Lents's oped in USA Today, endorsing GAE, comes out tomorrow

Hello friends. Tomorrow I officially announce my support for the GAE project in the opinion pages of USA Today. This is the first such big public announcement of Josh’s book in the mainstream press and could very well kick off a firestorm of attention, both good and bad. Many members of my community - atheists, secularists, skeptics, scientists - will not understand what I’m doing and may be very angry with me for this. (I will confess to being a bit nervous about facing Dawkins, et al. at CSIcon in two weeks.) Many members of Josh’s community will be angry at him as well. We both could use your support in the coming days. Our humble goal has always been to bring people together and resolve conflicts that need not separate us, so that we can join efforts on pressing issues that affect us all. For all of you that share that goal, now is the time when you can help.

Who’s with us??


I suspect, though I might certainly be wrong, that other than the “usual suspects”, few people will care.

Any suggestions for how we may do so?


I hope you’re right!

Great question and something that I hoped this thread will help with. For one, we could probably use some “back up” on Twitter, such as sharing the article (with a positive note) and then being active on my and Josh’s Twitter posts, supporting us and countering some of the criticism.

Same for the comments section of the article at USATODAY.com and stuff like that. Not that comments sections are ever places for thoughtful dialog, but they are rife with the usual tired criticisms from all perspectives and all positions, and countering those with more thoughtful responses might be helpful to the silent millions who scan the comments.

Where else do people share stories and talk about stuff online? Reddit? blogs?


It is also good to point people at other venues to links at this forum, so we can work together to answer questions and make sense of this.


Here are three endorsements that will be particularly important to secular readers. The first two, by Philip Payne and Alan Templeton (!) are particularly important.

“In Judaism there is a blessing for almost everything. There is a blessing one should say upon encountering a religious scholar and a different blessing for encountering a secular scholar, as both types of scholarship are valued. In this book Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass earns both blessings. Dr. Swamidass is a scientist by profession and a devout Christian who thinks deeply about theological questions. He uses cutting-edge theory from population genetics concerning the difference between genealogical ancestors versus genetic ancestors (a small subset of the former) and applies it accurately and with rigorous scientific logic to the theological issues surrounding the biblical account of Adam and Eve. Many theological issues arise from Adam and Eve, such as race and racism, and Dr. Swamidass approaches these issues in a manner that values and incorporates both science and religion. Books dealing with science and religion often emphasize conflicts while others present them as non-overlapping methods of knowledge that are largely irrelevant to one another. Dr. Swamidass shows in this book how science and religion are both valuable methods of scholarship that can display a positive synergism in which neither discipline has to retreat from its fundamental principles in order to deepen our insight into the science/religion interface. Both scientists and people of faith should read this book to learn that conflict and irrelevancy are not the only ways in which science and religion can interact.”

Alan R. Templeton, Charles Rebstock Professor Emeritus of Biology and Statistical Genomics, Washington University in St. Louis, and Institute of Evolution and Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, University of Haifa, Israel

“Scientific progress of many sorts, such as our growing understanding of the human genome, surfaces a myriad of challenging questions about the human condition and our origins. Around these questions, this book invites a better conversation. For both scientific and theological communities, this book offers common language and an inviting narrative, establishing a foundation for mutual understanding and respect. In doing so, Swamidass demonstrates a compelling vision of meaningful and constructive dialogue and what this dialogue can achieve. Here—in a multifaceted conversation between faith, science, and our shared experience—we can engage grand questions together. Trust can grow and, with it, new avenues for discovery might arise.”

Philip R. O. Payne, professor and director of the Institute for Informatics, Washington University School of Medicine

“This is one of those rare books that changes the conversation. With equal parts candor, humility, passion, and precision, Swamidass engages an incredibly controversial topic at the junction of biology and theology: the origin of human beings. Through the effective use of two key distinctions—the difference between genealogical and genetic ancestry, and the multiple meanings of ‘human’ across divergent areas of inquiry—he reorients and expands the space of possibilities while maintaining faithfulness and rigor with respect to traditional exegesis and contemporary scientific knowledge. The book’s primary virtue is not that it offers the strongest version of a particular position or provides answers to every question. Instead, its strength lies in how Swamidass demonstrates that there is more to talk about in conceptualizing what counts as a position or an answer in the first place, and that the tenor of those conversations should be peaceful rather than fractious. A definitive achievement. Tolle lege .”

Alan C. Love, professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota

“I am one of the many scientists who have maintained that the existence of Adam and Eve as ancestors of all people on earth is incompatible with the scientific data. In this book, Joshua Swamidass effectively demonstrates that people like me, stuck in a specific genetic paradigm, were wrong. Ironically, I first learned the key calculation from Richard Dawkins, who wrote fifteen years ago in The Ancestor’s Tale , ‘I don’t know about you, but I find these dates [for the last common ancestor] astonishingly recent.’ I failed to appreciate the biblical ramifications of this fact. In writing this book, Swamidass removes our blinders. In a clearly written and highly accessible style, he shows how a traditional understanding of the Genesis narrative, including the sudden creation of Adam and Eve, is fully compatible with science. Creation through the evolutionary process is still central to the story, but the existence of two individuals—ancestors of us all—is now freed from what seemed like scientific inconsistency and placed, once again, purely into the realm of theology where it belongs.”

Darrel R. Falk, professor of biology emeritus, Point Loma Nazarene University

For reference, the endorsement by Lents:

“As a secular scientist, I was seriously skeptical of this book. Nevertheless, Swamidass has ably shown that the current evidence in genetics and ancestry is compatible with a recently de novo –created couple as among our universal common ancestors who then interbred with the rest of humanity that descended through the established evolutionary processes. In doing so, Swamidass aims to bridge a centuries-old divide between faith and science. In a world at war with itself, the need for such common ground is most urgent.”

Nathan H. Lents, professor of biology, John Jay College, CUNY, and author of Human Errors

I recommend pointing people to these endorsements and quoting liberally from them. I do not mean this to endorse an appeal to authority, but as a way for observers to know that Nathan is not alone in his support within the larger secular community.


@dga471, @JSmith, and @Zachary_Ardern, I hope you’d be willing to post some links at some of the facebook groups we frequent.

@pevaquark, @Elle, @glipsnort, @jongarvey, @Chris_Falter, or @cwhenderson, I hope you’d be willing to post a link at the BL forum, and encourage a healthy conversation about it.

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@swamidass Have you thought about doing an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) on Reddit regarding GAE? Could be a good opportunity to field questions from people interested in the topic, and you can probably post notices to relevant sub-reddits to ensure that folks know about it ahead of time.


Show me a link to what that could look like?

Perhaps someone else does it and has some fun fielding the questions :). If one atheist biology PhD student @davecarlson did so that might turn some heads in a good way!

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Here is one from an evolutionary biologist a few years ago:

Here’s one from a Catholic Bishop just a few days ago:

Perhaps someone else does it and has some fun fielding the questions :). If one atheist biology PhD student @davecarlson did so that might turn some heads in a good way!

While I’m not opposed to the idea, I don’t really feel like I understand the GAE well enough at the moment to knowledgeably answer questions about it. In addition, I suspect that having the actual author of the book do the AMA would generate more interest. That said, I’m happy to consider the possibility more in the future.


fuhgeddaboudit - I am with @NLENTS and @swamidass all the way. :sunglasses:


Makes sense.

I want to do this, but not during the next 48 critical hours. When I do, you can maybe come along with me :slight_smile: too.


Great! For maximum impact, I think you would probably want to do this closer to the date the book was published. Of course, having never published a book myself, I don’t actually know what I’m talking about! :wink:


Oh how far we have come @Patrick, :slight_smile: . Glad you are with us, and it has been really fun to see the community grow in depth and diversity.


I didn’t read closely, but Amazon can be a really great place to promote the book and discussion. Anyone who buys a copy can rate and review as a verified purchaser. These reviews get a lot of traffic, especially because of Amazon’s algorithm that suggests similar products. So one can be looking for a similar book and end up on the page for Joshua’s book.


@Michael_Callen has been more active at BioLogos lately than I have ;-). But I wouldn’t mind posting about this Op-Ed over there. @NLENTS, I do want to make sure I don’t misrepresent you or your position over there, so I’d like to have you take a look at a draft before I post over there.

Nathan Lents is a Professor of Biology and author (and an atheist) who is deeply interested in the success of Joshua Swamidass’s work on the Genealogical Adam and Eve. Dr. Lents is invested in seeing the general populace free to accept the scientific evidence of evolution without unnecessarily worrying about the impact of this acceptance on their religious beliefs. As many of you are aware, Swamidass’s book will be available soon and Lents has written an Op-Ed on the book for USA Today that will appear tomorrow (October 4). It will be interesting to see how this plays out since Lents is taking a serious risk in associating himself with Swamidass and the book. As TV announcers used to say, “Stay tuned!”


Wait till it comes out tomorrow though, so you can post a link of it there. Right @cwhenderson?

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I was thinking of starting the thread today and posting the link tomorrow, but I could certainly wait until it is out tomorrow.


On a humorous side note, after making sure I had notifications set for Lents and Swamidass on Twitter, my search screen now looks like this:



Grrrr… :wink:

I can send you the article later. I am on field trips and otherwise teaching all afternoon. But thanks for agreeing to post on Bio logos about this!


Oh I see that you wanted me to approve the draft, not see my draft, and I approve of what you wrote 100%