• So, Recent Genetic Studies Indicate Adam and Eve Could Be Our Ancestors?

    Surge Summary: We’ve been told dismissively that “Adam and Eve” couldn’t be the original father and mother of all of the current human population. But recent genetic studies challenge that assertion – revealing, along the way, a lot about the way many in the scientific community operate.

    Skeptics like to insist that geneticists have disproved the possibility of Adam and Eve. Existing human genetic diversity is so great, they argue, all people couldn’t possibly be descended from one original couple. That’s what we’ve been told by many of the “experts”.

    But wait a minute! protest John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris from over at breakpoint.org. They’re challenging that claim:

    Biology professor and author Dennis Venema summarizes this argument in his book, “Adam and the Genome.” In it, he claims that “every genetic analysis estimating ancestral population sizes has agreed that we descend from a population of thousands, not a single ancestral couple.”

    Some Christian authors have reacted to this apparent consensus by proposing new ways of reading Genesis that make Adam and Eve either mythological or not really our first parents. The goal has been to accommodate theology and the Bible to what we’re told is “settled science.”

    But what if the science on Adam and Eve isn’t so settled? That’s the argument of a new paper by Discovery Institute senior fellow and developmental biologist Ann Gauger and Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, recently published in the journal, “BIO-Complexity.”

    (And, by the way, what if it turns out to be the case over and over and over again, in one area of “settled science” after another, that the science ain’t necessarily “settled” after all?)

    Anyway, in order to find out if it’s impossible to account for modern variation in human beings by starting with just two of them, these researchers did something revolutionarily radical: something apparently no one had bothered to try before: “They started with just two people, and ran the numbers.”

    Using accepted population growth and mutation rates, Gauger and Hössjer programmed a computer to start with a genetic Adam and Eve and replicate the known distribution of diversity in today’s human population. Their results, to put it simply, fly in the face of the much-touted consensus.

    According to their model, a couple who shared some genetic markers could generate all the diversity we see today within about 2 million years—which Venema and others claim is impossible.

    But that’s not where the story ends:

    [G]iven two people who share no genetic markers—in other words, two people who weren’t born but were created with four unique sets of chromosomes—that time frame drops to a few hundred thousand, not millions, of years.

    Writing at Evolution News, Gauger points out that further tweaks in the rates of population growth, structure, mortality, birth, and mutation could place that theoretical first couple even more recently in history.

    Whatever the precise time frames, the authors emphasize their objective was not to date Adam and Eve or even prove their existence from a genetic standpoint. What did they want to demonstrate?  Only that, contrary to the popular assertion, it is possible for all human beings to have sprung from a single, original duo.

    And, in the process … another smug knock against the biblical telling of things bites the dust.

    Even at this early stage of this research, the paper clarifies two crucial and rather far-reaching things:

    First, scientists’ assumptions about the past can change their results. Gauger explains that once hurdles in computing power were overcome, this experiment was an obvious way to test existing dogma on human origins. But in her words, no one bothered because “They believed that starting from two was useless.”

    In fact, many researchers failed to use standard methods for modeling population genetics because of their baked-in evolutionary assumptions. For instance, one popular tool relies on comparisons between human and chimpanzee DNA to track mutations—something Gauger points out is useless if we don’t share a common ancestor with chimps.

    Put another way, many researchers approached this topic with their minds already, resolutely made up. Their initiatives were, on some weighty levels, paralyzed by their pre-suppositions.  Don’t confuse me with the facts!

    Second, and more importantly, this paper hints at how tentative so-called “settled science” can be. Christians who rush to revise their understanding of characters like Adam and Eve to make way for the latest consensus should think more about the theological consensus they’re tinkering with, like the fall, the image of God, original sin, and creation.

    Once more, so-called settled science can turn out to be “unsettled” – which, itself, is pretty unsettling! Yet, too many Bible-believers hastily throw aside their confidence in God’s Word – often for arrogant conclusions that end up – or may well end up – shamefacedly fizzling when subjected to closer scrutiny and their “consensus”, accordingly, disintegrates.

    What was that declaration? Oh, yes: “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8; NKJV)

    H/T: John Stonestreet/G. Shane Morris/breakpoint.org

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge. 

    Image: Creative Commons; CC by 2.0; Adapted from: “Unlimited Photos”; https://www.flickr.com/photos/mauritsverbiest/15223255614

     


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