Two-million-year-old Adam and Eve still possible: Dr. Ann Gauger’s model remains viable

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short post titled, Adam and Eve still a possibility?, in which I drew readers’ attention to the work of geneticist Richard Buggs, Reader in Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary University of London, who 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. Biologist Dennis Venema, professor of biology at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, has recently written a two-part reply to Buggs, titled, Adam, Eve and Population Genetics: A Reply to Dr. Richard Buggs (Part 1) and A Reply to Dr. Richard Buggs (Part 2). But in a comment in response to a query of mine, Professor Venema conceded that at the present time, science cannot rule out Dr. Ann Gauger’s hypothesis that there was a severe bottleneck around two million years ago, with the emergence of Homo erectus, whom she identifies as the first true human being. When I pressed Professor Venema, saying, “In plain English, what you’re saying is that science can’t rule out an original couple, if they lived more than 1 million years ago,” he replied:

I guess it depends on how reliable you think PSMC methods are as they approach this time frame. The data looks smooth to me out to around 1.5 MYA or so, plus or minus, but the method loses its power as you go back further and further.

In a recent email message, Dr. Gauger clarified her position on Adam and Eve:

I did not settle on an old age for Adam so that the population genetics would work out or because I was seeking to prove two progenitors. It was because I could not understand why God would create Homo species so close to us and not be part of us, and because of morphology. I find species definitions to be tricky things, and sometimes they are assigned because of an agenda. H ergaster and H habilis are disputed for example. But for me Turkana boy is clearly human.

So I arrived at an early date because paleontology. I am aware of arguments for 200k (first modern skeleton), 70 k (Blombos cave, migration out of Africa), or 20-10k to match Genesis.) We will see if any of these dates, as well as the older one, can accommodate a unique origin based on AFS, LD, and several other pop gen statistics. Feel free to pass this on.

Dr. Gauger has adduced evidence that Homo erectus and Homo ergaster (African Homo erectus) were rational beings, who were capable of foresight: they transported tools over distances of 12-13 kilometers, compared to distances of just tens or hundreds of meters for Australopithecus and early Homo (see here). In addition, there is evidence (see also here) that Homo ergaster was able to tame fire as far back as 1,000,000 years ago, and perhaps use it to cook meat as well, although Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands and Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History in the U.S., cautions that we don’t have evidence of regular fire use going back any further than 400,000 years ago. Finally, excavations at the South African site of Kathu Pan suggest that Homo ergaster had a sense of aesthetics. As Dr. Gauger describes it:

…[T]he site has yielded what is termed, the ‘Master Hand-Axe’ which dates to approximately 750 000 BP rendering it the oldest artifact which is indisputably aesthetic i.e. worked for beauty and symmetry, perfectly oriented, and worked considerably beyond the functional requirements of the hand-axe, which could have been achieved with half or fewer blows (see Figure 4-2). The technology which produced it is known as the Acheulian, and the artifacts are thought to be made by Homo ergaster (Homo erectus in Africa), a diverse grouping of early humans commonly imagined as small-brained, small-jawed and robustly built, with heavy eyebrow ridges.

When I look at that master handaxe, I see aesthetics, painstaking care, and a joy in the materials. I see mind.

In a recent comment on Biologos, I expressed reservations about Dr. Gauger’s ancient Adam and Eve scenario:

However, if I were to identify the chief flaw of the ancient Adam and Eve scenario, it would be this: modern human behavior doesn’t appear until 100,000 years ago. Homo erectus may have had foresight (transporting tools over distances of more than 10 kilometers), the ability to control fire (although this is hotly disputed) and even a sense of aesthetics (judging from the elegance of some Acheulean tools), but it almost certainly lacked the capacity for art, religion and science. This means that in some ways it was less human than we are – which means that if we are to believe in Adam and Eve, we have to give up belief in human equality.

It is instructive to compare Homo erectus with modern-day tribes whose lifestyle has been described by some as “primitive.” Members of these tribes have relatively little trouble in adapting to the cognitive demands of civilization, some making the transition in as little as a generation. I doubt very much whether Homo erectus could have done that. And I also doubt whether anyone could have preached the Gospel to Homo erectus.

Finally, in a recent post on The Skeptical Zone, I marshaled evidence indicating that Homo erectus almost certainly lacked the use of language, and that even the Neandertals probably lacked it. What’s more, the human brain appears to have evolved specific traits in the lineage leading to Homo sapiens, which allowed our species to possess a full-blown theory of mind and imagine what others were thinking about them.

For her part, Dr. Gauger is not troubled by the fact that Homo erectus lacked our level of linguistic ability. And in a post on Biologos, she responded as follows to my concerns about the lack of symbolic culture in Homo erectus: “First of all, our full capacity for art, drama, philosophy, religion and language was not present 300,000 years ago. Nor was it present, it could be argued until the Egyptians, the early Greeks, and the Chinese had their cultural flowering.” I agree with Dr. Gauger that early Homo sapiens, who lived 300,000 years ago, lacked “our full capacity for art, drama, philosophy, religion and language.” I think that these abilities appeared 100,000 years ago, with the emergence of modern human behavior (see also here). Dr. Gauger argues that the long lag between the appearance of Homo sapiens and the emergence of behavioral modernity means that we shouldn’t consider Homo erectus subhuman because it didn’t behave in this way. I would argue, however, that the human brain did not stop evolving with the appearance of Homo sapiens. It may have subsequently acquired the traits which enabled us to use language and to possess a full-blown theory of mind.

So the long and the short of it is: Dr. Gauger’s model of a two-million-year-old Adam and Eve remains scientifically viable, but their minds would have been very different from ours. Personally, I wouldn’t call Homo erectus a true human being. The Neandertals I’m not so sure about, for reasons I’ve discussed previously.

I’ll just finish by mentioning the work of Dr. Joshua Swamidass, who is an assistant professor at Washington University in Saint Louis where he runs a computational biology group. In an article titled, A Genealogical Rapprochement on Adam?, he accepts “the genetic evidence in which it appears (1) our ancestors arise as a population, not a single couple, and that (2) we share ancestry with the great apes,” but also proposes that an individual named Adam “was created out of dust, and Eve out of his rib, less than 10,000 years ago in a divinely created garden where God might dwell with them, the first beings with opportunity to be in a relationship with Him.” After leaving the Garden, Adam and Eve’s offspring blended with that of their neighbors in the surrounding towns. “In this way, they became genealogical ancestors of all those in recorded history. Adam and Eve, here, are the single-couple progenitors of all mankind.” Of course, humans today have many genealogical ancestors, not just Adam and Eve. An article outlining Dr. Swamidass’s hypothesis will appear in the March 1, 2018 issue of PSCF (Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith). The important thing for readers to grasp is that genealogical ancestry is not genetic ancestry: “Though scientific discourse focuses on genetic ancestry, genealogical ancestry is germane to the theological claims about Adam.” Adam and Eve are ancestors of us all, because genealogical ancestry becomes universal in just a few thousand years. Dr. Swamidass contends that “Scripture and theology, at most, make claims about genealogical ancestry, but not genetic ancestry,” because when Scripture was written, people had no notion of what genes were. I’m not sure, however, that it’s that simple. The Bible appears to affirm that Adam and Eve were the only genealogical ancestors of the entire human race. As Acts 17:26 puts it: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries.” I’m also not sure exactly what new trait Adam and Eve were supposed to have possessed, under the scenario proposed by Dr. Swamidass, since he explicitly declares that even the human beings living outside Adam and Eve’s Graden were made in the image of God. It seems the only thing that was genuinely new about Adam and Eve was that they were spiritually fallen. But because genetic information is transmitted only unreliably, Dr. Swamidass argues that Adam and Eve, if they existed, “probably did not transmit DNA to all their descendants, nor did they transmit any identifiable DNA to any of their descendants.” He continues: “This means that Adam and Eve’s DNA is not how the Fall or original sin, if they exist, is transmitted to all of us.” At any rate, Dr. Swamidass’s article is a very stimulating read, which is sure to take the Adam and Eve debate in a new direction.

I’d now like to throw the discussion open to readers – especially those with a Christian background. If you had your druthers, which Adam and Eve would you pick? A two-million-year-old one, who was perhaps a lot dimmer than us, as proposed by Dr. Gauger? Or a Neolithic one, as proposed by Dr. Swamidass, who interbred with other humans that were made in God’s image and likeness, and left descendants all over the globe? Or neither of the above?

I’ll leave you all with a concluding thought: “We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals,” according to John Hawks, a professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Many of the genetic mutations that have spread through the human population in the last few thousand years relate to “changes in the human diet brought on by the advent of agriculture, and resistance to epidemic diseases that became major killers after the growth of human civilizations.” Civilization seems to have been what’s changed us most. But how has it changed our brains? That I don’t know. Maybe someone can tell me. Over to you.

187 thoughts on “Two-million-year-old Adam and Eve still possible: Dr. Ann Gauger’s model remains viable

  1. I’d now like to throw the discussion open to readers – especially those with a Christian background. If you had your druthers, which Adam and Eve would you pick? A two-million-year-old one, who was perhaps a lot dimmer than us, as proposed by Dr. Gauger? Or a Neolithic one, as proposed by Dr. Swamidass, who interbred with other humans that were made in God’s image and likeness, and left descendants all over the globe? Or neither of the above?

    I don’t think we have to place Adam and Even on any particular timeline.

    I also don’t think that Adam and Eve even have to be biological firsts who had children who could only have as their mate a brother or sister or their own mother or father.

    I am willing to accept the existence of other “humans.” I am willing to accept that the descendants of Adam and Eve interbred with these other “humans.”

    Not sure where that puts me. Hopefully, squarely on the fence 🙂

  2. VJ Torely,

    I’d now like to throw the discussion open to readers – especially those with a Christian background. If you had your druthers, which Adam and Eve would you pick? A two-million-year-old one, who was perhaps a lot dimmer than us, as proposed by Dr. Gauger? Or a Neolithic one, as proposed by Dr. Swamidass, who interbred with other humans that were made in God’s image and likeness, and left descendants all over the globe? Or neither of the above?

    I would pick a far smarter and stronger and living-longer Adam than us, and there is some evidence to that effect if you search for it, like:

    https://www.rt.com/usa/intelligence-stanford-years-fragile-531/

    and

    https://www.newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/bone-strength-study-hopkins/2015/05/18/id/645319/

    Thank you so much for posting this. Many people presume because I’m a Young Life Creationists (YLC) and a skeptical Young Earth Creationist (YEC) I was raised that way and that I have my viewpoints because I’m a biblical literalist and inerrantist. That’s not the case.

    I was a believer in evolution growing up in the Roman Catholic Church and learning high school science in secular public schools. There was no issue about evolution in the church or family I grew up in. NONE!

    The simple answer for why I now believe Adam and Eve are young is that I don’t believe the fossil record is old as well as the problem of Genetic Entropy as laid out by John Sanford’s book by the same title.

    The fossil record is Young because it would take miraculous fine tuning of global warming to resolve the Faint Young Sun Paradox. You provided a link to me a few years back of someone claiming to have solved the problem, but embedded in his “solution” is an assumption of miraculous fine tuning whereby the greenhouse gases of the Earth have to change at the right level as the sun gets hotter from the Cambrian.

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

    and my acquaintance Danny Faulkner’s take:
    http://www.icr.org/article/young-faint-sun-paradox-age-solar-system/

    So, being in John Sanford’s group, (and Sanford is a good acquaintance of Dr. Swamidass), our group is collectively studying the increase in heritable diseases in the human genome. Just yesterday I was on the phone with him and passed a paper on a peculiar anomaly related to his study of the H1N1 virus.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC150674/

    Although the ultimate origins of RNA viruses are uncertain, it seems reasonable to assume that these infectious agents have a long evolutionary history, appearing with, or perhaps before, the first cellular life-forms (38). While the RNA viruses we see today may not date back quite this far, the evidence that some DNA viruses have evolved with their vertebrate hosts over many millions of years (24) makes an equally ancient history for RNA viruses a natural expectation. Yet a very different picture of RNA virus origins is painted if their gene sequences are compared; by using the best estimates for rates of evolutionary change (nucleotide substitution) and assuming an approximate molecular clock (21, 33), it can be inferred that the families of RNA viruses circulating today could only have appeared very recently, probably not more than about 50,000 years ago. Hence, if evolutionary rates are accurate and relatively constant, present-day RNA viruses may have originated more recently than our own species.

    There is evidence humans have gotten weaker and dumber in the last 5000 years, not better. This agrees with Sanford’s theoretical work, and I’ve not seen any other geneticist who studies human heritable diseases professionally disagree with him. The ones agreeing with him (to varying degrees and perhaps for different reasons): Michael Lynch, Bryan Sykes, Eyre Walker Keightly.

    The problem is that we are not able to expunge the numerous damaging mutations invading our genome. We’ll continue living, just like an amputee is able to continue living, but we certainly aren’t at the optimal state of our ancestors.

    I’m sad to say, I think we’re all decaying. At the ENCODE 2015 conference I attended, a researcher confided she was seeing troubling evidence of early onset of cancer relative to prior generations. I’ve not encountered one researcher who thinks we’re evolving for the better. Not one! It’s not just modern technology, it’s what is predicted theoretically as laid out in Sanford’s book.

    For this reason, it becomes believable that Adam live 900+ years, and if you take this passage from Genesis literally, it is hard to run away from that possibility:

    Then the king said to Jacob, “How old are you?”

    9 Jacob said to him, “My life has been spent wandering from place to place. It has been short and filled with trouble—only one hundred thirty years. My ancestors lived much longer than I.” 10 Then Jacob blessed the king and left.

    Genesis 47

    My conclusion? If one is undecided, there is no need to decide today about how far back the real Adam and Eve were. A lot of data can come in within the next few decades that might change our minds about many things.

    Anyway, an early Merry Christmas. God bless you, VJ.

  3. Whether Adam and Eve were Neandertalers, or H ergaster or H erectus or H sapiens, did their parents have a soul? Lacking a soul, are their parents in Heaven or will they be resurrected (depending on your theology)? If their parents had a soul, why are Adam and Eve special? I am going with the rib story… fewer problems.

  4. There is so much wrong in these matters for biblical creationists.
    First the flood killed everybody and so the eight people started the whole thing again in growing a population.
    second. the bible says they lived, still after the flood, for hundreds of years and breeding every year. the girls had hundreds of kids.
    Populations since have had few kids, even when breeding every year.
    There is already a math problem if YEC is true.

    Third. there is no right to have confidence in bits of bone that are claimed to be in some human trail of evolution. Convergent evolution alone would place all in doubt. yet these tiny bits, based on comparative investigation, are to be dismissed as serious evidence for conclusions. WHATEVER is true fossils are, in this or any case, worthless evidence.
    You can not tell from bone bits iF creatures could talk with a language.!

    Fourth. if Genesis is true all men come from Adam and eve. nobody else around.
    Its dumb to believe in genesis and then reject itrs clear claims.

    Please remember Adam/eve/kids breeding together is irrelevant to human populations because of the flood. The flood hit the restart trigger.

    However these things are about bottlenecks in genetic trails.

  5. Hi Professor Felsenstein,

    Does the data suggest a bottleneck of 2 at that age? Or is it just lacking power to reject it, the bottleneck being suggested Somewhere Else?

    It doesn’t suggest any bottleneck that small at any time.

    I was very careful not to claim that the data suggested a bottleneck of two. My claim is merely that at the present time, science cannot rule out a 2-million-year-old bottleneck of two. As I wrote in my OP:

    But in a comment in response to a query of mine, Professor Venema conceded that at the present time, science cannot rule out Dr. Ann Gauger’s hypothesis that there was a severe bottleneck around two million years ago, with the emergence of Homo erectus, whom she identifies as the first true human being.

    Cheers.

  6. Hi Sal,

    Thanks very much for your response. It’s funny how minds think alike. I was looking up the Faint Young Sun Paradox on Wikipedia only yesterday. I was wondering why the Earth was able to tolerate CO2 concentrations far higher than those at the present day without overheating, and it occurred to me that even back in the age of the dinosaurs, the Sun would have been slightly fainter than it is now, and that the extra CO2 in the air may have compensated for this, keeping temperatures warm. By the way, re fine-tuning: what do you make of Snowball Earth? What ecological purpose did it serve?

    I’m sad to say, I think we’re all decaying.

    I just had a thought. How do declining sperm counts fit into this scenario?

    There is evidence humans have gotten weaker and dumber in the last 5000 years, not better.

    When I first read this, my reaction was one of skepticism. I immediately thought of the Flynn effect. But this Live Science article gave me pause:

    https://www.livescience.com/37095-humans-smarter-or-dumber.html

    Even as the Flynn effect sends IQ scores skyrocketing, some researchers argue a darker view. Humans aren’t getting smarter, they say. They’re getting stupider.

    In November 2012, Stanford University School of Medicine researcher Gerald Crabtree published two papers in the journal Trends in Genetics suggesting that humanity’s intelligence peaked between 2,000 and 6,000 years ago.

    Crabtree based this assertion on genetics. About 2,000 to 5,000 genes control human intelligence, he estimated. At the rate at which genetic mutations accumulate, Crabtree calculated that within the last 3,000 years, all of humanity has sustained at least two mutations harmful to these intellect-determining genes (and will sustain a couple more in another 3,000 years). Not every mutation will cause harm — genes come in pairs, and some weaknesses caused by mutation can be covered for by the healthy half of the pair, Crabtree wrote; but the calculation suggests that intelligence is more fragile than it seems.

    Furthermore, he argued, intelligence isn’t as evolutionarily important to humans today as it was when the species was hunter-gatherers. Thousands of years ago, failing to grasp the aerodynamics of throwing a spear when a lion was coming at you meant you were toast — no more passing along your genes to offspring. Modern man rarely faces such life-or-death tests of wits, Crabtree wrote.

    There’s a lot more in the article. The stuff on reaction times is fascinating, if a little inconclusive.

    Anyway, I hope you and all your family have a very merry Christmas, Sal. Take care.

  7. Joe Felsenstein: Does the data suggest a bottleneck of 2 at that age?

    No.

    Joe Felsenstein: Or is it just lacking power to reject it, the bottleneck being suggested Somewhere Else?

    Yes.

    (I’ve had a long exchange with Richard Buggs on the biologos site. I remain unimpressed by his argument.)

  8. stcordova: The simple answer for why I now believe Adam and Eve are young is that I don’t believe the fossil record is old as well as the problem of Genetic Entropy as laid out by John Sanford’s book by the same title.

    Sanford’s argument makes no sense at all to me in evolutionary terms.

  9. Robert Byers: the girls had hundreds of kids.

    Regular baby factories they were, back then. Guess when you’re on an ark for 40 days and 40 nights and you don’t have anything better to do…

  10. Joe Felsenstein: It doesn’t suggest any bottleneck that small at any time.

    Nowhere in my question was there anything about the size of the bottleneck(s). Let’s try again. How many bottlenecks does the data suggest?

  11. All this nonsense is based on an assumption that the universe is 13.8 billion years old…This is based on the big bang model and many other assumptions such as she ratio of matter to dark matter and dark energy…It that ever changes, so will the numbers; the age of the universe and the earth and so on…

    However, no matter what, the earth will not turn out to be 6000 years old which is shouldn’t and it isn’t…

    How do creationists explain that? There are many conflicting theories one being that the earth was created ions ago: “… the heavens and the earth in the beginning” Gen 1:1 and then the creative days were recorded when the earth was transformed for habitation; the appearance of sunlight, the receding of waters and the appearance of land, the creation of vegetation, animals etc.
    Since nobody knows what 96% of the universe consists of (combination of dark energy and dark matter) almost any estimate of the age of the universe is probably way off…

    What if something can travel faster than light? Entanglement hints something can…
    Can neutrinos outran the light? If they can, everything changes…

    The older the universe and the earth are assumed to be the better Darwinists like it to account for the evolution of even the “simplest” of enzymes…

  12. “Theoretically possible” is undefined, and you need to specify. What, given the data, is the probabiity of a bottleneck of two? How low would it have to be before you would declare it “ruled out”?

    Also, you seem to have forgotten about the sharing of alleles between humans and chimps in numbers greater than 4 at some loci. So much for that bottleneck. I also wonder whether you have considered the data in regard to a bottleneck of 1 each in paternally and maternally inherited loci, or a bottleneck of 1.5 in the X chromosome.

  13. Mung: Nowhere in my question was there anything about the size of the bottleneck(s). Let’s try again. How many bottlenecks does the data suggest?

    One every generation, as the population size is always finite.

    That’s if populations don’t have to be particularly small to qualify as having a bottleneck.

  14. Mung: I am willing to accept the existence of other “humans.” I am willing to accept that the descendants of Adam and Eve interbred with these other “humans.”

    exactly,

    It could be as simple as anatomically modern human’s verses behaviorally modern ones.

    peace

  15. I think we are just way too confident with what is essentially a new discipline that is full of assumptions. Varying any one of which change the conclusions dramatically .

    We see this with another species that I’m particularly interested in.

    last year it was claimed that genetic science had demonstrated that Red Wolves were not a species at all

    http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/7/e1501714

    This scientific “fact” threatened to halt conservation efforts and forever doom the remaining red wolf population to extinction.

    Then a few months ago we discover that what was thought to be established science was simply one of several plausible histories.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170607222442.htm

    The point is if we have good prior reason to believe things like that red wolves are a unique species or humanity began with a single pair perhaps we should not be so quick to abandon them based on the latest confident genetic claim.

    I’m not recommending denying science. I’m recommending patience with a little healthy skepticism.

    peace

  16. fifthmonarchyman:
    I think we are just way too confident with what is essentially a new discipline that is full of assumptions. Varying any one of which change the conclusions dramatically .

    We see this with another species that I’m particularly interested in.

    last year it was claimed that genetic science had demonstrated that Red Wolves were not a species at all

    http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/7/e1501714

    This scientific “fact” threatened to halt conservation efforts and forever doom the remaining red wolf population to extinction.

    Then a few months ago we discover that what was thought to be established science was simply one of several plausible histories.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170607222442.htm

    The point is if we have good prior reason to believe things like that red wolves are a unique species orhumanity began with a single pair perhaps we should not be so quick to abandon them based on the latest confident genetic claim.

    I’m not recommending denying science. I’m recommending patience with a little healthy skepticism.

    peace

  17. Robert Byers:

    Oh boy. A conclusion tweeks causes and right away MORE studies.
    I’m suspicious of all this.
    Anyways I agree its unlikely grey wolves/coyotes are the origin of red wolves, eastern wolves etc.
    It doesn’t work that way. New populations of hybrids , in such genetle envirorments, would not replace other populations.

    Yet the point is IS genetic studies in any way relevant? NO!!!
    First species as a concept should be ended. i can’t do it but its a old error.
    There are no species unless all biologically segegated populations are species.
    Which would include human types.
    They don’t do that and so should not do it for wolves.
    Genes are not a accurate concept in figuring out trails of bio heritage.
    So it will always confuse things.
    Whatever the influence is in nature that changes bodyplans of populations from original parent populations IS the only mechanism going on.
    THEY don’t say that. Instead they invent species as a profound genetic segregation including whether breeding is possible between groups.
    so they say humans are one species but wolves are many.
    more clumbsy investigation in old time biology origin research.

  18. Robert Byers,

    Amen

    I think that genetics is the wrong tool for looking at these things.

    Species what ever they are are not defined by genetic isolation. That goes for humans as surely as it goes for red wolves

    The “biological species” concept is simply whacked out ideology masquerading as science. The more genetic information we have the more that becomes evident.

    peace

  19. fifthmonarchyman: The “biological species” concept is simply whacked out ideology masquerading as science. The more genetic information we have the more that becomes evident.

    Can you give an example of such a piece of “genetic information” and explain what the problem is?

  20. Even YECs should recognize the folly of defining species by genetic isolation . If you take Genesis in a woodenly literal way you assume that humans can and did readily interbred with at least one other species at the time of their origin.

    That is where the nephilim came from after all.

    Then there are those OT commandments about not mixing kinds (Lev 19:19). they just don’t makes sense in a world where species boundaries are defined by genetic isolation.

    There might have been 10,000 individuals alive that genetically would have passed for human at the time Adam and Eve were created………. Or not. I think it’s way too early to say

    Regardless, I do know all humans alive today are the decedents of one man. That has been established both Biblically and by genetic science.

    peace

  21. Rumraket: Can you give an example of such a piece of “genetic information” and explain what the problem is?

    start with this

    https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2017/0309/What-is-a-species-Ornithologists-consider-ways-to-define-it

    and this

    https://www.wired.com/story/what-ligers-grolar-bears-and-mules-show-scientists-about-evolution/

    The fact is the more we look when it comes to genetics what we see is an amorphous mass of interbreeding individuals nothing like the well defined categories that we define as species

    peace

  22. fifthmonarchyman: start with this

    https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2017/0309/What-is-a-species-Ornithologists-consider-ways-to-define-it

    and this

    https://www.wired.com/story/what-ligers-grolar-bears-and-mules-show-scientists-about-evolution/

    Okay. When do we get to the part where you support your statement, ‘The “biological species” concept is simply whacked out ideology masquerading as science. The more genetic information we have the more that becomes evident’?

    fifthmonarchyman: The fact is the more we look when it comes to genetics what we see is an amorphous mass of interbreeding individuals nothing like the well defined categories that we define as species

    That may be what you see, but that’s not what geneticists see.

  23. Steve Schaffner: an amorphous mass of interbreeding individuals nothing like the well defined categories that we define as species

    That may be what you see, but that’s not what geneticists see.

    Oh come on Steve, are you really going to argue that species are well delineated and defined?

  24. fifthmonarchyman: The fact is the more we look when it comes to genetics what we see is an amorphous mass of interbreeding individuals nothing like the well defined categories that we define as species

    Quite right. The idea of “species” is hopelessly inaccurate, just like the idea that the earth is a sphere is hopelessly inaccurate.

    Both work very well, thank you, and both are good science.

    Science is a pragmatic enterprise, not a truth-seeking enterprise.

  25. Neil Rickert,

    What do you mean that the idea of species works very well? Are there different species of people? Are dogs different species?

    What would be different about calling animals that look somewhat similar as different breeds rather than species?

    And what would the concept of species “not working well” look like?

  26. fifthmonarchyman: The fact is the more we look when it comes to genetics what we see is an amorphous mass of interbreeding individuals nothing like the well defined categories that we define as species

    And how do “we” accomplish that incredible feat? What’s the method that produces those well defined categories?

    You criticize one of the proposed definitions of species (which is all right, I find it problematic too), but then you say there’s no problem to solve, that the definition of species is already solved otherwise. How so? Where did your solution come from? How can I apply it? How can all scientists use it?

    The problem with defining species is that when it comes to less and less and less obvious cases, a biologist might still need some way for defining the “units” she is working with. This leads to several proposed working definitions of species (along with the conceptual ones, like that about interbreeding, which doesn’t apply to most organisms on Earth because, well, they don’t “breed”).

    There’s a whole book by Mayr that mentions the distinction between conceptual and working, or practical, definitions of species, along with several proposals for both. There’s more work to do if we are to insist on the use of clean and clear “units” called “species,” but you seem to be aware of the perfect solution for a problem that loads of scientists are still discussing. I’d like to know what that solution is.

  27. Mung: I am willing to accept the existence of other “humans.” I am willing to accept that the descendants of Adam and Eve interbred with these other “humans.”

    But then we would not be descendants of Adam and Eve, we’d be descendants of a larger population that included Adam and Eve, which would make the very concept of Adam and Eve meaningless.

  28. Entropy: And how do “we” accomplish that incredible feat? What’s the method that produces those well defined categories?

    Revelation.How do we know? Revelation

  29. newton,

    😀

    Imagine the article’s title: Perfect solution for the species conceptual and practical definitions: pray to The Lord for Him to reveal the species and you shall receive. If The Lord feels like it.

  30. VJ:

    How do declining sperm counts fit into this scenario?

    It’s not just the counts but other problems with the sperm cell, plus decay in the Y-chromosome. Bryan Sykes at Oxford highlights some of the problems in a popular book. Sykes was a researcher in Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam. He predicts because of decay in the Y-chromosome and sperm, the human race could go extinct in about 100,000 years. The book is Adam’s Curse:

    https://www.amazon.com/Adams-Curse-Future-without-Men/dp/0393326802

    VJ:

    When I first read this, my reaction was one of skepticism. I immediately thought of the Flynn effect. But this Live Science article gave me pause:

    Yes indeed, and the irony is that it is nobel-prize winner Hermann Muller and National Academy of Science member Joe Felsenstein’s work that inspired John Sanford’s genetic entropy hypothesis. Their math shows that given the reproductive capacity of humans, the human genome can only tolerate so many mutations per individual without causing irreversible degeneration.

    Some creationists have argued that this Genetic Entropy hypothesis shows it is unlikely we humans as a species could evolve “upward” in complexity. Downward would be the expected direction of evolution by mutation and natural selection. Therefore what makes humans special was the result of a miracle which we believe was the miraculous special creation of Adam.

    The thing that has hit home is that I find no one who believes we are improving physically and mentally. Some people attribute the decline solely to industrialization and modern medicine, but Sanford’s thesis is that we would be declining anyway (but perhaps not as fast).

    This question of human deterioration not-so-obviously tied to the uproar on Larry Moran’s blog regarding ENCODE and “junk” DNA. Dan Graur summarized the issue, “If ENCODE is right, evolution is wrong.” If we are as complex a creature as some think we are, the natural direction of evolution for humans must be downward. This proceeds directly from Muller and Felsentein’s math. There is no way then, theoretically speaking, we could have evolved from something more primitive if we are as complex as ENCODE suggests. That math just simply doesn’t add up.

    One solution of course is to assume our genomes are mostly junk, that maybe we’re not as special and complex as we think and that ENCODE and the nearly billion dollars invested by the NIH for ENCODE, REMC/Roadmap and 4D nucleome, psych-ENCODE, mouse-ENCODE, etc. are just being wasted on deluding ourselves that junk DNA isn’t junk. I’ve tried to argue here at TSZ that Larry Moran and company have obsolete viewpoints, and I will occasionally cite rival biochem textbook authors to make my point. 🙂

    VJ:

    By the way, re fine-tuning: what do you make of Snowball Earth? What ecological purpose did it serve?

    I actually think Snowball Earth, or some freeze over happened in connection to some cataclysm. I’m sensitive to the fact you have your views about Noah’s flood, but if you can, let’s just separate theology from a simple forensic question: How come there is tropical vegetation inside the stomachs of frozen Mammoths. The answer suggests to me a cataclysm happened which took elephant-like mammoths that were grazing in almost tropical conditions and buried them in a blizzard at -40 rather rapidly.

    Walter Brown, who is one of the smartest creationists I’ve met explains why this must have been so:
    http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/FrozenMammoths2.html

    As I pondered of some of the things I listed above, I slowly migrated from believing in God-directed evolution to special creation to Young Life Creation. I’m really not a theologian, so theological considerations and hermeneutics play very little in my conversion from one view to the other.

    Hypothetically, the world could be billions of years old and the fossil record recent. If one believe in miracles, I believe a miracle created life a lot more recently for some of the reasons like the Faint Young Sun Paradox and Genetic Entropy outlined above.

    As I said, I don’t think we have to settle any of these issues today. If God provides, we’ll know the answers quite clearly in due time.

  31. Steve Schaffner: That may be what you see, but that’s not what geneticists see.

    That is increasingly what geneticists see? Did you even read the articles?

    Steve Schaffner: When do we get to the part where you support your statement, ‘The “biological species” concept is simply whacked out ideology masquerading as science.

    What sort of support do you want?
    It’s clearly not science.
    It’s clearly whacked out

    That much is clear from the articles I presented and countless others in the literature

    Google defines Ideology as
    quote:

    a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.

    end quote:

    Given the fact the biological concept of species is precisely the basis being used for the political policy that threatens to remove protections from the red wolf I can’t see how you can deny it’s an ideology.

    What part of that summary do you disagree with? Why?

    peace

  32. Neil Rickert: Quite right. The idea of “species” is hopelessly inaccurate, just like the idea that the earth is a sphere is hopelessly inaccurate.

    The idea of species is not inaccurate.

    What is wildly inaccurate is the definition that takes species to be genetically isolated groups.

    Neil Rickert: Both work very well, thank you, and both are good science.

    apparently you did not bother to read the articles I linked or countless others explaining how incorrect the tired old paradigm is.

    peace

  33. Entropy: Imagine the article’s title: Perfect solution for the species conceptual and practical definitions: pray to The Lord for Him to reveal the species and you shall receive. If The Lord feels like it.

    Not only do you have a jacked up idea of what defines a species apparently you have a jacked up idea of what revelation is.

    peace

  34. Entropy: And how do “we” accomplish that incredible feat? What’s the method that produces those well defined categories?

    We don’t produce the well defined categories we discover them. The method we generally use is observation.

    That is pretty much how any discovery is made

    Entropy: You criticize one of the proposed definitions of species (which is all right, I find it problematic too), but then you say there’s no problem to solve, that the definition of species is already solved otherwise

    I never said there was no problem to solve.

    The problem is reconciling the mental concept of species with the physical data that materialists are hamstrung by.

    I just don’t think you can reconcile the irreconcilable

    Entropy: Where did your solution come from? How can I apply it? How can all scientists use it?

    My “solution” is to continue use the common sense understanding of species that folks have always used and not try and subsume what is obviously a mental concept under a materialist paradigm.

    As far as scientists using it.
    Why do scientists need any species concept at all?

    peace

  35. Neil Rickert: Does anybody take that as more than a guideline?

    LOL

    The thought of a “guideline” for a supposedly hard nosed scientific discipline cracks me up

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxP9v68fiEs

    Regardless,
    Not to continue beat my own personal hobby horse but this whole thread is the result of the folks at biologos taking the traditional “biological species concept” as rigid scientific fact.

    If it was just “a guideline” no one would be hung up on the size of the genetic population that gave rise to us. If a species is not defined by genetic isolation then Adam and Eve would fit just fine as the founders of our species in a population of 10 thousand genetically similar individuals.

    Not to mention the folks who are using the “biological species concept ” as an unquestionable dogma to try and remove protections from the red wolf.

    peace

  36. fifthmonarchyman: If a species is not defined by genetic isolation then Adam and Eve would fit just fine as the founders of our species in a population of 10 thousand genetically similar individuals.

    Adam and Eve would fit far better in a book of fables.

  37. Neil Rickert: Adam and Eve would fit far better in a book of fables.

    Disdainfulness does not suit you Neil. Lighten up. I know that down deep you are a teddy bear

    anyway

    I just linked a scientific article which demonstrated that the genetic male and female ancestors of the human species lived roughly at the same time in the same region.

    It even reluctantly called them Adam and Eve.

    I’m not sure if the authors would appreciate you characterizing their genetic work as “fitting far better in a book of fables”.

    In all fairness the article did make a point of declaring that given current assumptions it is unlikely genetic Adam and genetic Eve were raised in the same garden.

    So it’s possible that the folks pointed to by this particular DNA evidence are not the actual progenitors named in the Bible but simply individuals closely related to the first couple.

    Anyway, in my life time “science” went from assuming humans arose from separate populations on different continents to assuming a single origin in one place but with genetic Adam and Eve separated by thousands of years…… to finally to two unique individuals living at the same time in a relatively small population not too far from where the Bible was written.

    It seems to me that the story of Adam and Eve is moving in the opposite direction from what you’d expect for something more “fitting in a book of fables”

    I can’t wait to see what we discover next

    peace.

  38. fifthmonarchyman: I’m not sure if the authors would appreciate you characterizing their genetic work as “fitting far better in a book of fables”.

    Why would they object to taking names from a well known fable? We have the “Goldilocks zone”. We have “Pinochio” awards. Taking names from well known stories is a common practice. It doesn’t imply anything about the validity of their work.

    At the time in my life, when you would have taken me to be a devout Christian (roughly my teenage years), I still took the Adam and Eve story to be a fable. Christianity doesn’t, or shouldn’t depend on taking an obvious fable to be true history.

    I wasn’t attempting to be disdainful. I was just pointing out what should be obvious to all.

  39. Neil Rickert: Why would they object to taking names from a well known fable?

    You did not say the names belonged in a book of fables. You said the story belonged in a book of fables.

    Neil Rickert: We have the “Goldilocks zone”. We have “Pinochio” awards. Taking names from well known stories is a common practice.

    The Goldilocks zone is not in the house of the three bears and the “Pinochio” awards are not given to the years greatest puppeteer.

    You are confusing the story of with the names.

    On the other hand Genetic Adam and Eve are describing actual people who are purported to be the male and female ancestors of humanity. Do you see the difference?

    Neil Rickert: At the time in my life, when you would have taken me to be a devout Christian (roughly my teenage years), I still took the Adam and Eve story to be a fable.

    no offense

    I’m not sure why your personal adolescent judgement of the story is at all important.

    We are discussing actual scientific evidence about the origin of humanity.

    Neil Rickert: Christianity doesn’t, or shouldn’t depend on taking an obvious fable to be true history.

    Obvious to you does not equal obvious to all by a long shot (as should be obvious).

    Christianity and (basic human rights) ultimately depends on the familial relationship that is rooted in Adam and Eve.

    Regardless of where we are from or what we look like we all share the same blood lines. We are actual kin. That fact certainly is not more “fitting in a book of fables”.

    Neil Rickert: I wasn’t attempting to be disdainful.

    OK, but why not just address the comment I made or ignore it instead of stooping to cheap ridicule of what I believe for no practical reason.

    You are better than that

    peace

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