# Adam and Eve and Jerry and Bryan and Vincent

Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee has recently added to its statement of faith, to which faculty members must subscribe, a “clarification” that

We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.

Jerry Coyne at his Why Evolution Is True blog has pointed at this with alarm here, and he linked back to the Chattanooga Times Free Press story here. Jerry cites studies showing from the amount of variability in human populations, that effective population size of the individuals leaving Africa in the Out-Of-Africa event cannot have been much less than 2250, and the effective population size in Africa cannot have been much less than 10,000.

VJTorley at Uncommon Descent has published a firm response, saying Jerry was “In a pickle about Adam and Eve” and saying that when he said that “2250 is greater than two”

Evidently math is not Professor Coyne’s forte.

Note: 2,500 isn’t the same as 2,250.

Note: 2,250 + 10,000 = 12,250.

The math lesson is over.

He also quotes a paper by Luke Harmon and Stanton Braude, which notes that effective population sizes can be larger than actual population sizes, and says

It’s rather embarrassing when a biology professor makes mistakes in his own field, isn’t it?

Has Jerry gotten himself into a pickle? I have some background in this area — I have worked on coalescent trees of ancestry of genes within a species, I wrote one of the two basic papers on effective population size of populations with overlapping generations, and I even shared a grant with Luke Harmon two years ago.

A few simple points:

1. 10,000 + 2,250 = 12,250 all right, but in fact that number is even greater than 2.

2. Effective population size can be greater than population size. It can get as much as 2 times higher. That still leaves us with a long way to go.

3. The Bryan College administration does not know how to write a Clarification. Their statement says that all humanity are descended from Adam and Eve, but does not make it clear whether there could have been other ancestors too. I suspect they meant that there weren’t any.

4. According to UD’s own statements, Intelligent Design arguments are supposedly not statements about religion, so that ID arguments do not predict anything about Adam and Eve. ID proponents are being slandered when they are called creationists, we are told repeatedly. So why the concern about Adam and Eve at UD?

So was Jerry wrong? About Adam and Eve, no. Though he is wrong when he says that his “website” is not a blog.

This entry was posted in Evolution, Intelligent Design by Joe Felsenstein. Bookmark the permalink.

Been messing about with phylogenies, coalescents, theoretical population genetics, and stomping bad mathematical arguments by creationists for some years.

## 103 Replies to “Adam and Eve and Jerry and Bryan and Vincent”

1. keiths
Ignored
says:

Joe,

Though he is wrong when he says that his “website” is not a blog.

Them’s fightin’ words!

2. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Commenters at UD call Jerry “closer to a phrenologist than a physicist”. One says that Jerry has ignored that there might be other ancestors too. (I suspect that Bryan College meant to ignore that too). Or is Bryan just saying that A&E are not the only ancestors at that remove?

Another commenter asks whether the issue is the “genetic diversity” of mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam. No, since autosomal genes will have come from other ancestors.

3. Allan Miller
Ignored
says:

If we are invited to include other ancestors, I wonder how much dilution of Eve’s genome took place in the intervening period? She might be the mother of a locus or two, yet. Or was her genome of the nonrecombining kind?

The inclusion of Methusalan ages hardly seems to help the cause on variation, either. They need more generations, not fewer.

4. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

This is one of the more encouraging things I’ve seen in this area lately. That even Bryan College feels it necessary to shore up its defenses against a scientific understanding of humanity — and that the school trustees are meeting resistance to their defensive effort from within the school — means that Biologos and the ideas it represents are having a real effect within evangelical elites. The linked newspaper article explains the situation quite well. (And that Jerry Coyne finds it alarming . . . well, the man does know fruit flies and speciation. I don’t pay a lot of attention to his views on other matters.)

5. Allan Miller
Ignored
says:

Torley’s piece seems simply a gleeful ‘gotcha’ over two points, mistyping 2250 as 2500, and saying ‘invariably’ instead of ‘generally’.

6. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Steve Schaffner:
This is one of the more encouraging things I’ve seen in this area lately. That even Bryan College feels it necessary to shore up its defenses against a scientific understanding of humanity — and that the school trustees are meeting resistance to their defensive effort from within the school — means that Biologos and the ideas it represents are having a real effect within evangelical elites. The linked newspaper article explains the situation quite well. (And that Jerry Coyne finds it alarming . . . well, the man does know fruit flies and speciation. I don’t pay a lot of attention to his views on other matters.)

I wonder whether Biologos has had a major effect. Young evangelicals are flooding out of their churches, and citing the churches’ opposition to science as a major reason. These folk generally do still consider themselves “spiritual”. I suspect all this would happen much the same with or without Biologos.

Biologos is devoting itself to providing a forum for debate about science among evangelicals. It is interesting that initially Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers attacked Biologos on the grounds that it was intended to persuade scientists to be religious. That is mostly not what Biologos does (though it wouldn’t mind having that effect).

7. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Allan Miller:
Torley’s piece seems simply a gleeful ‘gotcha’ over two points, mistyping 2250 as 2500, and saying ‘invariably’ instead of ‘generally’.

Torley is straining at the gnat while swallowing the camel.

He’s playing “gotcha” on 2,250 versus 2,500, or whether or not Jerry uses the 10,000 as well as the 2,250. Meanwhile he ignores how far even 2,250 is from 2.

Torley’s superior attitude about math is part of a UD theme — that evolutionary biologists are just throwing words around, while it is only they, the ID proponents, who know how to apply mathematical thinking to biology. Which is a hoot.

8. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Allan Miller:
If we are invited to include other ancestors, I wonder how much dilution of Eve’s genome took place in the intervening period? She might be the mother of a locus or two, yet. Or was her genome of the nonrecombining kind?

The inclusion of Methusalan ages hardly seems to help the cause on variation, either. They need more generations, not fewer.

It’s kind of hard to figure out what picture people are painting when they say that in addition to Adam and Eve there would be other people around too.

1. Does it mean A&E would be specially created, while all their contemporaries had evolved?
2. Does it mean everyone has some genes from A&E? If it meant that all of us have all of our genes from them, then we still have to explain all variability as arising from the differences within and between their two genomes, or soon after by mutation.

In any case we can always go forward to Noah. It is going to be difficult for literalists to argue that we are descended only partly from the 7 people on the Ark. 2,250 is much greater than 7.

9. Gregory
Ignored
says:

For those who’d like to dig further into VJ Torley’s views and those of the RCC in which he is a member, here are a few links:

This one starts by responding to Coyne, presenting a Catholic objection to atheistic ideology wrt ‘Adam & Eve’ – it is a site designed for dialogue between Catholics and atheists: http://www.strangenotions.com/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice/

“Now modern genetics does not falsify the Adam and Eve tale for the excellent reason that it does not address the same matter as the Adam and Eve tale. One is about the origin of species; the other is about the origin of sin. One may as well say that a painting of a meal falsifies haute cuisine.”

Kenneth Kemp has written a fascinating piece, that is valuable in science, philosophy and theology/worldview discourse (for those who are interested): “Science, Theology and Monogenesis” http://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/kemp-monogenism.pdf

Torley gave a long blog response to Kemp’s academic paper, noting that “if there were a way of reconciling theological monogenism with biological polygenism, this would have to be it.” http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/kemp.html

The question I’d put to folks here, and to Coyne for that matter: do you accept or reject ‘polygenism’ wrt human beings? Iow, do you believe that the current natural scientific ‘consensus’ requires you to accept or reject polygenism?

10. Gregory
Ignored
says:

To correct an error, first by Steve, then by Joe: there is a capital ‘L’ in ‘BioLogos.’

I’d guess that since Joe is a non-religious person, that ‘l’ vs. ‘L’ doesn’t make a difference. But for Steve Schaffner, as a professed theist, it should.

And I would agree with Steve that this incident may provide evidence that BioLogos is making a difference among ‘evangelical elites,’ such as Bryan, Calvin and Wheaton Colleges. But the newspaper article also makes a common error, calling Falk a ‘creationist’ (granted, with the qualifier ‘evolutionary’). In fact, Falk is not a ‘creationist.’ He advocates the idea of ‘evolutionary creation,’ but that doesn’t necessarily make him an ideologue, denoted by the ‘-ist’ suffix. Many folks may not be sensitive to this distinction, but that doesn’t lessen its proper communicative value.

Creationists are ideologues, as are evolutionists. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. But thus far, promoting BioLogos (F. Collins) is not an ideologically over-reaching position within the science and faith conversation. Even if ‘BioLogos’ as a term doesn’t catch on, it is similar to the notions of theistic evolution and evolutionary creation, which are consistent positions for Abrahamic believers, as long as they don’t exaggeration the claims into evolutionism or creationism (both of which BioLogos disavows) .

Likewise, Torley’s “[I]ntelligently guided evolution,” is much the same as ‘theistic evolution.’ For some unknown reason, however, Torley seems to want to be a ‘revolutionary’ evangelical ideologue in the name of IDism, even if his views diverge from DI-IDM leaders. Torley is at least one person over at UD who properly capitalises ‘Intelligent Design’ because he is upfront that he cannot separate IDT from (his) theology and worldview. Same goes for BioLogos.

11. petrushka
Ignored
says:

I’ve always thought the Noah story presented a bigger problem than the Adam and Eve story.

Noah’s X chromosome would present a bottleneck in very recent times. It’s a population of one. All variation from Noah’s X would have occurred within the last couple thousand years.

That would be true of most animal species also. It would be interesting to see how much X variation would be required to have the diversity seen in “kinds”.

12. velikovskys
Ignored
says:

Gregory:I’d guess that since Joe is a non-religious person, that ‘l’ vs. ‘L’ doesn’t make a difference. But for Steve Schaffner, as a professed theist, it should.

Capitalism

13. Allan Miller
Ignored
says:

Y!

14. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Gregory:

Torley gave a long blog response to Kemp’s academic paper, noting that “if there were a way of reconciling theological monogenism with biological polygenism, this would have to be it.” http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/kemp.html

The question I’d put to folks here, and to Coyne for that matter: do you accept or reject ‘polygenism’ wrt human beings? Iow, do you believe that the current natural scientific ‘consensus’ requires you to accept or reject polygenism?

Matter polygenic are important to me, as I have written at least a dozen papers on polygenic inheritance. My postdoctoral fellowship was in quantitative genetics, and much of my current work is on polygenic models.

Oh, wait, what’s that you say? That’s not what you’re talking about?

OK, I looked up “polygenism”: “The doctrine that animals of the same species have sprung from more than one original pair.” Oh. Well, I’d say that coming from one original pair is possible, but for most species very unlikely. So polygenism is not required, but it’s usually assumed. For humans the evidence is certainly against it.

15. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Gregory:
To correct an error, first by Steve, then by Joe: there is a capital ‘L’ in ‘BioLogos.’

Mea cupla, mea minima culpa! My misremembering the L is a crushing refutation of my worldview, to exactly the same extent as Jerry using the number 2,500 instead of 2,250.

And I would agree with Steve that this incident may provide evidence that BioLogos is making a difference among ‘evangelical elites,’ such as Bryan, Calvin and Wheaton Colleges.

It might have some effect there, but my guess is that the attitudes of most young evangelicals are independent of any indirect or direct effect from BioLoGos (BiolLoGos? BIoLOgos?).

Creationists are ideologues, as are evolutionists. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. But thus far, promoting BioLogos (F. Collins) is not an ideologically over-reaching position within the science and faith conversation. Even if ‘BioLogos’ as a term doesn’t catch on, it is similar to the notions of theistic evolution and evolutionary creation, which are consistent positions for Abrahamic believers, as long as they don’t exaggeration the claims into evolutionism or creationism (both of which BioLogos disavows) .

Likewise, Torley’s “[I]ntelligently guided evolution,” is much the same as ‘theistic evolution.’ For some unknown reason, however, Torley seems to want to be a ‘revolutionary’ evangelical ideologue in the name of IDism, even if his views diverge from DI-IDM leaders. Torley is at least one person over at UD who properly capitalises ‘Intelligent Design’ because he is upfront that he cannot separate IDT from (his) theology and worldview. Same goes for BioLogos.

I am sure few of us can separate our worldview from our views on science. Except, of course, Gregory, the only non-ideologue here (or is it non-IdeoLogue?)

16. Gregory
Ignored
says:

“polygenism is not required, but it’s usually assumed. For humans the evidence is certainly against it.” – Joe Felsenstein

Please be clear. You are still ambiguous. It’s assumed. But evidence is against it?

I asked: do you accept or reject ‘polygenism’ wrt human beings? Iow, do you believe that the current natural scientific ‘consensus’ requires you to accept or reject polygenism?

You seem confused.

17. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Gregory: Please be clear. You are still ambiguous. It’s assumed. But evidence is against it?

I asked: do you accept or reject ‘polygenism’ wrt human beings? Iow, do you believe that the current natural scientific ‘consensus’ requires you to accept or reject polygenism?

You seem confused.

Thank you for straightening out my thinking.

Let me be clearer:

1. Polygenism is not assumed. Nor is it assumed to be impossible.
2. It is possible, and likely.
3. It is likely because most scenarios for the origin of chronospecies involve a population of (much) more that 2 individuals evolving until it changes enough that we call it by a new species name.
4. … and most scenarios for (nonchronospecies) speciation involve separation of one species into two, where both populations never got as small as 2 individuals.

I suspect this will be an unsatisfactory answer, that you want us to say that we assume it, or that we rule it out, as we are in the grip of NonGregorian ideology.

18. Gregory
Ignored
says:

Joe, As competent a natural scientist as you may be, it is obvious on higher questions and themes you are just acting silly.

“Except, of course, Gregory, the only non-ideologue here”

No, of course I’m an ideologue too! That should be obvious. Are you beginning to ‘get it’ now? Finally? Elevate from dirt & worms?

I’m ready and willing to admit that I personally hold several ideologies, whereas speaking ‘strictly scientifically,’ you are not in that same position to disclose your views. Are you? It appears that you are merely flat and shallow, rationalistic and empirical, reductionistic and hollow, indeed, yes, NIHILISTIC, qua merely natural scientist.

“the L is a crushing refutation of my worldview” – Joe Felsenstein

The ‘L’ is vertical, whereas the ‘l’ in your agnostic/unbelieving worldview is horizontal. Whether that ‘crushes’ you or not is not relevant to the conversation.

BioLogos capitalises the ‘L’ for a particular reason. Won’t you realise that? I’d expect you to acknowledge it openly and fairly because when they say it, there is a specific reason for it, regardless of whether Felsenstein’s or Elzinga’s uncapitalised worldview ‘feels’ it or not.

Steve Schaffner would comment on this, as a theist, if he had courage to engage.

Playing with the letters, Joe, just makes you seem ignorant of Letters.

19. Neil Rickert
Ignored
says:

Joe Felsenstein: OK, I looked up “polygenism”: “The doctrine that animals of the same species have sprung from more than one original pair.” Oh. Well, I’d say that coming from one original pair is possible, but for most species very unlikely. So polygenism is not required, but it’s usually assumed. For humans the evidence is certainly against it.

I’ll grant that Gregory was right in pointing out an ambiguity. In that last sentence, the final “it” is ambiguous between “coming from one original pair” and “polygenism”. I’m taking it that you intended the former, though a strict reading would imply the latter.

20. Gregory
Ignored
says:

“we are in the grip of NonGregorian ideology.” – Joe Felsenstein

Well, no, it’s clear not just my ideology, but that of several billion people worldwide.

You, Dr. Felsenstein are in the minority. You are insensitive. You are reductionistic. You biologically lack the language of soul. Tough luck for you. (Is it just ‘luck?’)

NIHILISM and fatalism lurk around your scientistic words, playful and fun (woo-hoo!) and cheery-sounding as they are. I am not fooled by such empty talk, nor are many by this rationalistic façade. We’re in a new post-late-modern world!

In your view ‘polygenism is…possible and likely.’ Oh, well then you’d be in an awful lot of trouble “wrt human beings” if you crawled out from under your pretentious biological shell. But you don’t really care about the implications of your polygenism, do you?

Racism, classism and speciesism are lurking at your doorstep, unbeknownst to you, just busy doing biology and nothing higher involving humanity.

The links I posted deserve your attention, but as a shallow thinker, as a reductionist biologist, you’ll likely given them no attention nor comment on them in this thread.

Does anyone think Joe will respond directly to the links I provided?

21. Neil Rickert
Ignored
says:

Gregory: BioLogos capitalises the ‘L’ for a particular reason.

Making a fuss about capitalization in the middle of a word strikes me as an absurd level of pedantry.

22. Gregory
Ignored
says:

“Making a fuss about capitalization in the middle of a word strikes me as an absurd level of pedantry.”

Nope. Respect people’s names for what they are, specially chosen and legal. That should imo be a human right. The double capitalization of BioLogos is for a clear, coherent and specific reason. That you may not personally desire to acknowledge that reason, Neil, changes nothing.

23. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Neil Rickert: I’ll grant that Gregory was right in pointing out an ambiguity.In that last sentence, the final “it” is ambiguous between “coming from one original pair” and “polygenism”.I’m taking it that you intended the former, though a strict reading would imply the latter.

Sorry, yes, in the last sentence I got it backwards. I meant to say, as you saw, “For humans the evidence is certainly for it”.

Gregory:
In your view ‘polygenism is…possible and likely.’ Oh, well then you’d be in an awful lot of trouble “wrt human beings” if you crawled out from under your pretentious biological shell. But you don’t really care about the implications of your polygenism, do you?

Mere insensitive, reductionistic, racist, classist, and speciesist drudges like me cannot hope to understand the ethereal world Gregory lives in. Here I am, down in the intellectual muck, suffering under the delusion that “polygenism” is a statement about how big population sizes are at the start of a species. In other words, an estimation problem.

But Gregory seems to know that Higher Issues are at stake.

24. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

Here is what I see is at stake with respect to polygenism.

Drosophila mauritiana is an island species in the Indian Ocean. Gene genealogies strongly suggest that it originated by a single fertilized female getting to Mauritius. If she was fertilized by just one male, that’s not polygenism. If by two males, it’s an example of polygenism.

(I guess that my ideology is supposed to tell me which).

25. petrushka
Ignored
says:

Si!

26. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

Joe Felsenstein: I wonder whether Biologos has had a major effect.Young evangelicals are flooding out of their churches, and citing the churches’ opposition to science as a major reason.These folk generally do still consider themselves “spiritual”.I suspect all this would happen much the same with or without Biologos.

Biologos is devoting itself to providing a forum for debate about science among evangelicals.It is interesting that initially Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers attacked Biologos on the grounds that it was intended to persuade scientists to be religious.That is mostly not what Biologos does (though it wouldn’t mind having that effect).

I think the exodus of younger people (among other things) provides the impetus for change, but I think BioLogos potentially provides an acceptable path toward change, especially in providing theological cover (to use a pejorative term).

I also think it’s pretty funny that Coyne attacks the efforts of BioLogos on theological grounds.

27. Gregory
Ignored
says:

Joe,

You’re obviously a mucker (meant in a technical sense of the term). Biologically competent, perhaps. But philosophically low-brow. This is obvious.

Nihilist. Of course. In the long-run. Death is the end of everything…for you.

You don’t seem even to know what’s at stake, Joe. Ukrainians…are they ethnically Russians or ‘westerners’? Chinese are they inferior civilisationally to USAmericans? Egyptians? Mexicans? You can’t even speak of ‘race’ or ‘species’ at a higher social level. You’d get burned.

Africans, are they ethnically ‘lower’ species evolutionarily? Polygenically, it’s possible. Monogenically, no.

“Gregory seems to know that Higher Issues are at stake.”

There are millions of others who know this too. Stop kidding yourself. Yes, “Higher Issues are at stake” (about which biologists, cum biologists know nothing, zero, by specialization choice; though as persons they could potentially know much more). I claim no originality in this.

What you don’t know/believe re: monogenism is on you, Joe. You sound humanistically impoverished. Divisive biologism cum polygenism is a deadly ideology for common humanity. Don’t take my word for it; explore it for yourself and speak with people outside of your comfort zone.

The links I cited are a start. Will you address them here?

28. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

Gregory:
To correct an error, first by Steve, then by Joe: there is a capital ‘L’ in ‘BioLogos.’

Yes, there is. I’m not always careful about non-standard capitalization, which is common in my field. I think it’s kind of a dumb name, but whatever.

But the newspaper article also makes a common error, calling Falk a ‘creationist’ (granted, with the qualifier ‘evolutionary’). In fact, Falk is not a ‘creationist.’ He advocates the idea of ‘evolutionary creation,’ but that doesn’t necessarily make him an ideologue, denoted by the ‘-ist’ suffix. Many folks may not be sensitive to this distinction, but that doesn’t lessen its proper communicative value.

I believe Falk describes himself as an evolutionary creationist, and it’s a basic human right to let people decide on their own descriptions, isn’t it? Especially since “-ist” in no way implies ideology, as physicists, geneticists and numismatists can all testify. Heck, Dobzhansky described himself as a creationist.

29. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

Gregory:
The question I’d put to folks here, and to Coyne for that matter: do you accept or reject ‘polygenism’ wrt human beings? Iow, do you believe that the current natural scientific ‘consensus’ requires you to accept or reject polygenism?

The genetic evidence for polygenism for humans is overwhelming, at least if you’re talking about anatomically modern humans. For origins prior to a few hundred thousand years ago the evidence is thinner but still strong.

30. Gregory
Ignored
says:

So, you’re a scientistic (or naturalistic scientific) polygenist-theist, is that right, Steve Schaffner?

You’re obviously not Catholic then (since Catechism is against this). Nor Muslim. Nor Jewish.

You’re a ‘radical’ or ‘unorthodox’ theist, is that correct?

If not, then please clarify yourself.

31. petrushka
Ignored
says:

I haveto say that I grew up in the American South during the era of AJim Crow, heard every racial slur by the time I was 10, saw government enforced segregation, and so forth, and never once encountered the concept of separate origins for races.

That would have called into question the Bible story of origins, and that would not have been tolerated.

The closest thing to that would be the assertion that Black Africans were descended from Ham, Noah’s cursed son. Not a nice story, but far from separate origins.

32. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

Gregory:
Steve Schaffner would comment on this, as a theist, if he had courage to engage.

I already commented on it. To spell it out: I think the name is kind of dumb (very 1990s in style and unsubtle to boot), but I prefer to use “correct” names anyway. I think the spelling has very little importance, and I think the weight you’re giving it is really weird.

(And “courage to engage”? Patience, yes, but you seriously think it requires courage to engage you here? Get a grip, Gregory.)

33. Gregory
Ignored
says:

“never once encountered the concept of separate origins for races.”

Obviously you’re not in touch with Joe’s or Steve’s polygenism.

34. petrushka
Ignored
says:

I think my rural southern neighbors — bigoted though they may have been — were clever enough to notice that pre-Adamic races would have been wiped out in the Flood, and only Noah’s descendants counted.

I think perhaps Gregory owes us a bit of background on the state of affairs where he lives. They apparently have a species of racism more virulent than what I encountered as a child.

35. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

Gregory:
So, you’re a scientistic (or naturalistic scientific) polygenist-theist, is that right, Steve Schaffner?

Oddly enough, I meant what I said. The genetic evidence strongly supports polygenism for humans. And I’m a theist. The rest of your description consists of categories that have meaning for you, not for me. If you have an alternative explanation for the genetic evidence, I’m all ears, regardless of whether the explanation is naturalistic, scientistic or scientific.

You’re obviously not Catholic then (since Catechism is against this). Nor Muslim. Nor Jewish.

You’re joking, right? You don’t really think that all Catholics believe everything in the Catechism, do you? Or that all (or even many) Jews reject polygenism? But no, I’m not RC or Jewish or Muslim. I’m a Protestant, of no particular flavor.

You’re a ‘radical’ or ‘unorthodox’ theist, is that correct?

No, I’m not radical. Whether I’m unorthodox or not depends on who’s defining orthodoxy, of course. Mostly I think everybody’s theological formulations are suspect.

36. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

Gregory:
“never once encountered the concept of separate origins for races.”

Obviously you’re not in touch with Joe’s or Steve’s polygenism.

If you read Joe’s reply about polygenism, you’ll realize that you’re using a different definition of ‘polygenism’ than we are. We’re talking about the number of individuals involved in the origin of the species, not the origin of different human races.

37. petrushka
Ignored
says:

I’m curious what various biologists might mean by polygenism. Are they suggesting the different varieties of hominids were different species, even though they apparently interbred? If they didn’t interbreed, then the question is moot.

38. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

petrushka:
I’m curious what various biologists might mean by polygenism. Are they suggesting the different varieties of hominids were different species, even though they apparently interbred? If they didn’t interbreed, then the question is moot.

Biologists mostly don’t use the term; I’ve never seen or heard it used by a biologist until this thread, as far as I can recall.

39. petrushka
Ignored
says:

Steve Schaffner: Biologists mostly don’t use the term; I’ve never seen or heard it used by a biologist until this thread, as far as I can recall.

That would explain a lot. It may have been semi-biological in the 19th century, but now is of interest to people stuck in the 19th century.

40. Gregory
Ignored
says:

Steve, you apparently have the religious courage of a lily.

No, you haven’t. Link it if you’ve got it.

You promote ‘polygenism’ and yet cannot (or at least have not) defend(ed) it. I provided significant links in this thread above. No one has commented on them yet. Does that tell you anything? Significant thinkers ignored by skeptic/atheist/agnostics, ready to divert attention from the OP.

The RCC rejects polygenism. But Steve Schaffner promotes it. Why?

You call yourself a ‘theist’ here, Steve Schaffner, but actually defend nothing traditional in regard to the Abrahamic faiths. Which kind of ‘theist’ are you, anyway? A ‘Confucianist?’

“I think the name is kind of dumb” – Steve Schaffner

Personally, I think Harvard-MIT professors who can’t clearly express themselves outside of their own narrow specialisms are often ‘kind of dumb.’ 😉 Rather small-minded (but otherwise quite ‘clever’) folk.

Indeed, another meaning of ‘dumb’ is soundless. And Steve Schaffner fits this latter definition rather well so far at TSZ. Just a critic and/or cynic, not a helpful or constructive voice.

Steve Schaffner has demonstrated no courage to coherently defend his own undefined ‘theistic’ convictions here at TSZ. Is that supposed to be called ‘courageous?’ Polygenic eclecticism sounds more appropriate.

41. Gregory
Ignored
says:

“I’m a Protestant, of no particular flavor.”

Well, I posted above before reading that. It helps. No flavour, Steve? Understood.

“Biologists mostly don’t use the term”

Biologists who are theists usually are well aware of the term ‘polygenism’ and what it means, the importance in contrast with monogenism. In what context is the conversation framed?

BioLogos, as you brought it up Steve, is certainly aware of the distinction between polygenism and monogenism. I asked Dennis Venema directly, point blank, no ambiguity, if he considers himself a polygenist or not. Guess what? No answer.

“The genetic evidence strongly supports polygenism for humans.” – Steve Schaffner

Then you are heterodox in the eyes of the RCC & OC, as a Protestant “of no particular flavour.” You haven’t yet shown here if you might care about that.

“regardless of whether the explanation is naturalistic, scientistic or scientific.”

Please stop being so shallow and flat, like Joe. The distinctions are significant wrt ideologies, science, philosophy & theology/worldview. Your narrow specialist natural scientific position doesn’t trump that, no matter what contributions to ‘knowledge’ you (think you) make. It is the humility of a man to acknowledge when s/he is speaking outside of his/her bounded (natural scientific) specialty and to inquire appropriately. Harvard-MIT otherwise doesn’t daunt me a little.

“Mostly I think everybody’s theological formulations are suspect.” – Steve Schaffner

Well, certainly yours appear suspect to me. But you appear to be endorsing BioLogos in this thread, which adds a new dimension of curiosity. Almost nobody here (skeptics, atheists and agnostics) pays any attention to BioLogos. Yet it appears that, perhaps in your (non-evangelical) Protestantism, you do. But you’ve said so little at TSZ that probably no one here (or elsewhere on the internet) actually knows what you think. So what’s the story, Dr. Schaffner?

42. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

Gregory:
Steve, you apparently have the religious courage of a lily.

Your probing logical analysis is noted.

No, you haven’t. Link it if you’ve got it.

“Yes, there is [a capital in BioLogos]. I’m not always careful about non-standard capitalization, which is common in my field. I think it’s kind of a dumb name, but whatever.” That’s what we call a “comment” in English.

You promote ‘polygenism’ and yet cannot (or at least have not) defend(ed) it.

Um, no. Someone — you, as I recall — asked us collectively whether we accepted polygenism. I answered your question. No promotion, no need to defend it, since no one asked for a defense of it, and no one attacked it.

I provided significant links in this thread above. No one has commented on them yet. Does that tell you anything?

No, it really doesn’t. From your description of the links, they’re all attempts to combine theological monogenism with biological polygenism. They are therefore irrelevant to the OP, which concerned biological monogenism.

The RCC rejects polygenism. But Steve Schaffner promotes it. Why?

Steve Schaffner promotes it because it is currently the best explanation for genetic data. I still await your superior alternative.

You call yourself a ‘theist’ here, Steve Schaffner, but actually defend nothing traditional in regard to the Abrahamic faiths. Which kind of ‘theist’ are you, anyway? A ‘Confucianist?’

I wasn’t aware that the definition of ‘theist’ included ‘defends traditional things from the Abrahamic faiths at all possible times’. Is that your understanding of the term? And I already told you what kind of theist I am: a Protestant one. Are you unfamiliar with Protestants?

Personally, I think Harvard-MIT professors who can’t clearly express themselves outside of their own narrow specialisms are often ‘kind of dumb.’ Rather small-minded (but otherwise quite ‘clever’) folk.

The next time I see a Harvard or MIT professor, I’ll be sure to let them know your opinion.

Indeed, another meaning of ‘dumb’ is soundless. And Steve Schaffner fits this latter definition rather well so far at TSZ. Just a critic and/or cynic, not a helpful or constructive voice.

When the discussion involves something I know about and am interested in, I contribute. Thus I’ve contributed information about genetics when the subject has come up. In this thread, I’ve contributed my impressions of the state of American evangelicals when it comes to evolution.

Steve Schaffner has demonstrated no courage to coherently defend his own undefined ‘theistic’ convictions here at TSZ. Is that supposed to be called ‘courageous?’ Polygenic eclecticism sounds more appropriate.

No, it isn’t. Who said I was displaying courage? More generally, what on earth are you going on about?

43. Steve Schaffner
Ignored
says:

Gregory: No flavour, Steve? Understood.

Unlikely, on the face of it. I’ve been a member of Baptist, Presbyterian and nondenominational churches, and attended an Episcopalian church for years. Is there some reason that I should specialize?

Biologists who are theists usually are well aware of the term ‘polygenism’ and what it means, the importance in contrast with monogenism. In what context is the conversation framed?

Well, I’m a theistic biologist whose never heard another biologist use the term. So I’d like you to provide some evidence for your claim here. Have you surveyed theistic biologists? Or is the context for our conversation “stuff Gregory makes up”?

BioLogos, as you brought it up Steve, is certainly aware of the distinction between polygenism and monogenism. I asked Dennis Venema directly, point blank, no ambiguity, if he considers himself a polygenist or not. Guess what? No answer.

That’s nice.

Then you are heterodox in the eyes of the RCC & OC, as a Protestant “of no particular flavour.” You haven’t yet shown here if you might care about that.

Why on earth do you think I would care about that? The RCC considers most Protestants and the OC to be heterodox, and the OC returns the favor for both.

Please stop being so shallow and flat, like Joe. The distinctions are significant wrt ideologies, science, philosophy & theology/worldview. Your narrow specialist natural scientific position doesn’t trump that, no matter what contributions to ‘knowledge’ you (think you) make. It is the humility of a man to acknowledge when s/he is speaking outside of his/her bounded (natural scientific) specialty and to inquire appropriately.

I’m not speaking outside my specialty. The OP was about biological polygenism in humans, and that is squarely in my specialty. You want to change the subject for some reason, and apparently think randomly spraying insults is a productive way of doing so. (Also, I’m probably one of the least specialized academics around.)

Well, certainly yours appear suspect to me. But you appear to be endorsing BioLogos in this thread, which adds a new dimension of curiosity. Almost nobody here (skeptics, atheists and agnostics) pays any attention to BioLogos. Yet it appears that, perhaps in your (non-evangelical) Protestantism, you do. But you’ve said so little at TSZ that probably no one here (or elsewhere on the internet) actually knows what you think. So what’s the story, Dr. Schaffner?

You seem prone to startling leaps of illogic: because I seldom post here, it therefore follows that I seldom post anywhere. Really? I’ve been quite public elsewhere: I strongly support BioLogos’s campaign. I think both the American evangelical church and science in this country stand to gain from it.

44. llanitedave
Ignored
says:

And why is Gregory apparently trying to channel Bill O’Reilly with his faux-confrontational and nonsensical psuedo-gotcha postings?

45. keiths
Ignored
says:

Gregory:

No flavour, Steve? Understood.

Steve:

I’ve been a member of Baptist, Presbyterian and nondenominational churches, and attended an Episcopalian church for years. Is there some reason that I should specialize?

Yes. You must choose, Steve. Gregory gets twitchy when he doesn’t know which -ist, -ite, -ant, or -ian label to attach to you.

46. Joe Felsenstein
Ignored
says:

I had not heard the term “polygenism” before this discussion. So I looked it up (in online dictionaries). Wikipedia says it is “a theory of human origins positing that the human races are of different lineages (polygenesis)”. Let’s call that Polygenism One.

The Free Dictionary has it as “The doctrine that animals of the same species have sprung from more than one original pair.” Polygenism Two. (They also mention a version of Polygenism One as an alternate definition, though their version is unclear).

As this is a discussion of Adam and Eve et al., I went with Polygenism Two as the relevant one.

Except for the theology, this is just an estimation problem about inferring population sizes at the origin of a species. 2 individuals, 4? 10? 10,000? Mildly interesting but hardly having the dramatic impact Gregory assigns it. Do we care that much whether that original Drosophila mauritiana female was fertlized by one or two males?

Except for the theology. Then it becomes a hot-button issue with evangelical literalists.

As for Polygenism One, it was around up through the 1950s, though most exponents of the Modern Synthesis considered it likely that there was too much gene flow between continents to entertain the idea of multiple separate origins of Homo sapiens. Also they felt that multiple origins would not give rise to the same species. The theory had definite resonance with racists. It’s chief U.S. proponent was the anthropologist Carleton Coon, who was vehemently disliked by most evolutionary biologists. In the 1960s, as molecular evidence of the close similarity of different human populations came in, it became even less credible. In the late 1980s, the Out Of Africa results killed it stone cold dead.

But anyway, it isn’t Polygenism Two. That’s the one relevant to Adam and Eve. And to that fertilized Drosophila.

47. davehooke
Ignored
says:

llanitedave:
And why is Gregory apparently trying to channel Bill O’Reilly with his faux-confrontational and nonsensical psuedo-gotcha postings?

You may have hit on something. This would also explain his bizarre contention that atheist politicians were pulling the strings in America.

48. Allan Miller
Ignored
says:

about which biologists, cum biologists know nothing

Did you mean biologists qua biologists, O Pedantic One?

49. Alan Fox
Ignored
says:

@ Gregory

Had I been following this thread earlier (it was middle of the night for me) some comments would have moved to guano. As other commenters have taken them in their stride, it will, I think, be counter-productive to move them now. Please don’t assume that this is other than an exception.

50. Allan Miller
Ignored
says:

Polygenism vs Monogenism seems primarily of interest to people who believe that humanity was created, and did not descend from prior populations. Two doctrines: God created two individuals (with the capacity to recombine genes), or separately created several different individuals or pairs (with the capacity to recombine genes more widely). Obviously the bit in parenthesis is not doctrinal, but is necessary if we are to account for the presence of a broad interfertile population now.

It may have been of greater interest in the 1800’s, prior to the rediscovery of Mendel’s work, and relies on a particular species concept. If ‘the races’ originated independently from non-human lineages and crosses with those lineages were infertile, yet crosses with each other were fertile, we would have a very unlikely situation.

If, on the other hand, crosses with the ancestral lineages were fertile too (assuming they were still around), we would have a broad species under the BSC, incorporating the ancestors and these separate races, incipiently divergent. They would be simple ‘varieties’, in Darwin’s terminology, and no political horrors result from viewing them thus (not that genetic details should guide policy in any case).

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