Todd Wood on C. J. Collins: Objections to Interbreeding with Neandertals

Note: Wood is a YEC, although he’s known for being open about the lack of scientific support for YEC. However, he seems to be trusted in YEC circles, and his objections to interbreeding with other species might be good to take note.

First, there is the problem of the initial human/animal hybrids. Were they human or not? Did they have souls? Given their animal parentage, were they morally culpable for their sin? Given their human parentage, were they eligible for redemption by Christ’s death?

These questions might sound to some easily resolved or perhaps unimportant, but given the human distinctiveness that Collins affirms in his discussion of the Image of God, how can that distinctiveness be bridged by human/animal hybrids without somehow degrading the Image? A human/animal hybrid would be expected to have only a fraction of the intellectual capabilities of its human parentage. If those intellectual capabilities are part of the Image as Collins affirms, did the hybrids have only half anImage of God? Even if Collins were to accept a positional view of the Image as discussed above, it is still unclear how a human/animal parentage would affect the covenantal relationship implied in that view. Would God merely overlook or somehow redeem the animal parentage of a human/animal hybrid?

Further, the cultural implications of a human/animal hybrid would seem to significantly hinder the possibility of persistent introgression. A single human/animal hybrid would pose theological challenges, but one could merely shrug it off as unimportant if the hybrid was viewed as a one-time freak of nature. In this case, however, the detection of Neandertal genes in modern Eurasians requires multiple episodes of hybridization and the mating of the hybrid offspring with human mates. If we follow Collins’s view of the Image of God as the sum total of qualitative differences that separate humans from animals, how could a human/animal hybrid possess enough cognitive capacity(Image of God) to find a human mate? If we viewed the initial hybridization as the consequence of rape of a human girl by a Neandertal male, could we simply view the hybrid offspring as rapists also?

These challenges are compounded when we consider hybridization with Denisovans, and inferential evidence of hybridization with unspecified African hominins (Hammer et al. 2011). Thus, if we view Adam and Eve as recent Homo sapiens , we are left with the unsettling conclusion that early humans committed bestiality, had half human, half animal offspring, and that offspring mated with other humans to such an extent that modern humans carry around perhaps as much as 4% animal genes. However, following Collins’s example of humbly discussing an unfamiliar field, I must confess that I am simply unsure about the theological implications of this position.

Alternatively, we could (as I do) reject the absolute dating of the conventional scientific chronology, or more properly, we could compress that chronology to a short period of post-Flood and post-Babel history. Consequently, the full humanity of Neandertals, Denisovans, and potentially other Homo species could be affirmed, along with any hybrids between those Homo species and Homo sapiens. The lack of technology associated with early Homo species could be viewed as simply the first generations of humans recovering from the shattering of human culture at Babel. The scientific challenges posed by this view, however, are numerous. Aside from the obvious problem of radiometric dating and the evidence of great antiquity of hominin fossils, mutation rates necessary to generate the sequence differences observed between modern humans, Neandertals, and Denisovans would have to be orders of magnitude greater than they are now (Wood 2012). How life could survive such a high mutation rate is unclear.


A lot would seem to depend on the definitions and criteria for “human” and “animal”. Wood implies that in order to be human one must be descended from Adam and Eve and also derive the great majority of one’s genome from them, with implications for intelligence and perhaps other characters.

Question: how much worse is bestiality than incest?


A candid and respectable disclosure by Wood.


I think that is one key point of contention in the great debate between a GAE model and a sole genetic progenitor model.

It is a YEC trope to explain that incest wouldn’t be biologically bad because Adam and Eve must have been genetically “perfect” somehow. (I’m not qualified to comment on the scientific plausibility of that proposal. Maybe you have something to say.)

On the other hand, it seems much rarer to explain this from a moral standpoint. If incest is wrong now, why was it not wrong for Adam’s children?

Augustine makes a rather convoluted but interesting argument that incest is wrong now because it’s better for people to have more social bonds with different families through marriage, but it wasn’t wrong back then, because Adam’s children had no other option.

As, therefore, the human race, subsequently to the first marriage of the man who was made of dust, and his wife who was made out of his side, required the union of males and females in order that it might multiply, and as there were no human beings except those who had been born of these two, men took their sisters for wives,–an act which was as certainly dictated by necessity in these ancient days as afterwards it was condemned by the prohibitions of religion. For it is very reasonable and just that men, among whom concord is honorable and useful, should be bound together by various relationships; and one man should not himself sustain many relationships, but that the various relationships should be distributed among several, and should thus serve to bind together the greatest number in the same social interests

But there was then no material for effecting this, since there were no human beings but the brothers and sisters born of those two first parents. Therefore, when an abundant population made it possible, men ought to choose for wives women who were not already their sisters; for not only would there then be no necessity for marrying sisters, but, were it done, it would be most abominable.

Augustine, The City of God, XV.16

This suggests that arguments for incest are ad hoc and originated in the need to defend it because Augustine had no alternative, since he didn’t accept people outside the garden. We’ll never know if he considered it worse than bestiality, because that wasn’t an alternative he wrote or thought about. As Wood appears not to have considered incest.

“Did not consider” would be more accurate than “did not accept.”

Yes, that’s why I said it. I’m all about accuracy. Or were you talking about the people outside the garden? Why didn’t he consider them? Was he unaware of this possibility, which you have said is one of the traditional readings?

Now, would you agree that Todd Wood doesn’t accept people outside the garden?

It was outside his view.

I say Todd Wood doesn’t have to interbreed with neanderthals if he doesn’t want to. Otherwise, what happens between consenting species is none of his business! :wink:

I’ll let myself out …


What was outside whose view, and what do you mean by that statement? You have a tendency to be cryptic, which you should take care to suppress.

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