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. keiths: says Mung, offering no such evidence.

    Adam and Eve did not physically die that day. That’s evidence that supports the position that God was not speaking of physical death.

    Think, keiths.

    Oh, and you have no evidence that God was speaking of physical death. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Which makes your complaint seem really, really silly.

  2. fifth:

    It was a symbol Like a wedding ring

    it was a symbol of Adams trust of God when it came to knowing Good and evil.

    God promised to give Adam a life of eternal fulfillment and joy if he only trusted him and as long as the uneaten fruit was there Adams trust was evident.

    When Adam ate the fruit he proclaimed that he did not trust God when it came to moral choices.

    It was a symbolic act of divorce

    I enjoy watching fifth fight the Bible.

    In the biblical account, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil wasn’t just a symbol whose uneaten fruit proved Adam’s trust in God. It was an actual magic tree, just like the Tree of Life:

    4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

    Genesis 3:4:7, NIV

    The fruit from the magic tree made them ashamed of their nakedness.

    Continuing:

    8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

    God inferred the sin from the magic effect.

    Yes, it’s goofy as shit, but that’s what the story says.

    And the Tree of Life wasn’t a mere symbol either:

    22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

    And just to forestall the inevitable Mung confusion:

    Mung,

    Fifth is claiming that the Tree was a symbol in the Garden, not that it’s one symbol among many in a symbolic story.

    This will likely be difficult for you, I know.

  3. Newton:

    Have you considered that Eve being formed from Adam’s rib might be essentially maternal twins?

    Greetings newton. How are you, old friend.

    No I didn’t consider that. Thanks for you comment.

    But, with respect to other discussions, the more likely loss of heterozygosity is the 3 sons of Noah, unless Noah had sons not recorded. This geneaology is of interest to YLC’s.

    John Sanford, Rob Carter, Nathaniel Jeanson, and perhaps a variety of Jewish geneticists are exploring parts of this genealogy. The most famous, relatively well confirmed genealogy is that of Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac. The formal genetic term is the Abraham Modal Haplotype. The Abraham Modal Haplotype conforms to timing laid out in Genesis at least depending on who you talk to. People who obviously hate the bible argue one way, people that love it, another way.

    Same for the priestly clan (clade) or Cohen’s. Cohen is Hebrew for priest. Amazing they share an interesting genetic trait:

    http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48936742.html

    Dr. Karl Skorecki, a Cohen of Eastern European parents, was attending synagogue one morning. The Cohen called up for the Torah reading that morning was a Jew of Sephardic background, whose parents were born in North Africa.Dr. Skorecki looked at the Sephardi Cohen’s physical features and considered his own physical features.They were significantly different in stature, skin coloration and hair and eye color. Yet both had a tradition of being Cohanim, direct descendants of one man — Aaron, the brother of Moses.
    Cohanim (plural of Cohen) are the priestly family of the Jewish people, members of the Tribe of Levi.The books of Exodus and Leviticus describe the responsibilities of the Cohanim, which include the Temple service and blessing of the people. The Torah (the first five books of the Bible) describes the anointing of Aaron, the brother of Moses, as the first High Priest (Cohen Gadol).
    Jewish tradition, based on the Torah, is that all Cohanim are direct descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. The Cohen line is patrilineal — passed from father to son without interruption for 3,300 years, or more than 100 generations.
    The Cohen line is patrilineal — passed from father to son without interruption for 3,300 years.
    Dr. Skorecki considered, “According to tradition, this Sephardi Cohen and I have a common ancestor. Could this line have been maintained since Sinai, and throughout the long exile of the Jewish people?” As a scientist, he wondered, could such a claim be tested?
    Being a nephrologist and a top-level researcher at the University of Toronto and the Rambam-Technion Medical Center in Haifa, he was involved in the breakthroughs in molecular genetics which are revolutionizing medicine and the study of the life-sciences. He was also aware of the newly developing application of DNA analysis to the study of history and population diversity.
    Dr. Skorecki considered a hypothesis: if the Cohanim are descendants of one man, they should have a common set of genetic markers — a common haplotype — that of their common ancestor. In our case, Aaron HaCohen.

    FURTHER CONFIRMATION

    In a second study, Dr. Skorecki and associates gathered more DNA samples and expanded their selection of Y chromosome markers. Solidifying their hypothesis of the Cohens’ common ancestor, they found that a particular array of six chromosomal markers was found in 97 of the 106 Cohens tested. This collection of markers has come to be known as the Cohen Modal Hapoltype (CMH) — the standard genetic signature of the Jewish priestly family. The chances of these findings happening at random is greater than one in 10,000.
    The finding of a common set of genetic markers in both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Cohanim worldwide clearly indicates an origin pre-dating the separate development of the two communities around 1000 CE. Date calculation based on the variation of the mutations among Cohanim today yields a time frame of 106 generations from the ancestral founder of the line, some 3,300 years — the approximate time of the Exodus from Egypt, the lifetime of Aaron HaCohen.
    Date calculations based on the mutations yield a time frame for the Cohen line of some 3,300 years!

    Professor Hammer was recently in Israel for the Jewish Genome Conference. He confirmed that his findings are consistent — over 80 percent of self-identified Cohanim have a common set of markers.

    But the grand daddy “cladogram” for humanity is laid out here:

    10 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

    2 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.

    3 And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.

    4 And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.

    5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

    6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.

    7 And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.

    8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.

    9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.

    10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

    11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,

    12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.

    13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,

    14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.

    15 And Canaan begat Sidon his first born, and Heth,

    16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,

    17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,

    18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

    19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.

    20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.

    21 Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.

    22 The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.

    23 And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.

    24 And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.

    25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.

    26 And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,

    27 And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,

    28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,

    29 And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.

    30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.

    31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.

    32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

    and the most important genealogy, oh, about 70 generations, that of Jesus.

    Click to enlarge:
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/00-5-0221.jpg

  4. stcordova,

    Sal, I see two major problems with your analysis. First, your calculation is based on Adam having 100 kids, which is four times the number previously postulated (and accounting for Eve claiming half of each kid). Second, for that reason, each allele begins at 25% frequency, not 50%. Also, you have failed to account for the fact that any children not ancestral to Noah, his unnamed wife, or the unnamed wives of his three sons might as well not have been born. Given that these folks are likely of the third generation, you must have divine intervention to preserve the original heterozygosity through that particular bottleneck. I can’t believe we’re even discussing this silly scenario; we certainly wouldn’t be if not for biblical literalism.

  5. 16. An Alternative Population Genetics Model
    Ola Hössjer, Ann K. Gauger, and Colin R. Reeves

    What can be said about human history from DNA variation among us today? Population genetics is used in academia to infer that we share a common ancestry with apes; that most of our human ancestors emigrated from Africa fifty thousand years ago; that they possibly had some mixing with Neanderthals, Denisovans, and other archaic populations; and that the early Homo population was never smaller than a few thousand individuals. It uses mathematical principles for how the genetic composition of a population changes over time through mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, and other forces of change. In this chapter we investigate the assumptions about this theory and conclude that it is full of gaps and weaknesses. We argue that a unique origin model, where humanity arose from one single couple, seems to explain data at least as well, if not better. We finally propose an alternative simulation approach that could be used in order to validate such a model. The use of the term “first couple” will undoubtedly raise the issue of Adam and Eve in the reader’s mind. We the authors each have our own views on the reading of Genesis. Our goal here is to show that the argument against a historical Adam and Eve made by some scientists is not justified by the scientific evidence, and that there is a real possibility of a founding first pair.

    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/11/a-beautiful-monster-theistic-evolution-a-scientific-philosophical-and-theological-critique-is-here/

  6. keiths: God lied, Mung.

    You have no evidence for your claim that God was speaking of physical death. None. The evidence that does exist makes it clear that God was not speaking of physical death.

    This is not difficult.

  7. stcordova: and the most important genealogy, oh, about 70 generations, that of Jesus.

    7 x 10. Imagine that. Or think of 70 weeks. Either 70 ends with Jesus. What a coincidence.

  8. The story of the garden as told by fifth just seems so wrong to me on a human level. Why is it considered desirable for Adam and Eve to accept this seemingly ridiculous instruction to not eat fruit from a particular tree? Isn’t it preferable that humans are curious and want to find things out for themselves, rather than blindly following instructions from an authority figure with no apparent logic behind them? The whole scenario is so ridiculous. Put A&E in a garden with an obvious tree with (presumably) tasty looking fruit in it and see how long they can last without their curiosity getting the better of them? You would think God would prefer his creations to show a bit of spunk than be blind followers of dumb rules from on high.

  9. Why have that tree in the garden in the first place? Couldn’t God predict they’d eat from it and simply put it out of their reach?

    Why must that tree even exist? Why must there be a tree with fruits that contain the knowledge of good and evil? Can’t God just have that knowledge in his mind? Why have a snake in there that can talk? Wouldn’t God know beforehand that the snake would tempt A&E? After they ate the magical fruit that didn’t need to exist in the first place, why didn’t God reset paradise back to it’s beginning state and get rid of the snake and tree? Or just forgive them for doing something wrong?

    The whole story is ridiculous from every imaginable angle. None of it makes any goddamn sense (pun intended). It is perhaps the most fatuous story in all of fiction.

  10. Phoodoo, yes but it fails as an allegory. Too me it says – don’t be curious, don’t investigate the world, don’t exercise your own judgement, do blindly follow orders without question

  11. Timothy,

    It doesn’t fail as allegory just because you don’t get it.

    Its about restraint, and not always doing what you like because it just feels good or tastes good, and you don’t care about the consequences. It pretty much lies at the heart of being a good human, which is doing what one knows is right, rather than succumbing to all of life’s temptations because its easier and more fun.

    I would say its pretty dam good advice, and just about every religion has a similar take on life. Doesn’t it at least make you curious as to why they all recommend this?

  12. phoodoo:
    Timothy,

    Allegory.

    That’s just an ad-hoc excuse theists came up with after it was discovered that a literal reading of Genesis couldn’t possibly be true. Funny how it’s allegorical when science unambigously contradicts it.

    It’s also funny how that is how theistic beliefs are usually maintained in the face of contradictory evidence. The believer allows her/himself to constantly make up excuses and engage in ad-hoc reasoning to shield the faith from disproof by observation and science.

    There’s a lot of evil and bad stuff in the world? Oh well God could have a plan, and there’s got to be free will. The Earth isn’t the center of the universe and the cosmos is unfathomably vast? Oh well that’s just evidence of God’s massive powers and he’s also a bit of an artist, you know how artists are. The heavens are not a firmament and the stars aren’t holes in it? Well you see it’s an allegory for … something, we’re not sure. God explicitly condones slavery in the bible? Oh well you see it’s not “really” slavery, and the rules were just different back then, it wasn’t so bad.

    Etc. etc. etc.

    The world champion of mental gymnastics and psychological compartmentalization has been a theist now for millenia.

  13. Rumraket: That’s just an ad-hoc excuse theists came up with after it was discovered that a literal reading of Genesis couldn’t possibly be true. Funny how it’s allegorical when science unambigously contradicts it.

    Is one supposed to laugh at this or just slap their forehead. Or both?

  14. phoodoo: which is doing what one knows is right

    That doesn’t make any sense. Weren’t the fruit supposed to contain that knowledge? How could they know before eating it then? How do you allegorically square the chronology there?

    C’mon man, you have to know somewhere deep down you’re just engaging in completely evidence-free motivated reasoning. What’s worse, you have absolutely no way of verifying that it even is allegorical, much less whether your particular interpretation of it is event correct.

  15. Rumraket,

    You don’t have an intellectually valid statement about evil in the world, when you are so frozen as you and keiths are from saying what an alternative would look like.

  16. phoodoo: It doesn’t fail as allegory just because you don’t get it.

    Actually that’s one way in which it fails. Supposedly it was inspired by an all-knowing divine being. It’s a pretty crap allegory if the audience doesn’t get it. You’d think God would be able to write so his own creation could understand his word.

    There is total disagreement about pretty much all of it even by well-meaning and sincerely believing christians. You can make some sort of ad-hoc excuse for someone like me not getting it “because I’m in rebellion” or what have you, but even among totally sincere christians you can’t agree. That is pretty much proof it’s bullshit written by ignorant men, not by a God for his own creations.

  17. phoodoo:
    Rumraket,

    You don’t have an intellectually valid statement about evil in the world, when you are so frozen as you and keiths are from saying what an alternative would look like.

    I already have now three times. You had no response, other than what you’re doing now. You just brainlessly declare I have not responded. And you know it. You really do know that this is what you’re doing.

  18. Mung: Don’t be like keiths.

    Inconceivable.

    People who think you can eat a piece of fruit off a tree and live forever need to have their head examined.

    It would be a miracle

  19. Rumraket: Why have that tree in the garden in the first place? Couldn’t God predict they’d eat from it and simply put it out of their reach?

    Because then you would not have a story.

    What’s ridiculous, is that many people believe it to be history, rather than just a story.

  20. Timothy:
    Phoodoo, yes but it fails as an allegory.Too me it says – don’t be curious, don’t investigate the world, don’t exercise your own judgement, do blindly follow orders without question

    I see it as a “Just So” story. It provides a pseudo-explanation of why humans seem different from other animals.

  21. Rumraket: That’s just an ad-hoc excuse theists came up with after it was discovered that a literal reading of Genesis couldn’t possibly be true. Funny how it’s allegorical when science unambigously contradicts it.

    ‘To what person of intelligence, I ask, will the account seem logically consistent that says there was a “first day” and a “second” and “third”, in which also “evening” and “morning” are named, without a sun, without a moon, and without stars, and even in the case of the first day without a heaven? And who will be found simple enough to believe that like some farmer “God planted trees in the garden of Eden, in the east?” and that He planted “the tree of life” in it, that is a visible tree that could be touched, so that someone could eat of this tree with corporeal teeth and gain life, and, further, could eat of another tree and receive knowledge “of good and evil”? Moreover, we find that God is said to stroll in the garden in the afternoon and Adam to hide under a tree. Surely, I think no one doubts that these statements are made by Scripture in the form of a type by which they point toward certain mysteries. . . But there is no need for us to enlarge the discussion too much beyond what we have in hand, since it is quite easy for everyone who wishes to collect from the holy Scriptures things that are written as though they were really done, but cannot be believed to have happened appropriately and reasonably according to the narrative meaning.’

    Origen On First Principles (ca. 225)

  22. Mung: 16. An Alternative Population Genetics Model
    Ola Hössjer, Ann K. Gauger, and Colin R. Reeves

    Here are my comments on this paper (on Biologos):
    Yeah, there are many problems with the paper. Its descriptions of previous work is often inaccurate. For example, it cites ref. 49 to claim that Y chromosome diversity is smaller than previously believed. Ref. 49 doesn’t say that at all, and in reality the relevant Y chromosome diversity — the length of the oldest branches — was shown in 2013 to be much higher than previously thought, when a new, highly divergent branch was discovered.

    Other examples: Sanford’s paper on waiting times in hominids does not show that that hasn’t been enough time since human-chimpanzee speciation for evolution to work (unless you make idiotic assumptions, that is). Haplotype blocks, to the extent that they’re a real thing, cannot be explained by single early instances of recombination; since their first description (their ref. 60), their characteristic feature has been that multiple recombination events were required at their ends, to break up multiple haplotypes.

    More seriously, the paper simply does not address the actual genetic evidence for a large ancestral population size. As we have discussed previously in another thread here, you can inject any amount of genetic diversity into Adam and Eve, but that diversity won’t look anything like the actual diversity we see. What we see has a characteristic frequency distribution that falls off as 1/frequency, so that there are many more rare variants than common ones. Genetic variants in Adam and Eve would all be at high frequency, since the lowest frequency variant you can have with 2 individuals is 25%.

    The other strong piece of evidence that human genetic variation is the result of accumulated mutations is that it looks like accumulated mutations. That is, kinds of mutations that we know happen very frequently also appear very frequently in modern genetic variation, and kinds of mutations that occur rarely are seen in variants. (Strikingly, exactly the same pattern is also seen in genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees. My prediction is that you will never see a creationist address this simple fact.)

    Really not a good paper.

  23. stcordova,

    I really think you would benefit from actually trying to do a sensible multi-generational exercise, though I also realise that would be far too much like hard work for you.

    Consider it this way: you have a population of (let’s say) 10,000 individuals that has been at steady state for many, many generations. That population has a degree of variation commensurate with its census size, by approaching equilibrium with new mutation and loss. Now (for some reason) you want 2 individuals to hold all that variation, albeit for just a generation. Obviously, no 2 real individuals will suffice, since the variation is spread among the 10,000. You have to construct individuals with much higher than average heterozygosity along the genomes, by making sure all polymorphisms are represented.

    Now, allow those 2 individuals and their descendants to have as many offspring as you think necessary to preserve the variation you (for some reason) inserted into your bottleneck pair. When the population hits 7 billion, will it have the variation of the original pre-A&E 10,000? Will it have the variation of just A&E? How many generations did that take?

    Note also that this exercise applies to any “Ark species”, many of which show modern variation well in excess of that of humans but which, we are assured in that child’s story, reduced to 2 even more recently than A&E. If A&E lived to 900 and sired an unreportedly large number of offspring, so did sloths and heffalumps.

  24. Rumraket: I already have now three times. You had no response, other than what you’re doing now. You just brainlessly declare I have not responded. And you know it. You really do know that this is what you’re doing.

    No Rumraket, all you said was ‘no evil”. Then I asked what does that mean, does it mean no work, no having to wake up when you are tired, no disappointments, not walking uphills, no mosquito bites, brain in a vat for 1, for a million? and once again, you pull the keiths defense-I don’t have to answer, NO EVIL!

    If you are too pathetic to explain your own philosophy, maybe its because you don’t know yourself.

  25. Timothy: Too me it says – don’t be curious, don’t investigate the world, don’t exercise your own judgement, do blindly follow orders without question

    That is what Adam (and the serpent) thought. 😉

    On the other hand the rational appraisal would be to realize that as finite creatures there are things we don’t know and that trust in a loving God is not a bad thing.

    peace .

  26. newton: Have you considered that Eve being formed from Adam’s rib might be essentially maternal twins?

    Why do you think it was a rib bone and not some other bone…say…hip? Human has 206 bones…why the rib?

  27. Mung,

    You have no evidence for your claim that God was speaking of physical death. None.

    Sure I do. “Death” by default means physical death. If God had meant “spiritual death” he would have said “spiritual death”. Instead, he just said “death”. He lied, and the serpent told the truth.

    This “spiritual death” nonsense is just a desperate attempt by believers to get Yahweh off the hook for lying. I don’t know why they bother, given that Yahweh is such a complete ass in the Old Testament anyway. A deity willing to wipe out innocent children and animals in a Flood is not going to scruple when it comes to lying.

    He thought the death threat was a good way of scaring them away from the Tree, so he lied.

  28. fifth,

    On the other hand the rational appraisal would be to realize that as finite creatures there are things we don’t know and that trust in a loving God is not a bad thing.

    Turns out that A&E were correct not to trust God. He had already lied to them, as they discovered once they ate the fruit.

  29. Allan, to Sal:

    Note also that this exercise applies to any “Ark species”, many of which show modern variation well in excess of that of humans but which, we are assured in that child’s story, reduced to 2 even more recently than A&E. If A&E lived to 900 and sired an unreportedly large number of offspring, so did sloths and heffalumps.

    I’ll have you know that heffalump variation precisely matches the predictions of the biblical account. See Milne and Geisel (1955).

    Read it and weep.

  30. fifthmonarchyman: On the other hand the rational appraisal would be to realize that as finite creatures there are things we don’t know and that trust in a loving God is not a bad thing.

    No, I don’t agree. Aside from the fact that as Keith says, the loving God aint always so loving, relying on God to solve things in the past hasn’t worked out so well. We did better (eg germ theory of disease) when we worked it out ourselves.

  31. phoodoo,

    I’ve told you more than once that I do not think that a loving God would necessarily produce a world devoid of suffering. There might be suffering, if it served a higher goal that couldn’t otherwise be achieved. Your “choice” argument is an attempt to identify such a higher goal, but it fails. That’s why you have been running away from my questions about it.

    I’ve also explained that I am not proposing a World 2.0, and that my argument in no way depends on such a proposal. Your continual demand for such a proposal is just a (lame) way of avoiding my actual argument, which you cannot refute.

    This says it all: You are still afraid to answer Timothy’s simple question, for obvious reasons.

    If someone asks you why you believe in a loving God, just be honest and say: “No good reason. It’s irrational, but I want to believe it. The truth scares me, so I sweep the evidence under the rug. I believe what I want to believe.”

    Yes, it’s an embarrassing admission, but it’s true. And it’s not like you don’t have company. Your fellow believers, including the Christians posting in this thread, are doing the same thing.

  32. J-Mac: Why do you think it was a rib bone and not some other bone…say…hip? Human has 206 bones…why the rib?

    From the only source we have about the existence of Adam and Eve and how they came to be:

    “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

  33. Vincent,

    I’m a Boethian: I believe God’s knowledge of our choices is determined by those choices. God is a spectator.

    Actually, you’re not quite a Boethian. While you share Boethius’s belief that God’s foreknowledge is compatible with free will, your view differs from his in an important way. He thinks God is timeless. While you nominally agree, you smuggle temporality back into God’s nature, as I noted in the Cross/Embarrassment thread:

    1. You’re positing that God is timeless, but then you’re smuggling a kind of temporality back into the picture, thinly disguised in terms such as “logically prior” and “logically subsequent”. In so doing, you effectively make God temporal again rather than timeless.

    A truly timeless God would be under no temporal or quasi-temporal restrictions of the kind you describe. He would be able to act on the world just as timelessly as he perceives it, and since God’s actions have consequences for the future, it means he could timelessly alter the future based on his timeless perception of that future, thus turning future facts into counterfactuals.

    In other words, he could timelessly view the consequences of creating Adam and Eve and timelessly act to create the sinless Bob and Brenda instead.

  34. Vincent,

    But if by “better world” you mean a more harmonious world, then obviously, a world filled with virtuous people is better than a world filled with vicious people.

    So why might God choose to make a less harmonious world? The answer is that such a world might allow God to display more of His personal characteristics than a world that was guaranteed to be perfect from the get-go: characteristics like loving-kindness, forgiveness and self-giving.

    So people (and other creatures) suffer merely because God wants to preen? That’s appalling, Vincent.

  35. And God is certainly passing up a lot of opportunities to demonstrate his loving-kindness, wouldn’t you say?

    You’d think he could have dialed down the suffering a bit without depriving himself of opportunities to show off.

  36. keiths: I’ve told you more than once that I do not think that a loving God would necessarily produce a world devoid of suffering. There might be suffering, if it served a higher goal that couldn’t otherwise be achieved.

    When, where, how much? How will you know when suffering is necessary and not? Do you want God to interfere sometimes, occasionally…

    What if the higher goal is appreciating Heaven, then how much suffering would be necessary?

    You don’t know, you want others to answer these for you.

  37. Vincent,

    If you want to better understand the doctrine of original sin, then I’ll give you some advice which I forgot to give John Harshman (though he is welcome to take it): read C. S. Lewis’s cosmic trilogy.

    The problem isn’t that I don’t understand original sin — I was steeped in the topic from an early age. The problem is that the doctrine is goofy, unsupported by evidence, and at odds with the Christian notion of a wise, loving, and fair God.

    I’ll say one more thing. Following the pagan philosopher Epictetus, I would suggest that we need to cultivate gratitude. Every moment of joy we experience in life is a gift, and it is an utterly astounding fact that we are able to experience even a moment’s happiness, let alone a lifetime (as many people do).

    Once can appreciate the good in life without thinking that the doctrine of original sin is fair. It clearly isn’t.

    If the thought of the Fall still troubles you, then think of it this way. In the universe we live in, a life of suffering and ultimately, death, is the default option. That’s the way things are in our world. Now along comes God and offers our first parents a way to rise out of the mess they’re in: a test of character, with the added bonus that if they pass the test, they and all their descendants will avoid suffering and mortality. Sadly, our first parents fail the test. No surprise there: there was a strong possibility that they would. When they fail, they are not subject to any additional penalties: they simply return to the condition they were in. Thus the Fall might be better described as a failure to rise.

    We don’t have to worry here about how original sin could be “transmitted” to each successive generation. All we need to understand is that suffering and death are the default options, for this world.

    You still have the “transmission” problem. Suffering and death aren’t the whole story; you also have the degraded human nature, prone to sin, that is passed down from Adam and Eve to their descendants. How?

    And even if your proposal did solve the transmission problem, it wouldn’t solve the fairness problem. You’d still have God withholding the opportunity to “rise” from all of Adam and Eve’s descendants, on account of a decision that those descendants had absolutely no part in.

    You’re in a tough spot: Cling to the doctrine of original sin, and you’re admitting that your God is unfair. Jettison the doctrine, and you jeopardize Christianity. As the Catholic Catechism says:

    The Church, which has the mind of Christ, knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ.

    There is a solution, however: loosen your grip on dogma and start seeking the truth. When truth is the priority, you will find your faith naturally falling away.

    Life is better when you’re open to the truth and not hopelessly fighting against it.

    Take it from someone who has made the transition.

  38. phoodoo,

    You don’t know, you want others to answer these for you.

    No, I don’t want others to answer, because as I keep telling you, those answers aren’t necessary to my argument. At all.

    As I wrote in the other thread:

    Meanwhile, I can see that you’re frustrated. You can’t defeat my actual argument, so you want me to make a different one. But I’m not following your script. So you whine about how I’m not making the argument you want me to make.

    That’s known as “failure”.

    I, on the other hand, have made an argument demonstrating that your God, if he exists, is an asshole — an argument you cannot refute.

    That’s known as “success”.

    You’ve been challenged to defend your God, and you’ve failed.

  39. Vincent,

    I’d still be interested in your response to this comment:

    Think about it, Vincent. If sin were merely a possible result of their natures, then that means that the actual decision to sin was contingent on something outside of their natures. If that “something” was a created “something” (or a necessary consequence of a created “something”), then God is responsible. He created everything, after all.

    If that “something” was not a created “something”, then it must have existed alongside God before the creation, or else it popped into existence on its own. Not only is that theologically problematic, but it also absolves Adam and Eve of guilt. They’re certainly not responsible for this unspecified “something” that is outside of their natures, after all.

    So either God is responsible for the Fall, or some unspecified, uncreated “something” is. Either way, Adam and Eve are not responsible.

  40. phoodoo: When, where, how much? How will you know when suffering is necessary and not? Do you want God to interfere sometimes, occasionally…

    What if the higher goal is appreciating Heaven, then how much suffering would be necessary?

    Is your answer those questions we have just the right amount?

  41. Heaven is going to be a retirement home, with an endless steam of people telling you how much worse they had it in life.

    Not to mention the dead babies bitching about how they missed it entirely.

  42. newton: From the only source we have about the existence of Adam and Eve and how they came to be:

    “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

    The only source we have is the 1611 KJV ?

    peace

  43. Neil Rickert: I see it as a “Just So” story. It provides a pseudo-explanation of why humans seem different from other animals.

    Given Darwinism is there any explanation for why humans are different from other animals?

    heck, given Darwinism are humans different than from animals?

    peace

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