Ancient Sole-Genetic Progenitors

Lately we have had a lot of discussion about a recent genealogical Adam. This has been good and helpful, but other scenarios are important too. We’ve recently shown that it is also possible that Adam and Eve could have (maybe) been our sole-genetic progenitors 700 kya with the rise of the common ancestor of Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Sapiens, or 2 mya with the rise of Homo.

This raises an entirely different set of theological and scientific questions. Scenarios like this have been favored by @vjtorley and @Agauger. At some point, eventually, it would be good to think about the strengths of this approach too.

A large number of people here favor recent genealogical Adam models, so be careful about repeating the same arguments. There is value here in models like this too. As we have discussed:

@swamidass

Maybe you can answer this basic question:

If YECs need a Special Creation of Adam & Eve 6000 years ago… and they are the chief opponents of the idea of Evolution, why would they prefer discussing Adam & Eve 700,000 years ago - - instead of 6000 years ago?

YEC’s are not the only opponents. Some are OECs, who have no problem with an old earth. The ID movement, for example, is largely lead by OECs. Most Christian theologians, also, are OEC if they do not affirm evolution.

It should be clear that I have and will continue to defend the plausibility of this model, unless we uncover clear evidence against it.

On another thread, we were discussing a recent genealogical Adam, and @Agauger put forward an argument I’ve heard over and over again leveled against her position.

Many people see no reason in Scripture or science to think your model is true. That is, to the point, exactly Venema’s argument against you. Scripture certainly does not teach an ancient Adam Homo Erectus, with different biology than us. Nor does it give us positive evidence for a bottleneck 2 mya (though it might be consistent with the evidence). Pushing Adam this far back seems like adding an “epicycle” to a failing theory (I’ve been told). How would you respond to this criticism? @vjtorley and @Agauger.

The same goes for these objection:

Of course, I think these objections are nonsense, and I have my own rebuttal. It is fairly entertaining to see you using the same objections against a Genealogical Adam.

Of course, the only reason we care about an Adam and Eve is because we care about what Scripture and theology say. So, because science cannot tell us the answer here, we are going to be strongly guided by our reading of Scripture. You can and should see Scripture as you see fit, but be cautious about leveling critiques of other peoples position that are literally identical to the critiques against your position.

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@swamidass

I’ve never understood how Old Earth Creationists justify accepting the geology of the age of the Earth… while rejecting the geology of the age of fossils… including primate fossils.

It would seem Old Earth Creationists arrive at the scene with specially prepared “filters” that are more durable than the filters normally encountered with YECs.

Everyone comes with durable filters. Even EC people come with strong presuppositions about these things. For a very long time, people have just presumed that there is conflict between Scripture and science, and found ways to reconcile it by ignoring/disputing one side or the other.

What we are doing is different. We are saying their truly is no conflict. Such a position is a major paradigm shift for everyone. It will take time for people to even understand what we are saying, let alone effectively engage. @Agauger and @vjtorley are to be commended for joining in with us.

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But, @swamidass, everything is not “the same”.

I’m not saying that other positions have NO filters. I’m saying that Old Earthers have more durable filters … this is almost definitional.

They have to be able to accept that Geological facts prove the Earth is old … but simultaneously say that Geological facts about fossils is a lie.

This takes a very special psychology of denial. It isn’t based purely on ignorance (as with some YECs); it is based on a very elaborate interpretive mechanism, which allows the same kind of evidence to exist in two separate categories of truth.

They certainly do not think that fossils are a lie. They just understand the fossil record in a different way.

It would be more elucidating to ask why they take the positions the do. Even if they are wrong, they are not arbitrary.

@swamidass:

I did not say they thought fossils were a lie… though you know for a fact that there are YECs who do. They think the fossils were created by God as fossils, rather than as the result of a real life form dying.

Many Old Earth Creationists think God “specially created” all the intricate nested hierarchies… rather than the nested hierarchies being a natural result of evolution. This means the fossils are true, but not what “nested hierarchies” (aka Common Descent with modifications) show.

Some Old Earth Creationists allow for evolution for everyone … except humans evolving from primates. And so this sub-group wouldn’t share the same problems or filters as the ones I am discussing.

I accept your last sentence:

"It would be more elucidating to ask why they take the positions the do. Even if they are wrong, they are not arbitrary."

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Always worth remembering that nested hierarchies were first formalised in science, by those like Linnaeus, as clear evidence of special creation and, on the principle of plenitude, to make predictions about what species remained to be discovered.

Evolution said, “It works for us too,” but, forgetting its origins, began to use it as if it were evidence only for evolution.

Within science, the pattern cladists such as Colin Patterson (British Museaum of Natural History) worked hard to separate cladistics from the theory of evolution and insist that it was only a classification of similarity. The reasons are complex, but as Olivier Rieppel woonderfully explains in his monograph on turtle evolution, it was partly because they recognised that your phylogeny depended markedly on what characters you deem important, even before you incorporate more divergent genetic data.

I’ve amused myself by checking out actual phylogenies of real groups, and it’s astonishing how often major issues are debatable in virtually any clade you choose. The turtles are one case in point. Last year the entire phylogeny of dinosaurs was turned upside down after a century or more of consensus. Very often the nested hierarchies look like the robin’s nest in my shed that a magpie got to.

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@jongarvey,

The only thing that boggles cladistics is not knowing when exactly you have converging evolution when you don’t have a genome for every fossil (or, frankly, most any fossil). But if you stick with the larger categories, you can do some impressive analysis of the nature of the clades before you run into the confusion in the weeds.

For example:

Spinal Cord vs. No Spinal Cord. That’s a pretty crucial distinction. And once you get to the reptiles, you can be pretty sure you are beyond the clutches of converging evolution! No reptile population is going to steadily progress to a non-spinal cord phenotype… the time to do that is back towards the initial divergence.

Marsupial mammals… again, something that is going to remain rather permanent rather than going back to a reptilian form of reproduction.

When we ask YECs to take a good look at cladistics, focusing on the major nested hierarchies, we are not being “arbitrary”. We are noting the structure of the animal kingdom, pure and simple… as long as you stay far enough away from the weeds!

Your comment is worth an upvote for those five words alone.

George

Have a look at the controversies over the phyogeny of the phyla themselves - or if that is too small a division, look at the divergent views on the phylogeny of the kingdoms.

The more genomes are decoded, the more nests turn out to contain cuckoos - at all levels.

@jongarvey

But it is not necessary to eliminate all cuckoos to show the natural logic (rather than the man-made logic) of nested hierarchies? By focusing on the major branches, and staying out of the weeds, important sweeps of perfectly natural evolutionary activity (nevertheless, God Guided from a Christian viewpoint), with common descent, are revealed.

Remember, just because mammals include the egg-laying platypus does not invalidate the common descent of mammals share with the rest of the animal kingdom.

Hi Joshua,

For my part, I would tend to identify Adam with the earliest representative of Homo sapiens, though I’m open to persuasion that he may have been the earliest representative of Homo heidelbergensis, instead.

I readily admit that an ancient Adam is hard to reconcile with Scripture. My sole motivation to making such an attempt is that it’s the only reconciliation which is compatible with the Catholic tradition that Adam and Eve were our first parents.

The Hebrew notion of “parentage” can equally mean “lineage” or “first of a kind” without commenting upon lineage. The “father of those who make…” does not necessarily imply genetic or genealogical lineage, only “first one (of note) to make…” In a pre-internet culture, such claims could hardly be evaluated or verified; they were “claims to fame” that distinguished historical characters.

“The father of those who live in cities,” e.g. Cheers!

Guy

The last relevant source I read suggested that “the father of…” in those texts indicates more pre-eminence than origination ("Bach was the guv’nor of bass players - Jack Bruce). I don’t think that applicable to Adam in any way, but it does show that the idea of parentage was a complex term in Genesis.

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True, and common descent is parsimonious with much of the evidence - but with sufficient anomalies to suggest something else is happening too.

But whether the logic is “natural”, or rather conditioned by evolutionary expectations, is another matter. The principle of plenitude was sufficiently robust to last for many more centuries than evolution, so far, has. Homologies (though not by that name) were known and used to classify animals for many millennia before they were associated with evolution. “I’ve not seen one of these before, but it cleaves the hoof and chews the cud, so it must be clean to eat.”

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