Becoming Adam: GAE book review


As you know, I am a Unitarian Universalist, and so I have no “skin” in the game for when Adam and Eve would have really existed, since I am actually more inclined to think Adam and Eve are allegorical.

But I can also see a 6000 year time frame adequately “filling the bill” depending on which aspects of the rise of agriculture are emphasized.

What I am rather inclined to resist, however, is the thought that Adam and Eve fit in a time frame more than 10,000 years ago. I just don’t think the facts can be stretched that far. And @agauger’s favorite scenario (400,000 to 500,000 years ago) is sheer fantasy; you can’t demonstrate the reliability of the Biblical timeline by stretching the timeline into non-Biblical proportions!



As for your question:

I think you have become confused between what Swamidass considers a possible scenario, and one which he thinks is scientifically demonstrated. Would you care to make a list of the “facts” he has wrong?

I already noted a bunch of them. He could start by retracting the claim that Pugach 2006 “settles” the question of isolation. Nagle et al. 2017 is enough to disprove that claim on its face, and it was easy to find even for an amateur like me.

Honestly, I need to work on the next podcast episode, and I have to write my review of GAE and original sin for next week. I’ve said all there is to say on Tasmania. Stay tuned.


I think you mean Pugach 2013?

I’ll look at Nagle et al. 2017, but as I’ve said before, if God arranged for a living member of the Adam lineage to be washed ashore on a Tasmanian beach, I would hardly expect any science to be able to document or detect that.

NOTE: Nagle et al 2017 deals with genetic information. And this is exactly the “stuff of dreams” - - if a single person enters a lineage, in a short period of time their genetic “stamp” will have been completely decimated.

I am curious regarding the stochastic modelling that simply shows the present human population can be shown to be genealogically derived at about 10 thousand year - have you or anyone who seems to oppose this simulation, carried out another model to show the conclusions are invalid?

"What do you call a theory that can’t be falsified? The word that comes to my mind is ‘untrue.’ "

Two problems with this. First a logical contradiction: what you can say about an unfalsifiable theory is precisely not that it is untrue. That is what unfalsifiable means. But second, perhaps there is still something wrong with an unfalsifiable theory, i.e., maybe it isn’t untrue but just useless? No to this also. God’s existence is unfalsifiable, but surely not useless. What we can legitimately say about an unfalsifiable theory is simply that it has no scientific utility. But I don’t think it that was Swaimidass’s intent to begin with. Finally, maybe it doesn’t advance science, but it contradicts it, i.e., it makes demonstrably false claims in light of science? If so, then it isn’t unfalsifiable.


Special pleading, once again. Let’s just go straight to the Omphalos hypothesis and be done with it.

Your boy deleted my thread. Go ahead and try to defend that. You realize there is such a thing as the wayback machine, right?

Hi Chemistry George,

Hope all is going well for you! I’m not sure I understand your question. By “genealogically derivedat about 10 thousand year,” are you referring to the idea that the most recent common genealogical ancestor is thought to have lived 10kya? The reason I ask is that the smallest population bottleneck in H. Sapiens population in the past 500kya is thought to be 10,000, so I want to make sure we’re answering the question about the 10,000 you are thinking of.


Hi Chris,

Thanks for the chance to clarify. From memory, the now famous paper used available data on many facets of human population and recorded data to simulate the present population, and concluded that the data could be consistent with a genealogy that commenced (presumably) with a couple about 10000 yrs ago. I am not discussing details, but simply asking if anyone has critiqued this method and data, and has provided an alternate approach to account for the data. This does not deal with pop-genetics and bottlenecks and what have you, but records of populations, births, deaths, migrations etc.

If you can provide an analysis of the stochastic approach and/or the accuracy of the data, I would be very interested - or if anyone else has. :sweat_smile:

Best wishes and the season greetings, George.

I sincerely apologize to Joshua for my poor choice of words. “Your boy,” in this case, was equivalent to “Your buddy.”


I have no idea what you mean by special pleading. What I wrote is a statement of fact that science cannot detect or disprove the arrival of just one person (from Adam’s lineage) in Tasmania or anywhere else.

If we were debating a non-religious issue, I can imagine special pleading being relevant as a criticism. But we ARE debating a religious issue; the discussion is unavoidably invoking providential miracles.

Why? Because we aren’t trying to convince atheists that theism is true. Our audience are Christians who already believe God performs miracles, both in and out of the category of providence!

I see you have already realized your poor choice of wording when you referred to Dr. Swamidass as “my boy”… he certainly is nothing of the kind.


I believe your memory is defective here. I don’t believe there is any such article on genealogy demonstrating a 10,000 year time frame.

Simulations have been reported in peer-reviewed articles that using very conservative migration assumptions that show how a single mated pair can become a universal ancestral couple for all the Earth’s human population in 2000 years.

I didn’t say he was “my boy.” I said to you that he was your boy, as in your homey. It’s actually an expression that I picked up from the black men I worked with at juvenile detention. I’ve apologized. Characterize it as you will.

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No, that’s not correct either. Rohde’s paper showed 3500 years to most recent common ancestor. As for the migration assumptions, Rohde allows that the model may permit too much long-distance migration within continents. In one simulation he discussed in his unpublished paper, he tested the effect if migration falls off geometrically with distance (d-2). Long-distance migration fell off drastically, which increased the time to MRCA by 7.2% and ACA (almost common ancestor) by 16%. Also, keep in mind that Rohde’s model runs from 20,000 B.C. to the present, while the “genealogical Adam” model rightfully should end by 12,000 B.C. The horse was domesticated around 10,000 B.C., according to a recent study. Without horses or other domesticated pack animals, long-distance land migration across continents should be eliminated for a historical simulation that ends in 12,000 B.C. How much would that increase the wait time for a hypothetical Adam’s descendants to reach Australia? 15 percent? 30 percent? We don’t know. Rohde didn’t test it, and neither did Swamidass.

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Read your review today, Jay. Will look out for part 2 on original sin.

Maybe I’m missing something but I just don’t get what the GAE thesis actually does for non-ECs. Both YECs and OECs believe A&E to be sole progenitors, but with GAE there were other humans for approximately 190,000 years before A&E showed up…

By the way, your thread was not deleted, Jay. Here it is:


Ah, thanks for letting me know. Still can’t see it when I go to his discourse page. Tucked into a musty corner, I suppose. No worries.

Thanks! I don’t get it either. @gbrooks9 thinks it will bring YEC to accept evolution. I don’t think the book will find that audience. Time will tell.

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It’s in the ‘front porch’ which is essentially where threads go to die and not directly visible in the main forum conversation.

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Thanks for the correction @gbrooks9; the Rohde paper gives a 2000-5000 years time frame.

I would be interested if anyone can examine the methodology and data for this paper (or any similar work) to show why so many appear sceptical regarding the conclusions.

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Yes, yes… of course. Nobody ever suggested that you thought Joshua was “yours”.

“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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