Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith (and a contest!)

June 2, 2011 • 6:39 am

We can all argue about whether Jesus was a parthenogenetic being produced without physical insemination, and whether he became reanimated a few days after death, but getting direct evidence for those “miracles” is well-nigh impossible, and so we argue against them on the grounds of improbability.   But there’s one bedrock of Abrahamic faith that is eminently testable by science: the claim that all humans descend from a single created pair—Adam and Eve—and that these individuals were not australopithecines or apelike ancestors, but humans in the modern sense.  Absent their existence, the whole story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces.

Unfortunately, the scientific evidence shows that Adam and Eve could not have existed, at least in the way they’re portrayed in the Bible.  Genetic data show no evidence of any human bottleneck as small as two people: there are simply too many different kinds of genes around for that to be true.  There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago.  That’s as small a population as our ancestors had, and—note—it’s not two individuals.

Further, looking at different genes, we find that they trace back to different times in our past.  Mitochondrial DNA points to the genes in that organelle tracing back to a single female ancestor who lived about 140,000 years ago, but that genes on the Y chromosome trace back to one male who lived about 60,000-90,000 years ago. Further, the bulk of genes in the nucleus all trace back to different times—as far back as two million years.  This shows not only that any “Adam” and “Eve” (in the sense of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA alone) must have lived thousands of years apart, but also that there simply could not have been two individuals who provided the entire genetic ancestry of modern humans. Each of our genes “coalesces” back to a different ancestor, showing that, as expected, our genetic legacy comes from many different individuals.  It does not go back to just two individuals, regardless of when they lived.

These are the scientific facts. And, unlike the case of Jesus’s virgin birth and resurrection, we can dismiss a physical Adam and Eve with near scientific certainty.

But of course this causes much consternation for Christians—as it should for Jews, though they don’t make much noise about it.  The Templeton-funded accommodationist organization BioLogos, founded by Francis Collins and dedicated to harmonizing evangelical Christianity with scientific truth, has been in a tizzy about Adam and Eve, publishing a lot of articles about how to reconcile the science with the Biblical claim that the pair was the ultimate source of human sinfulness.  And that sinfulness, of course, is the reason why Jebus was so important.

A new BioLogos piece on Adam and Eve, written by president Darrel Falk, discusses the controversy and ways to harmonize these incompatible views. It uses as its starting point an interesting article in the latest Christianity Today, “The search for the historical Adam” (what about Eve?). You can access that article free online.  I’d recommend reading both  the 6-page Christianity Today article and Falk’s gloss on it, for both show, better than anything else, the problems that scientific data pose for Christianity—particularly American evangelical Christianity.  The Christianity Today article poses the problem starkly:

So is the Adam and Eve question destined to become a groundbreaking science-and-Scripture dispute, a 21st-century equivalent of the once disturbing proof that the Earth orbits the sun? The potential is certainly there: the emerging science could be seen to challenge not only what Genesis records about the creation of humanity but the species’s unique status as bearing the “image of God,” Christian doctrine on original sin and the Fall, the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, and, perhaps most significantly, Paul’s teaching that links the historical Adam with redemption through Christ (Rom.5:12-19; 1 Cor.15:20-23; and his speech in Acts 17.

Pastor Tim Keller, a participant in a BioLogos workshop on evolution and Adam and Eve held last November (!), says this:

“[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. . If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work “covenantally’—falls apart. You can’t say that Paul was a ‘man of his time’ but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don’t believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching.”

That, of course, is the whole problem about reinterpreting palpably literal parts of the bible as “metaphor” when science shows that they’re wrong.  But given the inventiveness and deviousness of the theological mind, there is simply nothing that can’t be conveniently reinterpreted as a metaphor.  I suppose that if we were to get evidence that Jesus either didn’t exist, was born after human copulation, or simply rotted in the tomb, that whole saga would also be reinterpreted as metaphor.  But there are some stories so critical to Christian faith that many believers aren’t willing to see them as metaphorical.  Jesus, of course, is one, but so is the tale of Adam and Eve.

The Christianity Today piece notes a couple of ways to deal with what seems to be an insuperable problem. All of them, of course, regard seeing Adam and Eve not as the literal parents of humanity, but as some kind of metaphor.  Perhaps they’re just a metaphor for our inherent sinfulness (but I, for one, refuse to believe that I am just a primate born inherently sinful). Or perhaps there was a group of ancestors that could go under the metaphorical name of “Adam and Eve.” Alternatively, perhaps there was such a literal pair, but they were only the metaphorical ancestors of humanity.  This last notion seems to be the position that most of BioLogos commenters have accepted.  But in his piece, Falk emphasizes, once again, that the organization doesn’t have a consensus view on Adam and Eve:

The Christianity Today cover story is important because it engages the Church in one of the most important questions of all: was there a historical Adam and Eve? There has been much discussion of this point on these pages and although we strongly encourage ongoing discussion, BioLogos does not take a position on the issue.

BioLogos does not take a position? That is sheer intellectual cowardice.  Of course there was no literal Adam and Eve: the genetic data show unequivocally that humanity did not descend from a single pair that lived in the genus Homo.  And this organization—founded by Francis Collins, geneticist and bigwig in the Human Genome Project, won’t take that stand?  I don’t know if BioLogos sees this, but this kind of equivocation on an absolute scientific fact makes the organization look ridiculous in the eyes of the rational.  (I suppose accommodationist organizations like the National Center for Science Education don’t mind this inability to honestly accept modern science.)

Falk goes on to discuss the several ways to force Christian theology into the Procrustean bed of genetic facts, trying to claim that in some way Adam and Eve had a literal existence.  The funniest suggestion is the “Federal Headship” model:

Although The BioLogos Forum has raised the issue and encouraged discussion, we also urge caution. The “Federal Headship” model that accepts the scientific findings while at the same time holding to the historicity of a real first couple has not yet been carefully worked out by theologians. The reason that we haven’t had many articles of that sort is because we haven’t been able to identify theologians who are looking at the question from that perspective.

What can you say to that except “LOL”?  And Falk calls for the great minds of theology to work on this problem?! Elebenty!  (What Falk means, of course, is he wants some slick person to make something up that allows for a historical First Couple while still accepting the genetic data):

The purpose of BioLogos is to show that there can be harmony between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity. We are in complete agreement with Richard Ostling (the author of the aforementioned article) and the Editors of Christianity Today that working through the historicity question is of the utmost importance to the Evangelical Church. Within the framework outlined above, it boils down to theology not science, and we urge the Church to reserve judgment for a while. Let’s keep both possibilities before us. Here’s hoping that some of our greatest theological minds will work on the question of what a model based on “Federal Headship” would look like. Here’s also hoping that some of our finest theologians will continue to work on how the view of a non-historical Adam would address some of the issues that puzzle and concern most evangelicals.

The last paragraph of Falk’s piece, which out of mercy I won’t quote here, is his usual lapsing into JesusSpeak.

The idea of the “greatest theological minds” working on this issue should make us laugh and cry at the same time.  What a waste of human effort!  But, in the end, this palaver about Adam and Eve shows the incompatibility between not only science and faith, but between BioLogos and true evangelical Christianity. No matter what those fine theological minds come up with, it will never be widely accepted among evangelical Christians.  A literal Adam and Eve is an item too important to be seen as a metaphor, for it’s a bedrock of Christian faith.  Falk and Collins should be ashamed of their organization’s involvement in such a stupid enterprise.

BUT. . . we can help them!  Like Michael Ruse, let’s lend our brains—and our considerable expertise in theology—to this enterprise, so we can relieve these poor Christians of their burden.  For an autographed paperback edition of WEIT, in one short paragraph propose your own theological solution:

What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

You cannot answer that these issues are irreconcilable; remember, you’re being a theologian who is trying to help the Christians, and so have to propose a solution that sounds superficially plausible.  If possible, write it in theologyspeak, too, and try to give it a name as interesting as “The Federal Headship Model.”  I’ll hold the contest open for a week, and then award the prize.  Entries will be judged on how well they conform to modern and sophisticated theological thinking.

561 thoughts on “Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith (and a contest!)

    1. HAHAHA! Yea and then what basis for morality should we look too? Maybe that of Richard Dawkins who sees morality as a product of “social evolution”? In “his world”, there is no moral foundation!! Good thing our country was not founded but such smart people like yourself 🙂 Don’t believe me? Just turn on the television and listen to what is going on in this country. As the crosses are removed, so is the morality and that which made our country great.

      1. Yes, secular industrialized nations are much healthier: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

        And it seems that by just about every measurement, atheists are as more or more moral than their theistic counterparts. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-do-americans-still-dislike-atheists/2011/02/18/AFqgnwGF_story.html

        I know most theists have been indoctrinated to believe that their magical beliefs are necessary for morality, but the actual evidence shows that atheists are moral without it. Of course, facts don’t matter when you have faith, eh?

        Believing in an invisible creator of “original sinners” and the hell in which to punish them and their descendents (unless they believe the right unbelievable story) is not really conducive to morality. Who’d have guessed it?

        1. correlation does not imply causation. Just because two things move together, statistically speaking, this does not mean that one causes the other, or vice versa. Both could be caused by a third factor, or it could just be a spurious correlation which means exactly nothing. So beware of anyone that draws grand conclusions from this set of facts.Speaking of which, Rosa Brooks, in an opinion piece in the LA Times today, understands this intellectual sin. Halfway through, she states “Although correlation is not causation, Paul’s study offers much food for thought.” Except that her piece is titled “The dark side of faith” and continues in the first paragraph:

          “IT’S OFFICIAL: Too much religion may be a dangerous thing. This is the implication of a study reported in the current issue of the Journal of Religion and Society, a publication of Creighton University’s Center for the Study of Religion.”

          Thank God Brooks isn’t jumping to conclusions. To be fair, Ms. Brooks later says:

          “And while Paul’s study found that the correlation between high degrees of religiosity and high degrees of social dysfunction appears robust, it could be that high levels of social dysfunction fuel religiosity, rather than the other way around.”
          Also, two of his criteria for measuring religiosity are the percentage of the population that accepts evolution, and a literal belief in the Bible. Belief in creationism and biblical inerrancy is largely a characteristic of American-style fundamentalist Christianity. So Paul really isn’t measuring the level of religiosity, but of conservative Christianity, which is a set of beliefs largely originating in the US. Small wonder the US is the outlier.

          1. I didn’t say atheism made people more moral; it’s just that people claim that you need religion to be moral, and these studies show otherwise. I agree that a third factor is involved, and I think it is likely to be I.Q./Education as both are inversely related to religiosity.

            1. The internet is very useful for exposing lies and deception due to ready access to information. Sometimes it also creates them, a growing problem mankind must resolve somehow.

              However, the overwhelming evidence of the scourge of humanity invented/created/cultivated by religion in the form of deception is something which cannot be missed when considering morality. Neither purists nor atheists have been able to explain the onslaught of the mentality underlying the trafficking of children, the use of children as sacrifice, as sexual objects, etc., or the number of children who become victims to such horrendous cultural inflictions.

              There appear to be so many in so mnay different locales that one wonders whether humans are bisexual by nature, omnisexual, or simply sexual by nature, and it remains for the culture of his habitation to impose upon him a sexual persuasion – heterosexuality or homosexuality or bisexuality.

              If morality can be found to be rooted in this peculiar problem of childhood pedophila, surely there must be a method for scholarly thinkers to reach the root of this problem, and mankind’s inability to reconcile it. That can has been kicked down the road for 2,000 years, and remains unresolved, flourishing time and again from silence, and the incentive to disguise predators within the constructs of goodness, yet retaining access to potential victims.

              It is by this deceptive mechanism that mankind may be said to be immoral despite using religion as the invisible cloak that continues to allow predators to practice their sinful craft.

              Like the big, big, big, commercial being aired just now, someone smart must say small in order for society to see the possibilities of eradicating its own methods of silent subterfuge.

              If marriage, childbearing, and natural course of human events does not appear to be as “normal” as it should, it is likely that there is a reason for it, and it’s probable that human intervention is at the root of the problem, in this case, perhaps years of devious attempts to destroy it – in the name of pleasure, profit, and power?

              Hiding pedophiles doesn’t cure their disease once it becomes ingrained. That much we know. Preventing the disease may be the only cure, and it may not respond to drugs like the AIDS vaccine or any other convention except the sunlight of exposure through hypothesis to discover its roots. Why children are forced into churches to adopt religion before the age of reason may just be the problem in its stark reality of a danger that church going parents may not be aware. But that doesn’t account for the number across the world for whom churches are not sources of this horrible problem. Because it dots the landscape of all human societies, tribal or not, there is a need to discover its roots to find a cure.

        2. “that their magical beliefs are necessary for morality.” Even Sam Harris has admitted that objective morals exist. Although he is wrong and cannot prove that they exist apart from God, I commend him for his honesty because this objective truth is inescapable. This being said, even if you took out all of the religion in the world, morality would still exist and I am aware of that. The question is, where does it come from? If there is such a thing as evil, there must be such a thing as good. If good and evil exist, there must be a basis at to judge what is evil and what is good. The only way for a basis to exist is to posit a moral law giver. If God does exist we indeed have a sound argument for objective moral values and duties. If God does not exist, we do not have a sound argument for objective moral values and duties. “Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

          1. Sam Harris says that “objective” morals exist in so far as we can measure morality. For example, if we think low infant death rates are a sign of morality in a society than those places with the lowest infant death rates would be the most moral by such a measurement. If we think people should have freedom so long as they are not harming others, then societies that give people the most freedoms might be considered the most moral. If we think threatening kids with hell is immoral, then societies with the fewest adults threatening hell would be the most moral. Get it? Or has theism affected your reasoning? If religion helped make people more moral, then we should be able to measure something that showed this affect. But there doesn’t appear to be anything.

            Of course if some god is the creator of everything… and that everything includes evil, suffering, tragedy, pain, anguish, hell, etc… then it doesn’t say very much for that god– especially if that god is thought to be omniscient and would, thus know in advance, that he was creating such things… even more-so if that god was omnipotent and could have created a better system or a world without suffering (which an omnipotent being could surely do). Certainly such a being would not be worth worshiping nor would I consider such a being “omnibenevolent”.

            I think all religions are myths and that there is nothing supernatural. However, it appears you can get humans to believe all sorts of wild things by promising them salvation, threatening them with hell, and giving them a god created in their own image. As far as the evidence is concerned, however, there is no measurable evidence that any invisible/divine beings exist. Humans evolved to be agency detectors… it’s been evolutionary advantageous to assume agency because false positives don’t threaten our lives– whereas, being too skeptical could have cost our ancestors their lives. So unless you fear eternal damnation for not believing in Adam and Eve, there really is no reason to try and make sense of the story. Unless… maybe you make a living selling “salvation” or preaching or having people invest in some brand of magical beliefs.

            From my perspective, you are dealing with infantile morality if you are treating others well due to threats of hell or promises of salvation. Perhaps theists really do need such threats and promises. However, it appears atheists are able to be as moral or more moral without sky fairies and invisible zombie saviors. If you need your beliefs to keep from doing evil, then by all means I want to encourage you to keep them. However, I will point out, that even threats of hell don’t seem to be enough to keep clergy from diddling kiddies. Of course, I guess such actions didn’t bother jesus-god too much since he never mentioned it in the top 10… though he did think it important to keep the sabbath day holy and not worship graven images. You also aren’t supposed to have any gods “before him” which is why Muslims find the whole Jesus as god thing to be blasphemous. Did you know the bible god also seemingly endorses slavery and sending bears to maul children for teasing prophets? I suppose you are able to justify and reason out an explanation for those things too, aren’t you. From my subjective perspective it seems like you’re getting your morality from some entity who is more immoral than anyone I know… that is, if the magical book he is said to have inspired holds any truth at all. Myself, I think Christians are clearly as delusional as they think the Scientologists must be.

            1. Sam Harris says that “objective” morals exist in so far as we can measure morality.

              If he thinks morality can be “measured,” he is a fool.

              OTOH, the atheist philosopher Richard Rorty wrote, in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, “For liberal ironists, there is no answer to the question ‘Why not be cruel?’ – no noncicular theoretical backup for the belief that cruelty is horrible. … Anyone who thinks that there are well grounded theoretical answers to this sort of question – algorithms for resolving moral dilemmas of this sort – is still, in his heart, a theologian or metaphysician.”

              And Alex Rosenberg, in “The Disenchanted Naturalists Guide to Reality,” asserts that naturalism denies the existence of objective moral value, of beliefs and desires, of the self, of linguistic meaning, and indeed of meaning or purpose of any sort. All attempts to evade this conclusion, to reconcile naturalism with our common sense understanding of human life, inevitably fail, and we just have to learn to live with that. A belief in meanings and purposes is what puts us on a “slippery slope” to religion.

              Stanley Fish and Fred Nietzsche pointed out that the “English flatheads” (Nietzsche’s phrase) were smuggling in concepts from the defunct religion.

              We find similar conclusions from Sartre, Nietzsche, and others.

              For the contrary view – that atheists and others can behave morally – see Paul’s letter to the Romans 2:11-16, which forms the basis for natural law theory. The irony is that many who rely on natural law to behave morally deny the existence of natural law (except for inanimate objects).

              IOW, you are following St. Paul and medieval Christian doctrine rejected by the great atheists of the 20th century.
              + + +
              if we think low infant death rates are a sign of morality in a society… If we think people should have freedom so long as they are not harming others… If we think threatening kids with hell is immoral…

              But, pace Stanley Fish, why exactly should we think those things? What if we were to think that racial hygiene is a “sign” of morality and societies that purify their racial makeup are more moral? What Fish pointed out was that the decisions as to what is moral must logically precede such secondary formulas.

              1. God damn but you’re an obnoxious overeducated moron.

                Look, it’s trivial.

                If you’re a threat to others, those others will work to counter the threat you pose to them, which in turn costs you. Considering there’s one of you and the whole rest of the population of them, you simply can’t win.

                If a small group of people pool their resources, they’ll be far more successful than a similar number of isolated individuals.

                So, there you have it: only idiots harm others, and it’s in your own best interests to help others.

                And there’s absolutely need for zombies with intestine-fondling fetishes to figure any of this out. And angry giants who tend magic gardens with talking snakes? Please. Grow up.

                Indeed, if you think about it for even half a minute, it should become blindingly obvious that the best you could possibly hope for from the sort of despotic overlord you so fervently wish were real is for you to achieve the status of a pet. The only other two options are to be ignored if you’re lucky, or to be the fattened calf fit for a feast.

                What is it with Christians being so desperate to be sheep? Don’t they know what shepherds do to sheep?

                Cheers,

                b&

      2. Well, let us look at morality in the bible. Stoning people for apostasy, working on the Sabbath, adultery, stoning your unruly children, slavery, genocide, Ripping women open and dashing their babies against walls? I don’t think I want that kind of morality. I think I would prefer a morality that has been discussed, reasoned and rational. After all, A Christian can do all kinds of horrific things and all they have to do is pray for forgiveness. An atheist, on the other hand, has only to follow the golden rule. Atheists don’t need a book to tell them it is wrong to hurt others. It is innate in all of us.

      3. morality… interesting word when it comes to the bible which causes wars spreads. and it was written by a bunch of racist, sexcist, and homophobic people in a backwards ass time that has almost no relevance in todays world.

      4. To believe without religion one can have no morals is absurd. Morals are innate and without them the jews could never have made it as far as Sinai and the ten commandments. (There were actually 613 laws including the ten commandments.)

    2. I think the answer is easy. In some Islamic books we read: before Adam and eve there were creatures like human but with different race. Adam and eve’s two sons got marid to two girls whose race were different from Adam and Eve.
      Then the female gen in human must be older than
      male gen.because the oldest gen from a male, is Adam’s gen and the oldest gen from a female is from a different race which is of course older

  1. I hope the author wouldn’t mind if I translate this text for my website. I thought before that genes disprove Eve and Adam, but not in this way, that they link to different time frames.

    1. The different times support the Biblical account, since all modern women trace their matrilineal ancestry all the way back to Eve, but men trace their patrilineal ancestry back to Noah, who of course lived much later than Eve.

      1. Mitochondrial Eve is thought to live over 100,000 years ago… possibly 200,000 years ago. Y chromosome Adam is between 60,000 and 90,000 years in the past. I don’t really think these time frames correspond with anything biblical. Of course, the geology doesn’t support the flood at all either nor does it look like any place on earth was ever “paradise”.

        1. Calling it “Y chromosome Adam” assumes without evidence that there was never a time when the human population was reduced to one couple with their three sons and daughters-in-law. To a Bible believer, we’re not talking about “Y chomosome Adam” but “Y chromosome Noah”.

  2. “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?”

    Ignore the biblical story as though it’s a fairy tale.

    1. Yes… or consider it a myth the way one considers the creation stories of other religions, eras, and cultures.

  3. Good grief, what nonsense.

    I wonder, how did the Catholic Church reconcile its geocentric dogma with the clear and compelling evidence against it?

    We know that it persecuted Galileo. We know that it took 400 years for it to finally admit that it was wrong and Galileo was right. But what about in the interim? Were there grand conferences of theologians trying to reconcile the biblical view of geocentrism with the clear unassailable facts? Did someone propose that geocentrism is a metaphor for our place in “god’s heart”?

    Claptrap. 400 years of claptrap.

    Are we talking this type of time scale for Adam and Eve as well? Well, then in the year 2411, we can expect an “apology” from the Church with regard to a literal Adam and Eve.

    Seriously, once Galileo was proved right, once the Earth was no longer the center of the universe, that should have been “it” for religion. No, we’re not special — we’re just an interesting little bit of cosmic dust. The universe was not created with us in mind.

    But no — our egocentrism is so strong that we can’t accept the blindingly obvious.

    1. Actually that (the shredding of Christianity to pieces by the brutal facts of life being incompatible with its core claims) should have been done 150 years earlier by the discovery of the New World with a whole different race of people living there who had never heard of Jebus.

      There has been a little bit written on the subject but not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity as to how exactly they made this fit the story…

      1. Are you aware of ‘The Discovery of Mankind. Atlantic Encounters in the Age of Columbus’, by David Abulafia? Yale Univ press, 2008. It deals with this very issue. What struck me was the recurring arrogance and inhumanity of the Catholic Europeans during these encounters. The fact that the natives were completely naive regarding Christianity at first baffled the invaders, but soon they realized that these people were a huge field to be reaped ‘for Christ’ as well as exploited as slaves. Remarkable! And disgusting.

        1. It’s always seemed to me that the “edge” enjoyed by Christianity in that most insane of all human insanity (war) has always been:

          “WE WILL HORRIFY YOU. YOU WILL NOT SEE OUR INSANITY COMING.”

          I base this on reading how Moses had to kill off the Chosen People to imprint the Chosen People’s children with his image of hatred, fear, zero questions tolerated, zero complaints, just misery, laws that made no sense (designed to cause misery), emotional corruption, and then the payload:

          “Kill these people. Take whatever you want. Destroy anything you don’t need. If you complain you’ll die. But it’s okay, they went against their LORD.”

          Children on the battlefield.
          Sociopath slaughters.
          Massacres of defenceless women and children.
          Taking slaves.
          Taking virgin children for sex slaves.

          The horror of this religion. Why are they being tolerated. No one can see their insanity coming. They’ve screamed the entire world insane. Game over?

    2. This will be a much tougher sell. Geo-centrism is not essential to Catholicism or Christianity, whereas special creation and original sin are at the core of Christianity, as well as Islam and Judaism.

      1. 400 years ago, it certainly was.

        That’s why it was a heresy. That’s why Galileo was sentenced to house arrest, and just barely avoided the stake.

        It was central to church dogma. The Earth was fixed, immovable, center of the universe, and created by god especially for the use of mankind.

        It took them 400 years to find a way to talk themselves out of the inconvenient facts. Slaying “heretics” left and right along the way.

      2. Sound the buzzer! Bring the hook! Original sin is *not* a core belief of Judaism. In fact some of the rabbinic thinkers [not recent ones!] conclude that without what is called “the evil inclination” (desire to posess things, for example), economic progress would not be made. However, they also talk about the need for balance between the “good inclination” and the “evil inclination.”

        The same for Satan, who, in the few references (i.e., The Book of Job) is described as working for God to test the faith of humans, rather than being a separate power center.

        I don’t know enough about Islam to comment.

      3. Judaism actually denies the notion of original sin and teaches that all people are born sinless and pure. And since they invented the Adam story, they oughta know. 🙂

        1. Eh, as with pretty much all religious myths, the basic idea is a Jungian archetype that long predates the canonical version or even any of the easily-identifiable predecessors.

          The Jews no more invented Adam than the Christians invented Jesus…or the Romans invented Bacchus, or the Greeks invented Orpheus, or….

          Cheers,

          b&

      1. But it’s fair to say that a lot of theists attempt to use theories they demonstrably don’t understand to ‘prove’ something or other – I’ve seen various attempts to use Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem to ‘prove’ one thing or another about god and/or Christianity.

    3. Did someone propose that geocentrism is a metaphor for our place in “god’s heart?

      *giggles*

      Hey, you’re good at this!

    4. Careful. The ban was lifted in 1830, shortly after empirical confirmation was obtained on the two factual objections to heliocentrism; viz., the lack of stellar parallax and the lack of eastward deflection of falling bodies. Historians of science are clear on this, and even ol’ Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, after investigating the affair, concluded that “the Church had the better case.” Namely, they held to the old requirement that scripture must be interpreted metaphorically when there is certain evidence against narrative-literal readings. But they did insist on the evidence being certain before abandoning settled science.

  4. As with all good apologetics, its all about the big bang, don’t you know.

    The garden of Eden was actually in a different plane of existence, and when God kicked Adam And Eve out of the garden, there was no place to place them that wasn’t divinely perfect, so can’t have that. So God fused Adam and Eve into a singularity, and bang! There starts the preamble to Genesis 1.

    ….granted, it would *appear* they got the order of creation a tad mixed up, but this is easily explained. There were many bangs.

    1. This has an added bonus of not only offering original sin for all humans, but the entire universe. It is hard to guilt trip a star or a galaxy, but the church could always use some more, either way.

    2. Would that mean that Adam was a positively charged particle of some kind and Eve negatively charged? Hence when they were kicked out of heaven, since they were no longer perfect, and put into the physical realm their oppositely charged beings kerploded and created the entire universe? I could see some theologian thinking this plausible… lol

  5. I hold the story of Adam and Eve and “The Fall” as an allegory of our evolution from animal to human, with the inception of human consciousness represented by “eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge”. Simple, really.

    1. Allegory shmallegory, either tell me their address and social security number, or you aren’t even close to the ballpark 😉

    2. I’m sorry. I’m a Christian, and I realize that this is an inane and farcical ‘contest’ for non-Christians, but these theories are just absolute nonsense.

      Are you honestly trying to insinuate that Adam and Even were ‘unconscious’ and on level with animals until the forbidden fruit was eaten?

      1. The competition’s open to you, too, you know. If you can come up with a way to reconcile Adam & Eve with the known scientific facts that isn’t complete nonsense, please post away.

        If you can’t, you might like to ponder why not.

    3. So Jesus was crucified for an allegory?

      Doesn’t this lead to the question as to whether Jesus was an allegory?

      If Jesus was an allegory, then what is Christianity based on?

      How do you tell whats real from an allegory?

      1. How do you tell whats real from an allegory?

        You may find some assistance on this point from Augustine of Hippo, here:
        http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/12022.htm

        Keep in mind that the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches between them account for about two-thirds of all Christians; so what they teach ought to be given perhaps even more weight that Bill and Ted’s Excellent Bible Shack, whose traditions extend all the way back to last Tuesday.

        Pace the naive-literalists, the four traditional reading protocols are: historical/literal,
        allegorical,
        tropological/moral, and
        anagogical.

        Thomas Aquinas explained matters (including the usual objections) here: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm#article10

        Hope this helps. You’d probably like his “selfish gene” explanation of the inheritance of original sin, too.

  6. The answer is simple. Adam & Eve did exist, although not in YEC terms. They were early ancestors whose descendants mated many,many,many times over the course of eons with the Nephilim in Genesis (Legendary Biblical heroes, later called giants; also identified with the sons of Elohim [lit. “the gods”]. Xtians later equated them with the fallen angels. Not sure why.) Anyway…

    The Nephilim “species” contributed all the masses of genetic material that our sinful Original Couple did not possess.

    As for the last bottleneck, that was just “Teh Flud”. And it was eight people, not 10,000 – 15,000. It just looks that way because with so few people, those pesky, horny Nephilim doubled down on some human “interaction”.

    I can haz ebolishun buk?

  7. Or how about “The Multi-germic Theory”

    God created Adam and eve roughly 160,000 years ago but imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, this allowed that each of Adam and Eve’s children would not be genetic siblings so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had evolved through natural processes but was distinct enough that it allowed for the brain to interact with a soul.

    1. That’s some good creativity…

      Problem is that it doesn’t solve the problem of reconciliation of science with faith because it is pure creationism.

      1. Not really “pure” creationism, in that it doesn’t completely deny scientific evidence, just that the appearance of the evidence is deceiving. It’s a variant of the Omphalos approach — the world does indeed look the way it does (contra naive Creationism), but the way it looks is deceptive.

        1. IMO the adjective “pure” applies to creationism no matter whether it is Young or Old.

          Yes, it is the YEC version that’s the most outrageously silly one and that people usually think of when the term “creationism” is used, but the Old Earth version is just as much “creationist” as the young one – God made it happen the way he wanted it.

          1. It may appear to you as just pure creationism but it isn’t. You see our expert theologians assure us that it’s quite distinct from creationism.

            It’s very different but you’re just too dogmatic to see the difference.

              1. It’s the step-child of creationism… god did it via science rather than magic (except for the first part).

      2. no you see everything else evolved but man did not, and god made it look as though man had evolved by having the F1 generation be genetically diverse enough that you can’t scientifically tell that there were only two human people that started the whole thing off, and yet similar enough to existing hominins that the evolutionary line appears unbroken.

        1. It may also have been necessary that for a few generations following F1 the individuals continued to have the variable germ cells to further protect the offspring from inbreeding defects.

      3. Or we could also try this.

        Roughly 140,000 years ago God slightly tinkered with the genes of two existing hominin pairs to ensure that the next baby they each had would have brains which were capable of interacting with a soul. These two individuals, one male and one female were Adam and Eve. God then imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, this allowed that each of Adam and Eve’s children would not be genetic siblings so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had preceded Adam and Eve, which had evolved through natural processes, but was distinct enough that it allowed for the brains of the offspring also to interact with a soul. One consequence of this modification was that it gave the F1 generation enough genetic diversity to appear as though they sprang up from a large pool of existing ancestors. It may also have been necessary that for a few generations following F1 that the individuals continued to have the variable germ cells to further protect the offspring from inbreeding defects.

          1. GM, you are aware that these posts are a reply to Jerry’s contest to make up some plausible-sounding-to-Christians BS to reconcile actual genetics with the Adam and Eve story, and not something that people are actually proposing, right?

            1. Yes, I am. But I think there must be the added condition that whatever the proposed “solution” is, it is not obviously a creationist one. Because isn’t the purpose here to reconcile science with religion?

              Claiming that God created anything ex nihilo violates that requirement 🙂

              1. Any solution which involves God doing anything is creationist on some level, and the only people who care that much about the creationism inherent in the story aren’t in the target demographic anyway.

                The people who want crazy stories so they can reconcile science with religion aren’t going to give a damn about the presence of ex nihilo creation, they just want a believeable-to-them story where God makes Adam and Eve but the genetic evidence still looks like it does.

              2. I know that 🙂

                I am just pointing out that you haven’t done any reconciliation that can be scientifically accepted if you propose anything of that sort, because, if you are Francis Collins, for example, you would immediately lose whatever little justification you had before not to be called a creationist

              3. “if you are Francis Collins, for example, you would immediately lose whatever little justification you had before not to be called a creationist”

                Most theistic evolutionists already accept occasional interference by God into the affairs of the universe, such as to insert a soul, do miracles, or to get the Big Bang going, and in a lot of mainstream views theistic evolutionists aren’t creationists because they are, at least on the face of it, Down with Darwin. If Francis Collins endorsed any of the better goofball suggestions in this thread, I suspect it’s far more likely that he’d receive accolades from accomodationists and theistic evolutionists for his ingenious reconcilation of Science and Genesis. Most of the people who would think he’s a creationist are the people like us who already think he is one.

              4. Yes, I think the goal of this contest is to make it so Jesus didn’t die for a metaphor.

                Adam and Eve have to be real for “original sin” to be real. Original sin is supposed to be the thing that made god create suffering, pain, hell, etc. Jesus was supposed to save the people (who believe in him) from the hell god created for original sinners and their descendents to go to as punishment.

                Of course Jesus is god so none of it makes sense anyhow, but we’ll save that conundrum for another contest.

  8. It’s pretty simple: Adam and Eve were real people, but they were loaded up with lots of extra genetic diversity so that their offspring would only seem to have derived from a breeding population of many thousands instead of the biblical two individuals.

    How this seeming genetic diversity happened involved some subtlely divine genetic manipulation that mere man is frankly not ready to understand but which arrogant, atheist scientists will exploit to further their godless agenda.

    1. And again, here we come back to good old creationism 🙂

      Yes, it makes up a good story but in the same time it is indistinguishable from creationism as it is essentially a “God did it” answer

    2. I realize you are talking tongue in cheek, but before someone takes it seriously: you cannot be ‘loaded up with diversity’ Each chromosome has at most 2 different genetic configurations at each position (or else both the same). At most you can carry the separate genetics from two different peopld.

  9. “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?”

    Schizophrenia?

    Desnes Diev

  10. What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    Well first we have to recognise that no ‘reconciliation’ as such is really necessary. All that is required is “Oh! Look over there! The Pope!” *waves hands* GODDIDIT.

    Q.E.D.

    1. Exactly.

      God wants you to have faith… it’s what he wants most of all– he sacrificed his kid for you and all he’s asking for in return is a little faith… what right have you got to ask for evidence or a story that makes sense? If he wanted you to make sense of things he wouldn’t have been a 3-in-1 monotheistic god. Jeez!

  11. Transubstantiation.

    Adam and Eve did literally exist, in substance, 50 000 years ago. However, through a process too sophisticated for you to understand, they were physically indistinguishable from a group of 10000 people. Possibly the talking snake was transubstantiated too – our top theologians are still working on that one.

  12. As I was raised a Catholic I thought I’d give my proposed explanation an ex cathedra theme:

    Upon pondering these perceived problems between the teachings of our most glorious and holy Scriptures and the lesser revelations garnered by humble man, divine revelation has been granted through communication and communion with the Holy Spirit that, as has been taught since the first days of our following of Christ, we are all brothers & sisters in Christ and children of God, who is also Christ. While evidence borne from the modern studies that God has allowed us to divine suggests that some of the bodies of men may not be made from the same codes through which Our Lord shaped the first sinful man Adam, spiritually in Christ & through Our Father in Heaven we are all descendants of Adam & the woman Eve & through Christ we are redeemed.

    Ok so it’s not a short paragraph but marks for theatre & impenetrability/room for future manoeuvre?

    1. This strikes me as quite exceptional. I’d been reading page after page of the most ludicrous insulting dogma written in “Answers to Questions” on catholic.com – just nauseating, migraine-headache inducing drivel.

      This would fit right in with everything I’d just been reading.

      It’s funny. It made me want to stop thinking. Strange.

  13. The Growing Grace Gap

    It is ironic that modern evolutionists, who ostentatiously parade their penchant for accepting the evidence no matter what is says about the nature of the world, nonetheless are beholden to assumptions that require the universe to be unchanging.

    In Eden, humanity was pure, unspoiled, and immortal. Only after the Fall did imperfections pollute our bodies, minds and souls. As time passes, we move further from that perfect state of Grace we enjoyed at our Creation. The Fall was not only a single event that ejected us from the Garden of Eden – it is a continuous process, ever Falling, ever more distant from God – the Growing Grace Gap. And thus so we suffer from more genetic birth defects, disease, suffering, and death.

    Adam and Eve were living, physical, and contemporanous. One was older than the other. Just as Methuselah lived to 969, Adam and Eve lived much longer than our current human life span.

    Once erroneous assumptions have been cleared away, all our scientific progress and evidence clearly point to the Truth as written in the only source that ultimately matters: The Bible.

    1. ooh Bravo!

      It doesn’t really rectify the facts with the story– but it obfuscates in just the right way.

      *applause*

  14. Ooo, oo, I’ve got one!

    God’s just a liar and he made up the Adam and Eve story to justify his various screw-ups in designing humans. He still must be obeyed (being a jealous God and all) if you want to avoid a one-way ticket to fiery damnation, so Christianity is still salvaged. It’s just that God was bullshitting us about the cause of the original sin thing. It was really a series of engineering errors.

    Jesus’ sacrifice was still required to free us from sin, but we don’t have sin because Adam ate an apple, we have sin because God’s a shitty engineer. Think of Jesus as a crack customer service representative sent to do necessary repairs in the field. And think of repentance as a call to tech support.

    Problem solved!

    1. Yep! You solved it.

      But I don’t think they’ll go for it because they’ll be afraid the shitty god will send them to hell for thinking him a shitty god.

  15. What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    No reconciliation is needed.

    I remember wondering about Adam and Eve as a child. And I wondered about it, because the story came across as a fable, a “Just So” story. If we don’t have to reconcile the Kipling story on “How the Elephant Got its Trunk” with science, then we don’t need reconcile the Adam and Eve story with science.

    The real puzzle is that otherwise seemingly intelligent people can take what is so obviously a fable, and allow themselves to be conned into believing that it is literal history.

    1. Could it not be possible that they aren’t really as implausibly stupid as they pretend to be? I mean, there are other possibilities worth considering no?

      I can imagine some people who treasured Numbers 31:17-18 pretending that the rest of the insanity they were cool with. Anything for the virgin women children, who they get to keep for themselves.

      The thing is, I grew up in an ultra-religious world. Every single Christian I speak to knows less than 1/10th of the Bible I know from childhood. They’re not interested in the Bible. They’re not interested in hearing bits of it proved or disproved. I think they’re interested in something else.

      I think the answer is in Numbers 31:18 and the 11th Commandment.

      Commandment XI: Thou Shalt Not Rape.

      I think everything else is the greatest confidence trick played on vassals in history.

  16. There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. That’s as small a population as our ancestors had

    Really? But a bottleneck implies a reduction from a formerly larger population. Surely if we push far enough into the past and approach our Speciation/Ensoulment Event we get much smaller populations.
    Right? Either Homo sapiens is unique among known animals for evolving via gradual anagenesis in a relatively large admixed metapopulation, or there was an allopatric cladogenetic split. If the latter, the original founding population of Modern Humans could/would have been small, possibly on the order of a few Original Women and one or a few Original Men.
    Adam and Eve are thus revealed as only quasimetaphoriocal, standing in for the small group of our Founding Breeders.
    Later bottlenecks and mitochondrial/Y coalescence are therefore red herrings in the search for Adam(s) and Eve(s).

    I will accept a cashier’s check only.

    1. Yeah, but you are probably pushing back into creatures that Christians wouldn’t consider “human”. We’re supposed to be created in god’s image… are you trying to imply god was an ape? And are apes capable of sin? Doesn’t this mean that chimpanzees might well have souls too? Doesn’t this mean that Christians should be trying to save their souls?

      Surely, there’s a pair of creatures that all living people can trace their ancestry directly to– but if they don’t look much like the paintings of Adam and Eve, then I don’t think Christians are going to buy into the idea that they are the real Adam and Eve, but who knows.

      But I think your reconciliation has potential.

  17. Well, no matter what they come up with, here’s a translation:

    LALALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LALALALALA

    There. What do I win, again?

  18. Um, y’all are forgetting the additional bottleneck after the great Flood. Remember, all of humanity was reduced to 8 people (but N(e) = 6 because Noah and his wife did not have any more offspring after the Flood).

    All of their genes might still have ancestors in Adam and Eve, but theoretically they would have acquired some novel mutations that resemble much older genes or genes acquired from mating “outside” the direct “lineage” of A&E with some of those other Homo sapiens that were “around” prior to A&E and during the building of their “lineage” from Seth to Noah.

    Plus one could imagine that a few of A&E’s original genes would have been lost in people that didn’t survive the Flood. Thus, making all of Noah’s descendents carriers of genes acquired through 1) non-assortative mating with other H. sapiens from earlier human evolution, 2) novel mutations that “resemble” the older genes, and 3) loss of genes more representative of A&E’s genome due to the 2nd bottleneck after the Flood.

    Do I win? That started out as a reminder of the 2nd bottleneck and then I saw how easily it could be twisted into a theologically sound, convincing-sounding argument, and got “creative.”

    1. No, no, no– because that second bottleneck would have to show up in the genes.

      And the Noah story can be a metaphor… Christianity doesn’t rely on it. But how do you justify Jesus’ crucifixion not being a metaphor if Adam and Eve(and thus “original sin”) are a metaphor?

      Great story– but the goal is to make it so that Jesus didn’t die for a metaphor. There has to be some real Adam and Eve who committed some real original sin for Jesus’s crucifixion/resurrection (the foundation of Christianity) to make sense.

      Please try again.

  19. I haven’t worked out the ins and outs yet, but I wonder if we can trace the ancestry of the apple back to around the same time mitochondrial Eve walked the earth? Maybe she cultivated the first modern apple (using a dead snake as some sort of rudimentary tool), and then 50,000 years later Adam ate it.

    Sorry, I’ll go away and think on it.

  20. 1. “…a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago…” Would someone guide we who are spectators to a scientific reference for this?

    2. “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?” That depends on your view of mythological stories. As a metaphor with no relation to fact, it poses something to consider about how humans are to live with their gift of thought, reason and language. If facts are my province, it must be dismissed. If I see myself as the mind cop of the universe then I must rail against anyone who has a dissimilar view.

  21. What really strikes me, is that in all six pages of the Christianity Today article, not one word is spent on how any of the proposed “solutions” should be evaluated, on how we should choose among them. There is no method that could tell you which version should be preferred. No principle of parsimony, no test, no possible falsification. They can’t even admit what the nature of the game they’re playing is: make up stuff while staying as close to the original story as possible.

    1. Yep, and these are the same clowns that point to Evolutionary Theory and shriek, “It’s only a theory.”

    2. It’s the game every believer in the supernatural plays: “how can I glom the magic I believe in onto the facts that are?”

      When you imagine yourself saved for what you believe what else can you do?

  22. OK this is my best shot:

    Once upon a time there was a male homo sapiens called Y-chromosome Adam, he arrived one day –POW- in a puff of holy smoke. Actually it took somewhere between a millisecond and 5 million years for Adam to be transformed from a lowly great ape to a superior human, but there was definitely a puff of holy smoke. Then god thought this was good, but not confusing enough, so he took Adam and sent him back through time. OK time travel is physically impossible because it would require more than infinite energy to send a person back through time, but if anyone has more than infinite energy, its god right!

    Back in time mitochondrial Eve was cloned from Y-chromosome Adam’s rib, and through some god influenced error in chromosome replication she obtained a second X chromosome, and therefore developed as a female homo sapiens. Adam got Eve pregnant with quadruplets, and god arranged a shotgun wedding, so that the quadruplets would not be born out of wedlock. There were no other homo sapiens to invite so they invited a bunch on vegetarian animals, including the T-rex/dragons, the unicorns and the lol cats and so on.

    Then there was this whole thing with the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge and original sin and what-not.

    So god was not so happy after all this, so he sent Adam back to his own time. He also made both Adam and Eve bipedal, so that they would have lower back problems and so that child birth would hurt more. Eve then had her quadruplets, which she named Cain, Abel, Seth and Eve junior. A few generations in, there were a lot of genetic diseases popping up due to the inbreeding, so god introduced some extra genetic variation to fix the problem, because he is perfect and never makes any mistakes.

    When Adam got back to his own time, there were already people there, which were his descendants. He thought the females were pretty, but didn’t like the males much so he started a war with them, and killed most of them off. (Adam had some time to learn ninja skills during all this time travel he was doing, it is not instantaneous you know). Then everyone else lived happily ever after, apart from natural disasters, bubonic plague, smallpox, war and so on.

    It all makes perfect sense if you don’t think about it.

    1. If theology-speak were like this, it’d be so much more entertaining! My vote for honorary mention–LOL category. “Eve junior” !!

  23. Lets see, here’s my try

    Adam and Eve were father and daughter, as Eve was created ‘from his flesh’, and were the first conscious, intelligent humans. God granted them residence in his garden, on the provision that they not mate, lest they continue to pass on the genetics for intelligence. This is the ‘apple’. They of course did, and were cast out, and their incestuous offspring interbred with the remaining near-humans, spreading the genes for intelligence, but not more than that.

    I think that’s gross enough to be a biblical story, and it will last until they do an evaluation of the genes responsible for intelligence and trace their lineage to different points, by which point we’ll likely not be worrying about theology much anymore.

    1. That works for me.

      Then “original sin” becomes incest.

      Whatever the reconciliation it seems like it’s going to have to involve people with souls living at the same time as people who are as soulless as the rest of the animals.

      I think I’d want to be one of the soulless folk, because then you don’t have to worry about eternal damnation for believing the wrong story about creation or being born in original sin or whatever.

  24. Clearly, modern genetic analyses have failed to account for the extreme difference in the ages to which the earliest men lived; the Bible describes Adam as having lived for 930 years; similarly many of his male descendants – Noah and Methuselah lived for lengthy periods of time. However, the Bible does not record the length of the lives of Biblical women; Eve may have only lived a tenth of the life of Adam. It is likely that the different lifespans of men and women accounts for the variation between the ages of Mitochrondial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam. As to the genetic diversity present in humanity, while it is left unmentioned in the Bible, God had designed Adam so that his sperm, instead of containing simply two sets of chromosomes, as in modern humans, actually carried at least 15 different chromosomal variations. Thus, Cain and Abel effectively had different chromosomes except for the Y, which God left the same so that future Christian scientists would be able to see the glory of his work. Of course the point of this was to avoid the effects of inbreeding that can occur in limited genetic pools. So, as you can see, a closer reading of the Bible easily accounts for the genetic data.

    1. But Cain and Abel are both dead ends for the lineage. Cain killed Abel and none of Cain’s lineage survived the Flood. Only Seth’s lineage to Noah survived the Flood. We should really be talking about whether all the genes fit the bottleneck at the time of the Flood.

      1. Adam and Eve are pivotal figures in the whole “creation of humanity” and “original sin” themes.

        Many Christians will give up on the worldwide flood but hold to the existence of Adam and Eve because of their theological importance.

        1. And my reply to those people is that the whole Adam and Eve story is flawed. Genesis 3 says that A & E don’t know the difference between good and evil, so how are they supposed to recognize evil in the form of the talking snake? Now, the response to this, of course, is that A & E still disobeyed God which is the Prime Directive 1.0.

          BUT: Where did the talking snake come from? Nothing existed until God created it, so God must have created the talking snake and therefore God created evil, thus setting A & E up to fail.

          It is for this reason that I do not accept responsibility for any ridiculous concept of “original sin.”

          1. Also, The Land of Nod, with it’s handy wife for Cain to maek sexytimez with.
            Where did she come from? UFOs? Sky-hooks? Fallen Angels? Stunted Giantess?

            Either Adam & Eve are the progenitors of *everyone* or they are not. Strangely enough, Genesis 4:17 proves they are not.

            P.S. When I asked my local Catholic priest about this he frowned and said it was “not important”.

            P.P.S. “not important” is code for “Stop asking me questions you know I can’t answer. Go away.”

            1. Well, as soon as you start down the path of really trying to make sense of any of it, you run into the inescapable observation that Genesis is a story about a magic garden with talking animals and an angry giant.

              Either you’re gonna take the apologetic approach and defend ( / reinterpret / distort / whatever) it with the goal of making it appear to not be completely totally batshit insane, or you’re perfectly safe in dismissing it out of hand.

              There’s really not much point in arguing over plausible explanations for the origins of the “dragon silk” that makes up the emperor’s robes, after all, when it’s not just the emperor’s clothes that’re invisible but the emperor himself.

              Cheers,

              b&

              1. That’s all very well, but show me the Catholic priest who does not deliver a sermon on original sin at least once a year. Even the ones who only approach the Old Testament with a 10 foot barge pole do it.

                It’s the thing that pisses me off the most about theologians and enlightened liberals with their metaphorical whatnots and disclaimers & waivers about cultural histories. This is their foundational text. If it ain’t true, it ain’t true. End Of.

              2. The next time you confront somebody like that, ask if Jesus has read the Bible. Not, of course, “Did Jesus read the Bible during his ministry?” but rather, “Has the Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father and who will judge the living and the dead — has that Jesus read the Bible?”

                Either he has, in which case he can’t possibly be upset about people reading it as the literal word-for-word honest-to-God Capital-T-Truth™…which means he’s okay with people literally believing in magic gardens with talking animals and angry giants, talking plants that give magic wand lessons to reluctant heroes, and zombie slasher porn with intestine fondling…or he hasn’t read the Bible. And if even Jesus hasn’t read the Bible, why should we bother?

                Cheers,

                b&

              3. How do we know god was a “giant”. I thought he was an invisible guy who occasionally shapeshifts into a burning bush or his own son? I had realized “giant” was on his resume. I thought he was “appearing” to Adam and Eve as a voice in their head or something.

              4. How do we know god was a “giant”. I thought he was an invisible guy who occasionally shapeshifts into a burning bush or his own son? I had realized “giant” was on his resume. I thought he was “appearing” to Adam and Eve as a voice in their head or something.

                You’re making the mistrake of assuming that the Bible is a single coherent work written by a single author with a consistent cast of characters, when nothing could be further from the truth.

                It’s an anthology assembled over a span of centuries from oral myths that date back millennia. And those myths come not only from a multitude of cultures but from the blended mix of cultures that resulted from various military conquests and political compromises.

                The modern theological synthesis of a monolithic insubstantial Platonic ideal of a god as being the “man behind the curtain” in all of the Bible’s stories is a relatively new invention.

                Indeed, there a number of different gods in the Bible, each with their own names. You’re just so used to seeing all of those names as synonyms for the same character that you don’t realize that it’s actually a pantheon.

                There’s El, the elder patriarch of the council / brotherhood of the Elohim (think the Semitic equivalent of the Olympians), who’s the mover and shaker in Genesis. His name gets translated as “God.”

                There’s YHWH, a really nasty jealous brute of a war god, who dictated the Commandments to Moses and whose priests won some key political struggles. His name is translated as “the LORD.”

                Adonis makes a very frequent cameo, most famously as “Adonai” in the Sh’ma and anywhere else the tetragrammaton appears in the Torah when read aloud.

                Anyway, if you go back and re-read Genesis 2 and 3, you’ll find all sorts of references to El and / or YHWH planting a garden, molding clay, chatting up the pottery, and even walking in the cool of the day. Adam and Eve hide from him in the bushes, causing him to exclaim, “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

                As to the giant bit?

                Genesis 6 makes clear that El’s sons were giants who lusted after human women. It’s the half-men / half-giants (aka demigods) they begat who prompted YHWH to drown all the kittens for some incomprehensible reason. If El’s sons (and grandsons) were giants, it stands to reason that El himself was also a giant. That, and it’s the only thing that even remotely makes sense from a literary / storytelling perspective. I mean, you don’t really expect a bunch of drunk goatherders to be telling stories about the midget who molded the original humans from clay and then booted them from the garden, do you?

                Cheers,

                b&

            2. The usual answer to “who was Cain’s wife?” that came up in Bible class was “it must have been his sister”. And everyone was OK with that.

              (I’m from Louisiana, where that sort of thing is tolerated.)

              1. Funny how “I didn’t come from no monkey” is constantly on Christians’ minds while nobody gives “I am an inbred product of incest” much thought…

          2. “BUT: Where did the talking snake come from? Nothing existed until God created it, so God must have created the talking snake and therefore God created evil, thus setting A & E up to fail.”

            Isn’t the snake to be identified with Lucifer (the light-bearer) a fallen angel? But whether he is to be identified with Satan, I know not. Looks as though they’ve scrunched several different creation myths up together.

      2. I was about to make the same point. There “are” nine generations (of absurd duration) between Adam and Noah.
        Adam was 130 when he begat
        Seth (105)
        Enosh (90)
        Kenan (70)
        Mahalalel (65)
        Jared (162)
        Enoch (65)
        Methuselah (187)
        Lamed (182)
        Noah (502!…Shem)

        What are the genetics of having two such bottlenecks? Wouldn’t they tend to concentrate genetic anomalies?

  25. “The purpose of BioLogos is to show that there can be harmony between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity.”

    Which is BioLogos’ main problem: they’re creationists.

    BioLogos has asserted a conclusion, “there can be harmony between yadda yadda,” and now they’re on a quest to find data to support their conclusion.

    What happened to the scientific method? Oh, that’s right, Templeton. Sorry, my bad.

  26. I just want to point out that last post of mine *was* parody! I also considered arguing that the Genesis story was simile rather than metaphor, in that it’s *like* the modern genetic story if you squint hard enough.

  27. Atheists are again attacking Christianity with their naive and mundanely physical interpretation of genetic evidence, which shows that bodily descent cannot be traced to only two individuals. However, the essence of God’s gift to Man is the soul, and its moral susceptibility. Sin, and therefore, grace, come with this gift, which was first given, as we know, to two individuals in what we may call Edenic Ensoulment. Top theologians are now working on how the propogation of the soul among ancient populations occurred, and reconciling this with the evidence for the Out of Ararat theory of human genetic diversity.

    1. “Top theologians are now working on how the propogation of the soul among ancient populations occurred,”

      “…but aren’t terribly interested in finding an answer, as their field only requires they provide the APPEARANCE of scholarship instead of actually producing any verifiable conclusions.”

      1. but of course. . .

        I was using “top theologians” in the Weekly World News sense, viz., “top scientists prove bat boy is real!”

  28. Jesus often taught with parables, so it is likely that the authors of the old testament would as well. The story of Adam and Eve is meant to convey that as humans developed intellectually and social we naturally developed a sense of morality. This is the knowledge of good and evil spoken of in the Genesis account. This knowledge made us responsible for our actions and thus truly capable of sin for the first time. We could no longer naively live a natural life, red in tooth and claw like the other animals without divine judgement. We are now held to a higher diving standard to use our free will to the do right and avoid doing wrong. The characters Adam and Eve were just invented to make a more relatable narrative.

    That is the sort of argument I would have made back when I was Catholic.

    1. You were a bad jack-Catholic!

      It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

      In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

      The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390).

      http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp

      1. Seem like they leave no room for doubt 🙂

        In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

        1. Ooops, messed up the copy-paste and the formatting. Anyway, it’s a masterpiece of theological thought

      2. I’m sure I was a bad Catholic, but I don’t think I know many Catholics who accept a literal Adam and Eve.

          1. LOL, articulett, you must stop saying that. He didn’t die for “Adam” per se. He died to save humanity from a state of being (separation from God) that is said to originate with Adam. However, if Adam were shown to be an allegorical representative of humanity in said state, defining the state through a parable showing the line of demarcation between innocence and a state of knowledge (the gaining of that knowledge is the actual event of “the fall”) however such state naturally came to be, then His dying is still to rescue humanity from that state. There does not *have* to be a singular Adam for humanity to naturally be in a state of separation from God, and therefore sinners in need of redemption. Again, not making an argument about whether such things are actually true, but making the distinction that Adam’s singular existence need not be the point upon which the death of Christ and its purpose hinges.

            PS: I’m still reading through the other entries (obviously) Not very impressed so far. It’s been more of an exercise in ridicule than anything else. Disappointing. I don’t know why I expect better, but I do. Silly me.

            1. There does not *have* to be a singular Adam for humanity to naturally be in a state of separation from God

              If humans are in such a state naturally, then they were created that way by their god, and thus are not responsible for their “separation”. It is only if such separation is a choice, at least by their progenitor, that they can be seen as responsible for their sin.

          2. Well, that’s exactly how I’ve heard it explained by my father and others. They say that the Genesis story tells us that we were created by God, and at some point people chose to disobey God, and we were thus cursed by sin until saved by Jesus.

      3. “Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents”
        The certainty of faith!!!! Wow….

        1. It makes you wonder how they define “revelation”. Didn’t Harold Camping use some revelation to help him calculate the date of the Rapture?

  29. What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    I propose the Temptation Model: Satan put that story into the Old Testament to tempt people into believing in a false story. It even works for every other Bible story that might cause problems. It solves everything!

    1. I keep thinking of David Brin’s retelling of the Lord of the Rings, with Sauron being the leader of a technological, race-blind, tolerant community. Gandalf and the other wizards were an anti-science religious group that invaded and overpowered them, sending Middle Earth back into a dark age.

      The reason Sauron and others are so over-the-top evil is because the “good” guys were so dogmatic and, as victors, they wrote the histories and smeared opponents.

      It makes me wonder what the bible would look like if it was written by the devil. After all, we only know God is good and loving by what he says, not what he’s done (eg: flood & kill all life on the planet).

  30. Easy. Y-chromosome Adam wasn’t actually Adam but Noah, whereas mitochondrial Eve was actually Eve. This would come about if all the men on the boat were descended from Noah (his sons), but some of the women (his wife and his son’s wives) weren’t.

    I don’t know what the bible says about who was on the ark, so this might have to be crowbarred in somewhat, but that’s situation normal in theology.

    1. Just to flesh this out a bit, what we need is for all the men on the ark to be descended from Noah while the most recent common ancestor of all the women needs to be Eve. The former is easy – the men are all Noah and his sons. The latter is more difficult at first glance because you’d think the women would be from the same tribe or at least the same general area, and therefore be quite closely related too.

      But then we realise that pairs of animals were coming in from all over the world, so what must have happened is that a women from somewhere exotic came riding in on one of the kangaroos or T. Rexes or something, got married to one of Noah’s sons, and thus ended up on the ark. Problem solved.

      1. Got it. 140,000 years ago, there was a man called Adam and a woman called Eve, who God decided to make his chosen couple and gave them souls. To make sure their children also had souls, he made sure they were passed on via Eve’s mitochondria, and pledged to ensure that Eve’s mitochondria were the ones that became fixed in the human population. Then came the Fall, and Eve’s soul became tainted with Original Sin, which was passed on to all her descendents – i.e. everybody – via her mitochondria.

        About 60,000 years ago, the world was very corrupt, what with the Fall and everything, so God hit upon a Plan. He found a good man (Noah) and attempted to “flood” the human race with Noah’s goodness by fixing his Y chromosome in the same way he’d fixed Eve’s mitochondria earlier.

        1. Oh yeah, name. I call it the Soul Transmission by Eve’s Actual Mitochondria In Noah’s Genome model, or STEAMING for short. And merge the two paragraphs into one – I want to win this thing.

          1. Final presentation version.

            This is my Souls Transmitted by Eve’s Annointed Mitochondria, Innoculated by Noah’s Genes, Bringing Us Life, Love and Soulful Harmony In Testimony model.

            140,000 years ago, there was a man called Adam and a woman called Eve, who God decided to make his chosen couple and gave them souls. To make sure their children also had souls, he made sure they were passed on via Eve’s mitochondria, and pledged to arrange that Eve’s mitochondria were the ones that became fixed in the human population. Then came the Fall, and Eve’s soul became tainted with Original Sin, which was passed on to all her descendents – i.e. everybody – via her mitochondria. Then about 60,000 years ago, the world was very corrupt, what with the Fall and everything, so God hit upon a Plan. He found a good man (Noah) and attempted to “flood” the human race with Noah’s goodness by fixing his Y chromosome in the same way he’d fixed Eve’s mitochondria earlier.

              1. Definitely.

                Plus the science works… And then the folks at DI can get to work discovering the which mitochondrial genes are involved in the soul.

  31. God created Adam and Eve, pure and in his own image. They dwelt in safety and tranquility in the Garden of Eden until they succumbed to temptation by the snake, Satan. When they were cast out, they left the good graces of God and sank into the clutches of the devil.

    In this Fallen world, the devil created many creatures to further tempt Adam and Eve, to draw them apart and to poison the pure genetic gift God blessed them with. As a cruel joke, the devil didn’t base these bodies on the pure form of Adam, but used apes, stretching and folding them till they stood and resembled True Man, like a misshapen mutt might resemble a wolf. Yet the devil is strong and these creatures could breed with God’s creation, yea though their genes were corrupt and they were broken from brain to body.

    Atheistic scientists today see this as a “breeding population” of “early humans” but we know the Truth, brothers and sisters. This was punishment for our Sins, that God’s blessing should be diluted and lost! When so-called scientists look at or genes today, what do they see? Do they see the purity of Adam and Eve which was with us at the beginning, when God walked amongst us and shared with us his wisdom and Love? No, they see a mess, a decayed remnant. Why brothers and sisters, they even say there are viruses there, yea in our very genes that we might pass our curse along to our children before they are even born.

    Do not be confused. Adam and Eve were real, live people. The first with souls, the first humans to walk this earth. Their traces are lost to science, drowned out by Satan’s creations but we know, sisters and brothers, we know the truth!

    In Jesus’s name, blahdy blahdy blah.

  32. The problem with asking “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?” is that no criteria have been given for how one way is measured as better than another way.

    1. We do so have criteria. The most popular reconciliation wins.

      For this purposes of this contest, the winner is the reconciliation story Jerry likes best.

      And for theists the winner is whatever the most people can agree upon so they can keep imagining faith and science are compatible.

      We’re just helping the “sophisticated theologians” out.
      We can pull things out of our nether regions just as effectively as they can, can’t we? Well, some of us can, anyhow.

      1. I said the criteria weren’t given, not that they didn’t exist.

        For myself, I consider as a more interesting question what criteria the theists are using (actually, as opposed to giving as rationalizations after the decision is made) to measure the merit of reconciliations, albeit probably harder than asking for examples of possible reconciliations.

  33. “The purpose of BioLogos is to show that there can be harmony between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity.”

    Ignoring, however, that harmony includes both of consonance AND dissonance.

  34. I haven’t yet developed a full reconciliation, but I have decided that mine will prominently feature quantum entanglement. Now that I have decided where I want to go, it’s time to fill in the details to get there, just like a theologian.

    1. You could say Adam’s chromosomes were a quantum superposition of ten thousand different genomes. Don’t know if this solves more problems than it creates, though.

    2. Ah yes… QM is always good for showing how certain supernatural things could be real… plus it’s so sciencey sounding!

      “QM says that the world is much weirder than we know– therefore my woo is true!”

      That’s a most excellent starting premise, and I’ve read that Ken Miller likes QM references.

  35. Sir, this discussion much heartens me as it provides an opportunity for me to propound the theory put forward by the brilliant yet now sadly obscure theologian Franck Remis. A couple of notes on Remis first (b.1922-d.1982). Based in Insl, Austria, he can trace his intellectual lineage directly back to the Turbingen school. While he was relatively unknown even in his own country, his theory was considered so controversial (ie, heretical) that very few traces remain (the Catholic Church took care of that). Remis was one of the first people to realize how DNA and genetic theory (early as it was in those days) directly provided the proof of the historical accuracy of Genesis. Of course, like all great theories, his explained so much more than just Adam and Eve as you will see. Interestingly enough, in his last years, Remis referred to himself as an ‘Evolutionary Theologist’. I have to confess I am not myself a theologian so am unable write as if I am one, as required for this competition, but you will soon see that Remis’ theory is brilliant, clear, obvious and explanatory in its nature.

    His theory was known as the ‘Trinitum-Populae’ and was based on some very simple biblical observations
    1) The doctrine of the Trinity in fact was first introduced through “God, Adam and Eve”
    2) Every layman is familiar with Gods word that “a day is like a thousand years”. The significance of this is that God communicates simply (“a day”) so that we can understand Him but actually creates “complexity” (a thousand days). How else could we poor mortals understand him.

    Adam in fact is not a single person but the name of a tribe (not a single person – a thousand persons). God recognized that a single tribe alone would not have the necessary genetic diversity so created a second tribe (the “Eve” tribe – another thousand people). This theory provides answers such as:
    a) Adam and Eve mating to create fertile offspring with the necessary genetic diversity
    b) No need for incest within the early Adam and Eve family – since God created tribes, not individual people
    c) The “bottleneck problem” (which Franck realized early on) simply does not exist
    d) There was enough genetic diversity to create a viable, ongoing population
    e) The “tree of knowledge” of which the bible speaks is actually the ‘family tree’ of the two tribes, it in fact explains that the sin that befell Adam and Eve was due to the knowledge that each other existed. As is true through all human history, two tribes, with different lineages, will fight each other – this is where our misery has come from.

    Like I said, brilliant, clear, obvious and explanatory in its nature.

    1. Where does evolution fit in the story?

      God created the “Adam tribe”. God created the “Eve tribe”.

      Isn’t that Old Earth Creationism that BioLogos is supposed to stay away from?

      1. “Like I said, brilliant, clear, obvious and explanatory in its nature”

        No it is not. It is just as made-up as every other interpretation. This one has made some attempt to backwards-engineer his own rudimentary understanding of biology into it. Revisionist history, nothing more.

        Plus, seeing as Remis knew darn well that the Genesis story had been taught as literal fact, and was always intended to be understood as literal fact; he makes no attempt to explain why he suddenly knew that all previous theological understandings of the text were wrong, other than the harsh fact that the hammer blows of modern science were making a mockery of this infantile story.

    2. The problem with this is like the problem with many other theological ‘explanations’: it’s completely ad hoc. There is nothing in the Bible that supports that interpretation, there is nothing in the physical world that supports that interpretation. You need to completely gloss over what the Bible and science say to even make this look like it works.

      1. Well yeah…

        The whole idea of the game is to come up with an ad hoc account. This one fails because you can’t have Jesus dying for a metaphor and this makes original sin a metaphor.

    3. Could this be an elaborate Poe? Checking out “Franck” & “Remis” on Urban Dictionary makes that seem possible…

  36. Simple solution:

    I’m reminded of a point Dawkins made in the ancestors tale, along the lines of: trace back ancestry far enough, and you reach a point where everyone alive on the planet is either ancestor to *all* of todays humans, or ancestor to none of them (if you’re not familiar with the idea, think about if for a second).
    So: Suppose, my kind theologian, that one of these ancestral pairs were Adam and Eve. God, of course, simply looked down at where the evolution of homo sapiens had proceeded at that point, and said “yes, they look about ready”. He, in his White Bearded Greatness then exactly duplicated two humans, but by transmogrifying mud and a rib, respectively (He can do that, He’s God). Of course, he also added a new, “dominant” soul, which also carried sin (A soul is sort of like a gene, but made out of soul-ish stuff, and invisible. This theory requires souls to be like *dominant* genes). As Adam and Eve interbred with the rest of the existing homo sapiens, everything proceeded normally, except that any offspring who could trace their ancestry back to Adam and Eve had an added bonus: soul and sin! Finally, by today, everyone alive can trace ancestry back to Adam and Eve (and to a whole bunch of other early humans). Thus, Adam and Eve were created *exactly* as the bible says, by God, but in perfect harmony with some genes having coalescence times *far earlier* than that creation.

    1. Yep,

      we don’t need to trace our ancestry to them back by genes… we can trace them back by souls and sin. They were the “original sinners” god created.

    1. The proper solution, of course, it to read the Bible literally, as the work of a pre-scientific people. Solves all problems. No gymnastics needed, it can still be enjoyed (if that’s your thing). It can even be looked at for “wisdom”.

  37. Adam and Eve were living in the Garden of Eden (a spiritual place, sort of like a suburb of Heaven, or a really really nice Purgatory). They sinned and were consequently kicked out of the Garden of Eden and into the physical world. Spiritually we are all descended from Adam and Eve, genetics only tests the relationships between the physical bodies that God – A Being Beyond Time – prepared for us. Genetics, being a mundane physical science, does not look at how our souls are related and therefore is unable to ascertain that we are all indeed descended from Adam and Eve as we are told in the Holy Bible.

    [How did I do?]

    1. Yes, Eden could be the sub-lunar realm, the lowest part of heaven that mirrors the earth, only without corruption. That is actually pretty good. The being kicked out of Eden is them being thrown down to earth, at which point their souls inhabited humans, turning us from just animals into a man with a heavenly nature.

  38. “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?”

    Adam and Eve literally existed – they were the first pair of Homo Sapiens to whom God made himself known.
    They literally sinned against him by eating the fruit from a tree he told them not too, and were cast out of fellowship with him.
    When their son Cain whines that “people” will kill him, he is referring to other Homo Sapiens.
    Adam and Eve are the “parents” of all humanity in a spiritual sense. Their relationship with God (both the positive aspect and the consequences of their sin) was eventually spread to all Homo Sapiens (a relatively small population at the time) through proselytization, marriage, and birth. Because of this, Paul can say that sin spread to all through Adam.

    Is this paragraph short enough? If I were an evangelical Christian who also believed in evolution, I think this is how I would reconcile it in my mind.

    1. Mark, as a committed evolutionist and troubled but still-professing Christian (barely), this one gets my vote!

    2. I’m afraid this could become the standard Christian explanation. The only downside is that it eliminates the need for all those incestuous relations in the first generations. I think many a preacher grew fond of these bits.

    3. In this version it sounds like the soulless humans who God never made himself known to are better off than the ensouled ones that can suffer infinitely for finite sins.

      Does an omniscient deity have any excuse for knowingly making original sinners and then punishing them (and their descendents)for what he knew they’d do? And if he’s omnipotent and can make perfect people like Jesus– then why not just do that from the get go? Why create sin suffering pain and then try to fix it with floods and crucifixion of deities etc. It makes gods power, benevolence, and knowledge seem less than omni.

      I do think the most popular reconciliation will involve the ensoulment of later humans– the spiritual ancestors of all mankind… souls can’t be a metaphor– they have to be real things for Jesus-god to have any relevance at all.

      1. I don’t think my statements necessarily imply that the rest of humanity was soulless.
        Nor does it necessarily need a God is who is omniscient in the sense of knowing everything that would ever happen…

  39. Adam and Eve are an example, a fable, an analogy, a parable. They are fictional characters in a story whose objective is to teach something about human nature. My take.

    1. “Actually, the whole story is silly, but at least we could use some of the fables in the bible. “

      Dunno, I prefer fables that don’t end in long genealogies, and the moral of the whole Eden story also sucks. Talking animals are always welcome, though.

  40. Somehow I think this is all tied up in the brilliant insights of Ray Comfort, who pointed out that it’s highly unlikely that a male and female of a species could have evolved at the same time (it being random and all). So women evolved from monkeys first. Men, brutes that they are, evolved later.

      1. There aren’t. It’s all an illusion created by the Devil to make you believe in evolution and thus take you to hell.

  41. I think one of the minor Jewish approaches to this problem (the major one being: blablablabla-I-can’t-hear-you-blablabla) is that Adam and Eve were not the only human beings around (only Adam and Eve were somehow “special”).
    There’s a whole lot of problems with the approach, but the lack of a 2-person bottleneck isn’t one of them. There could have been tens of thousands of people at the time, and Adam and Eve are not the progenitors of the entire race today, but they could have existed (except for the whole “being created by a God that doesn’t exist” thing).

    1. Yes, an apologist recently proposed this “solution” to me.

      Adam and Eve were the first Jews. Cain killed Abel and went to the land of Nod, where there were plenty of non-Jews walking about.

      Seems quite special pleadish to me, but it was proposed as a serious solution.

  42. As the progress of Science ever marches on, it continues to reveal glorious new facts about how God Created us and our world.

    In particular, contrary to an overly simplistic and naïve reading of Genesis, it has become clear that the species Homo sapiens sapiens was born from a large and diverse population of a variety of individuals. Though there are particular traits here and there that can be traced to a single individual, it is now clear that there does not exist in history a single pair of humans from whom all others are descended.

    The conclusion is inescapable: Adam and Eve did not walk this Earth.

    How, then, are we to reconcile these facts with the narrative revealed to us in Genesis? If Adam and Eve are mere myth, whence comes sin? And, without their sin, of what use is Jesus’s sacrifice upon the Cross?

    While many well-meaning scholars attempt to salvage the Bible through tortured re-interpretations of Scripture to come up with suggestions that Adam and Eve are metaphorical representations of human nature — a sort of psycho-religious id, if you will — most who encounter such theories invariably find them unsatisfying. If Jesus died for a metaphor, his death — and, indeed, his very life — might as well have been metaphorical as well.

    The answer, as it turns out, is really quite obvious.

    We know from the Bible that Eden was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31). Indeed, Eden may rightfully be described as next to Heaven itself in its goodness. Even in common parlance, the two are often conflated. Yet, Science has revealed that the infant Earth, in the Hadean Era in particular, far more resembled a scene from Dante’s Inferno than a garden paradise.

    Further complicating matters is the endless and ever-unsuccessful quest to locate the actual Garden somewhere in the Middle East.

    But why should we limit God to the surface of a single out-of-the-way planet orbiting one of a hundred billion stars in one of a hundred billion galaxies? Indeed, why should we limit Him to physical reality at all?

    Nobody would seriously suggest, in this day and age, that Heaven is to be found on the outer moons of Uranus or that Hell is literally under our feet somewhere beneath the Earth’s crust, yet to this day it is almost universally accepted that Eden, that almost-Heaven, must still be thought to have been somewhere not far from Baghdad. Clearly, this concept is not merely unsupportable, but almost laughable in its naïveté.

    And, so, we come to our answer: just as Heaven and Hell are not to be found within range of a NASA probe, neither is Eden somewhere accessible by plane, train, or automobile (or boat or submersible or rocketship or mine-borer). Eden, instead, existed alongside Heaven and Hell outside of time and space in what might colloquially be referred to as the “spirit realm.”

    And if Eden was not on and of this Earth, so too it becomes apparent that neither were Adam nor Eve. They were very real — as real as the Angels of Heaven and the Demons of Hell; but they were not primitive primates grubbing around in the dirt. And they were our ancestors, yes, but our spiritual ancestors. We trace our souls back to them, but not our genes.

    Exactly how the expulsion from the spiritual world of the Garden to the physical world of Earth took place remains a Mystery to this date. Scripture does not give us the details. We do have Genesis to thank for the artistic interpretation of the event, but we can hardly rely upon it for every niggling little detail in literal accuracy. Imagine what your own transition from the mortal coil to the glorious splendor of Heaven (or, potentially, a less wholesome alternative) will be like, and ponder whether any words would be adequate to the task. Adam and Eve experienced much the same but in reverse; that as detailed a record survived through the ages to reach us is itself as great and mysterious a miracle as any other God has graced us with.

    And so, look not for Adam and Eve in the genome, any more than you would look for Heaven in a telescope or Hell in a mineshaft or Eden in an architectural dig under Sadr City. Rather, look for them in your hearts and in Scripture. Open your heart to Jesus, and he will show you both the Sins they left us with and the Salvation he offers to those who would but drink from his cup.

    Cheers,

    b&

        1. You got my vote.

          That was awesome.

          Adam and Eve were as real as god– and just as ineffable apparently. It’s a story that even this atheist can’t find fault with.

        2. Plus it makes it so Adam and Eve really were created in god’s “image” being invisible (immaterial) and all. And who’s to say they aren’t immaterial talking snakes? All immaterial organisms are possible outside space and time, right?

          Heck all the stuff in the bible that makes no sense with the evidence or human understanding probably took place in that realm outside space and time where seemingly non existent things exist.

  43. In the beginning was The Word and The Word was ‘Yaweh: Landscape Gardener To The Universe’.

    He spoke the soft and hard landscaping into existence and added some water features. He added some lights too. Finally he added some specimen meat robots. He set the time so that it was always one long Sunday afternoon.

    Realising that the meat robots were boring, Yahweh put on his Genetic Engineer Coat of All Colours (white) and cloned the most whinging meat robot, known as Adam. Yahweh tinkered a bit to make the second one a bit prettier. This one he called Eve.

    Unfortunately the meat robots broke out of their programming (to merely look decorative in the walled garden) and started to reprogramme themselves with additional code from a nearby tree.

    Yahweh was so upset that they were spoiling his Grand Design that he jumbled the existing designs so that the two meat robots could only replicate themselves inaccurately. He also invented time (and lots of it) and sent Adam and Eve back in time so that their later replications would have chance to learn understand that you don’t mess with the Garden and that you should Keep Off the Grass.

    Introducing a great deal of time into The Garden resulted in a cold snap which caused many of the plants to lose their leaves temporarily, which is why sending Adam and Eve back into the newly invented past is known as The Fall.

    Adam and Eve’s replicants eventually spread throughout the world, but their programming never came back into specification, so Yahweh had to take further action to clean up The Garden. But that, of course, is another story.

    1. I quite enjoyed your explanation for the Fall, but I think there’s too much sci-fi for mainstream Christianity in it. Maybe you could sell the rights to the Scientologists.

  44. Adam and Eve were the first *real* humans – ie. they had souls. The rest of the Homo sapiens population were just smart apes at that point; but all of Adam and Eve’s descendents also had souls, and so were also *real* humans (the one drop rule?).

    Thus some of their genetic material was inherited from other lineages; thus the absence of a severe bottleneck is solved; thus the inbreeding problem is solved; thus the question of where Abel’s and Cain’s wives came from is solved. Bingo.

    I’m not going to abuse my brain enough to dress it up in theology-speak though.

  45. I think you are all over complicating the problem. The time honored method for reconciling conflicts with religious dogma is to brutally repress the knowledge of the facts and the people who possess them. Shorter, kill the scientists.

    1. But if you come up with the right reconciliation you don’t have to kill the theistic evolutionists like Francis Collins–

      instead you can convince the world that religion and science are perfectly compatible– and then you only have to kill the atheist scientists.

      Less work, no?

      1. Perhaps but less fun given the tendencies I inherited from my ancestor “Tommy The Torquer”.
        Oh no! I meant designed with!

  46. Absent their existence, the whole story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces.

    Not really, because they can mataphoricate the story. They can have it however they want (just like when you go to Burger King® and order up a Whopper, you can “have it your way”, although they do charge for the extra cheese though.) All it takes is a little creative metaphorification.

  47. Here’s hoping that some of our greatest theological minds will work on the question of what a model based on “Federal Headship” would look like.

    How about: “Here’s hoping some of our greatest minds will suggest what evidence that would support the “Federal Headship” model should look like.” (!!!!)

    But, I forgot, this is religion, not rationality. Just make some shit up, baby!

  48. Adam and Eve are the ground of being. They are the necessary precondition for humanity to exist, but did not exist themselves. Therefore they existed without existing in our existence by the necessity of our existence.

    [/sophistication]

    1. They are ineffable– which makes them the clear and obvious ancestors of our ineffable souls.

  49. My entry, inspired by the “modern” and “sophisticated” theological “thinking” of Paul Tillich

    The Just-Make-It-A-Subject-Or-Abstract-Concept-Rather-Than-An-Object-And-Capitalize-It School of Theology Solution

    Adam (and Eve) is the Ground of Being. We are wrong to conceive of Adam (and Eve) as simply a being, rather he is Being Itself. Thus, to speak of the genetics of Adam (and Eve) is to apply a concept from an alien language game to religion. (And science, after all, is faith too) One cannot say that Adam (and Eve) did not exist due to overwhelming genetic evidence, for he is Pure Existence Itself. In fact, we cannot say that Adam (and Eve) is disproved by genetics, as he is True Genetics Itself.

  50. The last paragraph of Falk’s piece, which out of mercy I won’t quote here, is his usual lapsing into JesusSpeak.

    Don’t listen to Jerry. Do read Falk’s last paragraph. It’s the movingly plaintive cry of a cult member trying to come to grips with the realization that his leader is a con artist. Let’s not be too hasty to judge and all that.

    Let’s see what our theologians and philosophers come up with…

    Yes, let’s.

    1. It was sad reading over there. They keep speaking as if god were a fact… as if they can make it a fact and make him happy that they believe in him by stating what god did so matter-of-factly. It’s so non-scientific. Can you imagine how crazy it would sound to them if you inserted some other god?

      And then more ignorant Christians butt in and try to tell them not to believe that evolution stuff. But if they don’t believe that evolution stuff– then they have to reconcile the facts with their god– and that makes their god a trickster god– who purposefully deceived his creations– particularly scientists because the evidence keeps accumulating for evolution and none of the evidence ever ever discounts it.

      Theistic evolutionists such as Collins and Falk are in a weird position because they really believe they have immortal souls. And Christianity tells them that these immortal souls can suffer forever unless they have faith. But the facts aren’t faith promoting. The facts don’t care what they think they are saved for believing. Believing in things and wanting them to be true can’t make them true.

      They’ve learned to associate everything that is good with Jesus-god and all that is bad with “not enough faith”. So they must everlastingly try to make it all fit so that they never ever lose faith– the consequence (in their head) is ETERNAL anguish. That’s a huge motivator to keep the faith.

      I want to shake them and say “You don’t have to try and reconcile anything because there is no eternal anguish awaiting those who don’t have faith. There is no more evidence for immortal souls than there are for fairies– go see for yourself. Neuroscience is showing us that the soul is an illusion of the brain! Don’t you think science would have run across a smidgen of evidence for souls if they were real? Wouldn’t there be tons of scientists testing and refining that evidence for their own benefit as well as the fame and fortune it would bring them? What could be more important? You can focus on what is true without having to worry about having faith to please an invisible sky judge. You cannot experience anything after death because you need a brain to experience anything. And, as far as the scientific evidence is concerned, the immaterial beings you do believe in are just as unlikely to exist as the immaterial beings you don’t believe in.”

      But, I know from experience, that such a message would just turn me into the bad guy– one of those uncivil new atheists that are spend their time harming important causes and raining on peoples faith parade.

      So they spin their stories to ameliorate the discomfort of cognitive dissonance –just like every believer in ever supernatural thing throughout time has done.

      How can you give them a clue when they think the consequences for accepting that clue is a loss of salvation and/or eternal damnation?

  51. I don’t see what the problem. Satan made a large population of human beings. God gave souls to two of them, Adam and Eve. Real human beings are descend from Adam and Eve, and have souls. They also have white skin. Fake human beings are descended form Adam and eve, but from those soulless, fake demonic counterfeit human beings. They either have dark skin, or are Jews.

    And the good part is, thousands of evangelical Christians the world over already believe this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_identity

    http://www.ucumberlands.edu/academics/history/files/vol3/BlakeWilliams91.htm

    1. Scary stuff.

      I think all major white supremacist groups consider themselves Christian.

      But the genetics of their belief don’t match the facts (according to their beliefs all white people descended from a 6000 year old Adam who was the first white guy) and they don’t accept evolution. Plus there was no “first white person” unless maybe you are talking about the first human albino. Although we see color, humans are a blend of “races” (not a real scientific term) and the pigmentation of skin is not the best clue to our ancestry– we all come from the same people– and before that we come from the same apes.

      This sort of explanation can and does work on the ignorant, but people like Francis Collins couldn’t use it. The goal is to make the facts fit with Genesis– not to make the bible fit with the notions of white supremacy groups.

      I think that most of us here are well aware that the bible can used to justify pretty much anything. But how are theistic evolutionists going to square the FACTS with what they imagine themselves saved for believing?

      1. OTOH, if she was trying to just be satirically funny (as opposed to a prize competitor), I think she succeeded rather well. 🙂

  52. There is a basic problem with the argument against the existence of Adam & Eve based on coalescence. I don’t think there’s anything in the bible to indicate that the most recent common ancestor for any given locus would be Adam or Eve, or that all loci share the same most recent common ancestor.

    For instance, we’ve got “mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosome Adam”. Those people are obviously not the beginning of human mitochondrial and Y-chromosome lineages, but merely the most recent common ancestors of extant genetic diversity in human mitochondria & Y-chromosomes, respectively. So, do “mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosome Adam” both have ancestries tracing back to an earlier pair of individuals? Yes; barring multiple origins of life, -any- pair of living things will share a pair of ancestors (or a single ancestor, in the case of asexuality in the ancestral lineage involved). Well, there you go: -that- pair of individuals is Adam & Eve. Now we just need to expand that reasoning out to the rest of the genome…

    Obviously this would be a rather silly exercise, but it seems an obvious avenue for BioLogos types to pursue. Coalescence of existing genetic diversity to a large set of individuals is entirely consistent with the existence of an earlier pair of individuals that is the common ancestor of the set of “locus-X Adams/Eves”. Finding that pair of individuals (let’s call them “metacoalescent Adam” and “metacoalescent Eve”) is just a matter of coalescence at an among-locus rather than within-locus level. This would also complicate significantly any attempts to infer population size at the time of metacoalescent Adam and metacoalescent Eve. They predate extant human genetic variation, so AFAIK there’s no way to use patterns in that extant variation to infer anything about population size.

    The problem anyone trying to seriously pursue the idea that this pair of individuals is actually Adam and Eve would encounter is whether this pair of individuals was, in fact, human (they almost certainly weren’t), but, what the hell, it’d push the biblical/reality incongruence back a ways and muddy the waters substantially. I think that’s about as good as the BioLogos folks can hope for.

    1. I think this is the second most likely route they will choose… I think the first is ensoulment of a designated Adam and Eve later in the evolutionary process– the parents of our last common ancestor. God can insert his magic into the scientific enterprise at any point after all. He could have done the big bang, let things unfold for billions of years and then started started his magical plans for this little planet with a poof of magic here and there.

  53. “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?”

    An undocumented miracle took place as the human race grew from Adam and Eve. Genetic information was deliberately altered by God over the course of many generations to provide diversity in the human race, until the population reached a size where divine intervention was no longer needed. God finally completed this project with the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus, after which he allowed the natural laws of heredity to take over while he tended to other matters. Of course this intervention is not documented in the Bible because, at the time the Bible was written, mankind lacked the knowledge to comprehend it.

  54. As others have said, the ‘original sin’
    part & the ‘genetic bottleneck’ part can be distinct. There’s some indication in Genesis that the garden of Eden did not contain the whole of mankind (IIRC, Seth got his wives from ‘East of Eden’)but it did contain the only humans who walked with YHWH–he was evidently trying to upgrade to a strain of primates with whom he could converse, & the experiment went horribly wrong.

  55. As I understand the matter, the Catholic Church have committed themselves to “monogenesis”, that is a literal Adam and Eve ancestral to all living humans, but not to a literal Garden of Eden, nor a literal Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, nor (critically) that this literal Adam and Eve were the only Homo sapiens alive at that time.

    If that is indeed the case, then we can note that the estimated date of the latest common ancestor of all living humans is more recent that the traditional date of Adam and Eve (even if you may have inherited no DNA from that ancestor). Any couple in the ancestry of that individual, or any other sufficiently recent indivual who is a common ancestor or all living humans, meets that minimal definition of Adam and Eve.

    One can further postulate that “Adam and Eve” were the first ensouled humans, and that ensoulment is inherited. As a soul is a supernatural entity, without demonstratable impact on the natural world, there is no conflict with scientific knowledge (only with Occam’s Razor); that the inheritance of ensoulment doesn’t follow known genetic mechanisms isn’t a problem as the soul is outwith the purview of science.

    I think that the Catholic Church has made a tactical mistake in incorporating a literal Adam and Eve into doctrine; if they tried the above reconciliation, I suspect that many people will find that it fails the laugh test, and also that the implications – e.g. that a human population could contain both ensouled and soulless individuals – will give them all sorts of theological problems.

    As to Genesis, my position is that we cannot reconstruct the intended meaning of the compilers of the Pentateuch at this remove, but that the contradictions between the two creation stories at the start of Genesis is a strong hint that it wasn’t intended as literal history. And in particular I can’t see why one would treat Genesis 3 as part allegory and part literal history, rather than wholly allegory. (Of course, even if we could reconstruct the intended allegorical meaning, there’s no a priori reason to expect it to be true.)

    1. Your explanation is my bet at how Christians will end up rectifying conundrum.

      They’ll say that the last common ancestor of all humans was the biblical Cain– his parents were the first ensouled folks, Adam and Eve. We get the sin (that Jesus-God, in his infinite wisdom, created and was crucified to save us from) passed down to us because we can all trace our ancestry to that guy.

      It will all fall apart, of course, as it becomes increasingly obvious that souls are an illusion of the mind (which pretty much makes gods irrelevant)– but it should work to seal the cracks of cognitive dissonance for a while and distract Christians so that they don’t have to try and make sense of 3-in-1 god that ends up being his own father.

      I have long wondered what mental flip flops Francis Collins was doing in his mind to make it so that his invisible savior didn’t die for a metaphor. My guess is that he just didn’t think about it much, and now he and others who imagine religion and science to be compatible are forced to think about it because those gnasty gnu atheists have brought the subject up.

  56. I introduce the Doctrine of the Polymilinity-

    One of the ways Adam and Eve were made in God’s image is that like Him, they could each be a single person yet also multiple people, at the same time. Just as God is equally the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, Adam was a single person yet also many thousands of separate men, living over thousands of years. The same is true of Eve also being thousands of women. This doesn’t mean anything so crass as a hive mind, as Jesus didn’t have the same knowledge as the Father. Yet they were still a single person of a single substance.

  57. (The Theology of godly Genes) Before god made humans he made neanderthals and a ape like ancestor but he was upset with his creation so he decided to breed the ape like ancestor and neanderthals together. Which in turn created the human but in order for it to work he had to interbreed many a generation of ape like ancestor and neanderthal. Finally after many generations he was happy with a female and a male specimen so with that he decided to put them in a special place called the garden of Eden.

  58. *cracks fingers*

    Okay, let’s see:

    When the first proto-Eukaryote incompletely ingested the first Ricksettia relative that was to become the mitochondrion, Adam was the proto-Eukaryote and Eve was the proto-mitochondrion, as evidenced today by the fact that we can identify maternal-only inheritance through mitochondria to this very day.

    The quantum essence that was Adam and Eve was entangled, and passed to every subsequent generation.

    Aeons later, a human couple near the Euphrates suddenly observed one another after eating some fruit, causing an observation forcing them to realize that they both were naked, this measurement collapsing the entire chain of entanglement all the way up and down the descendents of the first Eukaryokte.

    This is why we have original sin and the origin of black and white thinking, corresponding to quantum states |0> and |1>.

  59. Though seated in an office chair, she appeared locked in a swoon, dipping to the final desperate measures of a music only she could hear. Her leg was extended across the floor to the tape recorder beneath her desk, her back supplely arched, her arm stretching behind her to grasp the distant telephone.

    ( http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25/magazine/25woods.html )

    Oh, wait! Wrong imbroglio.

  60. Mark -> Sin is a meme? 🙂

    It seems as though that might imply that you can avoid being the inheritor Adam and Eve’s sin and folly simply by rejecting or avoiding the memetic package in which it comes.

  61. Theory of Transcendental-Ontological Profoundness

    If we allow ourselves to broaden our perspective to transcend the narrow borders of mistaken rationality, we can clearly perceive the ephemerality of realness. Just as the union of the egg and that other nasty generative cell dualifies the chromosomes, the advent of man, as exemplified in Adam, obfurbicates the ὅπως ἐστίν of genetic variabilitation in our species.

    qed

  62. (This is a first draft – I still need to dress it up in theologianese)

    Theological Genetic Paterfamilias

    A sophisticated theological approach to harmonizing the Biblical Adam and Eve with the science of genetics.

    From the bible, it is very clear that God created Adam before He created Eve.

    So the ‘mitochondrial Eve’, while an interesting genetic curiosity, is not necessarily the same person as the biblical Eve.

    As the bible teaches, the Biblical Eve would have been the companion of the biblical Adam – and this research suggests that the biblical Adam and the genetic Adam were likely the same person.

    So once evolution had produced a flesh ‘house’ in the form of Adam that God could use – which has been poetically summarized as forging life from clay and breathing it into life – God would have imparted that particular individual Adam and his Eve with ensoulment, creating the first true humans-with-a-soul from which all others have descended.

    This also provides a very pleasing explanation of where the descendants of Adam and Eve would found their wives and husbands – the un-souled but genetically nearly identical protohumans from which population Adam originally sprung.

  63. Contest Entry:

    Real Answers in Genesis

    It is now apparent that Genesis was written in such a masterful way that it can give guidance and insight throughout the ages, from the primitive ANE tribes to the sophisticated theologians of today. Because the ANE people did not have any understandings of science, the understanding of human origins via literal Adam and Eve were quite sufficient to understand how God created humans as the most significant beings in all of creation. It is therefore not surprising that the writers of the gospels and the writings of Paul would reflect a literal interpretation since again there was no scientific understanding of human biology. Today however, we know that Adam should be translated as “human” or “humankind” and that Eve means “giving life” and thus it is clear that Genesis is referring not to two humans but to the emergence of the human species, just like the emergence of all species as understood by evolutionary science. Hence, no conflict with science. However, it is also clear that John’s declaration “In the beginning was the Word” points to the human ability for language which was requisite for God’s special creation to be able to interact with him. Since language was also the cause of the human separation from God, and thus the need for a New Adam and a New Word – Jesus.

    whew…

  64. (I don’t speak theologian.)
    Courtesy.
    The sin brought in death, but before the sin the human life had no end. Some 140.000 years ago, Eve opened her eyes.
    There was no reason for her to die. She was perfect, as you can guess since she was godlike. After having looked at his perfect creature for hundreds of years, god found the sight pretty boring. He ordered an ape to pay her a call. He had chosen a handsome model of the adam assembly line, in fact, the same model as the one he had taken to create the woman, the best model in this category; but she refused it.
    God started to do DIY, to twist, to fix and, 80.000 years later, the last adam ape disappeared, replaced by the first adam man. (He took the name of the assembly line.)
    Eve accepted him, despite the age difference, that was not visible. Only genetic data could show that Adam was younger than his wife, and since she always claimed the contrary, nobody knew until recently.
    The Bible reads that Adam is the older in order not to be harsh to Eve. That proves, once more, that women have a privileged place in god’s eye.

    1. It has a nice anti-mysogynistic bent… plus it foreshadows the fact that we all start out female in the womb.

  65. Existential dispersion model

    A false dichotomy prevails in this debate, one in which a human Adam is said to either exist or not exist. A more nuanced formulation, informed by recent advances in theology, envisions Adam as the sum total of human genes that coalesce by some divinely delineated point in our genealogy. This point(the exact time of which is unknown to us, as is true of all temporally indexed divine interventions), corresponds to the moment at which the Almighty bestowed the soul upon mankind. Biblical Eve is an overdetermined formulation of this same concept. And the Lord saith “set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” (Ezekial 4:20).

    1. I love the gratuitous, entirely irrelevant Bible passage as a conclusion. Well played!

  66. Jerry, you say:
    “(What Falk means, of course, is he wants some slick person to make something up that allows for a historical First Couple while still accepting the genetic data).”

    This is the modus operandi and the fundamental ‘mission’ of BioLogos. There is no other possible way the christianities are going to be able to ground the mythos.

    1. You underestimate the creativity of those who imagine themselves saved for what they believe… (and damned for loss of faith.) Such folks have quite the incentive to get science and salvation to grok. After all, they believe their immortal souls are at stake.

      Plus, look at what a great start they have with all the examples here. Surely they’ll come up with something to keep the faith. I have faith that the faithful will find a way to hold on to their faith.

      1. I have faith that the faithful will find a way to hold on to their faith.

        And unfortunately, your faith is FAITHSCIENCE, sensu JAC.

  67. What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    Believers just have to convince themselves that the story of Adam and Eve deals with the burgeoning consciousness humans were developing as we evolved. Eating from the tree of knowledge is a metaphor for humans learning agriculture, building cities and living in structured societies. As humans became more sedentary, it allowed humans to accumulate more physical possessions… leading humans away from a simpler society of hunter-gatherers where most belongings were probably shared. Adam and Eve, in that way, could be a founding couple of some tribe that decided to settle down somewhere in the middle east and build a city…

    lol

    1. But what did Jesus die for? If original sin is a metaphor then it leads to the question of whether Jesus was a metaphor too. We can’t have that.

  68. When Genesis was written, the authors borrowed from mythology of the region. There can be no expectation of the document being historical, if the contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 wasn’t sufficient in and of itself to indicate as such. So the expectation of this being a literal historical event is untenable; as it wasn’t what the authors had intended who wrote it.

    The power of mythological narratives is that they tell an underlying truth, not a retelling of historical events. It’s a comment on our self-awareness, the introspection of our nature – in effect the Genesis account is the birth of the distinction between how we are and how we ought to be. The allusion to the problem of painful childbirth is symbolic of the consequence for having large brains; a fact perhaps not known explicitly to the authors but nonetheless a directly observable consequence today. Who, in our modern scientific age, could deny the link between brain function and the mental capacities that fill the opening pages of Genesis? It fits perfectly in our understanding ruminating from the biological and psychological sciences that the events portrayed fits with the Genesis account.

    Knowledge and self awareness, in other words, fit with our evolutionary history.

    Such an account leaves Adam and Eve not as people (as they were not intended to be), but allegorical devices to make a point about the human condition. Adam and Eve have a spiritual truth about them, not a literal bestowing of the soul, but symbolise our fallen nature. But fallen nature, in this sense, isn’t a literal death. Rather fallen nature refers to our failure to live up to ideals that the mind is capable of realising. It is the differential between reality and the expectation thereof, with us falling from the perfection that ideally we would like to see.

    Jesus, in this sense, represents a means to achieve the idealised state of the human condition. The perfect man – the god-man – through his sacrifice at the hands of our vices and fallen nature brings about a path to redemption. Jesus is the path to salvation, through actualising the potential within us all; Jesus is the idealised form of what man ought to be. To place our fallen nature onto him, to see ourselves in the face of the god-man, is to achieve salvation. Jesus offered a way we can achieve redemption through the sinless life, by putting our faith into the god-man, we push ourselves away from our fallen nature and more towards who we wish to be.

    God, who Created everything, through Jesus has made sense of the human condition that was embodied into the personas of Adam and Eve. They aren’t literal people, no geneticist is going to find Adam and Eve in our DNA any more than any neuroscientist is going to find the Cartesian soul, but they are real – they are real in the sense that matters: they are the embodiment of the first steps taken towards our own divinity and towards us being in the image of our Creator. Adam and Eve illustrate the problem that Jesus solves.

    1. Yeah– what Kel said. (But Jesus is real, right? And really died and resurrected right? What problem did Jesus solve again?)

  69. Coalescent theory relies on neutral mutations and drift, i.e. randomness, which is obviously a manifestation of Satan’s power of corruption and deception. Before the fall Adam and Eve were free of corruption, the product of perfect design (what scientists call ‘adaptations’). There is no doubt that, if one had looked into their genes, the signs of adaptations would have been manifest. After the fall Satan disrupted the work of God introducing randomness; genetic drift ensued. Thus, not only did Satan threaten to destroy the plan of Creation; he still aims at perverting Man’s power of inquiry through deceptive evidence. And unless scientists are prepared to recognize this fact they will think that their population genetics models reflect a reality that was not affected by the fall, thus falling prey of Satan’s powers of deception.

    1. It’s such a bummer that the Omniscient One didn’t realize this was how things would turn out when he created Satan.

      1. Yes, we might say that He was (at the time of the events) omniscient but not omniprescient. He reminds me of a steretype liberal who believes that people’s undistorted, informed, rational, free behavior will be for the good of everyone. Jesus’s story can perhaps be read as a failed attempt on his part to commit suicide.

        1. It strikes me that I can insert “conservative” for “liberal” in your second sentence, and it reads just as well. *smile*

          LOL at your third!

  70. Ad’m and *ve where the two Grays that saved humanity by kidnapping, experimenting on* and releasing 10,000-15,000 individuals with fertility problems. They were nominally parents.

    ———-
    * Funny, I thought those were anal probes and what not. Well, I guess I leave that to the theo-ufo-logians.

  71. simple enough. adam and eve were of course real and they were the ancestors of all humanity. their genes, with a few mutations (and the genetic load of original sin) were in all early humans. as a result, the noah bottleneck made little difference. when the tower of babel was built, while he was confusing the languages of the people of the world, god also confused the gene pool, creating the genetic diversity we see today. as this was basically a punishment for hubris, he also made the genes appear to have wildly different ages and to seem to date back to a fictional time before the creation. at the same time, he created fossils and spurious remnants of ancient civilizations to humble paleontologists, geologists, and archaeologists. he probably also cast the stars which had of course, been little lights in a crystal sphere, out into newly created space and set the speed of light barrier to make them appear older. so much for astronomers. quantum weirdness is of course a way to teach physicists the error of their ways by hiding his direct control of everything from prying eyes, just as the appearance of evolution is meant to misdirect biologists.

    1. p.s. when the sun stood still for joshua that was god changing the solar system from geocentric to heliocentric.

  72. Taking an approach which totally disregards the genetic evidence, and for that matter, any known theological considerations, but is just SO totally scientific (Warning: gratuitous quantum stuff follows!)

    The many theologies model

    A consequence of quantum theory is the many worlds hypothesis. That is, every particle in the universe occurs in every possible location leading to an infinite number of universes in which all possible outcomes are realised. In at least one of these universes (actually an infinite number – this is the really neat thing about infinity, everything is infinite!) there actually is an Earth in which humans are descended from just two ancestors, Adam and Eve, and, remarkably, everything that is described in the Bible actually happened! Unfortunately, the minor shortcoming of this hypothesis is that there is no evidence that any of this actually happened in our particular universe. However, God in His infinite infiniteness, is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent in all of these universes and (I know this is the bit that doesn’t quite get me there) momentarily has confused our universe with another (does God get Alzheimer’s?) and so has inadvertently given His followers on this Earth the wrong information. But wait, this is where God’s test of faith comes in! HE knows this is NOT the universe where all that occurred, but has set this as a test for us, so that we can come to truly know Him through faith alone.

    /end crap

    1. I like it! Quite sciencey!

      Woud an omniscient being know that he will get Alzheimers… and then forget because of the Alzheimers?

  73. My entry:
    Eden is described as a perfect paradise; obviously, due to the geological and biological processes we know, earth never contained such a place. Therefore the garden story occurred in heaven and Adam and Even were some kind of proto-souls, “thetans” if you will. The “fall” was a literal fall to the plane of existence were earth is, and suffering was always common. After this, these thetans imprinted onto an unspecified number of hominids at an unspecified time. After this time, these hominids and their children had “souls”.

    I’m pretty sure this preserves all the science, due to being unfalsifiable, allowing whatever you like to happen in an inaccessible “reality”. I think it also preserves more theological stuff than the current literalist story: one can say that Jesus allowed re-entry into the garden, i.e. heaven, thus truly ending the state of punishment for the appropriate thetan elements.
    As an added bonus, this version allows the possibility of Adam and Eve having ancestors of different species on different planets and provides the groundwork for reconciliation with Scientology.
    I can haz buk?

  74. Q: What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    A: It would seem that the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts would consist in affirming a dualistic creation. In this dualistic creation theory, God does indeed create, ex nihilo, as pure gift, a universe, which is by definition a good creation. In this theory, the Angels, as created beings whose teleological goal is to carry out God’s creative plan for this universe, actively help with the manifestation of God’s plan, as a contractor and construction workers carry out the design of an architect. However, one Angel, Lucifer, rebels against his appointed telos and attempts to usurp God’s aseity; that is, he forgets his created nature and decides to, if you will, out-create the Creator. Lucifer leads a war against God, with the assistance of other rebellious Angels, during the course of which the universe is damaged in some permanent manner; in this way planets once inhabitable became barren wastes. The outcome of this heavenly rebellion follows the familiar Miltonic narrative, and is consistent with traditional Christian glosses upon certain scriptures, such as Isaiah 14:12, but with this difference: the pre-Adamic life we now know existed, based upon the best science of the past 150 years or so, was created by Lucifer and not God. But, being a created being, rather than the Creator Himself, Lucifer’s creations could only be terrible simulacrums of God’s creative plan, parasitic imposters: dinosaurs, australopithecines, or apelike ancestors, rather than the rational man and woman, Adam and Eve, capable of free choice and bearing the imago Dei. God’s free decision to create Adam and Eve stands in contradistinction to the miserable failure of a creation wrought by Lucifer and his demons. In this way special creation, as testified in Genesis, can remain an inviolable standard of Christian faith, and need fear no further assaults from naturalistic assumptions or materialist ontologies.

  75. “Today I made an experiment in hermetic glass vessels in order to determine whether the mass of metals increases from the action of pure heat. The experiment demonstrated that the famous Robert Boyle was deluded, for without access of air from outside, the mass of the burnt metal remains the same.”

    Mikhail Lomonosov (1753) on the Phlogiston Theory

    Whether the TOL can be salvaged as central trend in the evolution of multiple conserved genes or this concept should be squarely abandoned for the Forest of Life image remains an open question

    O’Malley MA, Boucher Y. Paradigm change in evolutionary microbiology. Stud. Hist.
    Philos. Biol. Biomed. Sci. (2005) 36:183–208.

    “Küppers [77, pg. 166] makes the same point as Jacques
    Monod [57], Ernst Mayr [54, 55], and Hubert Yockey [72,
    78], that physics and chemistry do not explain life. Niels
    Bohr argued that “Life is consistent with, but undecidable from physics and chemistry”[63]. What exactly is the missing ingredient that renders life unique from inanimate physics
    and chemistry? The answer lies in the fact that life, unlike
    inanimacy, crosses the Cybernetic Cut”.

    The ‘Cybernetic Cut’: Progressing from Description to Prescription in
    Systems Theory – David L. Abel
    Primordial BioCybernetics/BioSemiotics, Program Director, The Gene Emergence Project, The Origin of Life Foundation,Inc. (A U.S. Science Foundation), 113 Hedgewood Dr. Greenbelt, MD 20770-1610, USA

    What will the next hundred years reveal ?

  76. It’s hard to believe that so many people will accept a theory on faith, but not the bible.

    First, the mitochondrial clock that they use to determine Eve’s placement in history was based on guessing the number of mutations and time needed for evolution from our last supposed ancestor. Then using the actual number of mutations found, they calculate the age of Eve. Actual studies show a much higher rate of mutations, some rates putting Eve as recent as 6-10 thousand years ago, which puts “Adam” around the time of Noah.

    Then again, recombination in the mitochondria may destroy the basis for determining a mitochondrial Eve.

    The site below has more information.
    http://www.mhrc.net/mitochondriaEveModel.htm

    1. From that site:

      Actually, there are papers on different peoples of the world that say the same thing. do research on this.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Sentences in red ending with a full stop followed by 21 exclamation marks lend a lot of credibility to a text.

          1. Not really a research interest, but I do like the little buggers. It’s a username I use on a couple of other sites, too.

  77. Well, being a practicing Christian myself, I believe I’ll take a crack at this 🙂

    The Human Awakening Theory:

    God created the universe perfect, a closed, self-perpetuating, self-correcting, dynamic creation. Existing outside of time he knew the end from the beginning. He set into motion the natural processes that would eventually bring about the rise of Man. The story of Adam and Eve is an allegory designed to illustrate the loss of innocence in the dawn of Self-Awareness. This self-consciousness is illustrated in God’s question, “Who told you you were naked?” Rather than maintain their innocence (animal-like innocence, operating on instinct) they ate the fruit of knowledge, gaining Self-Awareness. From that self-awareness came conscience, value, morality. They were “banished” from the “Garden” (a state of continued innocence) in that once that knowledge, that self-awareness was gained, it could never then be given up or lost. From that self-awareness came self-interest, and from that self-interest came sinfulness (the tendency to fulfill our selfish desires at the expense of others) which, having once awakened to this self-awareness, became the natural state of all human beings.

    Best I can do off the cuff – interesting article. Too bad writers on both sides have to be insulting rather than simply informative, but such is life.

    1. Without meaning to sound insulting, did you read the last 4 words of the contest question?:

      What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

      1. Well, you failed. But to what are you referring? You, apparently having far superior cognitive powers than I, could just say why you think my example doesn’t jive with genetics rather than being snarky.

        1. Diane is amply capable of replying for herself, but I can’t help but notice that you start by suggesting the story is allegorical but then retelling the story as if it were literal.

          Is it literal or allegorical? If literal, how do you explain the lack of evidence for a genetic bottleneck in our DNA? If allegorical, what sense does it make for Jesus to have died for an allegory?

          Cheers,

          b&

          1. There is a literal and an allegorical aspect to the story. I don’t see where my “retelling” should be taken literally. It was a short and quickly written paragraph.

            To begin with, Human beings have a sense of self-awareness, self-consciousness, that is probably the most distinct aspect of our humanity vs. the other earthly species. That self-awareness is the root of all spiritual discourse.

            If the Judeo-Christian tradition holds that the self is inherently sinful, and the “knowledge of good and evil” is the line of demarcation between innocence and sinfulness, then an explanation of the allegory as written in Gen. 1-3 would focus on the spiritual “truths” it is intended to illustrate while still respecting the science that denies any sort of literal interpretation of the passage. In other words, a “bottle-neck” isn’t necessary to use an allegorical man/woman to illustrate man’s need for a savior as the Christians believe.

            The self-awareness is the linchpin, Gen. 1-3 serves as a picture of the contrast between perfect animal innocence and self-knowledge. The nature, breadth, graduality, and timing of such awareness isn’t cogent to the argument. We are self-conscious beings, and in the Christian mindset, that is where sin lives.

            I’ve probably just muddied the issue rather than clarified, but we try. This typing box is really small a couple comments in!

            1. First, your assertion that humans are the only self-aware animals is on damned shaky ground. Not only is there strong research overwhelmingly demonstrating that our closest relatives, Pan troglodytes, are self-aware, there’s a lot of research showing that all sorts of other species, possibly even including invertebrates, are self-aware to some degree or another.

              But, never mind that.

              You’re asserting that Genesis is a fiction, that none of it ever actually happened and that it’s only meant to illustrate general principles about humans. Correct?

              So…where does this self-awareness come from?

              You’ve already ruled out Adam and Eve as potential sources. As far as science is concerned, self-awareness is a purely computational phenomenon. When we finally build a self-aware computer or genetically modify a chimpanzee to have intelligence sufficient for even you to acknowledge its self-awareness, will both need to accept Jesus’s redemption to avoid Hellfire and damnation?

              Or will Jesus frustrate our efforts in such a way that only humans will ever be capable of self-awareness?

              Or is self-awareness something that can only come to an entity by Jesus’s divine fiat?

              Cheers,

              b&

          2. Oh, sorry – and by that explanation, what we’re being saved from by Jesus’s substitutionary death is our state of sinfulness which makes us unworthy of relationship with God.

            Now let’s be clear, I’m not asking anyone to believe this, but the question which Diane seems to think I didn’t read, is to formulate an explanation that doesn’t deny what we know about genetics. Said explanation would be for believers, would it not?

            1. Said explanation would be for believers, would it not?

              Since religious belief is entirely independent from both evidence and logic, I can’t think of any reason why you need bother yourself with pretending to reconcile your beliefs with anything other than whatever makes you feel good when you think about them.

              The purpose of Jerry’s exercise is to present a plausible-sounding theological argument that includes a non-alegorical Adam and Eve and doesn’t obviously reject the well-established body of genetic evidence. Since theology is also largely irrelevant to beliefs, I again don’t see what place they have in this discussion.

              Cheers,

              b&

            2. Where did sin come from? Who were the original sinners? Who created sin? Who/what did Jesus die for? Who is being saved from what and why via the crucifixion of Jesus-god?

        2. Well, you failed. But to what are you referring? You, apparently having far superior cognitive powers than I, could just say why you think my example doesn’t jive with genetics rather than being snarky.

          Well, good thing I decided not to use my original query regarding your competence with reading comprehension, then. But in retrospect, I should have asked if you’d read the rest of Dr. Coyne’s post, in addition to the contest question, and esp. his call for a theological explanation of these inconvenient truths (see paragraphs 2-4) for those evangelicals for whom nothing but a literal Adam and Eve will do.

          Heck, if “it’s an allegory” was all the answer here sought, this contest should instead by a lottery. Easiest. Answer. Ever.

          Even a cursory reading of this post reveals that Dr. Coyne has already essentially dismissed your contention within it. Just substitute “allegory” for “metaphor.”

          Then, see the above responses to you as to why the all-purpose allegory solution doesn’t cut it with respect to subsequent Christian dogma.

      2. Perhaps it’s the fruit part of it – left out a line, explaining that eating of the fruit is symbolic of achieving self-awareness? If that’s not it, then please explain…

        1. If Jesus died for allegorical sin, then how do you know his resurrection isn’t an allegory too? How do you know which bits of the bible are factual and which are allegories?

          By the way, if there was no such thing as an immortal soul, would you want to know or continue to believe in such things?

          1. Clearly the life/death/burial/resurrection of Jesus, if such occurred was witnessable, whereas the creation and all of prehistory up until the development of language was not. The question of Jesus’s resurrection is an issue of the reliability of the witnesses who recorded the source material. Not to mention that there is much in the structure of the Genesis account that lends itself to allegory, heavy symbolism, the structure of days for stages, the refrain at the end of each stage. Whether Moses at the time of writing would have understood it to be allegory or scientific fact is immaterial, in that he would still have been recording that which was handed down to him through ages of oral tradition.

            1. Clearly the life/death/burial/resurrection of Jesus, if such occurred was witnessable[…]

              Clearly so — which is why we should be so thankful to the many authors and scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls, who lived and wrote in Jerusalem before, during, and after the time of Jesus’s ministry, for their ever-so-lucid observations of all that went down.

              There’s Philo, too: Herod Agrippa’s brother-in-law, the Jewish philosopher who merged the concept of the Logos into Judaism, and a diplomat who was part of an embassy to Rome in the early ’40s to petition Caligula to stop unjustly crucifying Jews. His eyewitness testimony is surely indispensable.

              And who could forget Pliny the Elder and his obsession with the supernatural or all those Roman satirists whose stock in trade was the humiliation Jesus heaped upon Pilate and the Sanhedrin?

              Why, with such a detailed contemporary record, one might almost be forgiven for thinking it impossible that something as momentous as the actual manifestation of an archetypal Pagan demigod — virgin birth, water-into-wine, social upheaval, spectacular unjust execution followed by an impossible resurrection and an ultimate triumphant ascent into the skies, and all the rest — could happen right under their noses without nary a one noticing a thing. I mean, it’d be silly to suggest that the very first mention of anything like that would occur decades later in the turgid prose of a self-described hallucinatory epileptic who prided himself on the fact that he wasn’t anywhere near the scene, wouldn’t you think?

              Whether Moses at the time of writing[…]

              Erm…you do know that Moses is as much a fictional character as any other in the Bible, don’t you? I mean, that’s been well established and pretty much universally accepted even by much of the religious community for close to a century by now. And the myth that Moses actually wrote the Pentateuch has been known to be an example of midrash for far, far longer. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a mainstream rabbi who thinks of that bit as anything other than a child’s story.

              Cheers,

              b&

              1. Great Summary Ben!

                The only thing worth adding is that dating the epileptic’s writings (who BTW seemed largely ignorant as to the actual details of the earthly Jesus’ words & deeds) or dating the anonymously written Canonical gospels to a few decades after the purported events is a real problem. For all we know they could be all be second century midrashic fictions. No other writers even seem aware of these works until the middle of the second century at best. To call the life, death & resurrection of Jesus an historical event is pretty dubious.

                -evan

    2. Let’s re-focus on Coyne’s request for a paragraph that would make the Adam and Eve story align with genetics in a manner that a ‘progressive’ xian could say, ya, I can accept that. Many contributors have wandered far afield, not without some interesting and humorous comments [BG comes through as per usual]. However, Anthony’s take is similar to the ‘sophisticated theology’ that I tried to pass off in #69, in that Adam should be understood as ‘humans’ and then all of the other minor details like sin, souls, etc. naturally fall into place 🙂

      1. Yes, we should ask Anthony which of the above stories aligns most closely with his beliefs on the subject.

        Remember the rules of the game– you can’t have Jesus dying for an allegory or it opens up the question whether Jesus-god is an allegory too.

        The evidence is conclusive– the earth is not young and we did not descend from a single pair of humans (Unless god/Satan/Xenu is a trickster or we’re in a matrix, etc.)

        Our last common female human ancestor lived tens of thousands of years before our last common male ancestor. There is no literal Adam and Eve. So who were the first people with souls that could suffer forever? Who were the were the “original sinners” that Jesus is said to die for? Who are the people responsible for making the rest of humanity have to have faith –lest they suffer forever? (according to the Bible) When did they live and what made them different from all the other people around at the same time?

        1. I haven’t had the time to look them all over, but I’ll peruse some of them tomorrow 🙂

          One minor point, and one that Ben didn’t seem to ken at the moment, for which I would blame my clarity (or lack thereof) and not his or your ability to understand 🙂 – Jesus wouldn’t be dying for an allegory. Jesus would be dying for a reality which is defined by an allegory for lack of a more sophisticated means of relating the concept that man is born fallen… Well, more on that tomorrow, as well as delving into Ben’s responses, as I don’t want to leave that hanging. Cheers all 🙂

          1. Okay, thanks.

            And could you tell us what bothered you most about Ben’s interpretation?

            You are a great sport!

      2. Thank you for understanding. I enjoy Ben’s input, but it seems to me he’s missed the point, which was to create a Christian-palatable interpretation that did not deny the genetic science as we know it. Maybe tomorrow we can have a little fun and explore some of the details, as it’s great exercise, plus it’s just the friendly thing to do. But it’s late, and I don’t think I’ve the energy at the moment.

        1. I enjoy Ben’s input, but it seems to me he’s missed the point, which was to create a Christian-palatable interpretation that did not deny the genetic science as we know it.

          Eh, that’s not quite the point. Quoting from Jerry:

          No matter what those fine theological minds come up with, it will never be widely accepted among evangelical Christians. A literal Adam and Eve is an item too important to be seen as a metaphor, for it’s a bedrock of Christian faith.

          […]

          What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

          You cannot answer that these issues are irreconcilable; remember, you’re being a theologian who is trying to help the Christians, and so have to propose a solution that sounds superficially plausible.

          Get it?

          Literal Adam and Eve, not metaphorical and / or allegorical. Reconciled with the genetic facts in a way that Evangelicals might find palatable, in language that they themselves might use.

          You know? What BioLogos thinks its whole mission is?

          That you yourself agree with us that Genesis is a faery tale is irrelevant; you’re one of those liberal Christians who already pays lip service to the Theory of Evolution. You’re not part of BioLogos’s target audience or the target of Jerry’s challenge. Indeed, once you start considering large swaths of critical foundational portions of the Christian canon as mythological fantasies, you’re only a hop skip and a jump from Dawkins’s own position as a “cultural Christian.”

          The exercise here is to (perhaps snarkily) “help” those who haven’t grown up past being afraid of the monsters under the bed to hold tight to their cherished fantasies while giving them a plausible-sounding way to vaguely acknowledge that light switches are more a manifestation of electronics than sorcery.

          None of us seriously thinks that this is anything but an exercise in mythmaking; if we did, we’d all be Christians swimming in Templeton money! The point isn’t to actually solve the problem; that’s just silly — as silly as thinking that a recently-resurrected zombie would get a kick out of ordering one of his thralls to fondle his intestines through his gaping chest wound with an excuse about proving that he’s really a zombie.

          No, the point is to predict (and perhaps preempt) what those wacky loons will come up with next.

          Cheers,

          b&

  78. The rate of mutation was higher in the past. This explains both how there is too much mutation to have happened in the given time frame by current rates, and it explains how Adam and Noah and Methuselah et al lived so long, but then expected lifespan plummeted when nasty deletrious mutations peaked and lifespan stabilized when mutations decreased. Cause everybody knows mutations are bad.

    Or the devil did it.

    1. Why not gremlins? Or Xenu? Or one of those lesser gods that the 3-in-1 Jesus-god said we shall not have before him?

  79. When referring to Adam as the first man, we are referring to the fact that all men today can trace themselves to Adam, and a similar situation regarding women and Eve. However, it is obvious that Eve had to have her own “Adam”, and Adam his own “Eve”. Original sin is the reason why Eve’s “Adam” is not the genetic ancestor of all humans. The ineffable nature of god, and a woman’s frailties, caused Eve’s infidelity to Adam, thus sinning against God’s command. This infidelity is why Eve’s “Adam” is no longer represented in the genetic lineage. There was a real Adam and Eve, 140,000 years ago. But the imposition of sin into this world explains the divergence with the scientific evidence.

    Ok, so I got misogyny, condescension and ineffable in there. I failed to use metaphor, which probably counts against me. I submit this paragraph of outrageously burning stupid to the competition. I also believe that you should send me a copy of WEIT in any case as compensation for the trauma I just experienced trying to reason like a theologian. I think I need to throw out part of my brain.

    1. You seem to imply that Eve mixed up with lots of beastly, non-human beings before some of her descendants started to mate with Adam’s descendants only. This suggests sexual selection in favor of Adam’s descendants. And, perhaps unexpectedtly, it provides a solution which does not attribute that perverted sexual behavior to Eve. Indeed, since sexual selection on the Y chromosome goes against the increase of male-only genetic diversity, one can mistakenly conclude that the most recent common ancestor of all males is closer to us than he actually was. (The bible obviously hints at this explanation with its many references to male polygamy)

    2. A bit of a martyr complex, buddy… maybe the religious stuff is wearing off on you.

      Don’t you think others have suffered as much as you trying to get it all to make sense.

      But (for the record) I like your story. U can haz ciberr kissiz xoxoxox

  80. What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    I haven’t read all the other entries, but here is mine:

    Evolution occurred, exactly as scientists claim. However, Adam and Eve were not homo sapiens: they were a different species, specially created. When their son Cain managed to nevertheless mate with a human, a dominant gene with a special “sin” trait was quickly passed throughout the human species. It acted like a virus.

    It is possible that one day this gene will be found. It is also possible that it did not pass through the entire species, and this explains why Christianity isn’t accepted by so much of the world’s population: these people are without the sin trait, and thus don’t feel the need for salvation.

    However, along with the trait for sin comes a direct descent from the hand of God. The descendents of Adam and Eve have all chosen to become or remain Christians, because they can sense both their state of sin, and the small remaining trace of their special creation by God.

    1. I like it… I think “sin” and “soul” are linked. I think I’m without either genes so I don’t have to worry about trying to reconcile faith stories with facts. I don’t have an immortal soul that can suffer forever for not believing in the right thing.

      Lucky me!

  81. Could the concept that the information technology which,at least in part, defines living organisms arose from
    the laws of physics and chemistry modified by the influence of natural selection be shown to be as ridiculous as the phlogiston theory.

  82. Adam and Eve were banished from Eden. After which Adam/Eve mated with ancestors of primates who at that time were a close enough genetic match. Only those offspring who themselves mated with kane and abel and carried on eventually evolved into what we now know as humans (and because adam’s and eve’s genes were directly created by God they eventually overrode all the primate genes so that about 10000 years ago there is no genetic difference between adam/eve and humans.

  83. All the problems with the Adam and Eve story in Gen 2 are resolved and can be also acceptable to science if one realizes that the original humans were created LONG before Adam.

    The First creation in Gen 1 is the creation of the ancestors of all humanity EXCEPT the Jews. Adam and Eve of Gen 2 are the ancestors of the Jews. From them came Abraham and Israel, Moses and Jesus.

    Thus Adam was created 6000 years ago is OK with science….. since it is only Adam not humanity….humanity was created long before that according to Gen 1.

    The flood and 8 people is only an allegory to the bottle neck as far as Jews are concerned not all humanity.

    Original sin only applies as far as the people of Israel are concerned and whoever wants to hang on to their shirttails in HOPING for YHWH’s love or attention.

    The rest of humanity has always from the start been left alone and YHWH never bothered them or with them. They were there only as EXTRAS in the cosmic MOVIE.

    Europeans who have been sold on Jesus are totally DECEIVED by PAUL. According to Jesus himself (Mathew 15:21-28) he only ever cared to “save” the “lost sheep of Israel” not the gentiles. Jesus’ disdain to “gentiles” is strewn all over the New Testament (e.g. Matthew 5:47, 6:7, 6: 32, 10:5 , 18:17 just to mention a few).

    So all this science stuff is OK and is not in any way contradictory to the Bible. The Bible is only about the descendants of Adam who are the Jews but not the rest of humanity of whom Cain was afraid when YHWH condemned him to roam the earth Gen 4.

  84. Sadly, one often encounters ‘esteemed’ members of the so-called ‘scientific community’, demanding that the faithful answer to scientific concepts such as ‘genetic’ and ‘reconciliation’. Prof. Coyne’s challenge is as unoriginal as it is banal. 

    However, as modern, sophisticated theologians have been aware of for some time, to speak of ‘genetic facts’, and other such scientific buzzwords, arrogantly assumes that there are indeed facts of the matter to argue! It is not uncommon for ‘scientists’ to commit such ontological fallacies. 

    One wonders why Prof. Coyne has not demanded a reconciliation of the story of Adam and Eve to ‘phrenological’ facts, or to the ‘fact’ of alchemy! This is of course, until one remembers that these ‘scientific’ dogmas (which is surely what they were), were discredited long ago!

    So, let Mr. Coyne and his army of militant atheists demand ‘reconciliations’ to non-existent ‘facts’ (phrenology indeed – what was he thinking!). The discerning, educated, faithful community that I am pleased to be a part of is too smart to play that game. 

    1. Oh, and I’m aware that the above post doesn’t fit the criteria of the competition, but I couldn’t help myself.

    2. Wow! Simply wow…

      Somewhere above in that thread, Galileo was mentioned. Were the scientific facts in that case just “buzzwords” given that the Church itself finally admitted it was wrong (even if it was almost 4 centuries later)?

      And does it mean that you think that all scientific facts that contradict the Bible story must be wrong? There are plenty of counterexamples that are quite hard to argue against….

      1. Woah, there, cowboy! This is a thread explicitly for Poes.

        Nick’s offered up a very plausible and predictable Christian response for his entry in Jerry’s competition, even if it’ll get automatically disqualified for not adhering to the criteria.

        Cheers,

        b&

      2. Wow, my first attempt at a Poe and it’s worked a treat! Looks like watching those William Craig debates has come in useful for something after all.

    3. Bravo! Great theology-speak! (I esp. liked the way you threw in “ontological fallacies.”)

      As to not meeting the criteria of the original question–since when have theologists (or politicians) worried about that?

  85. Here is my entry.

    — Exegesis of Genes and Genesis —

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, then He commanded the water and the earth to bring forth the vegetation and all kinds of living creatures, this way starting the evolution. After a while the early hominids evolved, including the proto-humans. Then God created a garden in the land of Eden, and a man in his image. He made man out of clay or dirt, which means He took all the best genes from the population of proto-humans, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. He also created a female human out of the same genetic material, and so the first pair of true humans were made, Adam and Eve. Their genetic make-up was perfectly compatible with the one of proto-humans, but the selection of the best genes determined their extended longevity and fertility. They also received immortal soul, which made them the first earthly creatures capable of direct communication with God. The Tree of Knowledge was intended to provide them with the knowledge of right and wrong and make them God-like creatures. Its fruits were intended to be consumed after the humans multiply enough, but Adam and Eve were too hasty, and after they ate the fruits, the only choice was to let them and their descendants to breed with the proto-humans. It was relatively easy since their lifespan was very long and they were fertile all the time due to the perfect choice of genes. However the genetics of proto-humans was not so perfect, and eventually their descendants lost the ability to communicate with God. Besides, they started to interbreed with other hominid species such as Neanderthals. At this time God decided to make the Great Flood to get rid of the unwanted genetic pollution. The survivors all had immortal souls but only few of them were capable of communicating with God directly. The Resurrection of Jesus finally opened a way for the spiritual rebirth and restoration of the direct link between God and humans.

  86. Here’s a shot at your competition. Hopefully it makes as little sense as most theology, although I tried to make it *sound* plausible for those eager to find a reconciliation. It can be called “trangressional declination” if that’s suitably over-the-top. 🙂


    As St. Paul explains, “through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:12). Though man was created in the perfect image of God, Adam’s transgression removed humanity from the eminence of God’s grace and introduced sickness, disease, and death into the genetic material, causing a rapid decline in genetic quality. And as “the Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20), God introduced Mosaic Law for the express purpose of increasing human transgression so that humanity’s chance to receive His grace would increase. But this increase in transgression further contributed to the decline of human genetic material. It is because of the genetic degradation experienced by humans since original sin until the present day that our modern genome appears inconsistent with the history of our ancient ancestors. God’s gift of expedited justification necessarily entailed the transgressional declination.

    P.S. The scary thing is that whichever entry wins might actually be used by some fundies to make a case for Adam and Eve! Of course, what a great thing it would be to point out that they had to resort to getting it from atheists who were *forcing* a solution out of thin air!

  87. I agree with Nick.

    The paragraph competition is likely to be an exercise in futility. Not because all scientific facts are invalid or will become invalid but because life is an information based technology and the Darwinian / reductionist construct on life is not consistent with present understanding about semantic / prescriptive information. Living organisms are distinguished from inanimate objects by the presence of prescriptive information. This suggests that the Darwinian / reductionist construct on life is likely to have the same future as the phlogiston theory.

    1. Living organisms are distinguished from inanimate objects by the presence of prescriptive information.

      Isn’t DNA all about information? What do you mean by including the specifier “prescriptive”?

    2. In this case, what you’re saying is equivalent to “I totally agree with this article from The Onion”. Nick’s comment was a parody of your kind of reasoning.

  88. – Excerpts From the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy –

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information-biological/

    For many biologists, the most basic processes characteristic of living organisms should now be understood in terms of the expression of information, the execution of programs, and the interpretation of codes.

    There is no consensus about the status of these ideas, and the result has been a growing foundational discussion within biology and the philosophy of biology. Some have hailed the employment of informational concepts as a crucial advance (Williams 1992). Others have seen almost every biological application of informational concepts as a serious error, one that distorts our understanding and contributes to lingering genetic determinism (Francis 2003).

    One possibility is to argue that genes and other biological structures literally carry semantic information, and their informational character explains the distinctive role of these structures in biological processes. Another possibility is to treat the appeal to meaning and information as an analogical one. Here the idea is that language, coding systems, computer programs and other paradigmatically information-exploiting systems can serve as useful models for biological systems. If we take this second route, our task then is to identify the similarities between the cases of semantic phenomena used as models and the biological systems we seek to understand, and to show how those similarities are informative. If we think of genes or cells as literally carrying semantic information, our problem changes. Paradigm cases of structures with semantic information — pictures, sentences, programs — are built by the thought and action of intelligent agents. So we need to show how genes and cells — neither intelligent systems themselves nor the products of intelligence — can carry semantic information, and how the information they carry explains their biological role.

    1. So we need to show how genes and cells — neither intelligent systems themselves nor the products of intelligence — can carry semantic information, and how the information they carry explains their biological role.

      And philosophers wonder why scientists think philosophy is useless.

      You see, “information” doesn’t exist as some sort of platonic ideal. We have computation and communication, both of which occur as part of purely physical processes. Any concept of information arises as an emergent phenomenon from computation and communication, and the only real purpose it serves is as a conceptual model to help humans get a sense for what’s going on.

      Ultimately, there’s no information (in the sense you’re thinking of) in the genome — or anywhere else in the universe, for that matter. All there is are complex physical and chemical reactions that result very predictably from the initial conditions in exactly the way current theory predicts. It’s just that DNA crystals are a bit more elaborate than water crystals (snowflakes) which are, in turn, more elaborate than carbon crystals (diamonds).

      Your complaint really only makes sense with the presupposition of dualism…and, since dualism violates the laws of thermodynamics, I don’t think we need worry about it overly much.

      Cheers,

      b&

      1. What are your thoughts on the following by David L Abel. Please see also ” The Cybernetic Cut” by the same author :

        http://www.scitopics.com/The_Cybernetic_Cut.html

        http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:A3Xn3dFWMw4J:www.benthamscience.com/open/tocsj/articles/V002/252TOCSJ.pdf+the+cybernetic+cut&hl=en&gl=jm&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESglQhy3IcLnC76sjp_5imNAQQE0L6HGXHBhj6NwJRqQ8EgvOY0N9nfn7eJIK5JOJvkwHXgCcrMoET_M3Whwn77Jx8JxFTyGDpsdK4zJL8AMzaVn6gf8zvdD0u3pUzYzAwERIDw1&sig=AHIEtbT6ufwKY99lqHWGdUew7X1hmibG9g&pli=1

        Semantic (meaningful) information has two subsets: Descriptive and Prescriptive. Prescriptive Information (PI) instructs or directly produces nontrivial formal function (Abel, 2009a). Merely describing a computer chip does not prescribe or produce that chip. Thus mere description needs to be dichotomized from prescription. Computationally halting cybernetic programs and linguistic instructions are examples of Prescriptive Information. “Prescriptive Information (PI) either tells us what choices to make, or it is a recordation of wise choices already made.” (Abel, 2009a)
        Not even Descriptive semantic information is achievable by inanimate physicodynamics (Pattee, 1972, 1995, 2001).

        scientific literature.

          1. Genetic information is regarded (by some) as instructions but not information as the concept of information implies purpose which , philosophically, is not allowed in science.
            This position is likely to come under increasing scrutiny however. The launch of the Journal of Biosemiotics by Springer is instructive :

            http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/evolutionary+%26+developmental+biology/journal/12304

            * Traces the rapid growth and evolution of the discipline of biosemiotics
            * Presents peer-reviewed research into signs, communications and information in living organisms
            * Bridges biology, philosophy, linguistics and communications

            The journal Biosemiotics provides a platform for exceptional peer-reviewed papers that is as broad as the rapidly growing discipline for which it is named. Its coverage spans a range of disciplines, bridging biology, philosophy, linguistics and the communication sciences.

            Conceived in the insight that the genetic code is a language as old as life itself, and grounded in the study of signs, of communication and of information in organisms, biosemiotics is evolving today toward the challenge of naturalizing not only biological information but also biological meaning, in the belief that signs and codes are fundamental components of the living world.

            Biosemiotics offers an advanced forum for the exchange of ideas on this exciting new area of biological theory. It serves a readership comprising biosemioticians themselves, along with interested researchers in disciplines from social semiotics to community ecology, from communication science to artificial intelligence.

            1. Genetic information is regarded (by some) as instructions but not information

              So instructions are not information? Didn’t you just write “genetic information“?

              I honestly don’t understand your broader point here.

        1. What I think is that it’s meaningless philosobabble by somebody who’s overthinking what’s going on.

          Even when you do have a computer chip, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an elaborate silicon crystal.

          And even when you do hook it into the motherboard and assemble the rest of the computer, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an interesting sculpture.

          And even when you do plug it into the wall and flip the switch, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an elaborate heatsink.

          And even when you do see these words appear on the screen, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an arrangement of colored lights.

          And even when you do read these words, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is a change in the biochemical composition in your brain.

          Even Shannon’s laws don’t set out limits on data transfer; rather, they set out limits on the physics of the propagation of changes in matter and energy. There are limits to how fast a wave can propagate that depend on the characteristics of the medium it’s traveling in; similarly, there are limits on how that wave can be modulated as it’s traveling. That’s it.

          All this nonsense about specifically prescribed infomogrification becomes meaningless the instant you step out of Plato’s Cave and actually have a look at what’s going on.

          Cheers,

          b&

          1. “And even when you do see these words appear on the screen, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an arrangement of colored lights”.

            Does the arrangement of colored light have significance,does it transfer meaning and if so how does it do so and what should we call this phenomenon ?

            1. It transfers meaning to material brains that evolved to extract information from some kinds of meaning.

              If accepted that souls are as much an illusion as gypsy curses would you be pursuing this obfuscating path of discussion– or is this your way of keeping the faith that you think is necessary for salvation alive?

            2. Out of curiosity, is this how YOU rectify the bible with the genetics (which you don’t seem to have a very good grasp of)? Is god the programmer of DNA? What do you think of the broken vitamin C gene we share with other apes? Why would god put broken code in the genome– or am I getting too off topic here?

              From my perspective, your writing seems like gobbledy gook that helps you keep the faith; are other theists taking it seriously? How about anyone who doesn’t believe in immortal souls?

              Is there a way for you to succinctly state how it rectifies your faith with the facts or not?

              1. To the best of my knowledge the bible says nothing about genetics.
                In my understanding the incident about Jacob and the flock are as much about genetics as the incident with Joshua and the sun standing still is about cosmology.
                For the sake of the discussion immortal souls are not relevant. Seeking truth does not and ought not to have a pre-determined end.
                I am not a geneticist but a medical doctor,a radiologist to be precise. I am fascinated by “living things / Life” which I believe are the most complex things in the known universe.

                Is it reasonable to believe that if the information technology paradigm of life is true it rings a death knell for the Darwinian paradigm ?
                What are your views on the concept of information in living organisms.

                Why is there no consensus on this in the biological community ?

                Is there a better place to raise these issues than on this blog ?

                http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information-biological/

                For many biologists, the most basic processes characteristic of living organisms should now be understood in terms of the expression of information, the execution of programs, and the interpretation of codes.

                There is no consensus about the status of these ideas, and the result has been a growing foundational discussion within biology and the philosophy of biology.

              2. In my understanding the incident about Jacob and the flock are as much about genetics as the incident with Joshua and the sun standing still is about cosmology.

                The point of bringing up Jacob is that in this incident the Bible does very clearly lay out a mechanism for inheritance, one that is clearly wrong.

              3. I have a Masters in Genetics, and I don’t understand what you are talking about. The genetic evidence more than confirms evolution in stunning detail.

                I don’t have to worry about souls or bible stories, so I’m free to follow the evidence. But this is a blog about people who believe in Jesus– what do they tell themselves Jesus died for since clearly we did not all descend from a single couple… none of the evidence support the genesis account of the bible. Jesus is supposed to have died for original sin. Christians imagine themselves saved for believing this, right– and damned for disbelief. So how are Christians who understand the evolutionary facts going to rectify those facts so that there are “original sinners” who committed “original sin” making god create a hell that Jesus-god is supposed to save believing Christians from.

                That’s the topic of this post. Your confusion about genetics really isn’t. But I bet you can (have) found a welcome audience among those eager to disbelieve in the science showing that evolution is a fact.

                The evidence for evolution just keeps piling on– even as people like you remain ignorant… just like it does for heliocentrism, germ theory, and atomic theory. Your confusion about the issue doesn’t change the facts.

                Francis Collins understands the facts. How is he going to rectify those facts with his beliefs about original sin?

          2. I didn’t think it possible, but you’ve outdone yourself in this exchange, Ben. Bravo–and thanks. I needed that clarity.

            1. Thanks.

              I actually owe a great deal of that explanation to a tangential discussion here some weeks ago. I had had it in my head that there ought to be some sort of direct one-to-one relationship between matter / energy and information…say, a minimum sub-microscopic atomic configuration that would represent something akin to a fundamental bit. Then somebody pointed me in a direction that made me realize just how silly that was: you could have the sun blink in morse code at a frequency of one hour, and there still wouldn’t be any information contained therein if you didn’t understand morse code. Or, if you did understand morse code, but the transmission were encrypted and the encryption key had been destroyed, there still wouldn’t be any information.

              That was the point where I realized that there simply isn’t any such thing as “information” in the abstract sense…only computation and communication. And both are most firmly grounded in physics — they’re just special cases of atoms and photons getting jiggled around in particular ways.

              Cheers,

              b&

  89. I won’t post a link here, but people at Uncommon Descent are already copying your ideas. Apparently, they approve of it:

    And I have to say, some of the answers are quite good.

    1. OMG, that’s unbelievable! When the author got to the part about “not caring where [his] ideas came from” as long as they were good ideas, I just about died. Folks, go have a look. Opening graf of post:

      Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Tyro, Drew, Ray Moscow, Andrei, Dr. I. Needtob Athe, Anatman, Chris McNeely, Marcello, John Salerno, Miles, Mark, TheShortEaredOwl, Solomon Wagstaff, Evan Guiney, KP, Sven DiMilo, Patrick, Kevin Anthoney, Ftfkdad, Happy Cat, Prof. Pedant, Ben Goren, Qbsmd and Tim Byron. Most of these guys are card-carrying atheists, but by the time you’ve finished reading this post, you’ll absolutely love them.

      1. Damn, that’s one dain-brammaged puppy.

        For me, the money quote is this:

        Funnily enough, it turns out that atheists can do a better job of defending key religious doctrines than religious believers themselves.

        Well, duh. For us, it’s just fanfiction, and it’s already been well established that we know the canon better than those who think it’s real.

        Who would you expect to do a better job at writing a Star Trek short story: the physics lecturer who ate it up as a kid, or the nutjob who’s looking up all the Cochranes in the phone book to see if they’ll finish the Warp drive before the Vulcans arrive?

        That he could write that sentence and not realize what it says about the relative intellectual positions…well, come to think of it, that’s about par for the course.

        Cheers,

        b&

        1. Dembski says: “many Intelligent Design proponents are religious believers, and this post is on a topic that will interest those who are.”

          I’d say ALL intelligent design proponents fail to understand evolution because they imagine themselves special or saved for believing the creation stories of their religions. If they understood that immortal souls were as much an illusion as gypsy curses, then I don’t think any of them would be doing the mental gymnastics required to claim that that life on our planet was “designed” by an invisible 3-in-1 deity who formed the universe with human life in mind.

          I think it’s funny how they talk as if god and souls were facts. It’s as if they understand that if they didn’t talk this way, these things would no longer exist– that they exist only in the material brains of the indoctrinated.

          1. I know! Do you think if we challenged Dembski to come up with “ID proponents” who are not “religious believers” he could produce anyone? (Well, I suppose we’d have to rule out any supernaturalists–there would no doubt be some woo-ists who claim not to be godbots…)

        2. For me, the money quote is this:

          Funnily enough,…

          Oh, indeed. That sentence stood out in blinking neon lights. SPOING! There goes the ol’ irony meter.

      2. For many of us, I’m sure the expertise comes from years of trying to get the facts to fit with faith in our own minds–

        If you believe in an immortal soul that can suffer forever for lack of faith– then you spend a lot of time shoring up whatever faith you imagine will save you.

        I think those mentioned should pat themselves on the back for lessening the fear of hell for the faithful. It’s a hard job trying to continually get oneself to believe things that have no bearing on reality.

        As a bonus, more theists stuck in the quagmire of faith will read this blog, and a few seeds of critical thought might be planted so that some will find their way out of the mental miasma.

        All in all a big win for everyone! Congratz to those mentioned. I’d be jealous if I’d contributed a “reconciliation”, but so many here did such a great job that I cede before trying.

        1. …more theists stuck in the quagmire of faith will read this blog, and a few seeds of critical thought might be planted…

          Optimism–I like it! 😀

          …but so many here did such a great job that I cede before trying.

          Ditto. I knew that would be the case before I even started to read the entries.

    2. I was about to post that link, but I see several have already seen it.

      We’re (in)famous! I suppose we’ll see our own joke arguments coming back as actual pro-ID/creationist debate positions now.

    3. Maybe it’s time for atheists to take over the field of theology the same way they did with science…

  90. The correct way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts is to utilize the correct understanding of how genetic information is acquired and passed on.

    Fortunately, the Bible provides a clear lesson on this very topic – see Genesis 30:25-43. In this story we learn that the current scientific understanding of inheritance is wrong and that the correct mechanism for inheritance is “The Inheritance of Observed Properties”, or IhOP. In short, IhOP is the theory that organisms acquire the properties of objects that are observed during mating. Jacob utilized IhOP to manipulate the genetics of Laben’s goat herd by placing spotted sticks in the view of the mating goats which resulted in the birth of spotted goats.
    Understanding IhOP solves the apparent riddles of genetics and Genesis by showing that the genetic diversity in the human genome is not a result of gradual mutations. Instead, the diversity exists because different human populations spread across the globe (both during the initial dispersal from the Garden of Eden and after the divinely forced dispersal at the tower of Babel) and had sex in different environments which caused different modifications to the genome. For example, Nordic populations had sex in snowy areas which resulted in a fair/blond complexion, Asian populations had sex in the presence of rice grains which resulted in narrow eyes, African populations had sex almost exclusively at night due to excessive day time temperatures which resulted in dark coloration. These confirming examples could be multiplied almost endlessly.

    Once again, we see that the Bible itself contains the key to unlocking the “mysteries” that are foisted upon it by the claims of science. Utilizing the direct teaching of scripture (IhOP) shows that no such “mystery” exist.

  91. Why Machine-Information Metaphors are Bad for Science and Science Education
    Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry
    Science and Education, Online October 2010 | DOI: 10.1007/s11191-010-9267-6

    Abstract: Genes are often described by biologists using metaphors derived from computational science: they are thought of as carriers of information, as being the equivalent of “blueprints” for the construction of organisms. Likewise, cells are often characterized as “factories” and organisms themselves become analogous to machines. Accordingly, when the human genome project was initially announced, the promise was that we would soon know how a human being is made, just as we know how to make airplanes and buildings. Importantly, modern proponents of Intelligent Design, the latest version of creationism, have exploited biologists’ use of the language of information and blueprints to make their spurious case, based on pseudoscientific concepts such as “irreducible complexity” and on flawed analogies between living cells and mechanical factories. However, the living organism = machine analogy was criticized already by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. In line with Hume’s criticism, over the past several years a more nuanced and accurate understanding of what genes are and how they operate has emerged, ironically in part from the work of computational scientists who take biology, and in particular developmental biology, more seriously than some biologists seem to do. In this article we connect Hume’s original criticism of the living organism = machine analogy with the modern ID movement, and illustrate how the use of misleading and outdated metaphors in science can play into the hands of pseudoscientists. Thus, we argue that dropping the blueprint and similar metaphors will improve both the science of biology and its understanding by the general public.

    1. Care to actually summarize the paper’s argument? Or just Hume’s criticism? I’m not impressed by the mere citation of papers (or even the provision of an abstract) — if you want to engage in debate, you need to be the one presenting the arguments (from whatever source you think appropriate).

      And it might be helpful to confine this discussion to a single thread here, rather than always creating top-level comments.

      And I’d find it very beneficial if you could explain again why you are so focused on “information” — what do you think this issue demonstrates? Are you arguing that only the Christian god can provide meaning, or is there something else you think is going on?

      1. I am on a singular thread.
        It is the concept of life as
        some type of information technology.

        Is this a reality or is it an illusion ?

        How do we determine which paradigm is correct?

        If life is in fact some type of information technology what are the implications for the blogs on this page ?

        Do you think that the journal of Biosemiotics is a worthwhile enterprise?

        1. If life is in fact some type of information technology what are the implications for the blogs on this page ?

          First, explain why DNA is not an example of information (or, if it is, why you think it did not come about naturally).

          1. I give no personal opinion. As a radiologist I do not have the scientific background to do so. I am asking questions based on perusal of the literature.

            I am not claiming that DNA is not an example of information as we understand the concept.
            I am citing literature which indicate that some biologists and philosophers of biology insist that DNA should not be regarded as information. This seems to be Pigliucci’s position and is this position is referred to in the article in the Stanford Enclyclopedia. Persons like Pigliucci think that using the information concept even as a metaphor is not only wrong it is bad for science.

            Other scientists seem to disagree with Pigliucci, also cited in the article in the Stanford Enclyclopedia. These individuals include David Abel and the persons behind the Journal Biosemiotics.

            My impression is that if the information technology concept is correct, statements such as :

            Not even Descriptive semantic information is achievable by inanimate physicodynamics (Pattee, 1972, 1995, 2001). (from Abel)

            and

            If we think of genes or cells as literally carrying semantic information, our problem changes. Paradigm cases of structures with semantic information — pictures, sentences, programs — are built by the thought and action of intelligent agents.

            (the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy)

            make the Darwinian / reductionist construction on Life impossible.

            1. Well, isn’t it obvious, then?

              We know that life exists.

              We know that the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection is the best-evidenced theory in all of science.

              You yourself admit that this semantic genome nonsense you keep citing is incompatible with the previous two facts.

              Even a grade student shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out the answer.

              What’s got you hung up is that you’ve stretched the analogy waaaaaay past the breaking point.

              Are there similarities between genetics and information technology? Obviously, unquestionably.

              Can some of the techniques developed to study the one be usefully applied or adapted to study the other? Sure — happens every day.

              Does the fact that programs (mostly) have programmers mean that genomes need geneticists? Well, now you’ve gone right off the deep end. You’ve built a sky castle out of moonbeams and faery wings, completely unsupported by any actual real-world evidence.

              I’ll give you a hint: anybody who claims that the ToE is bunk is exactly as much of a crank as anybody who claims to have a perpetual motion machine and — with a bit of seed money — is ready to revolutionize the world.

              If you don’t know why the ToE is on such solid ground, you need to read both Jerry’s book and Dawkins’s latest masterpiece. Or, just take an evolutionary biology class at your local institution of higher education.

              Cheers,

              b&

            2. Information theory does not apply well to the TOE. There’s no sender, no original message, no signal, no transponder, no intended receipient, etc. The basic mistake is assuming there is some sort of signal that someone is trying to transmit accurately, but life doesn’t work that way.

              True, DNA can be represented by information, but it seems to me (no expert) that variations in the genome, e.g. those caused by mutations, would actually increase the total information in that genome, if by “information” we mean a digital representation of all its variants.

              1. I agree that mutations would alter the information but that is hardly the challenge that the reductionist’s theory faces. As I understand it
                the challenge ,from the point of view of information theory, is the initiation of the language within which the mutations must work .

                Please see David Abel at :
                http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:A3Xn3dFWMw4J:www.benthamscience.com/open/tocsj/articles/V002/252TOCSJ.pdf+The+Cybernetic+Cut&hl=en&gl=jm&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESglQhy3IcLnC76sjp_5imNAQQE0L6HGXHBhj6NwJRqQ8EgvOY0N9nfn7eJIK5JOJvkwHXgCcrMoET_M3Whwn77Jx8JxFTyGDpsdK4zJL8AMzaVn6gf8zvdD0u3pUzYzAwERIDw1&sig=AHIEtbRwj0pcWq3sHSk_wo1ep4yGCYn3Dw

                CONCLUSIONS
                The Cybernetic Cut is a fundamental divide of reality.
                The law-like orderliness of nature along with the seeming
                chance contingency of heat agitation and statistical quantum
                reality lie on one side of the divide. Choice contingency lies
                on the other. Choice contingency is the ability to choose with
                intent what aspects of being will be preferred, pursued, selected,
                rearranged, integrated, organized, preserved, and
                used. Chance and necessity cannot generate choice contingency.
                The Cybernetic Cut can only be traversed through
                nonphysical, formal, purposeful, decision-node choicecommitments.
                Such choices are instantiated into physicality
                using dynamically-inert configurable switch-settings. Most
                of what is really interesting in presumed objective reality
                requires traversing the Cybernetic Cut, not just the epistemic
                cut of Pattee, to generate and/or explain.
                Physicodynamics possesses no ability to choose with
                intent at decision nodes, to assign meaning to symbols, to
                ascribe value to functionality, or to pursue utility. Infodynamics
                (trying to reduce information solely to physicality)
                provides no mechanism for the spontaneous generation of
                prescriptive information, including genetic instructions required
                for metabolic organization and life. Algorithmic optimization
                requires traversing the Cybernetic Cut. Physicalism
                provides no plausible explanation for, and no empirical
                evidence of, unaided self-organization [46] despite use of the
                term in hundreds of published papers.

              2. LOL! OK, Alan*, out from behind the curtain. You had us going there for a while…

                (*Sokal)

                (Reply to P99’s Abel abstract posted above…)

              3. As I understand it
                the challenge ,from the point of view of information theory, is the initiation of the language within which the mutations must work .

                Hey Phosphy, try this.

  92. “We know that the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection is the best-evidenced theory in all of science”.

    Why then does Allen MacNeill of the Evolution List claim :

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2009/11/modern-synthesis-is-dead-long-live.html

    It has been almost exactly a century and a half since Darwin’s Origin of Species was first published, and half a century since the conference at the University of Chicago where the “triumph” of the “modern evolutionary synthesis” was celebrated. So, isn’t it a little odd that some well-respected scientists and historians of science are proclaiming in this celebratory year that the modern evolutionary synthesis is dead?

    For example, Eugene Koonin, senior investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, and National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, has published two essays on the current status of the “modern evolutionary synthesis”:

    The Origin at 150: Is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight?
    Trends in Genetics, 25(11), November 2009, pp. 473-475.

    Abstract: The 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin and the 150th jubilee of the On the Origin of Species could prompt a new look at evolutionary biology. The 1959 Origin centennial was marked by the consolidation of the modern synthesis. The edifice of the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair. The hallmark of the Darwinian discourse of 2009 is the plurality of evolutionary processes and patterns. Nevertheless, glimpses of a new synthesis might be discernible in emerging universals of evolution.

    “You yourself admit that this semantic genome nonsense you keep citing is incompatible with the previous two facts”.

    I did say that the concepts are incompatible but I did not say that the concept of a ” semantic genome” is nonsense. Rather, I believe that this is what is required to be proven and not assumed.

    1. Did you actually read the website you cited? Did you actually read the article you mention? Do you know what they say?

      This quotemining and citation-carousel is getting mighty tiresome. How about actually engaging in argument for a change?

      1. I have and have the items in front

        of me.

        The websites are cited to
        facilitate easy reference to them.

        Please take a look and let us know your thoughts.

        1. We’ve told you our thoughts. Repeatedly.

          You’re citing some references with obvious fatal category errors and you’re misrepresenting other references in a way that implies they’re committing those same category errors when in reality the opposite is the case.

          Why don’t you start defending the implications you’re making, rather than trying to get everybody to go on a wild goose chase?

          The purpose of these types of discussions isn’t to line up a bunch of references to support vague assertions; it’s for individuals to discuss topics with each other, in their own words, with no more than the usual occasional short quote or reference for emphasis.

          You’ve yet to write anything in your own words describing why Dumbski’s blatherings about specificationated informationatics shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. What makes you think you don’t deserve to be dismissed out of hand even more readily?

          Cheers,

          b&

          1. As I have said I am a medical doctor, a radiologist with a fascination with living things. I have no scientific training in the biological sciences. I have come across these concepts in my reading (really a hobby)

            Shouldn’t these ideas be ventilated on a Blog called ” Why evolution is true” ?

            1. They’ve been ventilated. Repeatedly.

              If you have something new to add, please add it.

              If you don’t understand why we’ve been dismissing them, ask for clarification on the specifics of what you don’t understand.

              If you disagree with our facts or reasoning, explain your disagreement.

              But your argument-by-quotemining is both tedious and pointless.

              I also have to wonder: how on E