A few years ago, in 2008, researchers at the University of Coppenhagen published a very interesting study regarding the origins of blue eyes. Published in the scientific magazine, Human Genetics, the study attempted to trace the origin of blue eyes. In this brief article, I will review the article written about this study and discuss the implications if this study is correct.
The information in this study is fairly basic. The authors make the claim that all humanity originally had brown eyes. This is not an impossible claim, especially considering the frequency of brown eyes in the human population. Something many people may not recognize is that eyes are pigmented the same way the skin is, with the pigment melanin. Thus the color of the eye is entirely dependent on how much melanin is produced. The researchers state that a special switch in the genetic code was turned down via mutation in some humans, making it impossible for brown eyes to form. The switch controls the production of melanin in a number of areas, including the eyes and hair. However, there are limits to how much eye color can vary and there are limits to how much the amount of melanin can change before eye color changes. According to the study, people with blue eyes have a very tight spectrum of how much melanin can be in their eyes. The study claims that this limited variability indicates that blue eyed individuals have a common ancestor. Further, based on the frequency of the blue eyes in the population appears to indicate that the mutation arose approximately 6000-10000 years ago.
Those of you who have read carefully so far may have noticed some things which are at the very least beneficial to the Creationist. The most obvious one is the timeline. If you were to go through Biblical genealogies and add up how old each patriarch was when they had their first child along with the two thousand years after the birth of Christ, you get approximately 6000 years. This is why Creationists date the world at approximately six thousand years old. The study notably points out that blue eyes arose approximately 6000 years ago. Likely the mutation required for blue eyes to form took place shortly after man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. It is likely that Adam and Eve both had brown eyes and olive skin, and that their descendants developed the characteristics of the supposed races after the fall. Whether that supposition is true or not, the timeline for the development of blue eyes fits beautifully within the Biblical timeline.
A second benefit to the Creationist is the evolutionist informing us that those of us with blue eyes have a common ancestor. This is news to no one who believes the Bible. We have two common ancestors: Adam and Noah. However, since Adam likely did not have blue eyes, as stated above, one of his children would likely have been the first blue-eyed human. However, since all but eight humans were wiped out by the flood, one of the eight survivors must have carried the mutation. Which one carried the mutation is subject to speculation, but most likely it was Japheth or his wife. The reason for this is that blue eyes are most commonly seen in Europeans, particularly norther Europeans, and it was to Europe and Asia Minor that the descendants of Japheth migrated after the Tower of Babel. Thus it is probably that they took their father or mother’s mutation with them as they traveled, leading to a frequency of blue eyes in Europe much higher than anywhere else. However, this is pure speculation, as the people groups would have intermarried around Babel, allowing the mutation to get passed from one people group to another.
The study from the University of Coppenhagen does little to move the needle either way. While it does provide incidental support to the Creationist theory, it does nothing to undermine evolution. Both sides could use the study equally. However, it is comforting to know that, once in a while, researchers provides support for Creationism by accident, however small that support may be.