THE PYGMY QUESTION

African Pygmies
Christians often talk about how the gospel is for everyone. Christ told his disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." But what if an entire nation of people was mentally handicapped? Could Christians make disciples out of them?

The situation is not just theoretical. There are, in fact, nations of entirely mentally handicapped people.

Anyone with an IQ below 70 is officially regarded as mentally retarded. [1]

Around the world there are several populations of pygmy people. These pygmies are considered to be racially distinct from the populations that surround them. They exist in India, Africa, and Asia. Typically, these people look like miniature black Africans.

Tests reveal that the average member of these pygmy populations has an IQ of only 53. [1] Such low scores indicate that very few, if any, members of these ethnic groups operate above the level of cognitive retardation.

This situation creates a problem for Christians. What should be done with these populations? Should they be regarded as equal Christian brothers and sisters, or should they be treated like children?

An IQ of 53 is lower than some Chimpanzees, and closer to that of intelligent animals than to modern Eurasian human populations. [2]

Disparities in intelligence between ethnic groups (i.e. "nations") should be addressed by Christian thinkers.

Modern Christianity, swept up in the "equality" fad, has tended to ignore big questions about genetic differences between populations, and how these differences may contribute to our interpretation of the human landscape.


NOTES

[1]  Euroethnic and East Asian populations have an average intelligence near IQ 100. Chimpanzees, Dolphins, Crows, and Parrots sometimes have IQs as high as 40 or 50. Pygmy populations are closer to these species' intelligence than that of Eurasians.
Coojimans, Paul. "I.Q. and real-life functioning." Accessed March, 2016. http://paulcooijmans.com/intelligence/iq_ranges.html.
EXCERPT: "The most intelligent non-human animals, such as some crows, chimpanzees, bonobos, parrots, and dolphins, are in this range [IQ 35 to 49]. Bonobo or chimpanzee I.Q. scores are sometimes even quoted as high as 80 or 90, but those are childhood age-peer scores that correspond to adult I.Q.'s of only just over 40."

[2] Lynn, Richard. "Intelligence of the Pygmies." Mankind Quarterly. Summer, 2011. Accessed March, 2016. https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-2380310781/intelligence-of-the-pygmies.
EXCERPT: "The intelligence of the Biaka and Babinga Pygmies and of Negroids living in the same region of the Central African Republic is examined with four tests of cognitive abilities. The Pygmies scored lower than the Negroids on all tests by an average of 14 IQ points. In relation to a European IQ of 100, the IQ of the Pygmies is estimated at approximately 53."

Comments

  1. Christians recognize the inherent spirituality of small children and even toddlers, and understand the importance of including them in Christian traditions. Christ did not say, "Keep the little children away from me." If anything, the pure simplicity of the child's approach to religion is heart warming, and I can see no viable argument to exclude children from religion.

    Likewise, if by some accident, your child suffered a traumatic injury that made them retarded, would you therefore refuse to tell them of Christ's love?

    To call the Pygmies retarded, though, is a misunderstanding of how IQ works. There are, essentially, two kinds of dumb. One is the kind you get through brain damage or genetic accidents, like Down's Syndrome. These people's brains are literally damaged and not functioning as they ought to, and they show significant impairments across all areas of life. They cannot care for themselves, function without adult supervision, etc. To be classed as "mentally retarded," a person must have real-life functioning impairments, not just low IQ.

    The other kind of dumb occurs when one is just born with genes that don't code for academic smarts. These people are generally perfectly functional--they can get their clothes on, make conversation, have social lives, and generally function just fine.

    The Pygmies aren't adapted to reading, writing, and arithmetic, because these skills have never been important to surviving in the rainforest. So they do abysmally on any test that includes those skills. But they are perfectly functional in their own villages, otherwise they would all be dead.

    The most intelligent great apes we have studied, like Koko the Gorilla and some bonobos whose names I've forgotten, have vocabularies of a few thousand words, putting them at about the intellectual level of 3 to 4 yr old humans. Of course, they are not actually the same intelligence as 3 to 4 yr old humans; if they were, gorillas and bonobos would be extinct, because toddlers can't take care of themselves. Same for the pygmies; if they were truly "retarded," they would not be able to hunt, make clothes, and generally provide for themselves.

    From the Christian perspective, the pygmies are as God made them, and thus as much children of God as everyone else.

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  2. WOW, this does not sound Christian. Pygyms are miniature Black Africans? First of all Christ is for all, male, female, Jew, gentile but in your blog above it seems you think Christians can decide who can and who cannot receive the gospel. Secondly When you talk about IQ, IQ is a man (and literally man) made method of trying to determine how intelligent people are, does God use this method to determine if people are worthy of him? further more, IQ is based on western and globalised views of intelligence. If you give an IQ test to traditional African, Asian and South American populations they will get a ZERO and they still deserve to know about Christ. You are reminding me of historical writings of the moment Missionaries (read Elsa Joubert: The Hunchback Missionary), mainly from Germany, England and the Netherlands arrived in Africa (including North & South America), they disputed amongst themselves that the natives are not HUMAN and they have already being condemned by God. The problem with missionaries is that they do not preach the Gospel of Christ, they preach the gospel of their own culture, of their IQ and world view. This is the reason why Paul repeatedly rebuked Peter, the Gospel of Christ is for all.

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  3. How can IQ be measured if someone cannot read or write?

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  4. Christian neo-Nazis - just when you thought you've heard everything. I think my IQ dropped by 20 points just by reading this article. I didn't know that Adolph was one of Jesus's favorite humans. I don't know whether I should laugh or cry. It's hard to believe that humans have gotten as far as we have with all of the blind hatred and ignoramuses walking about.

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  5. Anonymous, this article said nothing about Hitler. Comparing this article to Hitler is not a valid substitute for an intellectual discussion. Assuming you had an average IQ of 100, your IQ is now 80, enjoy having a higher IQ then most africans.
    EvolutionistX, you make a very valid point, different species have different IQ's and are suited for different tasks, and since Christianity is an invention that came from the middle east and propogated by white europeans, perhaps it is not meant for lower IQ african people.
    Prudent_Blogger, it is absolutely true that IQ is a man-made invention and that we should not decide who Jesus loves, we can't. I do not think the author of this article is trying to lecture God on who he should love, but rather on the question of should we, as white christian human beings, spread the message of christianity to people who can't understand the message as well as we can.

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