Swamidass’ ‘genealogical Adam’ vs. Adam’s genealogy: Peaceful Scientism on Display

S. Joshua Swamidass of WUSTL recently received a 1-year grant from the Templeton Foundation for a hypothesis that he calls “the genealogical Adam” and to build his website “Peaceful Science,” which he likes to call a ‘fifth voice’ alongside Answers in Genesis, BioLogos, the Discovery Institute and Reasons to Believe. https://www.templeton.org/grant/the-genealogical-adam-and-peaceful-science.

In this thread I show how Swamidass’ ‘genealogical Adam’ approach is both non-scientific and unoriginal, that is, the notion is already available in the literature. Swamidass cites only 2 scholars (one a retired physician and the other a professor of law) as precursors to his work in the article he wrote (2018) in an evangelical Christian journal for scientists (PSCF). He then added the name of another person who is actually a biologist in a blog comment as a possible precursor to his work. Yet a quick internet search reveals over 8,000 prior uses of “Adam’s genealogy”. Even further if one types in ‘Adam & Eve Genealogy’ (without quotes), one gets almost 5 million hits! It thus does not seem that Swamidass’ ‘genealogical Adam’ is anything new, but rather just recycled.

The duo of “Adam’s genealogy” is only slightly different than Swamidass’ “genealogical Adam.” Is Swamidass trying to do the same thing that Charles Darwin and Alfred R. Wallace seem to have done by not citing their precursor Patrick Matthew, who had already used the term ‘natural process of selection’ (1831), and instead claiming to have produced an original new theory of the ‘origin of species’ on their own? Does Swamidass think that simply coining a new concept duo alone is sufficient to claim precedent as a new ‘scientific’ theory about human origins?

Swamidass writes: “A question about ‘descent’ can be a question about genealogies, and genealogical questions should be answered with genealogical science.” (PSCF) ‘Can be’ indeed, yet the ‘scientificity’ of (the field of) genealogy is openly questionable and is instead commonly referred to not as a ‘science,’ but rather simply as ‘family history.’ One doesn’t study genealogy at universities (http://www.senecacollege.ca/ce/humanities/genealogy.html) and natural science programs do not exist in which to acquire a degree in the field.

Nevertheless, Swamidass currently persists in trying to redefine natural science to include genealogy within it, stating that, “[w]ithout contradicting the findings of genetic science, genealogical science gives a different answer to the question [of human origins].” (PSCF) Why is he insisting to try to to turn genealogy into a ‘natural science’ when he is not a ‘genealogical scientist’? And is he next going to start applying what he calls ‘genealogical science’ to other species too, in his bid to seek ‘peace IN natural science’, but not beyond it? My guess is that Swamidass is aiming for some kind social and cultural legitimacy for an ideological position that he won’t openly name, yet which superficially underwrites his recent emergence on the scene in science, philosophy and theology/worldview conversations after joining and then noisily exiting from the BioLogos Foundation after a public spat with then Biology Fellow Dennis Venema.

Swamidass recently responded to a critic of his approach at PS titled “The Theological Hypothesis of Adam in Science?”, by stating: “Of course, the hypothesis of Adam and Eve is a theological hypothesis. No one disputes this, or at least they shouldn’t.” https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/the-theological-hypothesis-of-adam-in-science/4437/14 Yet Swamidass himself has spoken about what he calls “the Science of Adam,” saying, “This last year, 2017 till now, we have been reworking the science of Adam,” which seems to put him in a dispute with … himself. http://peacefulscience.org/reworking-adam/ How can he hold this rather apparent contradiction in his own mind and at the same time pretend to others that there is no contradiction in what he writes? Swamidass appears to want to have his cake and eat it too in framing his particular non-mainstream evangelical brand of ‘natural science & religion’ discourse, perhaps as a result of having been raised in a YECist atmosphere.

As anyone who has followed my comments about ‘Peaceful Science’ knows, aside from his thread manipulations in the Discourse system and sometimes bullying behaviour (confirmed at TSZ through his recent rule-violating actions here), I have major concerns with Swamidass’ seemingly contradictory and oftentimes confusing approach as a form of reactionary appeasement to the YECist community he represents religiously, if not scientifically. And it’s not like people didn’t already know that “Genetics is not Genealogy,” as he writes in the PSCF paper. The lack of a coherent philosophical basis for his project appears to lead Dr. Swamidass into making over-generalised and/or fuzzy statements that simply do not stand up under closer scrutiny. Unfortunately, to such legitimate criticism he usually just responds with a ‘nobody here but us natural scientists’ refrain, as if that supposedly solves the problem automatically by appeal to authority.

Swamidass states in the Templeton announcement: “We see an opportunity to restructure the [sic] conversation on origins, to be more inclusive and grounded in science.” Yet by categorically avoiding philosophy as a bridging discipline that seeks wisdom beyond empirical research alone and by trying to turn conversations about origins into a ‘natural science-first’ affair, Swamidass instead displays what appears as ideological natural scientism, the view that natural scientific knowledge ‘counts’ as more important than other types of knowledge. This, combined with his sometimes bombastic evangelical zeal, means that Swamidass comes across as belittling toward non-scientists (cf. ‘non-methodological naturalists’ in his awkward usage of the term) and thus runs the risk of actually distorting and harming conversations about origins, rather than enriching them.

While there is surely something positive to say about Swamidass’ attempt to make ‘peace’ between non-mainstream evangelicals and natural scientists on the topic of ‘origins’, which I find refreshing and much needed especially in its oftentimes toxic US variant of discourse, there is much still misleading, unexplained or just not yet openly admitted in Swamidass’ ambitious neo-creationist partially-scientific project. We’ll have to see what happens over the next 10 months of the project and if he eventually comes around to drop his stubborn ideological insistence upon ‘methodological naturalism’ as if it is a ‘strictly scientific’ approach, rather than a misnamed ideology to be avoided for important and valid reasons.

In summary:

  1. Is there anything new in so-called ‘genealogical Adam’?
  2. How much ‘science’ is there in Swamidass’ ‘genealogical science’ and how much is actually just ideology or worldview parading as natural science?
  3. Will genealogical approaches to other species be considered?

103 thoughts on “Swamidass’ ‘genealogical Adam’ vs. Adam’s genealogy: Peaceful Scientism on Display

  1. OMagain,

    What’s wrong with that assumption?

    Start with the prokaryotic to eukaryotic transition.

    Do you have an alternative assumption you could use? If so we can compare and contrast the outcomes and compare them to reality.

    I am not making the claim. The claim is that science can rule out A and E. The working assumptions need to be solid for this claim to be reasonable. This is far from a solid hypothesis if you look at all the data and not just the data that fits the current paradigm.

  2. colewd:
    Joe Felsenstein,

    Does it use universal common descent as a working assumption?Does it assume genetic differences are due to mutations that are random with respect to fitness?

    Neither of those are assumptions. They are well supported scientific conclusions.

  3. colewd:
    OMagain,

    Start with the prokaryotic to eukaryotic transition.

    I am not making the claim.The claim is that science can rule out A and E. The working assumptions need to be solid for this claim to be reasonable.This is far from a solid hypothesis if you look at all the data and not just the data that fits the current paradigm.

    The Old Fashioned A&E is ruled out by modern genetic variation. There simply wasn’t enough time to build up the genetic variation we see in 6,000 years.

  4. Gregory: = Me-Scientist, Me-Biologist, Me-Know, Other People-Stupid = Scientism

    Like a hammer looking for nails

    “Genealogy can be science.”

    So peaceful in scientistic ignorance… = P

    You make my case for me. Your post demonstrates that you have no idea how science works, or reason, or logic.

  5. T_aquaticus,

    The Old Fashioned A&E is ruled out by modern genetic variation. There simply wasn’t enough time to build up the genetic variation we see in 6,000 years.

    I cannot disagree with this but many do not take the time scale to mean 1 modern day so I guess it depends on how you define OFA&E.

  6. T_aquaticus,

    Neither of those are assumptions. They are well supported scientific conclusions.

    Nice assertion. I look forward to you supporting this claim some time in the future.

  7. colewd:
    T_aquaticus,

    I cannot disagree with this but many do not take the time scale to mean 1 modern day so I guess it depends on how you define OFA&E.

    If A&E were created 2 million years ago as a the only existing members of the species Homo erectus, and all humans descended from that single founding couple, then there may have been enough time to produce the genetic variation we see. There is still some questions about the coalescent data for some genes (e.g. HLA and other MHC genes), but it might be workable.

  8. T_aquaticus,

    What it demonstrates quite obviously is that some biologists think they can speak for WAY too many things, when really they are usually and most often (by training) specialist idiots (cf. Shaw: “No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot.”). To think that just because you did a bachelor’s, master’s, or even PhD (did you complete one, T_aquaticus?) in biological sciences that *automatically* qualifies you as an authority on reason & logic is what needs to be unequivocally exposed as folly, not wisdom. Certainly such an approach displays humility. To think that holding a PhD makes one a ‘philosopher’ is one of the tragedies of the ‘western’ university tradition.

    As someone uniquely trained to see this problem. I am challenging ideological scientism for what it is & aiming to curb its excesses. You may indeed try to deny that scientism is even a ‘thing’, while yet you openly embrace it. You and Swamidass are now displaying scientism in a clear and troublesome way with your insistence that ‘genealogy’ counts as a ‘strictly natural science’. I’m not fooled by this & others should not be either.

  9. BruceS: I separate the ideology of the forum (ie its rules) from the problems with the attitudes that seem to be part of some individual posts.

    Forum rules aren’t what distinguishes the ideological approach at Peaceful Science or here at TSZ, so it seems likely that you’re ‘separating’ the wrong things.

    The governing ideology at PS is theism, in particular non-mainstream evangelical protestant Christian theism, though once the qualifiers are added, that becomes a religion as it denotes practise. Joshua isn’t a materialist, atheist or agnostic, after all. He’s an on-fire proselytizing, proudly ‘confessional’ natural scientist with recent tenure. Additionally, the ideology of scientism, as I’ve noted previously and in this thread, is one of the key ideologies that Swamidass himself uses in his writings. The notion that society should ‘just leave it up to the scientists’ (a paraphrase of what Swamidass recently condescended to Mung as his ‘advice’) is one that is embedded in the very combination of ‘Peace IN Science’ that Joshua chose as his mission.

    If Swamidass had respected philosophy as a bridging discipline between ‘science and theology,’ or ‘science & faith’ (as Swamidass prefers) in the title & in his general attitude, then scientism would be less of a feature there than it currently is. He won’t find ‘peace’ with IDists if he’s going to play a ‘nobody here but us scientists’ role in the discourse, but he will cause tremendous fits to the DI, which is still stubbornly stuck in its double talk defending their ‘strictly natural scientific’ theory they call ‘Intelligent Design’ (but to the loss of integrity, won’t allow themselves to official capitalise).

    The governing ideologies here among the majority of posters are either atheism or agnosticism and skepticism. A minority of posters are theists, and among those several of the most vocal are eclectic, non-mainstream, usually smorgasbord, unaffiliated generic theists. Do you disagree, BruceS?

    The forum rules don’t define the ideology; it’s the way people argue, present and organise ideas in line with their worldview. Where do you get your notion of ideology from, BruceS, as scientism seems to have largely impacted you as well (e.g. via Sellers, Ladyman, et al. – http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276196.001.0001/acprof-9780199276196-chapter-1)? KN recently claimed to be a Marxist (not even a neo-Marxist!) here (as you know, I consider him a philosophist, not a philosopher) & is absolutely and thoroughly drenched in ideologies (scientism, naturalism, agnosticism, etc.), yet seems to understand little about ideology other than the Marxist version of what that term means.

  10. T_aquaticus,

    You have already been shown this evidence.

    Yes I have seen your positive evidence and agree it is interesting but it does not answer the emergence of evolutionary innovation. It shows random mutation are happening but it does confirm they are the whole story and other data makes this a very problematic claim. Gene expression changes and splicing changes are two issues.

  11. colewd: Nice assertion. I look forward to you supporting this claim some time in the future.

    You embarrass even yourself with this. Please stop.

    Tell me, what is well supported in your view? What can we say about biology with some degree of confidence in your opinion?

    Anything at all?

  12. colewd: Yes I have seen your positive evidence and agree it is interesting but it does not answer the emergence of evolutionary innovation.

    What is the smallest unit of evolutionary innovation that you require a specific detailed explanation for?

    colewd: It shows random mutation are happening but it does confirm they are the whole story and other data makes this a very problematic claim.

    Who said they were the whole story? This site has been full of people telling you for years exactly that.

    And what is this “other data” you refer to? Don’t be coy.

    colewd: Gene expression changes and splicing changes are two issues.

    They are in fact four words in total, four words you have blurted without any context.

    Gene expression changes are a problem for ? because ?
    Splicing changes are a problem for ? because ? and ?

    ?

    Science is about being specific. Can you do more then allude to vague problems off stage left?

  13. colewd: Yes I have seen your positive evidence and agree it is interesting but it does not answer the emergence of evolutionary innovation.

    What does?

  14. colewd:

    Joe Felsenstein,

    Does it use universal common descent as a working assumption?

    We’re talking about the OFA&E inference here. So it does assume that our ancestry goes all the way back to the time of A&E. And it is “universal” for modern humans, but does not say anything about whether we have a common ancestor with, say, the bandicoot. You OK with that?

  15. Joe Felsenstein: Good thinking.Thus we have narrowed down the genetic provenance of OS to the Y chromosome.Jesus having gotten a special one different from any others.

    Of course Jesus got a “special” Y chromosome not having the father from Adam’s descendants and only a surrogate mother…

  16. Gregory:
    T_aquaticus,

    What it demonstrates quite obviously is that some biologists think they can speak for WAY too many things, when really they are usually and most often (by training) specialist idiots (cf. Shaw: “No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot.”). To think that just because you did a bachelor’s, master’s, or even PhD (did you complete one, T_aquaticus?) in biological sciences that *automatically* qualifies you as an authority on reason & logic is what needs to be unequivocally exposed as folly, not wisdom. Certainly such an approach displays humility. To think that holding a PhD makes one a ‘philosopher’ is one of the tragedies of the ‘western’ university tradition.

    I already linked you a scientific paper on genealogy. Look for yourself.

    If your only argument is to call people idiots, then perhaps you should rethink your approach to this topic.

    As someone uniquely trained to see this problem. I am challenging ideological scientism for what it is & aiming to curb its excesses. You may indeed try to deny that scientism is even a ‘thing’, while yet you openly embrace it. You and Swamidass are now displaying scientism in a clear and troublesome way with your insistence that ‘genealogy’ counts as a ‘strictly natural science’. I’m not fooled by this & others should not be either.

    So it is scientism when people do science? Really?

  17. colewd:
    T_aquaticus,

    Yes I have seen your positive evidence and agree it is interesting but it does not answer the emergence of evolutionary innovation.It shows random mutation are happening but it does confirm they are the whole story and other data makes this a very problematic claim.Gene expression changes and splicing changes are two issues.

    It shows exactly what you are asking for. The DNA differences between humans and chimps is consistent with the observed mechanisms of mutagenesis. Those DNA sequence differences are responsible for the physical differences between humans and chimps. The emergence of human adaptations are right there in the DNA sequence data.

  18. Gregory: Forum rules aren’t what distinguishes the ideological approach at Peaceful Science or here at TSZ, so it seems likely that you’re ‘separating’ the wrong things.

    That reference to ideology was not meant to be taken too seriously.

    If you are saying that the attitude apparently expressed in some posts by certain posters cannot be separated from their ideology, and so my attempt to do so is questionable, then I think you are making a valid point. To discuss further would require more detailed analysis of all the posts and of how the poster dealt with criticism of the tone of their posts. That’s not something I am currently interested in doing, however.

    I do respect scientific knowledge when it is properly constrained to its domain of applicability. I understand ‘scientism’ as meaning that science is the only source of knowledge in any domain, a view which I reject.

    It is true that I prefer analytic philosophy. But I understand that philosophy is a pluralistic enterprise and that there are many valid and enlightening world philosophies. I am not currently pursuing them because I have limited time and limited knowledge and personal biases for what I enjoy studying.

  19. T_aquaticus,

    It shows exactly what you are asking for. The DNA differences between humans and chimps is consistent with the observed mechanisms of mutagenesis.

    No it isn’t. How do you account for major changes of splicing codes and gene expression. It is exceeding unlikely that this is from random change as splicing errors and gene expression anomalies are highly deleterious. You are only looking at the data that makes you comfortable.

  20. colewd: You are only looking at the data that makes you comfortable.

    What is the data that you think should make T_aquaticus uncomfortable? How do you know T_aquaticus has not already seem it? Make many assumptions much?

    How can you make such a claim? Your reasoning seems to be that because someone has come to a different conclusion to you then the explanation for that can only be that that person is only looking at data that makes them comfortable.

    But given they would have to assess raw data before they knew it would make them “comfortable” then logically, also, they would have to be aware of it and consciously reject it.

    I don’t see how saying

    colewd: You are only looking at the data that makes you comfortable.

    is any different to just calling someone a liar.

  21. colewd:
    T_aquaticus,

    No it isn’t.How do you account for major changes of splicing codes and gene expression.It is exceeding unlikely that this is from random change as splicing errors and gene expression anomalies are highly deleterious.You are only looking at the data that makes you comfortable.

    The differences are due to the mutations that separate humans and chimps, as already discussed. I have the evidence to back it up. You might as well argue that lottery machines can pick losing numbers, but are incapable of picking winning numbers using the same random process.

  22. T_aquaticus,

    The differences are due to the mutations that separate humans and chimps, as already discussed. I have the evidence to back it up. You might as well argue that lottery machines can pick losing numbers, but are incapable of picking winning numbers using the same random process.

    Ok, I see you do understand the challenge you are facing. Let’s table this discussion.

  23. Joe Felsenstein: Depends on whether A&E are the only ancestors at that time in the past (the traditional biblical literalist view), or are just two of the people who lived then who happen to be ancestors of us all, with the other folks who were around then also contributing to our ancestry.

    Swamidass wants to use the latter as the definition of A&E, and he calls this “Genealogical” Adam and Eve. He acknowledges that GA&E might have contributed no genes to us, even though they were our genealogical ancestors. Does science refute them? I would say, no, but also it cannot collect any information confirming them.

    What science can refute is OFA&E (Old-Fashioned Adam and Eve).

    Yeah I concede that science can’t show a claim that wouldn’t leave any evidence behind to be false.

    In that case I’d merely say that since there’s no evidence for it the first place, it isn’t a scientifically supported conclusion. If there’s no actual evidence for it, it shouldn’t be believed. It seems to be a claim that has to be taken on faith. A theologically, not scientifically motivated belief.

  24. Also, if GA&E were the first people with OS, then lots of people came before them who didn’t have any OS?

    Seems like any version of the A&E story on evolution just can’t catch a break.

  25. Joe Felsenstein
    And it is “universal” for modern humans, but does not say anything about whether we have a common ancestor with, say, the bandicoot.

    Were any bandicoots killed or injured in your construction of this outrageous assertion? Our Bandicoot Insult Surveillance Committee is currently of counsel as we speak concerning the matter of common ancestry. It won’t be pretty.

    You would have been better advised to ask if there is common ancestry between modern humans and, say, sociologists.

  26. Rumraket:

    Also, if GA&E were the first people with OS, then lots of people came before them who didn’t have any OS?

    Those others weren’t people, at least according to Vincent. They were mere hominins:

    The conclusion I draw is that an ancient Adam and Eve scenario is still biologically credible, provided that Adam and Eve were members of a large original population of hominins. In other words, the biological plausibility of Adam and Eve depends on the assumption of human evolution…

    The Fall is a central doctrine in Christian teaching. No Fall, no Redemption. It’s difficult to explain how Adam’s Fall could affect the entire human race if he were not the ancestor of the entire human race.

    So by Vincent’s lights, Adam and Eve’s parents weren’t human.

  27. Rumraket:
    Also, if GA&E were the first people with OS, then lots of people came before them who didn’t have any OS?

    Seems like any version of the A&E story on evolution just can’t catch a break.

    Welcome to the Confusing Science by confused and yet peaceful scientist who is trying to help ID and Behe by “experimental, empirical evidence…😂

  28. I asked Vincent:

    Vincent, do you really think original sin is encoded in our genes? If yes, how exactly did that happen? Why has it been evolutionarily conserved?

    If no, then what law of metaphysics requires original sin to be inherited vertically? Or inherited at all? And how was the Virgin Mary protected from it, despite the fact that both of her parents were afflicted?

    He offered this rather hand-wavy response:

    Original sin is not “inherited” in a genetic sense of the word. Rather, we should speak of a privilege forfeited by our first parents, to which their descendants can no longer lay claim. Of course, if God chooses to bestow that privilege on some individual at a subsequent stage in history, that is His choice.

    John Harshman asked:

    Then why doesn’t he bestow that privilege on everyone? Are we to be condemned on a whim because of something one of our many ancestors did and in which we had no part? How does that make even surface sense?

    At that point Vincent bailed out and referred to the Catholic catechism rather than trying to answer the questions himself. Problem is, the catechism simply punts, calls it “a mystery”, and like fifth, chalks it up to “revelation”:

    Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice.

    So there’s this thing called “human nature” that isn’t transmitted genetically, but rather through some unspecified and mysterious metaphysical mechanism. How does the Church know this? Revelation.

    Vincent is smart enough to see through this, if he were only willing.

  29. BruceS: That reference to ideology was not meant to be taken too seriously.

    If you are saying that the attitude apparently expressed insome posts by certain posters cannot be separated from their ideology, and so my attempt to do so is questionable, then I think you are making a valid point.

    I understand ‘scientism’ as meaning that science is the only source of knowledge in any domain, a view which I reject.

    I have limited time and limited knowledge and personal biases for what I enjoy studying.

    All I did was respond to this: “the ideology of the forum (ie its rules)”. No, forum rules aren’t ideology. At PS, it’s Swamidass’ evangelical theology plus scientism. Here, it’s evangelical skepticism plus atheism or agnosticism. Lizzie is/was an apostate Christian & currently a naturalist, although it was difficult to make sense of her views often because of their philosophical incoherence.

    Thanks for accepting that valid point. Nevertheless, the ideology of the forum is not just in the individual posters. It is in the motivation of the person who started the forum. Swamidass = theist, Liddle = atheist/agnostic. Simple distinction really.

    While you may reject ideological scientism, I’ve yet to see you hash your rejection out in detail. And indeed, some of your philosophical heros endorse scientism. So it may just be a token rejection, also not to be taken seriously.

    Yes, we all have personal biases for what we study. As an Abrahamic theist, I too choose carefully what I study. As someone who leans towards naturalism & secular humanism rather than spiritualism, personalism or religious humanism, the way you comment here reflects that. I doubt we disagree about that. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with pointing out that the ‘leaning’ influences what you post, the questions you ask, etc. Right?

  30. T_aquaticus: I already linked you a scientific paper on genealogy.Look for yourself.

    If your only argument is to call people idiots, then perhaps you should rethink your approach to this topic.

    So it is scientism when people do science? Really?

    Not all people are idiots, of course, however, some people choose to be such & need help finding a way out, back into a more thoughtful existence. This also often improves their relationships with others, being more thoughtful and less idiotic. My argument is that many natural scientists pose as thinkers when they really aren’t actually doing much thinking on important questions of human existence, but merely pretending to. That doesn’t seem to be a very controversial point, taken in the context of contemporary scientific specialisation.

    Re: ‘scientific genealogy’ merely because one is a scientist writing about genealogy. One can write a scientific paper about chewing bubble gum. That doesn’t make chewing bubble gum a ‘science.’ Joshua has ideological reasons for wanting his notion of ‘the genealogical Adam’ to look like a ‘strictly natural science.’ That part should be obvious. He’s a ‘practising natural scientist’ & sees ‘science’ even where it is not there. I’m not sure why that is such a difficult prospective truth to believe, other than perhaps to biologists, read: similar narrow specialists.

    No, it is not ‘scientism’ when people merely ‘do science’ and I’m not aware of anyone who has suggested that it is. You’ve made up a strawman in defense of ideological scientism, given that you’re a natural scientist. Yet many natural scientists don’t think philosophically *at all*, perhaps don’t seek wisdom & maybe even can’t possibly explore or seriously consider theology due in large part to the ideology that claims matter, nature, & the physical world is all that exists, i.e. naturalism. They’re locked in an ideological cage denying what others have no difficulty seeing. That matter made mind and that nothing more than chance & ultimate meaninglessness are humanity’s ‘fate’ simply doesn’t come across as a convincing or persuasive worldview. Yet many scientists, and sadly most evolutionary biologists are stuck with this ideology as a basis for their ‘beliefs.’

    “It has often been said, and certainly not without justification, that the man of science is a poor philosopher. Why then should it not be the right thing for the physicist to let the philosopher do the philosophizing? Such might indeed be the right thing to do at a time when the physicist believes he has at his disposal a rigid system of fundamental laws which are so well established that waves of doubt can’t reach them; but it cannot be right at a time when the very foundations of physics itself have become problematic as they are now. At a time like the present, when experience forces us to seek a newer and more solid foundation, the physicist cannot simply surrender to the philosopher the critical contemplation of theoretical foundations; for he himself knows best and feels more surely where the shoe pinches. In looking for a new foundation, he must try to make clear in his own mind just how far the concepts which he uses are justified, and are necessities.”- Albert Einstein

    I like the way it was paraphrased in humility: “The problem with us scientists is that we’re very poor philosophers.”

    I have great respect and admiration for those scientists who are good philosophers, or who at least make an attempt to grapple with philosphy. Those who pretend that philosophy is unimportant because “science” is all they need to learn and know and understand in the world & about themselves in it are to me needlessly far too shallow thinkers, not worth listening to in their scientistic claims. They are of course not ‘doing science’ when they make those claims. They are doing philosophy and doing it poorly.

    May more natural scientists start reading philosophy (& for goodness sake stay away from WAP analytics, scientistic philosophy) to discover life beyond biology. The alternative is people pushing for ‘peaceful scientism’ when there is no peace ultimately to be found in that. Swamidass half knows this or at least intuits it. The question is when he’ll finally come around to realise this & eventually admit it with humility.

  31. T_aquaticus: Common descent is different than a population bottleneck of a single couple.

    Is Swamidass proposing a population bottleneck of a single pair of humans, Adam and Eve?

  32. I am working on my next book, The Science of the Second Adam.

    Followup volume: The Science of Original Sin.

  33. Mung:
    I am working on my next book, The Science of the Second Adam.

    Yes, that’s a much better way to say it than to use the other Name.

    (Though in Swamidass’ confident irreverence, likely he’s thought about that already and maybe even planning it as a naturalistic sequel to his “The Genealogical Adam [and Eve]” book funded by Templeton.)

    Make it an even Four: The Science of Swamidass Himself or if they vote for it at PS, perhaps The Science of Swamidass, Ecce Homo.

  34. Rumraket: But is that really necessary to have a very well supported account of human origins?

    Yes. That’s what a science of genealogy means.

  35. T_aquaticus: SLiM 3 is a computer model of genealogy that scientists use to model population genetics. Genealogy can be science.

    Your link is to a paper on genetics.

    T_aquaticus: I already linked you a scientific paper on genealogy.

    It was a link to a paper on genetics.

    T_aquaticus: The DNA differences between humans and chimps is consistent with the observed mechanisms of mutagenesis.

    Do you understand just how little “is consistent with” actually tells us?

    After all, a specially created Adam and Eve “is consistent with” modern science and modern genetics. Right?

  36. Gregory:
    Re: ‘scientific genealogy’ merely because one is a scientist writing about genealogy. One can write a scientific paper about chewing bubble gum. That doesn’t make chewing bubble gum a ‘science.’ Joshua has ideological reasons for wanting his notion of ‘the genealogical Adam’ to look like a ‘strictly natural science.’ That part should be obvious. He’s a ‘practising natural scientist’ & sees ‘science’ even where it is not there. I’m not sure why that is such a difficult prospective truth to believe, other than perhaps to biologists, read: similar narrow specialists.

    Do you have something coherent to add? Or is this just a rant to bad mouth other people?

    Can you tell us what the difference is between science and scientism? Can you tell us why it is not science when scientific models tell us that pedigree collapse is a real thing?

  37. Mung: Your link is to a paper on genetics.

    It was a link to a paper on genetics.

    Do you understand just how little “is consistent with” actually tells us?

    After all, a specially created Adam and Eve “is consistent with” modern science and modern genetics. Right?

    It was a paper that showed how genetics is the result of genealogy. Read the paper.

    If the results of a DNA fingerprinting test is consistent with a suspect’s DNA, what does that tell you? It means the patterns match. The same for the pattern of mutations and the pattern of DNA differences between species. Read more here:
    https://biologos.org/blogs/guest/testing-common-ancestry-its-all-about-the-mutations

  38. Gregory: Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with pointing out that the ‘leaning’ influences what you post, the questions you ask, etc. Right?

    Nothing wrong with it.
    But pointing that out does not affect whether those ideas are the best for explanation and action in their ideas for their domain of applicability.

  39. BruceS,

    Glad we’re agreed on that. But then again I wrote the following & you didn’t say anything about it or take any ownership. And the ‘domain of applicability’ is meant as ‘human life’, so it’s not clear what you’re on about other than sophistry.

    “As someone who leans towards naturalism & secular humanism rather than spiritualism, personalism or religious humanism, the way you [BruceS] comment here reflects that. I doubt we disagree about that.”

    Do we disagree about that ‘leaning’ of yours, BruceS?

  40. T_aquaticus,

    What I wrote & the quotation speak for themselves.

    “Can you tell us what the difference is between science and scientism?”

    What is obvious is that you can’t or won’t listen or read or learn or discover the difference. That would be like ‘shooting your own current worldview in the foot’.

    And that denialist dilemma confronts many biologists who simply refuse to think & thus they conclude naturalism, biologism & scientism as if ‘that’s all there is to it!’ They either went in atheists or don’t care enough to ask questions beyond their narrow specialty. So be it; the rest of us needn’t be dragged down by it.

    Just because Swamidass is a rare non-mainstream evangelical biologist doesn’t change that fact. Don’t worry, you’ll be just fine at PS preaching ‘Science’ alongside of his quasi-scientific genealogy while ‘peaceful scientism’ is simply a massive limiting constraint to his mission.

  41. Gregory:
    BruceS,

    Glad we’re agreed on that. But then again I wrote the following & you didn’t say anything about it or take any ownership. And the ‘domain of applicability’ is meant as ‘human life’, so it’s not clear what you’re on about other than sophistry.

    Do we disagree about that ‘leaning’ of yours, BruceS?

    I don’t know why you find it necessary to resort to emotionally loaded terms like “sophistry’ or ‘scientistic’. I reject those characterizations for me. What you believe about me it is not important to me.

    I acknowledge that my ideology influences my interests and personal starting point. That’s true of everyone, including you.

    What matters is not where your start, but how you engage with the community of experts in the fields you are studying, and how you ensure the people you consider experts are part of an objective process of inquiry and action.

    Intersubjectivity and diversity help to ensure an objective process.

    I post on themes which can be examined and carried out regardless of one’s theology: science and analytic philosophy.

    ETA: clarity

  42. Mung:
    I am working on my next book, The Science of the Second Adam.
    Followup volume: The Science of Original Sin.

    Regardless of how seriously you meant this, it seems that reconciling his science and his theology has resulted in many theological challenges for him.

    Two examples:

    As I understand it, you need to have A&E (or just one?) as an ancestor in order to be made in the image of God and thereby subject both to original sin as well as Divine punishment or reward. So for many generations immediately following A&E joining a population of ancestral humans, there would be biological humans who were made in the image of God and biological humans who were not. Not only does this seem strange on its own, but how would that affect moral responsibility and free will between these two groups?

    It is also unclear why God would create a world where Original Sin was transmitted not through the free choices of Adam and Eve, but rather because of genealogical science.

  43. BruceS,

    The term ‘scientistic’ is not ’emotionally loaded’ (unless pangs of conscience reach you for promoting it) but rather as descriptive of the position of a person promoting ideological scientism. You say you don’t, yet resort to the same objectivist language as people who promote scientism. I already linked to Ladyman’s pro-scientism paper & along with KN you promote his work & Sellars’ theism sell-out. So it’s not such a difficult conclusion to draw, is it?

    “I acknowledge that my ideology influences my interests and personal starting point. That’s true of everyone, including you.”

    Yes, it is & glad you acknowledge it does. So, were my characterisations of the ideology of this site vs. PS accurate in your view or not? TSZ = skepticism, atheism & agnosticism. PS = evangelical theism & scientism, via Swamidass’ ‘peace IN natural science’ approach. Surely there are a range of views, but that’s the general pattern.

    What you actually believe disbelieve is certainly more important than what I believe about you. And there appears to be little to no room for theology or religion in what you believe. Is that incorrect? Regarding sophistry, I consider arguments leading people away from the sunshine into shadows to be just that. I’ve witnessed few people who run from the light as KN does on this site, into Sellars arms means into atheism & self-elevation above God.

    “What matters is not where your start…”

    Where you start speaks volumes & matters immensely. A person’s view of origins of life & humanity, morality, meaning & destiny largely defines their worldview. I find your words uninspiring because of where you start from in agnosticism. If you were sincerely seeking enlightenment and inspiration that didn’t exclude theology & religion, we would have a very different conversation.

    “the people you consider experts are part of an objective process of inquiry and action … to ensure an objective process.”

    Yes, it sounds so scientistic in constantly seeking an ‘objective process’ when we are clearly reflexive persons. And the ‘reflexive person’ here who you most consider as ‘expert’ is a self-identified Marxist, naturalist, agnostic apostate. Choosing who you consider as ‘expert’ makes a significant difference and there is no purely ‘objective process’ for choosing (preferring) your own roster of experts. The experts we choose make a significant impact on the ideologies we accept and express in our communication, as you seem to have agreed.

    “I post on themes which can be examined and carried out regardless of one’s theology: science and analytic philosophy.”

    Iow, scientism & WAP. An analyst you certainly are, BruceS. More than a sophist, I have yet to see, though there occasionally seem to appear yearnings for more than WAP, more than ‘purely objective’ meaning in human life, along with sincere questions. But it usually stops there & you don’t engage them further than mere ‘naturalism’ allows you to perceive.

    It’s the same with Swamidass, sadly, as he promotes his scientism re: ‘genealogical Adam.’ Mung has seen this quite clearly, which is why he and I could share that sadness with humour above re: his terminological choices.

  44. BruceS,

    Well, to be fair, you’ve been ‘done’ for a lot of exchanges between us as soon as your analytic scientism gets called out for exactly what it is, descriptively & unemotively.

    ‘He who does not make effort and search will not find what is granted only to those who search.’

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