The watchers and genetic diversity
Bob M., U.S.:
I am looking for the genetic footprint of the Watchers, passed to the children known as the Nephilim. I am not interested in fan clubs and realize what I am after you may not be able to supply. We are talking about footprints right? Is your knowledge in order chronologically to be able to at least get close to my question? I like the declaration below. You may have my question but just how far along in understanding are you? I don’t want to sound cynical I simply want to enjoy solid answers.
If the angels which left their first estate truly copulated with the daughters of man would there not be a genetic signature? Is this signature traceable as mine is? I am hoping to draw from your knowledge. With you or without you. What you do with this communication is yours. I am looking for answers that will produce understanding and knowledge. May God supply the wisdom.
Dr. Robert Carter, CMI-US, responds:
Thanks for writing in and for looking for answers to this difficult subject. There has been considerable debate over these topics for centuries, and it has only increased over the past few years.
Please take some time to consider the following even if it is not what you were expecting to hear.
First, a question: are you a Christian? If so, and this is important, I am going to implore you to apply a consistent biblical metric to the questions and to be willing to accept a straightforward biblical answer. [editor’s note: he replied in the affirmative in a follow-up e-mail]
If you are not a Christian, please accept this as an answer from a Christian. You can choose to disagree, but then you might be disagreeing with the very source of the original information (i.e., the Bible).
Second, where did you hear about this and are you allowing non-biblical, extra-biblical, or even anti-biblical, arguments to inform your opinion? It may be difficult to tease apart information sources, to critically examine assumptions and biases, and to see beyond what we want to be true, but it is certainly possible.
That last article is the single best analysis of the biblical statements on this subject of which I am aware. Some have suggested that part of the reason for God sending the Flood was to stop the Nephilim problem. If it were to continue after the Flood through more angelic-human interbreeding, God’s purposes would have been to no avail and the statements of 2 Peter and Jude make no sense. If Nephilim genes carried through the Flood (on Noah’s Ark), there would be no way to separate people from Nephilim, for the necessary inbreeding among the three original families would have distributed even a rare genetic variant among all family lines prior to the Babel dispersion, and continuing intermingling of people groups would have caused these traits to continue to circulate everywhere (we are all very closely related).
Also, keep in mind that the Bible does not say there were female nephilim, not does it say that the nephilim could, in turn, interbreed with people. To believe there are nephilim genes in the modern human population is an assumption, a huge assumption, and it does not comport to the biblical details given in the previous paragraph.
You ask, “If the angels which left their first estate truly copulated with the daughters of man would there not be a genetic signature?” The answer is simple: no. There are strong reasons to say it should not be so, and only vague assumptions would make someone want it to be true.
You say, “I am hoping to draw from your knowledge.” Since I am a geneticist, I can, without any reservation, tell you that there is nothing in the original human genome project data, in the over two thousand humans genomes sequenced since then, in the tens of thousands of human genomes in which only certain letters have been sequenced (and that often includes over 1 million letters scattered across the genome), in the six Neanderthal genomes or the one “Denisovan” genome sequenced to date, that in any way says there is anyone alive today, or who lived in the past, who carries nephilim genes.
There are many today who are told they are a descendant of the "Watchers", but they, or those telling them such, are not appealing to the Bible for the answer. I also suspect there is no genetic data backing up the claim, or that if there is a claim to data it is easily explained by appealing to normal genetics.
You say, "I am looking for answers that will produce understanding and knowledge."
Many people reject an alternative answer because they are looking for confirmation, not critique. I have given you answers. Will you accept them?
"May God supply the wisdom."
The Bible is the very word of God, so where else would we turn for answers to these questions? Wisdom first comes in the form of biblical literacy. Additional wisdom can be gleaned from the pursuit of science. Applying both of these sources of wisdom leads one to reject the idea that there are descendants of the nephilim on earth today. You are a child of Adam, a descendant of Noah, and a normal human being, created in the image of God and with the capacity to respond to His loving offer of salvation. Let nobody tell you otherwise.
Dr. Robert Carter
C.C., U.S., asks:
Hi, if we say Noah took 2 cats on the ark, and to acheive the amount of biodiversity we have today from an arkful of animals 6,000 years ago… isn’t that evolution? Because now you have species that came from the 2 cats or whatever those original kinds were at the beginning. And from what I understand, YEC do not deny speciation. How do you explain the rationale behind this?
And how is this different from Darwinian evolution? And would need to happen of Darwinian evolution was true?
Thanks for replying.
Dr. Robert Carter responds:
These are great questions, but you are not the first to ask them. First, please see our Speciation Q&A page for many of your answers. Next, we must properly define evolution. Since both creationists and evolutionists believe in "change over time", obviously this cannot be the definition. In fact, a definition must include the idea of common ancestry or we get nowhere in the discussion. Darwin did not demonstrate that species change. Lots of his contemporaries and predecessors, including many creationists like Linnaeus, were saying as much. What Darwin did was say, "I see no limit to the amount of change," which is a philosophical argument. Hence, the argument is in the limits to change, not to change as such.
YECs ["young earth" creationists, but the term is a double entendre and we prefer "biblical creationist" instead] advocate that God himself created species to be able to change and adapt over time to varying environments. In fact, if this were not so, most species on earth would be extinct already because most environments have undergone significant changes since Creation.
Evolutionists take the observed changes and extrapolate beyond the scope of the observable, and this makes the YEC scientifically uncomfortable, needless to say.
Are there limits to change? I believe so, but I cannot prove it so. Are changes unlimited? The evolutionist essentially believes such, but cannot prove it. So what are we left with? We are left with an analysis of the types of changes we see, and there is little or nothing in that accumulated data to suggest long-term Darwinian evolution from bacteria to people is possible (and note that we did not even begin to discuss the spontaneous origin of life, which is a prerequisite for evolution but which flies in the face of everything we know about physics, chemistry, probability, and information theory).