One of the greatest sensitivities discernible in the contemporary society concerns race and gender. Such sensitivities are defensibly results of the historical struggles for equality in suffrage, work, education, employment, and many other civil rights. It is clear that although the civil struggles are now gone, the issues have not waned with time. In the case of gender equality, it seems the pendulum swung so hard that the problem has changed from one extreme to the other, which has become unhealthy for the society. When it comes to race, however, it seems much has changed in terms of laws protecting minority races, condemnation of pejorative language, and other visible prejudices, while the economic inequality of the races is still conspicuous. The church’s understanding of the doctrine of humanity should determine how these issues are viewed, evaluated, and confronted.
The teaching of the Bible should shape the church’s views on humanity. However, the teaching of the church should not be oblivious of the naturalist explanations of the important issues concerning Anthropology, because Christianity makes bold truth claims about the origin of humanity. It has to face the counter-claims with a fair consideration of their merits. For example the antiquity of humanity has been taken for granted for many years until only recently with the challenges coming from natural sciences. This forces Christians to re-evaluate their claims in order to reconcile what they have always believed with the new findings in science. In response, Christians have either rejected all anthropological data, or argued for the non-historical nature of the text of the Bible, or tried to reconcile biblical information with the scientific data.
Inevitably, the endeavor to present Scripture’s claims in scientific terms is fraught with difficulties. Some claims, such as polygenism, are clearly untenable both to the theistic and naturalist worldviews. Obviously, the two opposing worldviews have innumerable differences in their explanations, but one conviction they both hold is that there is a single source for all humanity; human beings could not have originated from divergent sources. The unity of mankind is therefore foundational in all anthropological studies.
The unity of mankind constrains both theist and non-theist anthropologists to consider social equality as a necessary state for everyone. Throughout history, however, injustices have been condoned in both theistic and non-theistic worldviews. For example, slavery was justified from economic, sociological, biological, and even religious perspectives. In religious circles, it is ironic that slavery was justified and later condemned, in both cases from biblical arguments. Recently, the national media stir caused by Phil Robertson’s statements on homosexuality, virtually ignored his belief that black people during the civil rights era were essentially happy to be in working in the conditions they were. Of course,...