WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUN. 18, 2015
version 4, draft 4

Sons of Adam: Why Are we so Different?

Yes, we are sons of Adam, but what are we to each other? Are we all brothers and sisters? If that’s true, then why are we so different?

Ok, so we all agree on one thing: We are all descendants of Noah and his wife and before that Adam and Eve. But what does this mean? Does this make us brothers and sisters? If we choose to believe this then we also agree that there was incest and that back then men had to marry their sisters in order to comply with the Creator’s command to ‘multiply and fill the earth’.

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The big question is: if we are all brothers and sisters, then why are we so different? Why do we have different skin colours and characteristics? Why were different ‘races’ created and what purpose do they serve?

Sons of Adam

According to Bible, there’s only one race and that is the human race. It explains that God “made of one blood all nations of men” (Acts 17:26) and that differences in people are found looking at national groupings – not physical appearance. However, it’s impossible to overlook the diversity in the physical characteristics or features of each race such as skin colour and at the same time not wonder how each person has grown to be so different from one another.

Either way, the Bible also explains how God created the different people groups by confusing their language and spreading them around the earth after disobeying His orders:

“…and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all earth: and they left off to build the city” (Genesis 11: 8-9).

This break-up of population is said to have created the various groups that exist today. With the passage of time, it allowed variations in skin colour and other characteristics to be formed which constitute the main features that distinguish them from other groups of people.

Science though goes further than that as anthropologists support the idea that people can be classified into four major racial groups. These are:

  1. Caucasoid (European or “white”)
  2. Mongoloid (Chinese, Inuit or Eskimo, Native Americans)
  3. Negroid (Black Africans)
  4. Australoid (Australian Aborigines)

This division doesn’t exist in the Bible nor does it accurately match the genetic characteristics of each ‘ethnic group’ or ‘race’, a rather controversial word that has generated great debate. That’s because there may be several different sub-groups to each. However, it does explain some of the differences and similarities that people in these four classifications share along such as skin colour, facial angle, hair texture, jaw size, cranial capacity and brain mass.

While this helps us understand how we are different it doesn’t really gives out the answer as to why. Have we biologically inherited these attributes that classify us into fixed categories? Or is it something beyond that?  

Over the years anthropologists have attempted to explain the different biological variations and differences that exist in human species. As such, they came up with three possible explanations that are as follows:

Natural selection

This explains how certain genetic characteristics have come to be prominent in humankind thus making all these five racial group distinctions more obvious. Such features enable some members of the population to survive in a particular environment and have more offspring that inherit the favorable traits of the parents. The weak members of a racial group gradually die off naturally over time as do the weak traits.

Gene flow

Gene flow or gene migration refers to the transfer of genes from one population to another. This occurs when people from one population mate with those in another thus altering the gene pool. Around the 1950s, geneticists found out that up to 30 percent of the measured traits of African Americans came from European mating after comparing the traits of Europeans and West Africans.

‘Genetic drift’

Genetic drift is the phenomenon that explains how people who move from one geographic area to another may have different genetic characteristics from the parental population. This happens as their organism develops adaptive traits that have a positive impact on their survival and reproduction such as skin colour.   

The answer as to why we are so different despite having originated from the same ancestors might remain unknown forever. However, we are still considered to be brothers and sisters despite our physical differences.

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So what do you think? Is this a question we are never going to answer? I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter so feel free to leave your comments in the section below.

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