John Chau was killed making contact with an isolated and largely uncontacted tribe of people in the Indian Ocean last week.
What do we know about the Sentinelese?
This tribe has been so isolated for hundreds if not thousands of years that we know very little about them. We don’t know what language they speak, though it’s clearly unrelated to the surrounding languages. We don’t know where they came from or how they arrived at the island. We have only a handful of observations.
Despite our entire lack of knowledge about the Sentinelese people, “anthropologists” will tell you that they have lived on this island for 60,000 years. Ironic, isn’t it.
Their basis for saying this appears to be the limited technology which has been observed by our few contacts with this people group. For example, it is believed by some that they do not have the technology to produce a fire. They apparently eat meat uncooked and live by fishing, hunting and gathering. This is based on very limited observations. On this basis, Darwinian anthropologists claim that this people group are “pre-neolithic” (pre-cave man), which is basically a very racist thing to say about another people group.
The reality is that technology does not necessarily correspond to biology. Whilst a certain amount of biological complexity is required to allow for technological development, limited technology is still not necessarily caused by limited biology. This is an example of bigotry.
The assumption of the Darwinian anthropologists is that technology always advances (or stagnates) but never regresses. This is completely false. There are plenty of examples of primitive cultures that once retained relatively significant technological advancement, but lost it.
But for now an illustration will suffice. Imagine a small group of iPhone addicted city dwellers from the West are suddenly left stranded on a lonely little island in the middle of the ocean. They proabably don’t know how to make the clothes on their back let alone start a fire without matches. Suddenly you have a people group who have regressed technologically in a very short period of time (an anthropologist may describe them as pre-neolithic).
The only requirements for such technology loss would be unrecorded technology (say through illiteracy) and a sudden loss of people who carry the generational knowledge (such as through a natural disaster or sudden isolation).
The brutal culture of this people group doesn’t indicate them being ‘primative’ either. This may have simply been because of hostile contact with people passing by ships exploiting a technologically disadvantaged people over the centuries. This is not a defence of their behaviour but a refutation of false thought.
So on the speculation that this people group we know very little about has been allegedly isolated for 60,000 years and is pre-Neolithic (less evolved, that is), anthropologists assert that the Sentilese are not “genetically” immune to the diseases of the of the rest of the world. Note, they think they don’t have the genetic ability that the post-Neolithic world has because they are speculating with little data. Hence they are alleging that the Sentinalese are genetically inferior.
Do the Sentinelese lack the “genetic” immunity to diseases of the rest of the world?
The evidence to support this idea that the Sentinalese lack “genetic” immunity, they claim, is that the surrounding island groups have suffered significant population decline since contact with the outside world was made. However, this ignores two factors. First, European settlement involved a sudden, abrupt and large settlement on the island. The settlement brought convicts and many diseases. And the settlement occurred right next to a mosquito infested swamp resulting in a sudden outbreak of death and disease among both indigenous, Indian and European people groups. Second, their assertion ignores the pressures placed upon those groups by contact with the outside world. Their first contacts were not with missionaries but colonial soldiers. They suffered wars, encroachment on their territory, oppression. But they ignore these factors and pressures and instead use the regional decline in the indigenous population as evidence of their lack of “genetic” immunity. Such wilful ignorance only fan the flames of racism.
Despite having no contact with the outside world, the Sentinelese population appears to be declining. This has been attributed to intermarriage in a small population. John Chau was a healthy young 26 year old, not an entire people group settling the island next to a mosquito infested swamp. The experience on the other islands clearly doesn’t support the genetic vulnerability hypothesis.
It’s really just a racist assumption that brands another people group as “genetically inferior”.
One journalist, who spent most of her factually incorrect article insulting John Chau, actually promoted this bigoted idea, saying,
“Three of the four groups surveyed have suffered illnesses and deaths after coming into contact with outsiders. Only the Sentinelese – the ones John Chau was so determined to visit – remain untainted.”
How does she know? Although she doesn’t cite any sources, we can already see why this is wrong. Before we contact a people group, we have no information and data about them with which to compare after we contact them.
Also, she says the Sentinelese remained “untainted” but this is false. One of the few observations we have been able to make about them is to roughly count their population. Recent attempts to count their population have shown that they are in steep population decline. It has been speculated that this is a result of their intermarriage within a limited population because of their isolation. Perhaps the answer then is they need to allowed contact with the outside world after all.
Suffice to say, the news article author couldn’t even identify who John Chau was out of a photo of two people, called his work “cultural imperialism” and otherwise spouted her ignorance. Cultural imperialism is not trying to share your faith with another culture. Cultural imperialism is deeming another people group to be inferior (ie pre-Neolithic). And trying to “protect” them from contact with the outside world, on the assumption that they ‘can’t handle it’ due them being pre-Neolithic would count as cultural imperialism too. At best it is misguided but benevolent cultural imperialism.
And this is quickly confirmed by the ignorant journalist:
“The Sentinelese are one of the last pre-Neolithic tribes left on the planet, with a lifestyle and culture that has remained unchanged for longer than any in Europe or America.”
But she can’t hide her contempt as she scoffs at Christian missionaries, including the recently dead brother John, and spouts insults. She concludes with:
“Why can’t these zealots accept that some non-believers do not need the words of Jesus or plastic footballs?”
Because, there is no other name under heaven by which a man or woman may be saved, but Jesus. They do need the words of Jesus, just as you do.
Would there be any benefit with missionary contact for the Sentinelese?
Hundreds of people groups are thriving today whose first contact with the outside world was through Christian missionaries.
Often during the colonial period, missionaries rallied to defend indigenous people groups from exploitation. When the Xhosa king was killed by British soldiers, the London Missionary Society lobbied the government to hold the soldiers and governor to account. They were partially successful. When USA was expanding into Indian lands, Jonathan Edwards a missionary, advocated for the rights the North American Aboriginals. In the pacific, against Whalers and other exploiters, the missionaries provided a voice to the government and accountability for the islanders.
In terms of education and literacy, the missionaries were the ones who reduced whole languages to writing. This resulted in thousands of languages which may have become extinct because of the pressure of the prevailing Lingua Franca, surviving and experience a revitalisation. Many oral histories were preserved in writing because of missionaries and preserved against the pressures of globalism.
In terms of medicine, often the only medic or doctor in the region was the local missionary, who were often trained doctors.
Where were anthropologists? Nowhere to be found among most places until the 20th century. They and their racist Darwinism want to keep people they contact out of the technology of the West and the treasury of Christ. Relatively speaking, we know more about the indigenous peoples of the world from the missionaries who lived and died for them, than we do from the anthropologists who simply came to make an academic point for Darwinism.
The anthropologists have long, out of sheer jealously, maligned missionaries. Yet the missionaries have conserved more cultures and protected more peoples than the anthropologists.
Indeed I have experienced the benefits of the missionaries myself.
Anthropologists look at this people group as being less-evolved (pre-neolithic). Missionaries view them as humans made in the image of God. Anthropologists view them as a conservation project, to keep them in their habitats eating raw meat. Missionaries view them as isolated humans and want to offer them the good news, technology and medical advancement.
What is clear is that the Darwinists want to keep their living fossils (their racism not mine) under lock and key, cut off from medicine, technology (even fire) and the gospel. What is clear about the Sentinelise, is they they desperately need the gospel.
So when you hear the media claim that these people lack “genetic” immunity to disease, you’re hearing racist and ignorant assumptions made about a people we actually don’t know all that much about.
By the way, they do use fire.
(Image accessed via Wikipedia.org, it is the property of Medici82, and shared via Creative Commons)