Variety of races


(walter little) #1

Since all started with Adam and Eve, how did we end up with such a wide variety of races and colors? My wife ask!

Thanks Walt from Texas


(SeanO) #2

@wlittle6 Good question. I think genetic variability, population dynamics and environment are likely the source of the various races. We all descend from Adam and Eve, or later on from Noah and his family, but over time as people spread out over the earth and formed isolated groups in different environments the races developed. Depending on your view of Genesis, this process may have taken only a few thousand years, while other views of Genesis allow for tens of thousands of years (http://reasons.org/). Another theory is that God created races at the tower of Babel when the languages were divided, but I find that unlikely.

Here are two articles and short excerpts from them on how races came to be - I do not agree with everything these ministries teach, but these articles I found helpful on this topic.

ICR Article

“Starting with Noah’s family, the creation model postulates a “racially mixed” population, with much biological potential for variation. As family groups were isolated by language barriers, environmental factors allowed particular traits already present to be expressed more frequently, while genes coded for other characteristics were not favored and were eventually suppressed. Genetically speaking, the differences between the various races are extremely small. All are of the same species, are interfertile, and produce fertile offspring. The most noticeable difference is in skin color, but the fact is, we are all the same color; some people just have a little more of that color than others. Skin shade is due to the amount of a substance called melanin in the skin; the more melanin, the darker the skin. Racially mixed individuals can parent children who are all the way from quite dark to quite light, or anywhere in between.”

Answers in Genesis Article

"The pigment primarily responsible for everyone’s skin color is melanin. Ultimately, everyone has the same skin color—we just have varying skin tones. The two forms of melanin are eumelanin (brown to black) and pheomelanin (red to yellow). Their proportion determines skin tone.

So what would cause some people to have very dark skin while others’ skin is lighter? Where they live makes a difference. For example, darker skin on people living in regions near the equator protects them from intense sunlight, reducing their risk of skin cancer. People in higher latitudes where there is less intense sunlight need lighter skin to produce vitamin D efficiently. In each case those who had the characteristics conducive to living in the region stayed and reproduced. Those who didn’t either moved on or died out.

Over many generations, these favorable characteristics would be carried forward in the gene pool, and the less favorable characteristics would tend to fall away. Thus, genetic variability in isolated populations gradually decreases. So today people with very dark skin usually have children with dark skin and people with very light skin usually have light-skinned children.

However, people with “middle brown” skin often have children with a much wider range of skin tones. Why? Because these “middle brown” people groups still have significant genetic variability with regard to skin tone.

Based on our understanding of the inheritance of skin tone, we strongly suspect Adam and Eve were middle brown. This would give the widest range of skin tones in their offspring, from very light to very dark."

Genetic Variation


(S Joshua Swamidass) #3

To be clear, race is not a valid biological concept. We are all the same species. What we call “race” turns out to be poorly defined biologically. One of the most important findings of human genetics is that polygenesis is false and mono-phylogeny is true. There is only one species of human in current day.

Of note, almost all origins organizations including YEC organizations like ICR and AIG, accept different species of “human” in the past, such as neanderthals and such.

RTB is a bit of an outlier, because they do not consider neanderthal’s human in any sense, except their potential ability to interbreed with us. This makes them in an intermediary position between “human” and “animal.”


(SeanO) #4

@swamidass Thank you for those observations. What definition of ‘race’ are you using? Based on the following definition, race is more about perceivable physical differences; not being a different species.

race: Each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics

I do not think that either AIG or ICR would call neanderthals a different ‘species’ based on the following quote from Answers in Genesis. I think they believe they were 100% human.

“Neanderthals were a group of humans, descended from Adam and Eve, who lived in the harsh post-Flood world. Archaeology confirms they made instruments, make-up, jewelry, weapons, and ritually buried their dead. Many humans today share DNA with Neanderthals. This fully human lineage died out sometime after the Flood.”

In summary, I am not aware of any ministries that think there were different species of humans. Do you have any quotes where they claim there were different ‘species’?


(S Joshua Swamidass) #5

@SeanO, the point is that there are no major divisions of humankind. What we perceive as major divisions end up falling apart under scientific scrutiny. Our conception of these “divisions” is far more determined by our context, culture, and socialization than anything biological.

As one example, African Americans are often (or even usually) of mixed “race,” especially compared to recent African immigrants. Yet perception and socially African immigrants tend to track more closely with majority white culture in most indicators, and also in our perception of them. This is an example where perceptions of “race” is exactly opposite of biology.

All of this is consistent with what I said. AIG says that Neanderthals were fully human. However, they also acknowledge that Neanderthals are not like any humans we see alive today. They are a different type of human. Historically, there was a large debate among YECs about whether or not Neanderthals were human or ape at all. It is now usually agreed that they are fully human, but also not the same type of human as us. Here is what Todd Woods says about it:

While it is true that young-age creationists in general have argued that Neandertals are a variant or subspecies of modern Homo sapiens, that is by no means an essential part of the young-age creationist model. As I argued just yesterday, I think there’s a reasonable case to be made for Neandertals as a separate species, and that’s totally consistent with a young-age creationist view. But just for the sake of argument let’s look at the opposite side, the case for Neandertals as a subspecies of modern Homo sapiens.
http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2010/05/neandertals-in-bizarro-world.html

Notice, the debate is about whether or not Neanderthals are a different species or a different subspecies. It is 100% clear they are not Sapiens, and that all humans alive right now are Sapiens too. I could go on here, but for brevity and time I won’t. Instead, I’ll point to the other place where “other types of humans” enter the picture, with Nephilim and Genesis 6:1-4 and Numbers 13:33.


(SeanO) #6

@swamidass That is an interesting perspective. I am not sure I see the connecting between Todd Wood’s point that Neanderthals may have been a separate species within his worldview and a YEC view of race.


(S Joshua Swamidass) #7

In context he is responding to a statement by RTB. If you look at the original article it will make sense.

The relevant point I was making is that YEC scientists currently see Neanderthals as a distinct human species or subspecies, that are equally “human” but biologically distinct from us.

In contrast, Sapiens are all one species / sub-species.


(SeanO) #8

@swamidass I like the following quote because it demonstrates humility regarding the status of neanderthals. If Hugh Ross comes back on Ask RZIM this would be a great question to bring up.

“The status of Neandertals as a subspecies of modern humans or a separate species altogether is difficult to settle. A good case can be made for either position.” Todd Wood


(Jimmy Sellers) #9

I feel like I am stating the obvious but Genesis 6:1-4 is one of the many subjects of Mike Heiser’s book Unseen Realm. I am not sure if everyone will buy into his explanation but it is fairly compelling story for this student. I will be curious to see where this whole discussion goes.


(S Joshua Swamidass) #10

I have a great deal of respect for @Hugh_Ross. I had the privilege of doing a Veritas Forum opposite him this last January (@moderators can remove link if its inappropriate):

I am currently donating time to work with @Fazale_Rana and @Anjeanette_AJ_Robert to think through their model, and refine it to the quality I could take it before my biology colleagues. I am not however, part of RTB, so I do not speak on their behalf. I personally see no reason to equate the “adams” of Genesis with Homo sapiens, finding instead more coherence in a Genealogical Adam. Please take everything I say here as my perspective. Still, I am a friend of RTB, and work for their benefit.

It appears that RTB is committed the view that Neanderthals are not humans. There appears to be some disagreement on their camp about interbreeding between Neanderthals and Sapiens. However,

  1. Rana and Ross are on the record agreeing the evidence is strong that Neanderthals and Sapiens interbred.

  2. RTB is the only origins organizations that questions on any level that Neanderthals and Sapiens interbred.

  3. One of RTB’s somewhat fixed points is that Sapiens are in the Image of God, and Neanderthals are not.

Interbreeding here, is often described as “Bestiality”. However, this is actually not correct. Think about it this way. Right now there are zero animals with whom humans can produce viable offspring. All individuals that can produce offsprings with humans are humans too. Therefore, in the RTB, there is a strange intermediary class that arises in past, Neanderthals, that are not “human” but can produce offspring with “humans.”

I’d say the most coherent way of describing this, to avoid the double speak, is:

  1. In the distant past there was a different category, intermediary between “human” and “animal”, and this category no longer is among us.

  2. This category is much like another “race” or “type” of “human” that no longer exists today. Or another “type” of “animal” that no longer exists today.

This seems to be the position they have taken.

The time before Adam is an example of an unseen realm. I like the interpretation a great deal. Many of us at Peaceful Science are relying on Heiser. His work is strong here, especially that on the divine council.


(SeanO) #11

@swamidass I will be curious to hear progress on your work to have the scientific community take the RTB model seriously. I imagine there are some very significant hurdles along that path. May the Lord guide those efforts.


(Jimmy Sellers) #12

Leaning on Heiser, from his book he says this about image

Defining image bearing as any ability is a flawed approach.

He defines abilities as intelligence, reasoning, emotions, self awareness among other things, and makes the case that animals have these abilities and AI is not far behind. If ability is the standard for imager/image bearer then any life form or an thing could?would be an imager.

The image is not an ability we have, but a status.

The Unseen Realm (First Edition, pp. 41–43). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

If I understand correctly he is tying imager as a status to the dominion mandate in Genesis 1:28 which is a function of being human. John Walton’s use of the word function comes to mind from his book Lost world of genesis.