Does Swamidass’ new “genealogical adams and eves” hypothesis unknowingly serve to “make God a monster”?

As 2020 both cools down in temperature and heats up in rhetoric, here is a response to S. Joshua Swamidass’ recent book that deserves more air time given how a few evangelical Protestant theologians and apologists are expressing surprised praise at it, calling it a ‘game changer’ because of ‘genealogy’ vs. ‘genetics’. I would consider it a ‘game changer’ only in a borrowed or catch-up sense of that term, given Swamidass’ YECist+ audience. Any thoughts here on this critical review of the book by a fellow evangelical active at BioLogos?

From what I’ve read so far, I do not see that Swamidass “makes God a monster” in the book. That rather appears to be what comes from Johnson’s hermeneutics, rather than Swamidass’ intentions or expressions. BioLogos was similarly confused, and hadn’t read Kemp, much like Swamidass (that is, until he finally did). Swamidass has previously written about dungeons & suffering, which perhaps by some people may be mistaken as ‘monstrous’. It would be more appropriate and charitable to say, ‘he knows not what he does’ by opening this rift. Thus, he speaks about “what it means to be human?” as a distant (methodological) naturalist, with an important background personal concern involving local fellow YECists and activistic sociology behind the book’s publication (e.g. choice of publishing house).

I agree with Johnson’s general critique of the book, though with few of his specific ones, given there are other answers that he too apparently hasn’t considered. Swamidass in my interpretation openly & repeatedly distorts the science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation with his ideology. He intentionally or unintentionally leaves so much important work out, in particular, the work of Catholics and Orthodox, by and large. Nevertheless, he does his work inviting ‘correction’ of facts, data, and empirical natural-physical scientific findings, and speaks as an ex-YEC activist in such a nice, warm and cuddly non-mainline covenant, optimistic way, which makes me thankful for this book & his website. My sincere hope is that the book won’t confuse too many people, and may instead somehow help especially evangelical YECists finally take a step or several steps forward, in order to catch up with where most other Christians have been standing in a more balanced science, philosophy, theology/worldview position already rather calmly for years, wondering why the narrow literalistic evangelicalist efforts on this topic have so badly missed the mark in peoples’ hearts and minds.

“The logic of Genealogical Adam and Eve is entirely circular and makes God a monster.” – Jay Johnson

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218 thoughts on “Does Swamidass’ new “genealogical adams and eves” hypothesis unknowingly serve to “make God a monster”?

  1. Yes, everyone can see an atheist bent on anti-theist rhetoric. Let’s clear up this mess again. It would be better in Noyau, but here’s PeterP offering no contribution to the OP. He said the same thing then and the result was still: Moderation redacted swamidass’ words for violation of forum rules. End of story. Life moves on. No need for further ‘interpretation’.

    Just showing up to try to negate what the Moderation did in abiding by Lizzie’s rules, it seems. Trying to make me look bad for what swamidass did changes nothing.

    “His site, His rules, don’t like it, dont go there.”

    Doxxing is pretty much universally opposed across the spectrum on the internet. Only trolls & spiteful people protect doxxers. Other than that, what you suggest is obvious.

    “But not here…”

    Not true either. You haven’t participated there in those threads though. I’ve taken it right to swamidass’ writings & content from day 1 of our encounters at BioLogos.

    “Fuck no, I had better things to spend my time on!”

    Well, this is the beckoning undertone of Lizzie’s ‘skeptical’ experiment. Away with constructive talk of collaboration between science, philosophy, theology/worldview. Among the difficult ‘content’ things swamidass & I have discussed that is in his writings is the ideology of ‘methodological naturalism’. We don’t need to turn to that right now.

    At the end of the day, with so many atheists & agnostics aboard, things usually turn accusatory sooner than later. It not welcome to try to make a person into a villain who isn’t one. I really don’t mind S. Joshua Swamidass, and thank God he is doing what he is doing. Of course, there’s some selfishness to that also; it means several of us others won’t have to do anymore what he has just attempted, however clumsily & awkwardly with his foot in his mouth & fists up at his opponents (BioLogos fiasco) along the way. PeterP doesn’t want to talk about this, as it involves ‘faith.’

    Please don’t make things about me or my formerly “wounded pride” as this thread winds down. Make the focus instead about the potential to move the (especially) US evangelical churches out of the ‘middle ages’ when it comes to their young earth biblical literalism & to overcome their endemic anti-intellectual, anti-science attitude. I have no trouble uniting with swamidass on that cause, the same one as BioLogos has, even if an attackful ‘skeptic’ at TSZ doesn’t like or accept such a gesture of good faith to evangelical opponents.

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  2. Gregory: Yes, everyone can see an atheist bent on anti-theist rhetoric. Let’s clear up this mess again. It would be better in Noyau, but here’s PeterP offering no contribution to the OP. He said the same

    Yes, of course fall on your sword noble martyr! You know jack shit about my religious beliefs but forge on, Greg. I am, of course,contributing to this thread, Greg, haven’t you been paying attention?

    Gregory: Doxxing is pretty much universally opposed across the spectrum. Other than that, what you suggest is obvious.

    Ya can’t dox someone who doxes themselves. Get over it, Gregory.

    Gregory: Well, this is the beckoning undertone of Lizzie’s ‘skeptical’ experiment. Away with constructive talk of collaboration between science, philosophy, theology/worldview.

    What you don’t get and appear clueless about, despite numerous folks pinting out to you, is that your approach is appalling and the polar opposite of constructive. I think you can do better.

    Gregory: At the end of the day, with so many atheists & agnostics aboard, things usually turn accusatory sooner than later

    Ohh woah is me……pearls before swine….they are so mean to me! You keep proving my point, Martyr Greg.

    Gregory: Please don’t make things about me or my formerly “wounded pride” as this thread winds down.

    It isn’t about me making it aobut you it is you making it about yourself and all the butthurt you imagine swamdiss dished out to you. we got it all ready. Try a new approach this one isn’t working.

    Despite flouncing I told you that you would be back…yay!

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  3. Yes, I will certainly & gladly concede the point that this kind of thing is what makes TSZ ultimately far inferior & ultimately despairing as a ‘forum’ from PS. Thanks PeterP, for demonstrating the trollish ‘morality’ regularly on display at this ‘skeptics-oriented’ site.

    A vilification-filled man (who nobody knows “jack” about cuz he hasn’t volunteered) entering late in a thread throwing around accusations meant to divide “the religious”. Folks like this just don’t show up at PS & if they do, get banned really quickly. So, we’ll turn back to facing swamidass’ works in another thread.

    Mung, EricMH, Jay, thanks for sharing a bit of your stories.

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  4. Gregory: Are you unrepentant in your atheism, dazz? That’s how it sounds so far

    I don’t think there’s anything I need to regret wrt my deconversion. I’m very thankful to my priest, parents, friends and (some) relatives for not indoctrinating me to the point of no return, and for being tolerant and respectful enough to accept me for what I am: an atheist. My priest, by the way, was a great man. He peacefully passed away a few weeks ago and I will always have him in my thoughts.

    Gregory: If any of my typed words on screen come across as “bitterness”, then it’s a rare, occasional poor reflection of old ways

    Nope, it’s not a rare occurrence, Gregory. You usually come across as a rather unpleasant religious wacko, full of hatred towards atheists/agnostics/naturalists, sorry to be this blunt. You often recommend Christians to go seek advice from a Catholic priest or the likes. Let me tell you something: I know for a fact Don Gabriel, my priest, would firmly disapprove your attitude towards us.

    Not gonna lie to you, I don’t care one bit about your rants or what you think about me. But if you think you stand a chance of bringing someone back to the Christian faith, you’re doing it wrong. Very wrong.

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  5. dazz,

    Well, I asked about repentance, not regret. That’s an easy recipe for excuse making about “no regrets”.

    Sorry to disappoint you. My MO here is in no way shaped to cater to atheists, and certainly not to anti-theists, like the majority of posters here. I put up with the abuse as a price of participation to stay connected to the “origins” conversation in the USA. This is one of the active sites for that, first as a mirror to UD, and now to PS. Mostly I’m having a conversation from a distance with ‘them’, dazz, the believers and the honest seekers, so just turn it off if it bothers you.

    I don’t come here to converse with atheists or to convert them/you. Maybe others are doing that (dunno, perhaps Torley), but not me. If you understand that, then you’ll probably feel much more relaxed in conversations that I participate in. Most Catholics don’t get too excited about the topic of origins as their church has a much clearer & comprehensible position that most Protestant denominations. Yet the evangelicals block themselves off from Catholic and Orthodox thinkers, which they could gain by exploring.

    The fact that many people on this list seem to think “evangelical wacko”, YECist, etc. whenever they think of “religious”, simply reveals exactly what this site is: a zone for skeptics. Nothing more than that.

    If somehow, only with God’s grace, my words could assist in removing stumbling blocks for a single currently “irreligious” person who didn’t realise that “religion” is 1) not what they currently think it is, 2) not anti-science, 3) welcoming of discussion, not afraid to face difficult questions (this excuse has been given by several people here – they accuse the Church of dodging their questions, so they claim as their reason for turning away), that is something.

    I have no desire to argue with or apologize to atheists here.

    The fact that I can write challenges to swamidass’ dangerous GAE hypothesis that are still somewhat rare and imho need to be heard, in case someone is considering reading it, suffices.

    Persecution at the hands of atheists is expected here (though I didn’t in my wildest dreams think that I would be abused by someone like evangelical swamidass here!!). Harsh words against me are always incoming here. Yet I am not swayed by this and do not ask you to “convert” to “my religion”, rather simply to do your best to seek the truth, follow beauty, and not run away, but rather towards goodness.

    May a faithful servant and humble priest, gentle & encouraging with lost souls, depart in peace.

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  6. Gregory: Let’s leave my supposed feelings out of this & just deal with the evidence in this case. PeterP is not the one who’s been doxxed & outed at TSZ & PS as an “imagined slight”. Again, what swamidass did was against TSZ rules & what he wrote was redacted by Moderation. He apologized for ‘misunderstanding’ to the Mods, not to me. That’s the secret swamidass ethic that fellow YECist evangelicals don’t need to know about; iow, swamidass’ double talking, just like he accuses the Discovery Institute of doing.

    Get over it “Gregory”. Have the balls to use your real name. Don’t hid yourself. Sure protect yourself from nuts on the internet that may cause you harm but stop hiding. As for Dr. Swamidass, he is a man of utmost integrity. Show him a little respect as a fine human being.

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  7. Gregory: At the end of the day, with so many atheists & agnostics aboard, things usually turn accusatory sooner than later.

    Sorry to bust your “Chrisitan” bubble but nearly of third of the billions of people on the internet are Nones – atheists, agnostics, and nothing-in-particular. Show them respect as they are intelligent human beings with the same human rights as you and your Christian friends.

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  8. Patrick Trischitta,

    “Get over it “Gregory”. Have the balls to use your real name. Don’t hid yourself.”

    Get over what? My name is Gregory. I’ve used the User name “Gregory” at BioLogos, Uncommon Descent & elsewhere. I have not used the User name “Gregory” at PS.

    Making the use of pseudonyms sound almost criminal, stigmatizing our rightful choice, reveals something badly broken in the way Patrick & swamidass relate to me and several others in this “conversation”. swamidass avoids me because he is concerned about exposure of his ideological compromise, which probably evangelicals especially wouldn’t like. It seems Patrick simply wishes swamidass to keep defending MNism as a tool to support atheism, which comes as a word of warning to swamidass’ strategy.

    swamidass was flirting in his words with forcing people to display their RLI at PS, but smartly didn’t. Patrick’s taunting me to use a different User name here simply reveals more swamidass-style pointless pressure. I’m here available to face swamidass’ ideas, and am quite ready to do so ‘nicely’ with anyone sincere in the conversation who can focus on those ideas, just as in the OP.

    At the end of the day, only pretentious assholes don’t address people by their User name, especially after being politely requested. The man being defended as a “man of integrity” is putting on a facade for show in his ambitious bid to become the newest in a long line of apologetics-oriented evangelicalistic ‘origins’ voices. That Patrick is only really operating as a “dialogue partner” for part of a fraction of a 1/3 of the science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation, has become obvious, which means he leaves the more meaningful & comprehensive discussion at PS to others. Patrick will of course disagree with that assessment, even if it is against the truth.

    I have indeed attempted to treat swamidass with respect. In reply I have been met with nothing short of astonishing, boastful “me-scientist” responses, both publicly & in private. This has been a rather shocking realisation, to discover someone obviously striving ambitiously to be an evangelical apologist along the lines of WLC, with wreckage left in the BioLogos ‘polygenism’ scandal that swamidass was right in the middle of, still lying in waste on the evangelical landscape.

    Nothing there for Patrick to see or comment on, of course, because he has different motives than a collaborative science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation. He doesn’t really in his heart want that kind of peace.

    Yet simply because I was trained as a sociologist of science, this makes me a well-suited foil for swamidass’ over-the-top rhetoric, which in many cases, he simply hasn’t done the work to be able to back up. That’s what requires a lot of posturing from swamidass, and indeed, he is in no man’s land because the ideas he’s taking on are traditionally Catholic and Orthodox, ones that Protestants like himself have struggled to accept. Yet he hasn’t even started “apologizing” for Catholic & Orthodox thought, because at this point, he can’t. I’m quite sorry that this inconveniences your atheist messaging, Patrick, since it is quite obvious to me that “Your hero has no horse.” Theological rebelliousness & schismatic thinking stand out loudly & clearly against his message.

    He borrowed “THE GAE” from others & barely acknowledges them, in the case of Kemp, condescending toward him as if the Scientist always teaches the mere lowly Philosopher, and never vice versa. The person he got the Rodhe link from also doesn’t know the backstory, with their combined diabolical focus on “people outside the Garden.” swamidass was alerted at hour 23 to publication with IVP, of one of the most important early Protestant voices on “GAE”, by someone at PS, revealing that he isn’t a competent historian of ideas to have missed that predecessor. He flat out refuses to acknowledge his ideologically MNist primitive & divisive position, that fragments & relativises science, philosophy, theology/worldview discourse. These are just a few of his legacies so far! If Patrick wishes to praise & celebrate these ‘achievements’, alongside of the not altogether unusual or distinguishing fact that swamidass is a ‘practising scientist’, at least be realistic about what those achievements are and are not.

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  9. Gregory,

    Gregory, atheism has nothing to do with MNism. MNism and science are neutral on theism or atheism.

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  10. Gregory: This is when the capital ‘D’ used makes a difference. If the reader doesn’t read the big ‘D’, they will misinterpret, as J-Mac has done.

    There is no difference. Behe has already tried to explain it to you, so I will try the last time.
    The design inference is neutral to the size of the letter.
    If a piece of machinery of no human origins were discovered on Mars, would it matter if the obvious design inference leading to a designer used capital letter “D”, or lower case “d”?

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  11. Patrick Trischitta,

    Sorry, but MNism is explicity anti-supernaturalism (ASN) the way swamidass & many other philosophically weak American thinkers use that term. That’s the infamous “misnomer” that swamidass is talking about yet can’t himself openly identify, i.e. which de Vries erected. There is an actual name for it, which he just hasn’t yet brought himself to use: “anti-supernaturalism in natural sciences” (ASNiNS) is what swamidass is actually defending, repeatedly stating, & promoting as an ideological rule. When eventually he comes around to that realisation, Patrick, you will be reminded of this conversation, and swamidass will likely break down in tears.

    Please note, I attach the nationality with no disrespect intended, but rather because the originator of this pernicious, misleading & polarizing ideology, hails from the USA, a philosopher of ‘ethics’ at Wheaton College & Administrator at the time. The idea, which swamidass also confuses with ‘doing good science’ (a term specifically chosen from sociology of science), really couldn’t have come from outside the USA (also the home of ideological creationism), or from a Catholic or Orthodox thinker; only from an evangelical USAmerican who, while no doubt sincerely trying his best to come up with a solution regarding ‘demarcation’, actually made matters much worse. (He seems to gather this somewhat by now also.)

    Part of the carnage of de Vries’ paper “Naturalism in the Natural Sciences” (Christian Scholar’s Review, 15, 1986, 388-396) is the naive & stubborn philosophistry (loving sophistry and ideology more than wisdom) it has generated among not a small group of “thinkers”. swamidass takes this evangelically philosophistic path in his own phraseology regarding MNism & seems not in a position of understanding yet to realise he is doing it.

    We’ve gone over this many times here. Be welcome to acquaint yourself before revealing lack of understanding by following the ‘swamidass model’ re: MNism.
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/why-methodological-naturalism-is-a-questionable-philosophy-of-science/
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/swamidass-vs-nelson-trying-to-find-a-common-narrative-with-id-on-mn/

    To suggest swamidass is an expert or even half-way competent on the topic of MNism is simply absurd. It has nothing to do with natural scientific competencies; that’s a separate issue. When swamidass speaks about MNism, wisdom does not come out of his mouth. The fields properly studying MNism are the history, philosophy, and sociology of science and ideas. On that level, swamidass fails miserably to present a coherent case.

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  12. frobert: It is not just the last sentence. Read the complete quote and the rest of the article, your mileage may very and that is ok with me.

    I did. I can’t see the problem.
    If you do, make the argument better than “I disagree”.

    I can’t read minds, unlike some here… 😉

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  13. J-Mac,

    Sorry, but Behe’s lack of comprehension (he’s a philosophical midget, a cute & huggable one, nevertheless!) doesn’t mean the question isn’t answerable & can’t at least be faced properly. The DI & their fellows’ life’s work depends on maintaining the illusion that there is no distinction between ‘divine Design’ & ‘human design’. Yet a (lol, “minimalistic”?) “Universal Designism” is indeed what IDT is really all about; a tempting deal with the rational-empirical devil in the details. That’s a legacy that will eventually catch up to them.

    Four IDists, completing the main roster, met in recent months face-to-face. All of them balked, stuttered, blinked, then diverted from answering. Calm, clear, simple, easy-to-understand, nothing difficult … except for the resistant ideological will of the respondent to dignify a ‘human’ answer. Was the avoidance or feigned lack of comprehension for political, religious or other reasons? I have no idea; I just know how they responded to my questions to them.

    To her credit, the best answer by far, really the only answer, was given by Denyse O’Leary, which merely indicated that the question made sense to her & that an answer was indeed needed, that she had not yet found. For that response, my respect for her went up, unlike with Behe and his “I’m just a simple biochemist” deflection strategy.

    Behe actually said to me: “I don’t know anyone who thinks that way” as if I had set up a straw man, until I relayed to him exactly what Robert Larmer had just said to me 2 minutes earlier, in a separate conversation that Behe did not hear. Oops, like Poof!

    These things reveal IDism as a disastrous ideology, delivered only through double talking, even alongside the best of apologetic intentions. That history among IDists is a core part of this ideological movement’s main message. (J-Mac, if you’d like to discuss IDism, please make another thread, as it’s a side-show only in this one. Thx.)

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  14. Gregory: Sorry, but Behe’s lack of comprehension (he’s a philosophical midget, a cute & huggable one, nevertheless!) doesn’t mean the question isn’t answerable & can’t at least be faced properly. The DI & their fellows’ life’s work depends on maintaining the illusion that there is no distinction between ‘divine Design’ & ‘human design’.

    If there is such an answer, why don’t you tell us what should be given in the response to my example of the findings of a piece of machinery of no human origins on Mars.

    My prediction is obvious.
    We will NOT get a straight answer from you, as usual, because the only logical answer is the one that contradicts your view… 😉

    You already know what Behe would say.

    Gregory: Behe actually said to me: “I don’t know anyone who thinks that way”

    Neither do we… lol

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  15. J-Mac: I did. I can’t see the problem.

    Perhaps if you look up the synonyms for “odd” you might be able to see why others are likely to have problems with your use of a partial quote.

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  16. frobert: Perhaps if you look up the synonyms for “odd” you might be able to see why others are likely to have problems with your use of a partial quote.

    Strangely, “others” seem to be you, and another commentator know for trolling…
    You are “new” here but your confusion seems odd
    Until you actually say what you mean, I have no further desire to continue…

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