Monday, June 16, 2014

Crutch for regression

Charles Murray reviews A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade:

The reigning intellectual orthodoxy is that race is a “social construct,” a cultural artifact without biological merit.

The orthodoxy’s equivalent of the Nicene Creed has two scientific tenets. The first, promulgated by geneticist Richard Lewontin in “The Apportionment of Human Diversity” (1972), is that the races are so close to genetically identical that “racial classification is now seen to be of virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance.” The second, popularized by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, is that human evolution in everything but cosmetic differences stopped before humans left Africa, meaning that “human equality is a contingent fact of history,” as he put it in an essay of that title in 1984.

Since the sequencing of the human genome in 2003, what is known by geneticists has increasingly diverged from this orthodoxy, even as social scientists and the mainstream press have steadfastly ignored the new research.

Race is a social construct—a crutch for regression—in the sense that Bill Clinton is the first black president and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is too white.

If human equality is not a contingent fact of history, does that change whether equality is a contingent fact of morality? I don’t mean equality of outcomes, but equality before God and before the law. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, morality isn’t concerned with the raw materials of an individual, such as DNA. Morality is concerned with behavior, what you do with what you have.

Skin pigment is but one difference—an especially superficial difference—among an infinite number of differences among individuals and groups of individuals. Jesus came to reconcile all differences of men, even between Jew and Gentile. Identity matters little to the grace we are commanded to show our neighbors.

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