Marcus Ross: Does Kelleher-2016 Contradict The Genealogical Adam and Eve?

Note: This thread is reserved for Dr. Swamidass and Dr. Marcus Ross.

Sapientia commissioned a series of reviews on the GAE. Marcus Ross, a YEC scientist, offered two scientific objections. Here is my response.

I will answer Dr. Marcus Ross’s two scientific objections first.

First, Ross objects that my hypothesis is “unfalsifiable,” and therefore it is not good science. Independent of science, however, Scripture reveals information to which science does not speak. Most this information is consistent with science, but not found in science. Still, no one should dismiss the Resurrection as speculative nonsense merely because the genetic evidence does not tell us either way. In the same way, Adam and Eve might be consistent with the science, but not found in science.

Moreover, “falsifiability” was never a hallmark of scientific work. Science is, instead, characterized by systematic effort to test and falsify one’s hypotheses. Perhaps more often than not, we find that the evidence does not tell us one way or another. Following this practice, I systematically tried to falsify my hypothesis and failed; others also tried and failed. Reaching this point, we do not, then, declare the hypothesis “unfalsifiable” and unscientific. Nor do we falsely declare it in conflict with the evidence. Rather, explaining the limits of the evidence, scientists report that the hypothesis was not yet falsified, as did I.

Second, Ross objects that Kelleher et al. (2016) “directly contradicts” my scientific claims. Ironically, this objection clarifies that my scientific claims are, in principle, falsifiable with evidence.

Moreover, I explained the Kelleher study findings at length, citing it five times (pp. 45, 48, 51, 53, and 59). This study considers a counterfactual world in which our ancestors travel only a few kilometers over the course of their entire lifetimes. In this imaginary world, I agree that universal ancestors take 100,000 years to arise. But the real world, a few kilometers are easily transverse in just a 30-minute walk. Moreover, the genetic evidence demonstrates unequivocally that our real history includes very long-range migration across oceans and between continents (Ch. 6). For this reason, we expect universal ancestors to arise in just a few thousand years.

I invite Ross to clarify why he disagrees. Coming from a young earth creationist, these objections are a paradox. It seems that if either objection was valid, it would also challenge young earth creationism. Does Ross really think our ancestors were restricted to just a few kilometers of migration in their whole lifetimes?

I invite him to continue the conversation here. What did I miss?


Dr. Marcus Ross sent me a kind note today. We agreed together to hit snooze on this. The beginning of the semester is very intense for educators in the time of COVID-19, and Liberty U has its own unique demands on faculty in light of some recent events in the news. Right now is not the right time.

We will reopen this thread in a few months, and consider together if another venue is more appropriate. Stay tuned, but the be assured that the decision to postpone this is mutual.

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