Adam and Eve still a possibility?

Geneticist Richard Buggs, Reader in Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary University of London, has just written an intriguing article in Nature: Ecology and Evolution (28 October 2017), titled, Adam and Eve: a tested hypothesis? Comments on a recent book chapter. It appears that Buggs is unpersuaded that science has ruled out Adam and Eve. He thinks it’s still theoretically possible that the human race once passed through a short, sharp population bottleneck of just two individuals, followed by exponential population growth. Buggs disagrees with the assessment of Christian biologist Dennis Venema, professor of biology at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, who forthrightly declared in chapter 3 of his 2017 book Adam and the Genome that it is scientifically impossible that the human lineage ever passed through a bottleneck of two, and we can be as certain about this fact as we are about the truth of heliocentrism.

Here’s Buggs’ take-down of the three methods employed by Venema to discredit the possibility of a single primal couple. As a layperson, I have to say it looks as if Buggs has done his homework:

Linkage disequilibrium within populations

…The methods assume that the populations at any given time point are at equilibrium and not expanding exponentially (the authors deliberately exclude the last 10,000 years from this analysis as they know that exponential population growth has occurred in this timeframe). It is hard to see how they could pick up on a short, sharp bottleneck even if one had happened. It would be nice to see this modelled, just to check.

PSMC method

…More recently, some simulations by a graduate student have shown that the PSMC method does not detect short, sharp bottlenecks, such as those caused by a pandemic or natural disaster. Thus I cannot see that PSMC analyses (many more of which have been done on human genomes since the original paper by Li and Durbin) can be cited as rigorously disproving a short, sharp bottleneck.

Incomplete lineage sorting

Venema makes an argument based on incomplete lineage sorting among humans, apes and gorillas, which gives a large estimated effective population size. This argument is not relevant if we are only interested in the human lineage (the occurrence of ILS does not require maintenance of large populations sizes in every lineage after speciation and so does not exclude a bottleneck in the exclusively human lineage).

Buggs adds:

We need to bear in mind that explosive population growth in humans has allowed many new mutations to rapidly accumulate in human populations (A. Keinan and A. G. Clark (2012) Science 336: 740-743). Hyper-variable loci like MHC genes or microsatellites have so many alleles that they seem to defy the idea of a single couple bottleneck until we consider that they have very rapid rates of evolution, and could have evolved very many alleles since a bottleneck.

In his conclusion, Buggs modestly refrains from claiming to have rebutted Venema’s arguments:

The question asked by my religious friends is different to the questions being asked in the studies discussed above. My religions (sic) friends are not asking me if it is probable that humans have ever passed through a bottleneck of two; they are asking me if it is possible. None of the studies above set out to explicitly test the hypothesis that humans could have passed through a single-couple bottleneck. This is what we need to nail this issue down…

If I am missing something, then I would very much like to know. Whilst this issue may seem trivial to many readers, for large numbers of religious believers in the world, this is a critical issue. Do they really face a binary choice between accepting mainstream science and believing that humans have, at some point in their history, all descended from a single couple? I am open to the possibility that they do face this dilemma, but I need more evidence before I am persuaded.

I would be interested to know what biologists think of Richard Buggs’ article. Is he right? Does science still leave open the possibility of Adam and Eve? Over to you.

362 thoughts on “Adam and Eve still a possibility?

  1. Allan Miller:

    You missed the point. Again.

    I was pointing out that there is still a difference between the two bottlenecks, 2 and 10,000, depending on how the post-bottleneck population size changes, using the steady state as a baseline for illustrative purposes.

    No, I’m afraid you missed the point. An expanding population is not in steady state, it is not a situation where heterozygosity will be quickly lost even if it only started with 2 individuals.

    Evidence of the sharp bottle neck that is followed by an expanding population is found in many species. We can hypothetically compare the RARE VARIANTs with more common variants to estimate when the bottle neck happened in an expanding population. Jeason points to this common pattern among many species:

    https://answersingenesis.org/natural-selection/speciation/on-the-origin-of-eukaryotic-species-genotypic-and-phenotypic-diversity/

  2. Allan Miller: I was pointing out that there is still a difference between the two bottlenecks…

    How wide can a bottleneck be and still be a bottleneck?

  3. vjtorley: One reader insists that Adam and Eve are a fringe belief, even among Jews and Christians. Really? Before I comment any further, let me just say that I tend to be somewhat mistrustful of people who use block capitals in their posts.

    Vincent,

    Can I reassure you that Tom Mueller is a descent* decent sort in my experience. No need to be alarmed. 🙂

    ETA Oops Freudian slip!

  4. vjtorley:
    One reader insists that Adam and Eve are a fringe belief, even among Jews and Christians. Really?

    I suggest in politest terms possible that your statistics may be outdated and in error
    http://news.gallup.com/poll/210956/belief-creationist-view-humans-new-low.aspx

    I agree that some (not all) Europeans tend to be more educated than Americans
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/23/in-this-country-literally-no-young-christians-believe-that-god-created-the-earth/?utm_term=.62456a9bd625

    That said – the general American population displays remarkable success in getting the correct answers to scientific questions as compared to Europeans in general. Well, all scientific questions except for one! Guess which one…

    https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/02/what-americans-dont-know-about-science/283864/

    Regarding your interpretation of Jewish Orthodox beliefs… I promise you that NO Orthodox Jew believes Genesis is to be read literally.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pardes_(Jewish_exegesis)

  5. VJ,

    When I met Jeanson at the Lipscomb conference this past June, his presentation there made my head spin. I had to sit down with him for a couple hours to alleviate my headaches over his work!!!!! I told him I couldn’t understand more than about 10% of what he was saying. He eventually helped me get over the difficulties, and I’m still slugging through his work.

    Jeanson’s work was inspired in part by Rob Carter who is my colleague at John Sanford’s foundation.

    https://answersingenesis.org/natural-selection/speciation/on-the-origin-of-eukaryotic-species-genotypic-and-phenotypic-diversity/

    Human Haplotype Block Predictions

    Adam and Eve were assumed to have been created with nuclear DNA heterozygosity, implying that their genomes represented the first haplotype blocks. Since they were the only individuals alive, their “haplotype blocks” were, essentially, the length of entire chromosomes. Therefore, every recombination and gene conversion event since the creation of their genomes would fragment these initially long blocks into smaller haplotype blocks.

    To predict how many blocks would have arisen in each individual after 6000 years, the published rate of recombination (Wang et al. 2012) and several estimates of the frequency of gene conversion (Palamara et al. 2015; Wang et al. 2012; Williams et al. 2015) were combined into a total rate of haplotype block division per generation. For the gene conversion rate, Wang et al. (2012) estimated about 250–800 gene conversion events per cell, and Williams et al. (2015) estimated 228 from a per nucleotide rate that was the same as the per nucleotide rate reported in Palamara et al. (2015). We used 220 gene conversion events per cell in our calculations.

    The combined gene conversion and recombination rate was divided by a range of generation time estimates for humans (35 years to 15 years) to determine the rate of haplotype block divisions per year. Multiplying this converted rate by 6000 years estimated the number of haplotype blocks that would have resulted from 6000 years of recombination and gene conversion in each generation in a single lineage (see Supplemental Table 6 for details of these calculations).

    These predictions were compared to the current number of haplotype blocks, estimated via linkage disequilibrium to be 5,400 nucleotides (Rosenfeld, Mason, and Smith 2012). Dividing this block size into the human haploid genome size (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genome/browse/), we determined the average number of total blocks in the human genome. Since the reported haplotype block number was derived via comparison of 90 individuals, we modified our haplotype block predictions to estimate the number of blocks that would result from the comparison of several lineages. With just seven lineages, our predictions easily captured the current number of total blocks in the human genome (see Supplemental Table 6 for details of these calculations).

  6. vjtorely

    Part of the problem here would be my Canadian perspective, thinking that Canada does better than the USA in overall general knowledge of science…

    And that European scores are weighed down by former Soviet Bloc countries

    http://static1.businessinsider.com/image/58471001ba6eb6d3008b7bf9-1200

    It appears my hubris may be misplaced

    Typically, Canada scores somewhat better than Americans, but as in America; Canadian scores are very dependent upon region polled.

    https://www.vancouverobserver.com/opinion/bc-evolving-away-creationism

  7. colewd:
    TomMueller,

    The one they get wrong is the untested hypothesis.

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha … You are hilarious!

    oops wait a minute. Did I just get bit on the ass by Poe’s Law again?

  8. vjtorley: Obviously, Dr. Rejón assumes that humans and apes share a common ancestor, but he still seems to think that once 46-chromosomed hominins emerged, they would have had a hard time interbreeding with their 48-chromosomed contemporaries. Is he wrong here? He also thinks that “there is a possibility that the chromosome fusion that originated our chromosome 2 may have been associated with the appearance of our distinctive characteristics.” What do you think?

    I think there is no reason to believe that chromosomal fusion had anything to do with appearance of distinct human characteristics. If you have any evidence to the contrary I would like to see it.

    A very little thought should show you that the fusion can’t possibly be a serious barrier to interbreeding, since it must originally have appeared as a polymorphism in a single individual. That 47-chromosome individual would have had to breed with other 48-chromosome members of the population, and the frequency of the fusion would have to increase to the point at which homozygous 46-chromosome individuals appeared, and that would have to have become fixed in the population. None of this would be possible if there were a significant reproductive barrier. And indeed chromosomal polymorphisms in living populations show that there is no major barrier.

    Of course you could always propose a miracle, in which four simultaneous, identical chromosomal fusions happened (in four gametes?) to produce a male and female founder of a new species, who miraculously found each other and bred true ever since. No idea what Rejón was thinking.

  9. vjtorley:
    The way I see it, in order to preserve the doctrine of Original Sin, you need, at the very least, a single decision made at the dawn of human history, in which the human race rejected God.

    Necessary, perhaps, but not sufficient. Why should a single decision, no matter how many people participated in it, be binding on all their descendants? All the argument about the size of a hypothetical bottleneck is irrelevant to this point. So I’m snipping your hypothetical discussion of what it would or would not be easy to imagine. It doesn’t matter.

    So how would Original Sin work? Remember that the Catholic Church defines it negatively, as a deprivation of original grace: since the Fall, none of us are born children of God.

    Sure. But why? It’s a punishment visited on the innocent.

    But how is it transmitted to us all? The Catechism is enigmatic, offering only the briefest outline of an explanation:

    How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”. By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice.

    You exaggerate. This is not an outline of an explanation, however brief. It’s a senseless claim of collective guilt, which in any other context would be rejected as morally abhorrent.

    It may seem an odd doctrine to many, but I personally have no trouble believing it

    It seems not only odd but senseless. Why do you have no trouble believing it? How do you reconcile it with what you presumably consider God’s goodness and love?

  10. stcordova,

    No, I’m afraid you missed the point. An expanding population is not in steady state, it is not a situation where heterozygosity will be quickly lost even if it only started with 2 individuals.

    Nope, you missed it again. Typical Creationist dichotomy. My point was to consider two extremes in a non-shrinking population. On the one side we have steady state. At the other extreme, we have the situation where every individual leaves enough offspring to ensure its every gene copy survives.

    There are states in between – rates at which the population grows, but not in the unrealistic manner of the second case – the one that is needed to preserve the original couple’s ‘heterozygosity’/variation. It is not the case that, if a population is not steady state, it must be growing fast enough to preserve all variants. For any given rate of increase – mean offspring number – the 2-individual bottleneck must initially lose variation faster than the 10,000, except in the extreme, unrealistic case where so many offspring are produced and survive that no variant is ever lost.

    And quoting from answersingenesis? Hilarious.

  11. Allan:

    It is not the case that, if a population is not steady state, it must be growing fast enough to preserve all variants. For any given rate of increase – mean offspring number – the 2-individual bottleneck must initially lose variation faster than the 10,000, except in the extreme, unrealistic case where so many offspring are produced and survive that no variant is ever lost.

    I didn’t say no variants are lost! Many could be lost, but there could still be many left over.

  12. Here is a picture of a single heterozygous couple in an “expanding” population over one generation. It’s hard to claim the expanding population after the bottle neck of two will eliminate diversity over one generation, and if the population continues to expand, it is evident some level of diversity can be maintained.

  13. vjtorley:

    Obviously, Dr. Rejón assumes that humans and apes share a common ancestor, but he still seems to think that once 46-chromosomed hominins emerged, they would have had a hard time interbreeding with their 48-chromosomed contemporaries. Is he wrong here? He also thinks that “there is a possibility that the chromosome fusion that originated our chromosome 2 may have been associated with the appearance of our distinctive characteristics.” What do you think?

    That Shibboleth is easily slain, even at the high school worksheet level. I was proud that Larry Flammer considered my worksheet efforts worthy enough to post on his excellent ENSI site

    http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/

    I must be getting old because I am repeating myself… yet again I am in debt to Creationists for inspiration.
    http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/lessons/ChromShuffle.pdf

  14. Fringe element?? It is to laugh.
    First of all Christianity was a once and always on the fringe of humanity religions.
    Yet it was number one in intelligence for a religion.
    protestantism on top of that.
    Evangelical protestantism more toppy.
    Opposition in north america is based on Evangelical/others conclusions of the bible being the word of God. this word is the origin for the jesus stiry authority.
    how can the same authority be right here but wrong there??
    Upposition ro evolution here is also based on the common peoples intellectual reflection on it.
    They do get both sides a little. unlike europeans etc.
    We tend to be more free/independ in our thinking. not impressed with those claiming superior credtials to tell us what is right or wrong.
    yet finally i insist the intellectual mean and curve of people groups is the important point ot most.
    We simply have been , for centuries, more intelligent then europe and the rest.
    if creationism was true and evolutionism false then one would expect the sharper people to see the truth and see through the error of ideas.
    We always are right on the big things. history shows this.
    why would i expect Europe or Asia to be more anti evollution is its about IQ’s of mankind.??
    its a line of reasoning.
    If america/Canada were the least creationist THAT WOULD be a problem where public opinion matters on intellectual ideas.
    Its as it should be. if creationism is right.
    A line of reasoning.
    America, canada, britain, possibly korea and some chineseae countries being the most creationist FOLLOWS the same curves of a general high intellectual standard.
    Not India, Italy, or Israel. In time but not yet.

  15. Vincent,

    Your argument involving original sin as privation, along with a relaxed version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, doesn’t work.

    You write:

    You could use this modest version of PSR to explain privations as well, if you wanted to. In that case, the adequate explanation for a lack of X is simply something which is able to fail to bring about X.

    So in the case of a defective moral agent (i.e. a sinner), if you ask, “Where does the privation come from, if there was no privation the moment before?”, I would simply answer: from the agent. Nothing more needs to be said, unless you’re a Leibnizian, which I’m not.

    Earlier still, you wrote:

    There are several meanings of perfect which are being confused here:

    (i) free from faults or defects;
    (ii) perfect in character, when they were created, but capable of doing wrong at some later time; and
    (ii) perfect in character, for all time.

    According to traditional Christian theology, Adam and Eve were perfect in senses (i) and (ii), when they first appeared, but not (iii).

    So what you are trying to do, with your relaxed version of the PSR, is to support the idea that Adam and Eve were perfect in senses (i) and (ii), yet were able to sin despite that perfection. In other words, you’re using a relaxed version of the PSR to support a relaxed version of perfection that allows for sin.

    That logic is fine, as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t get God off the hook for Adam and Eve’s first sin.

    Here’s why: God is perfect in sense (iii); Adam and Eve (prior to the Fall) were perfect only in senses (i) and (ii). God could have made them perfect in sense (iii), in which case they would not have sinned. However, he chose not to. They sinned as a result, and so God is ultimately responsible.

    You could try to argue that while his decision allowed them to sin, it did not cause them to sin, so that God isn’t responsible after all. That is perhaps what you were getting at when you wrote:

    So in the case of a defective moral agent (i.e. a sinner), if you ask, “Where does the privation come from, if there was no privation the moment before?”, I would simply answer: from the agent.

    But here you run into another problem. God created Adam and Eve and gave them their natures. Their choice to sin either comes from their natures, or from something outside of their natures, or from a combination of both. If it comes from their natures, then God is responsible. If it comes from something outside their natures, then God is still responsible, because he created everything. If it comes from a combination of both, then God is responsible, because he is responsible for both their natures and this outside thing.

    The only way to get God off the hook is to propose that the decision to sin is caused by something God himself is not responsible for. But if he created everything, then how can there be anything he is not responsible for?

    And even if you were to argue that there is something uncreated that existed alongside God prior to creation — pure randomness or chaos, say, that causes the eventual decision to sin — then (ignoring the theological problems with that) your argument still fails. It gets God off the hook, for sure, but it also gets Adam and Eve off the hook, because they certainly didn’t exist prior to creation, and so they can’t be responsible for this thing, whatever it is, that eventually causes their choice to sin.

    There’s no way around it. Either God is ultimately responsible, or this Other Uncreated Thing is. It ain’t Adam and Eve, so you can’t blame “the agent.”

  16. Byers:

    America, canada, britain, possibly korea and some chineseae countries being the most creationist FOLLOWS the same curves of a general high intellectual standard.

    “Some chineseae countries”? What would those be?

  17. Vincent,

    The way I see it, in order to preserve the doctrine of Original Sin, you need, at the very least, a single decision made at the dawn of human history, in which the human race rejected God.

    Why would you want to preserve the doctrine of original sin? It’s goofy, it’s unsupported by the evidence, and it clashes with the notion of a wise, fair, and loving God.

  18. Hi TomMueller,

    I’m afraid your sources don’t support your claims.

    I suggest in politest terms possible that your statistics may be outdated and in error
    http://news.gallup.com/poll/210956/belief-creationist-view-humans-new-low.aspx

    The article you linked to cites a 2016 Gallup poll, showing that 38% of Americans say God created man in present form – the lowest figure in 35 years.

    What you omit to mention is that only 70.6% of Americans are Christians. Even if we throw in the 1.9% of Americans who are Jews and the 0.9% who are Muslims, that only takes us to 73.4%.

    (38/73.4) is still 51.8% of all American Christians, Jews and Muslims. Hardly a fringe belief. (I’m assuming that atheists, agnostics, New Agers and people who believe in non-Abrahamic religions don’t believe in Adam and Eve.)

    And I might add that the Gallup poll you cite omits Old Earth creationists – people such as the Catholic biologist Dr. Ann Gauger, who believes that Adam and Eve lived two million years ago. Add them in, and the percentage of American Christians, Jews and Muslims who believe in Adam and Eve might be closer to 60%.

    I agree that some (not all) Europeans tend to be more educated than Americans
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/23/in-this-country-literally-no-young-christians-believe-that-god-created-the-earth/?utm_term=.62456a9bd625

    The article you cite refers to one country in Europe – Iceland – where no young Christians are creationists. We are told that “exactly zero percent of respondents in a recent survey said they believe that God created the Earth,” but no link to the survey is provided. I happened to find a link, and I find that the survey was commissioned by The Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, an association of Icelandic atheists. And what did it find? “93.9% of Icelanders younger than 25 believed the world was created in the big bang, 6.1% either had no opinion or thought it had come into existence through some other means and 0.0% believed it had been created by God.” Really dumb question, when you consider that (a) the Big Bang hypothesis was first proposed by a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre and (b) it’s perfectly possible to believe that God created the Big Bang, as Pope Pius XII did, so a survey question asking young people if they believe in God or the Big Bang is posing a false dichotomy.

    I might add that extrapolating from Iceland to Europe is pretty unwise. The population of Iceland is just 332,529. The population of Europe in 2016 was 741,447,158, which is more than 2,000 times greater than that of Iceland.

    That said – the general American population displays remarkable success in getting the correct answers to scientific questions as compared to Europeans in general. Well, all scientific questions except for one! Guess which one…

    https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/02/what-americans-dont-know-about-science/283864/

    The article does not support your claim that Americans are ignorant about evolution. They simply have different religious beliefs. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the article:

    Finally, the report shows us that for at least some of the questions, Americans may be answering not based on knowledge, but on belief. As shown above, only 48 percent of Americans responded “true” to the statement “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.” But if the question was reframed slightly, far more people responded with “true.” Given the statement “according to the theory of evolution, human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,” 72 percent answered “true.” (Emphasis mine.) A similar pattern happens with the Big Bang question. When the statement is simply “The universe began with a huge explosion,” 39 percent responded “true.” When it is “according to astronomers, the universe began with a huge explosion,” 60 percent said “true.” This seems to indicate that many Americans are familiar with the theories of evolution and the Big Bang; they simply don’t believe they’re true.

    Regarding Jewish beliefs, you add:

    Regarding your interpretation of Jewish Orthodox beliefs… I promise you that NO Orthodox Jew believes Genesis is to be read literally.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pardes_(Jewish_exegesis)

    Straw man. I never claimed that the Jews read Genesis literally. I simply claimed that Orthodox Jews believe in the historicity of Adam and Eve. The same goes for Jewish commentators 2,000 years ago: Philo and Josephus were both willing to allow that Moses used figurative language when describing the creation, but at the same time, they firmly believed that Adam and Eve were real people.

    Part of the problem here would be my Canadian perspective, thinking that Canada does better than the USA in overall general knowledge of science…

    And that European scores are weighed down by former Soviet Bloc countries

    http://static1.businessinsider.com/image/58471001ba6eb6d3008b7bf9-1200

    Hold on. According to the link you cite, the highest European score was that of Estonia, which was … a former Soviet Bloc country! Poland also scored higher than the OECD average. I note in passing that America’s 2015 PISA score for science was better than the OECD average.

    It appears my hubris may be misplaced

    Typically, Canada scores somewhat better than Americans, but as in America; Canadian scores are very dependent upon region polled.

    https://www.vancouverobserver.com/opinion/bc-evolving-away-creationism

    An article I’ve found online suggests that Canada’s selective immigration policy may partly explain why Canadian students do so well in PISA reading, math and science tests: “Because the majority of immigrants are selected on the basis of their ability to contribute economically, many immigrant children have highly-educated parents. A 2006 OECD report found that first-generation Canadian students had parents with as many or more years of education as native-born parents.” In other words, comparing America and Canada is like comparing apples and oranges.

  19. From the OP:

    …More recently, some simulations by a graduate student have shown that the PSMC method does not detect short, sharp bottlenecks, such as those caused by a pandemic or natural disaster

    That should be rather obvious from this diagram if the population was expanding rapidly. One just needs to fill in some parameters.

  20. Hi keiths,

    So what you are trying to do, with your relaxed version of the PSR, is to support the idea that Adam and Eve were perfect in senses (i) and (ii), yet were able to sin despite that perfection. In other words, you’re using a relaxed version of the PSR to support a relaxed version of perfection that allows for sin.

    That logic is fine, as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t get God off the hook for Adam and Eve’s first sin.

    Here’s why: God is perfect in sense (iii); Adam and Eve (prior to the Fall) were perfect only in senses (i) and (ii). God could have made them perfect in sense (iii), in which case they would not have sinned. However, he chose not to. They sinned as a result, and so God is ultimately responsible.

    For all we know, God could have made humans who were perfect in sense (iii), who would never have sinned. My contention is that God could not, however, have made Adam and Eve perfect in sense (iii), because their identity is bound up with the way in which their decisions were caused. If God controlled an individual’s will in such a way as to ensure that the individual never sins, then that individual has a fundamentally different relationship with God, the Author of Nature – and hence, a different personal identity – from an individual whose will is not controlled by God. A world without sin would be a world without Adam and Eve.

    Now, you might argue that ceteris paribus, God has an obligation to create those persons whose existence will minimize the total amount of suffering in the world, if He’s going to create anyone at all. I disagree, because there can be no moral obligations towards merely possible individuals. You might prefer to play it safe and create a world free of sin, if you were in God’s shoes. Fair enough. Frankly, I might be inclined to do the same. But we can’t fault God for choosing otherwise. The individuals in this messy world we live in are unique and irreplaceable. As such, there is no “better” possible world out, which God could have created and which is free from sin, because it simply makes no sense to say that a world with individuals A, B and C is better than a world with individuals X, Y and Z. Individuals are incommensurable.

    But here you run into another problem. God created Adam and Eve and gave them their natures. Their choice to sin either comes from their natures, or from something outside of their natures, or from a combination of both. If it comes from their natures, then God is responsible. If it comes from something outside their natures, then God is still responsible, because he created everything. If it comes from a combination of both, then God is responsible, because he is responsible for both their natures and this outside thing.

    The only way to get God off the hook is to propose that the decision to sin is caused by something God himself is not responsible for. But if he created everything, then how can there be anything he is not responsible for?

    Your argument contains an equivocation. When you ask whether Adam and Eve’s choice to sin comes from their natures or something outside their natures, what do you mean by “comes from”? Do you mean “is an inevitable result of” or “is a possible result of”? If the former, then God is indeed responsible for the Fall; if the latter, then He is not.

  21. Hi John Harshman,

    …Why should a single decision, no matter how many people participated in it, be binding on all their descendants?…

    It’s a punishment visited on the innocent….

    This is not an outline of an explanation, however brief. It’s a senseless claim of collective guilt, which in any other context would be rejected as morally abhorrent.

    First of all, the Catholic Catechism nowhere claims that we are guilty of Adam’s sin, so talk of “collective guilt” is beside the point. All the Catechism says is that we suffer the consequences of our first parents’ fateful choice. That sort of situation happens in real life all the time: if your great-grandfather had been rich, but had gambled away the family fortune, you would now be poor.

    “But why should God punish Adam’s descendants like that?” you might ask. Frankly, I can’t see how it would work differently. Imagine a world containing both fallen and unfallen human beings, with the latter (but not the former) miraculously protected from pain, injury and death. How would the two camps interact? What would happen if the former declared war on the latter? And even if thy were able to get along with each other, how would God stop the latter from “free-riding” on the former, by taking advantage of the life-saving information that God passed on to them (e.g. about approaching typhoons)? That would make a total mockery of the former group’s proud renunciation of Divine protection: “No thanks, we’ll go it alone; we don’t need God.”

    No: letting the fallen and unfallen live side by side would create a total mess. Far better to let God sort things out in the hereafter.

  22. More recently, some simulations by a graduate student have shown that the PSMC method does not detect short, sharp bottlenecks, such as those caused by a pandemic or natural disaster

    OR a short sharp bottleneck like from domesticated breeds that suddenly expanded. Such would be the case with domesticated horse breeds and dogs and cattle. Jeanson followed the horse issue, the breeds came from an upper limit common ancestor of 6,000- 12,000 years ago. Similar things for dogs and cattle.

    What Jeasons discovered is that there was too much heterozygosity for common alleles, thus even the evolutionists, given that the breeds originated from a small bottlenecked pool, and to assume the small founding population of the domesticated breeds had large amounts of heterozygosity to start with about 6,000 – 12,000 years ago! So Jeanson was able to get some of his data from geneticists studying breeds.

    To cross check the hypothesis, Jeason compared the predicted diversity based on the mitochondrial DNA vs. nuclear DNAs. The clocking of the mtDNA looked correct, as in actual and predicted were close, but the clocking of the nuclear DNA was way off suggesting a short, sharp bottleneck. When did the numbers converge, about 6,000 years ago.

    Allan Miller was dismissive of the fact that Jeanson published in Answers in Genesis (AiG). Jeanson has also published in Nature and is a Harvard PhD in biology. Jeanson’s writing at AiG are have a strong religious flavor, but his technical stuff is pretty good. Same for Rob Carter.

    Astonishingly Jeason contrasts the diversity of mtDNA pretdicted in mtDNA by mtDNA clocks with diversity in nuclear DNA predicted by nuclear DNA clocks. Shazam!

    Jeason got some criticism over his mtDNA clock numbers on the net. I confronted him about it privately at the June 2017 Lipscomb conference, and he smiled and said he had the numbers from secular sources, it’s even in his footnotes. His critics were using numbers that have been rejected. We can of course double check this, but the smile on his face would be the smile I would have if someone said Ohno proved nylonase NylB was a de novo gene resulting from 400+ residue substitutsion. 🙂

    So the first graph:

    (A) Using the measured SNV mutation rate for the whole mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the number of SNV differences was predicted assuming a constant rate of DNA change over 6000 years. This prediction was compared to an estimate of the current levels of mtDNA SNV differences between S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus. The height of each bar represented the average DNA difference, and the thick black lines represented the range of predicted values given the reported error in the mutation rate and given the range of generation time estimates (“Predicted” bar). As the dotted lines demonstrate, the predicted number of differences over-predicted the current level of mtDNA differences between these species.

  23. Now the next graph in Jeanson’s paper:

    (B) Using the measured SNV mutation rate for the whole nuclear DNA genome in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the number of SNV differences was predicted assuming a constant rate of DNA change over 6000 years. This prediction was compared to an estimate of the current levels of nuclear SNV differences between S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus. The height of each bar represented the average DNA difference, and the thick black lines represented the range of predicted values given the reported error in the mutation rate and given the range of generation time estimates (“Predicted” bar). As the dotted lines demonstrate, predictions clearly underestimated actual differences.

  24. So we have the sharp short bottle neck hypothesis for domesticated breeds that came about less than 12,000 years ago. It has a certain profile of mtDNA vs nuclear DNA diversity. Well, Jeason did this for other creatures as well like yeast, which obviously isn’t domesticated. So he got the same profile. What does that mean. One way to reconcile this is sudden sharp bottleneckes and expanding population for all major living organisms about 6,000 years ago.

    Jeanson points out:

    Technically, since mutations would increase the heterozygosity each generation, a strict modeling of the mutation-only hypothesis would require the use of differential equations. However, nearly 6000 years of mutation were required before mutations could have theoretically changed the homozygous state of the species to a heterozygosity value of ~0.001. As Fig. 9 demonstrated, achieving a heterozygosity value of 0.001 would have bumped the mutation rate up by a factor of only ~2. Hence, random mutations over time were insufficient to explain nuclear SNV diversity in 6000 years in Arabidopsis.

    Thus, across all three eukaryotic kingdoms—plants, fungi, and animals—random mutations over time were unable to explain genotypic diversity, and created heterozygosity appeared necessary to account for the origin of diverse genotypes across ‘kinds’ in a very broad sampling of life.

  25. keiths: Why would you want to preserve the doctrine of original sin? It’s goofy, it’s unsupported by the evidence…

    What evidence are you looking at? The evidence indicates that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

  26. Just a quick drive by question and comment.

    If human genetic diversity requires a population of at least 10,000 individuals does that mean that Chimp diversity requires a much larger founding population?

    check it out

    http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2012-03-02-chimps-show-much-greater-genetic-diversity-humans

    vjtorley: Do you mean “is an inevitable result of” or “is a possible result of”? If the former, then God is indeed responsible for the Fall; if the latter, then He is not.

    This is a great point. There is a universe of difference between between a world where humans are sinless but mutable and one where we are by nature sinful.

    Inherent mutability is a big part of what makes a creature a creature.

    Peace

  27. Hi John Harshman and TomMueller,

    Thank you for your helpful comments on Rejon’s paper. It appears that his generalization about reproductive barriers accompanying changes in chromosome number was far too sweeping.

  28. Never mind I was able to find this

    from here:

    http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/27922/title/Ancient-humans-more-diverse-/

    quote:
    Modern humans have an effective population size of about 10,000 — a relatively low level of diversity. Chimps and gorillas, for example, both have effective population sizes of greater than 20,000. This estimate of 10,000 has been regarded as stable for about 200,000 to 400,000, maybe “as far back as a million” years
    end quote:

    This brings up another question

    It seems that the figure of 10000 is at least partially dependent on a long term stable population. Given humanity’s recent history why is that assumed?

    peace

  29. vjtorley:
    First of all, the Catholic Catechism nowhere claims that we are guilty of Adam’s sin, so talk of “collective guilt” is beside the point. All the Catechism says is that we suffer the consequences of our first parents’ fateful choice. That sort of situation happens in real life all the time: if your great-grandfather had been rich, but had gambled away the family fortune, you would now be poor.

    Poor analogy. The family fortune is something that is necessarily inherited, but God’s favor is not. It’s something he withholds from each individual by decision. Your ability to reason seems to fail whenever you confront this issue, and you might want to explore the reasons for that.

    “But why should God punish Adam’s descendants like that?” you might ask. Frankly, I can’t see how it would work differently. Imagine a world containing both fallen and unfallen human beings, with the latter (but not the former) miraculously protected from pain, injury and death.

    What do you mean by “fallen and unfallen”? The only fallen beings, that I know of, would be Adam and Eve. If a fallen state isn’t inherited, that’s it. I’m not sure that miraculous protection from pain etc. is necessarily part of the deal. Is that what you get when you’re unfallen? That would suggest that all of creation is punished, not just humans.

    How would the two camps interact? What would happen if the former declared war on the latter?

    Well, I suppose that if there were two such groups, and God protected the latter group, that protection would extend to protection from the former.

    And even if thy were able to get along with each other, how would God stop the latter from “free-riding” on the former, by taking advantage of the life-saving information that God passed on to them (e.g. about approaching typhoons)? That would make a total mockery of the former group’s proud renunciation of Divine protection: “No thanks, we’ll go it alone; we don’t need God.”

    So you would propose punishing the good people because the bad people might incidentally benefit? This “Christian morality” seems more and more odious to me.

    No: letting the fallen and unfallen live side by side would create a total mess. Far better to let God sort things out in the hereafter.

    Was that a conscious or unconscious echo of “Kill them all; God will know his own”? In either case, reprehensible.

    I find your theology both extremely confused and implying a reprehensible deity. This is not surprising, as the doctrines it tries to justify have the same flaws.

  30. vjtorley: First of all, the Catholic Catechism nowhere claims that we are guilty of Adam’s sin, so talk of “collective guilt” is beside the point. All the Catechism says is that we suffer the consequences of our first parents’ fateful choice.

    Catholic Cathecism does not require a belief in the literal Adam and Eve. In which case we are suffering real consequences of our metaphorical first parents fateful metaphorical choice. Luckily since God is fair that must be fair

    That sort of situation happens in real life all the time: if your great-grandfather had been rich, but had gambled away the family fortune, you would now be poor.

    Not exactly, it is not that we would be poor,we would be under the obligation to repay any debts our ancestors incurred.

  31. Hi Sal,

    Thanks very much for the link to Dr. Jeanson’s article. I’m not in any position to offer a detailed critique of Jeanson’s work, but I’d just like to make a quick observation.

    Jeanson maintains that there has been a decrease in the number of mammalian genera and families from the Tertiary to the Quaternary. What’s misleading about the numbers he cites is that scientists assign a length of about 63 million years to the Tertiary, and less than 3 million years to the Quaternary, so it’s no wonder the Tertiary contains more families and genera.

    I should also add that the total number of families and genera at any time is largely (but not wholly) determined by climate. See this article here, and the accompanying graphs:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/109/3/722.full

    http://www.pnas.org/content/109/3/722/F1.large.jpg

    http://www.pnas.org/content/109/3/722/T1.expansion.html

  32. fifthmonarchyman,

    Sal, please try to provide a coherent, comprehensible summary of Jeanson’s argument. What data did he use? What models? What are the predictions of the models? I can’t tell any of this from what you have posted so far.

  33. newton: Catholic Cathecism (catechism??) does not require a belief in the literal Adam and Eve

    But what about Humani Generis?

  34. I’m also curious if the lower than expected rates of inbreeding that we find in humans would have any bearing on the figure of 10,000 for effective population?

    quote:

    This suggests that our distant ancestors are likely to have been aware of the dangers of inbreeding, and purposely avoided it at a surprisingly early stage in prehistory.

    end quote:

    check it out
    https://phys.org/news/2017-10-prehistoric-humans-networks-inbreeding.html

    And lastly I wonder if the difference between anatomically modern humans and behaviorally modern humans comes into play at some point

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_modernity

    peace

  35. stcordova,

    Here is a picture of a single heterozygous couple in an “expanding” population over one generation. It’s hard to claim the expanding population after the bottle neck of two will eliminate diversity over one generation, and if the population continues to expand, it is evident some level of diversity can be maintained.

    Sure – there are many ‘halfway house’ situations, as I mentioned, between steady state and no-loss. But you can’t just ignore the fact that two-individual bottlenecks behave differently from 10,000-individual ones, even after the constriction is relaxed. The original contention was that all the variation in modern humans was present in A&E. Without assuming an unreal exponent, that does not get one off the hook, because 2-person bottlenecks still lose variation faster for a given exponent than 10,000-individual ones. Which is actually a statement about Ne, the effective population size.

    I do wish – though I hold out no hope – that people making a particular assertion about what is plausible would actually try and play with a simulation to try and put a bit of empirical meat on their suppositions.

  36. Allan Miller: The original contention was that all the variation in modern humans was present in A&E.

    I not sure that was the original contention. I think It’s a lot more complex than that.

    For instance some of the variation unquestionably comes from inter-species breeding with Neanderthals etc.

    I think the claim that bio logos is putting forth is there is a binary choice between science and A&E.

    That’s what needs to be demonstrated.

    peace

  37. stcordova,

    That should be rather obvious from this diagram if the population was expanding rapidly. One just needs to fill in some parameters.

    Ouch. You forget that an individual contains more than one locus. Try it with a simulation and a few thousand loci. It is a cert that my 3 children have between them copies of both alleles for some of my diploid loci. Equally, it is almost certain that some of my gene copies have been lost, because 3 is nowhere near enough. Multiply this across the population, you have a steady source of loss.

    A&E needed to contain all the variation of the modern population (for some reason!), and a great deal more besides to account for inevitable losses. Unless you make your exponent – mean offspring number – ridiculously large, in which case we might wonder why we aren’t (yet) up to to our eyeballs in people.

  38. fifthmonarchyman,

    I not sure that was the original contention. I think It’s a lot more complex than that.

    That was Sal’s original contention. Take it up with him.

  39. John Harshman,

    I have indulged your request for an explanation of the Catholic doctrine of the Fall. In view of your intemperate language, it appears that I have been too indulgent.

    May I remind you that this is a thread I started to discuss one question only: whether it is scientifically credible that the human race could have descended from an original primal couple. Original Sin is a thorny question, which deserves a separate thread of its own. I should add that there are religious believers (e.g. Orthodox Jews) who firmly believe in Adam and Eve, but who reject Original Sin. And there are modern-day Christians who continue to believe in the doctrine of Original Sin, but who have given up belief in an original couple. Perhaps the present Pope might fall into this category.

    The point of my family fortune analogy was simply to illustrate that punishment and guilt are very different things: an individual may be punished for his ancestor’s misdeeds, without being guilty of them in any way. You argue that there was no need for God to punish the entire human race for Adam’s mistake. You are assuming, of course, that each of us possesses an individual identity which is not in any way tied to Adam’s choice. We don’t know that. Quantum physics reveals strange entanglements between particles, even when separated by large distances; who is to say that something similar does not hold for people?

    You then accuse me of espousing the rationale for the infamous massacre at Beziers: “Kill them all; God will know his own.” May I remind you that:

    (a) there is a big difference between killing someone and letting them stew in their own juice;

    (b) no-one, however young or innocent, has the right to be born into a world free of suffering; and

    (c) as Jews (who don’t believe in Original Sin) point out, each of us is a sinner, anyway, so we have no right to complain about the fact that we have to suffer and die.

    It seems that any further discussion is likely to generate more heat than light, so I do not propose to comment further on the doctrine of Original Sin on this thread. Believe it or disbelieve it; frankly, it’s no skin off my nose.

  40. Ouch. You forget that an individual contains more than one locus. Try it with a simulation and a few thousand loci.

    Why do you think just because you have a thousand loci, you lose a thousand alleles!

    For a given gene, in a fully heterozygous couple there are 4 alleles. What’s the probability a single allele will be lost. Consider a gene locus, call it G1. The Alleles are G1_A, G1_B, G1_C, G1_D.

    Daddy has G1_A and G_1B alleles at locus G1. If the couple has only 1 kid, what is the probability the kid will be missing G1_A allele? 50% or 1-(1/2)^1

    So the table is :

    1 kid: 1-(1/2)^1
    2 kid: 1-(1/2)^2
    3 kid: 1-(1/2)^3 = 12.5%
    4 kid: 1-(1/2)^4 = 6.25%

    etc.

    But if the couple has a large number of offpring, according to the law of large numbers, the proportion of alleles in the population at that locus is:

    G1_A ~= 25%
    G1_B ~= 25%
    G1_C ~= 25%
    G1_D ~= 25%

    The same would be true of Gene locus 2:

    G2_E ~= 25%
    G3_F ~= 25%
    G4_G ~= 25%
    G5_H ~= 25%

    and gene locus 3:

    G2_J ~= 25%
    G3_K ~= 25%
    G4_L ~= 25%
    G5_M ~= 25%

    etc. to a thousand loci.

    That would be true at every locus, so 1000 loci won’t change the diversity if Adam and Eve had a buzzilion offspring. So the problem is modelling the difference between Adam and Eve having only 2 offspring versus so many the law of large numbers comes into play. The answer as to how much diversity results is somewhere in between 2 and some large number, but it should be clear diversity won’t be lost if there are sufficient numbers of offspring. The smaller pool of offspring from the first couple would create more opportunity for alleles to be lost akin to the problem of gamblers ruin.

    But the point is, the dynamics of an expanding population don’t rule out substantial loss of heterozygosity. That was demonstrated in the studies domesticated horse breeds from a small pool. The diversity could not be the result of random mutation acting on the offspring of the founders of the domesticated breeds 6,000 – 12,000 years ago, the history of which was reconstructed by the researchers. Same could be said of domesticated dogs and cattle.

    Jeanson pointed out the researcher had to assume the founding parents of the domesticated breeds were largely hetereozygous. So it’s not Jeanson and YECs saying this, it was secular researchers. So results agree with theory.

    Ouch. You forget that an individual contains more than one locus. Try it with a simulation and a few thousand loci.

    I just refuted the illogic of what you thought was an “ouch.”

  41. vjtorley:
    I have indulged your request for an explanation of the Catholic doctrine of the Fall. In view of your intemperate language, it appears that I have been too indulgent.

    I don’t see my language as intemperate. It may at times be blunt, but that’s all I’m willing to own up to. I don’t think I have at any time violated the rules of this site. And how is attempting to answer a question reasonably considered “too indulgent” here?

    May I remind you that this is a thread I started to discuss one question only: whether it is scientifically credible that the human race could have descended from an original primal couple. Original Sin is a thorny question, which deserves a separate thread of its own.

    I’d be happy to see such a thread, but I’m not the person who brought it up. I came in after you had attempted a defense of it.

    I should add that there are religious believers (e.g. Orthodox Jews) who firmly believe in Adam and Eve, but who reject Original Sin. And there are modern-day Christians who continue to believe in the doctrine of Original Sin, but who have given up belief in an original couple. Perhaps the present Pope might fall into this category.

    I am unaware of the present Pope’s ideas on Adam and Eve. What do you know?

    The point of my family fortune analogy was simply to illustrate that punishment and guilt are very different things: an individual may be punished for his ancestor’s misdeeds, without being guilty of them in any way.

    In the analogy, nobody is punishing the individual; it’s just an unavoidable consequence. That makes it a poor analogy.

    You argue that there was no need for God to punish the entire human race for Adam’s mistake. You are assuming, of course, that each of us possesses an individual identity which is not in any way tied to Adam’s choice. We don’t know that. Quantum physics reveals strange entanglements between particles, even when separated by large distances; who is to say that something similar does not hold for people?

    Now you’re resorting to Deepakities. Vague appeal to quantum theory as a justification for collective guilt (and, stripped of the jargon, that’s what you’re talking about here) is the last refuge of the desperate. I can’t take this seriously. All ordinary morality claims that the sons are not accountable for the sins of the father. Of course the bible contradicts this frequently, but we generally consider that a problem.

    You then accuse me of espousing the rationale for the infamous massacre at Beziers: “Kill them all; God will know his own.” May I remind you that:

    (a) there is a big difference between killing someone and letting them stew in their own juice;

    (b) no-one, however young or innocent, has the right to be born into a world free of suffering; and

    (c) as Jews (who don’t believe in Original Sin) point out, each of us is a sinner, anyway, so we have no right to complain about the fact that we have to suffer and die.

    None of those is in evidence, but let’s consider them anyway. (a) We aren’t talking about “their own juice” but about Adam’s juice. Failure to act to prevent a death (when one has the ability and opportunity) may not be quite as reprehensible as actual killing, but it’s still reprehensible. (b) Why not, if the suffering is a punishment for someone else’s sin? (c) That’s another theology entirely, which we could discuss if you like, but it isn’t relevant to a discussion of original sin.

    It seems that any further discussion is likely to generate more heat than light, so I do not propose to comment further on the doctrine of Original Sin on this thread. Believe it or disbelieve it; frankly, it’s no skin off my nose.

    Ah, flouncing. Never a very convincing response.

  42. stcordova: I just refuted the illogic of what you thought was an “ouch.”

    Sal, bless your heart. All you have done is show that if the conditions of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium hold, there is Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. One of the assumptions is, of course, an infinite, panmictic population. Just how many children do you think Adam and Eve had? How many children did each of their descendants have, up until the further bottleneck at the Flood? Was it really “a buzzilion”? How many is that? Was Eve perhaps constantly pregnant with triplets (fraternal, of course) during most of her life, which for all we know was several hundred years? (Hey, notice that we have no idea how long she lived? Thanks, Genesis.)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.