Should RTB/OEC's Tweak Model in Light of New Data and if so How?

(EDIT) The current RTB model for humanity has been challenged by the work of our host. (/EDIT)

This is not a death blow against OEC by any means, or even the overall RTB model, which they call the “testable creation model”. For example the astronomical aspects of their model still do quite well. The question of whether humanity evolved from a common ancestor with chimpanzees via known evolutionary processes is a separate question from whether there were humans outside the garden before Adam and Eve, how long ago all this happened, and also separate from the question of whether the flood of Noah eliminated the balance of humanity or just the balance of the line of Adam.

This new data just means that they may need to adapt their model in a way which accommodates what we have learned, much like evolutionary theory itself changes to accommodate new data. They can continue to represent the OEC position (which I also think is the “most correct” overall view).

If so, what should this model now look like with respect to humanity? I have a few suggestions and you may have some of your own. I realize the TE members of this board may not appreciate this exercise. I ask that they not switch forks on their putative evolutionary tree (go ape) over this, but I’d like to bring RTB closer to Peaceful Science by first getting us all to agree on what happened before we get to questions about how it happened.

Obviously the OEC position in particular with respect to humanity is that both the race adam and the man Adam were specially created by God, though these can now be seen as separate events and therefore not necessarily done by the same means. The good thing about this for RTB is that they no longer have to stretch the genealogies to the breaking point with vast “gaps”. The genealogies are for the line of the man Adam, not the race adam which was already present (though not as agriculturalists).

The new RTB model could reject the claim that humanity arose 310,000 years ago and propose a more recent though still ancient date. The molecular clock evidence suggesting a date for humanity of 260 K ago could be explained by the initial human population (in the new model God would have created a “host” of humans prior to Adam and Eve) containing some genetic diversity. That is, the initial human population was somewhat different from the start, thus not all of the differences were due to acquired mutations. This would show an older clock time than actual time. Some evidence suggests that molecular clocks run fast anyway. This would be easy to do because the evidence for a 300K plus date for humanity is very much over-blown IMHO.

The issue of limited in-breeding between humans and other hominids should be addressed by the model. I propose that it be turned into a plus not a minus. It allows us to test for anomalies in the standard evolutionary model. While there is evidence that such in-breeding occurred, the same evidence indicates that there were barriers to hybrid fertility. Lions and tigers can sometimes produce offspring, but they are not known to breed in the wild and those offspring likewise have fertility problems. So we can see that in nature things can happen which nature itself does not “prefer” in terms of Darwinian outcomes.

There is evidence to suggest that most of the genes we may have acquired from hominids such as Neanderthals are slowly being weeded out of the human genome over time, as if nature was correcting a mistake. There are also signs that many other genes which were thought to be a result of such hybridization are now considered to be the ancestral state of our own species. That is, they represent a re-introduction of genes originally possessed but lost by chance in our own human ancestors and thus do not represent a genuine influx of new genetic material to our species. Perhaps it is best to consider Neanderthals and Denisovans to be like the satyrs of myth- like us, interested in us, but not really “of” us.

That brings me to another point which could be a part of the new OEC model. Instead of humans originating in Africa, perhaps they originated in the mid-east or in many places at once but the vast majority of those who survived were from Africa. Thus the OOA movement 55-60K ago was humanity re-populating the rest of the old world, absorbing or wiping out small and scattered human groups- who may have been highly admixed with other hominids and the true source for much of the few non-human genes we still see in our own genomes. As our power to analyze genomes increases we see tantalizing hints of this previous larger human population in some isolated human groups, particularly those in SE Asia, and the islands near to Australia. I think they admixed with other human groups as well, but the work of Dr. Swamidass has shown how quickly genetic minorities can become genetic ghosts. This applies to more than just Adam. It could apply to this proposed non-African human population as well.

This brings me to another point. Much of what we think of as “human evolution” in the old world may simply be an artifact of the genetic impact of hybridization events with other hominids being weeded out over time. That is, the original group of human beings may have looked much like the San do now and not like “archaic” Homo Sapiens at all. The OEC position can postulate that the “archaic” appearance was a result of hybridization with these other hominids, and the loss of such “primitive” features would simply be “evolution” via reversion to the mean for humanity- a still ongoing process.

Under this scenario I would expect to find in Africa an inconsistent pattern of human remains- features far too “modern” looking for their time in some finds and typically “archaic” in others. Perhaps even in the same digs. Thus Africa would represent a place where some populations of humanity resisted being “dragged down” by hybridization events which spelled doom both for the human populations whose participation in such events became the norm and the other hominid groups as well. Unfortunately I don’t think we have enough finds in Africa at present to establish much of a pattern either way.

This brings me to Adam. While it may very well be that Adam and Eve have become “genetic ghosts”, if they left a detectible signature one of the traits of this signature would be an absence of other-hominid genes relative to surrounding populations. That is, they would not have Neanderthal or Denisovan genes, and thus modern populations which contained more of their genes would have fewer of these genes than populations which had lost most or all of their genes. A sudden appearance of a population with a reduced load of non-human genes in the same time and place as Adam would represent an anomaly explainable by a de-novo creation of Adam as a “re-do” of the original human condition.

So while the new findings may be considered a setback for some aspects of that specific model, the new data presents new opportunities to explore and improve OEC models.

We need to be a bit more measured regarding the RTB model right now. Give this a bit of time. Right now, we have the data to test it, but it has not yet been tested.

@swamidass will ask here what I asked on the other thread, does this mean there is still a crack in the closing window or does this mean that there is a reasonable chance that the present iteration of their current model is sustainable? If the latter, how might you suggest I re-phrase that statement?

I mean, if the MRCA of all humans given a starting population of two is 500K years ago I think that shuts the door on the Adam and Eve as sole human genetic progenitors doesn’t it? The genealogies were stretched to an uncomfortable degree when they said Adam was 70K ago.

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Don’t forget about the interbreeding with Neanderthals. That adds in diversity that we did not account for, and allowing for interbreeding changes the analysis substantially. That is good news for RTB. You can start taking bets on of the model will survive or not.

That is beside the point. Even if it is valid, there are major advantages to a Genealogical Adam Model. At this time…

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The strength of a sequential reading of the first two chapters of Genesis in relation to each other is that it REQUIRES that all humans prior to Adam and Eve are ALREADY “created in the image of God,” some tens of thousands (in my view) of years prior to the garden of Eden story. This is monogenism, however the process of getting there is construed, and cannot be used to build any racist conceptions around those who still have Neanderthal or other ancient DNA today being, to that degree, “inferior” somehow. It sounds like your question, Mark, could start to lead someone down that path. Forgive me for saying that, as I am quite certain that is not your intention.


If we look at the Swami Model as a box of legos, there is the “mandatory block configuration” and then there are the optional blocks for custom fit.

I consider this part of your sentence to be part of the mandatory core build-out:

The strength of a sequential reading of the first two chapters of Genesis in relation to each other is that it REQUIRES that all humans prior to Adam and Eve are ALREADY “created in the image of God,”
by means of Evolutionary Processes < [added]

then this part of your last phrase is
[de novo creation of Adam & Eve housed in Eden] <[implicit made into explicit]


  1. 4,000 years ago.
  2. 10,000 years ago.
  3. 100,000 years ago.
  4. Anywhere you want it > 4,000 years ago.

I’m being half serious with option (4). If “we” (anyone who wants to can raise their hand) are
in charge of the science side - - what the anthropologists and archaeologists are deriving from
the science…

… I really don’t care where a Creationist wants to plop Eden down and when. Theology is the loosey-goosey part … and if the Creationist accepts Old Earth and Speciation… I’ll back up his religious independence with where he puts the “de novo” house - - anywhere he wants to!

@gbrooks9 you are getting good at explaining this. However,

This turns out this can also work with a Genesis 1 and 2 non-sequential. That is just another lego available.

That also is not required. @jongarvey’s model and Andrew Loke’s also, does not do that, and does not have that problem.

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Well because humans are sinful and want to immediately start figuring out who has the most blood of ‘the’ Adam I have already encountered some of this. This even though I made a point to say otherwise in the book. I actually had to go back in a later edition and edit the book to make the point even more emphatically. And I made this video on the subject…

But humans being what they are, even a sequential view of the text can be used to racist ends if that is what people want to do. After all a recent de-Novo Adam would still presumably be missing the genes from any ancient admixture from other hominids. But as I point out at the end of the book, the northern Europeans who have historically been the center of this sort of thing would actually have a SMALLER proportion of heritage from Adam than a lot of other people.

I don’t posit a “de novo Adam,” either. I’ve made it plain, elsewhere, that I consider him to have been born to a normal human mother.
The Hebrew verb “bara” (the only thing that would require a “de novo Adam”) is completely missing from the chapters presenting his story.
Sounds like I need to do a lot more clarifying in order to be understood to my satisfaction. Puts me in common company!
Sorry to hear others have misread your intentions, Mark.

But as you know I deal with that issue in the other direction: Christ is the image of God, it is not something intrinsic to Adam but not the rest of humanity. It isn’t intrinsic to Adam either, except as a result of the relationship with the LORD God. When that is lost, so is his image-bearing. Thus “none should boast” unless it is in the LORD.

I can only hope that as you go through the book the way this all fits beautifully together becomes more plain.

Guy I knew that you didn’t. I was saying that a sequential reading does not rescue one from racial implications either, and used de Novo Adam as an example of when it didn’t. I am tracking with you. My take is a lot more “mystical” I guess than yours.

In order for Adam to have been able to relate to The Angel of the LORD in the garden, he already had to possess having been “created in the image of God,” which was given as a gift… no need to concern oneself with “boasting.”
Why would God, by the way, have deprived Adam and Eve of a childhood --the very thing that helps us understand what God as our “Father” even means?

They were in childhood until they ate the forbidden fruit. Regardless of if they were physically adults or not.

Eating of the fruit was not a means to maturity, but immaturity. But, you already knew that.

I understand that Treating 1 and 2 as different descriptions for the same events (the traditional view).
But when the prospective Creationist is highly interested in solving the CAIN problems, it might become a balancing act.

But when we make the 2 chapters of Genesis one Creation, we have to have some way of compelling the Creationist to accept the Evolution with ZERO Biblical Warrant.

How would you do that @swamidass ?

Once I’ve seen your treatment of that problem, I can offer a flexible response to the IMAGE OF GOD issue.

I am not so sure that I do. When I wrote “they were in childhood” I mean that they had the heart of a child, they were in a state of innocence and trust as Christ desires even for us today. The taking of the fruit was more a determination of how they would mature rather than a step either forward or backward in maturity. Eventually, when they were ready, God would have shown them right and wrong. They chose to learn it the hard way.

You may know that I take a “high view” of the text. It is very hard for me to reconcile the text with a scenario in which Eve starts as a baby and grows up into womanhood. With Adam I suppose there is nothing there to rule it out, but it seems like reading something into the text which is not there. Perhaps I am missing something there but I am just letting you know how I see things at this point.

You are unnecessarily taking lego blocks out of our toy box. I don’t have a sequential view of Genesis 1 and 2, but rather the second chapter is an amplification of a key event just barely mentioned in the first chapter. It is a story within a story speaking of a second smaller creation within the first creation done in order to initiate the process of redeeming that larger creation. So I do not take a sequential view of chapters one and two but I do accept that they were telling different though related stories of two creations.

Now none of that saves you from the “Biblical Warrant” issue for human evolution. But it does mean that there was an original human race whose origins are less defined in chapter one.

NOTE @swamidass I was very pleased overall withthe article you put up on an Old Earther and Peaceful Science but this one sentence fragment in your introductory paragraph does not accurately describe my views: “where he independently comes to a sequential reading of Genesis 1 and 2.” Rather it should say something like “where he independently concludes that Genesis 1 and 2 were telling different but related stories.” or they “describe an ancient humanity and a relatively recent Adam.”


I should point out, partly in honor of @jongarvey, that the Eastern Orthodox position, in particularly per Enneaus, was that sin is not as bad as Augustine makes it out to be. Enneaus did not develop his idea to move the problem of sin from God to humanity (as per Augustine); he developed his idea so that people would understand the role of sin was to ultimately improve humanity, to make him more compassionate for others who have sinned, and to improve the quality of the spirit of humanity.

Naturally, you don’t have to accept Enneaus’ view. But I at the least wanted to make sure you knew about his position.

@anon46279830… well yes, I know all that.

My point is: like any other “unique interpretation of the Bible”, people look for a warrant to hold a new or unusual view.

Right now, @swamidass Model promoters can point to the less-than-definitive evidence for two different creations (with two different stories) as the reason to hold the view.

But if a promoter encounters someone who won’t budge in his opposition to the two-story premise (maybe someone like you?), exactly how does @swamidass (or anyone) expect to move that person to a dual population model without any warrant? [[ <=<< Joshua, this is a question I need answered by you! ]]

I understand that @swamidass believes that the model works even if there is ZERO STORY in Genesis to support an evolved population - - it would seem to me (and I’m just winging it here for the moment) that anyone who rejects the 2-Creation/2-Story scenario because he/she found it insufficiently supported by Biblical text, is even more likely to reject the …

…2-Creation/Story-for-Just-One scenario as well!

@Guy_Coe, and others, what is left to provide warrant for 2 Creations, if we make 2-Creations/2-Stories dispensable?

Agreed that we should be careful about reading into the text what is not there, namely:

  1. the “creation” of Adam (it’s not there; this verb is entirely missing with regards to Adam, until his retrospective genealogy in Genesis 5)
  2. the phrase “formed from dust” as being some kind of refutation of normal embryological development (see the Job 10: 8-12 passage on that subject )
  3. the “deep sleep as anesthesia for surgery view” ( an anachoronistic view totally unfamiliar to ancient culture), rather than it being for a revelatory vision where Adam learns of Eve’s companionable significance just before God presents her to him (no “de novo” Eve, either. That was part of a vision.)
  4. the recapitulative view, which ignores the linking toledot chiasm between the two stories, signaling a full stop to the prior and a new start to the second
  5. the confusion caused by recapitulation, presenting the fall as after the start of day seven, but not the rest of the same story in the prior chapter (2:5 to end), when the Adam and Eve in the garden account makes no mention of a transition to another day.
  6. the theologically unnecessary notion of Adam as the “first man” ever, based on a misunderstanding of the 1st Corinthians 15:45 passage, which also identifies Jesus as the “last” man, in a typological comparison, not a taxonomic claim
  7. could list more, but these are the main ones.
    You can brush each and every one of these false notions aside, based upon a careful reading of the Hebrew text. Each one of them arises from a “plain reading” of the English translation, without properly taking into account the very distinct meanings specified by the ancient Hebrew nature of the stories.
    It changes the model and the paradigm.