Late To The Party: Historical Adam

As you may be aware, a few weeks ago there was a great furore about the possibility that some evangelicals may have “come to their senses” on the subject of whether or not Adam and Eve actually existed. This was what, two, two and a half weeks ago now? The eternally late Institute for Creation Research now weighs in on the matter, in a DpSU called Christian Professor Claims Genetics Disproves Historical Adam. Let’s see where Mr Thomas goes with it:

National Public Radio recently interviewed Trinity Western University biologist Dennis Venema, who stated his belief that humans did not descend from Adam and Eve. Venema, an evangelical [who also happens to be an] evolutionist, claimed that genetics studies show “there is no way we can be traced back to a single couple.” Do the data really contradict the biblical account of human history?

It does, but let’s see where B.T. spins it.

“Given the genetic variation of people today, [Venema] says scientists can’t get that [starting] population size below 10,000 people at any time in our evolutionary history,” NPR reported. But this claim fails for three reasons. First, it relies on the presumption of “evolutionary history,” not scientific data.

Noo… It comes from the data.

Second, the idea that an initial group of 10,000 humans evolved from primates is mathematically impossible.

Mathematical proof! This I would like to see… I might add that that is not quite what is being claimed by Venema anyway.

Third, a descent from Adam and Eve actually does explain the patterns in modern human genetics.

Actually, you will soon see that it’s not that A & E explain it by themselves, it more that they can be made to fit with the observed reality. Maybe.

So Brian Thomas’ response to the claim that Adam and Eve are impossible is to first attack evolution, and then defend his position, almost as an afterthought. A useful thing to remember…

Venema assumed, as do all evolutionists, that humans evolved from primates.

It is ‘assumed’ because we have evidence for it. And, in fact, what humans actually are descended from has no relevance to whether or not it is possible for humans to be descended from a single couple.

Evolutionists have not even attempted to test modern scientific observations against realistic biblical parameters, and this makes little sense if someone wishes to claim that human genetics refutes the historical reality of Adam.

We have tested reality against the Bible, and it has been found wanting.

Shouldn’t such a person at least attempt to examine the genetic possibility of an Adamic ancestry before completely ruling it out?

In the circumstances, I think Venema has, which is why he is saying this.

Instead, evolutionists assume that all genetic differences between individuals resulted from mutations. For example, Venema said:

You would have to postulate that there’s been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.

But if Adam was created with DNA variations, then one would not have to postulate astronomical mutation rates. And could the mutations in Venema’s model actually have produced the DNA differences that are distributed among today’s people groups, even if millions of years were available?

‘Variations’ with who exactly? Eve? You can only have so much ‘variation’ in a given individual. Indeed, the only variation that Adam could have on his own is between his two copies of a given chromosome. That’s not enough, even if you include Eve’s two, to explain the variation within humanity.

It is possible that Brian Thomas is talking about variation from apes (ie that Adam wasn’t a primate, so his descendants didn’t have to evolve from that point in just a few thousand years) but I can assure you: Nobody else is. What we’re talking about is how individuals vary from each other genetically within the human species, especially if they are from different parts of the world and different races. There is a huge degree of variation in humans – different eye colour, hair colour, height etc – and, interestingly enough, much of it is in Africa. According to the evilutionary founder effect, we would expect if a species such as humans began in Africa, and some of them migrated out, we would see the group that is out of Africa having only a small subset of the total variation. This is what we observe, so this and other evidence tells us that humans must have evolved in Africa. Creationists, however, maintain that humans radiated from the middle east, which is not what we observe.

About 700 million information-packed DNA differences exist—including genetic and genomic differences—between humans and chimpanzees. Each of these changes would need to become “fixed” into the whole population of primates in order to transform them into humans.

But we’re not talking about chimpanzees. We’re talking about the differences within humankind. I cannot stress this enough.

And I would call the ‘700 million’ suspect, in the circumstances. The paper that he cites as a basis for his calculation is talking about the percentage (around a quarter) of genes that come ‘directly’ from chimps, or at least our common ancestor with them. Mr Thomas then uses this number to calculate a quarter of the individual bases. I should not have to point out how that is bad logic, and maths. And where does the ‘information-packed’ come from? Who knows…

But even if a single human-like mutation fortuitously occurred in both members of a reproducing pair, it would have virtually no chance of spreading to all 10,000 “emerging” humans. Instead, through interbreeding with non-mutants, the mutation would diffuse and disappear after only a few generations.

The first part (that the mutation would have to happen in “both members of a reproducing pair”) is remarkably similar to the following from Andrew Schlafly, nut:

Male and female versions of species must evolve separately, yet at the same time, and in a complementary manner. It’s like lightening [sic] striking twice at the same place, at the same time of day, etc. Doesn’t happen, and certainly not repeatedly so (for many species).

Oh, the stupidity…

As for the second part, I direct you to the Red Lynx simulator on The Panda’s Thumb.

Give it a set-up where we have a straight race between Alleles A and a. At the start, a is at 100% of the population. There is a one-in-a-million chance that we will get a mutation from a to A, and an equal chance of it going the other way. We have a constant population of 10000 individuals, the two alleles have no dominance over each other, and there is a reasonably, but not overly high selection pressure in favour of A rather than a. There is no migration of individuals. We run the simulation for 5000 generations, and we get the following result after repeating it 20 times:

Lynx ResultsIn short, this kind of thing is doable. It wont always work, but the chances against it are not exactly astronomical. And where one gene fails, another may succeed.

So evolution is saved – let’s get back to the subject at hand. There is another paragraph of this “I don’t know anything about natural selection” nonsense, but I’ll skip it for sanity’s sake.

Biblical parameters can actually explain human genetics. To see how, some basic background is helpful.

Right.

All people are 99 percent genetically similar. Only a small part of the one percent difference is comprised of DNA sequences that can distinguish between individuals. Most of that one percent is shared within several large people groups.
For example, any Vietnamese is 99 percent genetically identical to any Ethiopian. Of the one percent DNA sequence difference between the two, the large majority is shared by all within their ethnic group, whether Vietnamese or Ethiopian. A small minority of that one percent is unique to each individual person.

A reasonable explanation. What’s the point?

That one percent DNA difference is easily explained by originally created “alleles,” or genetic differences between two original sets of chromosomes, in Adam. Mutations in subsequent generations have added to those original differences. Biologist Robert Carter generated distributions of human DNA differences using Bible-based assumptions: Adam and Eve had many (~10 million) alleles, mutations have been accumulating for 6,000 years, and humanity experienced rapid population growth after Adam, after the Flood, and in various places after the dispersion from Babel.

Remarkably, the distribution of DNA differences resulting from these parameters very closely matches what has been measured across modern peoples.

The Robert Carter thing is quite interesting. The ‘matching’ comes, of course, because Dr Carter (a marine biologist) is aiming at the observed reality – he does something, and, if that doesn’t quite work, he does something else (or actually the same thing in this case – adds another bottleneck in the population). He treats the ‘out-of-Africa’ theory as if it was some kind of post-hoc rationalisation of the observed reality. Interestingly, has has Eve as a clone of Adam, for no particular reason. He can’t explain why there is more variation among people inside Africa than out. He is working solely with situations where there are only two versions of the gene. I’m thinking that he can’t explain the study I discussed in Homo (sapiens?) neanderthalensis, where it was found that all non-Africans shared genetic material with Neanderthals, but Africans didn’t, in contradiction with the second part of this quote which is quoted in the article: “Most genetic variation comes in two versions and these versions are found distributed throughout the world’s population,” ie that every place has representatives of most alleles. Most, yes, but by no means all.

Where does this leave us? Evolution still works, despite repeated digs by both Brian Thomas and Dr Carter in their respective articles. The events in the Bible can be made to vaguely correlate with reality in some regards, but it’s hardly a great match. The mathmatical proof that “the idea that an initial group of 10,000 humans evolved from primates is…impossible” never eventuated. I’ll watch out for any follow-up from people who, you know, actually went to university (I’ve been to one, once or twice). This could be interesting…

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