Sole-Genealogical Progenitorship

Continuing the discussion from John Harshman: Bottlenecks and Trans-Species Variation:

I want to make a few points.

  1. I am making a distinction between sole-genealogical progenitorship and sole-genetic progenitorship. The science is exactly the Genealogical Adam. I’m just arguing that it the Genealogical Adam is consistent with sole-progenitorship as it is historically understood because all major sole-progenitorship traditions have allowed for interbreeding between Adam’s line and others.

  2. The way I define sole-genealogical progenitorship includes theology, and is not purely a scientific definition. I say it means “there is an important theological status (good or bad) exclusively granted to the genealogical descendants of Adam and Eve, and no one else, and now applies to all of us because we all descend from Adam.” Notice I am talking about theological status transmitted by genealogical ancestry, and this does not deny interbreeding. It is not visible from a biology or scientific point of view, but might have importance in theology.

  3. There are several possible ways to understand sole-genealogical progenitorship, but because I’m the first one using the term, i"m defining it in a particular way. You are understanding it as to be linked to sole-genetic progenitorship. I’m understanding it consistent with how it has been understood in theology, where it has always allowed for interbreeding with other lineages (which means it is not sole-genetic progenitorship).

  4. Sole-genealogical progenitorship is consistent with how Kenneth Kemp uses the term Monogenesis, and how @Andrew_Loke and @AntoineSuarez, and Reasons to Believe, and AIG, are all understanding Adam and Eve’s progenitorship of the human race. All these groups are allowing for interbreeding between Adam’s line and others, which would introduce new genetic information into our lineage, but would still define the mankind of Scripture exclusively as the genealogical descendants of Adam and Eve.

  5. The language of theological confessions and doctrine is that “we all naturally descend from Adam and Eve,” not that “Adam’s line never interbred with other lines.” My point is that sole-genealogical progenitorship is perfectly consistent with this language, and is in fact what people meant. I understand you may not agree on that historical/theological claim, but on the science I’m on solid ground. This is outside the view of the scientific evidence.

  6. Regarding the book I agree that introducing it too soon without full explanation creates confusion. That is going to be changed. This needs to be explained carefully and completely. I suspect it will no longer appear in the first chapter.

Might I suggest that “sole-genealogical progenitor” is a very bad term for what you’re talking about here, since it isn’t sole at all? In your scenario, we aren’t even primarily descended from Adam and Eve’s lineage. Their line became quickly integrated into the larger human population, and they would have become indistinguishable from any other ancestor. You need a completely different word to encapsulate what you’re talking about, or it will be a source of immense confusion no matter how well explained.

I’m not confusing genetic with genealogical progenitorship. Your genetic ancestors are a subset of your genealogical ancestors, as you have pointed out. Here you’re implying a superset, which is just wrong. All your genetic ancestors are genealogical ancestors too, and you have additional genealogical ancestors that aren’t genetic ancestors. There can be no “sole-genealogical progenitorship” without “sole-genetic progenitorship” (though the reverse is technically possible) unless you’re Humpty Dumpty.

Now, what you’re talking about would seem to be “sole-original-sin progenitorship”, in which all descendants of Adam inherit (non-genetically, it goes without saying) some important feature, and solely through his lineage. You just can’t call that “sole-genealogical progenitorship” without doing violence to language and confusing the reader.

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I tend to agree with @John_Harshman here.

Lets face it… it is going to be very hard for neophytes to notice the difference between Genetic and Genealogical in this context…

And “sole” doesnt seem to apply to anything OTHER than Original Sin!

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Okay @John_Harshman, I’ve been thinking about this. Let’s be clear though that we seem aligned on the scientific side. What we are discussing the clearest terminology to use. How do you feel about these options/phrases:

  1. Sole-genealogical progenitorship, but not sole-genetic progenitorship
  2. Sole-progenitorship by genealogical descent from a single couple.
  3. Sole-progenitorship by genealogical descent from a single couple that interbreeds by others.
  4. Progenitorship by genealogical descent from a single couple
  5. Theological sole-progenitorship by genealogical descent from a single couple

Which of these make it more clear to you?

I’m not sure any of them work. Why “sole”? What is it that we inherit solely from A&E? Whatever that is, it should be in the term you use, if you’re going to have it start wit “sole”. That gets rid of 1-3 and 5, as far as I can see. 4 seems out because we have genealogical descent from all the couples, so this isn’t a term that applies to A&E in particular.

You need to think about what exactly you are talking about and then derive a term that communicates that. I have suggested sole-original-sin progenitorship, which may be clumsy but might actually say what you mean, if that’s what you mean. What do you mean?

Also, “progenitorship” seems like a 2 dollar word for “ancestry”.

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Is it time to examine whether all non Adamite lineages could be systematically dead-ended by God?

Otherwise, how can you use terms like “sole” or “single couple”?

If descent from that single couple is uniquely important then they are “sole”. Other lines would be subsumed into this line as they interbred with it. They also would be our ancestors, but we would be a different category.


But this takes us back to John’s point: the only thing that makes them uniqely important is that they convey original sin.

I’m willing to say “some important theological status, like original sin”. It is not necessarily orginal sin nor is it necessarily exclusively original sin. I’ve said that from the beginning.

This is not an objection except to insist that sole progenitor must be understood without reference to theology. Certainly makes sense for biologists to think this way, but not for theologians.

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Sorry, but that isn’t what “sole” means, and you will confuse people exceedingly if you continue using it that way.

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What are the alternative features? You are failing to make anything clear here.

“Sole” means only. The real question is “only what?” and how to make it clear.

Some people have said they also give us the Image of God, meaning that not in a biological sense, but as a vocational calling. To be clear here, Image of God is a term of art in this context, and not aligned with common usage.

I’m trying to be theologically neutral.

The first step in making it clear would be to say what you’re talking about.

That isn’t being clear at all. I have no idea what you mean, and that’s a problem. Theological neutrality apparently isn’t working to anyone’s advantage.

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You and i have said:
An historical Adam and Eve is the SOLE source of human Original Sin.

Now please notice that we DONT say Adam is the sole source of Sin. People can argue that there are other causes of sin besided Original Sin… even if some of us think Original Sin is the only source.

Butttttt… if you simply say Sole Progenitors… without specifying what is being sourced, then the natural interpretation is that the couple is the SOLE first couple of the whole shabang!

You gotta include Original Sin in the wording. There is no way around it…

Just as we MUST include ‘Original’ in the phrase as well!

What about an immortal soul? And made in Image of God? In your model, are A&E the first people to have an immortal soul and made in the image of God? Are they the first to have sinned? And then does original sin sweep through humanity generation by generation until all present humans have it. That would make hundred of millions of humans of the past to have been born without original sin. Also you need to point out if original sin, image of God, and immoral souls are pasted down along the maternal linage or the paternal linage as descendants of A&E will be mating with non-image of God, non original sin, non-soul people for thousands of years while A&E genealogical gets to everybody in the world.

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I assume that’s a typo, but it fits so well!


Okay, how about this: Biological sole-progenitorship vs. Theological sole-progenitorship?

At this point I don’t know what you intend either of them to mean. But if you’re talking about the transmission of original sin, neither of them fits. “Sole” is the proper word only if you intend original sin to be the quality originating in Adam. Also, “progenitorship” seems forced when you just mean “ancestry”.

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Biological sole-progenitorship means arising from a single couple in the past, whose lineage never interbreeds with others. This is largely how you have understood the term. It would imply genetic sole-progenitorship.

Theological sole-progenitorship means arising from a single couple in the past, whose lineage can interbreed with others. This is consistent with how you mean by the sole-original sin progenitorship. This makes clear that this is a theological concept that does not map well to biology, without specifying precisely how the theological distinctions are made.

Yeah, I don’t think that works at all. Using a term that has no clear relation to its referent can’t help but cause confusion. Your definition doesn’t even refer to what it’s designed for either. Nobody will have any idea from either the term or the definition that you’re talking about original sin. Assuming you are. What are you talking about? What theological distinctions?

Do you want to communicate the meaning of the term, or do you want to disguise it?