Table of Contents
Part V: A Christian World View: The
Framework of History
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.
1 of 17
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
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.
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:
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,
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
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."
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.
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."
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
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.
160. Raglan, Lord, How Came Civilization, Methuen, London,
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
the great Orientalist and Classical Scholar, says in this regard:
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,
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
would not distinguish essentially between modern primitive people
and the ancient non-Indo-European cultures: (185)
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.
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:
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.
"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
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
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
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,
188. "Establishing a Palaeolithic IQ", Part
III in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 of The Doorway Papers
189. Farrington, B., Science in Antiquity, Home University
Library, Oxford,1947, p.15.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
just as Kroeber said,
language barriers are among the most persistent of all cultural
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,
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
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."
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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