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Divine VariationsHow Christian Thought Became Racial Science$
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Terence Keel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780804795401

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804795401.001.0001

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Noah’s Mongrel Children

Noah’s Mongrel Children

Ancient DNA and the Persistence of Christian Forms in Modern Biology

Chapter:
(p.113) 4 Noah’s Mongrel Children
Source:
Divine Variations
Author(s):

Terence Keel

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804795401.003.0005

Chapter 4 examines how concepts about racial ancestry and the ontological uniqueness of human life from Christian intellectual history have historically informed scientific research on the Neanderthal. These Christian forms are at play in the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome and the unanticipated discovery that mating occurred between this hominid group and modern humans around forty thousand years ago. Geneticists claim that evidence of this encounter is found almost exclusively in the genomes of Europeans and Asians. This chapter also shows how scientists in both the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries deployed notions of distinct continental groups and fixed racial traits to draw conclusions about human-Neanderthal relatedness. In both centuries, concepts and reasoning strategies implicitly divinize nature while also framing human ancestry into three original groups that represent the reoccupation of the story of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, into contemporary algorithmic representations of human genetic ancestry.

Keywords:   Neanderthals, secular creationism, three sons of Noah, mongrel, ancient DNA

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