Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Evolution Edition

No one ever saw a Negro, Mongol, or Indian, born from any but his own species. Has any one heard of an Indian child born from white or black parents in America, during more than two centuries that these races have been living here? Is not this brief and simple statement of the case sufficient to satisfy any one, that the diversity of species now seen on the earth, cannot be accounted for on the assumption of congenital or accidental origin?

--Josiah Clark Nott, Types of Mankind, p. 58.

As I remarked to my brother when I read this, it's exactly the same logic bandied about still by creationists who try to deny evolution: "You never see a dog give birth to a cat, or a cat to a kangaroo. Therefore evolution isn't true." I was just amused to see it applied to proving that the races of mankind were different species.

I should probably note that Nott wasn't a Biblical literalist; in fact, he railed against the Bible and people who used passages from it to defend monogenism. However, though he didn't accept Bishop Usher's chronology exactly, he didn't deviate from it much, and believed that humanity was only several thousand years old. Therefore, the fact that races were distinct several thousand years ago was proof that they were fixed and permanent, and couldn't have all evolved from common ancestors. After Darwin published, and the span of humanity went from thousands to millions of years, Nott found evolution and monogenism more palatable. As William Stanton says in The Leopard's Spots,
Nott himself recognized the damage done by the Darwinian time scale and told a friend that he "would not have published" Types of Mankind "if the pre-historic period of men had been so firmly established" then "as it is at the present day."

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