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Theistic evolution, Adam and Eve: Adam and Eve are still just barely visible behind that bush, like always

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Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science by [McKnight, Scot, Venema, Dennis R.] At Evolution News & Science Today, various reflections are offered on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Adam and the Genome:

Genomic science indicates that humans descend not from an individual pair but from a large population. What does this mean for the basic claim of many Christians: that humans descend from Adam and Eve?

Leading evangelical geneticist Dennis Venema and popular New Testament scholar Scot McKnight combine their expertise to offer informed guidance and answers to questions pertaining to evolution, genomic science, and the historical Adam. (jacket copy)

From ENST:

Much of Dennis Venema’s Adam and the Genome Isn’t About Adam and the Genome:

While Discovery Institute takes no view on Adam and Eve, the book does offer an opportunity to weigh a variety of arguments made by theistic evolutionists, of whom Dr. Venema is a leading representative. In fact, despite its title, one of the first things that jumps out at you about this slim volume is that much of it has little to do with the first couple in the Bible.

True, some of the issues Venema raises bear on whether humanity shares a common ancestry with apes, and yes, one or two scientific arguments he makes are relevant to whether humans arose from an initial couple. However, Venema seems much more interested in pursuing longstanding debates with intelligent design and with certain ID proponents.

So, essentially, Adam and Eve are still just barely visible behind that bush, like always.

Adam and the Genome and Whale Fossils:

Trinity Western University biologist and BioLogos author Dennis Venema could have selected a more accurately descriptive title for his recent book, Adam and the Genome. Much of the book is not about Adam and Eve. For example, whale evolution would not seem to bear very directly on questions of human origins. Venema cites various fossils that he thinks indicate that whales (cetaceans) evolved from land-mammals. Specifically, Venema endorses “the hypothesis that modern cetacean lineage passes through something Indohyus-like, to something Pakicetid-like, and so on through Ambulocetid- and Basilosaurid-like forms.” (p. 17) Venema even states, “Cetaceans are now something of a poster child for evolution, and for good reason.” (p. 15) Let’s consider the claim.

So even advocates of the whale-evolution sequence admit that it occurred “rapidly” and “abruptly.” In Zombie Science, Wells reviews many complex adaptations that would need to arise to convert a land mammal to a fully aquatic whale.

Wait a minute. Wasn’t there a whale in the Bible? The one that swallowed Jonah, who was trying to escape his mission to Nineveh, to warn the people of impending judgment on their violent wickedness? The way they told it in Sunday school, the whale/great fish coughs up Jonah on the shore and he delivers the message. And, guess what, the evil Ninevites repent.

Jonah is as mad as stink that all those people are not getting the punishment they richly deserve, in his view. His own life is so rotten that even his shade tree dies. Then we read,

“And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” More.

Okay, but this is Sunday, so a little religion news is okay.


Adam and the Genome and Human-Ape Genetic Similarity:

But what if Venema is putting thoughts into God’s head that aren’t there? What if God could have entirely different purposes for designing two species as similar — purposes that have nothing to do with trying to communicate some message to humans about relatedness or unrelatedness?

The reality is that this is not a theological question. There are good logical reasons why different species may have similar genetic sequences: namely, functional requirements. Those requirements have nothing to do with common ancestry. Engineers know from much experience that there are good ways to design things and bad ways. If you want your design to work a certain way, and you find a good blueprint that accomplishes what you seek, then it’s a good design principle to use that blueprint over and over again. That could easily explain why we see similarities in different species — common design to meet functional requirements.

Even Francis Collins acknowledges the merits of this argument, …

Here’s the series, to date.

Adam and the Genome:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

See also: Are Adam and Eve genetically possible? The latest: Richard Buggs (yes) replies to Dennis Venema (no)

8 Replies to “Theistic evolution, Adam and Eve: Adam and Eve are still just barely visible behind that bush, like always

  1. 1
    tribune7 says:

    Wasn’t there a whale in the Bible?

    Well no. Whales aren’t fishes, great or otherwise.

    I’m not trying to be pedantic but it is an important distinction given the subject.

  2. 2
    Fnarb says:

    First, 1 tribune7’s comment assumes that the ancient Hebrew language categorized whales and fishes the way modern zoology does: questionable. Secondly, regarding ADAM AND THE GENOME: to impeach a thesis, one must first see its implications. Current diversity makes a single original pair impossible? NONSENSE. For example: God could have created Adam and Eve with 4 highly viable alleles at every non-holandric gene locus between the two of them, 2 in Adam, and 2 in Eve, and He could further have designed each of those 4 alleles to have variants, easily reached by mutations, which were likewise strongly viable. Thus, considering that current levels of homozygosity are around 70%, God could pack more potential variability into Adam and Eve than is currently found in the entire human race after a few thousand years, since genetic recombination under low selection pressure approximates a random walk, but with absorbing barriers, leading to gradually increasing homozygosity and elimination of alternative alleles. I have assumed two special acts of creation by an omniscient and omnipotent God, a thesis which Venema and McKnight seek to impeach, but their supposed impeachment is spurious, because they never consider what its real consequences might be.

  3. 3
    harry says:

    Genomic science indicates that humans descend not from an individual pair but from a large population.

    Then the Scriptural Adam and Eve were the first parents of that large population, or of an even earlier population of which that population were descendants.

    ‘Y-chromosome Adam’ may be the earliest male ancestor of humanity currently ascertainable by “genomic science,” and ‘Mitochondrial Eve’ the earliest female ancestor, but those two aren’t the Scriptural Adam and Eve if they aren’t the first parents of all humanity; they are then merely descendants of the Scriptural Adam and Eve.

  4. 4
    tribune7 says:

    –tribune7’s comment assumes that the ancient Hebrew language categorized whales and fishes the way modern zoology does:–

    No, Tribune7 observes that modern English does and that’s the ground rule that is being followed. He does assume that the English is an honest and accurate translation of the Hebrew, he will grant.

    His point is that if one is going to use a Biblical reference to dispute a point regarding evolutionary theory, the reference should at least be accurate.

  5. 5
    vmahuna says:

    I remain confused about how ANY new species on Earth goes from zero individuals to the several thousand allegedly needed just to start.

    I mean, did the gorillas and aardvarks just wake up one morning and notice that 4,000 FULLY GROWN ADULT homo sapiens were setting up a village out in the savannah? And they had of course evolved overnight due some confluence of thin air?

    And if this is true for humans, then surely EVERY other species MUST ALSO have simply appeared POOF! as vast herds and swarms and schools of fish. And what about whales? Did they start as a single pair?

    There are creation myths in every nation and tribe around the world. The Hebrew bible is just one version. But ALL human religions say that the first humans (however many varies) were “created” by God (or the gods), and that the creator(s) then stuck around long enough to get all those baby humans started on the road to dominating Earth. And exactly what did 4,000 newborn baby humans EAT? And who exactly KEPT feeding them and rocking them to sleep for the next 5 or 10 years?

    Watch “The Blue Lagoon”. It’s a training film for isolated, immature humans who suddenly become parents.

  6. 6
    mullers_ratchet says:

    I remain confused about how ANY new species on Earth goes from zero individuals to the several thousand allegedly needed just to start.

    I’m not sure if you are being serious, but just in case…

    Species don’t “go from zero individuals” when they arise. New species form when populations branch from each other. There is no requirement that only a small number of individuals found a new species (or indeed, any suggestion that the individuals present at a given split that will go on to form “Species A” are any different that the individuals that will form “Species B”.)

  7. 7
    ET says:

    Genomic science indicates that humans descend not from an individual pair but from a large population.

    Genomic science uses the useless assumption of evolution by means of blind and mindless processes. It has nothing to say about evolution by design. Therefore it is useless when trying to determine anything about Adam and Eve.

  8. 8
    Cosmo says:

    The discoveries being made in human genetics could fairly be said to falsify even some OEC models of not only Adam and Eve, but the Flood Account. Apparently, the human race was not restricted to a single Y-chromosome in the last 50K years or so.

    BUT the Christ-centered model for early Genesis is not affected by these discoveries. When I describe the model some of you are going to think that there are some scriptures which rule it out, but they are addressed. A lot of them don’t mean what we think they do and that is shown.

    That model has humanity (Adam the race) created in the distant past while the Man Adam was formed as the first step in God’s plan to redeem that race sometime later (13.5 KY ago is suggested by the “long” way to read the genealogies without time gaps as well as this being just before the acceleration of human civilization).

    Thus the human race did not all come strictly from a single couple, the single couple were meant to initiate God’s plan to take that race to accountability and redemption. So the reason some passages in early Genesis read like there were already other people around is because there were already other people around!

    In the same way, the Flood account is not about drowning every person in mankind (a’dam) but rather the line of the a’dam, Adam meant to bear the Messiah. They had gone corrupt and disrespectful of God and were ruining the earth instead of improving it. God realizes that the end of the line of Messiah would be the end of His plan to redeem the earth and THAT was some of what was meant when God laments that the entire world would go to ruin- it would never be redeemed.

    Here is a video which addresses this part of the model and the account in Gen. 6-7.

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