Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Fri Mar 16 2007 - 21:32:34 EDT

Your speculation about inter-species breeding seems to be strengthened
by this article appearing yesterday:
Interspecies Sex: Evolution's Hidden Secret?

David Opderbeck wrote:

> I think what you are suggesting is that even if the entire human
> genome can't be linked to two individuals 6000 years ago,
> maybe our genetic history includes Adam and Eve's contributions as
> well as other contemporary and prior hominid/human ancestry.
> What I'm saying is something a bit different. I'm suggesting that the
> entire focus on genetics is misplaced. The geneological studies I
> mentioned don't have anything to do with genetics. They are
> mathematical models of the ancestry of individuals. There is a
> difference between the ancestry of genes and the ancestry of
> individuals. So, in order to be able to trace your geneology back to
> Adam and Eve, you would not have to prove that you have inherited any
> genes from them. (There is in fact no way of actually proving such a
> geneology, but the mathematical models that have been published
> suggest that an MRCA for everyone living today probably lived only a
> few thousand years ago). In a similar vein, although the Bible
> portrays Abraham as the father of the Jewish people, certainly not all
> Jewish people living today carry any of Abraham's genes. (For more on
> the MRCA geneological models, see here:
> As I understand it, it's mathematically certain that you can trace
> your geneology to some people who were living five or so generations
> ago and from whom you have not inherited any genes. If you were to
> draw a family tree of who begat whom begat whom in the history of your
> family, that would not mean that you have inherited genes from every
> name on the tree. Thus, to say that someone is geneologically your
> ancestor is not the same thing as saying you inherited that person's
> genes. This is one reason there are political disputes sometimes
> about genetic testing for ancestry -- for example, testing to
> determine someone is an indigenous person for the purpose of obtaining
> benefits under affirmative action laws. (This is my understanding,
> and I would appreciate if anyone more knowledgeable about genetics
> than I could confirm if I'm right or correct if I'm wrong).
> This seems to me at least one possible approach to the problem of the
> "unity" of the human race. It is not so much a genetic unity, in
> which some aspect of human genetic divergence must coalesce when Adam
> & Eve were alive, as it is a geneological and spiritual unity, in
> which everyone's family tree would include Adam & Eve up in the
> branches and everyone is spiritually descended from Adam both in
> receiving the image of God (which is at least in part ineffable) and
> in inheriting the sin nature (which also is at least in part ineffable).
> You ask good questions about where the "other" contributions to the
> human genetic code would come from. The view I'm floating here would
> indeed involve some sort of at least limited interbreeding
> between prehistoric humans and other contemporary hominids. This
> would also mean that I, like Glenn, wouldn't think it's absolutely
> necessary to situate Adam in the neolithic. (That's another
> discussion, but I think some fair reference to accomodation can help
> explain the anachronisms in the Genesis narratives of Adam and his
> immediate successors). The interbreeding thing sounds weird, but it's
> a possibility anthropologists have acknowledged for a long time. It
> would also mean that the "image of God" would have to be a bit of a
> fuzzy concept, and we would not be able to answer many questions about
> the spiritual status, of, say, the immediate precursors from which
> Adam arose. But again, I don't see that as a huge problem -- we don't
> know much about the spiritual status of other created sentient beings,
> particularly angels, but that doesn't trouble us much.
> I don't think, however, that it would raise the sort of problems that
> troubled folks like B.B. Warfield concerning the theological
> importance of the unity of the human race. If you read Warfield's
> famous essay on this, you'll see that his concern is with racist
> heresies that resulted from the belief that some surviving race of
> humans was not made in God's image (these sorts of heresies informed
> Southern slavery in the antebellum U.S.). That is not a concern
> because all of those archaic hominids became extinct long ago, and the
> remarkable homogeneity of the human genome compared to other animals
> shows that, if there was any interbreeding with those archaic hominds,
> the genetic traces of that inbreeding do not produce any variations in
> contemporary humans that would distinguish one "race" from another.
> All mainstream geneticists agree (at least I think they do) that
> humanity as it exists today is one "race" despite the fact that there
> was always an effective population size of more than two individuals
> from which the current human stock arose.
> On 3/16/07, Jon Tandy <
> <>> wrote:
> >
> >
> > David,
> >
> > I made (I think) a related question and suggestion about year ago
> and didn't get a direct response, although I suspect what the answer
> might be.
> >
> > In direct response to your question, how could all living humans be
> geneologically related to a relatively recent Adam and Eve? This
> would require that we be genetically linked to those two individuals,
> at some (for sake of argument) 4000 B.C. time frame. I think what you
> are suggesting is that even if the entire human genome can't be linked
> to two individuals 6000 years ago, maybe our genetic history includes
> Adam and Eve's contributions as well as other contemporary and prior
> hominid/human ancestry.
> >
> > How would that happen? What would that look like? Obviously it
> would entail relations between the Adamites and the others. Possibly
> the wives of Cain and Seth, which have long been speculated on. It
> looks to me entirely possible. However, what happened to the rest?
> If those who are NOT genealogically related to Adam and Eve aren't
> alive any more, what happened to them? Maybe the "chosen people" and
> their sinful descendents essentially wiped them out through conquest,
> slavery, rape, and generally submerging their primitive culture under
> waves of new dominion. Some of the activities listed in the previous
> sentence would lead to further merging of the non-Adamic human genes
> into the resulting dominant Adamic cultures. Maybe the God-given
> ability to "have dominion" over the earth, under sinful influence, led
> to the Nimrod-style propagation of nation-states, warfare, conquest,
> slavery, etc. It is only essentially in Biblical times, literally,
> that "culture" and large scale civilization has arisen (Egypt,
> Babylon, China, etc.), as I understand it.
> >
> > Theologically speaking, this idea is much more satisfying to me than
> Dick's suggestion that we might be living side by side with non-Adamic
> peoples, who are not literally under Adam's curse. While I recognize
> that some of you have suggested solutions for this problem, I don't
> find them completely satisfying.
> >
> > Not being a geneticist, however, I can't evaulate the above
> proposition. If all living humans could trace their ancestry to two
> individuals, even if there had been previous genetic contributions, I
> don't understand how that wouldn't be genetically detectable, on the
> order of a "mitochondrial Eve". Maybe this is what you're talking
> about in reference to "monogenism" (which I don't understand). Maybe
> this is akin to what Glenn was referring to as the "lucky guy" --
> could Adam have been the lucky guy who has ended up with his
> chromosomes most widespread?
> >
> > Are scientists who say that all humans trace back to a small group
> of hominids in the roughly 5-7 mya Africa referring to a scientific
> monogenism (as opposed to the Biblical monogenism), in other words
> that genetically all humans genetically trace back to a single point?
> Is this as opposed to your suggestion of the genealogical origin,
> assuming that all other branches of the human genome have died off for
> various reasons?
> >
> > And here's another question -- putting aside certain theological
> questions for now, what if Eve was actually an existing (obviously
> non-Adamic, genetically) wife of Adam, who carried the mitochondrial
> lineage from 200ky in Africa? How would we be able to tell the
> difference today, genetically? I would think there should be evidence
> of a population bottleneck in 4000 B.C., if all living humans had to
> go back through a single woman.
> >
> > I would appreciate anyone who can give a knowledgeable response to
> this suggestion.
> >
> > Got to stop -- over my post limit, and need to get back to work.
> >
> > Jon Tandy
> >
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: <>
> [mailto:
> <>] On Behalf Of David Opderbeck
> > Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 11:29 AM
> > To: Glenn Morton
> > Cc: <>
> > Subject: Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists
> >
> >
> > Glenn, you always do a wonderful job of demanding specifics -- you
> should have been a lawyer, you would've been a fantastic cross-examiner!
> >
> > But, I've yet to see you provide specifics to a set of questions
> various people have asked you: if we accept the evidence that some
> language, some culture, and even some religion and altruism, were
> present in various hominid lineages long before homo sapiens sapiens,
> why are those things necessarily evidence of the image of God? What
> empirical observation establishes these things as the image of God?
> What Biblical passage? Even if all these characteristics are aspects
> of the image of God, why are hints and precursors of those
> characteristics in earlier hominids -- or in contemporary primates,
> for that matter -- themselves the image of God? (I say "hints and
> precursors" because my understanding -- correct me if I'm wrong -- is
> that the scientific consensus remains that these characteristics that
> were present in earlier hominids were nowhere near as developed as
> they became, relatively recently, in homo sapiens sapiens). Isn't it
> just as reasonable to suggest that part of God's instilling of his
> image in Adam involved the "perfection" of these characteristics in
> such a way that human beings could exercise care and dominion over the
> rest of creation, develop sophisticated artistic, religious, business,
> and social culture, and relate intimately to the triune God, in a way
> that no other hominid could? Clearly, as an empirical matter, no
> earlier hominid succeeded in doing these things to even the minutest
> speck of a fraction of the achievements of modern humanity.
> >
> > And doesn't this at some level have to be a philosophical and
> theological presupposition rather than something that is fully
> empirically demonstrable in any event? What is the philosophical /
> theological foundation for a belief that the image of God is entirely
> an empirical matter?
> >
> > A last question: I haven't seen you address the MRCA studies based
> on geneology. I grant that they do not establish monogenism.
> However, the thought I'm trying to develop is that our notion of
> monogenism based on common genetic ancestry is misplaced as far as the
> Biblical narratives are concerned. The Biblical narratives relate to
> geneology, not genetics. Therefore, all that is necessary for a
> Biblical monogenism, perhaps, is that contemporary people could
> theoretically trace their geneological roots to Adam and Eve, even if
> Adam and Eve were not the only people / beings alive who contributed
> to the current human gene pool. It seems to me that the geneological
> assertion is very plausible under the geneological MRCA studies that
> have been published. And when the Bible presents geneologies, those
> have nothing to do with genes. I think the geneology of Jesus in
> Matthew 1, which traces Jesus' line through Joseph, establishes this
> conclusively. Obviously, if the virgin birth is true, Jesus probably
> (excepting a scenario where the Holy Spirit does a literal artificial
> insemination using Joseph's semen) didn't inherit any genes from Joseph.
> >
> > And a last thought on this question of geneological rather than
> genetic monogenism -- actually a question for anyone who might know
> about this as an historical matter. Obviously, a significant problem
> with my notion of geneological monogenism is that it would conflict
> with the historic teaching of the Church. However, my understanding
> of the Church's historic position is that it was heavily informed by
> the mistaken belief that conception involved the quickening of an
> "homunculus" -- a tiny person -- already formed in the woman's womb.
> If I understand this view correctly, every homunculus itself would
> contain humunculi. Thus, Eve, as the "mother of all the living,"
> would have carried all the humunculi that ever became or will become
> quickened into living people.
> >
> > We obviously now know that notion is false, but we seem to want to
> replace it with genetics. So, instead of humunculi, we now tend to
> think we must be able to attribute all present human genetic variation
> to Adam & Eve in order to preserve monogenism. But obviously, even
> with this position, we've already come so far from the classical
> notion of monogenism that it is really something entirely
> different. While we all carry some genetic code that reflects common
> ancestry going back to the chimp-human split (and before), we obviosly
> don't all have identical sets of genes, with each other or with our
> immediate ancestors, much less with Adam, whenever he lived. It seems
> to me that any genetic perspective on monogenism is orders of
> magnitude away from the classical position. All of which, I think,
> can support the idea that Biblical monogenism is not a scientific
> concept about heredity, but rather is a geneological concept, by which
> everyone can find Adam & Eve in their geneological "family tree," even
> if Adam & Eve were not the only people / beings living at the time
> they were alive who contributed to the current human gene pool.
> >
> > Having said all that, let me say this: all of this is of course
> speculation. I don't claim this as a firm theory. At the end of the
> day, I don't think we know enough about the science or the texts to
> assert anything but tentative ideas on all of this.

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Received on Fri Mar 16 21:32:44 2007

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