NOAH IS OUR GRANDPA, the Bible says. We’re all related to him since his family is the only one the Bible says survived the worldwide flood.
So why don’t we look like him? Why do some of us look like the relative nobody in the family wants to talk about?
Here’s how a friend of mine, Tom Fowler, put the question—which gets him a free book (Tom, email me):
“Where did the different races come from when all supposedly began with Adam and Eve?”
Well, some Christians would say, the stories about Adam and Eve and Noah and the boat were fiction, dreamed up by a God-loving soul who wanted to teach some basic lessons about God.
- Creation story: He created the world.
- Flood story: He doesn’t tolerate sin.
Many of those Christians would warm up to the idea that natural selection and evolution made the difference.
Here’s an example.
I have a Black Labrador Retriever, Buddy—whom I had to retrieve last week because he ran off when a visitor opened a door and Buddy darted out, refusing to come back to me until he ran out of energy.
There was no such breed of dog until about a century ago: in the 1880s.
Yellow labs came a decade later. Chocolate in the 1930s, saving the best for last some would say. Craziest for last, others would argue.
It makes a difference which dog you hook up with.
That’s what happens to humans, too, most people of science agree.
As the Bible taught, descendants of Noah spread out along the planet—apparently realizing that it’s a great way to keep peace in the family. As in, “I love you this much,” hands spread apart to represent the safe distance of 1,000 miles (1,600 km).
Some became “the seafaring peoples,” (Genesis 10:5).
Others went to Iraq, “the land of Babylonia,” (Genesis 10:11).
In Babylon, the Bible says, they got snooty and started building a tower to heaven, as if they could show up on God’s doorstep for Trick or Treat.
God stopped all of that by making them suddenly start talking in different languages. “In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world,” (Genesis 11:9).
[Fun language fact: My high school French teacher taught us to say the American Pledge of Allegiance in French. The Lord’s Prayer, too. But all I can remember is the Pledge of Allegiance. It will come in handy if I ever find myself in front of a French firing squad and don’t want to end up merely wounded in the first volley. The Lord’s Prayer would come in handy, too.]
The point here, many would say, isn’t that God literally performed this language miracle. The point is that people scattered.
Separated, they married within their tribes.
Isolation, inbreeding, and location soon made a difference in how people looked.
If people with dark skin were better camouflaged than light-skinned people to hunt for food in dark jungles, the dark genes lived to hunt another day.
Anthropologists consider race a temporary state of being. We humans, they say, are continually changing. It’s because of genetics, natural selection, and the environment.
I, for one, am growing jowls.
It’s due in part to an environmental phenomena.
Peanut butter cookies.
Far as I can tell, this is not going to change the color of my skin, the texture of my hair, or the shape of my eyes.
But I am beginning to wonder if there will come a time in the not-too-distance future when I will no longer be able to see my feet.
Gladly, I have the newly evolved Black Lab who daily begs me to walk it off.