The Bible Does NOT Teach that All Humans Descended SOLELY From Adam and Eve

I have noticed a lot of powerful work here on what the science says about how unlikely it is that the entire human race descended from a single couple, at least within the last 200K years. But maybe we should treat our theology a bit more like we do our science. When there is some problem with one of our premises maybe we should take another look at it. Does the Bible even actually say that Adam was the sole progenitor of the entire human race?

Not only does the answer turn out to be “no”, but the truth actually results in a much more Christ-centered view of early Genesis that the traditional view of the material.

Nor does the Bible actually teach that the flood of Noah bottle-necked the whole human race…

So maybe we (Christian apologists) are trying to match the genetic evidence to the wrong scenario. Maybe we should be trying to match it to this view of the text.

1 Like

Hello Mark Moore (@anon46279830), its great to have you contribution.

My goal here is not to advocate for any particular view of Adam, but to better explain what the scientific evidence does and does not say. From your view of the text, the questions about a bottleneck are less important than the observations that we would still all descend from Adam (see the Genealogical Adam work). That has helpful theological implications for a lot of people. In fact, Adam could be ancestor of all mankind, depending on how we define it.

Before we go deeper, can you tell us who you are and what brought you to this? Do you have a seminary education, for example?

OK Doctor,

I am in my mid-50s. I have a wife and three children. We attend the local Lutheran church in my small town, which is in Arkansas only a few miles from the Missouri border. When I am here that is. We travel a lot due to the fact that my most recent jobs have been negotiating oil and gas pipeline agreements from both private landowners and corporate and government entities. The last one was in the Toledo area. Between projects now, which is why I have time to do this.

In my youth I taught science in the public schools for twelve years, mostly earth science. It was difficult for me when my students would not accept, on religious grounds, that I believed that the earth was ancient. If I work out here, remind me to tell you about the time that YEC Kent Hovind came to town and the student who wanted me to visit with him after his stchick.

My only university degree is in Business Administration, with an emphasis in quantitative analysis, plus enough science to get me certified to teach. I do not have a seminary degree. That is why, when I wrote the book which I am drawing these videos from I hired a retired seminary professor to look over my very early manuscripts. Not to see if he agreed with me, but to make sure I was not a heretic. He told me I wasn’t, so I published. I sure don’t mind if you do the same. In fact I would welcome it.

It wasn’t my first book. I had dabbled in politics a lot as a younger man- still do some. If you are in the area you may hear my name in the news next week as I challenged an unconstitutional ballot access law in Arkansas and the judge is going to issue his ruling in the next couple of days. He has told my lawyer that he is going to rule that the law is unconstitutional. Anyway, I wrote a book on political philosophy and it did well in certain nerd political philosophy circles. That is fine by me as I am a nerd trapped in what used to be a jock’s body.

Now you also asked “what brought you to this?” By the question you must mean either the theology in the videos or taking them to your forum. I will answer each.

I had long struggled with the text of early Genesis, through the flood account. I read a lot of Dr. Hugh Ross’s stuff, and accepted a lot of it, but I never really was comfortable by some of the ways they reconciled the text with the science. For instance, as the likely date for the human race was pushed further back, the amount of “gaps” in the genealogies made them, well untenable. Nor did I agree with his idea that the human race was all in one area when the flood of Noah came. The human race has been spread out for many tens of thousands of years.

At any rate, I had studied it and turned it all over in my mind without any resolution I could be confident in for many years. Then one day last year I just picked up the Bible and opened up to the first two chapters of Genesis and it was like I was reading it for the first time. I said to myself “chapter one and chapter two don’t seem like they are telling quite the same story”. And an impression, it is indescribable really what it was, just came over me “they’re not.”

That started a year of intense study and writing which has only recently really come to an end, or maybe the next phase is a better way to put it. During that year I could just see things in the text that I could never see before in forty years of looking at it. I didn’t “figure this out”. I only “figured out” the details. The framework just came to me almost effortlessly. Most of the “effort” was finding every scripture I could think of which would nullify the framework in an effort to “negate the hypothesis” for it. That and looking into the Hebrew and Greek- not enough to be a scholar at it but just thinking “well if that is a good translation of that English word then the hypothesis is negated so let me look it up” and sure enough it would be a terrible translation and the actual meaning would tend to confirm the framework. It happened repeatedly.

So I started writing. And by the time I got to the flood account what I thought I was going to say about it was completely different than what I wound up writing about it- and vastly more elegant. I thought I was going to stop there and beg off on the tower of Babel, but by the time I got there I had something to say about it.

I think something happened to me. Some meta-insight where everything just went “click” that had not clicked for 40 years no matter who I listened to talk about it. There is a verse where it says Jesus “opened their minds that they might understand the scriptures.” The closest thing that I can figure is that something like that happened to me on the cosmology of early Genesis. Why me? I don’t know, but not because my formal learning on the subject is top drawer, or even middle drawer. I guess I am John Denver in the “Oh God” Movie.

But hey, it either matches scripture or it does not. Something does not become true or false based on who is saying it. I suppose though, in once sense it is less likely that a person with little formal education will discover something in scripture missed by the experts. Yet in another sense, if the experts are trained to think in one framework, if the institutions from which they draw their honor and sustenance back that framework, then they are less likely to see it is inaccurate - particularly when they evidence that it is inaccurate comes from outside their area of expertise.

In this case, the evidence is from nature and science that their view of things is incomplete or mistaken, but they are not experts in that so they are sailing along with their models thinking things are fine. It is not like what Mr. Matheson was complaining of on Biologos, that scientists are not going to miss a scientific problem with the framework that a non-scientist will notice. Theologians can miss a problem with their framework if the problem is detected via scientific means. And since they are theologians, if the solution to the problem comes via a Deus EX Machina to a nobody then how can they complain? That is what they say He does!

Now the other way to look at your question is what brought me to THIS FORUM. Well, I went to BioLogos thinking “This framework would benefit them”. If people are always after them for “not believing what the Bible says” because they think mankind began as a group not a couple, and in the distant past not 6-10K years ago. Plus, they don’t detect a recent bottleneck as would be the case if there was a flood which reduced the human population to eight persons. And also, I think it sort of unites the OEC position with the TE position because creation is happening in two realms and what happens in the land above is a lot like TE. So I went there.

When I got there and said that I thought there was an original creation of the human race and Adam and Eve were just the final part of that effort- because they were to produce the line which would redeem it- people said “Oh that is like Swamidass”. So I though “oh, he is even closer than the average member here to what I am saying. And he has his own forum. He could handle the scientific aspect showing that humanity started as a group not a pair, and Adam and Eve are not the sole progenitors of the human race. He can show the science and this framework has scripture that dovetails with the science.”

So you can show that this is what nature is telling us about our origins, and I can show that scripture supports what nature is telling us.

But my, I do go on when talking about myself. I will stop now.

1 Like

You are attempting to persuade Christians about certain scientific truths concerning the origins of mankind. That is going to be a tough sales job on Christians with a high view of scripture if you ignore that aspect of it. They are going to give you all kinds of what they think and say are science reasons why they don’t buy what you are selling, but I do sales and there is often a difference between the stated objection and the actual objection.

In this case, the stated reason will be that they don’t agree with you on the science. The actual reason will be that they perceive that you are asking them to give up a high view of scripture and they are not willing to do that. What I am saying it that they can keep the high view of scripture, they only have to change their understanding of what it says. Some won’t even go that far but still that is far, far, less of a leap you are asking them to make if this is available to them than if it isn’t. That is why I thought I could help.

The motivation for the recent interest in human bottlenecks is apologetic. It is an attempt to make a case for saying “Geneticist: Adam and Eve could have existed”. Dr Swamidass has spent a great deal of time constructing a “strong concordist” (as opposed to “soft concordist” or “weak concordist”), case for the existence of Adam and Eve as the first humans who ever lived and the progenitors of every human who has ever lived. He does not personally hold this view, but he believes it’s important to find ways of interpreting the science which can accommodate different Christian views.

1 Like

I did not mean him matching it to the wrong scenario but others, “we” being Christian apologists in general, who think Adam was the sole progenitor of the human race. It is my understanding that he does not think that. I don’t either. I did not know he considered Adam the first human. I see no theological need for him to be first, per the video. Still, as I understand it he thinks by now Adam is somewhere in everyone’s genealogical line, even though this does not mean that genes from Adam are in every person.

This models is a little different from that but the main thing is that there is the human race as a whole and then there is the line of Adam from that race whose job is to produce Messiah and kick start civilization a bit to set the scene for Him. No bottleneck of two at the start for humanity and no bottleneck at the flood of Noah- that was the history of the line to produce Messiah not all the planet.

Yes I understand that. I’m pointing out that his apologetic work is being carried out specifically to defend the idea of Adam and Eve as the universal ancestors of every human who has ever lived, so suggesting to him “Hey what about an idea which isn’t actually that idea and which doesn’t require Adam and Eve to have been the sole progenitors of every human who has ever lived?”, isn’t going to appeal. You’re asking him to take on board a view which is the opposite of the one he’s trying to argue for.

But YECs and most IDers won’t like this, so it’s a non-starter.

Perhaps I still misunderstand his work. Here is what I am thinking and maybe someone will correct me if this scenario would contradict his actual position; Universal Ancestors means they are in the family tree somewhere. Say there were 10,000 humans to start. Adam and Eve came along, say by special creation even, and began mixing with them at some point later. In that scenario then after enough generations Adam would be somewhere in ancestry of every person on earth, even if so diluted that they don’t have much or any of his specific genes. They are among the ancestors of every human on earth. BUT they are not the sole progenitors of the human race. They are the progenitors of their own line, but regarding the human race they share that honor with the 10,000 who came before them.

If his position is consistent with that, then my position is not the opposite of what he is arguing for but aligns well with it.


I would make just a few edits… but generally speaking, you are on track. The difference is: Joshua is trying to create a scenario that makes the least requirement for modifying what is in Genesis… most of the changes are simply to allow for the existence of demonstrably present evidence for an Old Earth, fossils that agree with that age, and speciation with common descent, including Primates being the source of the 10,000 “adams” that existed outside of Eden:

The modified paragraph would continue as:
"… Say there were 10,000 humans to start. Adam and Eve came along, say by special creation even [aka: de novo Adam & Eve], and began mixing with them at some point later. [In other words, the descendants of Adam & Eve begin pairing up with the non-Eden population of humans, all of which were made in the Image of God]

“In that scenario then after enough generations Adam would be somewhere in ancestry of every person on earth, even if so diluted that they don’t have much or any of his specific genes.” [1st, conservative estimates require about 2,000 years for this to occur, using minimum rates of emigration to all populated parts of the Earth. 2nd, the loss of genetic information from any single ancestor, usually occurs within 7 generations
- 46 to 23 to 12 to 6 to 3 to 1 to 0); 46 chromosomes, in general, can only be sifted out so far.]

“They are among the ancestors of every human on earth. BUT they are not the sole progenitors of the human race.” [The word “progenitor” is inclined to create an erroneous impression unless preceded with the indefinite article: in other words, "After 2000 years, Adam would be ‘(a) progenitor of all humanity.’]

"They Adam & Eve’s line now encompasses all of humanity" replaces “They are the progenitors of their own line”, because over time their line has become so broad that there no other humans alive outside of “their own line”.

The phrase “But regarding the human race they share that honor with the 10,000 who came before them” must be replaced with: "But regarding the human race, they share the honor of ‘Universal Common Ancestor’ with several other pairs that were alive when Adam & Eve were created de novo; but not all non-Eden pairs alive at the time of Adam & Eve can become UCA’s - - some lineages must, by mathematical inevitability, become genealogical dead-ends."