Did We Really Descend From Adam And Eve
One of the biggest questions and most difficult concepts to wrap my head around was the concept of Adam and Eve. There are a lot of theories out there that seek to reconcile the Genesis account with modern science.
Scientifically, one should evaluate the facts. When someone uses science to debunk anything rather than learn, they’re not using science the right way. We learn from experimentation. We look at the facts and try to understand what they tell us. We may start with a hypothesis and test it, but we don’t alter the test or conditions to get to our hypothesis; we test the hypothesis and reconsider that hypothesis if it fails the test. Only through constant testing under the most controlled settings can we truly gain the most valuable information. The difficulty comes from the fact that history is not a controlled setting. We can no more effectively evaluate the genetic integrity of the most ancient human corpses than we can use the genetic integrity of someone born tomorrow to determine the integrity of those ancient corpses.
We don’t know the rate of degradation, and even if we determined that rate now, we don’t know that it is constant.
I mention these things because the effects of incest are clear in this time, generations after the Genesis account.
Of all the questions about religion, this is the one I feel the most confident in discussing. I’m not a scientist at all, but I am a journalist, and so I know a thing or two about research.
What I’d like to share with you is an interesting piece of information I came upon, and how people reacted to it.
About six years ago, I was doing research for a book I was writing. I wanted to base one of the characters on Genghis Khan, and I learned that as of that year, 16 million people were descended form Genghis Khan. That information was from National Geographic.
I posted the information on social media. The post, like a lot of my social media posts, got about six likes and three comments. Here’s the interesting thing, all three comments didn’t dispute the fact that 16 million people descended from one human being. Instead, they said it should be higher!
Now I didn’t really think about this until my social media kindly reminded me about the post. I have a different set of eyes, a new heart, and a new mind after those years. I, like humanity, have evolved.
I can’t help but wonder: Why is it no one blinks at a National Geographic post saying at lest 16 million people descended from one man, but there are several people who then want to state it’s impossible for humanity to descend from one person?
This isn’t a scientific argument. It’s an argument of reasonability. It’s an argument that I present to you based on consistency. If you can accept that up to one percent of the world descended from one man, then I’d argue you have to at least consider that the world as a whole did indeed descend from one man. Especially if one argues that this singular heritage from a descendant about 800 years ago doesn’t result in any genetic degradation that would be likely today.
Now, one may argue, “but that’s only one percent.”
That percentage must only increase as we travel back in time. All of Khans brothers and sisters (I know of seven) descended from his father. The brothers and sisters of that man all descended from his father.
When my mother died, I looked at how many children descended just from her, and I was amazed. She had several sisters and a brother. The further back you go, the more narrow the family tree becomes.
Seeing this made the concept of humanity descending from Adam much more plausible to me that it was years ago. I lack the scientific expertise and acumen to prove this or demonstrate its plausibility in a technical manner, so instead I looked at it through a scope I’m more comfortable and experienced with.
If we accept that 16 million people descended from one man. Then we must also remember how a family tree works. The more children a pairing has, the more potential (not every woman born gives birth, and not every man born sires a child) there is for an exponential increase.
I found that report in 2004, and it was a year old. Today, as I typed this, I found another report from discovermagazine.com, published in 2010, that expanded on this information and went into detail about something called “super-Y” lineages. These are lineages that have a significant number of people descending from one father. The Y chromosome passes from father to son, so using that chromosome allows one to accurately track from father to father.
I understand this isn’t definitive proof by any stretch of the imagination. That’s not my goal. My goal is to help readers at least avoid immediately rejecting the Biblical account while simultaneously accepting a trend that at least shows a significant number of people can indeed descend from a single father.
Another important thing to note about the historical record is that while we all descended from Adam and Eve, the Bible records an extinction event that reduced humanity to Noah and his family. That’s significant because it shows something that current science has discovered and is working to understand.
While spending some time researching the concept of humans and their evolution, I found a very interesting bit of research. A study by Mark Stoeckle of Rockefeller University in New York and David Thaler of the University of Basel in Switzerland published an article in Human Evolution, and it reveals a mitochondrial history leading back to, you guessed it, one original pair.
Now, news sites are debating what that really means and even its conclusions, because that’s how news and science work. They look at the data and test it. While this study shows a single couple did indeed produce the world as we know it, it says that couple existed about 200,000 years ago, which doesn’t align with the Genesis record either. The dating of information is sketchy at best though. Some dispute the mitochondrial data. Again, I’m probably not going to prove anything to readers definitively. However, I hope this at least opens your mind to the possibility.
Where most of this book looks at how I use the Bible to analyze my actions and thoughts, I felt compelled to veer a bit. The necessity arises from the concept of racism in the world. The most baffling thought to me is the idea of racism at all. We are the human race. This data indicates that at some point along the line of human history (however you measure and track it) we’re born of one mother and father. The evolutionary changes (and those were incredibly small, I promise) that caused our skin colors to darken or lighten or our eyes to narrow or widen are effects of environment that would, given the same amount of time in the same environment, absolutely change your physical appearance as well.
The Bible doesn’t just teach us to love every man as we want to be loved, it shows us that these are our biological relatives in some respect. We are one race. And as a member of that race, I strive to focus on that truth and obey the command to love others as I love myself. This chapter was just another way to look at that command and understand how it helps humanity.
For our panel: This chapter was based on research from a journalistic standpoint. Do you have access to more scientific studies that help explain the genesis account? Why are people so ready to accept genetic information about one historical figure, but so against the Bible as a historical record? Is there a good place people of scientific minds can go to obtain data for themselves? Is there a divide between faith and science? If there isn’t why are science and faith often put at odds? If there is a divide, how does a person with a scientific mind come to accept the Word?