[reid]"Much of this discussion has presumed clearly-defined races of the human species as traditionally understood"
That is incorrect. Most/many of the posts properly nuanced the issue, but it *is* correct to point out that "mixing" (and other problems) renders a lot of the issue of so called "racial superiotity" (in its popular form) somewhat "moot".
Anyways . . . . . as stated previously, broad racial differences (in their ancient form) can be easily understood to be the product of evolution, where isolated subpopulations of a species tend to develop specific characteristics over time. some of those characteristics are "superficial", some aren't. In the dog world, think Dachsund vs. Great Dane. Same species, different sub-species. Or varieties of plants, etc. Just because one can grow a "Pluot" does not mean that plums and apricots can't also be grown.
According to a Baha'i evolutionary biologist that I've talked to about the issue, the current genetic maps indicate that the most "racially mixed" populations on the planet are in northeast/central Africa. That is the area that has "sent out" the original human migrations, *and* where "racially differentiated" genetic material has been "brought back" (via slave trade, trade routes, etc.) to the greatest extent on the planet. Yes, "white" and asian slaves were frequently brought into the middle east, and thus there was a tendency for their genetic material to flow back into Africa! Not only are a lot of "whites" partly "black", a lot of "blacks" are partly "arabic", "white", "asian", etc.
Note that the term "colored" was used during colonial days to categorize people that were "somewhere between" "white" and "black" (people from India and all "asians" were considered "colored", see the autobiography of Gandhi about when he lived in S. Africa). The spanish/french/portuguese system had a complex set of categories to describe all the possible "mulatto" combinations of races in the carribbean and central/south america.
So, human beings clearly existed in geograpically isolated subpopulations for long periods in pre-history sufficient to create "racial" differences, otherwise no one would be talking about the subject.
In fact, the opposite position, taken by the "race deniers", that "race doesn't exist", is highly peculiar and scientifically odd. For the "race denial" position to be true, one would have to find "proof" that human genetics are much more uniform that they really are, in other words, one would have to find proof that there were either:
1) no geographically (or otherwise) isolated human subpopulations for long enough periods of time in human prehistory for subpopulation differentiation to occur, or
2) that even if such subpopulations existed, they didn't undergo the expected processes of natural selection (evolution).
In fact, the "branching" of lines of genetic material in expected dispersal patterns for human populations across the planet shows that human beings underwent the scientifically expected process of natural selection within isolated subpopulations at the end of population dispersals.
Please note that when the entire evolutionary process for the whole planet is studied over billions of years, differentiation, and then subsequent "remixing", is a typical pattern in which species eventually (can potentially) develop.
The fact that subpopulations can mix and overlap does not "prove" that differences are non-existent, only that understanding them is complex (but a "normal" consideration for scientists that study population dynamics and evolutionary processes).
[jdesson] "rreid in his previous post, for me at least, clearly established scientifically the fallacy of comparing abilities between different racial groups. "
Not really. What mreid correctly established is that there are a whole buncha "boundry condition" and "mixing" problems that a scientist attempting to determine valid "scientific" differences between "races" (historically long isolated human subpopulations) would have to account for.
The issues of "race", "science", "ethics", "religion" and so forth are easily muddled, but that does not mean that people shold go around promoting muddled thinking.
What the Baha'i writings (using sufi motifs/archetypes, etc.) state quite clearly and quite correctly is that each human being has spiritual worth in the sight of God, regardless of "race".
That has NOTHING to do with "science".
In other words, science can't prove or disprove the idea/"belief" that each human being is worthy in God's eyes.
The only way for Baha'is to rest their case against racism on a firm foundation is to stop muddling science and religion, and simply admit that the "religion" part is purely a matter of theology, tradition and ultimately, "taste".
[jdesson]"The Bahá’í Writings explain that human differences exist, Not on a racial basis but as part of human diversity . . ."
Again, the additional consideration is that the "race denial" position carries with it a huge load of ideological (pc/left) "baggage". The far left, deconstructionist postmodernism, etc., has been attacking "science" for decades now, and it is very unfortunate that Baha'is (in order to try to support their anti-racism efforts, which are properly intended, but misdirected) have selectively latched onto a small part of the "anti-science" nonsense that the left has been promoting as part of its attempt to displace rational thought from culture in order to replace it with thought policing, sensitivity fascism, political correctness and other similar "fashionable nonsense" (corrupted forms of pluralism whose object is to destroy the "universal archetypes" that underly western civilization).
Here is the PBS web site that presents in (INCORRECT/LIBERAL) "race denial" perspective along with a scientifically correct "anti-denial" perspective (which many liberals would consider to be "conservative"):
Please note that presenting the scientifically correct (anti-race denial) perspective is extremely likely to attract irrational charges/hints/etc. of "racism" by the pc/left thought police.
[jdesson]"On the other hand, if the question is can a Bahá’í believe in scientific racism if it can be proven scientifically, the answer is that the divinely inspired infallible Bahá’í Wrintings, the sacred writings and the authoritative statements of the Universal House of Justice, will always trump the fallible (i.e., they are some times right and sometimes wrong) authoritative results of science. "
I personally do not think that there is anything in Baha'i scripture or Baha'i theology (or guidance from the Universal House of Justice) that CLEARLY supports the "race denial" position, but the Baha'i writings are obviously very problematic on the issue of evolution. Abdu'l-Baha used sufi motifs/archetypes to talk about evolutionary topics (as they were POORLY understood in both eastern and western culture 100 years ago) that only partly map into modern scientific concepts. For insight into that stuff, see the Kalimat Press book (Brown, von Kitzing) on evolution, which contains corrections to earlier bad translations of Abdu'-Baha's statements about evolution.
To clarify: science obviously supports the existence of something roughly along the lines of "race" (including complexity around "mixing" and such), but just because "race" exists does
NOT MEAN THAT THE DISCREDITED IDEA OF "RACIAL SUPERIORITY" HAS ANY SCIENTIFIC VALIDITY WHATSOEVER.
Doctrines of "racial superiority" were cooked up in the early days of evolutionary theory (before genetics were properly understood) by europeans in order to justify imperialism. What those people saw as being "racial superiority" was really "cultural superiority" premised on the idea that science, technology, industrialization, and democracy gave the european colonial powers a vast economic, military and political advantage over medieval (Islamic) and pre-modern cultures. Which was obviously correct.
However, consider that the "imperialists" decided that once they had the industrial capacity to do away with overt forms of slavery, they would justify their sense of "moral superiority" by imposing a ban on the "traditional" forms of slavery thoughout the world. Thus, the abolition of the slave trade in the muslim world (amongst other places), which was historically the largest "long range" slave system on the planet, was brought about via the British Royal Navy.