Darrel Falk and ENV on Chromosome 2

Darrel Falk, former president of BioLogos, published a youtube video on the Chromosome 2 Fusion.

Andrew Jones, who works with @Agauger, published a rebuttal.

In the video at his YouTube channel Coming to Peace with Science, Darrel at 5:27 claims that we must choose between intelligent design by an engineer or “master puppet-builder,” or evolution by a “loving parent.” This is a strange way of framing things.

The two views Darrel offers are (a) Chromosome 2 was specially created as is, or (b) two chromosomes were inherited from a common ancestor with apes, and then fused in a random chromosomal fusion event. But what about the third view? He neglects to mention option (c), two chromosomes were made according to a common design with apes, and this was followed by a random chromosome fusion event.
Of Chromosome 2 and Puppet Propaganda | Evolution News

And Darrel published his response…

At first blush, Andrew is right; this would be a possibility. However, there is a powerful way of estimating the time when the fusion took place (see Higma, Journal of Heredity, 2017, 45–52) and it likely happened about 3.5 million years ago, long before the appearance of our species. Furthermore there is independent evidence against his Hypothesis 3. Denisovans and Neanderthals had the fused chromosome just like us (also see Higma, 2017) which further confirms that the event occurred prior to the formation of our branch of the Homo family…

I might add that I’m fully aware of the fact that in the content of this set of videos, I’m still in the early stages of addressing the sense in which God has been at work in bringing our species into existence as well as the specifics of what it means to say that God is guiding that process like a parent. I’ve begun to address this though in my second video series, specifically in Genetic Change and the Origin of our Species, Part III, The Hovering Spirit of God, but there is still so much to talk about.

I also note the welcoming conclusion to Falk’s post:

Again, I thank Andrew for bringing these points out. They are thoughtful and helpful and I look forward to further communication with my ID colleagues as we Christians think alongside of each other about what it really means to come to peace with science.
On Chromosome Two and the Creation of Our Species: A Response to the Discovery Institute's Feedback

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This is an interesting concession from Andrew Jones. He argues that the chromosome fusion did happen by random processes, and has no meaningful consequences. This goes against a massive body of literature from the YEC and ID claiming just the opposite, this could not have happened randomly and has to be functional. For example:

So here’s where Dr. Tomkins’s research gets interesting: He finds that the place on chromosome 2 where the two chromosomes are supposed to have fused is right in the intron of a gene!5 The gene is charmingly named DDX11L2, and it is known to be used in several different cells, including those performing tasks related to the nervous system, muscle system, immune system, and reproductive system.

Dr. Tomkins’s research has definitely made it harder to believe that human chromosome 2 is the result of a fusion event, but there still needs to be a lot more research done on the issue.
Chromosome Fusion? It's Getting Harder and Harder to Believe. : Proslogion

Similar claims are repeated by Dr. Jeanson from AIG. An Update on Chromosome 2 'Fusion' | The Institute for Creation Research And from Fuz Rana of RTB. Reddit - Dive into anything

Biochemist and creationist Fazale Rana argues that “in order for human chromosome 2 to arise from the fusion of two chromosomes, a succession of several highly improbable events would have had to have taken place.”
[quoted from secondary source, Reddit - Dive into anything ]

Essentially there has been fairly broad consensus among OEC and YEC scientists that this fusion is really not a fusion. Yet, Dr. Jones really does think this could have arisen by natural processes. That is an interesting development to see him break ranks here. That is good news, right?


Dr. Falk might be missing something important here.

First, Dr. Jones and @Agauger are open to considering “human” as far back as 2 million years ago, with the rise of Homo erectus. Honing in on the origin of Homo sapiens might not be relevant here.

Second, there is still debate about when the fusion happened. As I understand it, there are several papers that suggest an origin at about 700 kya (see for example, One pedigree we all may have come from – did Adam and Eve have the chromosome 2 fusion? - PMC).

It is beyond our scope to adjudicate exactly which hypothesis is correct (3.5 mya or 0.7 mya). Different dates, however, will place this as “inside” or “before” the Homo genus (which could be “human”). I’m not sure if it matters if this event happens before the human lineage, but it does matter if it happens afterwards. If it happens afterwards, that means that Dr. Jones is agreeing that chromosome fusions can take place by natural processes, and the argument from evolutionary science over the last several decades concerning Chromosome 2 is correct; it looks like Chromosome 2 is a fusion event.

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Here is the original article: https://web.archive.org/web/20170625105113/http://www.reasons.org/articles/chromosome-2-the-best-evidence-for-evolution/

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Andrew Jones: But what about the third view? He neglects to mention option ©, two chromosomes were made according to a common design with apes, and this was followed by a random chromosome fusion event.

‘Made according to a common design is meant to do a lot of heavy lifting in the argument yet lacks any criteria for assessing what ‘common design’ is or how it is manifested. One could just a readily say the chromosomes were made according to ‘trellis aforte yep’ or ‘the completion backward principle’ and convey the same detail of explanation.

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Yes, that is common fair for ID. Of course, I’d say that it is common design, by the design principle of common descent, AKA evolution. Given how undefined “design” is, that is consistent with his statement.

The much more interesting thing is:

That is a major shift. I do not think I’ve heard special creationists advocating that before.

Correct. though he specified ‘special creation’, i.e. not common descent, in this case. Then again, ‘common design enacted through special creation’ can be practically indistinguishable from common descent and thus may provide no necessary, or additional explanatory power. Weird how relationships between ‘common designs’ in nature correlate best overall with time since apparent divergence. It’s almost like the Designer adds a superfluous timestamp to all its creations… Hmmm. That sounds like a potential research project for the DI!

Falk also ignored a 4th possibility: Morphic resonance. :grin: I’m sure there are many more possibilities that could be generated.


YECs who believe in a global flood and Noah’s ark often invoke surprisingly rapid, post-deluge evolution to account for the number of species that would have to originate. Other creationists roughly set ‘kinds’ at the taxonomic level of families. Many families have examples of chromosome fusion events. You’re right that they tend to assume humans always had the same number of chromosomes.

This is really how genetics challenges the story they are trying to tell.

None of the genetic differences we see between chimps and humans (both in kind of difference and number of differences) is not also observed in other “kinds,” or even other species. So, genetically speaking, we are really the same “kind” as the great apes.

This pits two arguments against each other (as @Joel_Duff can much more clearly explain)…

On the one hand, they have to emphasize the difficulty of evolution producing all the genetic changes between chimp and human. On the other hand, they have to emphasize the ease of evolution producing a much larger number of genetic changes between animals in the same kind. Without surprise, when arguments are opportunistic (as they often are), this gives rise to self-contradiction very commonly.

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There is an analogy to all of this which just as crucially hinges on a “random event” versus an “intelligently designed and puropsefully implemented” genetic change – namely, the birth of the male child Jesus to his female mother Mary, “parthenogenetically” ( i.e., without male insemination). I’d propose when we get this far down in the weeds, it totally begs credulity to see the incarnation as a process of common descent alone. Perspectivally, this event can be interpreted in any number of ways, but for Christians, “chance alone” CANNOT be the explanation. Just sayin’! Note: Jesus’ sex chromosomes had to be “miraculously” (purposefully) transformed in order for him to have been born male to a young woman who’d had “no relations with any man.” The incarnation was not the result of an accident of physics/genetics. Physicist Frank Tipler goes into an analysis of the physical changes necessary, while noting their extreme mathematical unlikelihood, in his book “The Physics of Christianity,” (2007) pp. 166-175, and in other places throughout the book. I offer this as a counter to what appears to be an intractable mindset in some of us here.

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At no point have I insisted on common descent alone. The whole premise of ID, however, is that we should be able to tell the difference scientifically between a “random event” versus an “intelligently designed and purposefully implemented” in DNA, from this distant pass.

I’m observing that God could have inspired mutations, but we cannot know from sure based on evidence. There is just no way to tell the difference given the data we have. That puts me solidly outside the ID camp. As they recently argued in the TE book, if we can’t produce evidence for it, this is no different than denying it. I wonder that means of the Virgin Birth?

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The existence of Jesus’ Y-chromosome or non-haploid genome remains a point of serious contention. :grinning:

Was der Mensch nicht wissen kann, kann der Mensch nicht sagen

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Was der Mensch gewissen von das Bibel, konnen Sie bestimmt gesagen. Gott hast gesprochen, und wir sind shadenfraude es nicht zum gelernen.

Simply qoting German aphorisms at each other doesn’t make this irrefutable analogy go away, agreed?


This is, by the way, meant to be a fundamental challenge to any Christiran believer who, nevertheless, proceeds on the basis that the only things that happen in the real world are, at their root, unguided, random, by natural processes only, and never singularities designed for an important purpose that science is often incapable of explaining, evaluating, or denying.
Yes, @swamidass , you’re not entirely within that camp, nor are most BioLogos folks I’ve spken with, either --especially when I point this out.

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So I am partly in this camp???

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Mine’s a paraphrase of some German philosopher or something Hubert Yockey liked to quote. Can’t recall the exact wording. But the fact is, we neither have Jesus’ DNA nor the DNA of his immediate family. Add miracles and all bets are off as to what was the situation, genetically or biochemically.

We do have the DNA of humans, some early humans and the various great apes. The initial condition appears to be that what started off as two chromosomes became one during human development via fusion mechanisms akin to what we see operating today.


We’re all, at least partly, in one or the other… or often, more than one camp, if we’re careful. So, sure, I’d say you are partly, “smartly,” in that camp, but like me, you know the war is mostly over words and mindsets; as scientists and theologians, we often must maintain a generous multiperspectivality. So, @swamidass , I mean that as a compliment, not a slam.

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“What people know from the Bible, they are most certainly allowed to say. God has spoken through it, and we are only, sadly, diminished not to learn from it.”

What does the Bible tell us about Jesus’ chromosomes, with regard to their number or their composition? People may infer something about these traits, but do they ‘know’ this from the Bible?

(ID being mute on this subject)

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The Bible tells us precisely nothing about this, just as it tells us precisely nothing of DNA from Adam. Neither are detectable in DNA, as should surprise no one.

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