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A ‘genealogical’ Adam and Eve?

A review of The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The surprising science of universal ancestry
by S. Joshua Swamidass,
Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL

Published: 25 February 2020 (GMT+10)

Reviewed by and

book-cover

S. Joshua Swamidass (M.D., Ph.D.) is an associate professor in the Laboratory and Genomic Medicine Division at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. He was raised in a family with the young-earth creation perspective. Formerly associated with Biologos he now simply calls himself a Christian and an evolutionist, having jettisoned terms like theistic evolutionist and evolutionary creationist. For the past several years, he has run the blog PeacefulScience.org. Joshua has recently written a book titled The Genealogical Adam and Eve (which we will abbreviate TGAE). In it, he puts forward an entirely novel model of how “humanity” might have arisen. TGAE is an expansion of several prior essays,1,2 but this review will focus on the book presentation exclusively.3

author
S. Joshua Swamidass

We have both spent time with Dr. Swamidass, and we applaud his courage and what appear to be sincere motives. We share his desire for peaceful science, respectful dialog, and reconciliation wherever possible. We share his joy in creative thinking, and we also routinely engage in episodes of creative brainstorming. However, we must point out that the TGAE model, while very creative, is contrary to Scripture on many levels.

The TGAE Model

The TGAE model is very different from the straightforward reading of Genesis 1–4, which puts Adam and Eve near the beginning of creation, with no other humans or pre-humans prior to them and with no death before the Fall. The traditional understanding is that man was created fully human, being made in the image of God. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God, ushering in the Fall, which led to death, suffering, and sin. The Fall was due to the rebellion of angels and men against God. This traditional biblical understanding requires that Adam and Eve were the only genealogical and the only genetic ancestors of all people who have ever lived.

On the other hand, the TGAE model is constrained by the author’s unconditional commitment to deep time and Darwinian evolution. This requires that ape-to-man evolution was happening millions of years before Adam and Eve. His model of human origins is represented in figure 1 (from page 174 of the book). The black line shows what is described in the Bible: an initial Edenic paradise, followed by the Fall and then global fallenness. This reflects the straightforward reading of Genesis 1–4. Joshua adds to this the grey lines, which reflect human beings assumed to exist long before Adam and Eve, and long before the Garden of Eden. After the Fall, the hypothetical “people outside the garden” (we will call them ‘POGs’ for short) intermated with the children of Adam and Eve. Since the POG population was much larger, over many generations Adam and Eve’s genomes were erased, lost in the depths of time and chance. At the same time, as Adam and Eve’s descendants blended with the POGs, some special spiritual quality was transmitted to the offspring, and so eventually all people had a genealogical link to Adam and Eve, and all bore the special spiritual quality.

From bookfig-1
Figure 1: The basics of the TGAE model involve a “sinless” Adam and Eve that fell (black line) and whose descendants slowly mixed with a pre-existing evolutionary population of humans (grey lines).

It is very important to note that the Bible does not mention, nor does it require, any POGs. They are only a theological innovation designed to accommodate deep time and evolution. Also note that unmixed POGs, without that special spiritual status, could have persisted for a very long time after Eden.

The TGAE model allows for a variety of potential scenarios, including one where Adam and Eve are set apart from the rest of the population in an Edenic, paradise-like bubble. Outside of this bubble, the world is filled with death, suffering, and evil for millions of years, even while inside the bubble all is perfect. This elaborate story is only required because of his determination to force-fit deep time and evolution into the Bible. He developed the genealogical model to connect Adam and Eve with a pre-adamic evolutionary population while only partially dismantling Genesis 1–4.

Under the TGAE model, we have three classes of people to consider. First, we have Adam and Eve and their unmixed descendants. Second, we have the people outside the Garden (POGs) who have not yet mixed with those from the Garden. And third, we have a mixture of the two groups. According to Joshua, each of these groups has a special status (table 1). The POGs are genetically, culturally, and developmentally human. Thus, when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden and began to mix with the POGs, there were no real barriers to gene flow. The TGAE model imagines that Adam and Eve’s genes freely blended into the much larger POG population, diluting their DNA to the point of disappearance, yet allowing Adam and Eve to eventually become the genealogical ancestors of everyone on earth. Thus, the special quality of Adam and Eve eventually permeated into all humans worldwide, at least by the time of Jesus. This is required, as it allows New Testament authors to assert that Adam and Eve were the father and mother of us all (at least all still alive at that time). At that point, every human being on the planet had become ‘infected’ with the special humanness, and so were subject to the condemnation of sin and were eligible to enter heaven. It is not clear if POGs had souls or if they could go to heaven.

From booktable-1-c
Table 1: The three classes of ‘humans’, and their status, under the TGAE model.

The unmixed POGs would have been in the world for a long time before and a long time after Adam and Eve, and very reasonably could still exist. What was the spiritual status of an evolved POG who had no genealogical connection to the Garden? This is not an idle question. Joshua requires that all people, from the rainforests of Brazil to the jungles of Sumatra to the isolated Sentinel islands, had to have a genealogical link to Adam and Eve by the time of Christ. Yet, even if some traveller made it to North Sentinel in the remote past, and was not killed like the missionary John Chau was recently,4 there is no guarantee that they left children, and no guarantee that the genealogy of those children took over the population. Thus, for most of human history, and possibly still today, there would have been human beings on this earth who were more fully “human” than others. We are very troubled by this proposition.

There are surprising implications of the TGAE model. First, the model suggests that Adam and Eve were not related to humanity’s Mitochondrial Eve or Y Chromosome Adam, because the probability of Adam and/or Eve attaining this status is a function of the population size (i.e. the probability is 1/n, and n is on the order of a million people or more). Second, for thousands of years after Adam and Eve (i.e. throughout most of man’s written history), many people were still only marginally human in some way. True, under TGAE all people eventually become genealogically related to Adam and Eve, but this would have taken a very long time. Second, there is no guarantee that this would have occurred completely, covering every single human in every far-flung corner of the globe. To support his claims, he cites mathematical modelling from very old studies5,6 as if they are conclusive, authoritative, and directly reflect the real world. These models take an ideal population and try to calculate the time it takes to find one or more universal ancestors. But those models were done on primitive computers, compared to today, using simplifying assumptions that are not based in historical reality. True, they established the case that genetics and genealogy are distinct in history, but they did not, and could not, nail down the timing. This is a major flaw in his reasoning. Yes, Adam and Eve could have conceivably become the universal genealogical ancestors of all of humanity, given enough time and enough mixing with the POGs. But real human behaviour is notoriously difficult to model. Third, the TGAE model requires that full “humanness” is defined arbitrarily and exclusively in terms of genealogical connections (i.e. who is related to whom).

Many people will find this model attractive, not because it is credible or consistent with the Bible, but because it gives various concessions to the diverse competing Christian points of view (e.g. theistic evolutionists, old earth creationists, and young earth creationists). We cannot know Joshua’s purpose, but it appears that his goal is to establish biblical truth by blending different points of view, thereby satisfying as many people as possible.

Genealogy vs genetics

Carterfig-2
Figure 2. Loss of ancestral contributions to an individual genome. Using a simple model of recombination (one crossover per chromosome arm per generation), we can examine what happens as one progresses backward in time. Once the ancestral blocks of DNA are smaller than the average distance between recombination events, entire sections of DNA inherited from a single ancestor can be lost. After about six generations (approximately 200 years), ancestors start to drop out of the ancestral gene pool. Due to the random nature of recombination, there is some variation to these data, but it is small, so error bars are not shown. Results were tabulated from 10,000 model runs using a genome size of 28,910 base pairs, divided proportionally by the length of individual chromosome arms. See Carter and Powell[i] for more details. [i] Carter, R.W. and Powell, M., The genetic effects of the population bottleneck associated with the Genesis Flood, J. Creation 30(2):102–111, 2016.

Dr. Swamidass makes an important distinction between genetics and genealogy. Genetics teaches us that the genome of any particular individual gets broken up into small sections over many generations. We are introduced to this in high school biology when discussing chromosomal recombination during meiosis. But there is an implication to this that is not obvious to most people: eventually, most of those pieces are lost. Generally, we carry no trace of the DNA from our distant ancestors. This starts to happen after about five generations. After 10 or more generations, the majority of the ancestors in your family tree contributed no DNA directly to your genome (figures 2 and 3). You do inherit DNA from somebody, but almost all of it comes from just a small number of ancestors. This strange quirk is known to genealogists, especially those involved in tracing DNA on the major ancestry websites. People who can trace their ancestry back to someone like Charlemagne may like to think they have ‘royal blood’. However, the chance they have any DNA from that one specific lineage is so remote as to make such claims meaningless. We have many ancestors (genealogy), but we carry DNA from only a few (genetics).

Carterfig-3
Figure 3. Another way to see the difference between genealogical and genetic ancestry. The number of genealogical ancestors is simply 2ⁿ, where n = generation number. The number of genetic ancestors was calculated by multiplying the percent genetic ancestors from figure 1 by the expected number of genealogical ancestors. The y axis is plotted on a log scale. The slight wiggle on the tail end of the genetic ancestors curve is due to sampling (i.e. very few individuals had any genetic descendants after 15 generations). Fifteen generations is approximately 450 years in the past. At this time you would have 2¹⁵ (or 32,768) ancestors in your family tree. Yet, the vast majority (96%) contributed no DNA to your genome. For a person born in AD 2000, by AD 1100 (30 generations), they would have more than one billion theoretical ancestors (greater than the world population at the time), and by AD 1000 they would have more theoretical ancestors (over 8 billion) than there are letters in the nuclear genome. Clearly, you cannot have as many genetic ancestors as genealogical ancestors. In fact, only about 1,000 people have contributed DNA to your genome.

The mathematics of genealogy is not new.7 Indeed, for over a decade we have been occasionally addressing this in our own presentations. It is a simple idea, yet people sometimes have trouble wrapping their heads around the concept: genealogical ancestry is not genetic ancestry. This simple distinction is Joshua’s main contribution to the Adam and Eve question.

It is conceivable that two specific people, who lived several thousand years ago among a large evolutionary population, might have become the genealogical ancestors of all humans living today. But the odds of this are extremely small. In a large population, any given genealogical lineage (branch) will almost certainly go extinct. Genetically, this occurs quickly (figures 2 and 3). Genealogically, it takes longer, but eventually most people leave no descendants. This was shown in a genealogical survey of Icelanders.8 A fraction of the men and women (~25%) living in the 1800s are the paternal and maternal ancestors of something like 90% of modern Icelanders, and the proportions become more extreme as one progresses further back in history. This happens quite quickly for the Y and mitochondrial chromosomes. Across the autosomes, genealogical extinction takes longer, but it still occurs often enough to be a serious problem for the TGAE model.

The lineage of Adam and Eve, a specific couple within a large hypothetical population, would have had a high likelihood of going extinct without God’s intervention (but this ‘intervention’ would invalidate the randomized mathematical model Joshua is using to defend his case). Looking at a genealogy from the present backwards, it is easy to find historically convergent lineages. But starting with a specific couple in a large population in the distant past—and looking forward—we have only a small chance that a specific couple’s lineage would survive at all, let alone become universal ancestors to all of humanity. True, somebody has to be the ancestor, and when we are talking about genealogy there are many more ancestors than genetic ancestors, but only a subset of the ancient population becomes a universal genealogical ancestor. Most ancient lineages go extinct. This is clear from the studies he cites for support and is a very serious problem for his ideas.

In the TGAE model, Joshua claims there should not be any genetic trace of Adam and Eve’s genomes in the human population today. But there is no reason why the Y chromosome of Adam or the mitochondrial chromosome of Eve could not have survived intact, and in fact could have been universally inherited. As with genealogical ancestry, somebody has to be the genetic ancestor. Thus, it is entirely possible (as he admits), that at least some people today could carry the DNA of Adam and Eve.

We also wonder what is the point of this type of a “literal” Adam and Eve, who probably left no genetic trace? Even if all people at some point had a genealogical connection with Adam and Eve, so what? Genealogical connections have nothing to do with our being made in the image of God, have nothing to do with what makes us human, have nothing to do with the origin of our sin-nature, and have nothing to do with our need for salvation. They have nothing to do with anything at all. In fact, due to the thought that we derive from a population and not just a single couple, countless POGs would also be our universal genealogical ancestors. Adam and Eve were not at all special. Joshua’s imaginative, elaborate, and unbiblical mental constructions offer no help in addressing the key issues such as biblical integrity, the literal fall, sin, and salvation.

Positive aspects

The TGAE model offers various olive branches to theistic evolutionists and old earth creationists. In response to this, leaders within Biologos seem to have softened their rigid position that a literal Adam and Eve never existed. Others in the old-earth creation camp seem to have softened their position regarding Adam and Eve’s timeframe and the possible validity of the biblical genealogies. We believe these are encouraging developments.

But Joshua’s model provides major concessions to old earth creationists, including deep time, a local flood, ancient soulless humans who preceded Adam and Eve, and an Eden-bubble somewhere on earth where Adam and Eve were initially sheltered from death and struggle.

He also provides major concessions to theistic evolutionists, including global acknowledgement of evolution at all levels, combined with an attractive “Trojan Horse” for force-fitting evolution into Genesis 1–4. Theistic evolutionists can embrace the TGAE model because it does not require a miraculously created Adam and Eve, and it requires no need for intelligent design. Joshua’s model also introduces a vague type of spirituality that might arise even in an evolutionary context (i.e. humanness is genealogically transferable from person to person).

TGAE also offers five concessions to young earth creationists:

  1. There may have been a literal Adam and Eve.
  2. Adam and Eve may have been miraculously created.
  3. Adam and Eve could be the genealogical ancestors of all alive today.
  4. Adam and Eve could have lived about 6,000 years ago.
  5. The biblical genealogies could therefore be valid.

At the beginning of the book, these concessions seemed to us to be olive branches. However, as the book progresses, the young earth position is progressively dismissed more and more forcefully. He obviously believes the young-earth position is not viable.

Detailed theological concerns

Dr. Swamidass’ concessions to young earth creationists are made early in the book. We wish he had stopped there. However, he spends most of the rest of the book trying to creatively blend the ‘old earth’, ‘young earth’, and theistic evolution perspectives into a coherent theology. To accomplish this required a great deal of re-working of Scripture. At first glance, many might think the synthesis Joshua creates is attractive, but the whole structure collapses upon careful consideration. It is crucial to note that his five concessions to the young earth perspective are conditional on accepting both his evolutionary/uniformitarian assumptions and his theological innovations, which we feel are both scientifically and theologically unreasonable. In love, we must point out the issues that trouble us. We also do this to warn others.

Death before the Fall:

The idea that there was no death before the Fall is not “a grand theological innovation” and it is not “in conflict by both Scripture and historical theology”, yet both claims are made (p. 182). He cites Osborn here,9 as if nobody would ever disagree with Osborn’s conclusions.10 He claims, “most of the Church before 1517 [the beginning of the Reformation] believed there was death outside the Garden, and there was also a good purpose for it” (p. 182), citing Garvey.11

But what sort of ‘death’ before the Fall did most of the church countenance? It was not the ‘death before the Fall’ envisioned by modern old-earth compromisers that one finds in the fossil record, full of disease, carnivory, and suffering. Patristics scholar Benno Zuiddam documented a number of Church Fathers who explicitly affirmed Genesis 1:30 teaching that animal diets were non-carnivorous, and this was reflected in the Edenic allusion of Isaiah 11 and 65.12 And while ideas about ‘no animal death before the Fall’ may not have been universal among early Christian scholars, the same cannot be said about ‘no human death before the Fall’. Thomas Aquinas (in responding to an objection) is representative: “It would seem that death and other bodily defects are not the result of sin” with “On the contrary, The Apostle says (Romans 5:12), ‘By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death.’”13 And how does this square with the historical evidence that the church was nearly unanimous in believing the earth was not more than a few thousand years old in 1517?

“In the Beginning”:

In Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6, Jesus uses the phrase “in the beginning”. In Matthew, Jesus asks, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” Swamidass retorts, “To which beginning is Jesus referring? The beginning of which story?” (p. 146). Not only does Jesus specifically say “of creation”, but does he not realize that “in the beginning” (בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית bereshit) is the opening phrase of the Genesis scroll? In fact, this was the name of the scroll. Worse, in the Mark passage Jesus immediately follows this with a quote from Genesis 1: “‘God made them male and female’”, and then a quote from Genesis 2: “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’” We include the single quotes because that is how it is set off in the ESV, as direct quotations from Genesis. Apparently, Jesus had a straightforward belief in the (single) creation account.14

“Death in the Garden” vs “Death in the World”:

Joshua claims that Romans 5:12–14 teaches no death in the Garden before the Fall, not in the world at large. But Romans 8:19–22 clearly attributes the suffering of the entire universe (c.f. v. 22, κτίσις) to the Fall.15 Yet, he writes, “I understand that some will still object, insisting on universalizing the ‘no death’ doctrine across the earth. It is up to them, however, to demonstrate the grounding for such a grand theological innovation” (p. 182). No, it is he who is introducing unique readings, thus attempting to shift the burden of proof, who is unprofessional.

“In This Day”:

He also poorly handles the statement that Adam would die “in this day” in Genesis 2:16–17 (pp. 193–194). He failed to note that the word ‘death’ is used twice in the Hebrew, giving us a phrase that is difficult to translate into English, but could be rendered in dying you will die or, understanding that repetition in Hebrew is often used for emphasis, you will certainly die.16 He does reference Walton saying something similar here. Thus, there is no contradiction between “in this day” and the lifespan of Adam given to us in Genesis 5. Yet, he still suggests that being exiled from the Garden was God’s ‘plan B’, an “ad hoc” and unexpected development, and that God showed mercy by exiling them instead of killing them (i.e. p. 194).

Other Concerns:

Besides what we have listed above, he makes many other extravagant claims. For example:

  1. There is compelling evidence for ape-to-man evolution. See Rupe and Sanford’s book Contested Bones for a thorough refutation of this claim.17
  2. There must have been people outside the Garden. The biblical answer to this is trivial.18
  3. It was God’s intention for Adam and Eve to interbreed with the people outside the Garden (p. 204). But how could he know God’s intention here? If the Fall had not happened, there would be two competing, genetically indistinguishable human populations in existence.
  4. Those outside the Garden (mortal) would have been brought in had Adam and Eve (immortal) remained faithful (p. 204). This is clearly speculative.
  5. The Fall was not universal but applies only to Adam and Eve and their descendants.19 Thus, the imputation of sin would be genealogical (he spends a chapter on this), leaving open the question of the spiritual status of those outside the Garden. Saying, “Scripture and historical theology do not tell us one way or another” (p. 183) is unhelpful.
  6. The ‘sons of God’ are the people outside the Garden and the ‘daughters of men’ are descendants of Adam and Eve (p. 136). There are no exegetical predecessors for his view. See the excerpt Who Were the Sons of God in Genesis 6? from the book Alien Intrusion.20
  7. There are “many” creation accounts in the Bible (p. 140, footnote 8). This has been dealt with many times already.21
  8. Genesis 1 is only discussing the creation of Eden (p. 140, footnote 9). Yet, Genesis 1:1 is clearly a merism, a combination of extremes (“heaven and earth”) to indicate a whole.22
  9. Paul’s phrase “from one” in Acts 17:26 does not mean “from Adam” (p. 146). Yet, this is in a creation passage (verse 24) and Paul specifically says that from this “one man” God made “every nation of mankind”. There is only one biblical candidate for this man: Adam.
  10. There was wrongdoing in the world (e.g. Eve and Satan) before Adam’s transgression (p. 182). But death was not introduced until Adam sinned (Genesis 3:19).
  11. There was a different sort of sin in the world before the Adamic law was given, and this sin was not held against anyone’s account (pp. 182–183). So, why did people die if somehow the wages of sin was something other than death (Romans 6:23)? See also Romans 1:18–32.
  12. Abel was (necessarily) murdered without offspring (p. 198). Yet, Abel could have been a great-great-great-great-grandfather by then and any number of his (and Cain’s) descendants could have been in the family tree of Noah. See How old was Cain when he killed Abel?
  13. The Fall unleashed great evil on the otherwise peaceful and loving population outside the Garden (e.g. pp. 183, 185, 204). Why on earth would an evolved population of people be somehow less violent than one descended from Adam? Also, the archaeological evidence suggest that ancient man was quite violent. Examples are not hard to find,23 including events that predate (in the evolutionary timeframe) the appearance of the supposedly wicked and violent descendants of the Garden of Eden.

To be fair, he often says his ideas are speculative and that much more work could be done developing them. To the extent that his ideas are speculations, he should not put them forward as if they were self-evident truths. He demonstrates some contrition (p. 185), and this is commendable, but he does not always play fair to each side. For example, he claims:

  • Creationists “resist evolutionary science” (p. 158).
  • Traditionalists are forced to make a choice between “mainstream science and the literalist tradition” and that they are “ … caught between the dilemmas, boxed into resisting evolutionary science” (p. 158).
  • That “anti-evolution creationism” is “obsolete” (p. 161).
  • And, “Traditionalists are often boxed in to defensively resisting evolution, forced to find comfort in an oppositional stand against mainstream science. There is a better way. A confident traditionalist could arise, unthreatened by evolution.” (p. 220)

We would encourage him to rise above such unfortunate comments as these.

And, while we appreciate his desire to avoid “fractures” (c.f. p. 215), in some cases they are simply necessary. We are also concerned about his dependence on a certain set of biblical scholars. While he does mention some conservative ones, he gives their views short shrift.24 Essentially every biblical scholar he favourably cites is an old earth, local Flood advocate who believes Genesis has its origins in southern Mesopotamia, if not in Mesopotamian legends. His statement that the Bible mentions ziggurats (p. 167) stems from this influence.25

Strangely, he extolls the patience and virtue of the atheists he knows (p. 217) but fails to mention the vitriol spewing forth from many of their peers.

The naturalistic underbelly

Finally, we urge Joshua, and others like him, to reject the philosophical underpinnings of naturalism and its stepchild, methodological naturalism. In every instance in this book, one can swap the word “science” for “naturalism” and there is no change in meaning. But naturalism is a philosophy that, in the end, reduces God to a non-entity.26 At the same time, naturalism cannot be used to explain important aspects of science,27 especially since the idea that there should be a regularity in nature comes from Christianity, not evolutionary theory.28 Naturalism works wonderfully as a philosophy of the laboratory, but it fails miserably as a philosophy of origins. Yet, this is where the debate lies. Hence, his thesis gets us nowhere.

“Secular science is a community of scientists that gathers to understand nature in a particular sort of way. As a whole, it is not guided by theological agendas. ‘Secular,’ as I am using it here, means ‘fair,’ not antireligious or atheistic.” (p. 216)

Actually, what he means is “naturalistic” science, which is hardly neutral toward non-naturalistic scientific views.

Conclusions

Dr. Swamidass has opened a dialogue about the question of a literal Adam and Eve, but Adam and Eve are not the real issue. Of utmost importance is the character of God and our relation to Him. The primary issue is who is to blame for our broken and corrupted world, who might fix it, and how we are to escape the effects of the Curse. These are major issues that separate the old-earth and young-earth camps. We must warn him and others about the dangers of evolutionary syncretism.29

We would like to embrace Joshua as a brother in Christ. We have major concerns about his increasing willingness to rework the Bible to his own satisfaction, and his attempts impose things into the Bible that are simply not there. One of our concerns is his treatment of the biblical Fall as being a small, almost invisible event, lost in history, rather than being a cosmos-shaking event. We are also concerned with his poor handling of theologically important biblical passages and his lightweight treatment of multiple aspects of science that would challenge his views. In the end, his thesis does nothing to bring young-earth and old-earth Christians together, for he completely skips over the questions that separate us.

Brainstorming is fun and useful, but brainstorming is not science. Unchecked, it just leads to storytelling, not scientific truth. It is also not a path to biblical truth, and it cannot generate sound theological doctrine on its own. We fear that many readers will embrace Joshua’s many imaginative claims without critical examination. In his zeal to generate Christian unity, he is reworking multiple important passages in both the Old and the New Testaments. Surely, the only true path to Christian unity is to be united by the authority of God’s Word, the Bible. Without agreement on the authority of the Bible, the Christian body splinters into a thousand different philosophies.

References and notes

  1. Swamidass, S.J., A Genealogical Adam and Eve in Evolution, Sapientia, Carl F. H. Henry Center, 2017; henrycenter.tiu.edu/2017/06/a-genealogical-adam-and-eve-in-evolution. Return to text.
  2. Swamidass, S.J., The overlooked science of genealogical ancestry, Perspectives in Science and the Christian Faith 70(1):19–35, 2018. Return to text.
  3. Swamidass, S.J., The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The surprising science of universal ancestry, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2019. Return to text.
  4. Conroy, J.O., The life and death of John Chau, the man who tried to convert his killers, The Guardian, 3 February 2019; theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/03/john-chau-christian-missionary-death-sentinelese. Return to text.
  5. Rohde, D.T.L., Olson, S., and Chang, J.T., Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans, Nature 431:562–566, 2004. Return to text.
  6. Hein, J., Pedigrees for all humanity, Nature 431:518–519, 2004. Return to text.
  7. E.g. Kendall, H., Natural heirship: or, All the world akin, Popular Science Monthly, 1886. Return to text.
  8. Helgason, A., et al., A populationwide coalescent analysis of Icelandic matrilineal and patrilineal genealogies: evidence for a faster evolutionary rate of mtDNA lineages than Y chromosomes, Am. J. Hum. Genet. 72:1370–1388, 2003. Return to text.
  9. Osborn, R.E., Death Before the Fall: Biblical literalism and the problem of animal suffering, IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL, 2014. Return to text.
  10. Cosner, L., No straight answers on animal death before the Fall, J. Creation 29(2):43–46, 2015. Return to text.
  11. Garvey, J., God’s Good Earth, Cascade, Eugene, OR, 2019. Return to text.
  12. Zuiddam, B., Early Church Fathers on creation, death and eschatology, J. Creation 28(1):77–83, 2014, and 2nd Century Church Fathers: God will make lions vegetarian again, Creation 36(3):46–47, 2014. Return to text.
  13. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae > First Part of the Second Part > Question 85 > Article 5, 1265–1274; newadvent.org. Return to text.
  14. See also Halley, H., From the beginning of creation’—what did Jesus mean? Creation.com, 25 Nov 2014. Return to text.
  15. Smith, H.B. Jr., Cosmic and universal death from Adam’s fall: an exegesis of Romans 8:19–23a, J. Creation 21(1):75–85, 2007. Return to text.
  16. Sarfati, J.D., The Genesis Account, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, pp. 319–320, 2015. Return to text.
  17. Cf. Rupe, C. and Sanford, J., Contested Bones, FMS Publications, Livonia, NY, 2019. Return to text.
  18. Carter, R., How Old was Cain when he Killed Abel? Creation 36(2):16–17. Return to text.
  19. Cf. Sarfati, J., The Fall: a cosmic catastrophe, 21 Feb 2005. Return to text.
  20. Bates, G., Alien Intrusion, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA. Return to text.
  21. For example, see Batten, D., Genesis contradictions? Creation 18(4):44–45, 1996. Return to text.
  22. Bates, G., Did God create life on other planets? Creation 29(2):12–15, 2007. Return to text.
  23. Friedman, R., Violence and climate change in prehistoric Egypt and Sudan, TheBritishMuseum.org, 14 July 2014; blog.britishmuseum.org/violence-and-climate-change-in-prehistoric-egypt-and-sudan. Return to text.
  24. He writes: “I encountered theologians in this camp at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Missouri Synod Lutherans are known for being very conservative in their theology, and sometimes perceived to be opposed to science” (p. 109). He leaves open the question, “Perceived by whom?” And by “science” he, of course, means “naturalism”. Return to text.
  25. We also question his exposure to theology in general. For example, he uses the word “periscope” often (e.g. p. 183). He probably means pericope and we trust this will be fixed in later editions. Return to text.
  26. Mortenson, T., Philosophical naturalism and the age of the earth: are they related? The Master’s Seminary Journal 15(1):71–92, 2004; See also Philosophical naturalism and the age of the earth: are they related?. Return to text.
  27. Carter, R.W. (Ed.), Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, 2014. Return to text.
  28. Sarfati, J., (1) Why does science work at all? Creation 31(3):12–14, 2009; creation.com/whyscience; and (2) The biblical roots of modern science, Creation 32(4), 2010; creation.com/roots. Return to text.
  29. Cosner, L., Evolutionary syncretism: a critique of Biologos, 7 Sep 2010. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

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Readers’ comments

Gordon B.
What a load of rubbish!! He's no different to all other Theistic Evolutionists and all he is trying to do is make a Name for himself. Why does Creation.com not say this simply, instead of trying to invent some legitimacy to his non-nonsensical proposition.
Norman P.
Thank you for your courteous analysis of this brother's ideas. A few brief points I would like to make.
1. Taking a God-centred view of biblical testimony, although the Creation (i.e. things visible and invisible) was originally perfect, the Fall was predestined. Hence Christ was 'the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world' and God's plan of salvation was conceived 'from before the foundation of the world' (Jn 17:24; Eph 1:4 Rev 13:8).
2. John 1:1-3 and 1:12-14 speak into the spiritual dimension of human genealogy.
3. Romans 8:18-25 reveals the cosmic proportions of the Fall, and its glorious restoration to come in Christ: whereby the whole creation was made subject to vanity: 'not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God'.
4. Colossians 1:9-20, Revelation 5:5 and 12:9 set our spiritual sites as to where the real action is.
I feel inclined to recite the following words to the author (Joshua): 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber....' (Psalm 121:1-3).
Bill P.
I've been doing a detailed study of 1st and 2nd Peter for the last 2 weeks. In these 2 letters we learn that ALL Scripture was written by holy men of GOD as they were moved by His Holy Spirit. In these 2 letters we also learn that in "The Last Days" many very clever deceivers will mix w/true believers bringing in false doctrines to mix with The True Word of God and they will deceive many into following their false gospels. Since "The Fall" the father of all lies" has used this tactic (of twisting The Word of God to cause doubt) and even tried to use it against the very ONE who spoke these words to Moses and the "True Prophets" of God. Today we see coming to pass what Peter warned us about 2000 yrs. ago "even denying The Very One who purchased us w/His blood".
The evil one has destroyed the souls of many (causing many to doubt The Truth) and will continue to use this tactic until the very end as scripture points out for us "that he will cause many to believe THE LIE" that is still to come on this earth in these last days. The Lord in all of His wisdom has given us a very powerful weapon to fight with. This weapon DESTROYS ALL of the lies that this world will continue to throw at us. It turns out that this weapon is His Very Word. His Word is not only true, His Word is Truth. He gave us a very powerful example on how it is to be used when HE was in the wilderness and the evil one tried to tempt Him by twisting The Lord's own Words. The Lord used "His very own words" in reply (quoting Himself) and the evil one fled. People must learn you either believe God, or you don't, period ! Anyone who waters down scripture has lost the only weapon they have to fight against the power of "the destroyer of nations". God has warned us, we stand on HIS WORD or we die. Case Closed !
Tony B.
Satan can use people like Joshua Swamidass to bring doubt and confusion about God's word and because of his credentials people are more likely to believe him. In the garden of Eden, Satan was bringing doubt to Eve's mind and look whats happened. Your guidelines for the comments section are 'don't attack individuals', this is not an attack, it is speaking the truth.
Gian Carlo B.
I'm glad you guys took the time to review his book, as I'm subscribed to CapturingChristianity's channel, which he did an interview with him (haven't watched it because I was busy with other stuff in my life), but I expected it to be a other TE argumentation which I knew you guys got tired of addressing, but because he is of academic position it's not something you can let pass. So there's basically nothing new to his thesis despite some clever theological novelties in the details of his model, he still can't account properly with Romans 5 and other of Paul's writings that take immediate universal descent from Adam for granted.
DL G.
Your intro into his article spends time about what a nice guy he is rather than emphasizing how he is misleading people into his newly created religion. You should have provided a BIG BOLD disclaimer at the very beginning that this material is apostatic instead of tiny footnotes buried at front and back of the article. This could have been a great teaching moment on how apostasy will present itself and use Dr Swamidass' theory as a perfect example of how churches/fake teachers will distort or in this case thwart the Bible. Most scientists (even atheistic scientists) have blown off evolution "scientifically" because the first two laws of thermodynamics (and many other scientific proofs) are voided in order to believe evolution. Evolution was developed to give an alternative to God for atheists. Dr Swamidass can't have it both ways where he cherry picks what he wants from the Bible and then tries to make it fit with the atheistic non scientific belief in evolution. He is not a Christian and you should have taken this opportunity to make a discernment of what it is to be a Christian. Many so called Christians have said in the same breath that there is no Hell/no Satan. If that were true, then no need for the Bible because we would still believe in fellowship with God. Believers need to be wary of anyone claiming to be a Christian until they discern if the person actually believes the Bible or even knows what is in the Bible. You put alot of emphasis on how nice/sincere Dr Swamidass is and that he is a Christian. Labeling himself as a Christian will mislead many. To me, he is intentionally misleading people away from the Bible into the secular world. Apostasy is alive and well!
Lassi P.
It is very revealing conserning evolutionary belief system, that evolution-believing christians seem to come up with ever stranger 'interpretations' of the holy scripture. True. Former evolutionary syntheses, like day-age view, framework hypothesis and gap theory, do not work, but that should prove the point! One simply can not successfully marry The Bible with millions-of-years dogma no matter how creative (s)he is.

Thank you for your clarity on Genesis!
Peter H.
On Facebook he is claiming you got the review wrong . Has he got back to you on this?
Robert Carter
He has thrown some red herrings at us and said similar things on his blog (i.e., that we still 'resist evolutionary science', as if our comment on this phrase was an important part of our paper). But, no, nothing substantive has come to us, in any form, as of this date. I honestly do not want to 'engage' with him on that level and would prefer to reply to a real essay or paper in order to keep the discussion at a higher level. FB and blogs are not the place where scientific arguments are hashed out.
John P.
This "swami"/guru is not someone whose works I'd waste my time reading. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing and needs to come to a full understanding of the bible, abandon his myths and repent. Many so called scholars are acting like unbelievers or espousing apostasy. We know that is the church which will support the antichrist.As Christians we should not care how creative his theories appear ,what he means is "did God really say?" He may claim to be a Christian and that.s between him and his Maker but coming up with this mythology doesn't prove it.How much clearer could God have told Moses to make it? i suggest Joshua Swamidass humbles himself in repentance, abandons his pride and get to really know his Maker.As regards his mention of resisting evolutionary science- what science? Since when have myths and fairy stories been regarded as science?? It is noted many wolves in sheep's clothing come across as nice people,that's their stock in trade to deceive others.
Andrew john M.
Actually Cain and his brothers and sisters formed their own civilization outside the boundaries that God had established. Adam and Eve had many children but as you will see only Seth is immediately listed after Adam concerning the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The lineage of Cain is today the secular groups who identify as secularist and they are part of all our major institutes.
Remember Jesus Christ Himself was tempted by Satan and of course the outcome is victory for God and His children.
Robert Carter
There is actually zero evidence for these statements. First, if Cain and his brothers and sisters separated themselves, Seth would have nobody to marry. Second, Only Seth is listed among the first-generation descendants of Adam because Genesis 5 is not a family tree. Instead, it is a line of male descent from Adam to Noah. Since a person can only have one father, there can only be one name in each generation. Third, the Bible makes no mention of any 'boundary'. Fourth, you are ignoring the Flood and the bottleneck associated with it. Everybody on earth today is descended from Noah, and therefore Seth. And it is possible that everyone is also descended from Cain, because family trees are complex and the pre-Flood family tree is unknown. Fifth, the last sentence has nothing to do with the prior statements you made. I suspect there is something assumed or unstated behind what you are writing, however, so I am being a little more blunt with my replies than usual.
Arthur T.
The Bible did mentioned POG. Read & understand Gen.4: 9-16! Basically, Cain's trepidation of banishment from the clan/settlement of Adam & Eve, and the knowledge that any POG that he & his family came across would not hesitate to kill them (probably got the idea of murdering Abel from witnessing the POG). And God agreed with his concern. BTW, a Creation Day is not a 24-hour day. Do read Gen.1: 1-19 again and again. Thank you.
Robert Carter
First, of course the Bible mentions POGs. Everybody was a POG after Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden. Also, the questions of who Cain married and who he was worried about are easily answered when you understand that there was a 130-year window for these events to take place. See How Old Was Cain When He Killed Abel? Regarding your statement that a creation day was not 24 hours long, you do realize we have written much about this, right? You can start with How Long Were the Days of Genesis 1? And your statement that Cain might have learned about murder from POGs raises too many theological problems to be dealt with here. But you can start with Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?

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