To help move the conversation forward, I wanted define polygenesis and monophylogeny. This is a sensitive and important topic, because polygenesis was used by racists as justification for denigrating other people.
What Exactly is Polygenesis?
Polygenesis is not actually about Adam and Eve. Many people who affirmed polygenesis did not even believe Adam and Eve were real, or believed that we all had an origin in single population. Polygenesis always has these characteristics:
- Humans are separated into distinct lineages (species or sub-species), with differences in biological abilities.
- These distinct sub-species persist to current day (denial of monophylogeny )
Humans can arise from multiple or single sources in the distant past.
These distinct lineages either arose from different Adam&Eve couples (one version) or by speciation from a single source (the evolutionary version).
Three Types of Polygenesis
Here are three different versions of polygenesis.
Adam and Eve Polygenesis (left): This version was put forward by many slaveholders and segregationists. The believed everyone arose from Adam and Eve, without any interbreeding with others. Still at some point God separated everyone into biologically distinct categories that needed to remain separate. Sometimes this was associated with the “curse of Ham.”
The Adams and Eves Polygenesis (center): This version was put forward several times, most infamously La Preyrer. He argued there were several Adams and Eves, and that they produced distinct populations across the globe. People after him argued that each group had different intellectual capabilities, rights, and worth.
Evolutionary polygenesis (middle): This version was the scientific version of polygenesis, put forward for about a century, alongside the religious version. This version also held that humans had diversified into different subspecies, with different intellectual capabilities and worth.
All three of these versions of origins are wrong.
What Exactly is Monophylogeny?
The way that modern science came to reject polygenesis is by discovering and affirming monophylogeny in the present day. Monophylogeny states:
- There may have been different types of human in the past (such as in the scientific account)
- In current day, there is only species of human.
There is an immense amount of evidence for this. So it turns out that polygenesis is false.
Three Types of Monophylogeny
Here are three versions of monophylogeny.
Genetic Adam and Eve (left): This is the classic story of Scripture, and was a bulwark against polygenesis in the church. Everyone descends from Adam and Eve, and there was no interbreeding with others.
Genealogical Adam and Eve (center): This is the classic story of Scripture too, but also, includes interbreeding with others in the distant past. With the genealogical correction to their understanding, this includes Walton, Kidner, Alexander, and also many of us here at PS.
Evolution Monophylogeny (right): This is the current understanding in science. Humans arise as a population, but there was substantial interbreeding through our history, at least among Sapiens, such that we are certain we are all the same species.
What Are The Lessons Here?
It should be clear that polygenesis is more about the present than the past. It is built around the false claim that people alive today are of different biological types. This turns out to be false. What ever one believes about the distant past, polygenesis should be rejected. We should affirm the unity of all mankind in the present day, but blaming racism on details of the distant past alone is not a coherent rule.