Is A Genealogical Adam Genetically Identifiable?

A question (and answer) submission from a scientist:

Q. Can you identify haplogroup sequences derived from a ‘genealogical Adam’?

A. In theory, it might be possible. Note this statistic - “In humans, the average rate of recombination is about 1cM per 1Mbp (BNID 107023), that is, for every million base pairs there is a one in a hundred chance of crossover on average per generation.” Thus, there would on average be 3 crossovers per every 1,000,000 bp in 300 generations, yielding intact segments which average 250,000 bp of the original sequence. That would be easily detectable. For a longer comparison, In one hundred thousand years, assuming 20 year generations, there would be 5,000 generations, thus about 50 crossovers, thus leaving original haplogroup segments averaging 20,000 bp. So if a newly created A & E injected their chromosomes into the hominin gene pool 10,000 years ago (500 generations), their “unique” DNA has had an average of 5 crossovers per million bp, and is now divided into DNA segments averaging 166,666 bp in length. That would be detectable as an admixture / founder effect showing up in multiple living populations, although absent in particular individuals. But you would not be able to distinguish them from segments which are derived from other ‘common ancestors’ of the same general time period. In that sense, you could not use genetics to pick out particular Adamic haplogroups unless you already knew which ones were 'purely Adamic". That is the logic of identifying Neanderthal loci in living humans - we have independent measures of which sequences are typical of Neanderthal genomes. But I don’t think we are going to get an authenticated genome sample from Seth or Enoch to ground our search! So a ‘genealogical Adam’ will remain genetically invisible!

What do you think of his analysis @glipsnort and @Joe_Felsenstein and @John_Harshman and others?


What to look for would be relatively isolated haplotypes at multiple loci with clustered ages. But that requires an Adam genetically distinct from his contemporaries, which is inconsistent with an adoptionist GAE and is not required by a creationist GAE. As far as I can see there is no pressing reason to assume that Adam has any haplotype not shared with any of his contemporaries.

There would remain the problem of distinguishing Adamic haplotypes from those introgressed from any other unknown human population.

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The premise of GAE is that this de novo couple was created in a garden in present day Iraq 6000 years ago and by 1 AD became the genealogical ancestor to everyone in the world at that time. So wouldn’t there be something in the genome of these people that points to GAE? So as we accumulate a large number of aDNA from people who lived in this time frame and all around the world, couldn’t we see a migration of gene flow outward from the middle east as possible proof of GAE? Conversely if we don’t see any, then the whole GAE thing is bogus.

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Ancestry decouples from gene flow fairly rapidly. In the absence of recombination after 8 generations you have more descendants without any inherited DNA than with. Recombination slows this down, but even so you get descendants with none of your DNA fairly shortly.

At 6,000 years ago there are lots of people who are ancestral to all of living humanity. The GAE model just says that Adam was one of them.


Joshua can chime in here, but I don’t think this is the premise of his book.

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That’s right @art. Not the premise. The premise:

a traditional de novo account of AE is entirely consistent with evolutionary science so we should make space for it. Making space for differences is good for science, the Church, and society.

@Robert seems to have the science right.

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One should take account of the chance that the blocks of genome from GAE would persist, as they can be lost by genetic segregation even if GAE happens to be on everyone’s pedigree.

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It seems that the most likely case would be Y-Chromosome, because the male lineage is included in Scripture, and there is no need for Y to recombine. However, there is also no reason for God to make a new version of Y either.

I think that point that we have no way to identify Adamic haplogroups, even if they were present, is well taken. Nor do we have any reason to suspect, in the GAE scenario, that Adam’s genotype was any different from that of the rest of the population, unlike neandertal or other non-sapiens bits. Further, there’s no reason to suppose that the human population of the time was small enough for Adam’s genome to be expected to leave behind significant sequence.


However there is no reason why there would have been a male-only line of descent from Adam to any male now living, let alone all males now living. So no reason to see descendants of Adam’s Y around at all, let alone all males having that. Not familiar enough with the “begats” to know whether scripture claims that.


I completely agree. The idea of AE being identifiable in genetics is hard to justify.

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I think we’re talking here about random pieces of Adam’s genome, including autosomal sequences, not the Y chromosome particularly, which is almost all a single linkage group anyway.

Yes the random pieces of Adam’s genome with the original sin sequences in it. :sunglasses:


I had wondered whether, if there were such sequences, their effect could be reversed by genetic engineering with appropriate mutation. But I guess we don’t get to find out.

No one thinks original sin transmits by DNA. That is silly.


Transmission by any other means is equally silly.


It is an obvious and observable fact of the world that the decisions of our ancestors affect us, often in dramatic ways, often with effects that last for many generations.

My parents left India before I was born. Because of their decision, I was born and raised here, in the states. I had no role in that decision, but it dramatically shaped the lives of me, my future wife, and all my descendants.

I understand that we like to think individualistically, as if we define our own lives. This is a very American way of thinking. I’m American, but I am Asian too. We are also connected to our families. Our ancestors choices influence us too, often much more than we realize on the surface.

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The whole idea of Original Sin is rejected by the Eastern Orthodox. That’s millions of Christians, for more than a thousand years, living and dying as Christians, without worrying one wit about Original Sin.

And then we have the Young Earth Creationists of Western Civilization… Augustine’s explanation of original sin has magical elements. You could call them “silly” elements. But interestingly enough, the “magic” is mimiced or emulated by the properties of genealogy!

There really is no other field of knowledge that does a better job than genealogical progressions.

Yes, but how and by what mechanism in the case of original sin? The geographic analogy you present makes no sense as a mechanism. “Our ancestors choices” won’t explain it. Again, what is transmitted?

That seems an admirable solution to the problem.

But genealogical progressions do a very bad job. Again, this doesn’t explain what is transmitted or how.

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Why don’t you ask me EXACTLY HOW God impregnated Mary?

Genealogical progressions do the job. I cannot fathom your objection against genealogy… other than nobody can tell you more about Original Sin. Right. Nobody knows. But whatever it was or is… genealogy is a perfect fit for transmission.