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  • Christopher Crossan

The "Human Races" Illusion

photo 1

Martin Luther King once said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” (from the acceptance speech of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize)

This article is written with that final word in mind.

The Illusion of Three Human Races

For centuries we have been told that there are three major human races - Indo-European, African, and Asian, or simply, white, black, and yellow. But this concept is out of date. With the advent of international travel and immigration, the distinctions we have often made concerning people from different continents are slowly being blurred, causing us to rethink our previous notions of "race." Considering the physical features alone, we have to acknowledge that to be Indo-European or Asian or Middle East/African is not limited to one particular set of facial features or skin color; rather, across every continent we see a range of facial and other physical characteristics. These attributes slowly change with geography.

This wide range of physical characteristics can be observed by comparing the portraits of women who come from various distances away from Mesopotamia, the cradle of human civilization. The first portrait (photo 1 above) is of three women who stem from the extreme end of three continents - a British woman, a Fulani woman from Central Africa, and a Chinese woman. They represent some of the human families who migrated the farthest from Mesopotamia. For this reason, their facial features and skin color diverge greatly from each other.

partial world map showing the approximate locations of women in

photo 1 - a British, an African Fulani, and a Chinese women

photo 2 - a French, an Ethiopian, and a Abazine women

photo 3 - a Western Anatolian, a Lebanese, and a Bashkir women

photo 4 - an Eastern Anatolian woman

But suppose we were to compare the facial features of women who represent human tribes closer to Mesopotamia. In photo 2 below is a woman from France, a woman from Ethiopia, and a woman from Central Asia. All of the photos in this article are courtesy of Natalia Ivanova (

photo 2

Their features and skin color are more similar to each other than the three women in photo 1.

When we consider the tribes closer to Mesopotamia, we find that women who stem from these regions resemble each other even more. The women in photo 3 below are from Western Anatolia, Lebanon, and Bashkortostan, Central Asia. They still manifest Indo-European, Middle East/African, and Asian qualities, but are much more subtle in their differences.

photo 3

Our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA)

Finally, when we encounter a woman from Eastern Anatolia / Northern Mesopotamia in photo 4, we find ourselves looking into the eyes of someone who could be the mother of every human family on earth. Her DNA stems from the foothills of Mt. Ararat, the place where Noah's ark is said to have rested. She has the perfect middle features of the earth's human family, and her portrait could possibly resemble the face of Noah's wife who is our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).

photo 4

These findings are in line with the book of Genesis, where Moses writes emphatically,

The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth…These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed. (Genesis 9:18-19, ESV)

In recent years studies in human genetics have established that we all descended from a single individual thousands of years ago, referred to as our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). In 1987 Cann, Stoneking and Wilson proposed that our ‘Mitochondrial Eve’ lived around 100,000 – 200,000 years ago, based on the successive mutations of mitochondrial DNA. Later in 2001, using the Y chromosome, Ke et al proposed the age of our ‘Y Chromosome Adam’ to be 35,000 – 89,000 years ago.

But in 2003, after completing his research on our Most Recent Common Ancestor using a large-scale detail computer model, MIT's Douglas Rhode made this conclusion:

Given what seem to be reasonable parameter choices, the final, most detailed model presented here predicts that our most recent common ancestor probably lived between 2000 and 5000 years ago.[1]

This more recent date coincides with Moses' account of when Noah lived and when the families of his 70 descendants migrated from Eastern Anatolia to the ends of the earth. As the above portraits illustrate, we all came from one mother and we are therefore related to each other. We cannot regard another tribe or nation or group of people as lower than us in value.

As enshrined in our own Declaration of Independence,

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

[1] Rohde, Douglas L. T. “On the Common Ancestors of All Living Humans.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, November 11, 2003.

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