RE: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Tue Mar 13 2007 - 22:00:58 EDT

This is for David O., Ted Davis, Bill Hamilton, Brent Foster, George M.,
Merv and Jack Haas

First off, a mea culpa, I wrote that with the Noahic 5 there would be at
most 5 alleles, that is not true, it would be 10. I am surprised no one
called me on it and am glad I caught it myself before you all did.

David O. asks about my statement that we can't be younger than the oldest
genetic system in our bodies:

> Why? It seems to me that you're engaging in some kind of
> genetic determinism here. Obviously, if humans are the
> product of evolution, we will carry many genes that are far,
> far older than whatever it is that essentially makes us
> human. You might as well say Adam was a single-celled bacterium.

What you miss is that you can't take one gene, and tell how old it is. You
can only tell how old a gene is by looking at how many mutational lineages
there are and how many mutations have taken place. While it is true that
every single one of our genes has a history back to the slime, that isn't
how dating a gene takes place, and unfortunately,you didn't understand what
I explained in my reply to Randy. And there is no easy way to explain this
to you. If you copy a book, there will be copyist errors, and if you can
somehow know how often a copy error happens, you can count the errors and
date the original manuscript. This is what dates the age of a gene. This is
the date where the lineages OF THIS PARTICULAR GENE diverged from each
other. It is called coalescence time. That gene, which diverged is very much
older than the divergence time, but there is no way to date it except by
comparing it with the coalesced gene from other species. Then you get the
date at which the species probably diverged.

Hope this stays formated It should look like a Y only upside down

........| slime
........| divergence time (coalescence time for a particular human gene)

Where A and B are modern human people. The coalescence time is the time
that it would take for the mutational differences seen in the same gene in
persons A and B to arise. Since both A and B are modern human, presumably
they are related by common descent.

Now, Genes arise in people occasionally and those genes, will have a younger
coalescence time than the real age of humanity. So, lots of genes can have
lesser ages than the age of humanity, but only a few will show the real age
and they will be the genes with the oldest coalescence time.

I hope this helps.

> I'd suggest that it's a mistake to think of our common
> ancestry from Adam & Eve (or the Noahic survivors) in genetic
> terms. Biblical lineages know nothing of genetics. It's too
> easy for us to foget that just a little more than 50 years
> ago, genetics was still a black box.

One doesn't have to know genetics to know a father son relationship. So, I
am not sure what is meant by this.

> Using a non-genetic geneological model, the MCRA of everyone
> living today probably lived only several thousands of years
> ago. (Wiki:
> )

It is MCRA not MCRA.

> We cannot all trace our genes back to Adam or Noah, but we
> could very plausibly all be able to trace our geneologies
> back to them. And geneologies are what matters in scripture,
> not genetics. (This of course is assuming we need to think
> of these figures as historical individuals (which I believe
> is most consistent heremeutically but I wouldn't stake my
> life on it))

In case you haven't noticed, genetics follow genealogy. How on earth can I
say that I am not genetically at least 50% of my father?
> The real problem with the MHC (as I understand it primarily
> from one of the essays in "Perspectives on an Evolving
> Creation") is not how ancient the oldest lineage is
> (undoubtedly it's ancient), but the diversity of alleles in
> the human population as compared to other animal populations.
> Human MHC diversity suggests that there could not have been
> a population of only a few human individuals any time in the
> recent past.

Here is how bad it is:

"If we assume a mean population size of 10^5 individuals and a long-term
generation time of 15 years, the expected coalescence for neutral alleles is
6 Myr, which is much less than the 30 Myr coalescence of the DRB1 alleles.
Although the coalescence estimate has a large variance, it seems that either
our ancestral population was even larger than 10^5 or, as assumed,
balancing selection accounts for the long term persistence of the MHC
polymorphisms. The presence of balancing selection is supported by the
analysis of the DNA sequences of HLA alleles. In codons specifying amino
acids of the PBR, variation at the first and second positions is
significantly higher than at the third position, and this observation is
taken as evidence that positive selection acts on the first two positions.
Moreover, Hill et al. have shown that MHC polymorphism may increase
resistance to Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for malignant
malaria." "Estimates of the magnitude of the selection coefficient, s, that
maintains the MHC polymorphisms vary from locus to locus, but range from
0.0007 to 0.019. It seems unlikely that the selection coefficients do not
allow for the long-term persistence of polymorphisms except in the presence
of large populations. For example, only 7 alleles can be maintained in a
population of N=1000, even with overdominant selection as unreasonably large
as 0.3." ~ Francisco J. Ayala, Ananias Escalante, Colm O'hUigin and Jan
Klein, "Molecular Genetics of Speciation and Human Origins," Proc. Natl.
Acad. Sci, USA, 91:pp6787-6794, July 1994, p. 6790.

As I said, we have 100 different alleles, but if there was only 1000 people,
then statistical modeling says that the population would only maintain 7
alleles. So, the conclusion is correct. There was no population bottleneck,
like it or not--at least not recently.

  However, this depends on probability
> assumptions about mutation rates and molecular clocks that
> are controversial and that may not hold for the human MHC.

This is what makes us Christians look silly. We do all sorts of ad hoc
squirming to avoid the conclusions we don't like. That is why I think ID and
TE's who believe that humanity is only 100 kyr old are making us look

> Or, it may indeed mean that our concept of humans created
> with the imago Dei needs to handle the fact that we humans
> interbred at different times with non-human hominids (and
> also that some such non-human hominids may have survived the
> flood) -- difficult considerations, but it seems to me not
> imposible ones, paricularly if we drop the eisegetical notion
> that Biblical anthropology and Biblical geneology have
> anything to do with genetics.

One solution to the MHC problem, if all else fails is to have interbreeding
with the nephilim--a nonhuman lineage which gave us back diversity in that
system. But no one likes that idea, however, there actually is evidence
early in the human lineage from genetics, that humans and the chimp lineage
interbred for up to a million and a half years after the initial split.

In another note David O wrote:

>Or maybe the presence of some characteristics that we recognize as
>"human" don't define what it means to be a human
>being made in the image of God. Maybe the entire enterprise of defining
the image of God in terms of such
>characteristics is misplaced. It seems clear from scripture that there are
other personal beings -- angels and demons --
>that share some characteristics with humans ( e.g., an ability to reason
and communicate, a moral sense, an ability to
>relate with each other, with human beings, and with God, and even to appear
in human-like form) but that are not
>"human." Calling angels not "human" doesn't suggest any denigration of
those beings -- indeed, Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2
>suggest the opposite. Why is it impossible to imagine a race or races of
beings -- Neanderthals, early homo sapiens,
>whatever -- that share many relational and spiritual characteristics with
us humans but that are not human?

Interesting idea but then we have to decide who gets to decide who is and
isn't human and upon what standard. America tried that with the Jim Crow
laws and it didn't work out very well. Those we in the South had designated
to play the role of a lesser form of human tended to object to the role and
the treatment.

If there is no criteria for determining humanity, then maybe we are nothing
more than animals, but without a criteria, all we are left with is personal
belief and that is no way to run a railroad. I see more yec-like squirming
here to avoid the conclusion you don't want to reach--and this is what the
problem is. If we Christians have to constantly act like lawyers (oops, I
think you are one), and finagle things to avoid the impact of observational
data, then we are not able to incorporate that data into our apologetical
system. But everyone else sees what we are doing, with the aerial mental
acrobatics with a bit of contortionism thrown in. If that is what your view
forces you to become, I feel sorry for you.
Ted Davis wrote:

> You used to be a "creationist" in the sense I am talking about. You
> are using the term more broadly, in the sense that includes me as a
> creationist. If you are a Christian scientist, and you aren't a YEC,
> it's likely that you don't want your colleagues thinking of you as a
> YEC--you don't believe all that bad science, you don't hold those
> attitudes about evolution as the root of all evil, etc. In my
> experience, Christian scientists are more than willing to be
> known for their faith in Christ as the Word made flesh, but
> are less than willing to be tarred with the wrong brush. Who
> can blame them? I'm not about to defend beliefs I don't
> hold, and I doubt you are also.

I knew precisely that you were using the creationist term differently than
I. I get tired of ceding the term to the congentially stupid! My point is
that when we refuse to use the term, we are in effect, denying, at least
implicitly, that we believe God created the world. I do believe that and am
proud to say so. We TE's are afraid of using the term and perhaps
rightfully so, but, by doing so, what word would you suggest to replace the
concept of God creating the world which doesn't use the word 'creationist'?
If you can't think of another term for beliving that God created the world,
then I suggest we take the word back from the YECs.
Bill Hamilton wrote:

> Hi Glenn. What is yyour reasoning that leads you to say that the
> population bottleneck at the flood limited the human gene pool to 5
> haplotypes? I can see deleting Noah and his wife, since there is
> nothing in Scripture about them having more children. But Noah's 3
> sons and their wives amount to 6 haplotypes, right?

As I said above, I screwed the five up. It is 10. There are two for each
unrelated person. Noah, wife, Japheth-wife, Shem-wife, Ham-wife. This is
the absolute max number of alleles or haplotypes (in this circumstance, a
haplotype is an allele that hasn't varied much from the original gene and
which can be traced back via coalescence to an original gene).

> BTW, I will support you (and to some extent participate) in debates
> with atheists. Since I'm not strong on philosophy (most engineers
> aren't) I intend to pray a lot for you.

The interesting thing to me, is that last month, I passed this idea by some
atheists, who don't like YEC and want it ended. They seemed to like my idea
of fighting atheism more than this crew here does to draw the YECs to us and
make them listen to us. As it is, they don't think we stand with them
against secularism, and given Collins' quote, I agree.


Brent Foster wrote:

But I
> think the image of God is *entirely* non-physical. In other
> words I don't think it's possible to say anything at all
> about when the image of God was imparted based on physical
> evidence. Of course it seems that God's image bearer would
> need a brain capable of thought. But other than that
> restriction, God could have put his image into a snail.

I agree whole heartedly that looks don't determine who has the image of God.
3 popes had to decree that those very different looking Native Americans
were, in fact, really sons of Adam and thus were Human. Most spaniards
thought of them as beasts, and then treated them that way by enslaving them.
If the image of God makes no difference to behavior, we might as well say we
humans all have a fighernacht. You have a fighernacht and so do I. How do
we know? I just told you that it was so. In other words claiming that we
can't have any clue about the image of god, makes the image of god
meaningless gibberish along the lines of a fighernacht, which I just made

You might want to add to your list of things needed, the ability to plan
ahead. See

If man can not plan ahead for consequences of actions, then he can not
understand moral commands given by God. There are tests for an ability to
plan ahead in the anthropological record which I discuss in this oldie but
goodie. But, since most people here don't want humanity to be as old as the
data for planning ahead, they ignore this as well.

George M. wrote:

> I'm not a geneticist &/or anthropologist & am not going to
> debate those
> matters here but will point out that it's hardly just people
> like Ross or
> Rana with theological axes to grind who want the origin of
> humans to be on
> the order of 100kyr. Just recently I heard a talk by Spencer
> Wells of the
> National Geographic (author of _The Journey of Man: A
> Genetic Odyssey_ -
> also a TV documentary by this title) who dates the African origin of
> humanity to 60,000 B.P. I couldn't discern any religious ax
> being ground.

I don't buy your assertion that you aren't debating this. You are debating
it by merely mentioning Spencer but then try to disavow responsibility by
stating that you are not a geneticisst or anthropologist. But if this later
statement is true, then you, by admission, would have no basis upon which to
judge the validity or lack thereof of Wells work.

IF, and that is a very big IF, Wells claims that humanity is only 60,000
years old, then Wells, anthropologically speaking would be at odds with most
anthropologists. His work uses ONLY the non-recombining part of the Y

But one must ask, does the Y chromosome tell us the history of humanity, or
the history of some Prehistoric Ghengis Khan? It is well known that the
most prolific person of historical renown is Ghengis Khan. See

Give his 16 million descendants more time, and they will probably provide
some future misunderstanding of a Future Spencer Wells the opportunity to
claim that all humanity originated in 1300 AD. On a page discussing Ghengis
Khan's prolificness, I found the following:

Spencer Wells
"By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, geneticist
Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a
single man who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago. His research was
showcased in the television documentary Journey of Man, which aired recently
in the United States on PBS and throughout the rest of the world on the
National Geographic Channel. Spencer Wells' research is funded in part by
the National Geographic Society. "

I am going to put the next sentence in capitals because it is very very
important and if you don't understand this, you will make further erroneous
claims that Wells says that Humanity is 60 kyr old. BEING DESCENDED FROM ONE
IMPREGNATED. The children of this hyper-prolific man(SUPERMAN???) would
have interbred with other lineages leaving their non superman genes in the
descendants of the hyper-prolific man So, those 'hybrid' grand-kids of
this superman have one-quarter of their genes from the superman and 3/4 from
other lineages. But, the men will all have the same Y chromosome (along
with a few mutations). So, it is quite possible to have eventually every
man's y-chromosome descended from Superman but have very little of the rest
of his genes. Indeed, they wouldn't, they couldn't. The genes from these
other lineages would come from more ancient humans, and thus, this does not
show that humanity is only 60 kyr ago.So, Spencer isn't saying what you
erroneously think he is saying. But then, you did say you weren't a
geneticist or anthropologist. You do however, come close to demonstrating
how ID and TE folks say silly things about science thus making Christians
look dumb.

I see little difference between what you have done here, say things about an
area you admit to not having studied, and a YEC who says stupid things about
geology, which is an area he hasn't studied. And you make snide comments
about my views but don't have any better understanding of genetics than
this. No wonder my arguments have so little force with you. But the, my
geology arguments make no dent in YECs either.

Of some interest in enlightening those who don't' think much about genetics:

There are other oddities about genetics. It is quite possible to be
descended from someone but not be related to them. There are only 46
chromosomes in a human. So there are some of your
great-great-great-great-grandparents from whom you did not receive a single
chromosome from. There are, in fact, 18 of your 64
great-great-great-great-grandparents to whom, you are not even related, but
you are descended from them. However, one thing is certain, you have your
father's fathers' fathers' father's father's father's y-chromosome
(assuming, of course that ones mother didn't wear the pants in the family--a
bad joke).
Merv wrote:
> What I do appreciate about Glenn's challenge, though, is
>the stinging truth about our tendency to stay in our safe zones with
>others who already think like we do (though fellowship does provide
>necessary respite and refueling). But it does remind me of the crass
>example told of Mennonites (and probably of others as well): [ASAers]
>are a lot like manure. They all stink while they're in a pile. To do
>any good you have to spread'em around.

Very well said. And as an oilman who doesn't live in a world of dainty
language, I can appreciate the analogy.
Jack Haas wrote:

>I have been reluctant to accept Glenn's idea for two reasons, the first
>being that the indicators of the bible are clear I think, that Adam was
>Neolithic, and secondly because he has not convinced me that ancient
>evidence for burial, etc is the same as being made in God's image.

Sigh, No matter how much I post here, you all have this forgetfulness that
is incredible. I am so frustrated that no matter what I post, you all don't
read it, you don't understand it, you don't remember it. AAAARGHHH. Maybe
I am the insane one who speaks merely to myself.

I really want to cry at his, Jack. Last fall I wrote this article here for
the ASA and posted it Oct 22, 2006

It discusses what I believe is the amazing mis-reading of Tubalcain and the
'neolithic' artifacts. Of course, everyone has forgotten today because
everyone is convinced that I am not worth paying attention to. And I will
dutifully post this here and you will forget it again. Nothing seems to get
through to you all. Your note so depresses me that I wonder why the hell to
continue with this. All efforts are useless because no one WANT the Bible to
be historically true. Someone, I think Brent, asked how far people would
allow non-historicity to go before they decided Christiantiy wasn't real. I
said, quite far. I believe that. We would rather ignore data after data
after observational data rather than change our views. Thus, no one actually
listens to important things being said My life will be an utter failure
because no one pays any attention to what I write--the answer is in that
note, Jack. The Bible is not describing the Neolithic. Iron and Brass is a
euphemism for rebelliousness!

Life is short, all too short, and one would hope that someone would pay
attention before it is over. Unfortunately, in 6 months, we will be
repeating what we have said here because all will have forgotten that post
on why the Bible doesn't require Adam to be Neolithic--a very very important
piece of work from my viewpoint. I also put this in Pathway Paper #5

I must go now and cry.

They're Here: The Pathway Papers
Foundation, Fall, and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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Received on Tue Mar 13 22:01:42 2007

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