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Geneticist Dr. James Watson, who, with Dr. Francis Crick, worked out the structure of DNA (a remarkable achievement for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize), is in the news again. During his visit to Britain this month, Dr. Watson created a storm when he made comments on genetics that contained connotations of racism.1 Such is the nature of the controversy that the U.K. government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission is to investigate his comments made on U.K. soil with a view to determining whether a crime had been committed under Britain’s racial prejudice legislation.
That Watson is an expert geneticist is beyond doubt. Where he comes unstuck is in his reliance on the theory of evolution. The remark that offended was this:
There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.1
This statement was made in the context of his implication that those of African extraction are less intelligent than those of European extraction. His views have been rightly condemned by evolutionary scientists. In the same newspaper article, Professor Steven Rose, of the Open University, said:
This is Watson at his most scandalous ... If he knew the literature in the subject he would know he was out of his depth scientifically, quite apart from socially and politically.
At Answers in Genesis (both U.K. and U.S. sister offices) we profoundly disagree with Watson’s views on the origin of the so-called “races.” We concede that most evolutionists would share Rose’s non-racist views and that most evolutionists would be equally shocked by Watson. Nevertheless, it is only fair to point out that Watson is actually being more consistent with evolutionary theory than Rose. As soon as one believes that human beings have evolved from creatures of lesser intelligence, it is an easy corollary to assume that some people groups are more evolved than others. Watson repeated these views in the same newspaper (The Independent) on October 19, 2007, while protesting that this was not a comment on the “inferiority or superiority” of any people group. Yet we contend that a comment on the supposed intelligence levels of different people groups is clearly a value judgment.
The reason we reject Watson’s views is simpler and more consistent than the intellectual gymnastics performed by evolutionists like Rose. It is this: we simply do not accept evolution. Instead, we accept the truth of what the Bible says: that we are all descended from Adam. As the apostle Paul put it to the Athenians in Acts 17:26: “
He [God] has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (emphasis ours).
Contrary to the belief of evolutionists, there is actually only one race—Adam’s race. And Adam’s race includes “black” people, “white” people—all human beings everywhere.
Editor’s note: Dr. Watson, through his publicist, attempted later to clarify his comments:
I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways they have. To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly. That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief. (“DNA Discoverer Apologizes for Racist Remarks”)
Of course, this still does not change our observation that Watson was actually being consistent with evolutionary beliefs when he made his original comment. If one believes that the different races evolved separately from ape-like ancestors, then some people groups are more highly evolved than others.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.