Pevaquark Raises the Deceptive God Objection

Continuing the discussion from Pevaquark, The Genealogical Adam, and Polygenesis:

When you are ready @pevaquark you can give this one a shot here. I hope that @jongarvey and @deuteroKJ will participate here too. I’d also point you to read this thread first, before diving in: The Second Adam: Choosing vs. Refurbishment vs. De Novo.

For brevity, I suggest referring to the Deceptive God Objection as DGO.

I contend that the DGO does not apply to a de novo GA because we have a clear theological reason that God would create them with the same genome.

It seems to me that the poor design argument and the deceptive god argument have nothing to do with science, but you often see them come up in arguments for evolution.

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You should probably make that reason explicit here.

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If you would look more closely, you would see that they come up in arguments against creationism, which is not at all the same thing.


When @pevaquark is ready we can get into the reasons why here.

Maybe I’m completely mistaken on all of this, but going off of what I recall reading in this blog post the following:

Therefore, there is no evidence against (or for) the de novo creation of Adam and Eve , because any evidence of a single de novo creation event would have been erased. Most our ancestors are genetic ghosts , and there is no way to identify Adamic genetic material even if it was passed to us. The Deceitful God objection (against Apparent Age) does not apply because the story we read from genomes is not false; it is the real history of those “outside the garden.”

My point is just simply with any special creation of any species they necessarily would contain some of the genetic past of the populations they are about to start interbreeding with. Some obvious examples could be:

  • Syncytin ERVs and the placenta, which Eve probably would have had presuming she had a placenta: Implication of Human Endogenous Retrovirus Envelope Proteins in Placental Functions. If she utilized such a mechanism then she necessarily had a false history implanted in her of shared ancestry.
  • Any other shared ERVs, Alu sequences, etc. Would Adam and Eve had any of these in their genomes?- Alu elements as regulators of gene expression. Or might they have a weakened immune response without tens of millions of years worth of ERV insertions in the germline and subsequent fixation that aids in fighting off future ERVs: Endogenous Retroviruses: With Us and against Us. If so, again a false history.
  • Pseudogenes? Did Adam and Eve contain for example three pseudogenes for digesting chitinase, with shared deactivating mutations with closely related primates? Chitinase genes (CHIAs) provide genomic footprints of a post-Cretaceous dietary radiation in placental mammals | Science Advances. Maybe they didn’t have any of these pseudogenes or the other many thousands which would escape the DGO.
  • Even just their special creation among others they were identical to in virtually every way genetically, ability wise, etc. except maybe a special call of God would fit the DGO.
  • And while its nice that Adam and Eve can be one of the many couples alive at the time that are the ancestors of all of us alive today, such a solution is not even great theologically as there would have necessarily been many generations until at least several thousand years later where specifically the specially created Adam and Eve would have been genealogically related to everyone.

Sure, one can have a special creation that leaves no evidence among a bigger population. The geneological idea I think is cool but for some of the reasons listed here I bring up the DGO as well.


Welcome back @pevaquark. We have already rebutted this before. Do you remember the rebuttal? Why do you disagree with the rebuttal?

We have? I don’t think that I wrote this out before. I just wanted to clarify why I thought this more specifically.

You are not nearly the first person to have raised this objection. This has been covered ad nauseam. There are two types of rebuttals.

Adam’s Genome is Unknown

Perhaps most important, your rebuttal relies on scientific error. We do not have Adam and Eve’s genomes. So your objection begs the question. How do you know that Adam’s genome had ERVs and pseudogenes? How do you know any of the facts you are putting forward to claim DGO?

The scientific reality is that we have no visibility of Adam’s genome. Any claim to the contrary is based on profound misunderstanding of the science. Until you can provide a compelling argument that this must be true, we do not even need to engage with iit.

For example, the story we read from genomes, is not read from Adam’s genome. It is read from our genomes, which may not even include any of his genome.

Created For An Intended Function

See for example this responses offered to @Brad_Kramer a year ago. I encourage you to catch up be reading the whole thread:

Special Creation of Humans After Millions of Years of Non-Human Evo? - Scientific Evidence - The BioLogos Forum

I don’t understand what you are saying here. If a tree is supernaturally created with one ring, or with fifty rings, it’s Omphalos either way. Can you explain your response further?

Omphalos is a speculative (and oddly specific) scenario purposfully constructed to dismiss overwhelming evidence for an old earth. Drawing analogy to a speculative bellybutton, the argument is that God created a world with “maturity” so it would be “immediately useful” and as a “test of faith”, and then we misunderstand that maturity as old age ( Is apparent age biblical - ). The “Deceitful God” objection (DGO) argues that this means placing a false story in the evidence. This is most obvious in things like distant starlight (where we see, e.g., supernovae that could never have happened), and other artifacts that appear to have no reason deriving from the “immediate use of the world”. The “test of faith” argument is suspect too, and has generally speaking been roundly dismissed (even by YECs) even though there is no replacement “purpose” offered.

Even then, from a theological point of view, there may be some reasonable rejoinders that give better purposes than “test of faith”. and more recently John Sanford’s Designed Ambiguity. I do not necessarily endorse these points of view except to point out that this is under considered.

Regardless, the only reason to invoke Omphalos, historically, is to dismiss overwhelming evidence contradicting one’s hypothesis.

DGO has never been meant to imply that perceptions always match reality, especially our perceptions of miracles in the moment they occur. Applied the way you are using, DGO would be valid objection to Jesus creating wine from water, because this presents a “false history” the created wine, as if it used to be a grape, etc. DGO would be valid objection to the Resurrection, because it would give the appearance Jesus was never dead. DGO would be a valid objection to anything outside the natural order, and it puts an odd requirement on God to declare all His movements that we as limited humans have access to immediately without any confusion. DGO, therefore, really needs a clear delimiting principle, or it can be applied to just about everything, including valid science and just about anything we personally find surprising.

Because their is absolutely zero evidence for or against the de novo creation of Adam, it is not valid to equate it with the Omphalos argument or invoke DGO. The problem with Omphalos is not primarily about Adam’s development (which should be considered on its own merits), but rather the use of this speculative scenario (as I read it, Genesis says nothing about bellybuttons) as a reason to reject the evidence for an old earth. As @Jon_Garvey has often pointed out, a de novo created mature Adam would be essentially no different (in terms of DGO) as the water to wine miracle.

Perhaps there are valid objections to a mature Adam being created de novo, but those objections are distinct from DGO, and have to be considered on their own independent of the overwhelming evidence for an old earth

Criteria for Applying DGO

The DGO objection has become a very lazy objection to God’s action. The way you are using it, the DGO applies to Jesus turning water wine, and @jongarvey has noted:

As I said, I have no reason to suppose that God has ever made instant trees that look old. However, I do read in all four gospels that he multiplied two fishes into sufficient to feed 5000 people, and repeated a similar feat for 4000 later on. Now, like trees, you can age fish by counting the rings on their scales - what would you expect to find had you sorted through the baskets of fish skin left over after the miracle? Fish without the usual rings (in which case, they weren’t real fish), or evidence of God’s “cheating” by making instant fish look several years old?

Formally they are identical, so the applicability depends on what argument is being made. If it’s an argument about God’s character and deception, then the analogy stands: the miracle makes adult fish without a past, or mature wine without maturing time. He may, because his pruposes are his own.

The way I resolve this puzzle:

What you have you demonstrate @pevaquark, to raise the DGO here:

  1. the appearance of false history in Adam’s genome,
  2. that is unrelated to his intended function,
  3. keeping in mind we have no visibility of his genome.

You have not remotely met this standard, or demonstrated that this standard is not fair. This standard, to be clear, makes space for Jesus’s miracles and the Resurrection, but does not make space for the Appearance of a Young Earth. You can certainly try to propose better criteria, but it needs to survive that filter. The miracles of Jesus and the Resurrection have to pass, and the Appearance of Age (most likely) must fail.

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@pevaquark, before you respond, I encourage you to read the threads being linked here. There are a large number of electrons spilt by @jongarvey and me rebutting the DGO. We can also certainly call others into the conversation after you have read up a bit (@dga471 and @Philosurfer). If you find a weakness in our rebuttal, I am happy to address it, but you will need a chance to catch up first.

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Of note, this is a separate objection, that will not be handed here. This has nothing to do with the DGO, and is handled elsewhere. It turns out to be “great” theologically too, so no worries here from us.

The way I understand the “Deceptive” part of the DGO is: God shouldn’t be newly creating things that give the appearance of age or past history such that it confounds our efforts to learn more about the world and acquire new knowledge. Stars that are visible today but are not actually real would mean that many theories in astronomy are based on factual falsehood. In other words, DGO would apply if God were constantly creating miracles such that we can no longer apply the principle of regularity to nature, which is the basis of inductive reasoning in science.

But in the case of the de novo creation of Adam then what, exactly, are we being deceived about? We do not have empirical access to Adam and Eve’s bodies with their artificial histories. We do not base any scientific theories upon them. De novo creation was a one-off event and we only affirm it because of theological and/or Biblical reasons.

The only way I could see a DGO objection work is if instead of a GA that interbred with other hominids, we insist upon the model of monogenesis where Adam and Eve were created de Novo >500k years ago and their descendants never interbred with anyone else. Thus, the evidence for common ancestry with other primates is actually false, and deceptive.

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I see. Hopefully my post here isn’t too tiresome or annoying.

On scientific error? Not sure what I said that’s in scientific error. Let’s just go on.

Convenient for both of us then I suppose.

If it didn’t, then Eve probably would have attacked the growing fetus without ERVs to aid in immune suppression. Unless of course she did have Syncytin which would be evidence of a long shared history of ERVs being utilized by their hosts.

I don’t see how you can refute anything I say then either. I think at the very least functional Alu, ERVs (especially Syncytin), other shared sequences that come from an ancient common ancestor would have been present in a specially created Adam and Eve and thus indicative of a false history they didn’t have.


It is? What am I saying that is such a profound misunderstanding of the science?

Well sure, so then the DGO objection just becomes a matter of how one is reading the Biblical text. So if there is sufficient biblical evidence to support a particular claim then it cannot be a DGO objection. And thus lets say with the special creation of Adam and Eve then a DGO objection just simply could only imply if the text does not say otherwise. But if the text says otherwise, then the rest of any potential evidence doesn’t matter. Easy enough.

  1. I gave a few examples already but I think that in part at least any amount of shared structure- did Adam and Eve’s offspring have the recurrent laryngeal nerve or any other things mentioned by @NLENTS in his most recent book? Did they have a functioning GULO sequence for producing their own vitamin C? Or did they share a similar fate as other homo sapiens/primates? If so then yeah, they would necessarily have a false history that was artificially implanted in their genome.
  2. I don’t know, what was Adam’s ‘function?’ Certainly a ‘functional’ human being doesn’t need broken pathways/genes, but you can just claim neither of us can know and then dismiss all I have to say just like I can dismiss all you have to say because you don’t have any evidence either as per your #3.

I disagree but that’s fine. I understand that you have a nice group of people who love this idea and will continue to talk about it hopefully for decades or more to come.

@pevaquark, what precisely are you saying is deceptive about God here? Just that it does not meet your expectations? In what way is God decievine us?

Yes and no. It does depend on how we read the text, but also on if we value Church tradition, and if we are engaging the theological questions this resolves.

What it does not depend on, in contrast with the age of the earth, is scientific evidence. There is no evidence against it, and it is a wise addage: do not kill a mockingbird.

I encourage you to understand that which you reject. Just as YECs benefit from understanding the evidence for the age of the earth, we all benefit from understanding perspective not our own. That is the purpose of this forum, to understand and be understood.

As you can see, Peaceful Science includes a large range of views, including Christians that do not see any need for a historical Adam, such as yourself, @Mark, and @Djordje. It also includes atheists that and secular scientists too, that do not take Scripture as authoritative.

All these groups and more are welcome at Peaceful Science. We are glad you are here even though you disagree with others here too. Welcome to the club. Pull up a chair, you are welcome here, along with everyone else from BioLogos; no-Adam Christians are welcome here. Let’s find common ground in engaging with science and the grand questions, rather than settled answers, and welcome a more of the public into an accurate account of the science.