Re: [asa] question about Eve and DNA

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Mon May 04 2009 - 17:16:08 EDT

> Has any Christian biologist explored the potential link between Rom. 5:12
> and Mitochondrial Eve and/or Y-Chromosome  Adam?  Rom. 5:12 should probably
> read: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and
> death  through sin, also thus it began to spread to all men on the basis of
> which all  sin."  So a link between Eve's DNA and/or Adam's DNA might provide some  scientific
> support for the source of indwelling sin in the human families of the
> world, as well as the need and efficacy for a virgin birth.  Arthur
> Custance, wrote "The Seed of the Woman"  that explored some of these ideas.
> But he wrote in 1980, well before  the progress in DNA testing and analyses
> blossomed.

Obviously this gets into difficult questions about the exact means of
transmission of the sinful nature, which cannot be addressed by
biology.

On the biological end of things:

All modern mtDNA and all modern Y chromosomes can trace back to a
single female and male ancestor, respectively. However, this may in
part be a statistical artifact. In a finite population with unequal
reproductive success, over time eventually some versions of genes are
lost and others are established. Although being beneficial or harmful
influences a gene's success, there are also more random (in the
mathematical sense, not implying lack of divine oversight) factors. A
person with good genes might end up not marrying, for example. Thus,
if you go back far enough, you expect to see a single ancestor for any
gene region, even though there were other individuals alive at the
time. A parallel can be found with last names. Although J. S. Bach
had about 20 kids, by the late 1800's he had no direct male
descendants left-all his sons either had no sons, or else their sons
had no sons, or his sons' sons had no sons. Thus, anything unique in
J. S. Bach's Y-chromosome has disappeared from the gene pool.

It's therefore definitely not safe to assume that the so-called
mitochondrial Eve or Y-chromosome Adam in fact corresponds to a single
individual who is the sole ancestor of that gender of all later
humans. There may have been other contemporary individuals, and in
fact analyses on the whole genome suggest that there were (although
there are so many assumptions involved that it's hard to be confident
about any of the details).

On the other hand, calculations (again with various assumptions) do
suggest that all modern humans have at least a little DNA derived from
a single individual much more recently-i.e., everyone's genealogy
overlaps at least a little starting a few thousand years ago (I think
the original study estimated about 6,000 but this does not seem to
take into account the possibility of any pureblooded members of
isolated populations).

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Mon May 4 17:16:55 2009

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