How do theists explain races?
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27-09-2010, 03:19 AM
 
RE: How do theists explain races?
(27-09-2010 02:12 AM)2buckchuck Wrote:  I agree with Ghost on this one. An earlier post mentioned differences in eye color. For apparently arbitrary reasons, we don't choose to use eye color to identify races. Why would another other minor variation (e.g., skin color, cranial structure, epicanthic fold, etc.) be meaningful, whereas eye color is not?

Yes, differences exist, but modern science has relegated race to the dustbin.

When it comes to tracing the origins of people, I think that some of those differences that you cite as minor are very important. the ability to tell a person's origin from something like cranial structure or pallet shape can be incredibly important if you are an anthropologist (though I am not).

Additionally, these are differences (not eye color certainly, but cranial structure and jaw shape definitely) help to classify and categorize our ancestry. It can help tell us who we are and who our parents were, as well as where their ancestors came from. I think for that, the classification of race (broad though it may be) can certainly be important.

unfortunately, it spawns another 'ism', and for that, it is problematic. I realize that nowadays, with DNA testing, some of my reasons are meaningless now, but if you are trying to do (for instance) facial reconstruction, or drawing a missing person for a search, the concept of race may actually be of importance. I could be wrong, there are a lot of things that I am probably missing on this one, but what I am saying feels right. Feel free to enlighten me on this one, however.
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27-09-2010, 04:52 AM
 
RE: How do theists explain races?
(27-09-2010 03:19 AM)Soldieringon Wrote:  
(27-09-2010 02:12 AM)2buckchuck Wrote:  I agree with Ghost on this one. An earlier post mentioned differences in eye color. For apparently arbitrary reasons, we don't choose to use eye color to identify races. Why would another other minor variation (e.g., skin color, cranial structure, epicanthic fold, etc.) be meaningful, whereas eye color is not?

Yes, differences exist, but modern science has relegated race to the dustbin.

When it comes to tracing the origins of people, I think that some of those differences that you cite as minor are very important. the ability to tell a person's origin from something like cranial structure or pallet shape can be incredibly important if you are an anthropologist (though I am not).

I think the point is that such traits aren't that useful in determining origins. Science tells us that everyone originated in Africa. Most of us carry genes that include members of all the races. Variability within the races is as large or larger than the variability between the races. That's powerful scientific evidence for the absence of value in the concept of race - its basis for discrimination (the scientific use of the word) between groups is pretty close to zero.

(27-09-2010 03:19 AM)Soldieringon Wrote:  Additionally, these are differences (not eye color certainly, but cranial structure and jaw shape definitely) help to classify and categorize our ancestry. It can help tell us who we are and who our parents were, as well as where their ancestors came from. I think for that, the classification of race (broad though it may be) can certainly be important.
See previous comment ... the reliability of information deduced on the basis of racial categories just isn't all that great. Miscegenation virtually guarantees this.

For instance, it turns out that there are many "black" folks who share my surname (a clearly British name). A branch of my family settled in VA in pre-revolutionary days after leaving England - they were landed gentry (read: slaveowners) and they likely had children by their slaves who were named for the master(s). There's no way a black person with my surname brought that name from Africa - we're virtually certain to be distantly related. If you look at the genes in that group of "Negroid" folks bearing my surname, I'm guessing their genes include "Caucasian" ancestors. And it's likely that somewhere in my genes lie some hidden "Negroid" ancestors. Purity of race is an illusion - we are truly all brothers and sisters under the skin - that's a cliche because it contains more than a grain of truth.

Race as a concept or as a classification tool has value only to those who seek to gain from pitting one race against the other.
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27-09-2010, 05:25 AM
 
RE: How do theists explain races?
(27-09-2010 04:52 AM)2buckchuck Wrote:  
(27-09-2010 03:19 AM)Soldieringon Wrote:  
(27-09-2010 02:12 AM)2buckchuck Wrote:  I agree with Ghost on this one. An earlier post mentioned differences in eye color. For apparently arbitrary reasons, we don't choose to use eye color to identify races. Why would another other minor variation (e.g., skin color, cranial structure, epicanthic fold, etc.) be meaningful, whereas eye color is not?

Yes, differences exist, but modern science has relegated race to the dustbin.

When it comes to tracing the origins of people, I think that some of those differences that you cite as minor are very important. the ability to tell a person's origin from something like cranial structure or pallet shape can be incredibly important if you are an anthropologist (though I am not).

I think the point is that such traits aren't that useful in determining origins. Science tells us that everyone originated in Africa. Most of us carry genes that include members of all the races. Variability within the races is as large or larger than the variability between the races. That's powerful scientific evidence for the absence of value in the concept of race - its basis for discrimination (the scientific use of the word) between groups is pretty close to zero.

(27-09-2010 03:19 AM)Soldieringon Wrote:  Additionally, these are differences (not eye color certainly, but cranial structure and jaw shape definitely) help to classify and categorize our ancestry. It can help tell us who we are and who our parents were, as well as where their ancestors came from. I think for that, the classification of race (broad though it may be) can certainly be important.
See previous comment ... the reliability of information deduced on the basis of racial categories just isn't all that great. Miscegenation virtually guarantees this.

For instance, it turns out that there are many "black" folks who share my surname (a clearly British name). A branch of my family settled in VA in pre-revolutionary days after leaving England - they were landed gentry (read: slaveowners) and they likely had children by their slaves who were named for the master(s). There's no way a black person with my surname brought that name from Africa - we're virtually certain to be distantly related. If you look at the genes in that group of "Negroid" folks bearing my surname, I'm guessing their genes include "Caucasian" ancestors. And it's likely that somewhere in my genes lie some hidden "Negroid" ancestors. Purity of race is an illusion - we are truly all brothers and sisters under the skin - that's a cliche because it contains more than a grain of truth.

Race as a concept or as a classification tool has value only to those who seek to gain from pitting one race against the other.

Interesting thoughts, and I am not inflexible in my beliefs, but I most certainly don't seek to pit one race against another. I have a question regarding all of this, however:

If the races as i have listed above began because of genetic and geographical isolation, do you see globalization as the end of races? Will intercontinental and "interracial" marriage eventually blur all lines of so-called ethnic culture?

In other words, will we lose our cultural and genetic identities in one big melting pot over the next several thousand years?
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27-09-2010, 07:14 AM
RE: How do theists explain races?
Quote:In other words, will we lose our cultural and genetic identities in one big melting pot over the next several thousand years?

Very interesting question. Never really thought about it, but I would assume that is likely. I would assume we probably will still show some variations between different people like in height, skin pallor, eye color, etc., but I would think that with time and the continued breakdown of perceived differences between us we would have more mixing of different "races" (for lack of a better word) and would probably lose many of our cultural and genetic identities.

Shame none of us will be here to see it.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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27-09-2010, 07:40 AM
 
RE: How do theists explain races?
(27-09-2010 05:25 AM)Soldieringon Wrote:  Interesting thoughts, and I am not inflexible in my beliefs, but I most certainly don't seek to pit one race against another. I have a question regarding all of this, however:

If the races as i have listed above began because of genetic and geographical isolation, do you see globalization as the end of races? Will intercontinental and "interracial" marriage eventually blur all lines of so-called ethnic culture?

In other words, will we lose our cultural and genetic identities in one big melting pot over the next several thousand years?
Any guess about such questions over such a time span would have to be little more than speculation. I suspect that with time, assuming that global travel continues to be possible, there will be some homogenization of the existing differences between "races" but that some such differences will continue to exist indefinitely. I hope that we don't lose the variety of cultures we now have, but at the same time, I would hope that we'd quit fighting over them and simply enjoy them for the variety that spices life.
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27-09-2010, 11:04 AM (This post was last modified: 28-09-2010 10:03 AM by Ghost.)
RE: How do theists explain races?
Aw, man. I wrote a response and it got deleted. That sucks pretty hard.

Hey, Soldieringon.

This would have been a little more comprehensive, but here's my response.

The differences in people are explainable by genetic drift. It's that simple. But genetic drift is negated when two previously separated gene pools come into contact with one another.

Typology, the organising of humans into the three "great races", has been discounted by many, just like eugenics and Cesare Lombroso's ativism have been discounted. The only question is, how long will these memes survive in the gene pool [ON EDIT: This should have read "...survive in the MEME pool]? People to this day still believe in eugenics despite the fact that it has been debunked for decades.

If you want to use genetics to trace the origins of someone, you're better off using mitochondrial DNA and referring to the the International HapMap Project than you are exclaiming, "Eureka! He's a negroid!"

I for one am not calling race a figment. I believe firmly in the idea of socially constructed reality, and race is a social construct that exists in mind. But just because something is a concept doesn't mean it has a scientific basis. There is no genetic basis for race and no taxonomic significance. This is not to say that it is still not useful to some (like those that do craniofacial anthropometry), but that it is an unscientific idea that as a construct does more damage in terms of being offensive and leading to racial discrimination that it does good.

The idea of race, the social construct, is that the races are hard and fast. People evolved into those races (the wacky extension of that being that some races are better than others) and those races are here to stay (so we can't mix the races: an idea held by MANY cultures: hell, I once heard an old Israeli woman exclaim, "We have the right to protect the purity of our race."). But all of these differences are simply the result of separated gene pools and once those gene pools come back into contact with one another, those differences flood back and forth from one gene pool to the other.

The reason that race has power as a social construct is because for a long time now, the idea of the nation state has been the dominant affiliative idea. That is to say, Germany wasn't a collection of some 39 states, but a single race of people that had to unite into a single nation-state! Nationalism used simple visual clues to create far reaching bonds where none really existed. This allowed for larger empires. But the idea of nationalism is being replaced by what I refer to as contractualism. In contractualism, the only affiliation that matters is your affiliation with the economic entity that you are contracted to. Being an employee of Google is far more important than being Saudi or Pilipino. If you look at the CEOs of the major corporations, they're a mix of people from around the world. There is no rhyme or reason to their appointments other than the system of meritocracy/cronyism employed in a contractual system. As immigrants flood into former nation states like France, Germany and even the United States (whose nationalist identity is not based on race [although whites hold a disproportionate share of the power] but on willingly deciding to accept the American identity and swearing allegiance to the flag) the nationalists erupt with protest from fear that these immigrants will dilute the nationalist identity that has kept them united for generations (a little Z effect for ya). And they're right. Nationalism is dying. Right wing nut bag European governments and fences along the Mexican border are simply its death throws.

Quote:Clifford Worley: You're Sicilian, huh?
Vincenzo Coccotti: Yeah, Sicilian.
Clifford Worley: Ya know, I read a lot. Especially about things... about history. I find that shit fascinating. Here's a fact I don't know whether you know or not. Sicilians were spawned by niggers.
Vincenzo Coccotti: Come again?
Clifford Worley: It's a fact. Yeah. You see, uh, Sicilians have, uh, black blood pumpin' through their hearts. Hey, no, if eh, if eh, if you don't believe me, uh, you can look it up. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, uh, you see, uh, the Moors conquered Sicily. And the Moors are niggers.
Vincenzo Coccotti: Yes...
Clifford Worley: So you see, way back then, uh, Sicilians were like, uh, wops from Northern Italy. Ah, they all had blonde hair and blue eyes, but, uh, well, then the Moors moved in there, and uh, well, they changed the whole country. They did so much fuckin' with Sicilian women, huh? That they changed the whole bloodline forever. That's why blonde hair and blue eyes became black hair and dark skin. You know, it's absolutely amazing to me to think that to this day, hundreds of years later, that, uh, that Sicilians still carry that nigger gene. Now this...
[Coccotti busts out laughing]
Clifford Worley: No, I'm, no, I'm quoting... history. It's written. It's a fact, it's written.
Vincenzo Coccotti: [laughing] I love this guy.
Clifford Worley: Your ancestors are niggers. Uh-huh.
[Starts laughing, too]
Clifford Worley: Hey. Yeah. And, and your great-great-great-great grandmother fucked a nigger, ho, ho, yeah, and she had a half-nigger kid... now, if that's a fact, tell me, am I lying? 'Cause you, you're part eggplant.
[All laugh]
Vincenzo Coccotti: Ohhh!
Clifford Worley: Huh? Hey! Hey! Hey!
[motioning with his hand three times]
Vincenzo Coccotti: You're a cantaloupe.
[All laugh]
[Coccotti suddenly shoots Cliff in the face]
-True Romance

So to answer your question, the primacy of the importance of race is dying in the face of a globalised and constantly emigrating work force and the world's formerly separated gene pools now have unlimited access to one another. Once the existing nationalist groups lose their power to prevent "mixing the races" (that power is a very real barrier to gene flow), gene flow will run rampant. So there will always be variation among humans, but the idea that we are divided into neatly categorised, non-overlapping racial groups (which isn't even the case, that's part of the construct) is going to die in the face of a world of what today would be considered mixed-race individuals (and in South Africa under apartheid would have been called "coloured") and the races themselves will die out as well (and it will only take a few generations, not thousands of years). Not entirely I imagine as some cultures will keep their genetic borders closed as long as they can, but already, I am a mix of genes that have never left their quiet corner of Africa and genes that left Europe for Canada over a hundred years ago. I am not mixed-race, I am simply the result of gene flow.

That being said, the nail in the coffin of race is that culture trumps race any day of the week. Raise a white guy in Jamaica and he'll be irie, mon. Raise a Chinese man in Germany and he'll like Oktoberfest. Raise a Sri-Lankan in the culture that is emerging in places like the Googleplex and you'll find a guy who wants to be a part of that corporation and believes in corporatism and doesn't give a rat's ass about the race of the guy next to him so long as they're both increasing the bottom line.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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27-09-2010, 08:58 PM
RE: How do theists explain races?
Great post, Ghost.
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28-09-2010, 04:37 AM
 
RE: How do theists explain races?
(27-09-2010 11:04 AM)Ghost Wrote:  ...
That being said, the nail in the coffin of race is that culture trumps race any day of the week. Raise a white guy in Jamaica and he'll be irie, mon. Raise a Chinese man in Germany and he'll like Oktoberfest. Raise a Sri-Lankan in the culture that is emerging in places like the Googleplex and you'll find a guy who wants to be a part of that corporation and believes in corporatism and doesn't give a rat's ass about the race of the guy next to him so long as they're both increasing the bottom line.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and interesting post on this. I want to respond back but I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I wanted to let you know I AM interested in what you wrote, and my silence on the matter is not a case of blowing you off. I just can barely concentrate on anything right now and am going to bed early.

~paul
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