Genetics Human evolution

Adam, Eve, Richard Buggs, and Dennis Venema: Could Adam and Eve have existed?

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Dennis Venema replies to Buggs, insisting that Adam and Eve could not likely exist. Geneticist Richard Buggs thinks that they could have.

Dennis VenemaFrom Venema at BioLogos:

The key here is that one individual can only have at most two alleles of any gene. A population reduction to one breeding pair would mean that at most, four alleles of a given gene could pass through the bottleneck – in the case where both individuals are heterozygous, and heterozygous for different alleles. The population would then have to wait for new mutation events to produce new alleles of this gene – a process that will take a significant amount of time. Since this would happen to all genes in the genome at the same time – a reduction to a maximum of four alleles – we would notice this effect for a long time thereafter as genetic diversity was slowly rebuilt across the genome as a whole.

Richard
Richard Buggs

So, a bottleneck to two individuals would leave an enduring mark on our genomes – and one part of that mark would be a severe reduction in the number of alleles we have – down to a maximum of four alleles at any given gene. Humans, however, have a large number of alleles for many genes – famously, there are hundreds of alleles for some genes involved in immune system function. These alleles take time to generate, because the mutation rate in humans is very low. This high allele diversity is thus the first indication that we did not pass through a severe population bottleneck, but rather a relatively mild one (estimated, as we have discussed, at about 10,000 individuals by current methods).

Image result for Adam and Eve public domain
Adam and Eve

Another effect that a bottleneck to two individuals would produce is that there would be no rare alleles after the bottleneck. All alleles would have a frequency of at least 25%. As the population expanded after such an event, those alleles would stay common, and only new mutations would produce less common alleles. What we observe in humans in the present day is that many alleles are rare – even exceedingly rare. The distribution of alleles in present-day humans looks like it comes from an old, large population – not one that passed through an extreme bottleneck within the last few hundred thousand years, which is when our species is found in the fossil record. Thus the observation that we have many alleles of certain genes and the distribution of allele frequencies both support the hypothesis that humans come from a population, rather than a pair. More.

Over to Buggs. This is getting to be fun…

See also: Adam and Eve and the Skeptics, Episode 2: Geneticist Richard Buggs replies

Adam and Eve debut at the Skeptical Zone: In other words, we don’t really know if they could have existed because the human race seems very improbable anyway. But it is high time the question was liberated from the Sunday armchair of theistic evolution, to say nothing of its occasional personal dramas.

Geneticist defends possible Adam and Eve in Nature: Ecology and Evolution

and

Geneticist: Adam and Eve could have existed

38 Replies to “Adam, Eve, Richard Buggs, and Dennis Venema: Could Adam and Eve have existed?

  1. 1
    FourFaces says:

    I am a Christian and I disagree with the claim that mankind descended from a single breeding pair. Even a cursory reading of Genesis reveals that it is a compilation of several books and genealogies. The Adam and Eve who gave birth to Cain and Abel were not the same Adam and Eve of the Garden of Eden. The Eden story is obviously metaphorical.

    The Adam of Eden was not an individual’s name. It was a noun preceded by a definite article “the” to form “the Adam”. It’s comparable to saying “the French” or “the Chinese”. It meant mankind or Adam-kind. In fact, there is strong reason to suppose that the original Adam-kind were both male and female.

    So I agree with Dennis Venema even though I disagree with BioLogos in general.

  2. 2
    J-Mac says:

    I am a Christian and I disagree with the claim that mankind descended from a single breeding pair.

    Then you not a Christian…You are a pseudo-christian like all theistic-evolutionists resembling Ken Miller, Dennis Venema and the rest of the so-called christians who sold Christianity for the sake of being called a scientist…
    I was very sadden to learn that even VJT sold himself to the so-called science…

    BTW: While most would probably not call me a Christian ( I don’t care) I have learned one thing about Christianity over the years:
    The Bible is always right. My 14 y old son recently proved me wrong because he relied on the Bible…
    It is not a science book but it is ahead of science in many, many ways…IMV…

  3. 3
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Four Faces @ 1,

    I am a Christian and I disagree with the claim that mankind descended from a single breeding pair.

    Be careful; Christian theology, and the forgiveness of your sin, require an actual Adam. Romans chapter 5 irrefutably makes this claim. Believe it or not.

    J-Mac @ 4,

    The Bible is always right.

    Yes it is. God bless your faith and obedience!

  4. 4
    FourFaces says:

    J-Mac @ 4,

    The Bible is always right.

    You’re kidding me? That’s idolatry, IMO, the work of the Devil. Even the Bible teaches us to test all things. This includes the Bible itself.

    To me, the Bible is a research document for Christians and Jews. It consists of many books and texts from different eras that were bound together by humans. You can bet that the Devil had his filthy hands in there at one point or another.

    It is not a science book but it is ahead of science in many, many ways

    You’d be surprised how much revolutionary science is in the Bible. Most of the metaphorical texts, including the entire book of Revelation, are about disruptive scientific knowledge that will transform the world when they are decoded and revealed. This will happen in your lifetimes.

    Dean_from_Ohio @3,

    Be careful; Christian theology, and the forgiveness of your sin, require an actual Adam. Romans chapter 5 irrefutably makes this claim. Believe it or not.

    I certainly do not believe it. But be cool. Don’t impugn my faith because I don’t worship the Bible as “the inerrant word of God.”

  5. 5
    J-Mac says:

    @FourFaces

    So, you don’t believe that the Bible has at least some influence of the Divine?
    If it were, even if you don’t believe it, what would be the proof of such influence IYV?

  6. 6
    vmahuna says:

    “Since this would happen to all genes in the genome at the same time – a reduction to a maximum of four alleles – we would notice this effect for a long time thereafter as genetic diversity was slowly rebuilt across the genome as a whole.”

    Again, these people are arguing about a “bottleneck” after the GROWTH of a large human population. We have good evidence for such a bottleneck that apparently DID reduce the total worldwide human population to some thousands of individuals. The original breeding pair of our NEW species must simply have lived a REALLY long time before that bottleneck.

    Otherwise, I must assume that this same denunciation applies to ALL species: each new species appears POOF! with a genetically diverse pool of AT LEAST 10,000 individuals on the first day ANY of the 10,000 exist.

  7. 7
    mullers_ratchet says:

    Otherwise, I must assume that this same denunciation applies to ALL species: each new species appears POOF! with a genetically diverse pool of AT LEAST 10,000 individuals on the first day ANY of the 10,000 exist.

    I’m not sure you understand how speciation works. Species form when an ancestral population splits, so there are generally thousands of individuals (with plenty of genetic diversity) in a given split when speciation starts.

  8. 8
    FourFaces says:

    J-Mac @5,

    So, you don’t believe that the Bible has at least some influence of the Divine?

    Of course, I do. I especially have a lot of confidence in the metaphorical texts because nobody understands what they mean. So they are least likely to have been corrupted by jackasses along the way. But much of the rest of the Bible should be carefully weighed and filtered because it’s prone to nonsense and contradictions. Most of texts clearly specified who their human authors were. Why should anyone insist they are the “inerrant word of God” unless that person has evil intentions. The apostle Paul, for example, is not my God, at least not to my knowledge. Whatever he wrote must be tested for truth and logic.

    If it were, even if you don’t believe it, what would be the proof of such influence IYV?

    The teaching is, “search and you will find.” My understanding is that one cannot even do that unless one is called by God. I, for one, have searched and I have found some amazing things. But that’s for another place and time. Conduct your own search.

  9. 9
    rvb8 says:

    As the English, or more accurately, the East End Londoners are fond of saying;

    “You wouldn’t Adam and Eve it!”

    🙂

  10. 10
    FourFaces says:

    rvb8,

    “You wouldn’t Adam and Eve it!”

    Is that an East London gay expression?

  11. 11
    bb says:

    There are 2 bottlenecks in the Bible, which says Adam & Eve lived for almost 1,000 years. Such a robust genome might very well tolerate the mutations caused by such a low population density. The second bottleneck was the flood, where the world’s population was reduced to 8 people, that had similar lifespans to the original pair. The Bible says longevity dramatically decreased in subsequent generations. John Sanford’s “Mendel’s Accountant” genetic modeling software is said by him to demonstrate the Biblical account.

  12. 12
    rvb8 says:

    FourFaces,

    if I were gay I would quite proudly say. Unfortunately although I know, and am friendly to many gays, (since university), I am sad to say, I am not a part of that fun culture.

    As for, ‘East London gay expression’??

    Ummm, no, it is called cockney rhyme; You’re American per chance?

    The expression, ‘you wouldn’t Adam and Eve it’, is Cockney rhyme for, ‘you wouldn’t believe it.’

    Others include, ‘The ole trouble and strife’, for ‘wife’. Or, if you’re in her good books, ‘The ole huggs and kisses’, for ‘The Mrs.’ Or, ‘Me ole China Plate’, for, ‘Me ole mate.’ Get the gist?

    Tell me FourFaces, are you the stereotypical puritan buzzkill, who thinks, laughter, merriment, and a jolly good time are the fastest way to, ‘ole Nick!’?

  13. 13
    JVL says:

    rvb8 — The expression, ‘you wouldn’t Adam and Eve it’, is Cockney rhyme for, ‘you wouldn’t believe it.’

    Others include, ‘The ole trouble and strife’, for ‘wife’. Or, if you’re in her good books, ‘The ole huggs and kisses’, for ‘The Mrs.’ Or, ‘Me ole China Plate’, for, ‘Me ole mate.’ Get the gist?

    You ‘neglected’ to mention Berkshire Hunt! Which itself has been shorted to ‘berk’.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    Venema:

    The key here is that one individual can only have at most two alleles of any gene.

    Yes and designed, continued recombination can produce more from that.

    The problem is Venema and others are approaching this from a standard evolutionary point of view. Yet if Adam and Eve were real then it is clear that point of view goes out the window and you have to start over.

    The population would then have to wait for new mutation events to produce new alleles of this gene – a process that will take a significant amount of time.

    That is only in a blind watchmaker scenario, Dennis. Try again, this time think about it first.

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    bb @11:

    John Sanford’s “Mendel’s Accountant” genetic modeling software is said by him to demonstrate the Biblical account.

    Where does Sanford say this?

  16. 16
    FourFaces says:

    rvb8,

    if I were gay I would quite proudly say.

    This is like saying that you would be proud of being schizophrenic. Why would anybody be proud of an abnormality? Being gay is obviously a mental dysfunction most likely caused by bad parenting at an early age which triggered an epigenetic transformation.

    Unfortunately although I know, and am friendly to many gays, (since university), I am sad to say, I am not a part of that fun culture.

    I, too, I am friend of many gays. But I don’t see it as a fun culture. My gay friends all have problems with depression and obsessive behavior. They are not a happy bunch, regardless of the propaganda. This is why, as a Christian, I have compassion for gays. I know they are suffering.

  17. 17

    FourFaces @ 16; My uncle is homosexual and wishes he wasn’t. Says that there is nothing inherently “fun” about the lifestyle.

  18. 18
    J-Mac says:

    @17 Truth Will Set You Free,

    I agree…I have never met a homosexual who would be comfortable with the lifestyle or truly happy…

    I’ve also learned that the addiction and suicide ratse are very high among them as well as among people with gender issues…

  19. 19
    J-Mac says:

    @8 FourFaces

    Conduct your own search.

    I did…

    2Tim 3:16

    All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

    I guess you didn’t do your own search…

    BTW: Did you know that only few decades ago people who believed that the universe had a beginning (because the Bible indicates that) were laughed at?

    Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the havens and the earth…

  20. 20
    FourFaces says:

    J-Mac

    2Tim 3:16

    “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

    I guess you didn’t do your own search…

    Funny. However, you need to do your homework before talking about searches. Several questions come up.

    Did you know that the verse you quoted was taken from a private letter written in Greek by a Jew named Paul to a Jewish-Greek man named Timothy and that it was not included in the so-called New Testament until centuries later by the Catholic Church?

    Is Paul your God? If not, is his opinion God’s opinion? If not, is he correct? What scripture was he referring to? Was he referring to the Torah or the Greek Septuagint translation? Did you know that the Catholic Church also included in the NT the writings of a Jew named James who may have been the brother of Jesus (it is reported that Jesus did not like him and did not count him as one of his disciples)? Did you know that Paul did not like James either because James set himself up as the head of the Church in Jerusalem and would send spies (including Peter) to Paul’s gentile Churches?

    My point is that you got to do your homework before you start quoting scriptures to others.

  21. 21
    cmow says:

    FF @20,
    Your intellect is truly dizzying.

    I’d question your treatment of 1 Timothy. What are you referring to when you say the Catholic Church didn’t include 1 Timothy in the NT canon until centuries later?
    Several early church fathers quoted it in their writings and supported it as NT canon — Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Polycarp, Tertullian, Origen, etc… It was included in the Muratorian Canon, and in Codex Sinaiticus. In fact, the only rejection we know of was by Marcion, but his reasons were wrapped up in the heresy he promoted and was excommunicated for anyway. Point being, by the end of the 2nd Century, 1 Timothy — and for that matter 2 Timothy and Titus (the pastoral epistles) — are all pretty well entrenched in the canon and never really doubted until the skepticism of the 19th century.

  22. 22

    cmow @ 21: Nicely done. Thanks for the research.

  23. 23
    J-Mac says:

    20@ FourFaces

    Your abilities to contradict yourself are truly amusing…

    You can start your own church. Call it the christian Swedish buffet church; i.e. choose what you want to believe as you please…God don’t matter…

    Have a nice life!

  24. 24
    FourFaces says:

    cmow @21,

    One century or two later. What difference does it make? Even if it was just one year later, it would not have taken away from the point of my comment. Remember that we were discussing the claim that the entire Bible is infallible, a claim that I strongly dispute.

    The point of my previous comment is that one cannot claim that a private letter by Paul to his friend and disciple Timothy is the “inerrant word of God. Paul, being a Jew, certainly did not count his letter to Timothy as part of scripture. And why should anyone accept that early “Church fathers”, being the fallible men that they were, had the authority to decide what whether or not a letter written by another fallible man (Paul erroneously thought Jesus was coming back in his lifetime) should be accepted by Christians as the “inerrant word of God”.

    Worshipping the Bible as the inerrant word of God is idolatry, IMO. I say this as a Christian. One must test all things.

  25. 25
    FourFaces says:

    J-Mac @23,

    For a Bible worshipping Christian, you sure speak with a forked tongue.

  26. 26
    mikeenders says:

    “You’re kidding me? That’s idolatry, IMO, the work of the Devil. Even the Bible teaches us to test all things. This includes the Bible itself.”

    I’ve read some howlers from Bible rejectors claiming to be Christian but this takes the cake.If the Bible really teaches that we should “test” it then we would have to test the teaching that we should test all things – completely circular.

    The problem with Biologos is similar to your problem. They think in some tortured illogical way that invoking a metaphor anywhere there is an apparent contradcition with science they make religion or Christianity more palatable. In fact they just make it laughable. No skeptic is impressed that you can reinterpret a passage that nowhere states its metaphorical as metaphorical. They intuitively realize if you can do that with one book then you can do it with all of them including the Gospels.

  27. 27
    FourFaces says:

    mikeenders @26,

    – completely circular.

    No it is not. I tested the admonition and it sounds perfectly logical to me. If it looks illogical to you or anyone else, that is irrelevant AFAIC.

    No skeptic is impressed that …

    I don’t care what skeptics think. They are irrelevant to my salvation. I know who my savior is and why I am being saved. This is all that matters.

  28. 28
    mikeenders says:

    “No it is not. I tested the admonition and it sounds perfectly logical to me.”

    Bad logic almost always seems perefectly logical to those who hold it. its not up for debate – if the Bible is to be questioned you cannot cite the bible telling you to test it as a reliable indication that you should. Thats what you did and its undobutedly circular.

  29. 29
    FourFaces says:

    mikeenders,

    Do you use Wikipedia? Is Wikipedia 100% accurate and reliable? If not, why do you use it?

    Your circularity argument is bogus. You protest too much. You sound like one of those con artist Bible thumpers.

  30. 30
    cmow says:

    FourFaces @24 —
    Wait, wait, wait — so you don’t believe in inerrancy, fine, but now you are saying that every one who does is guilty of idolatry?

    That is a bold statement. Are you sure?

    You know — nobody thinks Paul is infallible, right? Those who believe in inerrancy do so because God is infallible, and the Bible is God’s Word, revealed to us.

  31. 31
    FourFaces says:

    cmow @30,

    Wait, wait, wait — so you don’t believe in inerrancy, fine, but now you are saying that every one who does is guilty of idolatry?

    Yes, absolutely. The errors, untruths and contradictions in the Bible are widely documented. Insisting that the Bible is infallible is the work of the Devil. Many have lost their faith after becoming aware of the problems in the Bible. Heck, the translators themselves introduce their own biases and even their cluelessness into it. Did God inspire those translators? Why didn’t he pick just one translation then?

    I feel sorry for you, cmow. But then again, maybe not. There are many con artists and liars in all the Christian communities around the world.

    the Bible is God’s Word, revealed to us.

    BS. The Bible is a compilation of many books written by men. It is a book of study for Christians and Jews. Yes, you can find God in it but not everything in it is from God.

  32. 32
    MatSpirit says:

    All science, so far.

  33. 33
    FourFaces says:

    All science, so far.

    You mean we were not discussing life emerging from dirt or the universe creating itself from nothing or computers achieving consciousness via some magic called emergence or uploading human consciousness into a machine?

    You’re right. We were discussing science.

  34. 34
    cmow says:

    FourFaces,
    No, the translations are not inspired (not the lovely KJV, not the Textus Receptus, not even the LXX). Only the original language (Hebrew, Greek, and some Aramaic), and in fact, only the autographs, which we don’t have, but which we can be confident of via the science of textual criticism.

    Thanks for feeling sorry for me…I guess. I was actually thinking the same towards you. I don’t think you need to affirm inerrancy to be a Christian (there are new converts to Christianity who may not even have even read a Bible, much less considered inerrancy). But I am worried that your low view of Scripture will lead you away from God, if it hasn’t already. Based on some of your shallow comments and verbiage about Canon, translations, and so forth, I question whether you have a deep understanding of the issues. Inerrancy aside, disciples of Jesus tend to value Scripture and thus defend it, but you can barely say anything positive about it except ‘you can find God in it’. The subtext of your comments is disturbing in that sense. As a Christian brother, FourFaces, tell me — what is your favorite passage in the Bible? Rather than focusing on the negative, please encourage me with a bit of the Bible that you do value.

    And at that, the last word can be yours, and we can move on to ID.

  35. 35
    FourFaces says:

    cmow,

    I have many favorite passages in the Bible such as: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

    Notice that he did not say that we get eternal life for believing that the Bible is infallible. Another one of my favorites is this one: “Search and you shall find.”

    This last one is important to me because most of my work consists of searching the metaphorical passages for hidden scientific meaning. I found some amazing things. But that’s for another place and time.

    See you around.

  36. 36
    cmow says:

    FourFaces,
    Thanks. Best wishes.

  37. 37
    ronvanwegen says:

    The Catholic Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit defined the canon of scripture. You’re welcome!

    So, where was the greatest authority then? The Bible or the Catholic Church? Well, duh!

    So, what does the Bible say? “…the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)

    But, since Luther, every Christian is THE interpreter of the Bible then that verse (and any other) can mean pretty much anything they want it to mean.

    Which results in such travesties as “Homosexual acts good!” in one “church” and “Homosexual acts bad!” in another” etc. From the one Bible – under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit! That’s confusion and confusion is not of God.

    Have at it individual protestant interpreters. Irrespective of what you come up with it will have no authority behind it other than your own.

    Give it up guys – it hasn’t worked for 500 years and it sure ain’t workin’ now.

  38. 38
    FourFaces says:

    ronvanwegen @37,

    Nobody comes to God unless the Son calls him or her. It is neither for you nor the Catholic Church, nor any other Church, to judge how anybody interprets the Bible. Salvation comes neither from you nor any Church. Give it a rest.

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