Ann Gauger's latest salvo against Dennis Venema's arguments against an original pair of human beings

I’d like to offer another perspective–perhaps a way to bring together rather than separate. This is what I thought of when I thought about culture wars.

There once was an old woman. She loved the Lord and tried to do what he wanted. Most would have counted her as a conservative; she was pro-life and voted Republican because of it. She attended Church every week. She wasn’t special.

She and her husband had a house with a big room downstairs. They decided to build a guest bedroom. But when it was finished, one day she looked at that room and said, “I wonder who it’s for?” She asked the deacon at church if there was anyone who needed a place to stay. He said not to worry, someone would come.

Within a week or so, she heard from a friend that there was a homeless woman about to give birth who need a place to stay. She and her husband went to meet her. She was a black African immigrant, with no family, who had been working in adult home care. When she got pregnant she could no longer do the work.

It was agreed that she should move in. She came cautiously. No one in her community could believe that anything like this could happen. But move in she did. There was soon a parade of African visitors. They would stare as they walked by and say only God can do this. And so it was.

The old woman learned about all the ways of government subsidy–food stamps, WIC, subsidized housing, DSHS, medicaid. She was both impressed and horrified by what she saw.

Over time, the old woman and the young one became like mother and daughter. The little baby became her granddaughter. They shared faith together, and learned from one another, but mostly the old from the new: what it was to grow up poor in Africa.

The young woman moved into a section 8 apartment with her daughter.

Then one day the young woman became sick. It got worse and worse. The young woman was afraid. She had no one to take care of her, she thought. But the old woman said, “We will take care of you no matter what.

The old woman stayed by her side in the hospital. The staff, mostly African themselves, would say, “Why is she doing this?” The nurses and doctors would ask, “How are you related?” And the old woman would say, “What, don’t we look alike?”

Finally the doctors determined that the young woman had cancer. The old woman said she should move in with them again. She couldn’t do otherwise, she couldn’t let her go through this alone.

This time it was different. They really were family. They would talk and talk and talk, they would pray and read the Bible and sing. And the old woman would sit and talk to the African visitors too, and pray with them, because they were now her friends too.

The pastor said to her one day, “Do you realize what you have done? You have broken racial barriers, social barriers, economic barriers, all barriers.” And the old woman was embarrassed. She said, “I have done nothing special. Anyone can do this." And so it is.

The story has not ended yet. But it has gone far enough to make my point. When Christian values are fully lived there will be no culture war.


Dr Gauger -

What a beautiful story about the “old woman”! I strongly suspect that it’s, as they say in Hollywood, based on a true story. :slight_smile: Best thing I’ve read, outside my lovely wife’s poetry, in weeks!

It’s interesting to me that you equate objections from scientists with persecution. I’m kind of old school in my use of persecution terminology. Perpetua and Felicity were persecuted. Ignatius of Antioch was persecuted. Muslims who are jailed for becoming followers of Christ are persecuted. (I’ve known a couple of them personally.) Occasionally being called names on the internet? That’s just the price of living in modern society, pretty much. I’ve been called names plenty of times. It’s unpleasant, but I would rather reserve the word “persecution” for much stiffer stuff.

My $.02.

Chris Falter


Ann, just bringing this comment back to the fore - and please read this in a gracious tone. I’ll add my thanks to the chorus - you’ve set an excellent example for us all for gracious dialogue. I’m not perfect on that front either, to be sure.

(As an aside, I’m of the opinion that peer review can - and often should - be blunt and not be couched in soft language. That doesn’t mean that the reviewer is being mean. It means that science is a meritocracy, and that scientists are trained to be highly critical. This is a feature, not a bug. Scientists would greatly prefer that their ideas are being contested - even hotly contested - rather than ignored. But I digress - and this aside is not really for Ann but for the other ID commenter on this thread who was upset by some of the strong statements I have made about ID folks. ID researchers are swinging for the fences, claiming that their ideas should re-write nearly the entirety of modern biology. So, it’s not surprising that such claims are going to be subject to the fiery furnace of peer review.)

Back to my reply to Ann - I am working on a reply that will go into the details, but your quote above is not correct. The mark a severe bottleneck would leave on a genome would primarily be seen as locking the remaining alleles into specific linkage patterns (linkage disequilibrium, LD). (There would also be a severe loss of alleles, since 2 people can at most have four alleles of any given locus, even if there was not a severe loss of heterozygosity). We can see LD patterns in the present that map back to 200,000 years ago, at the advent of our species in the fossil record. If there had been a severe bottleneck during that time - and a bottleneck of two is very severe - then we would expect to see it in LD patterns. We see LD patterns consistent with an effective population size of 10,000 over that time span. More anon.


Hi Dennis, you and Dr. Gauger may not be so far apart on the science. She has, after all, stated that the hypothesized 2 individuals would have lived several hundred thousand years ago–in the H Erectus time frame.

That said, I fail to see how the hypothesis would provide even faint support for the theological assertion that all of humanity is descended from the Biblical Adam and Eve. The reason is that Genesis portrays Adam and Eve as agriculturalists. And the practice of agriculture goes back no more than 10,000 years.

Grace and peace,


Buggs didn’t state a timeframe in his critique. I’m working with humans. Homo erectus is not human. If Ann is open to Adam and Eve being another species (or chronospecies leading to humans) then I suppose it becomes increasingly possible to shoehorn a pair in there somewhere. I think it runs afoul of ILS patterns with other primates though (chimp, gorilla, orangutans).

Why don’t you respond to Buggs? He’s the one who wrote the letter.

Sorry that wasn’t clear. Yes, the response will be to Buggs.

A post was merged into an existing topic: Criticisms vs. Attacks: Where’s the line?

@Jay313. Just to be clear, you claim:

Discovery Institute “attempts to push intelligent design into schools.”

I then wrote “You are aware that Discovery Institute opposes teaching ID in public schools?” and quoted their policy statement explaining this.

You then wrote:

Oh, yes, I’m well aware of it.

So if you are “well aware” that Discovery Institute opposes teaching intelligent design in public schools, then why did you write claim that Discovery Institute “attempts to push intelligent design into schools”?

A post was merged into an existing topic: Criticisms vs. Attacks: Where’s the line?


You are funny.

My problem with Behe does not concern his discussions of loss of functions. Happens all the time. Tetrapods lost their gills. Whales lost their legs.

My problem is any attempt to distinguish between Evolution and some spurious notion of Devolution!

I understand. Ken Ham sees the same trend and reads the same book you just bought and comes to this conclusion in his AiG blog:

Our research from my co-authored book, Already Gone, showed that one of the reasons that young people are leaving the church is precisely because they aren’t being given answers to their questions! They have questions about science and the Bible but, instead of getting solid, Bible-affirming answers, they are getting no answers or the message that you can believe in millions of years, evolution, and the Bible at the same time. The issue of millions of years was a primary issue we uncovered behind why so many young people are leaving the church. We need to reach these young people with solid, biblically based answers!

So, you tell me. Can a person believe in millions of years, evolution, and the Bible at the same time? That is the actual dichotomy that young people who grow up in such churches face.

Since you are not an evangelical, you should know that about 57% of evangelical Christians don’t accept evolution. In many evangelical churches, this is exactly the sort of teaching that kids receive. Others want to make belief in the de novo, special creation of Adam an “essential” that we must believe about creation. Kids are being unnecessarily forced into a corner, as @DanielK noted in closing, and many of them are drifting away from the church because of it. One of the problems for ID is that its arguments about science and the scientific method have been co-opted and turned into this (from the same blog post):

So, of course young people are going to see a contradiction between much of the modern “science” (really historical science interpreted through the lens of naturalism and atheism) they’ve been taught and the teachings of the Bible! But sadly very few youth leaders, pastors, and parents are dealing with this indoctrination.

So, the answer is to double down. More of the same. Here is where that is getting us:

Notice that from 2006-2016, a mere 10 years, the number of religiously unaffiliated among 18-29 year olds has risen from 23% to 39%. I find that alarming. Simply doing more of what we’ve been doing obviously isn’t working.

On an organizational level, it means to stop pursuing cultural change by political means. Seek to win the battle of ideas, not the battle of the ballot box. On a personal level, it means what you showed it means. It means learning to empathize with the “other,” and caring for the least among us.

Pope Francis perhaps has a lesson to teach evangelicals here. The Catholic church has not changed its dogma, but the pope nevertheless experiences soaring popularity. Why? In my judgment, it’s because he is preaching the gospel to the poor. There is a lesson here …

I showed up here a little over a year ago because I was researching the trend of young people leaving the church. Since controversy over evolution was one of the reasons that I discovered, I came here to learn what I could. I honestly could care less about the historical disagreements between the various groups and positions. I’m more concerned with the effect that they have on our youth.


Official policy and actual results sometimes vary. And then there is the law of unintended consequences. Once the self-serving politicians in the legislature and the State Board of Education got “on board” with Discovery’s push to change the science curricula, they went hog wild. They changed social studies standards to highlight the fact that America was founded as a Christian nation, and mandated history books to detail the accomplishments of Ronald Reagan. The resulting textbook was mocked nationwide for, among other things, implying that slaves “immigrated” to the United States.

You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. The moral of the story is: don’t get in bed with politicians. Discovery opened this can of worms long ago. Will they, like Ken Ham, simply double down for more of the same? Obviously, I can’t answer that question. I can only ask it and hope the organization rethinks its political entanglements.


The argument against Edge of Evolution has a lot more to do with the science than the philosophical or theological outlook that Behe may have. Further study of the very system he outlined in his book, quinone resistance in Falciparum, turned out to be quite different than what he described in his book. On top of that, his basic idea seems to fall into the trap of the Sharpshooter fallacy.

Buggs did quote this section from what I am assuming is your book:

"If a species were formed through such an event [by a single ancestral breeding pair] or if a species were reduced in numbers to a single breeding pair at some point in its history, it would leave a telltale mark on its genome that would persist for hundreds of thousands of years— a severe reduction in genetic variability for the species as a whole”

Therefore, he has accepted the time frame of a few hundreds thousand years, which I am presuming would refer to about 200,000 years which is the current estimate for the start of H. sapiens. If Ann Gauger thinks that the evidence allows for a bottleneck further back in H. erectus (i.e. millions of years) then that would seem to be a tacit admission that there isn’t evidence for a more recent bottleneck, although I certainly don’t want to put words in Dr. Gauger’s mouth.

For that reason, I think the LD evidence would certainly counter what Buggs’ criticisms.

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According to what I’ve seen, there is evidence of two bottlenecks in H. sapiens: the “out of Africa” event, and the crossing of the Bering Strait. If someone has seen something more recent that contradicts this research, I would be interested to hear about it.

Evidence that two main bottleneck events shaped modern human genetic diversity

Inference of human population history from individual whole-genome sequences

Hi everyone,

I have a couple of quick questions.


It is my understanding that you believe the number of individuals in the human line has never dipped below several thousand, since the human-chimp split. Is that your view?


You believe that Homo erectus was the first true human. You might want to have a look at this paper:

(The acheulean handaxe: More like a bird’s song than a beatles’ tune?)

Briefly, the authors argue against the commonly received view that the techniques for producing Acheulean handaxes were acquired by social learning and that handaxes are therefore cultural. They argue that language need not have been involved in showing another individual how to make them.

Finally, they write: “A further problem facing the cultural transmission hypothesis is the much more rapid pace of change after Acheulean handaxes disappeared at 300‐200 Ka. If the behaviors involved in the production of both handaxes and post‐Acheulean artifacts were culturally learned, how do we explain this very marked increase in the speed of change?”

I should add that the average brain size of Homo ergaster / erectus specimens in Africa, dating from 1.8 to 1.5 million years ago, is a mere 863 cubic centimeters, while that of Georgian specimens of Homo ergaster / erectus (also known as Homo georgicus) dating from 1.8 to 1.7 million years ago is even lower, at 686 cubic centimeters (see the chart by Susan C. Antón and J. Josh Snodgrass, from Origins and Evolution of Genus Homo: New Perspectives, in Current Anthropology, Vol. 53, No. S6, “Human Biology and the Origins of Homo,” December 2012, pp. S479-S496). By comparison, the brain size of early Homo specimens (excluding 1470 man) is 629 cubic centimeters. These fall well outside the modern human range. Also, there is no evidence for a sudden jump in brain size from Australopithecus afarensis (whose average brain size was 478 cubic centimeters) to Homo ergaster / erectus. The brain size of early Homo (who lived around 2.3 million years ago) is intermediate between the two.

It seems that the first unambiguous signs of cultural transmission in the human fossil record don’t appear until about 300,000 years ago - by which time there were three species of rational human beings: Homo sapiens (who emerged around then), Neandertal man and Denisovan man (who was presumably rational). This is troubling, as recent analyses suggest these species diverged around 800,000 years ago, long before the advent of human culture. So, did God ensoul three distinct species of hominins?


I’d like to ask you about your suggestion that Adam may have been a genealogical common ancestor of all living humans, who lived only a few thousand years ago. What do you make of this article?

"What’s particularly fascinating about this is that we in the present day can actually change who our most recent common ancestor was. After all, the estimate that the MRCA lived only two or three millennia ago, long after humans became isolated on far distant continents, only works because of the globalization of the last 500 years. The theory is that enough European explorers intermarried with the various indigenous populations of the places they colonized so that, over time, even the most isolated groups become linked into the overall family tree.

"This is a controversial theory, particularly since there are still thought to be a handful of uncontacted groups in South America and southwest Asia. If these peoples - each group of which only numbers about two hundred or so - really have remained completely cut off from other humans for millennia, then that would force the most recent common ancestor back to the Upper Paleolithic, anywhere from 40,000 to 10,000 years ago.

“We can at least say this: in 2011, it’s possible but not proven that the MRCA dates back to a surprisingly recent date, anywhere from 8,000 to 2,000 years ago. In 1511, before European exploration had really begun in earnest, the MRCA was still unquestionably an individual who lived in the Upper Paleolithic. And, by 2511, the current trends in globalization suggest that everyone will definitely share a recent MRCA…and one that gets more recent with each passing generation as more and more lineages mix.”

Is the author right here, in your opinion?

I look forward to hearing everyone’s answers. Cheers.

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Thank you for sharing from the heart.

It reminds me of when when Paul writes of needing no law because it is acted out through righteousness (Romans 2:14, 1 Tim 1:9). This is absolutely the way forward together. As Jay has pointed out, the largest disagreement comes from how this is acted and lived out.

Some want to destroy social institutions so that there is room for a top-down version of “colonial” Christianity (coming from a place of supposed superiority and being able to evangelize and serve from that perspective). This has been historically attempted in previous generations within Christendom and did not result in many of the changes that people are now seeking.

Some see social systems as interference and potentially limiting the ability to practice faith and worship as they wish. They do not see an issue with its existence but fear forced tolerance or outside intrusions.

Others want to institute systems to not lessen sin but rather ameliorate its affects on a society-based scale but leave room for individuals and organizations to work. This approach focuses on Christians loving and forming relationship in order to evangelize (equal footing approach) as the social safety net meets some needs.

Thanks, Vincent, these are some very interesting articles and thoughts.

Although it seems plausible that there were at least 3 (Homo floresiensis should possibly be added to the list) groups/species of rational human beings, I don’t think we can use anything but conjecture regarding whether or not they were ensouled.

Hi Curtis,

In their review of recent research, titled, “On the antiquity of language: the reinterpretation of Neandertal linguistic capacities and its consequences” (in Frontiers in Psychology, 4:397. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00397), Dan Dediu and Stephen Levinson argue that the Neandertals’ advanced cultural behavior, coupled with their vocal capacity to produce language, suggests that they did in fact use language:

The Neandertals managed to live in hostile sub-Arctic conditions (Stewart, 2005). They controlled fire, and in addition to game, cooked and ate starchy foods of various kinds (Henry et al., 2010; Roebroeks and Villa, 2011). They almost certainly had sewn skin clothing and some kind of footgear (Sørensen, 2009). They hunted a range of large animals, probably by collective driving, and could bring down substantial game like buffalo and mammoth (Conard and Niven, 2001; Villa and Lenoir, 2009).

Neandertals buried their dead (Pettitt, 2002), with some but contested evidence for grave offerings and indications of cannibalism (Lalueza-Fox et al., 2010). Lumps of pigment — presumably used in body decoration, and recently found applied to perforated shells (Zilhao et al., 2010) — are also found in Neandertal sites. They also looked after the infirm and the sick, as shown by healed or permanent injuries (e.g., Spikins et al., 2010), and apparently used medicinal herbs (Hardy et al., 2012). They may have made huts, bone tools, and beads, but the evidence is more scattered (Klein, 2009), and seemed to live in small family groups and practice patrilocality (Lalueza-Fox et al., 2010)…

Neandertal culture, basically identical to modern human cultures before the Upper Paleolithic innovations, seems also to fall within the spectrum of modern human cultural variation in the ethnographic record. Various modern hunter-gatherers have produced archaeological records very similar or even considerably simpler than the Neandertal ones (Roebroeks and Verpoorte, 2009), some well-known examples being the North American early Archaic (Speth, 2004) and the Tasmanians (Richerson et al., 2009), who lacked bone tools, clothing, spear throwers, fishing gear, hafted tools and probably the ability to make fire (Henrich, 2004)…

Like these groups of modern humans with rather simple technology, the relative cultural simplicity of Neandertals compared to European modern humans can probably be best understood in its demographic context… In general, Neandertals had very low population densities, which coupled with the repeated local extinction and recolonization (Hublin and Roebroeks, 2009; Dennell et al., 2010; Dalén et al., 2012), would have inhibited the growth of complex technology….

Thus, we believe there is no argument to be made from Neandertal culture to the absence of language. The paucity of preserved symbolic material is also observed in early modern humans, and many modern ethnographic settings. On the contrary, nothing like Neandertal culture, with its complex tool assemblages and behavioral adaptation to sub-Arctic conditions, would have been possible without recognizably modern language.

If the Neandertals had language, then they were rational and hence possessed a human soul. That would mean that at least two species of humans were ensouled.

Here’s the article:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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