Genetics Human evolution Intelligent Design theistic evolution

Adam and Eve debut at the Skeptical Zone

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Image result for Adam and Eve public domain We didn’t predict this one and it’s not the story you think. Recently, geneticist Richard Buggs defended the possibility in principle that a human population bottleneck could consist of one fertile couple.

At the Zone (founded by former UD commenters among others), Vincent Torley writes:

Geneticist Richard Buggs, Reader in Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary University of London, has just written an intriguing article in Nature: Ecology and Evolution (28 October 2017), titled, Adam and Eve: a tested hypothesis? Comments on a recent book chapter. It appears that Buggs is unpersuaded that science has ruled out Adam and Eve. He 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. Buggs disagrees with the assessment of Christian biologist Dennis Venema, professor of biology at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, who forthrightly declared in chapter 3 of his 2017 book Adam and the Genome that it is scientifically impossible that the human lineage ever passed through a bottleneck of two, and we can be as certain about this fact as we are about the truth of heliocentrism.

I would be interested to know what biologists think of Richard Buggs’ article. Is he right? Does science still leave open the possibility of Adam and Eve? Over to you. More.

Population geneticist Joe Felsenstein, among others, replied (“A&E” = Adam and Eve),

ust saying that rates of mutation are high and so the pattern could occur is insufficient. One needs a more quantitative analysis with estimated mutation rates. HLA is a hard case for A&E — it would be even better to find more polymorphisms involving multiple haplotypes and put all that information together. There are coalescent methods that use more information than PSMC, which only uses 2 haploid genomes at a time. Those methods need more development, but when they get it there will be more focused analyses.

Most of the effort in analyzing these data has been to infer the past history of population size, rather than to make statements about A&E. If one poses the problem as whether we can absolutely certainly rule out A&E, that is asking for more than science can deliver. But if we ask whether it is made very improbable, that is not as hard to establish. More.

In other words, we don’t really know because the human race seems very improbable anyway. But it is time the question was liberated from the Sunday armchair of theistic evolution, to say nothing of its occasional personal dramas.

Note: Ann Gauger walks readers through Buggs’s analysis

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

and

Swamidass distances himself from Christian evolution group

21 Replies to “Adam and Eve debut at the Skeptical Zone

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Focusing on genes misses the whole problem. Any time a population gets ‘small enough’ it disappears. ‘Small enough’ is vague but it’s always MUCH larger than one couple.

    To survive and reproduce you need division of labor. Who takes care of the first 5 kids when Mom is birthing #6? Who makes the arrows so Dad can hunt the Sabertooth Tigers on the Savannah? Who keeps the fire going? After you have enough kids the older ones can form the community, but there’s a period of 10 years when survival is impossible without other relatives around.

  2. 2
    J-Mac says:

    How do population geneticists, like Joe Felsenstein, know what the mutation rate was say…5000 years ago?

    On what evidence do they rely on?

  3. 3
    J-Mac says:

    Doesn’t the law of recurrent variation apply to humans?

    What if Adam and Eve, being perfect or close to and having none of very little mutations most all their life as well as their fist and maybe second offspring…

    How does this possibility influence the mutation rate calculations? None of very few mutations initially?

  4. 4
    ET says:

    J-Mac- The problem with people like Joe Felsenstein is that they assume blind watchmaker evolution is true. They don’t even consider that organisms were designed to evolve and because of that the early changes would have been more than what blind and mindless processes can produce.

    For example recombination most likely played a huge role in the early evolution of the originally designed organisms. Recombination that would have created new alleles out of the existing genomes and done so rapidly in contrast to waiting for random mutations.

    On another note please tell the TSZ minions to read The use of hierarchies as organizational models in systematics as it refutes their crazy ideas of nested hierarchies-> hint- phylogenies are not a nested hierarchy.

  5. 5
    FourFaces says:

    There are competing interpretations of the book of Genesis (a compilation of a number of separate books, metaphorical stories and genealogies, in fact) that do not assume that humanity started with a single couple. In fact, some readings suggest that humans were both male and female (androgynous) in the beginning.

    The idea that God first created an anatomically correct male and then only later decided to create a female because the male was lonely or unhappy is obviously nonsense.

  6. 6
    J-Mac says:

    FourFaces,

    Did the universe have a beginning in your view?

  7. 7
    FourFaces says:

    J-Mac @6:

    Did the universe have a beginning in your view?

    The physical universe? Certainly. I believe in a Yin-Yang reality whereby there exist two complementary and opposite realms: a physical realm where things can be created and destroyed and a spiritual realm where things can be neither created nor destroyed. Entities in the spiritual realm just are and some can create physical things. Examples of spiritual entities are things like beauty, order, colors, flavors, distance, etc.

    Unlike most Christian theists, I believe that intelligence cannot exist without cause-effect physical mechanisms. I believe that spiritual entities had to create their own bodies/brains over eons using trial and error. This is why Yahweh calls himself the ancient of time. Just one man’s opinion.

  8. 8
    J-Mac says:

    @FourFaces,

    So, would you agree that Genesis 1:1

    1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

    would only have one interpretation?

    BTW: Please tell me you are NOT suggesting that God had a beginning?

  9. 9
    Florabama says:

    It is fascinating to me how materialists deal with probabilities. Adam and Eve? Beyond impossible. A living replicating cell creating itself from dead molecules? Not only possible but in fact actually happened. How do we know this? Because we’re here. How did it happen? Well, if there’s going to be the slightest chance, we have to invent a RNA world that doesn’t exist and for which there is no evidence that it ever existed. Why? Because it had to happen somehow.

    Saying Adam and Eve are genetically impossible is simply a statement of faith no different than saying they did exist. It is interesting, in light of this discussion, that the Bible portrays extended lifespans of hundreds of years for centuries after the fall. Certainly the writer of the Pentateuch did not see a need to explain genetic possibilities for the survival of humanity.

  10. 10
    tribune7 says:

    Regardless of science, it’s a matter of faith. If you can believe the Immaculate Conception and Virgin Birth, it’s not hard to believe that we all come from a single couple.

    And as I said on another post, it takes way less faith to believe in Adam and Eve — or the Virgin Birth for that matter — than it does that a prokaryote randomly became a eukaryote.

  11. 11
    FourFaces says:

    J-Mac,

    So, would you agree that Genesis 1:1

    1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

    would only have one interpretation?

    Not exactly. The context suggests that there were multiple beginnings.

    BTW: Please tell me you are NOT suggesting that God had a beginning?

    I am not suggesting anything. I believe what the scriptures tell me. Only spirits/souls have no beginning or end. The scriptures clearly imply that God (his physical body) had a beginning. The scriptures also teach us that we, too, are Gods. Yahweh Elohim (they are many) created themselves over eons. One man’s opinion, of course.

  12. 12
    Trumper says:

    FourFaces – can you elaborate on what you mean by God and his ‘physical body’? outside of The Christ… TIA.

  13. 13
    Marfin says:

    FourFaces -John 4.24 God is spirit.

  14. 14
    FourFaces says:

    @Trumper,

    There can be no intelligence without cause-effect physical mechanisms. Therefore God must have a physical body/brain, albeit one that is made of some form of incorruptible matter. Besides, Yahweh calls himself, the ancient of time. Only the physical can age. And if God is ancient, it follows that there was a time when he was young. No concept has meaning without a complementary opposite.

    @Marfin,

    The word translated “spirit” means different things in the Bible. It can mean soul, wind, breath, or fumes. IMO, the expression “God is spirit” simply means that God has a body that is made of a special kind of matter that is incorruptible. Ordinary physical matter is not the only possible kind of matter.

    I normally use the word “spirit” to mean non-physical or supernatural. The Bible has many usages and was written in at least three languages with a huge number of translations. Again, one man’s opinion.

  15. 15
    J-Mac says:

    @11FourFaces,

    And I’d thought I have seen (read) it all…

  16. 16
    Trumper says:

    FourFaces – I’m not sure you can actually support your assertion that God must have a physical body/brain. Maybe in our limited understanding..it would be easy to claim such. you need to understand the miracle of the big bang…that point in time where time actually began….where ancient began to be marked in a sense that we can comprehend. What was before that is unknowable by you and I. Yes… the physical can and will age, does it therefore mean that the non-physical does not age. I like your comment about opposites… it sort of exposes a flaw in you assertion…. and I’ll just state it…if God is not physical then does not age..as opposed to your claim that God does / did age. Once one understands the difference between timeless and time bound one can appreciate the possibility.

  17. 17
    FourFaces says:

    @J-Mac:

    And I’d thought I have seen (read) it all…

    Not even close. There are secret things in the scriptures (especially the metaphorical parts) that will blow your mind when they are revealed.

    @Trumper:

    if God is not physical then does not age..as opposed to your claim that God does / did age. Once one understands the difference between timeless and time bound one can appreciate the possibility.

    Opposites are inseparable. It’s like male and female. Neither makes sense without the other. The physical can change and therefore age. The spiritual can neither change nor age. It just is. God, like us, is both physical and spiritual. He only created the physical. Our spirits are our own. Spirits cannot be created or destroyed.

    The spirit needs physical phenomena to be conscious of and act upon. As the Master said, a soul/spirit can only be known by its actions in the physical realm. Nobody can know the spirit, not even God. This is why we must all be tested.

    Again, one man’s opinion.

  18. 18
    J-Mac says:

    @FourFaces

    Have you ever considered changing into SecreteFaces?
    It would suit your fantasies well…

    Ciao!

  19. 19
    FourFaces says:

    J-Mac @18,

    Actually, FourFaces is an occult phrase. Another secret fantasy for you to ponder.

  20. 20
    Trumper says:

    FF @17 – Yep… I often argued with my family members about opposites. One can’t really comprehend ‘On’ without knowing ‘Off’.. same goes for True and False…and to most extents Light vs Dark. You can’t have and know just one… in this realm. So by that reasoning…. I just used your premise that God is physical and will age..with the opposite (something you claim that must be a certainty) then God therefore cannot age….an opposing position which you assert must be.

    “The spirit can neither change….” well that is clearly not supported by history… as there are several examples of ‘spirit’ changing. The fall of Lucifer being just one. … also the temptation of The Christ being another…. but understand…that change does not mean that aging happens. It just means change happened.

    I have to wonder why you use the wording “He”…. God is neither he/she nor anything that we can comprehend on the scale of this realms allowances. God Is..and through Gods graces we are.

  21. 21
    J-Mac says:

    @19

    Unlike you, I don’t live in the world of fantasy… I live in the world of realities and facts, as much as possible, but quantum mechanics keeps reminding me that it might not necessarily be so…

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