Aboriginal cannibalism?—and our One Human Family
It is a sad fact that there is a large gap in social stability and opportunities between Australia’s Aboriginal people and the rest of the society there. But why is this so? A reader wonders whether the evolutionist sentiment that Aboriginal people are ‘less evolved’ is correct. Even today it is hard for many to escape that sentiment—that these indigenous people ‘can’t help’ their poor living conditions because it’s just ‘natural’ for them. CMI’s Dr Carl Wieland shows that this simply does not fit the facts, and situates Aboriginal people, their skills, their sins, and their struggles, within the One Human Family of Adam and Eve.
Alex P. wrote:
I am really stuck on the issue of the Aboriginal people. I have read an article [on creation.com about how an elderly Aboriginal said his people had forgotten God—Ed.] … but I was wondering if you could direct me to any books/articles that could elaborate on this topic?
I believe I read that the Aboriginals in Australia were/are cannibals (if not now, in the past). How could they be judged by God if they had no recollection of Him? How come they were not aware of Christianity for all of this time?
I am not well informed on Aboriginal people, and I was wondering if they are just as capable as all other races in regards to intellect? I have heard the evolutionary explanation that they are not because they are less evolved. Are the evolutionists correct on this?
Any info would be well appreciated.
Dr Carl Wieland responds:
Thank you for your email. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to comment.
First, there is some controversy raging over whether the sporadic reports of Aboriginal cannibalism are real or white colonist myth. On balance, it seems likely that there was some degree of cannibalism practised, though an extremely minor and certainly not common feature of their known history. Definitely nothing remotely like the widespread practice it seems to have been in Fiji, for example, where cannibalism was practised till right into the 1800s. Cannibalism in any culture is often ritual, rather than as a standard food source, and Fiji society appears to have been a particularly terror-dominated culture in the past. It was the influence of the Gospel that transformed that nation, as my recent book (One Human Family: The Bible, science, race and culture) documents.
Second, sin is sin. And cannibalism (which has occurred among people of every ethnic grouping) rightly horrifies us. But is it any more deserving of God’s judgment (or any more a sign of ‘inferiority’) than, for example, the widespread killing of innocent unborn human beings that occurs in our culture continually, or the horrors of Nazism in the ‘highly civilized’ Germany of last century? The way in which the Gospel caused Fijian barbarity to give way to a gentle, dignified people, and how rejection of the Gospel through evolutionary thinking caused Germany’s descent into barbarity, shouldn’t surprise us, given that there is no such thing as a ‘less-evolved race’. We know from Genesis history that we are all, as human beings, astonishingly closely related.
This has recently been confirmed by modern genetics. Our racial ‘differences’ turn out to be biologically trivial, which we should have known all along was going to be the case had we taken Genesis history seriously. This unexpected (to evolutionists, and often to Christians misled by evolutionary thinking) finding has caused theories of human evolution to have to be hastily rejigged to accommodate these facts.
One Human Family (OHF) goes into the biblical, biological and sociological issues, but also spends considerable time on indigenous matters, particularly Australian Aboriginals, as will be seen from a glance at the table of contents. Partly this is because of the work of my own doctor daughter (Lara) among this people group, who have suffered considerably from the conclusions of Darwin and his fellow travellers that they are ‘less evolved’. [See for example Darwin’s Bodysnatchers.] Echoes of this sort of evolution-inspired thinking are still found even among some Christians today, unfortunately. Regarding the idea of alleged Aboriginal intellectual inferiority, what are the facts? Let me quote extracts from OHF (which despite its antiracist conclusions is anything but ‘politically correct’), referring to Lara’s work and experiences:
“The educational outcomes in places like these Cape [Aboriginal] communities, already alluded to, are similarly depressing. Many children in the communities leave school functionally illiterate. It’s far too easy for people to just assume that this is simply part of being Aboriginal—that ‘biological inferiority’ thing again. People are generally unaware of the many factors involved that put these children behind the eight-ball (in pool parlance) from the outset. For one thing, many of their mothers were drinking heavily during pregnancy. So-called fetal alcohol syndrome is rife in the communities, and can severely stunt a child’s intellectual potential from before he or she is born.
“Add to that the malnutrition from neglect, and in some instances the horror of even young children ‘petrol-sniffing’ (inhaling the fumes from gasoline) and one can get some idea of the insults to which their developing brain cells are subjected. A large number have severe deafness from chronic middle ear infections, a further educational handicap.
“Starting with the right assumptions, i.e. the biblical facts about the true history of mankind and our close relatedness, Lara and her husband, Ron, knew that ‘race’ was not the factor that was holding so many of these kids back from any sort of future. The issue was their environment, the dysfunctional aspects of the social culture surrounding them. So they decided to help at least the few they could. They offered their home during school term as a haven for maybe two or three youngsters at a time. These were those whose parents (or carers—often these are grandmothers where the parents have abdicated responsibility in a haze of alcohol) wanted them to have a chance. The first child they took in after this fashion was a boy who, after six years in primary school, was still almost illiterate. This is so common in the communities, it’s just seen as ‘normal’.
“In ‘white Australia’, by contrast, the public education system would not permit such children to progress to higher and higher grades without having learnt to read and write. The alarm bells would have been triggered at an early stage, with willing expenditure on remedial measures. If our nation truly believed in the close relatedness of our one human family, would we have tolerated this sort of thing, year in and out, just passing kids on to ever higher classes, even though they can’t read? I doubt it.
“With their starting assumptions that it was not a racial issue, Ron and Lara were pleased, but not surprised, when they saw that the young lad quickly gained full literacy and started to achieve at normal levels, even excelling beyond his peers in some academic areas. Proper nutrition, and a peaceful and caring Christian environment (including both affection and loving controls on behavior) had made a huge difference. And similar positive results are apparent in the other youngsters so far.”
OHF also looks at the evidence that links all the various people groups around the world through our common cultural origin at Babel. Which is why there are even Aboriginal stories (discovered by anthropologists prior to their contact with missionaries) with remarkable parallels to the biblical Flood account—see for instance, The Flood. This should help make it obvious that their situation is no different from that of the original inhabitants of China, India or any other country in the world. Romans 1 talks of how people in general (who all, as the descendants of Noah and his family, started with the knowledge of the one true God) turned their backs on Him—Europeans no less than Aboriginals. The tremendous benefits of European society in recent centuries reflect the blessings bestowed on it by its biblical heritage, not racial superiority. Science and technology especially owe their origins to the Bible, see The biblical roots of modern science.
I would also comment on the idea of ‘all of this time’ mentioned in your email, which presumably refers to the alleged 40,000+ years in which Aborigines are supposed to have lived in Australia in a ‘backward’ condition. This idea is also the result of the false secular history of humanity—see How long have Aborigines been in Australia? Since Babel, the time that has passed has been the same for all groups of people. We have all turned our backs on God and are separated from Him, as Adam’s offspring, and need His salvation. Paul makes it clear in Romans 10:12–17 that this is why there is the imperative to preach the Gospel.
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Notice how in the very next verse he also refers to the witness of creation: “But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’”
This reference to Psalm 19 is about the stars. As an aside, I will add that OHF also talks about the way in which the Aboriginal people, prior to European contact, had the same name—seven sisters—for the Pleiades as e.g. the ancient Greeks, again confirming our common link through Babel. Paul likewise affirmed in the first chapter of Romans that (linking it to the witness of creation), we are all, even prior to hearing the Gospel, ‘without excuse’—see God’s justice and ‘the things that are made’.
Thank you again for the opportunity to respond and to hopefully clear up some misconceptions about Aboriginal people which, though widely held, are rarely stated so directly and concisely. Let me know your thoughts on One Human Family, and feel free to leave reader comments on the book’s website.
[PS the issue of different technologies in different cultures is also covered in OHF; an earlier article of mine, Culture clash, may interest you; it is about the once-common belief that Tasmania’s Aboriginals were ultraprimitive in regard to technologies, overturned by later discoveries that shed light on that whole area of societies and their technologies.]