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How Did We Get the Races?

By Editorial Staff
Published December 22, 2007

Throughout history, many people have wondered: How did the human races develop? Technically, the term “race” should never have been applied to human beings since there is only one race – the human race. This term came into popular usage with the growing acceptance of evolutionism in the late 1800s.

One should realize that the word “race,” referring to physical characteristics, hardly ever occurs in the Bible.1 Instead, the word “nation” is used over 200 times. Common usage of the word “race” today refers to groups of people with distinguishing physical characteristics such as skin color, shape of eyes, and type of hair.

To appreciate how minor these variations are in humans, consider the large variations in the dog family. Most varieties of domestic dogs were produced during the past 300 years. Dogs may be white, black, red, yellow, tiny huge hairy, almost hairless, cute or not-so-cute. Their temperaments and abilities also vary widely. Since the domestic dog can interbreed with the wolf, the coyote, and the jackal, all are part of the dog kind.

By comparison, human variations are few and minor. We must remember that in every kind of life there are vast numbers of genes that permit these variations which allow successive generations to adapt to environmental changes. Without this design feature, extinctions would be much more common. Besides, wouldn’t life be much less interesting if there were no variations within each kind?

The following three mechanisms have brought about the so-called “racial” characteristics in humans, just as in animals. It is which mechanism played the greatest role in this differentiation of human traits since the Genesis Flood, approximately 5000 years ago.

Natural Selection

This well established phenomenon is not a mechanism for macro-evolution as a century of experimentation has shown, although it is an important mechanism for micro-evolution. Natural selection filters out certain parental genes in successive generations, producing offspring with slightly different characteristics and less genetic variability. For example, a fair skinned person living near the equator is susceptible to several health risks, such as shin cancer.

Consequently, the fair-skinned person has a slightly less chance of living to reproductive age and passing on his or her genes for light skin color to a child. A similar situation exists for dark-skinned people living in the polar latitudes. Their skin screens out sunlight and tends to deprive them of vitamin D3 which forms in skin exposed to sunlight. Absence of vitamin D3 produces rickets. Therefore over many generations, dark-skinned people tend to live near the equator and light-skinned people tend to live at the higher latitudes.

There are several exceptions to this tendency. For example, Eskimos have rather dark skin and yet live in Arctic latitudes. Their diet which includes fish liver oils containing large amounts of vitamin D3, prevents rickets.

Small Isolated Populations

A population of people, or any other form of life, has a large set of genetic characteristics. If a few members of this population move to an isolated region, such as an island, they will have a different and smaller set of genetic characteristics than the entire population. As a result, subsequent generations on that island will have different traits from the original population.

This can be illustrated by a barrel that is filled with marbles – half white and half black. Let’s say that each marble represents a person, and the color of the marble represents that person’s skin color. If pairs of marbles are drawn at random and placed on separate islands about half the islands will end up with marbles of one color.

If each pair of marbles represented a husband and wife, this would be somewhat analogous to the dispersion and isolation that occurred after the Flood and the downfall of Babel. If a husband and wife ended up having the same genes. Each person carries genes for skin color. If a husband and wife end up having the same genes for dark and light skin color, then all their descendants would end up having dark skin or light skin. The color of the marbles could just as well represent any other genetic characteristic.

Actually, the genetics of this process are more complicated than this simple illustration. For example, there are at least 4 genes that determine skin color, not just one. Nevertheless, there are thousands of traits, each of which might cluster in an isolated geographic region if small groups broke off from the larger population. Thus, specific characteristics can easily arise as they did when the eight survivors of the flood and their descendants eventually responded to God’s command to spread pout and repopulate the earth.

From the listing of the descendants of Noah given in Genesis 10-11, we can see how easily the early migration patterns began. Shem’s immediate descendants stayed generally near Ararat (what is now eastern Turkey) or migrated eastward. Ham’s descendants migrated southward, while Japeth’s descendants migrated northward. Undoubtedly, there were were many other occasions where small groups colonized isolated regions and thus allowed their unique genetic characteristics to be expressed in subsequent generations.

What Did Adam and Eve Look Like?

Understanding these three mechanisms, we can now raise some interesting questions. What did Adam and Eve look like? Obviously, their genes coded for all the traits that humans have today – and probably other traits that have disappeared. Many of their genes, of course, were not visible (or expressed) because of the dominance of other genes.

People usually visualize Adam and Eve as looking as they themselves do. Undoubtedly, Adam’s and Eve’s skin color was not “white” or “black” but something in between. The Hebrew word for Adam carries a connotation of ruddy or reddish. An almost identical Hebrew word means “rosy” or “to show blood.” It is quite likely that Adam’s skin coloring was almost like that of the American Indian.

For the past 130 years, evolutionism has painted a very different picture. Man supposedly ascended from an apelike ancestor. Some early humans branched off sooner than others, and therefore, they look differently, and have different physical and mental abilities. This is racism, a highly prejudicial school of thought that tends to dehumanize fellow human beings.

One cannot say that evolutionists today are racists. Racism is unpopular today, and public acknowledgement of it is even more so. However, many evolutionists in the several generations following Darwin, and even Charles Darwin himself, were racists. The theory of evolution provides a very convincing rationale to justify racism.

Evolutionist and Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould, although not a racist himself, sadly recounts that history of evolutionary racism: “Biological arguments against racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of the theory of evolution.“2

Genesis provides a quite different historical perspective. We are all descended from Adam and Eve and Noah and his wife. Consequently, we are all cousins. Think what the world would be like if all people realized that!

1. The word “race” as applied to groups of people, is never used in the King James version of the Bible and is seldom used in the more modern translations. However, the two or three usages in these modern translations come from Hebrew and Greek words that actually mean “family” or “offspring,” not a variety or subspecies.

2. Stephen Jay Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1977), p. 127.


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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

Special Two-Disc Set!

After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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Why Creeds and Confessions? (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 219 pages

Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy

Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.

Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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