NPR: Swamidas, Lents and Templeton on the GAE

Hope you can listen in. This Tuesday!

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Which “Templeton”? Alan or the Foundation?

Could be the rat from Charlotte’s Web. Don’t make assumptions.

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Alan Templeton.

I am no longer funded by John Templeton Foundation.

Submit a question for the upcoming interview on NPR.

Dr. Swamidass’ new book is billed as one that can build a bridge between the staunch creationists and evolutionists and foster better understanding of differences. Has your own view of human origins evolved over the years? Do you see room for both science and faith? Tweet us (@STLonAir), send an email to talk@stlpublicradio.org or share your thoughts via Facebook (St. Louis on the Air Public Group | Facebook) to inform NPRs coverage.

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Please explain your funding in the interests of full disclosure.

As far as I know, nothing new to disclose. Our grant ended with JTF. Period.

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So can you make the assertion that you are self-funded and not dependent on any outside entities?

I am not dependent on outside entities, not even when I took JTF funds.

I operate out of WUSTL, and components of this are connected now to my academic work and is allowed under academic freedom and autonomy. I do not speak on behalf of WUSTL. As should be obvious, my comments reflect my views, not the institution’s, but I would not say I am independent of them.

PS is not yet a legal entity. In 2020, that is likely to change.

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Dr. Swamidass, perhaps you can carry this question to the Tuesday discussion: If Genealogical Adam and Eve has a genealogical connection to us all, but does not contribute any genes to any of us, how can science investigate whether GAE existed? Or how Original Sin got handed down to, say, me?

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Well, quite a bit of the book is occupied with this question. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts on my detailed case, and the lines of evidence I use to make a positive case for my scientific claims.

Well, if the GAE is real, it means original sin doesn’t pass by DNA, but some other way. Theologians never thought original sin passed by DNA any ways.

I offer a few possibilities of how we can think about it in the book. @Nlents has offered his own thoughts on this too: Nathan Lents on Original Sin.

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Well done getting on NPR!

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We were rebroadcast today by NPR. Great to see the engagement on this episode. :slight_smile:

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I don’t believe that’s true. The book is occupied by a weaker question: could GAE have existed, i.e. are we unable to falsify the claim that some couple 6000 years ago is ancestral to everyone alive 2000 years ago? Genealogical analyses could have told us that the probability was vanishingly small, though they didn’t. But they can’t tell us that the probability of A&E, specifically, was high; they could only tell us that the probability of some unspecified couple (that had any descendants surviving for several generations) was high.

True, but you just made a scientific claim, close to my own, for which you do have positive scientific evidence. There are many scientific claims with positive evidence in the book.

I don’t know of any scientific claim I made here. What was it? What other such claims are in the book?

Really?

You claimed:

  1. Genealogical analyses could have told us that the probability was vanishingly small, though they didn’t.
  2. But they can’t tell us that the probability of A&E, specifically, was high;
  3. they could only tell us that the probability of some unspecified couple[s] (that had any descendants surviving for several generations) was high.

That is at least three scientific claims, which perhaps could be made more precise, that all have positive evidence for them.

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I don’t think any of them is a scientific claim that has positive evidence for it. #1 and #2 are claims about what a scientific claim could or could not be, and #3 is a claim for which there is no positive evidence, though there’s a model. Perhaps that’s positive evidence, but I think it’s pushing. Also I don’t actually know the probability or the nature of the model.