There are some issues so obvious that one would be excused for presuming that they need not be explicitly addressed, but we live in an era when men and women look at their own naked bodies in the mirror and remain uncertain as to which gender they are — and, worse, many encourage them in such delusions. Biological sex — either man or woman — corresponds directly with gender — either male or female; this is part of the structure of reality. Similarly, race is a fundamental part of human nature — an immutable facet of reality. But let us lay the foundation before truly coming to the conclusion.
Every single living human being (and all the dead ones who were born after the Flood) descends from one of the three sons of Noah. We know the names and genealogies of the sons of Noah — we know nothing of their wives. I am a son of Japheth and Japheth’s wife — I do not know the name of the ‘Eve’ of the Japhethitic line. Naturally, I am also a son of Adam and Eve, for Adam is the federal and natural head of all men and Eve is the mother of all living, which is to say all men. Some will, then, ask how we can have different races if all are, ultimately, descended from Adam and Eve (this is often ‘advanced’ via the vapid: ‘one race — the human race’). To properly and fully address this question, we must delve deeper and establish another foundation: genetics.
Man is body, mind, and soul1. For our purposes, here, we will be focusing on the first: body. Man is a creature — more, man is an animal; as an animal, man is subject to many physical realities — heat and cold, hunger and thirst, fatigue and the demands of rest and sleep. Further, man, as an animal, is beholden to the realities of biology. Much (most, in fact) of who and what you are was determined by biology, was totally outside your control; in fact, it was even largely outside your parents’ control — for instance, your hair and eye color, your height, your intelligence, and your hairline were all more or less determined centuries ago. To simplify (the details we will be ignoring do not matter here): Your DNA determines who and what you are. The Levitical priests tithed to Melchizedek because they were already present in Abraham’s DNA. Now, we must address two additional matters: 1) information and 2) descent or selection.
First, information. Everything is information — at least, everything that is not simply raw material is information (and, even then, we are in a very grey area). You are information, which is to say you are a particular organization of matter (n.b., matter and energy are equivalent for all relevant purposes). The organization is the information, or, to be more accurate, the organization is the expression of the information. In the case of living creatures, this information is stored in DNA. As to your body, you are your DNA. Information can be effectively destroy, but it cannot truly be created. (For our purposes, of course, this does not matter, as it would only strengthen the inevitable conclusion if information could be created.) This last point leads directly into our next matter.
Second, descent and selection. You are the result of thousands of years and hundreds of generations of selection. Your DNA carries less information than Adam’s. This selective loss of information has led to who and what you are; you are the expression of what information has survived this selection process. All the races of men were present in Adam, but it has taken many generations to express those races. And, now, we have a working definition of what a race is: a race of men is a group of human beings who have a distinct expression of the overall set of human genetic information. Races are, by and large, stable over time — definitionally so. We must, however, note that, as they are simply stable subsets of the overall human — or, say, Adamic — genome, which is to say information subsets, races may go extinct — information can be destroyed. The destruction of a race may take place via a number of mechanisms: sub-replacement fertility, inbreeding, outbreeding, and, of course, war.
Now that we have our pieces in place, let us employ an abstract example to further drive home the nature, the reality, and the mechanism. Let us start with Progenitor, who has in his DNA genes A01–A10, J1–J5, S1–S5, and H1–H5. P passes all of the A genes to each of his offspring, but passes the J, S, and H, genes to, respectively, J, S, and H. Over time, these tribes will become races, if they remain separated from each other (i.e., if they do not interbreed). It is, of course, irrelevant that a member of J could father offspring by a member of S; we are discussing tribalization and ethnomachy, not speciation. This leads to our next example — a concrete one.
There are many breeds of dog; ‘breeds’ is simply the term we use for ‘races’ when speaking of animals. (Incidentally, dog breeds even correlate to human races in most instances and in many ways.) If you breed Golden Retrievers, their offspring will be Golden Retrievers — you will not end up with Poodle, Chihuahua, or Dachshund puppies; this is so because Golden Retriever is a race of dogs. And so with men: A Dutchman and a Dutchwoman who have children will have Dutch children, not Chinese. Race and descent are not only obvious, but are readily verifiable. To deny the reality of race is to deny the reality of Creation — is to deny the Creator.
Like dogs, all men are, ultimately, descended from a single ancestor — Adam. Like dogs, there are different races of men, and, as with the breeds of dogs, you cannot get two parents of one race to produce children of another race. How do we explain this reality? As highlighted, supra, the DNA of any living person today carries less information than did the DNA of our forebear Adam. Over time, various groups lost certain information from their gene pools, and this has resulted in the present differences we observe between and among racial groups. (We will leave aside the issue of mutations, although it is worth noting that mutations strengthen the case.) The differences between and among the races of men are grounded in our DNA — grounded in the very essence of who and what we are. As for culture, culture is downstream of genetics.
That there are different races of men — and that these races are different from each other — is obvious to all men — and, hence, has been recognized from the beginning. Scripture, too, affirms that there are different εθνη, which is to say nations, which is to say races. There are those who would contend that ethnos (Gk. s: εθνος; pl: εθνη) is not the same as race, but that is, of course, ridiculous. Much of this is simply etymological — German, Latin, and Greek — which I do not intend to cover, here. We need only look (in the Septuagint, obviously) to the Table of Nations (Genesis 10) to see how Scripture employs εθνη. ‘Tribe’ and ‘clan’ are synonymous, and so are ‘ethnicity’ and ‘race’. From one man, God made all nations (races) of men, and such is part of God’s good plan for Creation. To deny the existence of race is to deny Scripture, is to deny Creation, is to deny God.
The conclusion is inescapable: As Christians, we are not permitted to deny the reality of race. Conveniently, denying the existence of race is something only a fool or a sophist would do anyway. As Christians, we are morally obligated to affirm the truth, no matter what our culture may think, no matter how uncomfortable that may make others, no matter how inconvenient doing so may be for us. All truth is one.
- I do not intend to explicitly address the dualism–trialism debate, here. ↩︎