Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record

From: dfsiemensjr <>
Date: Wed Dec 09 2009 - 18:34:15 EST

I think you are making heavy weather of this. For an analogy, let me
mention a family letter that has been circulating for over a century. All
the participants are direct descendants of one man, with the exception of
one married to a direct descendant. However, it is obvious that the one
person was not the sole ancestor. Nor can we say that it was the man and
his wife who were the only progenitors. So, when we are looking for the
first Homo sapiens, we cannot be looking for one person. It does appear
that there was, at one time, only a small group who gave rise to all of

It is evident that there were, in the past, more species of Homo. Whether
they could interbreed is still being debated, but it is certain that
those who lived over a thousand years earlier were not interbreeding with
their descendants. There is no real problem if there were more than one
species of Homo at one time, any more than there is currently a problem
with the contemporary existence of Pan troglodytes and P. paniscus or the
face that the scientific name for the former was once H. troglodytes or
caveman. All that is evident is that H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis
looked enough like H. sapiens that the same genus has been applied to
both, but no longer to chimps.
Dave (ASA)

On Wed, 9 Dec 2009 07:35:55 -0700 (MST) Bill Powers <>
> It would seem that sheer probabilities would reject the hypothesis
> that
> "humanness" arose more than once.
> Now it is not clear to me how a new species supposedly arises.
> Conventional wisdom says that there is no such thing as a sharp line
> between one species and another. This means that there is a
> category
> problem. The category is fuzzy. The story, presumably, is that by
> incremental changes what we call humanness appeared. If this is so
> then
> there ought to have been dozens and dozens of "human-like"
> ancestors.
> The best that might be said is that these diverse and legion of
> ancestors had a common ancestor. But even that sounds strange, for
> if
> they had a common ancestor, why is it that humans do not. What does
> it
> mean to have a common ancestor? What is a branch? It would seem
> possible that different branches might, at least early on, have
> cross
> communication. Is the entire idea of branches confused and
> incoherent
> with conventional wisdom.
> This entire picture is for me confused. At one time I saw
> speciation as
> a radical shift, a kind of monster. But if changes are as
> incremental
> as it seems, perhaps we can't really speak of species at all.
> Perhaps
> there is no such thing as a "human race."
> They mystery is that from our small views of the world species
> appear
> stable and constant. Where are the host of incrementally human
> non-humans? The many hosts of incrementally non-human humans
> intermixed, creating other non-human humans. We can't find them
> because
> they are here, within us? Today the intermixing continues, the
> story
> might go. There are no stable species?
> Confused and perplexed, I remain
> bill
> On Wed, 9 Dec 2009, Gregory Arago
> wrote:
> > Hi Dennis,
> Yes, now I have listened to the end of the talk and to the questions.
> (And I even checked out your other┬ new presentation on YouTube.)
> Glad to hear your voice! : - )
> Now I understand your position more clearly, but would like
> clarification still on especially one issue.
> You write: "There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that the
> entire human race is derived genetically from two individuals."
> What I wish to know is┬ this: are┬ you┬ neverthess still *open* to
> the possibly 'real' existence of two individuals, who are commonly
> (i.e. in more than a few world religions) called 'Adam' and 'Eve'?
> Or are you suggesting that 'genetic evidence' contradicts this
> possibility?
> There are many implications from what you say in the above statement
> that perhaps you have not yet thought through. The same is true for
> me┬ because the implications of┬ the view┬ 'no first two humans'┬ is
> anything but insignificant!┬ For example, if there were 'multiple
> origins' of human beings (homo sapiens) in various parts of the┬
> world, then the 'unity of humanity' is challenged. There would be
> many 'races' of humans and not a'single human race.' And as a
> sociologist I surely wouldn't take such a view lightly. It is
> serious (is it serious?)!
> But first, are you saying (instead of the negative of 'there is no
> evidence')┬ that there indeed *is* evidence that "the human race"
> (placed in scare quotes because it seems this *singularity* issue is
> being called into question) actually *does* 'derive genetically'
> from *more* than two individuals, possibly in different physical
> locations? If so, who has published this evidence and where can it
> be found? Genetics is┬ a relatively young field, as you admit - so
> how far should it (and its advocates,┬ though not its 'alarmists')
> be trusted?
> Further, to the contention that I am misreprsenting you, surely with
> integrity I don't wish to do this. I commented that Terry had said
> (my paraphrase) that he Ô€œbelieve(s) in┬ a special creative act.
> Period." And then I wrote, "Dennis Venema does not accept this." So
> that I won't misrepresent you, are you saying that I am wrong to
> suggest that you do not believe in "a special creative act"? If
> you'll speak to this and the above clearly, then I'll drop the
> accusation of 'scientism' (which I still think for more than one
> reason that you cannot avoid, cf. your YouTube singular definiton of
> 'Science' and language choice as┬ "this is what Science does/is,"
> etc.).┬ Let me remind you that┬ still NO ONE on this list has
> answered in probably two years to my occaisionally repeated question
> of how a natural scientist could possibly┬ be 'non-naturalistic'.
> ┬
> You do consider yourself as a 'naturalist' do you not, Dennis?
> Finally, Dennis, there is no rule against posting under a pseudonym
> that I am aware of┬ on the┬ ASA list. Otherwise, Mike Gene and
> Schwarzwald (who have both publically admitted their pseudonyms)
> would both be banned. If you have a problem with this, raise it with
> the management. Otherwise, please have the courtesy to engage with
> the words, positions and arguments that┬ I and others┬ are
> expressing and refrain from personal attacks. I do believe that we
> can work together here, and that ASA is such an organisation that
> promotes cooperation among the sciences. Hopefully you appreciate
> this too.
> Gregory
> Terry Gray wrote:
> "For example, my own view of human origins allows for common descent
> of our biological form, but I believe a special creative act is
> required for our full humanity in the image of God (say, in the
> creation of the human soul)."
> G.A. It is a brave thing for you as a scientist to say this Terry!
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Received on Wed Dec 9 18:37:37 2009

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