Skin colour surprises
Published: 23 November 2017 (GMT+10)
Our writers and speakers often get asked questions about race and racism. We have developed some pretty good answers, like the fact that Adam and Eve would have been ‘middle brown’ or that skin colour is, literally, only ‘skin deep’. Biblically, there is but one ‘race’ of people, but can we explain why people look different across the world? Actually, we can.
The question, “Where do the races come from?” has a new and better answer. For several years now, we have known what caused light skin colours in Eurasians.1 Genes with names like OCA2 and SLC24A5 have previously been identified among the main culprits. But what controls dark skin colour? Until recently, this has remained a bit of a puzzle. Europeans are almost all homozygous for the SLC24A5 gene, but the fact that Africans have a lot more diversity in their ‘skin colour’ genes made it difficult to pin down what causes their generally melanin-rich skin tones. This is no longer true, and the answer has nothing to do with evolution.
The first-ever study on the skin colour of Africans has now been published,2,3 and the results are not what most people expected. It turns out that the genes that control both light and dark skin colours are found across the world. In other words, these variants were in the original human population before we spread across the globe. This is exciting news! It means that all people on earth really are descended from a single source population, which we believe was at Babel.
And we now know why the skin of some people is much darker than others. A new variant of the MFSD12 gene has been identified in the most dark-skinned people from across the world. It acts to increase eumelanin and decrease phaeomelanin, the main pigments in human skin, hair, and eyes. Since eumelanain is darker than phaeomelanin, this explains the intense dark skin colour of the darkest people. The beautiful, melanin-rich skin of Central Africans, many people from Southern India, native Australians, and people from Island Melanesia is the same.
And the light skin seen, for example, in the Khoisan people of southern Africa is caused by the same genes that causes lighter skin tones in North Africa and other places. It turns out that the ‘light’ skin colour variants are found across Africa, but they are overwhelmed by the presence of the ‘dark’ skin colour variants, so they were not noticed until geneticists sampled the genes of many people.
But we have to be careful when discussing Africa. First of all, the genetics of the people of North Africa is very similar to other Mediterranean peoples and very different from the people of sub-Saharan Africa. This was even more true in ancient times.4 North African peoples are not usually dark skinned. Second, there were probably many more light-skinned Africans in East and South Africa in the past than exist today. They were displaced during what is called the ‘Bantu Expansion’.5 Bantu-speaking peoples (like the Zulus and the Lemba6) are the dominant people group across most of sub-Saharan Africa today, but they were not the first people there. Instead, as they expanded they apparently pushed out or killed off the original inhabitants.7 When one people group invades the territory of another, this usually results in a lot of genetic mixing. We have seen in the Americas, for example, the presence of many European Y chromosomes and many Native American mitochondrial DNAs among the modern, mixed population.8 The same is not true of the Bantu lands. There are vast swaths of territory with no evidence that the original people mixed with the Bantu conquerors. In other words, the first people were exterminated. Putting two-and-two together, this would have resulted in the spread of dark-skinned variants across a greater geographic area, and it happened less than 2,000 years ago.
What would Adam and Eve have looked like?
For many years, biblical creationists have been saying that Adam and Eve would be ‘middle brown’. Even though this was based on a lack of genetic knowledge, it turned out to be correct. Since most of the variants that affect skin, hair, and eye colour are found across the world, these must have been in the population prior to when we spread out around the world (after Babel), thus they must have been on the Ark, thus they were probably in Adam and Eve. But if you mix all these genes into one person, they would indeed have middle-brown skin and hair and brown eyes.
The one caveat that we must add is that mutations have certainly happened within the human genome since creation. And, ‘colour’ genes are an easy target for mutation because colouration can be changed without killing or harming the animal or person. This is the reason why we see white polar bears, brown grizzly bears, and black bears. It is also why we see black, chocolate, and yellow Labrador retrievers. These coat-colour variations are caused by changes in the hair-colour genes of these animals—and humans have very similar genes that control skin, hair, and eye colour.
No genetic basis for racism
Despite what Charles Darwin and his disciples taught about human races, modern science has proven clearly that there is but one race. In fact, biblical creationists have been saying it for years, so it is nice that secular scientists have finally caught up. We can demonstrate this with a quote from a modern geneticist, Lluis Quintana-Murci:
“But the genes that explain the phenotypic differences between populations only represent a tiny part of our genome, confirming once again that the concept of ‘race’ from a genetic standpoint has been abolished.”9
That quote is nearly a decade old. Here is a more recent quote from another geneticist, Sarah Tishkoff:
“There is so much diversity in Africans that there is no such thing as an African race.”10
Clearly, science has come full circle. The Bible always claimed that all people were descended from Adam and Eve, and then from Noah and his family, in the recent past. Thus, the Bible clearly teaches that there is but one race of people. Modern genetics has shown this to be true.
No biblical basis for racism
We now know there no scientific basis for racism, but the Bible has always been clear on the subject.
“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
If all people have equal standing before Christ, and if people from any culture or racial background can be saved, clearly there are no racial distinctions in God’s eyes.
“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20)
That word “redeemer” is the same word used to describe Boaz in the book of Ruth. The Bible provided a way for people to have their debts paid off—a close relative could pay it in their stead. Hence, the Redeemer must be related to the people He is redeeming. It is important, then, that all people are descended from Adam!
“Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45)
How did the ‘last Adam’ (Jesus) become a life-giving spirit? By redeeming His people and saving them from the second death (Revelation 21:8).
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:13-14)
I don’t know about you, but this descendant of Viking and Celtic pagans is overjoyed by the fact that someone like me, who once did not know God and whose ancestors were as wicked and rebellious against Him as possible, could have that “dividing wall of hostility” taken down. I am not a descendant of Jacob. I am not closely related to David. I am not anything like close kin to Jesus. Yet, because Jesus is a descendant of Adam, he could take on the debts of another descendant of Adam, me!
Where do the ‘races’ come from?
So how do we explain the different people across the world? If we started with Adam and Eve, why do we not all look the same? If we all came from Noah’s family, and then out of Babel, why do we not share our looks?
The answer is not all that complicated. First, we do share nearly everything. There are millions of genetic variants found across the world in all populations. Second, we do share most of the genes that affect the way we look. This is clear from this new study on African skin-colour genes.
But, as people spread out from Babel, they would have done so in small groups. Large populations can hold a lot more genetic diversity than small populations. As people spread out, multiple independent genetic bottlenecks would have occurred. High levels of inbreeding would have happened in each of the resulting groups, and this would have continued for generations. This would serve to remove different genetic variants, at random, from within each of the post-Babel populations, and so each little group would be genetically different from the others. But the degree of difference depends on how small the population was, how long it stayed small, and how much they ‘interacted’ with their neighbors.
All you have to do is add a little bit of mutation (to account for things like sickle cell anemia and blue eyes) to this scenario and we have a way to explain the races with no need for millions of years or common ancestry with chimpanzees.
It is good science and it is good Bible. Thus, it is time to let go of old ideas of ‘race’.
References and notes
- Mallick, C.B. et al., The light skin allele of SLC24A5 in South Asians and Europeans shares identity by descent, PLoS Genetics 9(11):e1003912, 2013. Return to text.
- Hernandez-Pacheco, N. et al., Identification of a novel locus associated with skin colour in African-admixed populations, Nature: Scientific Reports 7:44548, 2017 | doi:10.1038/srep44548. Return to text.
- Gibbons, A., How Africans evolved a palette of skin tones, Science 358(6360):157–158, 2017. Return to text.
- Schuenemann, V.J. et al., Ancient Egyptian mummy genomes suggest an increase of Sub-Saharan African ancestry in post-Roman periods, Nat. Comm. 8:15694, 2017. Return to text.
- Tishkoff, S.A. et al., The genetic structure and history of Africans and African Americans, Science 324(5930):1035–1044, 2009. Return to text.
- Wilson, J.F. and Goldstein, D.B., Consistent long-range linkage disequilibrium generated by admixture in a Bantu-Semitic hybrid population, Am. J. Human Genetics 67:926–935, 2000. Return to text.
- Skoglund, P. et al., Reconstructing prehistoric African population structure, Cell 171:59–71, 2017. This was the first-ever study on ancient DNA in Africa, and the results are, therefore, a milestone in our understanding of the history of the continent. However, I thought it was more than a little insulting to call a 500-year-old African ‘iron age’ when the Europeans at the time were beginning their time of exploration and scientific discovery, or a 3,000-year old African ‘stone age’ when that was the time of King Solomon in Israel. Would anyone dare to say that the Native Americans belonged in the ‘Stone Age’ prior to 1492? Even if these terms are accepted in the academic community, it is time they were retired! Indeed, we have been advocating this for some time. Return to text.
- Wang, S. et al., Geographic patterns of genetic admixture in Latin America, PLoS Genetics 4(3):e1000037, 2008. Return to text.
- Quintana-Murci, L., National Centre for Scientific Research (France), “Human variation chalked up to natural selection: study”, PhysOrg.com, 4 Feb 2008. Return to text.
- Quoted in Gibbons, 2017, ref 3. Return to text.
It seems to me that some commenters here have been misunderstanding modern political correctness. Evolution taught that there were big differences in the different so-called races due to them evolving separately for hundreds of millennia (contrary to the biblical account of all being related only a few thousand years ago), but actual science has shown very little difference, contradicting that old evolutionary claim. Modern politically-correct people accept that there is no significant genetic differences, but are not therefore arguing that we are all essentially the same.
Rather, in arguing that we should embrace people of other "races" as equal (or even superior) to "white people", should celebrate the differences, and should give some groups special treatment, they are actually perpetuating the very idea of there being significant "racial" differences.
So the claims that Robert Carter is bowing to the PC crowd are nonsense.
Spot on, Philip. Thanks.
(continued) And the knowledge that all humans have the potential to develop any of those particular characteristics is the critical piece of info. Saying that there is only one race may be consistent with current “progressive” ideals that race and gender are simply social constructs – but not for the same reasons or to suit the same agendas. The progressive agenda that “we are all one” is to advance leftist social engineering policies such as mass migration and Marxist deconstruction of western societies. Their arguments and agendas are fallacious and fall apart under any close scrutiny as you will find that they generally claim that the white race is evil – after saying there is no such thing as race.
The point of the article is that the genes that control skin color are found worldwide. Thus, there is no "black African" gene or "white European" gene. True, Africans are more likely to be dark-skinned, but that is only due to the statistics of the distribution of the relevant genes. The only way to discriminate the "races" is to statistically sample many different genes and then run a correlation assessment, but even then you are only left with a "likelihood" that a person belongs to such-and-such a group.
My arguments are not being influenced by secular, progressive, or PC ideals. Instead, I am trying to follow the data where it leads, and everything Darwinists said about race for the past 150+ years has been overturned by the modern field of genetics. And it just so happens that the data are pointing us in the direction of biblical history, which should be very encouraging to the believer.
Since I became a Christian (15 years ago) my increased Biblical knowledge has augmented my secular knowledge and caused it to make so much more sense. Extra-Biblical information like this article, which uses a Biblical perspective, makes more sense than the often-times, nonsensical, secular narratives that we are supposed to accept on faith – like Darwinism, out of Africa et al. Some of the info in the apocryphal books is also useful in this respect, like the Book of Enoch, in understanding the relevance of the Nephilim, Babylonian technologies, Gigantism etc. I have been able via Biblical and extra-Biblical knowledge to join dots that previously were miles apart and which now make both logical and intuitive sense to me. The interesting thing is that the secular/scientific world has told us for 200 years that the Bible is mythological/superstitious and thus out of step with science. However as science develops it become all the time more consistent with the Bible – e.g. Genesis (astrophysics, genetics, plant sciences), the flood (geological sciences). The notion posited in this article that all humans are the same, from the same source is in my view consistent with both Biblical view and with logic. Whilst it talks about nations, as far as I know the Bible does not say that God created five or six races of man but one. However, we can all see that there are different looking people – Asians, Negroes, Caucasians – and they have different characteristics, tendencies, propensity to particular diseases etc
But it is both more Biblically consistent and more logical that there is one race which then split into different clans or off-shoots which developed different mutations which lead to different appearances etc.
Pretty good so far, but we do caution our supporters about the use of extra-biblical materials like the Book of Enoch (in which the giants are claimed to be 3,000 ells tall (4,500 feet/1370 meters!), or 300 ells (450 feet) if there exists a copying error. But even 30 ells (45 feet) would be impossible.) You should consult Who Were the Sons of God in Genesis 6.
Robert, skin color is certainly one metric that correlates to race. I agree that if you only looked a small sample of two people's skin you could not always assign them a race, but in many cases you could rule out possibilities. A very black person would not be a native Scandinavian, for example. If you think all races are equally good at all activities, you're not being objective. Do you seriously believe the fastest Eskimos could compete with the fastest Kenyans in running a marathon? That's like saying all dog breeds are equally good at all tasks. The fact that Israelites intermarried with non-Israelites doesn't alter the fact that God told them not to. They were explicitly told not to intermarry with Canaanites, and in Ezra/Nehemiah they were told to divorce their non-Israelite wives even though there is no evidence the wives were not practicing their husband's religion. Yes, I should not have said God divided the races at Babel. That was just shorthand for saying God divided mankind knowing that it would lead to the development of races and that they would compete with each other rather than cooperate. That was the goal. Interracial marriage is promoted in an attempt restore the conditions obtaining at Babel.
Yes, the fastest Inuit would probably lose to the fastest Kenyan in a long-distance race, but population-wide many Inuit would beat many Kenyans. 1) We know that average differences exist, but 2) there is a huge range of overlap in ability among all groups. Plus, conditioning, diet, and societal expectations and opportunities confound the picture. The fastest Kenyans tend to come from a people group that requires lots of running (i.e., pain) among the youth before they are admitted into adult society in sort of an initiation rite. Neighboring areas with an identical genetic background do not produce nearly as many long-distance runners. What would happen if you took an Inuit youth and had them run, run, run...I honestly do not know, but it is quite possible that they would be able to beat the majority of Kenyans.
Concerning breeds, there are more differences between dog breeds than between "races" of people.
Interbreeding in Israel is more complex than you assume. What happened to Abraham's servants (who were part of the covenant of circumcision) when Jacob took the household to Egypt? Etc. Etc. You really need to read my article when it comes out.
You also need to read my review of Nicholas Wade's book here.
I think we are talking past each other a little, which is probably due to the forum in which we are trying to communicate. I hate it that such a difference could exist between us, so please understand my main point: racial differences are usually only cosmetic, and almost always a matter of statistics, but the statistics are telling us that the correlation between race and genetics, ability, and color is quite weak.
Mr. Carter, I doubt that you will be publishing this response to your attack on me for writing what I believe are the real facts concerning the subject of race. You accused me of promoting what I think rather then what the Bible is supposed to say according to your interpretation of it. You condemned my right to think anything at all, and accused me of simply taking what others have written and made my mind up from that. Mr. Carter, unless you came straight from your mother's womb with the same blathering that you now publish as to be the only truth available, you had to arrive at where you are now, by the same method as everyone else. Reading and making up your mind as to what you accept as truth. I will now do some accusing of my own Mr. Carter. I now state that you speak from a point which you consider to be above everyone else. That is called Self-righteousness Mr. Carter. That is typical of those who are simply making merchandise of believers, and that is exactly what you are doing. You have found a niche where you can make money selling books and whatever to others who want to feel like they are above everyone else. You choose to believe a book that was compiled by people you never knew, from writings authored by people you never knew, and then you expect me to take your word for what it is all supposed to mean. If you were actually promoting Christ like real Christians are supposed to do, then you might be worth listening to. You are not, and I will now delete you and your organization from my email list.
Mr. Clark, it was not my intent to belittle you or sideline you. However, I did intend on issuing a warning. British Israelism is nonsense scripturally, historically, and genetically. I came down hard on you because those views needed to be dealt with directly.
"Self-righteousness" Perhaps, because I am a sinner like you, but if the facts are clear there is no reason to beat about the bush. Confidence is not the same things as self-righteousness.
"Making merchandise of believers" You are apparently unaware of how we roll here. Nobody is making a killing off of book sales. In fact, all of us here work sacrificially. My salary could be much higher if I were working in the secular world or as a professor at even a Christian college.
"You choose to believe a book..." You mean the Bible?! Yes, I choose to believe that book, which should not be surprising since Our Statement of Faith is clear on the matter. But this is not a matter of "interpretation". Instead, we use the classic historic-grammatical hermeneutical approach to discern the plain meaning of Scripture. Indeed, anything else would amount to "interpretation".
We are very sorry to see you go, but perhaps other readers can see what has happened here? I replied to what we think are dangerous and incorrect ideas and the response was to hurl ad hominem invective before quitting the field. Sadly, this is par for the course.
Dear Editors: If the members of the Edenic race (!) were brown in appearance why was Adam called "Red," as in Magen David Adamah?
Regards, Philip E. Isett
Readers: "Magen David" means "star of David". The "Magen David Adamah" is the blood bank and disaster service of Israel, whose symbol is a bright red star of David.
Answer to the question: Since people are never "red", obviously "Adamah" when applied to people cannot mean that they are "red". Esau was nicknamed "Edom", which is the same as "Adamah" and "Adam" (the original Hebrew had no vowels). Was he called 'red' because he had red hair, because he was hairy all over (Genesis 25:25), because he sold his birthright for a pot of red stew (Genesis 25:30), or a combination of these? Point is, "Adam" means "red" but names are complicated, so it is impossible to derive the original skin color of Adam and Eve from the name of Adam alone.
Now I am condemned, I have white skin and blue eyes. To establish the skin, eye and hair color from the first humans is evolutionary practice, and why mention it anyway, it is racist. Actually you have to call God a racist, He invented them for different humans to develop. We humans have the authority to rule over the creation, we can cultivate the plants and breed animals but not humans. God saved 8 people (3 reproducing couples) from the Flood for Him to unleash the different genes according to the different climate zones. And with the vast land area of China-Mongolia and Siberia full of glaring snow in the ice age, people had to narrow their eye lids for protection (I assume too). And God prefers the Jews over the Gentiles- Rom 1/16. Every other 'race' God treated lower then the apple of His eye- Zech 2/8. The anti-racial people are the true racists and fueling this debate with hatred like Antifa; even they invent religious racism, language racism, food racism when I don't support halal, racist racism..... the whole world got a new goddess: RACISM. Of cause there are different races, I am not blind. It is not only the skin color, the faces too; 7 B different faces on earth = 7 B individuals and not a mass production with one mold. And I won't touch the IQ distribution throughout the earth. Yes, we are equal before the Lord's law but here also are sheep and goats and this is in heaven, we are on earth now and have to deal with earthly realities. What kind of argument is: Adam and Eve were the first couple and we all are their decedents, we all are related to each other, any alternative to this?
His spirit be with you
Why, on earth, would you start out (sarcastically?) that you are condemned by your coloration? And, no, this is not 'evolutionary practice'. Christians are often genuinely interested in knowing what our biblical ancestors looked like. No, God is not a racist and it is silly to even hint at it. Plus, God did not 'invent' the different skin, hair, and eye colors. Many of them developed due to mutation after Creation. We can see this in the fact that some colorations are geographically restricted, meaning they likely originated long after Babel. And, no, the narrow eyes of many Asians is not due to some Lamarckian desire to squint one's eyes. Not only is that not good science (see the relevant section on the Asian eye), but Europe was also covered in snow and ice.
God does NOT prefer the Jew over the Gentile. Just because the Gospel came to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) does not indicate preference. See the verses I quoted in the article! And I would encourage others to read Zechariah 2 to see how he is misusing this idea.
I have addressed the supposed IQ differences in another comment and do not need to do so again. Note that if we are all different, as he correctly claims, then there are no "races", as he fails to realize.
I always thought that if you wanted to see differences in coloration all you needed to do was look at my 2 siblings and me. The eldest has dark hair, brown eyes, dark smooth skin that tans beautifully. The middle has reddish-brown hair, blueish eyes, very white skin with freckles that doesn't tan at all and only burns under very intense sun. The youngest had very blond hair as a small child but it turned brown with no highlights over the years, bright blue eyes, and reddish-white skin with freckles that burns easily. Our parents both had dark hair, one had brown eyes, the other hazel, and both had light skin without freckles. Ancestry all the way across is northern European. Obviously the variety is there.
This all sounds good, except for the very obvious fact that the differences in color are directly related to the climates they live in. The amount of time needed to mutate so many differences, seems to be questionable, given the biblical time frame. Not only are the darker ones closer to the hotter climates, they get lighter as they move away from them. The white skinned peoples are Abraham's descendants through Issac, and carry the promise of being a blessing to the whole world. I do not believe this blessing was talking about Jesus in this particular instance. The moderate zones of the world not only provide more time away from just surviving, but also more time to give to invention, and making themselves less of a slave to nature. I believe most of the white skinned peoples are the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel, and they inherited the blessing proclaimed in the scriptures, and those moderate zones. It is God's world, God's plan, and God's people. He will absolutely do whatever he has planned from before the foundations of the world, regardless of whether you or I agree on any of it.
Yes, there was not enough time, so the variants must have existed prior to Babel.
But everything else you write is screaming of theological problems. "You think" is not a good argument. "What does the Bible say?" is what we should be asking. Plus, what 'you think' is not your own thoughts but what you have learned from others. You are reciting many of the views the so-called "British Israelites", which makes a mockery of clear biblical teaching and history. See the relevant section in this article.
You do not understand the effects of climate (example: Singapore), you do not understand history (do you honestly think there was a wholesale population replacement of all of Eurasia by the descendants of one man (Isaac) who lived about 1800 BC?!), you do not understand genetics (read the main article), and you do not understand the Bible (the ten tribes were not lost, example: Anna).
Saying 'whether or not you or I agree on any of it' is a dodge. The question is, what does the Bible say and do our views agree with Scripture? Nothing else is important.
The Khoisan man in the picture looks a lot like Nǃxau ǂToma, from "The Gods Must be Crazy". Whether it is he or not, the picture reminds me that height amontst native Africans also varies, Nǃxau being only 5' or less, & some of the Sudanese people who live in Toowoomba being well over 6'.
That was a royalty-free stock image. They did not say who the person was so I cannot confirm your suspicion.
The fact that so much diversity of height (and skin color) exists in Africa is why people are now saying there is no African "race". But the tallest people in the world, on average, are the Dutch. FWIW.
Well guess that is why He let me meet with Him 9.20.2007 and see who He has been and always will be and has been trying to get a revival to break out like a wildfire and us stop looking at the skin but to look at the heart as we all have light colored bones and blue blood that turns red when it comes in contact with the air. Oh and Adam and Eve were made with His skin tone and yes He does have a body that is watching and even listening to what we think nobody will know in our minds and all will be answering to God even you writers as well on that note, except those that have never reached beyond the mind of a precious child that He loves oh love so much. Take care and may Yeshua bless you in this day and days to come and hope I make it home, oh sweet home at last because it was a awesome place that He wasn't going to let me enter through the lamb's book of life on that day. Oh and black is actually brown and white is tan as neither can hide in front of a actually black or white cow
Adam and Eve could NOT have been made with God's skin tone because God does NOT have a body! You are actually using some buzz words and phrases that makes me think you might be involved with something like the Christian Identity movement, a textbook racist group. I hope not, but either way I would encourage you strongly to read more of your Bible. Standard Christian theology, including both the Protestant and Catholic traditions, pre- and post-Reformation, unanimously claims that God has no corporeal body. To say otherwise puts you outside of Christian orthodoxy and might even put you outside the faith entirely. Please be careful!
FYI: blood is never 'blue'. The color in your veins is an optical illusion caused by the fact that longer wavelengths (red) are more strongly absorbed and/or scattered by the skin and so it is only the shorter wavelengths (blue) that make it out again.
Sad when biblical literalists become PC evangelists. Race is about more than skin color. Different races are subject to different diseases. Police departments pay anthropologists to identify the race of decomposed crime victims. Companies and universities have race-based quotas. Politicians pass laws regarding race. Races perform markedly differently on objective mental and physical tests. In the Bible, the Israelites were warned not to intermarry with other races and punished when they did. God divided mankind into races at the tower of Babel. To say race does not exist is delusional. It plays into the hands of the New World Order / George Soros -types who want to return mankind to the undifferentiated, homogenous pre-Babel world. You are making common cause with them and the religious left.
You could not be more incorrect. This is not the first comment to claim we are kowtowing to the PC crowd, but I have already answered these claims so consult my other replies if necessary.
Race is more than skin color? How about it has nothing to do with skin color! There are definitely different languages, cultures, etc., and some colorations are more common in some areas of the world than in others, but color is a terrible guide to racial affinities. Take the many "white" people in America who are surprised to learn that they have African ancestors (a relic of the fact that many light-skinned former slaves moved north after the Civil War and simply blended in with "white" society).
For a discussion on the supposed disparities among races on standardized tests and in athletics, see my review of A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade.
Also, see my article Extensive mixing among Israelites and non-Israelites in biblical history in the latest Journal of Creation where I clearly document dozens of "interracial" marriages among the Israelites and many non-Israelites throughout biblical history. I will have a follow-up article on the genetics of modern Jews. The conclusion I drew is clear: there are no "Jewish" genes, and neither should we expect any after reading what the Bible actually says about their history.
Finally, God did NOT divide the nations into races at the Tower of Babel. The so-called races developed over time after Babel and only due to reproductive isolation to various degrees among the various groups. See Inbreeding and the Origin of Races. How could the "races" be determined at Babel when they came from a small, closely-related interbreeding population? And how could the "races" be determined at Babel if the descendants of Ham lived in Asia (modern-day Turkey), Canaan, Arabia, Crete, Mesopotamia, etc?
Awesome article! I've always wondered why a sentient human being thinks another sentient human being is less than themselves based on a shade of skin colour. Good and bad people exist in any skin colour (usually called race, but your article dismisses that classification). Genetics is hard to dispute, regardless of your faith base, be that faith in the Bible, or faith in the science of secular scholars. Biblical principles never seem to change, and always find an answer in science. Secular principles seem to change change with any current trend, then describe the change as an advance in human knowledge and understanding. Advances in understanding and knowledge are important and critical to our survival on this fragile planet, be you a Christian, a person of another faith, or an atheist. That said, having a stable point of reference must always be the foundation to such learnings. I was a non believer, and to this day always listen and consider the arguments of those who still do not believe, and many I respect as learned people, I too was once a disbeliever, and can understand the animosity some of them hold. What fascinates me is when learned people of extreme education deny the truth, and use an excuse of "there must be another scientific answer" rather than face the truth of the scientific facts that are before their eyes, just because it confirms what an ancient text called the Bible already said. To me this article says; a believer in Christ or non believer, scientist or average person, black, white, yellow, or pink with purple polka dots, you are a child of the same God. Believe or not, you are a child of the same God. We will never answer all the questions in this life, but some will get answers in the next, regardless of skin tone.
The problem I have with man being one race is the fact that Neanderthals (definitely human? we certainly interbred with them ) lived at the same time as homo sapiens ie us..and we share 98.7% of the same genes as them..the only trouble with this is that we share 98.8% of the same genes as with chimpanzees, so although both races are "human" there could be huge differences between them , because chimps, who we share more genes with don't have different skin colours or hair types , and are obviously NOT human , so how the intermixing of genes with a creature as diverse from us as a chimp is affects us today could well be under question. Secondly , quoting scripture to show there is no racism in scripture does ignore Pauls comments to Titus (1:10-11) that all Cretans are liars , evil beasts and lazy gluttons ..what.. all of them..Is that what God thought before inspiring those words? Or the birth of anti Semitism , spawned from the scriptures , where it is always "the Jews" baying for Jesus blood , as though Jesus and the disciples were not Jews as well , did God intend that when He inspired the words to be written ? A good and very informative article that answers a lot of questions about Homo Sapiens , but I still would like to know how inserting Neanderthals and their different gene pool into the mix could have affected this . God bless you
Neanderthals are certainly very close to modern humans, but they are closer than you claim and chimpanzees are farther away than you realize. Some of the Neanderthal data, however is suspect because ancient DNA always degrades. Thus, we cannot be 100% certain about many Neanderthal variants.
Paul was quoting from a famous Cretan philosopher, Epimenedes, who was himself a Cretan, and therefore must have been lying... Seriously, one cannot use that statement by Paul as anything less than a cultural reference that made the most sense to the person to whom he was writing, Titus, who was on Crete and who was wrestling with finding good leaders for the nascent church in Crete.
Dear Dr Carter, what is your exact definition of race? Do you believe, that races of dogs, races of cattle, races of wild animals etc are true? Are there any scientific studies telling us how bigs are genetic differences between those races? As a creationist I don't understand why races of our species is problem to CMI, if we believe races of dogs etc, and even believe that (degenerative) speciation is true phenomenon. Different races don't mean that one race is superior to other, so we can still criticize those people who killed many aborigines and native americans, transfer black africans as slaves to cotton fields etc. Those crimes were horrific, but we can't deny scientific fact on that emotionally base.
These are excellent questions, but I am not writing from an emotional base. Nor are "races" a problem for CMI, if they existed, because you are correct that the existence of races does not automatically equate to measurable differences in IQ, etc.
As I explained in a reply to another comment, the only reason different breeds of animals exist is that reproductive isolation within the breed has led to a loss of heterozygosity and so the animals "breed" true to type. This is not true of humans. While the dark-coloration variants tend to overwhelm the light-coloration variants, both sets of color variants are found throughout Africa, and the dark-color variants are found sporadically outside Africa across a huge geographic range.
Thus, geneticists can no longer point to gene Z as characteristic of Africa or Asia. We are only left with statistical correlations, i.e. gene Z is more common in Africa so the person who carries it is more likely to be from Africa.
Acts: chapter 17:26
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings etc
Excellent verse, but let us be careful and not fall into the trap of believing that God has 'ordained' that 'blacks' stay in Africa and 'whites' stay in places like Finland. This is especially true since the Finnish have deep roots in Central Asia and are distinct, both linguistically and genetically, among other Europeans people groups. And Paul's statement about 'boundaries' was being given to the Athenians, Greeks who moved into those regions pretty late in human history.
The blond blue-eyed girl was Nmachi, the daughter of Ben and Angela Ihegboro. At the time (2010) geneticists considered the three explanations of albinism, mutation and recessive gene history. Brian Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford discounted albinism. He also did not think that white ancestry could be the answer, as there appeared to be no evidence of this. He therefore attributed the girl’s appearance to a genetic mutation.
I believe there are 12 different genes, which together control the amount of pigment produced in the skin. But I’m not aware that any specific mutations were found in the case of this girl. I also wasn’t aware that the family had had a second white child or that the father was of ‘white’ European ancestry. Could you perhaps provide some links relating to the second child and the father’s ‘white’ European ancestry, so I can do some more research on this?
I used Google to find the information I wrote to you about, but I apparently missed something. I latched onto the first bit of information and ran with it, even though that little voice in the back of my head was telling me that I was being too hasty. Sorry about the confusion. My colleague, Phillip Bell, wrote me after I posted that earlier comment with this information:
Unless I’m mistaken, you may be confusing two different couples in your response to this person.
Robert Wagener wrote of, “a Nigerian couple with no mixed-race background who had a blue-eyed white, blond girl in 2010!”
I believe he was referring to Ben and Angela Ihegboro and their (non-albino*) daughter Nmachi: lots of news outlets covered this, e.g. here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p649FxU6EGk
*certainly not a typical albino.
I think your response probably refers to a different couple, these perhaps? Richard and Catherine Howarth and baby Jonah: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2739797/The-colour-skin-no-concern-Jonah-healthy-happy-baby-matters-Million-one-white-baby-born-surprised-black-mother.html
I have long taught that the Bible makes no distinction between races. I was confident that, eventually, research would reaffirm that we are all of one race. Thanks for the great summation.
No. The recognition that there are different races in the world was not novel to Darwinism. Where Darwin erred morally, was in his attempt to classify races by evolutionary hierarchy, declaring some superior to others. CMI should be focused on teaching that all races are valuable, loved and equally redeemable, not trying to pull some tablecloth-out-from-under-the-china magic trick by making race classifications go “poof”. You will not make the scourge of racism disappear from this world because you think you have pulled a fast one on the racists by removing the label they give to the object of their hatred.
Quote: “The Bible always claimed that all people were descended from Adam and Eve, and then from Noah and his family, in the recent past. Thus, the Bible clearly teaches that there is but one race of people.”
The first sentence is correct, but your second sentence draws a false conclusion. Does the Bible teach that all animals alive today are descended from those Noah brought on the ark? Yes. Does it teach there is but one breed of cat? No. And yet the genetic evidence for felines’ ancestry is the same as it is for homo sapiens.
I’m loathe to draw the comparison, but I will remind you that this same kind of sophistry is employed by transgender rights activists trying to remove all gender-specific pronouns from our language. Their stated reason for the need to remove gender classifications from the language? They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Don’t be like them, CMI. Be impervious to the demands of modern run-amuck political correctness. I know racial debates can be a quagmire, but you’d be better to stay out of them altogether than to bend so far over backwards to placate the demands of people who are obsessed with race for all of the wrong reasons.
You err if you assume we are avoiding or twisting the issue due to political correctness. Instead, we are following the evidence where it leads, and there is no definition to the word "race" any more. [note, I did not claim Darwin invented 'race' and, yes, his writings on the subject in The Descent of Man were atrocious].
Consider this: since there is a large group of men in Cameroon who belong to Y chromosome haplogroup R1b, and since I also belong to that group, I might be more closely related, on my father's side, to very dark-skinned men from Central Africa than I am to my Irish g-g-grandfather's next door neighbors, who might be from haplogroup I or J. What is a "race"? Two people can look similar but have different underlying genetics.
We are not bending over backwards to placate anyone. The genetic data indicates that 1) people across the world are very closely related, 2) there are few if any definable differences, and 3) the classic way to define 'races' was with skin color, but 'skin color' genes are rather cosmopolitan.
My favorite scientific discoveries are the ones that prove what we as believers have known all along. I appreciate CMI providing this article, this is information we all need to have. But I agree with James H’s assessment in his comment that you guys are letting a wholly unnecessary political correctness percolate into your conclusions.
The word “race” is a synonym for the word “breed”. The two words have such a similar meaning in fact, that many languages have only one word used for both contexts. To declare “there is only one race of humans” is directly analogous to making the laughably unscientific statement that “there is only one breed of dog” or “one breed of horse”. A horse is a horse, course. But some horses are built for speed and some horses are built to pull a plow. No one denies that. The genetic evidence that all canines alive today are descended from wolves has long been accepted and no one feels the need, in light of that evidence, to declare dog breed classifications irrelevant. To continue James’ example of medical differences, I will remind you that the first thing a veterinarian wants to know about a new canine patient when you call him on the phone is what breed it is. The dog’s breed has huge bearing on diagnosis and treatment.
Quote: “Despite what Charles Darwin and his disciples taught about human races, modern science has proven clearly that there is but one race.”
(I would like to continue feedback on second form, it is about 500 words total)
The only reason that "breeds" exist is that they have been kept reproductively isolated from other breeds. Thus, extreme levels of inbreeding, and a concomitant loss of heterozygosity, lead to definable differences among the many dog, cat, horse, etc. breeds.
Reproductive isolation (through geography or choice) also lead to differences between humans, but unlike inbred and homozygous "breeds", the gene variants that code for color differences in humans are generally found across the world. The variants for "light" coloration are all over Africa and the variants for "dark" color are spread out, from Africa eastward all the way into the South Pacific, so the genetic definition of "race" does not exist. That's the point.
The Bible always claimed that all people were descended from Adam and Eve, and then from Noah and his family, in the recent past. Thus, the Bible clearly teaches that there is but one race of people.
How does the second sentence follow from the first, when you claim that a single pair of elephants aboard the Ark gave rise to modern Asian elephants, bush elephants, and forest elephants (plus, probably, various extinct mammoths), who are not even the same species, never mind the same subspecies.
As Darwin pointed out in The Descent of Man, evolution demands common ancestry for all humans (albeit, admittedly, more than 6000 years ago). On the other hand, if similarity, anatomical and genetic, does not prove common ancestry, then how do genetic studies actually prove that modern humans all share common ancestry rather than being (as some 19th century creationists argued) multiple separate creations?
The concept of 'species' is highly debatable, but there are probably more differences between Asian and African elephants than between currently living people. In fact, the two elephant species are in different genera (Elephas and Loxodonta, respectively). One zoo-born hybrid has been confirmed, but it died soon afterward from an infection of the umbilical cord. This fits with the concept that all elephants are one Ark-carried created kind.
Humans are also one created kind. The lines between kinds is sometimes difficult to draw, and biblical creationists have been debating the issue for years. But, the more closely two things are genetically, the more likely they are the same kind. Bonus points go for two 'species' that can successfully interbreed, although reproductive barriers could have arisen post-creation.
Yet you used the word "prove". This is something outside of science, as far as Popper's, perhaps naive, falsifiability criterion is concerned.
Instead, the genetic evidence clearly supports the biblical claims that we are all very closely related. This is not "proof" as such, but the two track very closely together.
Dr. Carter, you are one of my most respected creation scientists, yet on the subject of human races, you and CMI seem to drift into political correctness by repeatedly saying that race is no more than a difference in skin color. Numerous studies and plain observation show general differences between the races. For example, caucasians are predisposed to certain types of cancer and bowel disease, and blacks are more likely to get diabetes and asthma. Olympic teams also show differences in physical aptitude: blacks tend to dominate running while whites excel in weightlifting. There is abundant data on mental differences as well. These racial contrasts are beautiful to me and seem to be a part of God's design in creation, just like color variation in nature and differences between the sexes. Celebrate the variety instead of ignoring it. I look up to you and hope you guard against political correctness and strive to speak the truth at all costs.
Actually, the article claimed there was not even a difference in skin color! As for the rest, you need to read my review of A Troublesome Inheritance. All claims of racial differences in abilities or intelligence are suspect. We must beware of confirmation bias, and teasing out the contributions of genetics vs. environment/culture/economics is nigh unto impossible at this time. We have much to learn. But, yes, there are certainly diseases that are more common in some groups than in others.
It is a shame that government regulations continue to ask for "race" among one's personal information. I check the "other" block and write in "human."
Thank you for this article as it attests to that which I have been trying to explain to others for years.
I would like to make one comment regarding the separation of people groups by skin color.
I have always considered this separation to be further evidence of our self-centered hard hearts. Our tendency as humans (on the whole) is to seek out and live among others we have more in common with and reject those who are different; this results in us breeding in our own "likeness".
What an amazing age we live in with the study of genetics. We now see that God has not only "written" the history of man in the Scriptures but He has recorded it in our very DNA as a testimony to the Truth of the Scriptures and is now allowing man the means of reading this Truth so we are indeed without excuse.
Thank you all at CMI for holding fast to the full Word of God without apology or compromise.
Your Brother in Christ,
Why could not, what is called in this article "a mutation" in colour, actually be a program of diversity, that God had written into the DNA of man to provide the diversity of colour, instead of something that came from a break down of cellular DNA. For all we know, this could be the case couldn't it?
Separating "created diversity" from "new mutations" is often difficult. Some things, like sickle cell anemia, are pretty obviously mutations. Other things, like red hair, are restricted geographically and thus are likely to be new mutations that occurred in a small subpopulation many years after Babel. But God probably engineered certain areas to be highly mutable. Thus, when we see skin and hair color variation among humans, yes, many of these variation can be considered mutations, but no, they might not be 'mutations' if the gene was designed to mutate in certain ways and within certain design specifications or tolerance limits. There is a lot of theory here, and much room for discussion, which is one reason the subject is so fun.
Adam and Eve must have had within their genetic make-up the capacity to create a wide range of progeny with different appearances. And these differences could have become quite marked if they later interbred in isolated communities. In addition, creationists could also point out that the Fall led to many changes in nature, which could have augmented some of these differences.
It’s perhaps worth mentioning in this context Sandra Laing, the black girl born to Afrikaner parents in 1955, and a Nigerian couple with no mixed-race background who had a blue-eyed white, blond girl in 2010!
You need to consider my article Inbreeding and the Origin of Races. This explains how specific 'traits' can get ramped up in a small, inbreeding population. But we must also account for new mutations, and mutations in 'color' genes are quite common, apparently.
I cannot comment on Sandra Laing. Even though her case is famous, there is no DNA trail. The more recent case of the "white" Nigerian child is interesting, but did you know those parents have had a second "white" child? This is not really a surprise. Why? 1. The father is a "white" European, 2. we now know that the genetic variants that cause "white" coloration are common in Africa, and 3. we have no idea of the deep ancestry of the mother (whites and non-whites have been interacting in Nigeria for centuries).
[Note: Robert sent a follow-up comment that requested additional information, and I learned that I made a mistake in this reply from a colleague. Scroll up or down, depending on your browser, to find that additional comment and the correction.]