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Free Inquiry is a magazine in whose title the word “free” seems to mean freedom from having to include God in their inquiries, but not the freedom to include Him. The magazine is published by the Council for Secular Humanism, and as their homepage says, “The Council promotes rational, human-based viewpoints on important social and ethical issues. In particular, it tackles issues where traditional religion obstructs the right to self-determination, for example, freedom of choice in sexual relationships, reproduction, and voluntary euthanasia.”

Today a press release arrived touting a new article titled We Are All African! , with the subtitle “Can scientific proof of our commonality save us?” The author, says the press release, “hopes he will eventually witness widespread acceptance of his radically egalitarian message.” It continues:

“A scientific understanding of the origin of our species can offer real hope for humanity,” he said. “It reveals greater insight into human commonality irrespective of individual or group definitions of religious origins.”

DiCarlo’s moral message can be summed up in these sentences from the article:

We are all African . With these four words, we see a genetic coalescence of the entire human population . . . .We now know that we descended from inhabitants of Africa . . . In this way, it is impossible for us to not all be, in some ways, related . . . . We are equal, for we have been liberated from any self-imposed ideas of importance or special designation. We see that racism is a human invention. It is a social construct with lingering natural biases—leftover baggage from our mammalian xenophobic tendencies. We no longer need to segregate and distinguish ourselves through the use of artificial inventions of importance whether politically, philosophically, or religiously motivated.”

The article is written in an eager, hortatory, even religious tone.  It is, after all, about salvation and hope for humanity, as the magazine itself says. And it’s one of the more pathetic examples of its genre.

You have a writer, obviously well-meaning and earnest, who has seen a real problem, and thinks that getting everyone to agree on a scientific fact will somehow solve it.  (Though even he, near the end of the article, admits “It may be just wishful thinking.”)

But why in the world would the bigot care that millions of year ago he shared with everyone else a common ancestor? He’s a bigot because he compares himself to the people he dislikes  now , because now they have a different skin color or language or national origin or social class or belief system or whatever difference he’s chosen to make himself feel superior.

If millennia of belief that “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” — a belief that claims common ancestry not just to be a fact but to be the act of the God who judges — hasn’t kept people from treating each other horribly, a fact by itself certainly  isn’t going to. Are you going to run up to the white-robed leader of the lynch mob with the rope in his hand and say, “Excuse me, but don’t you know that you and he both came from Africa millions of years ago? You’re brothers! Just give him a hug! Take him home to meet the wife and kids!”

I mean, really. As salvations and hopes go, this one doesn’t get anyone very far.

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