Homo sapiens dropping down to zero?!

Continuing the discussion from Heliocentric Certainty Against a Bottleneck of Two?:

@swamidass

This is the kind of distortion that I would have expected from a YEC, not from you.

You appear to be attempting a dividing line between Homo Sapiens and NOT-Homo Sapiens… but this has nothing to do with a regression analysis of genetics back through the common ancestry!

Whether there is a “first” Homo Sapien in God’s eye rather than in the view of human operated sciences, (made through evolution rather than through special creation), the first “man” would still be part of a fairly large population!.. say 10,000 or more!

You need to straighten out your description of this key part of your operating scenario… because right now you are mixing apples with oranges…

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@swamidass

Perhaps this recent article (I think it’s recent) … will give you a nice summary of the “alternatives” that are being considered at BioLogos, when a writer is interested in either the special creation of Adam & Eve (amongst pre-Adamite humans) … or the Special Recognition of Adam & Eve (within a larger population of humans):

Traditional de novo view

"In one traditional view, Adam and Eve were created de novo—they were created by God as fully formed humans (Homo sapiens), roughly 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. God made them quickly and completely as fully formed humans with no biological ancestors. In this traditional de novo view, Adam and Eve are “sole progenitors”: they were the first two humans, and they alone gave rise to all other humans. The Genesis account is taken to be a record of real events similar to the way a journalist would record them today."

"However, some features in the biblical text suggest that there are other layers of meaning that this traditional view does not account for. Genesis 4 refers to other people (in cities, Cain’s wife) who do not seem to be descended from Adam and Eve…"

"When multiple interpretations of Scripture are possible, the church can benefit from considering what God has revealed in the natural world, because a proper interpretation of Scripture will not conflict with what we find there. At BioLogos, we are persuaded by the scientific evidence that human beings evolved, sharing common ancestors with all other life on earth. Furthermore, it increasingly appears that the genetic diversity among humans today could not have come from just two individuals in the past, but a population of thousands."

"Traditional interpretations of Scripture should not be lightly dismissed, but neither is it responsible to ignore or dismiss the results of scientific inquiry simply because they conflict with traditional interpretations."

Other Options for Understanding Adam and Eve

There are several options open to those who desire to remain faithful to Scripture and take science seriously.

"Some Christian leaders (such as Billy Graham) are open to models that see evolution as compatible with Adam and Eve as real historical people. In one version, John Stott suggests that God entered into a special relationship with a pair of ancient historical representatives of humanity about 200,000 years ago in Africa. Genesis retells this historical event using cultural terms that the Hebrews in the ancient Near East could understand."

"In another version (defended by Denis Alexander) Adam and Eve are recent historical representatives, living perhaps 6000 years ago in the ancient Near East rather than Africa. By this time humans had already dispersed throughout the earth. God then revealed himself specially to a pair of farmers we know as Adam and Eve—real people whom God chose as spiritual “recent representatives” for all humanity."

The above quotes from this article:

@gbrooks9 this page has been undergoing several edits. It appears (and this is good news) that they are changing it. You have to look at how they have been updating it to understand what I am saying.

Here a diff one some changes that have been made.
https://www.diffchecker.com/3ezd9flT

It used to say:

In one traditional view, Adam and Eve were created de novo—they were created by God as fully formed humans with no ancestors. God made them quickly and completely as fully formed humans with no biological ancestors. Advocates of this view also typically maintain that all humans who have ever lived are direct descendants of this original pair. The Genesis account is taken to be a record of real events similar to the way a journalist would record them today.

While the de novo creation of Adam and Eve is not compatible with what scientists have found in God’s creation,

Then it was changed to (now):

In one traditional view, Adam and Eve were created de novo—they were created by God as fully formed humans (Homo sapiens), roughly 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. God made them quickly and completely as fully formed humans with no biological ancestors. In this traditional de novo view, Adam and Eve are “sole progenitors”: they were the first two humans, and they alone gave rise to all other humans. The Genesis account is taken to be a record of real events similar to the way a journalist would record them today.

While the traditional de novo creation of Adam and Eve described above is not compatible with what scientists have found in God’s creation,

Given that they are updating this page fairly furiously, I’m holding of any further critique till its done being edited. In particular I am pleased to see that the straw man logic of the original version has been removed.

@swamidass

I don’t see how you can say this one sentence. This is the one sentence I never expected to see you write. I object based on the fact your preceding sentence includes:

“… and they alone gave rise to all other humans.”

You aren’t playing word games here, are you? Because if you still have Pre-Adamite humans in the necessary scenario, you can’t play fast and lose with word meanings at the same time.

If I understand your phrase correctly, this is NOT the scenario that won me over, Joshua. That traditional scenario is dead in the water as far as I’m concerned. And until you can explain how we can have evidence for such a thing within 6000 to 10,000 years, I can’t come along for the trip.

I warned you of just this problem. And you said that it would never be a problem because we would always understand the context of your discussion.

And here we are … at logger heads … and you even include the 10,000 year time frame!

Where have you gone, Joshua?

It all comes down to how we understand the term “human”. The phrase “they alone” is ambiguous, and does not rule out interbreeding.

We are just disagreeing about the use of the term “traditional.” I think the genealogical Adam (with people outside the garden interbreeding wiht their offspring) is a traditional view of Adam.

We can talk about how to adjust the language to be more clear. Would you like to take a shot at it?

We both agree that Adam and Eve as sole-genetic progenitors, 10,000 years ago, is not consistent with the evidence.

@swamidass

Nope. That’s completely wrong-minded my good doctor. I didn’t have to go any further than your first comments about the use of the phrase: “and they alone gave rise to all other humans”.

Yes, I can understand how you, grammatically speaking, could say the phrase “they alone” could still be used with interbreeding … but this is not the phrase to use if you are trying to avoid warfare between the two camps.

Hardly anyone is going to guess that you mean “they alone” still allows interbreeding - - even by those who want to believe that this is your position.

You are going to have to come up with a new phrase… because using it is provocative, unnecessarily obfuscatory, and implies that you are not interested in presenting your ideas with clarity.

I hope you don’t intentionally want to give me a reason to quit this group.

Here a diff one some changes that have been made.
https://www.diffchecker.com/3ezd9flT

It used to say:

In one traditional view, Adam and Eve were created de novo—they were created by God as fully formed humans with no ancestors. God made them quickly and completely as fully formed humans with no biological ancestors. Advocates of this view also typically maintain that all humans who have ever lived are direct descendants of this original pair. The Genesis account is taken to be a record of real events similar to the way a journalist would record them today.

While the de novo creation of Adam and Eve is not compatible with what scientists have found in God’s creation,

Then it was changed to (now):

In one traditional view, Adam and Eve were created de novo—they were created by God as fully formed humans (Homo sapiens), roughly 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. God made them quickly and completely as fully formed humans with no biological ancestors. In this traditional de novo view, Adam and Eve are “sole progenitors”: they were the first two humans, and they alone gave rise to all other humans. The Genesis account is taken to be a record of real events similar to the way a journalist would record them today.

While the traditional de novo creation of Adam and Eve described above is not compatible with what scientists have found in God’s creation,

Given that they are updating this page fairly furiously, I’m holding of any further critique till its done being edited. In particular I am pleased to see that the straw man logic of the original version has been removed.

@swamidass

I note that this sentence is in the current version (as shown in the “difference/comparison” web page you have provided):

"In this traditional de novo view, Adam and Eve are “sole progenitors”: they were the first two humans, and they alone gave rise to all other humans.

I do hope you will be revising your own statements borrowing this phrase. As I have made clear in an earlier post (in this or some other thread here?), it is not a reasonable exercise to take the phrase and turn it upside down, to mean something entirely opposite - -

namely, that Adam and Eve, are the sole source of “humanness”.

All the weight of the cosmos would then rest on just a few words, and if a person is not particularly linguistically adept. he or she would miss entirely how subtle this difference is.

I fully expect you to withdraw your assertion to Dennis that a bottleneck of two within 10,000 years is compatible with the science as we know it. This is not right. And we spent months showing that such a conclusion is not right. It is still not right to make your assertion…

A much better title than Joshua’s current barn door aiming name: “the science of Adam”.

And then presumably “evolutionary science” gets split into almost as many natural & cultural branches as “theologies of Adam” (e.g. western/eastern, branches of Christianity or Islam, etc.)? But that would at least add some specification & clearer sense of limit & scope. People don’t know what “the science of Adam” means, traditionally or not & thus Joshua might appear to be trying to craft a new ‘scientific’ field on his own that BioLogos wouldn’t allow under its editorial direction.

Probably pluralising to refer to “evolutionary sciences” then would make sense too, since claiming unified, united universal evolutionary theories (e.g. Universal Darwinism) can’t happen unchallenged nowadays either. This it seems is what you mean by “how to adjust the language to be more clear.” Am I being clear to & with you in my observations & questions, Dr. Joshua?

Barn doors are easy to hit, but so what? Nobody will care. Genealogical ‘science’ confessed by un-tenured young biologists & geneticists is actually not too uncommon in the history of the USA’s ‘creationist’ movement. That’s where the genealogical argument comes from, after all, dressed as methodologically rigorous natural science. Obviously you’re not talking about this creationist stuff to your geneticist colleagues all that often, but rather to ‘science & religion’ people, right?

At the end of the day, where is the novelty here? Is it just in disagreeing with BioLogos after having been employed/sanctioned by them & then/now publicly forcing/persuading them to change their language “to be more clear”? Roman Catholic teachings on evolution, creation, Adam & Eve have already been for many years where you are trying to be now, it would seem. So it’s really a largely social argument involved for your immediate surroundings, rather than a globally scientific one.

Where did I say that? That needs to be fixed if I accidentally said that.

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“this definition is 100% consistent with evolutionary science.” - @swamidass

Perfect score!

This is where you said that… This text is wrong:

And you went double-down on the error with this post at BioLogos, where you provide the link to the original posting:

And then you said this:

You need to exclude phrases that are so ambiguous that both sides of the same dispute can read their own position in your wording!

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@swamidass:

Part of the confusion of the last 24 hours was that I could not easily distinguish between your “recapping” of the BioLogos position… and your editorial comment embedded within it:

I thought this bolded sentence was one of your additions, @swamidass. But now I think I’m wrong about that. Is the bolded sentence really something that BioLogos had written?

Because whoever actually wrote it, is in error. I will stop stressing-out over the phrase “In this traditional de novo view, Adam and Eve are “sole progenitors”: they were the first two humans, and they alone gave rise to all other humans.”

I will acknowledge that it is ambiguous … and that it was not something originally written by @swamidass.

My apologies for the Fire Drill !!!

There is a lot of confusion here rooted in the use of the word “human.” I do not have time to explain in detail right this second.

Keep in mind that “human” is not well-defined in either science or theology. Moreover, Scripture does not speak in scientifically precise terms, nor does it even include the word “human” in the first place. For that reason, it is a mistake to think the “human” of theology is a taxonomic category like Homo sapiens. Theology has legitimate autonomy to define human however it likes, as long as all of us in the present day are equally “human” in the end.

Remember, in theology, we can just define “human” as all of Adam and Eve’s genealogical descendants. Such a move would warranted if we are all given a specific theological status (e.g. original sin) by descent from them (sole-genealogical progentiorship).

For this reason, I usually put “human” in quotes. However, in editing that statement, I forgot to do so. Nothing new here though @gbrooks9. However, I do appreciate that we need to be clearer about these distinctions. I usually put quotes around “human” for this reason.


Regarding Homo sapiens and the Ecological Fallacy. This is not nearly as controversial as might be thought.

That is exactly my point. We know that at, say, 400 kya, that there are zero Homo sapiens. So we know that there is an obvious disconnect between the number of our ancestors and the number of Homo sapiens. We have no way of knowing how many of our ancestors at, say, 250 kya, are Homo sapiens. It is a scientific error to uses population genetics data to put a bound on that number. This, however, ie exactly what Dennis did. That is a scientific error.

Happy to report I am tenured at WUSTL, one of the leading science institutions in the US. My colleagues are (generally speaking) not Christians, and know of my work. I’m pleased to report they appreciate my effort to seek peace in the creation wars. They also appreciate that I am a great scientist, with a successful research program.

You keep speaking of these “creation” scientists that have already put forward genealogical science. Tell me who these people are, as I have yet to find them. I’d love to give them credit. Did they recognize the importance of genetic ghosts too? Did they receive an endorsement from BioLogos on the accuracy of their science too? On Geniality and Genealogy

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@swamidass
It is not an error to to ignore a categorical definition that has nothing to do with a bottleneck.

One cannot assert a bottleneck when there thousands of immediate ancestors … that just don’t happen to satisfy one set of definitions for what makes a human.

The ancestors have not disappeared… the ancestors have merely been labeled differently.

Genetic regressions looking for a bottleneck are not looking for labels… they are looking for a sharp drop in numbers of ancestors. Case closed.

@swamidass

What a perfect statement! If you start your discussions with this sentence, you can play with semantics with much more gusto… because anyone can read your foundation statement and understand exactly what you mean!

What additional phrase or paragraph would you want?

Congratulations on tenure. It is a dwindling commodity in the current academic world system. Having it allows you to speak more freely and directly than not having it, though in your fields of natural science, that doesn’t matter nearly as much as it does in some other fields.

“You keep speaking of these “creation” scientists that have already put forward genealogical science.” - @swamidass

Please show me where I have spoken of ‘creation’ scientists putting forward anything? I do not use that language. You are speaking about them (whoever they are) now alone, not having a conversation with me, but with your own imagination. If you’d like a conversation with me rather than just telling me what I’ve said in your own terms, please try harder to by reading carefully and finding what I have said then engaging with that. Otherwise, this will just be a waste of time. Thanks.

“I’d love to give them credit.”

Good. Then why not start by giving Kemp credit in the forming of your thoughts, not just as a person who you happened to find after already formulating your concept of ‘sole-genealogical progenitorship.’ That’s easy credit to give to Kemp, after all. You read his paper before writing your papers, right? This is a simple, neutral fact-finding question that I trust you will find no offense in answering.

Although you didn’t specifically state they put anything forward, you are ambiguously crediting the genealogical argument to others in the history of the USA creationist movement. The implication that others had put forth the idea at an earlier time is quite clear. What is not so clear is why your comments are so combative. In the interest of rational conversation, what do you think of ramping that down a little?

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