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Reason and Revelation Volume 23 #9

A Hairless Rainbow of Colors

by  Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

The Bible is quite clear. There is only one race—the human race. Humans, however, have arbitrarily further defined “race” to distinguish between the various colors of people. Presently, we recognize three or four major “races” of humans, as the word race usually is defined: (a) Caucasoid; (b) Mongoloid; (c) Negroid; and (d) Australoid. But consider the conundrum evolutionists face in explaining why humans have mostly naked skin that comes in a variety of sandy yellows, reddish-tans, silky browns, creamy whites, and pale pinks. We are the only “primates” (their classification, not mine) that remain hairless and exhibit this rainbow of colors. Yet, these colors also cause many of us to stop and ask: “How could so many different colors have originated from Adam and Eve?” 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)?

An article in the October 2002 issue of Scientific American claims to hold the answer to this complex puzzle. The authors believe that human skin color has continued to evolve—in an effort to get “just the right color.” The claim is: “Throughout the world, human skin color has evolved to be dark enough to prevent sunlight from destroying the nutrient folate, but light enough to foster the production of vitamin D” (Jablonski and Chaplin, 2002, 287[4]:75, emp. added). The skin on chimpanzees and apes is light because it is covered and protected by the abundance of hair on their bodies. As such, evolutionists believe that the first humans had light skin. According to their theory, we were forced to give up our hair in order to cool our growing brains (maybe this explains why many humans today find themselves “folliclely challenged!”). Once rid of the body hair, evolutionists proclaim, humans then were subjected to the damaging effects of sunlight, especially UV rays. To combat this problem, evolutionists contend, humans began producing more melanin, the dark-pigmented molecule that serves the dual purpose of physically and chemically filtering out harmful UV rays. The Scientific American report also points out that the melanin may have played a role in preserving folate (p. 76)—a compound important in preventing neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

The article informs readers that “the earliest members of Homo sapiens, or modern humans, evolved in Africa between 120,000 and 100,000 years ago and had darkly pigmented skin adapted to the condition of UV radiation and heat that existed near the equator” (p. 79). This dark skin became problematic, however, when humans began to venture out of this tropical region. With less sunlight available, humans were unable to produce vitamin D in sufficient quantities, and were subject to various diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia. Thus, people who settled in regions without as much sunlight were then forced to undergo further evolution in order to produce a lighter skin color. [For those of you keeping track, here’s a quick summary: We lost body hair to cool our growing brains. Our pink skin and folate levels were in danger of UV radiation, so we evolved lots of melanin and became dark skinned. But some humans traveled to areas where there wasn’t as much sunlight, thus they were required to evolve lighter skin.] So, humans evolved skin dark enough to prevent sunlight from destroying the nutrient folate but light enough to foster vitamin D production. Seems like an awful lot of “evolving” to solve a puzzle that creationists solved a long time ago—with much less evolving. Equally troubling is the fact that we see all colors on the Earth today. If there were one skin color that was ideal—protecting folate, while permitting the production of vitamin D—then why do we see so many color variations today?

FACTORS FOR THE ORIGIN OF RACES

There are at least three factors to be considered, from a creationist point of view, in any attempt to explain the origin of what we today call “races”: (a) the origin of man; (b) the known historical and/or 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 is abundantly clear regarding the fact that God created man. As a significant part of the whole creation, man was pronounced “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Thus, man did not “evolve” his skin color. Rather, God gave him the best possible combination of skin-color genes. The writer of Acts observed that God “made of one every nation of man to dwell on all the face of the earth” (17:26). This fits perfectly with both recorded history and current scientific facts—man always has been man. Adam was the first man (see 1 Corinthians 15:45). And, through Eve, all humans would descend (see Genesis 3:20). This becomes critical in determining the origin of racial characteristics.

Second, we know that historically, and biblically, the line of human descent passed through 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. So God confused their language and, as a natural result, men migrated to various parts of the globe where they could be with others who spoke their language. This migration no doubt had an important part to play in producing various racial characteristics.

In humans, skin color is caused by melanin—a dark pigment (biochrome) that also is found in hair, feathers, scales, eyes, and some internal membranes. But that pigment is controlled in its production mainly by two pairs of genes. Geneticists designate them as Aa and Bb, where the capital letters represent dominant genes, while the small letters represent recessive genes. A and B, being dominant, produce melanin very well. Being recessive, a and b produce melanin to a lesser degree.

If Adam and Eve were both AABB, they could have produced only children that were the darkest Negroid coloration possible, and they themselves likewise would have been Negroid. That (barring genetic mutations) would have produced a world composed solely of Negroid people. But, 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 (again, barring genetic mutations), they could have had only children who were aabb, and who were the lightest Caucasoid coloration possible. Then, the world would contain no other groupings. But it does. So, this option also can be ruled out by a process of elimination.

The real question is this: Is there a mechanism by which the racial characteristics that we see today could have originated with one human couple—in the short, few-thousand-year 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 easily could have occurred. To illustrate this, examine the following chart (known as a Punnett square).

AaBb — AaBb

From Two Came All

From these possibilities, one could obtain the following:

1—Darkest Negroid

4—Dark

6—Medium skin

4—Light

1—Lightest Caucasoid

The Punnett square shows the racial possibilities (in the offspring) that can be expected (theoretically) from a husband and wife in one generation. Consider, then, the possibilities that would have existed among the eight individuals who were aboard the ark! [For further information on the origin of “races,” see Thompson, 1990].

The whole process is “put into reverse,” however, when people of different skin colors intermarry. Various combinations of genes (i.e., different from those originally carried by the two parents) occur, and the offspring thus begin to show a rainbow effect of skin colors, ranging from black to white. 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 concede this point. Boyce Rensberger noted:

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 major population centers will be different. Meanwhile, we can see such changes taking place before our eyes, for they are a part of everyday reality (1981, 89[1]:54, emp. added).

Francisco Ayala of the University of California has observed that if the process began with a couple that had only a 6.7% heterozygosity (which is the average in modern humans), the different combinations possible would be 1 X 102,017 before the couple would have one child identical to another (1978, 239[3]:63).

OTHER FACTORS

There can be little doubt that racial characteristics existed before the Flood, at least to some degree. But once the Flood had come and gone (drastically altering both the Earth and man’s environment), and once the Tower of Babel incident had occurred, man found himself migrating to new (and different) environments.

Besides the environment, physical characteristics also play a part in what we call “racial” characteristics. For example, the yellowish color in Mongoloid races is due to the extra thickening of the keratin layer in the skin, which causes the sunlight to be reflected from the skin. The normal brown color produced by the melanin is “altered,” and the end result is a yellow brown. Or, consider the Mongoloid eye as opposed to the Caucasoid eye. The Caucasoid eye has only one layer of fat; the Mongoloid eye has a double fold of fat, producing an almond-shaped eye. One benefit of this amazing, doubly insulated eye would be to provide warmth in cold snowy winters, and in protecting the eye from snow reflected UV light.

In referring to the human race, Daniel Koshland admitted: “Such dilemmas make us confront another reality. At the present time, the way in which mutation and selection (survival of the fittest) has worked over evolutionary time no longer seems to apply to Homo sapiens” (2002, 295:2216, parenthetical item in orig.). Races were produced in a very short time span, and 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 “evolutionary process” produced them.

REFERENCES

Ayala, Francisco J. (1978), “The Mechanisms of Evolution,” Scientific American, 239[3]:56-69, September.

Jablonski, Nina G. and George Chaplin (2002), “Skin Deep,” Scientific American, 287[4]:74-81, October.

Koshland, Daniel E. Jr., (2002), “The Seven Pillars of Life,” Science, 295:2215-2216, March 22.

Rensberger, Boyce (1981), “Racial Odyssey,” Science Digest, 89[1]:50-57,134-136, January/February.

Thompson, Bert (1990), “The Origin of “Races,” Reason & Revelation, 10[8]:33-36, August.



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