survived the experience and were
later "captured" as feral children. They have proved
conclusively that being human does not mean automatically creating
a culture appropriate to human status. All cultured behaviour
is learned, and in the absence of this learning ‹ in the
absence of a teacher ‹ a human being turns out to be something
almost less than an animal. Ruth Benedict pointed this out:
Not one item of man's tribal
social organization, of his language, of his local religion,
is carried in his germ cell. In Europe, in other centuries, when
children were occasionally found who had been abandoned and had
maintained themselves in forests apart from human beings, they
were all so much alike that Linnaeus classified them as a distinct
species Homo ferus, and supposed that they were a kind
of gnome that man seldom ran across.
He could not conceive that these
half-witted brutes were born human, these creatures with no interest
in what went on about them, with organs of speech and hearing
that could hardly be trained to do service, who withstood freezing
weather in rags and plucked potatoes out of boiling water without
discomfort. There is no doubt, of course, that they were children
abandoned in infancy, and what they had all of them lacked was
association with their kind through whom alone man's faculties
are sharpened and given form.
is exactly what must have been the position of the first child
to be born a human being of animal parents.
Rightly understood, this one fact
disqualifies from serious consideration any other view of human
origins than the biblical one. How is it that anyone can imagine
some evolutionary process accidentally casting up a creature
so unlike its parents that it would almost certainly be ejected
from the band the very moment its "differentness" was
recognized by the rest of the family, promptly going out and
finding a mate with whom to create a new order of society on
a human level...when such feral children as have been authenticated
could hardly be deserving to be called human at all and were
172. Benedict, Ruth, Patterns of Culture,
Mentor Books, New York, 1951, p.11.
in many respects far
less fitted to survive just because they were human beings
and not animals.
Some years ago James Reddie stated
the case rather eloquently: (173)
What I argue is that all nature
has a beauty and perfection and fitness of its own exhibited
in every element and in every plant and every animal, save man;
we are bound from analogy to argue that as the ant, the bee,
the spider, the beaver, the elephant, the dog, have each their
peculiar and marvelous instincts and intelligence adapted to
their nature and place in creation, so man -- when originally
created -- would surely in like manner come perfect from the
hand of the Creator with an intelligence and an enlightened reason
adapted to his superior place in creation. If not, we should
have a solecism in nature: in other words, it is unnatural and
irrational to come to such a strange conclusion.
by pointing out that man is now a solecism and only because
the very quality which constitutes his superiority in creation
is, in his present state, the cause of most of his anxieties.
In other words, man realizes his superiority only if he is willing
to listen to a superior Teacher. By nature he no longer has any
claim to this higher status, it being a potential rather than
a real one. At the very beginning it was entirely real, but because
of his fallen condition he has continually tended to lose it
by degeneration. At the first the Creator gave him sufficient
instruction to provide the initial impetus for him almost immediately
to take steps towards achieving his appointed dominion over the
earth. That his brain could easily have been capable of receiving
such instruction in spite of the simplicity which must have characterized
his culture at first is admitted by some of the best authorities.
The earliest prehistoric men were not essentially any different
in this respect from ourselves. Robert Briffault put it: (174)
It may be doubted whether the
modern civilized individual differs greatly as regards inherited
capacities from his ancestors of the Stone Age; the difference
between savagedom and civilization is not organic (i.e., it is
circumstantial). The increase in our knowledge of ancient types
of man has, in some respects, accentuated rather than attenuated
the abruptness of the transition from animal to human: the oldest
human remains and the tools associated with them indicate a brain
capacity which is not markedly, if at all, inferior to that of
In a similar
vein Goldenweiser remarked, "Broadly speaking, there is
no such thing as a primitive mind: primitive man is potentially
like modern man or any other kind of man." (175)
173. Reddie, James, "On Civilization:
Moral and Material," Transactions of the Victoria Institute,
London, vol.6, 1872-73, p.23 and 24.
174. Briffault, Robert, "The Evolution of the Human Species,"
in The Making of Man, edited by Calverton, Modern Library,
New York, 1931, p.763.
175. Goldenweiser, A., Anthropology, Crofts, New York,
may be exclaimed, But you don't really mean that prehistoric
man is to be accounted for in this way? What about the time factor?
You postulate a few thousand years for all this, whereas we 'know'
that man is at least half a million years old. But do we? It
is not yet time to say with absolute certainty that radioactive
dating methods are completely sound. Are we quite sure that the
same atmospheric conditions existed prior to the Flood? It could
make all the difference if the answer were no.
Suppose for the sake of argument
that there was very little conversion of nitrogen to C-14 in the upper atmosphere
prior to the Flood, due either to some change in the earth's
magnetic field or to a greatly increased percentage of carbon
dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, reducing the relative proportion
of radioactive carbon dioxide. At present the proportion of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere is about 0.04%, but this might easily
have been considerably greater before the Flood. Or suppose the
atmosphere had in some way been blanketed against neutron bombardment,
then once more the percentage of radioactive carbon dioxide would
be greatly reduced. The end result is the same in either case:
and we would have the following situation -- an organism dying
one year before the Flood might have an extremely small amount
of radioactive carbon dioxide. By C-14 decay-counting methods, the sample would be estimated
to be very, very old, let us say, 30,000 years. On the other
hand, an organism dying two years later, that is to say, one
year after the atmosphere had been modified somewhat as a side-effect
of the Flood, might be found by radiocarbon dating to be only
4,500 years old. Thus the two objects separated in actual fact
by only two years, would by C-14 dating methods be separated by 25,000 years.
Of course, radiocarbon dating is
not the only method used to establish the chronology of prehistory:
but tree-ring counting is limited to 2,000 to 3,000 years as
a rule, and verve counting, though sometimes considered useful
up to 10,000 years, is challenged by some very excellent authorities
who would limit its usefulness to little more than half this
period. These three are virtually the only "absolute"
means of dating the past, and they may well be limited in their
validity or feasibility to post-Flood times.
Besides these three methods, we
have only relative means based on associated flora and fauna,
etc., which are tied in with climatic changes related to the
glacial and interglacial periods. Datings based on the recession
of the Niagara Falls, the erosion of river beds, or the silting
up of deltas have proved rather indeterminate. Lyell has allowed
30,000 years for the recession of Niagara Falls, which is
believed to have begun
when the ice retreated north of the Niagara Escarpment. This
figure had served to establish approximately the time since the
last great advance of the ice sheet over North America. But more
recent studies have consistently reduced this to 10,000 years
or even to 8,000 years. Such revisions of dates downwards are
very frequent, as we show in another Doorway Paper. (176) And some of these revisions
are quite extraordinary. (177)
It may be objected that such a
suggestion runs so completely counter to everything we have been
taught for the last fifty years that there is not the slightest
possibility of its obtaining a sympathetic hearing. The theory
of evolution is so widely accepted and has proved so useful in
the ordering and systematizing of modern knowledge, especially
in the life sciences, that a few fragments of contrary evidence
will not undermine it, no matter how serious these contradictions
are. But in spite of all this, the historical evidence stands
clearly against its basic postulate of continuous progressive
development, and in the end it will be found necessary to abandon
it just as social anthropologists have abandoned it as a key
to the history of art, language, religion, and many human institutions.
The alternative, the Scriptural view, is far more consonant with
the findings of archaeology as well as what we know from more
recent historical events.
Now, as we have seen, two things
stand out in even a cursory reading of the first few chapters
of Genesis. The first is the exceedingly rapid development of
civilization. The other is the exceedingly rapid development
of wickedness. Two individuals are singled out who happen to
have been contemporaries since both were the seventh generation
from Adam: one of these was Lamech and the other was Enoch. In
the brief reports which have been preserved for us of these two
men, we have on the one hand a picture of a vicious and revengeful
man threatening to murder any one who dares to oppose him, and
on the other hand an individual whose saintliness was so outstanding
that God took him home without permitting him to see death. The
one has left a record of vengefulness which apparently became
a proverb among men, and the other a record of godliness
176. "Fossil Remains of Early Man and
the Record of Genesis," Part I in Genesis and Early Man,
vol.2 in The Doorway Papers Series. LINK
177. For example, Kenneth Macgowan (Early Man in the New World,
p.187) gives a series of such cases, involving a reduction from
4,000 B.C. to an A.D. figure! He mentions one authority who has
now argued that man came into the New World not as a primitive
paleolithic 25,000 years ago, but as fairly civilized at the
beginning of the Christian era! A. L. Kroeber believes that chronologists
have been far too free with years (Anthropology, 1948,
p.654). He says, "One can believe the (Milankovitch-Zeuner
dating system): but one does not have to" (p.655, footnote
which was recalled with
wonder 3,000 years later in the New Testament. In either case
we have the feeling that developments, for good or for ill, were
When, a thousand years after Enoch,
the earth had become so full of violence and corruption that
the wickedness of man knew no restraints, only one patriarch
was left whose heart was still right before the Lord and whose
family seemed worthy to be saved. The catastrophe of the Flood,
destroying the whole race probably still concentrated in a comparatively
limited area, reduced the family of man to eight people only;
and we have a unique circumstance in history. Here was now a
small society of cultured and technically trained individuals,
inheritors of a great proportion of all that had been achieved
in the past two or three thousand years, making a new start under
conditions which may well have been in many respects ideal. For
one thing, all the immediate dangers from wild beasts and from
unfriendly neighbours had been completely removed. (178) Well supplied with stock
and probably with food, such a small group with the experience
of the past to guide them, could make progress very rapidly,
especially with the structure of the Ark at hand to supply them
with many building materials already prepared. But the population
of this first settlement would in time increase to the point
where, for various reasons, the ties of close association began
to be broken. Possibly Noah and his wife remained as a kind of
focal centre but each of the three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth,
presumably began to spread apart in different directions. (179) What happened thereafter
has been by implication the subject of this Paper. The phenomena
which resulted in the course of time from this initial circumstance
are of a very specific nature and can be summarized as follows:
(1) In the Middle East progress
from the first evidence of settlement to the appearance of cities
was exceedingly rapid.
(2) A circle of slightly lower but obviously
derived cultures surrounded the central core within a few centuries
as population pressures increased.
(3) There was a gradual loss of shared cultural
elements as the circle widened, until contact was lost almost
entirely in the more marginal areas where much lower cultures
arose. At the extreme margins all culture contacts ceased.
(4) The most primitive of all fossil remains
are those found
178. This may seem a small matter, but actually
it may not have been so. It was such a danger that lay behind
the statement in Deuteronomy 7:22 apparently.
179. The early existence of these three groups as distinct communities
has recently been substantiated for the Middle East Area (cf.
V. G. Childe, What Happened in History, Penguin Books,
Eng., 1946, p.81).
at the extreme edges
of this radial pattern with less primitive remains a little
nearer to the centre and transitional-to-modern forms within
the Middle East area itself (as in Skuhl and Shanidar finds).
(5) Modern types of man (Fontechevade and Swanscombe)
in some cases antedated more primitive types in Europe where
migrants who had more recently left the central area reached
distant points quite by chance but failed to establish themselves,
and died out leaving the territory to earlier settlers who were
(6) Primitive cultures which lost vital contact
with the mainstream steadily degenerated but never to the extent
of losing the power of speech and a well-developed language.
(7) Where complete isolation of adult individuals
occurred, it is probable that extreme physical degeneration was
experienced, accounting for some exceptionally primitive fossil
remains (Pithecanthropus, Sinanthropus, etc.). In more recent
times where complete isolation in childhood (ferals) has occurred,
all cultural elements are lost including language.
(8) Occasionally old cultures re-established
vital contact with the mainstream in a beneficial way and achieved
a notable revival to a much higher level (China, for example).
Upon rare occasion, a culture was established in a highly favourable
environment surrounded by many smaller societies developing independently,
and because of its central position a high civilization arose
(as in Central America, for example).
(9) High cultures are susceptible to complete
breakdown, as in the case of the Minoan, thus demonstrating that
civilization is a plant of delicate growth rather easily withered.
(10) The contact of high cultures with low
ones is apt to be detrimental to the latter. One particular circumstance,
to be considered later, may prevent such ill-effects.
It is very difficult
to account for these things by any other than the biblical view
of man's origin and early history. There is one aspect of pre-Flood
times which has often been commented upon and considered to be
quite exceptional -- the extraordinary rapidity with which civilization
developed in the first three or four generations, considering
the fact that no precedence existed and every cultural element
had to be engineered from scratch. Several factors may account
for this, provided that we allow the biblical record to speak
for itself. These are:
(1) The great age to which man lived.
(2) The temperateness
of the climate.
(3) The uniformity of language.
(4) The concentration of population.
(5) The nature of the original endowment of man by his Creator.
Let us examine
these very briefly. There is a tendency by many to question whether
men really did live to such extraordinary ages. The evidence
that the record here has not been tampered with but is sober
history is the subject of another Doorway Paper. (180) This evidence, to my
mind, is very satisfying. Consider what it would mean for most
of us if we could extend the period of research and learning
in a normal lifetime by ten or fifteen times. Even as it is,
most of us are impressed with our older colleagues who have an
advantage over us of as little as ten years. What if they had
the advantage over us of 900 years! Moreover, communication takes
time and for many of us the weeks are not long enough to allow
us to keep up with what is being done elsewhere even in our little
fields of inquiry. Just suppose for one moment that we had the
time to discuss with Leonardo da Vinci or with Isaac Newton or
with any of the "greats" of a few hundred years ago,
not merely what they were doing for a few fleeting years but
what they have been doing ever since. The situation is one which
is so outside our experience that it is even hard to conceive
its implications. But surely there is no question that if everyone
was surviving for centuries, the cumulative effect of man's inventiveness
and curiosity would be fantastic ‹ both for good and for
ill. Longevity must have contributed enormously to the process
of speeding up the development of civilization even in those
first few generations. The fact that Scripture not only records
that men lived to be very old but also that within two generations
of Adam city life and art and technology were already highly
developed, is evidence of its reliability, for the one finds
its most logical explanation in terms of the other. And if either
were true, the other is most likely to have been also.
The second factor is perhaps less
certain, namely, climatic uniformity. We do not know that such
uniformity really existed. But I think that the most logical
way to interpret the events associated with the Flood and, more
particularly what may perhaps have been the first appearance
of a rainbow, as meaning that rain as we understand it had not
fallen previously since the creation of Adam. It has been suggested
that the atmosphere was in some way different and that man may
have lived, protected from certain types of cosmic radiation
180. Custance, A. C., "Longevity in Antiquity and
Its Bearing on Chronology," Part
I in The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in The
Doorway Papers Series.
in a kind of hothouse
that was not oppressive but did contribute to his longevity.
The third factor is the uniformity
of language which may be assumed since the break-up of languages
did not occur until after the Flood. The very circumstance of
the judgment which took place at Babel is sufficient indication
of how uniformity of language could contribute to the acceleration
of man's cooperative efforts, for it was this very factor which
evidently made such an enterprise feasible, and by its reversal
the enterprise was abandoned. One of the bugbears of our own
highly technical civilization is the curse of specialization
which has led to the development of technical jargons constituting
so many different languages that a man trained in one discipline
can scarcely understand or be intelligible to a man trained in
another discipline. As a matter of fact, William Temple suggested
that God had had a hand in this and brought it about in order
that He might once more prevent men from achieving sufficient
unity of purpose to attempt the erection of a second "Tower
of Babel." (181)
It is interesting to find that Dante interpreted the events at
the building of the Tower of Babel as being just this (182) ‹ the rapid
rise of technical jargons which made communication between tradesmen
The fourth factor is the concentration
of population, which allows for the maximum exchange of ideas
with the least possible delay. This, again, is one of the critical
factors in our own generation since, in spite of our means of
rapid communication, distances are still great enough to prevent
the immediacy of verbal exchange which comes with personal contact.
This is one of the enormous gains of scientific conferences where
almost as much is achieved in conversation vis-à-vis over
a cup of coffee as is achieved by the formal presentation of
papers. As we have already seen, isolation almost inevitably
leads to stagnation. Sir Flinders Petrie stressed the importance
of contacts between cultures when developing his cyclic view
of history, attributing every renaissance to fresh culture contacts.
(183) Ernst Kretschmer
arrived at the conclusion, with regard to the share which the
Nordic race had in Western culture, that their most marked
181. Temple, Archbishop William, "Babel
and Pentecost," in The Church Looks Forward, Macmillan.,
London, 1944, pp. 174 ff.
182. On Dante, see Alexander Gode, "The Case for Interlingua,"
Scientific Monthly, Aug., 1953, p.83.
183. Petrie, Sir Flinders, Revolutions of Civilization, Harper,
London, 1911, p.114. He commits himself to the statement that
in every case it was the result of an infiltration of a new people.
J. C. Curry held that this stimulus is more often than not due
to an Aryan infiltration ("Climate and Migrations,"
Antiquity, Sept., 1928, p.301), and this opinion was not
due to any sense of racial superiority on his part.
contributions were developed
only in those regions where it had been exposed to an intense
mixture with other races. (184) Fenton Turck credited the initial vitality of American
civilization to the fact that the population formed an amalgam
of people from so many different cultural traditions. (185) Such an amalgamation
means the sharing of new ideas which would otherwise have remained
the property only of their originators. When ideas are wedded
there is a tendency not merely for a kind of "hybrid"
to result but for entirely new ideas to appear which were
not latent in either of the originals when considered alone.
The process tends to be multiplicative rather than additive.
Where the original population was still compact we may assume,
especially in view of longevity, that the total wealth of ideas
resulting from a vastly extended range of experience would be
compounded in ways which are not known today.
And finally, there is the matter
of man's original endowment. This is a subject which really requires
(and receives in other Doorway Papers) (186) much fuller treatment than can be afforded at this
point. It is my conviction that man has three kinds of capacity:
inventive, philosophical, and spiritual, and that at the time
of the Flood God distributed these three capacities in a special
measure between the three sons of Noah respectively. Shem was
made responsible for the spiritual welfare of mankind, Ham for
the physical welfare of mankind, and Japheth for the intellectual
welfare of mankind. When race mixture or culture contacts have
brought together these three contributions in a balanced way,
there has always resulted a great advancement of civilization.
But when any one of these three contributions has been either
neglected or over-emphasized, the civilization which resulted
from the amalgam has begun the process of decay.
I believe that in Adam and his
descendants, until the Flood brought an end to the old world,
these three capacities were by and large combined within each
person individually though, of course, not always in exactly
the same measure, just as not everyone now has the same level
of intelligence. But each man carried within himself a threefold
potential which after the Flood was very greatly reduced and
more often than not was limited to a capacity chiefly in
184. Kretschmer, Ernst, quoted by Franz von
Weidenreich, Apes, Giants and Man, Chicago, 1948, p.90.
185. Turck, Fenton B., "The American Explosion," Scientific
Monthly, Sept., 1952, p.191.
186. Custance, A. C., "The Part Played by Shem, Ham, and Japheth
in Subsequent World History," Part
I in Noah's Three Sons, vol.1 in The Doorway Papers Series.
one direction. In another
work, the thesis has been examined rather carefully that science
results only where philosophy (the contribution of Japheth)
is wedded to technology (the contribution of Ham), just as theology
only arises where philosophy is wedded to spiritual insight
based upon revelation (which was the specific contribution of
Shem). On the whole, those who are highly inventive and mechanically
minded are rarely of a philosophical turn of mind, and philosophers
tend to be rather impractical. Whenever these two capacities
do happen to appear in one man, we have the scientific individual.
Unfortunately, scientifically minded people tend to be somewhat
indifferent about spiritual things that are matters of faith.
And since man is primarily a spiritual creature, science has
often tended to be one-sided and inadequate, sometimes rather
futile, and frequently dangerous because it encourages a skeptical
attitude. But consider what would happen if every man had within
himself a large capacity for invention and could extend the application
of his own inventiveness as greatly as scientists have recently
extended the basic technology of the previous 6,000 years of
civilization. The progress of the past 100 years might have been
crowded into the first few centuries of human history, and Adam's
grandson might have seen the development of city life, the erection
of very large buildings, the appearance of the arts including
all kinds of music, the extended use of metals, and the establishment
of cattlemen and farmers on a large scale ‹ as evidently
Cain's children did (Genesis 4:17-22).
But, as always seems to have been
the case, man's spiritual capacity tended to suffer from disuse,
or even abuse, and the evil in man was fortified very rapidly
to an extraordinary degree by the exercise of his other capabilities,
until the Lord looked down from Heaven and saw that it was too
dangerous for the individual to be endowed so fully. After the
Flood, what had been combined in Adam was thenceforth divided
between Shem, Ham, and Japheth. During pre-Flood times, however,
it seems that the capacity of the individual was so much greater
that the processes of civilization were all enormously accelerated.
By themselves, representatives
of any one of these three branches of the race have always suffered
cultural stagnation or degeneration. Association is essential
for progress, and it is this association which stamps the main
stream for what it is. In isolation, man is still a special creature
of God but his capacity is enormously reduced. Nevertheless,
how ever far down he goes, he remains ‹ unlike the animals
‹ essentially a human being. Of the few cases of feral children
who might almost be an exception to this, we know far too little
certain. But we do know
that the most isolated and exceedingly primitive of peoples are
quite capable of responding to education. We know something more
than this, namely, that unless this education has a very clear
and spiritual component capable of leading to a full assurance
of faith, the educative process is only partially effective,
and may even be highly detrimental.
When the Dutch were forced out
of Formosa and could not carry the education of the natives further,
those natives returned to a more serious kind of barbarism than
they had known before. One of the Tierra del Fuegians, named
Jeremy Button, who was taken by Darwin and educated in England
was later returned to his own people apparently without any evidence
of conversion and subsequently became even more barbarous than
they. (187) But
when missionaries with a vital Scriptural faith -- who during
this Age of Grace stand in the world community for a season in
the place of Shem (Genesis 9:27) undertake to contribute their
vital part in the education of such people and succeed in communicating
that faith to them ‹ their condition is changed for the better
in a striking and lasting manner, as Darwin himself was only
too willing to admit of the Tierra del Fuegians. (188) It is true that with
the missionary come also other less happy influences from Western
Culture and not a few of its diseases so that in the end such
cultures have not always benefited as a whole. Education without
this spiritual component has surprising limitations. On the other
hand, Herman Merivale, (189) one-time Professor of History at Oxford, after a
careful study of the effects of colonization and education of
native peoples, came to the conclusion that history could point
to no single successful attempt to introduce civilization to
"savage tribes in colonies except through the agency of
Thus it appears that only so long
as the light of true spiritual faith, the basis of which is the
Word of God, forms an essential
187. Jeremy Button ended up many years later
as the instigator of the subsequent massacre of a small congregation
of natives who had been converted and were, with the white missionary,
in the act of worshipping in a half-finished church building
(Lincoln Barnett, Life, June 1, 1959, p.87).
188. Charles Darwin, according to the biography by his son Sir
Francis Darwin, in later years wrote personally to Admiral Sir
James Sulivan asking permission to be elected as an honorary
member of the Mission to the del Fuegians, the South American
Missionary Society, which he had "prophesied would be an
utter failure" but had been a "most wonderful success."
James Orr, in his God's Image in Man, Eerdmans, Grand
Rapids, 1948, reprint, p.164, gives an equally striking case
of what true missionary effort may ultimately do to a whole primitive
189. Merivale, Herman, Colonization and the Colonies,
p.294, quoted in Transactions of the Victoria Institute,
vol.19, 1885, p.128.
element of a culture
can it lay any claims to being or becoming a part of the main
stream; and only so can it hope, therefore, to preserve itself
against or recover itself from, the invidious processes of degeneration.
The main stream is only "main" so long as the Christian
faith is contributing to its current in a vital way. This may
not always engender its advance, indeed it probably never
does specifically, but it does prevent its degeneration. In this
sense the church of God in so far as it supports this true faith
has the preservative qualities and function of "salt"
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
Previous Chapter *
End of Part II * Next Chapter (Part III)
If we may revert once more to our
opening thoughts, we see that there is neither automatic cultural
evolution nor automatic cultural devolution. The deciding factor
is whether vital contact has been retained with the main stream
which is only so by reason of the fact that it represents a composite
of spiritual, intellectual, and technological enlightenment sustained
thus by Shem, Japheth, and Ham. This circumstance did not arise
by chance evolution but by the direct creative activity of God
at the beginning; and high civilizations which have passed away,
and primitive people ‹ living and extinct, and even feral
children ‹ all bear witness to the fact that in the absence
of any one of these essential components of truly human, as opposed
to animal, society, man must inevitably suffer degeneration.
Civilization is a phenomenon which arose at the very beginning
only because man was not evolved but was created by God with
the necessary endowment, an endowment which even in his fallen
state is still permitted to find expression according to the
forbearance of God in very remarkable ways.