WLC Telegraphs The "Ancient" GAE

A major update from WLC dropped yesterday. He revealed the approach he is gravitating to, an “ancient GAE,” which is a modification of the “recent GAE” that is the focus of my book.

Scientific Quest for Human Origins

For me, the operative question has become, where in evolutionary history are a historical Adam and Eve most plausibly to be located? Since Adam and Eve are supposed to be the ancestors of every human being that has ever lived (this excludes theories according to which Adam and Eve were selected by God out of a wider, pre-existing, human population), the question thus becomes, what evidence is there for the first appearance of human beings in history? This is a difficult question because it raises the further question, what is it to be human ? While it may be difficult to lay down necessary and sufficient conditions for “being human,” if we begin with ourselves as paradigmatic examples of human beings, then what we want to know is when people like us first appeared on the scene.

Anatomically modern human beings are thought to have originated in Africa around 300,000 -200,000 years ago. So an initial answer to our question might be to locate Adam and Eve around that time. So doing would presumably require us Caucasians to shake off our culturally conditioned and even racist assumption that Adam and Eve looked like white Europeans, as depicted in paintings of the Italian Renaissance, rather than black Africans. But I think most of us are capable of making that adjustment.

When I began this study, part of my motivation was the challenge said to be posed by population genetics to the idea of an original human pair. It was asserted in the strongest of terms that the genetic profile of the current human population could never have arisen from a single human pair but required a population that was at no time in history less than 10,000 people. This conclusion was said to be as certain as the earth’s going around the sun!

Well, to my complete surprise, it turns out that this problem is nothing but smoke! The calculations tacitly assumed that there was no outside genetic input into the population descended from Adam and Eve. But we know that assumption to be false. There were populations of other archaic hominins which interbred with Homo sapiens , such as Neanderthals and Denisovans. As the chart shows, Neanderthals and Denisovans interbred not only with each other but also with Homo sapiens [modern humans].

We carry DNA not only from Neanderthals and Denisovans but probably also from lost lineages that “infected” them. Moreover, Homo sapiens DNA infiltrated Neanderthal DNA long before and then got recycled and passed back to us via interbreeding. So it’s impossible to make a clean distinction between our DNA and theirs. This seems to be an absolute game changer for genetic objections to a traditional Adam and Eve. Could there be an original couple from whom all humanity descends? Absolutely! There could well have been an original human couple whose descendants interbred with other lineages, resulting in the genetic profile of humanity observed today. Estimates of ancient human population size based on mutational distances among the present human population now seem pointless and futile. For we are no longer interested whether the present mutational distances among people can be traced back to a single couple on the assumption that the human lineage is “pure” or hermetically sealed to outside influences. For that assumption is grossly mistaken.

The question that then arises for me is, what about these Neanderthals and Denisovans? Were they also human? In interbreeding with them, were the descendants of Adam and Eve engaged in bestiality, either willingly or by compulsion? Maybe so, given humanity’s fall into sin; but maybe not! The anatomical differences between Neanderthals (we have no extensive Denisovan remains) and modern humans were not that radical. Neanderthals were stockier and well-suited for living during the Ice Age, had brow ridges and a flatter skull (though these vary), and a broader pelvis and a differently shaped rib cage.

Composite reconstruction of a complete Neanderthal skeleton (left), compared with a Homo sapiens of similar stature. Photo by Ken Mowbray.

[Tattersall, p. 222]

These differences don’t seem all that radical. Neanderthals were not stooped apemen. Significantly, their cranial capacity was close to that of modern humans, so they may have had comparable intelligence.

The “Turkana Boy” skeleton (KNM-WT 15000) from Nariokotome, West Turkana, Kenya. DS.

[Tattersall, p. 178]

In 1982 the remains of an eight-year-old boy dated to around 1.2 million years ago were unearthed near Lake Turkana in Kenya. This date is earlier than the split of modern human beings and the line that led to Neanderthals and Denisovans. What is amazing about the Turkana Boy, as he has come to be known, is that from the neck down he has a modern human skeleton and would have stood about 5 foot 4 inches tall. But his cranial capacity was smaller than modern humans or Neanderthals, so that he would have lacked their brain size and, hence, intelligence. One of the lessons of this remarkable skeleton is that essentially modern human anatomy may have originated much earlier than we realized.

It also shows that merely modern anatomy doth not a human being make. It’s possible for a hominin to have evolved modern anatomical characteristics without having the full cognitive capacities (and, hence, a rational soul) of a human person. Recently I finished reading Becoming Human by the developmental psychologist Michael Tomasello. He is engaged in extensive testing of human children and chimpanzees with respect to their cognitive capacities. He shows that chimps have intentionality and can use and carry tools in order to execute those intentions.

To be honest, I used to be averse to such attempts to demonstrate advanced cognitive capacities in apes because they seemed to diminish human uniqueness. Tomasello, however, shows that what makes humans unique is their capacity from early infancy forward to form joint intentionality with another human being (like bonding with its mother) so as to have a sense of “we,” which no ape has. Humans are able to think symbolically and to acquire language, which no ape has been able to learn.

Now if this is right, then what we want to know is when evidence of such joint intentionality appears in the evolutionary process. Tool use is not enough. I actually now welcome signs of intelligence in apes because that serves to keep Australopithecines (ancient bipedal apes that many think were evolutionary precursors to humans) securely on the ape side of the divide.
Since joint intentionality is not something that one can directly discern in the fossil record, what paleoanthropologists need to look for are signs of human culture which show such joint and collective intentionality. Look, for example, at an artist’s drawing of an ancient hunter’s hut, discovered in excavations near Nice, France, which has been dated to some 340,000 years go!

Artist’s reconstruction of one of the hutlike structures at Terra Amata, France, with side cut away to show a hearth and interior debris. Drawing by DS after a concept by Henry de Lumley.

[Tattersall, p. 169]

Surely, such a construction is the product of human intelligence! Significantly, recent studies of Neanderthal skeletal remains suggest that they may have been physically capable of speech. If we can get used to the idea that Adam and Eve were not Caucasians, maybe we can get used to the idea that they didn’t look like a modern European either and that they gave rise to the line leading to Neanderthals as well as modern humans.

These are the sort of intriguing and difficult questions that now occupy my mind as I seek to integrate the biblical material with the scientific evidence.

October Monthly Report with Dr. William Lane Craig

This is going to get interesting very quickly.


Cranial capacity is not a reliable indicator of intelligence


He seems to be comfortable with and accepting of evolution now.


Homo Erectus of a million years ago had human behaviors: language, culture, tool making technology and industry.

It is getting more and more obvious that the only way to preserve any theological value of an Adam and Eve of Genesis is to accept them as fictional characters in an ancient mythological story and accept a theology that is compatible with the scientific knowledge of human origins that we now have.

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This all seems a bit confused. He starts with the idea that H. sapiens was created as a single couple that interbred with other Homo species and ends with the idea that either Homo or Australopithecus or something was created as a single couple. In neither case does this appear to be GAE. It’s genetic AE, with (in the first case only) interbreeding with congeners (but not conspecifics).


You are very correct that he handles the people outside the garden differently, an that his position is not fully developed yet.

However, turns out he is only concerned with universal genealogical ancestry, not genetic.

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Still, his model is of the fiat creation of a new species as a single pair, in which case genealogical and genetic ancestry are the same. It’s only slightly complicated by introgression from other species. And in his model, the bulk of your genome comes from A&E.

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Well not necessarily. This is not yet a well formed model. As I say in the title, he is telegraphing his direction.

Also, he does not think Adam and Eve were de novo created.

Yes, necessarily, as he describes it so far.

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Of course, but that is how he describes it now, not his final position, and you also are inferring he thinks AE are de novo, but he does not think this.

Then what does this mean?:

It means that merely selected out of a larger population does not work for him, but de novo is not the only alternative. Refurbishment (either spiritual or physical) is another option.

Has he said this? It certainly isn’t an obvious implication of what you quoted. Either you’re putting words in his mouth, or you are privy to information you haven’t made public. In the latter case, the quote was either badly expressed or he’s changed his views since.

It is just a fact that there are more options than just de novo creation and merely chosen. He also has stated he has no problem with the common descent of AE in the past.

I don’t think that’s just a fact; it puts undue burden on that one word “merely”. And if he’s said that in the past, it contradicts what he says in the quote. I see all this as you trying to make sense of his contradictory statements without input from him.

Well, I do have input from him :slight_smile: . You also know this too. So not really sure your point.

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But do you have relevant input? Your previous post seems to deny that, by ignoring my invitation to communicate information you haven’t made public. Why so tight-lipped?

It is more fun when things roll out slowly, especially in a situation like this :slight_smile: .

Fun for you maybe. Frustrating for me and perhaps for others. Are we talking about anything here or are we not?


I don’t think so, not right now. This is going to play out in public. I can’t jump the gun on this, because it is WLC’s story, not mine.