Why Us?

A friend asked me a question last night which caught me by surprise. I had honestly never considered this question and am still digesting it’s implications.

Rather than give an answer right away, let me pose the question to you:

Why did such wide forms of progress (societal, scientific, medical, moral, religious, economic, governmental) occur in Europe (during times such as the reformation or the renaissance) and not in Africa?

This question is of especial importance for several historically cultural and certain current events. The legendary Dr. Watson (not of Holmsian fame but of DNA) has recently raised news and hackles with his claim that Africans have lower intelligence. (If you want an opinion of this event showing the ugliness of the evolutionary philosophy and relativist philosophy while making several very valid points, read here). And radical Islam, in it’s eons-old battle against light and right, spread rapidly across North Africa, preventing much exploration based on over-land expeditions.

Is this just an ethno-centrist or xenophobe who doesn’t appreciate the fear which prevented most Europeans from learning more about the dark continent or the difficulty of mounting a meaningful expedition to enlighten the interior? I think not. While there was general human progress, the tribal structure enjoys a mutually supportive relationship with human evil, allowing jealousy, avarice, and greed to rule. There were medicinal benefits, but none along the lines of antibacterial discoveries and exploration of the human body such as Europe enjoyed. It would seem that scientific and cultural progress happened in spite of, instead of because of, any passing of time in these two vast cultures.

And what of Asia? How does Asia affect this question? Was Asia a superior culture to Europe or not? Why?

I don’t have answers to all these, but as I continue to ponder the nature of this beast I hope to write a few bits here and there.

9 thoughts on “Why Us?”

  1. Check out the book Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. In it, the evolutionary biologist explains the theory that environmental differences, not inherent differences in human biology, were the cause of who conquered whom.

  2. Thanks for you comment and welcome to I Pandora, Meridian.

    Is it even an issue of who conquered whom, though?

    Based on the following considerations, I would submit that there has not been a general conquering of either of these two (or three) continents by any of the others since Grecian and Roman times, though not for lack of trying.

    First, only in South Africa and a few colonies along the west African coast have there been any form of real control or conquering by the Europeans. While the north Africans and Arabs spent years trying to control Europe and succeeded in nearly completely controlling the circumference of the Mediterranean Sea.

    If you consider resources and environment: while Africa is considered a desert continent, that is only really true for the northern section, the Sahara and surrounding areas. There is tremendous natural wealth in tradeable goods in Africa, as well as resources of wood and grass. Until the 19th Century, technology requiring energy from oil was not developed, so Oil was not really a valuable commodity until later. Instead, their wealth lay in precious metals and stones across the continent. Obviously, such wealth is not as valuable where it cannot be traded for other goods due to lack of commerce. But the resources were there.

    Europe did not enjoy as much precious resources, instead enjoying a wealth of intellectual prowess, and lots of wood and stone. The real key here being that the societies and cultures represented here made very different use of their natural resources and their environments. The Europeans used theirs to advance technologically while the Africans, generally speaking, did not.

    Resources and environment are only secondary factors which must be utilized to have value. Effective and progressive utilization will only occur when the society and the culture support such advancements.

    I agree it is not an inherent difference in human biology or genetics which determine this utilization either.

    So going back beyond the resources, beyond the utilization, beyond the culture and the society: What is the root cause of the vast differences in progress between the European and African cultures? And does great technological prowess in Asia changed your answer?

  3. As to your question as to why some cultures advance and other decline. Egypt (north Africa) was a power when Rome was a babe. Rome advances towards Germany and the Brits while they were in still in caves. Eventually Europeans eliminate Romes dominance. He who has the bigger army wins.

  4. That’s very true, Ted. But is that the root cause?
    It would seem that each of those cultures had their dominance for a specific reason and a specific season which we can see in history.

  5. Plane and simple, Christianity and the freedoms to express its theology. Although it was hardly as free as it is today, it just goes to show how far a little freedom can progress nations by the spreading of the Gospel by faithful Christians.

  6. african migration to europe caused a dramatic decrease in gentic diversity among white populations.

    trapped in iberian peninsula during ice age. most stupid people were killed off. whites and their close cousins asians thusly have the highest frequency of intelligence among the races.

    add this to farming crops such as wheat and rice cause a surge in population. lead to form complex forms of government and expansion.

    expansion leads to trade and empires.
    empires lead to discovery and innovation.

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