by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.



Humans come in a rainbow of colors: sandy yellows, reddish-tans,

creamy whites, pale pinks. And who among us is not curious about the

skin colors, hair textures, bodily structures and facial features

associated with racial background. Why do many Africans have deep black

skin, while that of most Europeans is pale pink? Why do the eyes of

most "white" people and "black" people look pretty much alike but

differ so much from the eyes of Orientals? Why do some races have kinky

hair, while others have straight hair? Why do some races grow to over 7

feet tall (e.g., African Watusis), while others are less than 5 feet

(e.g., African Pygmies)? The answers to some of these questions, and

others, may often be found in a study of the origin of various races.


A human "race" is most often defined as a group of people with

certain features in common which distinguish them from other groups of

people. Currently there are three or four major "races" of humans, as

the word race is commonly defined: (a) Caucasoid; (b) Mongoloid; (c)

Negroid; and, (d) Australoid. Generally speaking, the Australoids are

considered a subgroup of the Caucasoids, simply because the two groups

have so many features in common, despite the fact that Australoids

possess dark skin (the Australoid group is often known as the

Australian Aboriginal Group). If a breakdown by percentages of the

world's population were attempted, the groups would look like this:

Caucasoid, 55%; Mongoloid, 33%; Negroid, 8%; Australoid, 4%. It is

interesting to note that these races are distributed around the globe

throughout over 100 nations, and speak 3,000+ tribal languages and


Speaking in broad terms, research on racial differences has led

scientists to at least three major conclusions. First, there are many

more differences among people than just hair texture, skin color, and

facial features. Dozens of other variations have been found to exist.

The following examples are taken from McCutcheon (1989, pp 25-35).

(A) Apocrine glands, which produce scents that we commonly refer to

as body odor, vary widely among the races. Asians have an extremely low

distribution of apocrines (Koreans are among the least odor-producing

people on earth---50% of them have no apocrine glands at all). With

regard to other races, blacks have a slightly higher distribution of

apocrine glands than whites.

(B) Ear wax among races is quite different. One of the most

accurate ways to distinguish Asians from blacks and whites is to check

for differences in ear wax. Asians produce dry, crumbly ear wax. Blacks

and whites produce moist, adhesive ear wax.

(C) Metabolic rates can differ significantly among races. The

higher the metabolic rate, the higher the threshold for sensing cold.

The Eskimo's metabolic rate is 15-30% higher than that of a European.

Equatorial people have the lowest metabolism of all because fewer

calories are needed to keep their bodies warm.

There are many other differences which could be discussed---teeth,

brain size, body shape, etc.

Second, research has shown that in many instances the success of a

population's survival has been aided by its genetic variability. While

evolutionists equate this with chance processes operating in the sphere

of "survival of the fittest," creationists see it as just one more

example of God's beneficent design. He has given us such variability,

genetically speaking, so that we can successfully adapt as the need

arises. More will be said about this later.

Third, despite the human species' wealth of built-in variation, and

despite our constant references to "race," no one has ever been able to

suggest a truly reliable way to distinguish one race from another.

While it is possible to classify a great many people on the basis of

certain physical characteristics, there are no known features, of

groups of features, that will do the job in all cases.

It has been suggested that skin color might be the criterion for

race determination. Yet, this provides innumerable difficulties because

while most Africans from south of the Sahara and their descendants

around the world have skin that is darker than that of most Europeans,

there are millions of people in India, classified by many

anthropologists as members of the Caucasoid race, who have darker skins

than most American blacks. Some Africans, living in the sub-Saharan

regions, have skin coloration which is no darker than that of some

Spaniards, Italians, Greeks, or Lebanese.

Stature has been suggested as a determining factor for races.

African Pygmies, because of their short height, have been considered

racially distinct from other dark-skinned Africans, for example. Yet if

stature is then to become a (or the) racial criterion, would it not be

necessary to include in the same race both the tall African Watusis and

Scandinavians of similar stature? Yet no one recommends such.

Various appearance features have also been suggested as the

criterion for race determination. For example, most people are familiar

with the almond shaped eye of the Oriental. The little web of skin that

is so characteristic in Oriental eyes is said to be a distinguishing

feature of the Mongoloid race. Yet, if one were to accept that

argument, how, then, could it be argued that the American Indian (who

is presently classified as Mongoloid, yet lacks this epicanthic fold)

is also Mongoloid? Other distinguishing features fare no better. Such

features as hair color, eye color, hair form, the shapes of noses and

lips, and many of the other traits set forth as "markers" of one race

or another are found distributed all too often throughout many races.

Among the tall people of the world there are those who exhibit every

skin color imaginable---from black to white and everything in between.

Among black people of the world there are some who possess kinky hair,

some who possess straight or wavy hair, and again, many in between.

Among the broad-nosed, full-lipped people of the world, it is true that

there are many with dark skins, but there are likewise many with light

skins, and many in between.

The complexity of this issue increases. The world is filled with

populations that just seem to defy classification. Consider some of

these well-known examples:(a) the Bushmen of southern Africa appear to

be as much Mongoloid as Negroid;(b) the Negritos of the South Pacific

do look Negroid, but are far-removed from Africa and have no known

links to that continent;(c) the Ainu of Japan are a hairy, aboriginal

type of people who appear to be more Caucasoid than anything

else;(d) the aborigines of Australia sometimes look Negroid, but often

have straight or wavy hair and are occasionally blond as children.

To accommodate this immense diversity, many different classification

systems have been proposed. Some have suggested as many as two or three

dozen races. But none has ever been able to accomplish its task of

successfully defining just how a race should be determined.


Why are there so many different racial characteristics? What is

their origin? And how long did it take for all this to occur?

Biologists determine species by (among other ways) including in a

species all individuals that are capable of interbreeding to produce

fertile offspring. There is only one species of man on the Earth---

`Homo sapiens'. That, on the face of it, is an interesting fact.

Anthropologists and biologists place all races in existence today into

a single species, which points to the fact that the differences between

human races are not really all that great. Members of all races can

intermarry and produce fertile offspring.

It is also interesting to note that these "differences" within the

groups are just as pronounced as differences among the groups. Negroid

people range in color from black to sallow; Mongoloid people range from

yellow, to white, to bronze-brown; Caucasoids range from pink (as in

England) to dark brown (as in Southern India). These skin colors---to

which most people refer when they speak of a "race" of people---are

caused by the brown pigment in the skin known as melanin. The more

melanin a person has, the darker the skin will be as an adult.

Conversely, the less melanin in the skin, the lighter the skin will be

as an adult. A person whose skin possesses no melanin is referred to as

an albino, and cannot produce body pigment. Such a person's pinkish-

white color is caused by blood vessels showing through the colorless

skin. The claim that there are many different skin colors in the world

is not altogether accurate. The apparent differences in color are

merely differences in the amount of the melanin found in the skin, not

differences in the type of color. There is only one coloring agent for

the human race; the shade of color simply depends upon how much melanin

is present.

Melanin does far more than simply provide the body with

pigmentation. Its most important role is in protecting the body by

absorbing ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight which falls on the

skin. UV radiation can damage the skin and produce skin cancer if not

filtered out by the melanin. People who have large amounts of melanin

in their skin are generally very resistant to the effects of UV

radiation. People with only small amounts of melanin may suffer badly

if exposed to too much UV light.

The energy of the UV light penetrates deeper into their skin and

can cause damage to the skin tissues.

In the evolutionary scheme, mankind is the end product of changes

occurring over millions of years. It has been suggested that

anatomically modern humans first appeared in Africa about 200,000 years

ago (Cann, et al., 1987; cf. Major, 1989). In this model, one group

remained in Africa, while at least one other group migrated out of

Africa, and evolved into all non-African populations. Hence, the

different characteristics would have arisen within this time span.

However, there is no need to suggest long periods of time. The

creationist point of view takes at least three factors into account to

explain the origin of variation:(a) the origin of man;(b) the known

historical/biblical facts regarding man; and,(c) the nature of the

areas to which man migrated. Here are some pertinent facts bearing on

each of these points.

First, the biblical record makes it abundantly clear that God

created man. Thus, man did not "evolve" over millions of years. Rather,

Adam was the first man (I Corinthians 15:45) and, through Eve, all

living would come (Genesis 3:20). This becomes critical in determining

the origin of racial characteristics.

Second, we do know that historically, and biblically, the line of

human descent passed from Adam and Eve and their descendants to Noah

and his family. However, whatever genetic material had been dispersed

into the human race prior to the global Flood was severely limited by

the destruction of that Flood.

Third, after the Flood, the tower of Babel incident occurred. Men

refused to obey God and cover the Earth (Genesis 9:1). So, God confused

their languages, and as a natural result, men migrated to parts of the

globe where they could be with others who spoke their language (Genesis

11:8). This migration, as will be discussed shortly, likely had a part

to play in producing racial characteristics.


Most people, when they speak of a "race," refer to the racial

characteristic of skin coloration. For the purpose of the present

discussion, we will limit our discussion, for the most part, to the

origin of such a characteristic (being careful to do so only in an

accommodative sense). In humans, production of the skin coloring agent

melanin is controlled by two pairs of genes. We designate them Aa and

Bb, the capital letters representing dominant genes and the small

letters recessive genes. A & B, being dominant, produce melanin very

well. Being recessive, a & b produce melanin to a lesser degree.

Dr. Gary Parker, in his book, `Creation: The Facts of Life' (1980,

pp 77-81), has observed that if Adam and Eve were both AABB, they could

have produced only children with the darkest coloration possible, and

they themselves would likewise have been dark. That, barring genetic

mutations (to be discussed later), would have produced a world composed

only of dark-skinned people. But, as has already been noted, the

Negroid race composes less than 10% of the world's population, so by a

process of elimination, this choice can be ruled out.

If Adam and Eve had both been aabb, they could have had only

children that were aabb, that being the lightest coloration possible.

Then, the world would contain no other groupings. But it does. So, this

option is also ruled out by a process of elimination.

The real question is this: Is there a mechanism by which the racial

characteristics which we see today could have originated with one human

couple---in the short, few thousand year or so history of the Earth?

The answer is a resounding yes! If Adam and Eve had been

"heterozygous" (AaBb; two dominant, two recessive genes), they would

have been middle-brown in color. And, from them---in one generation---

racial differences could easily have occurred. The following chart

expresses the genetic possibilities that could result if Adam and Eve

had been heterozygous. Note that in a single generation, one could

theoretically expect these colorations to be produced: 1 darkest; 4

dark; 6 medium; 4 light; and 1 lightest.

A person born AABB carries genes for the darkest coloration

possible, and since all genes are dominant, has no genes for lightness.

If that person married another person who likewise carried all dominant

genes, and moved to an area where no intermarriage with people of

different colors occurred, the offspring resulting from this marriage

would then carry the same dominant genes. These offspring will have

"lost" the ability to be "white." Conversely, if a person who is aabb,

and thus the lightest possible, marries another person who likewise

carries all recessive genes, and moves into an area where no

intermarriage with people of other colors occurs, henceforth this union

will produce only offspring of the lightest possible coloration. The

offspring so produced will have "lost" the ability to be "black." They

no longer have the genes necessary to produce enough melanin for the

black color.

Thus, starting with any two parents who were heterozygous (i.e.,

middle-brown in color), extreme racial colors (black and white, to name

only two examples) could be produced in such a way that races would

have permanently different colors. Of course, it is also possible to

produce a middle-brown race which will have a fixed middle-brown color.

If the original middle-brown parents produce offspring of either AAbb

or aaBB, and these offspring marry only others their own color,

avoiding intermarriage with those not of their own genetic makeup,

their descendants will be a fixed middle-brown color.

Is it likely that people of various colorations intermarried? The

preponderance of so many colorations in the world is evidence aplenty

that they did. Interestingly, even the evolutionists agree on this

point. Rensberger says:

Race mixing has not only been a fact of human history but

is, in this day of unprecedented global mobility, taking

place at a more rapid rate than ever. It is not farfetched

to envision the day when, generations hence, the entire

"complexion" of m ajor population centers will be different.

Meanwhile, we can see such changes taking place before our

eyes, for they are a part of everyday reality (p 54, emp. added).

Dr. Francisco Ayala of the University of California has observed

that if the process started out with a couple that had only a 6.7%

heterozygosity (which is the average in modern humans), the different

combinations possible would be 1x10.<2,017> before the couple would

have one child identical to another (1978, p 63)!

As Parker observed, it is likely that Adam and Eve were

heterozygous. Otherwise, their descendants would have lacked

variation. However, one might suggest that Adam and Eve began with all

dominant (or all recessive) sets of genes, but that changes occurred

after the Creation as the result of mutations. Indeed, many of the

genetic differences, and many of the genetic disorders, no doubt have

arisen since the first couple was removed from the original, pristine

environment. Thus, the possibility that some heterozygosity is a

product of mutations cannot be ruled out.


There can be little doubt that racial characteristics existed

before the Flood, at least to some degree. However, regardless of just

how well-delineated the various groups of people were before the Flood,

Noah's three sons and their wives were the only survivors to pass their

genes to the post-Flood population. The inherent variability within

these survivors, along with the possibility of mutations, would ensure

continued diversity.

Furthermore, by dispersing linguistically isolated groups all over

the world, the Tower of Babel incident had a significant affect on the

subsequent development and history of mankind. At least some of the

differences which arose can be attributed to the various environments

in which the people found themselves. While it is certainly true that

genes control melanin production, it is also true that the body has the

ability to "respond" (i.e., adapt), within certain limits, to

environmental pressures. So, those people with darker skins who moved

into equatorial regions could better adapt. Likewise, people with

fairer skins who moved into Scandinavian countries would be favored,

since darker-skinned people could not as easily produce Vitamin D and

would therefore suffer from such diseases as rickets. Environmental

pressures, therefore, could affect the genetic machinery, at least to

some extent (see Mackay, 1984, pp 6-12).

But why are certain racial features as they are? Oftentimes we

simply do not know. Nobody knows, for example, why Orientals have

epicanthic eye folds or flatter facial profiles. The thin lips of

Caucasoids and most Mongoloids have no known advantages over the full

lips of Negroid races. Why should middle-aged and older Caucasoid men

go bald so much more frequently than the men of other races? Why does

the skin of Bushmen wrinkle so heavily in the middle and later years?

Or why does the skin of Negroids resist wrinkling so well? These are

questions for which we currently possess no answers.

What we do know is that the races were produced in a very short

time span, and that the racial variations we see today are merely an

expression of the original genetic endowment of Adam and Eve as carried

through to us by Noah. No long evolutionary process was able, or

needed, to produce them.


Ayala, Francisco J. (1978), "The Mechanisms of Evolution," `Scientific

American', 239[3]:56-69.

Cann, Rebecca L., Mark Stoneking, and Allan C. Wilson (1987),

"Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution," `Nature', 325:31-36.

McCutcheon, Marc (1989), `The Compass in Your Nose' (Los Angeles:

Jeremy P. Tarcher).

Mackay, John (1984), "The Origin of Races," `Creation Ex Nihilo',


Major, Trevor J. (1989), "Who is this `Eve'?" `Reason & Revelation',


Parker, Gary E. (1980), `Creation: The Facts of Life' (San Diego, CA:

Creation-Life Publishers).

Rensberger, Boyce (1981), "Racial Odyssey," `Science Digest', 89[1]:50-


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Index - Evolution or Creation

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