IN a newspaper article I read recently the author, Christopher Wills, a biology professor, asserted: ''Of all the superficial differences that divide us-the shape of the nose, the texture of our hair and so on-none seems to hold our interest as much as skin color.'' He went on to say that there is no physical basis for the prejudice and psychological damage that have been generated by differences in skin color. Biologists find that the variations in skin color are caused by rather small genetic differences, and that it appears highly unlikely that these differences have anything to do with intelligence, personality, or ability.
A number of geneticists have come to the conclusion that-genetically speaking-there is no such thing as race. Most of the scientists agree that the term race has acquired a rather potent meaning in today's society, even though it is not based on biological concepts. The term has acquired significance because of categorization, for purposes of studying social and political trends.
Beyond biology and social demographics, none of this has anything to do with man's true identity, which is that of God's child-His spiritual reflection. The Bible asks in Malachi: ''Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?'' (2:10) St. Paul, speaking to the Athenians, stated that it was God who ''hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth'' (Acts 17:26).
When we realize that God is Life and Love, and that all men are made in His image (as stated in the first chapter of Genesis), then we will begin seeing ourselves and others as more than physical beings, whose identity and individuality are determined by genes or enzymes or even the classifications of other people. God is not physical, but incorporeal. The man He created is no less spiritual than his creator. In proportion as you recognize the fact that God is your source, physical characteristics are less important to you. Genetics, or even prejudicial social practice, cannot put labels, complimentary or otherwise, on your actual identity as a son or daughter of God. Consider these words of Mary Baker Eddy, a follower of Christ Jesus. She wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''Because of human ignorance of the divine Principle, Love, the Father of all is represented as a corporeal creator; hence men recognize themselves as merely physical, and are ignorant of man as God's image or reflection and of man's eternal incorporeal existence'' (p. 13).
Recognizing that we are spiritual does not cause us to lose our identity or individuality. Rather it allows us to think and act with less and less limitation.
I grew up in a community that was made up almost entirely of one racial group. When I did see people of other racial groups, I felt that they were somehow ''different.'' As I began to study Christian Science, and began to establish in thought my own identity as a child of God, my perceptions of others began to change. I was learning that all the people with whom I came in contact, regardless of race, were every bit as much God's children as I was. It was helpful to me, from day to day, to get glimpses of this fact. At these times race and gender were not important or overriding concerns for me. These glimpses were of particular help to me while I was in the armed forces, where individuality is frequently minimized. Because I was learning to know others as God sees them, I developed an appreciation for the beauty and variety of God's creation.
Watching our thoughts, and praying to understand that God's children cannot be categorized by skin color, we know that we all have one and the same God, as the Bible reveals repeatedly. What is race, but a limiting and limited view of mankind?
God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Acts 10:34, 35