According to recently published articles, it is not possible for all humans to have come into existence through a single couple?


(RZIM Connect Member) #1

I was also wondering if you can speak at all to the question of the historicity of Adam and Eve in the light of recent claims by geneticists, or let me know if you discuss this in any of your books. According to recently published articles, and even a write up on the BioLogos website, it is not possible for all humans to have come into existence through a single couple. Also, a recent reports indicates that Neanderthals and humans interbred and that some human descendants have a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA. Can you expound on this, or suggest good sources of study (for a person who’s not much into science and needs things explained very simply :-))?

If we are honest with ourselves, these things have to affect our view of the Bible as an authoritative source of truth. If we don’t have a literal Adam and Eve or a fall, we don’t have a need for a Savior and it makes the entire narrative of Christ’s sacrifice pointless. And if we can’t trust the accuracy of the Bible in this, why would we trust it in anything else?

(Hugh Ross) #2

You are asking one of the most important questions of our day for Christians. As you point out, the answer has far-reaching biblical and theological implications. We at Reasons to Believe have been debating this question with the Biologos scientists and theologians for the past decade. Earlier this year a two views book was released by InterVarsity Press. The title of the book is Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation? Discussing Origins with Reasons to Believe and Biologos. In 2015 Fazale Rana and I at Reasons to Believe released a second edition of our book Who Was Adam? where we lay out in detail our biblical and scientific model for human origins. In November of this year Zondervan will be releasing a four views book featuring the presidents of Answers in Genesis, Biologos, Discovery Institute, and Reasons to Believe. Much of that book addresses our differing views on human origins.
When Biologos writes that the ancestral population of humanity cannot possibly be the biblical two but must number at least ten thousand, they base that conclusion on theoretical genetics models that presume a common descent origin of humanity (that humans, Neanderthals, and chimpanzees are naturally descended from a common ancestor) and that certain shared features in the genomes of humans, Neanderthals, and chimpanzees are genetic scars (genes that are the result of natural mutations and serve no beneficial purpose). We at Reasons to Believe dispute both presumptions. We also point to research papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature written by leading geneticists that conclude that genetics models are useless for determining ancestral populations. Furthermore, we cite conservation biology field experiments that demonstrate that a pair or small population of individuals in a mammal species always generates more genetic diversity that what current genetics models would predict. Therefore, these field experiments establish that Biologos’ conclusion that the ancestral population of humanity was at least ten thousand individuals must be an inflated upper limit.
Personally, I have observed the ancestral human population derived from genetics models decline over the past fifty years. Fifty years ago, geneticists were claiming an ancestral human population of about one million individuals. Thirty to forty years ago, that number declined to about one hundred thousand. Ten years ago, Biologos’ Francis Collins wrote that it was about ten thousand individuals. When my colleague Fazale Rana debated the Biologos geneticist Dennis Venema, Venema said the number was 1,200 individuals. When i had a public dialogue with the president of Biologos, Deborah Haarsma, she said the Biologos biologists could go as low as 132 individuals. I suggested in that dialogue that we should plot a graph and that the graph would indicate that geneticists will be done to the biblical two in less than two decades.
As for the claimed interbreeding between Neanderthals and humans, assuming the greater genetic similarity of Europeans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders to Neanderthals than compared to sub-Saharan Africans and Neanderthals indeed is a sign of interbreeding between Neanderthals and Europeans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders, the deduced level of interbreeding must be very small. It is so small that it is cited as evidence that ancient humans were engaging in beastiality at a much lower level than humans today. However, I am concerned that the eleven authors of the study claiming evidence for human-Neanderthal interbreeding were all Europeans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. While the authors claimed they were careful to avoid contaminating the Neanderthal DNA, they could not guarantee no contamination occurred. Before I am convinced, i would like to see the study repeated on a new Neanderthal specimen where the only investigators in contact with the specimen are sub-Saharan Africans.
I agree with you that the biblical and theological implications are far from trivial. They strike at the very creeds of Christianity. I am deeply concerned when I hear my friends at Biologos write that our sin nature gradually evolved over a half million year time period, that the doctrine of original sin from a primordial human pair is a false doctrine, and that biblical inerrancy needs to be redefined as applying only to matters of faith, doctrine, and practice and not to science, history, and geography. In my most recent public dialogue with Deborah Haarsma she said that all the scholars at Biologos hold to some form of accommodationism (the belief that in inspiring the Holy Bible the Holy Spirit tolerated the errors and mistaken ideas of the human authors). In my opinion, accommodationism implies that human readers of the Bible never can be certain when a biblical text is the work of the fallible human author or the infallible Holy Spirit. In that case, the Bible ceases to be a reliable guide for humanity on any subject.

(Kay Kalra) #3

(RZIM Connect Member) #4

​Mr. Ross
Thank you for your reply. I was unaware of the sharp difference of positions on this subject but I will read your link.

(Hugh Ross) #5

Please join me in prayer that the body of Christ will not ignore these differences but seek resolution in a spirit of love and peace.

(RZIM Connect Member) #6

Thank you very much for the suggestions for books and study material as well as your explanation. This is something I have been wondering about and will be following. I appreciate your (and Reasons to Believe’s) commitment to the inerrancy and literal interpretation of the Bible and look forward to reading the books you have suggested.

Perhaps this is spelled out better in the books you already referenced, but I find that I have a very foggy understanding of evolutionary claims and how this is supposed to have worked. When they say that the ancestral human population had to have been at least 1,200 (or 100, or 10K, or 100K or…) are they claiming that multiple beings evolved to the same approximate level at the same approximate time, allowing interbreeding and fertile offspring from multiple unrelated parents?

(RZIM Connect Member) #7

This makes so much sense and answers so many questions that I have had. Thank you for taking the time to visit with us here and answer our questions. I will definitely be reading these books. Best wishes!

(Hugh Ross) #8

They are claiming that we human beings evolved from a common ancestor that we share with Neanderthals and chimpanzees. They believe that this common ancestor gave rise not to just two individuals but rather to a population of thousands to whom all humans today are naturally descended. They also believe that some of these thousands of original humans interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans.
Some evolutionary creationists attempt to reconcile their beliefs with the Bible’s accounts of Adam and Eve. Some suggest that God selected a man and a woman from out of the population of 10,000+ and augmented them by creating a spirit within them. They then suggest that by some unknown means their spirit nature was propagated throughout the rest of the 10,000+ individuals. Again, you will find more details in the books that I recommended.