Lents at USA Today: Scientific Possibility for 'Adam and Eve'

With the supplement:

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Nicely, done!

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I should just disclose I’m not a genome scientist precisely, merely a lowly computational biologist.

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Is a lowly computational biologist at UWSTL lower or higher than a Behe described @NLENTS lesser evolutionary biologist at John Jay? :sunglasses:

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@nlents is as impressive as my colleagues at WUSTL. We are lucky to have him here :slight_smile: .

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His [Josh’s] “genealogical hypothesis” arrives at a time of great cultural upheaval when facts are malleable, politics perverts science, and the gulf that divides our red and blue tribes is reminiscent of another biblical myth: the parting of the Red Sea.

@NLENTS, that’s some good writing there.

For those who take the Adam and Eve story literally, the value of this effort is obvious. But there is value for nonbelievers as well. Widespread suspicion of science weakens our social fabric and undermines the common good. From the urgency of climate change and medical research, to the frontiers of artificial intelligence and space exploration, scientific discovery holds tremendous potential for the betterment of human lives. As such, efforts to bring more people into the scientific mainstream serve not one political party or one particular faith — but all of humanity, to the ends of the Earth.

@NLENTS, darn it, that made me tear up a little. Sitting here as a science educator in a Christian university, you nailed it! That is one of the best articulations of my professional “calling” into the science and faith discussion that I’ve ever seen. From a Christian perspective I also personally want to see my students develop faith that is strengthened by an engagement with real science and Christ, not weakened by pseudo-science and dogmatic, “my interpretation is the only possible interpretation”, theology.

Powerful stuff, thank you for writing that article Nathan!

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Thank you so much Jordan. I really value your support, truly.

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Congratulations.

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Superb writing by @NLENTS. We can also praise USA Today for delivering these ideas to the general public.

It is thrilling to see what was once a relatively obscure speculation in scattered theological circles bolstered by today’s population genetics. The Genealogical Adam and Eve - InterVarsity Press is truly groundbreaking and has the potential to become a major apologetics milestone as well as a stellar example of genuinely peaceful science.

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@NLENTS encouraging tweet from Razib, right?

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I agree, that is quite good.

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Aww, thanks guys!

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4 posts were split to a new topic: Serpent Hate Mail

Great write-up @NLENTS! I’ll definitely be passing along to my colleagues.

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Great article @NLENTS

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I love the piece, and I found it crystal clear, speaking as an apostate devotee of scientism and someone who thinks Christian belief is ludicrous. In other words, I thought @NLENTS was praising the project and its potential benefits for humanity, without suggesting that the ideas themselves are worthy. To whatever extent this is a fair characterization of @NLENTS’ words, I heartily agree.

I do think that it’s a difficult choice for a humanist. The ideas themselves, that a discredited and unlikable deity did magic 10,000 years ago, so as to subject a couple of apes to a ridiculous test, are not, to me, even defensible. But the solution that @swamidass offers, if it takes (and I very much doubt that it will), could help society by partially detoxifying the belief system that he is trying to defend. That goal is a quintessentially humanist goal, and so those like me who see the awful toxicity of Christian teaching must decide whether partial detox (by suggesting overstated plausibility of ridiculous old myths) is a good choice. In my case, speaking only for myself, I think it’s worth a try.

I don’t know whether that’s an endorsement, but there it is.

But I have a quick question for @NLENTS. Some are saying publicly (at BioLogos forum) that you are taking a risk, in fact “a serious risk,” by writing this piece. Is that what you think? I am concerned about that kind of talk, but perhaps you have perceived or experienced actual risk in writing as you did.

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Yes this was and is a risk for me in terms of how I am viewed in the secular/atheist community. Most won’t care, some may see the value, others will be quite angry. I have already been in an email exchange with someone who plans to speak out against this and my role in it. Our exchange has been friendly, so I don’t think it will be too unkind, but it could hurt my reputation for sure. I weighed this possibility and decided the potential benefits to society outweighed the potential risks to me.

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Okay, that’s what I thought. It’s your choice to call this “a serious risk,” and to let Christian allies use that phrase in a way that sounds deceptively ominous IMO. (Maybe it’s just me, but the way it was portrayed on the Biologos forum was misleading in that it was suggested that you are taking a professional risk.) I am uncomfortable with that choice, but that’s just my opinion and perhaps it’s none of my business.

But I will say that as a board member and past president of a somewhat prominent humanist organization, your endorsement of @swamidass’ effort, and especially your clarity in how you did it, is not only consistent with humanist values, but nearly mandated by them. The challenge for me, as I already mentioned, is to find the balance between backing the effort and suggesting that the story of the fall, even nuanced with population genetics, is even worthy of consideration. I’m still working that through in my own head.

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