We’ve already seen the strong reaction of creationists to the recent discovery of Homo naledi. A good example is Ken Ham Ain’t No Kin to Homo Naledi. They despise the idea of evolution, and they fly into a rage whenever any intermediate species is discovered — especially when it’s evidence of human evolution. Such things aren’t supposed to exist!
But now we’ve learned of a completely unexpected negative reaction. You can read about it at PhysOrg: South Africa’s new human ancestor sparks racial row.
Racial row? How is that possible? Homo naledi doesn’t have any racial implications. What’s going on? You’re about to find out, dear reader. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Some prominent South Africans have dismissed the discovery of a new human ancestor as a racist theory designed to cast Africans as “subhuman”, an opinion that resonates in a country deeply bruised by apartheid.
We’ve become accustomed to creationists claiming that evolution is an atheist theory, formulated as a Satanic attack on their religion. But a racist theory? That’s the claim, and it’s different from the usual nonsense we see from the Discoveroids and others that Darwin was a racist. Stay with us, you may find this interesting:
“No one will dig old monkey bones to back up a theory that I was once a baboon. Sorry,” said Zwelinzima Vavi, former general secretary of the powerful trade union group Cosatu, a faithful ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). “I am no grandchild of any ape, monkey or baboon — finish en klaar (Afrikaans for “that’s it”),” he said on his Twitter account, which is followed by more than 300,000 people.
Whoa — that is a wild reaction! Let’s read on:
His comments were backed by the South African Council of Churches (SACC), which was historically involved in the fight against apartheid. Vavi recalled that when South Africa was under apartheid rule he was a target of racist remarks: “I been also called a baboon all my life so did my father and his fathers.”
All of that is certainly regrettable, but it’s difficult to see how the discovery of Homo naledi could be taken as a personal offense. We continue:
[T]he South African backlash has perplexed people around the world at a time when Darwin’s theory of evolution is widely accepted as fact. It “breathes new life into paranoia,” said prominent British biologist Richard Dawkins on his Twitter account this week. “Whole point is we’re all African apes.”
That’s how we understand it. But perceptions in South Africa are different. Here’s more:
Lee Berger, an American working at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand and overseeing the Homo naledi dig, tried to keep his distance from the charged debate, though he did specifically clarify that man doesn’t descend from baboons.
“For our scientists the search for human origins is one that celebrates all of humankind’s common origins on the continent of Africa,” he told AFP [unknown acronym]. “The science is not asking questions of religion nor challenging anyone’s belief systems, it is simply exploring the fossil evidence for the origins of our species.”
But that doesn’t help to suppress the outrage. Moving along:
The discovery of the new ancestor supports the West’s “story that we are subhumans,” said ANC member of parliament and former chief whip Mathole Motshekga. “That is why today no African is respected anywhere in the world because of this type of theory,” he said in an interview with television network ENCA.
Okay, that’s enough. We don’t know what to make of this. We can understand the reaction of creationists — they’re struggling to maintain their religious view of things. But this latest development leaves us confused.
Oh, wait — the PhysOrg article ends on a better note:
The official government reaction to the Homo naledi find was, however, positive, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa saying “our common umbilical cord is buried” in Africa. Homo naledi underlines that “we are bound by a common ancestor,” he declared.
So there you are. The opposition to science suddenly seems to have a whole new dimension. But we shall carry on. As we’ve said before, reality is a harsh mistress, but she’s the only girl in town.
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