What does the Bible say about the emergence of human races?


In one of your recent published articles you wrote about the Christian’s attitude towards racism. I am very curious to know what the Bible says about the appearance of human races and what the Christian’s attitude should be towards different human races?

Ce spune Biblia despre apariția raselor umane?

In the 1800s before Darwin’s theory of evolution was popularised, most people when talking about races referred to groups such as “the English race” or “the Irish race” etc. However, things changed in 1859 when Charles Darwin published his book “The origin of species by means of natural selection or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.” Possibly biological arguments about racism existed even before 1859, but with the acceptance of the theory of evolution things progressed even further. People’s attitudes changed, many began to think in terms of different social groups which, in evolutionary philosophy, represent different human races. However, all humans around the world are classified as homo sapiens sapiens.

Today scientists accept that biologically there is only one human race. In one of the articles published by ABC News it was said: “More and more scientists are finding that the differences that separate us are cultural, not racial. Some say the word ‘race’ should be abandoned because it is meaningless.” So the differences are because of culture, but not because of genes. The reason people think there are racial differences is because they grew up in a culture that taught them to see things that way.

The Bible does not use the word “races” in reference to humans, but describes all human beings as coming from one.

and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” (Acts 17:26 NASB) 

This truth emphasizes that we are all related to one another and that all humans are descendants of Adam who was created in the image of God. Job recognizes that all men are equal before God and all men are to be treated as God’s creation, bearers of God’s image.

“If I have rejected the claim of my male or female slaves

When they filed a complaint against me,

What then could I do when God arises?

And when He calls me to account, how am I to answer Him?

Did He who made me in the womb not make him,

And the same one created us in the womb?” (Job 31:13-15 NASB)  

But some people believe that there must be different races of people since there are differences in outward appearance, e.g. skin colour, eye shape, etc. Scientists have found that if you took two people anywhere in the world, their genetic differences would be 0.2 percent. Racial characteristics account for only 0.012 percent of human biological variation. Dr. Harold Page Freeman said that only 0.01 percent of a person’s genes are reflected in outward appearance. 

Scientists have discovered that there is a basic pigment called melanin that produces the colour of our skin. There are two main forms of melanin: eumelanin (dark brown to black) and pheomelanin (red to yellow). These combine to give us the special skin colour we have. Melanin is produced by melanocytes which are the cells in the lower layer of the skin. It doesn’t matter what colour skin we have, we all have about the same concentration of melanocytes in our bodies. Melanocytes produce melanin and melanocytes which transfer the melanin to other skin cells, which are able to separate into the lowest layer of the epidermis.

We know that Adam and Eve were the first humans. Their descendants filled the earth. However, during the flood the number of people was reduced to 8. The 8 people gave birth to all the tribes and nations of the world. The skin color of Noah and his family was probably reddish-brown. This allowed his sons and their wives to produce a variety of skin shades in just one generation. Because they communicated the same language and lived in close proximity, the obstacles that might have prevented them from intermarrying were not as great as they are today. Thus, the distinct differences and characteristics of people’s skin color would not have been as widespread as they are today.

After the rebellion of the people at the Tower of Babel, languages were confused, and people were spread all over the face of the earth.

“Now all the earth uses the same language and the same words.  And it came about, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and fire them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.  And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.”  Now the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the men had built.  And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they have started to do, and now nothing which they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let Us go down and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”  So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth; and they stopped building the city.  Therefore it was named Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. These are the records of the generations of Shem. Shem was a hundred years old when he fathered Arpachshad, two years after the flood; and Shem lived five hundred years after he fathered Arpachshad, and he fathered other sons and daughters.” (Genesis 11:1-11 NASB)

Because of the new linguistic and geographical barriers, people did not intermarry, and the result was a split in the gene pool. Thus, new cultures formed within each group, some more predominant than others. As new generations of children were born, the characteristics of each group became more prominent.

In conclusion, we can say that all humans are descendants of Adam and Eve, all are equal before God, and all are sinners in need of salvation. We all need to form a biblical mindset and judge all cultural issues through the lens of the Scriptures. In Christ Jesus all are one.

Translated by Aliona Soltan