Do we have to believe in Adam and Eve?

I will easily grant you the first of these, that Darwin didn’t know anything of mutations, at least as we are accustomed to using the word in reference to DNA. But would you care to further support the point that he didn’t know of or understand the concept of randomness, or use it in his theory? I think merely saying heritable variation is understating his position. Lamarkianism could easily be described as non-random heritable variation.


While the account never explicitly states that Adam is the first man, it is a reasonably inference, since later there was no, “suitable” helper for Adam, hence God created Eve.[quote=“Sy_Garte, post:20, topic:36368”]
Getting back to Swamidass’ ideas, while there can be no valid scientific argument against the idea of a single couple being the biological ancestors of all modern humans

An historical Adam and Eve are not the biological ancestors of all modern humans, they are one of many genealogical ancestors of modern humans, according to Joshua’s theory.

I’m not sure I understand the objection. If it’s conceded that Adam and Eve are not the first homo sapiens, then why the need to account for racist differences in, “a relatively brief period”?

Respectfully disagree that Joshua’s view isn’t an attempt at concordance. The issue I have with Joshua’s theory (I read all the articles that he referenced in a response to me) is that it counters the spirit of the Genesis account, which is that Adam and Eve are the ancestors of the human race. Since we now know that, if they existed, they couldn’t have been, the genealogical ancestry idea is a way to, “concord” the creation narrative with science, IMO.

I do think a lot of people would be attracted to Joshua’s theory and I’ll certainly present it as an option to those who want to hold to an historic Adam and Eve. I don’t find it compelling, however, since I believe the account is an origins tradition with theological value, not an attempt to teach us how the first humans and animals came about.



The idea that variation in individuals of a species is random and not in any way directed did not come from Darwin. In the Origin of Species, he states:

“I have hitherto sometimes spoken as if the variations…were due to chance. This, of course, is a wholly incorrect expression, but it serves to acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of each particular variation.”

So Darwin did mention chance, but then admitted that he had no idea if variations were due to chance or not.



Adam and Eve were not (and could not have been the sole ancestors of the human race. And nobody, certainly not Joshua @Swamidass or I are saying that. And the genealogical idea is not something made up, it is in fact exactly what the Bible talks about. Biblical stories are precisely about genealogy, and NOT about genetics, since the concept of genetics was unknown in those times, whereas genealogy (who was descended from whom) was very well known, and carefully documented. This is why the use of genealogy as opposed to genetic ancestry is not all related to a forced concordance, but is actually entirely Biblical.

I think I read recently that Biologos prefers commenters not to link or refer to their own work, so I will not direct you to the Summer 2012 issue of God and Nature, where an article about Adam as being the first farmer addresses your first issue. The ASA ezine is freely available online.

I agree with your second point, as I have already made clear in answer to George’s question.

The third point is not mine, but I have heard it mentioned that Joshua’s theory posits different kinds of humans, Adamites and non-Adamites, until enough mixing had occurred to make everyone an Adamite. Some have felt that this opens the door to a kind of racialist approach, but I think Joshua answers this objection very well.

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What Darwin seemed to argue for is a process where selection and mutation were independent of each other, unlike Lamarckism. Darwin was arguing against the idea that if someone lifted heavy weights all day that their children would also have large muscles. Rather, if stronger muscles were advantageous in a given environment then those with heritable traits for large muscles would have the most offspring. While this isn’t fully blown random mutation (with respect to fitness), it is certainly the first steps down that path.

I’m still waiting for someone to explain how this version of Adam, dropped into the flow of history 6,000 years ago, has anything to do with sin or original sin. The problem is even more acute if one insists that sin can only be defined as the breaking of a revealed command. That would mean sin did not exist before 4,000 B.C. Follow out this line of reasoning …

And what does the “knowledge of good and evil” mean in the context of this ad hoc Adam? In Deut. 1:39 and Is. 7:15-16 it is used of children, who do not yet know to choose good and reject evil. Surely, we aren’t expected to think that men before 4000 B.C. lacked moral knowledge, are we?

The only advantage I can see to the ad hoc Adam is that he is completely insulated from attack by science or history. The disadvantages are still piling up …

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The one problem I see which undercuts the scientific soundness of the argument is the lack of a null hypothesis. How would the data look different if there were no Adam and Eve? From what I can tell, the data is also consistent with there being no Adam and Eve. What Joshua Swadimass has is a belief which isn’t contradicted by the data, but isn’t supported by the data either. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t quite meet the higher standard of being a supported scientific finding. The best attribute of Swadimass’ work, IMHO, is that it shows how religion and science don’t need to butt heads and that Christians don’t need to be hostile towards science.


Yup. And that is a pretty good attribute. I dont believe that Joshua is attempting to prove the existence of Adam and Eve, but merely to say that their existence is not contrary to science.

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I think the reason you are still waiting about this new genealogical Adam’s connection to Sin and Morality (and assuming you aren’t interested in the ongoing discussion about the quasi-Catholic proposition that God hands souls out with Original Sin engraved on their souls) …

Is that the Genealogical Adam is not a panacea. It’s just a breakthrough on a specific front: specifically, that Adam could be connected to the broad timeline of the Old Testament… while not limiting science’s claim on a very old hominid population.

But if you would rather have the Moral Agency issue attain closure, then I think we are talking about Adam being the figurative “first human of a homind population” who God has designated. This can be variously placed deep in the hominid timeline, or something just 50,000 years ago.

But to find a way to make Adam a plausible common ancestor, primo morality agent, and just 6000 years ago … well, it can’t be done.


[quote=“Lynn_Munter, post:23, topic:36368”]
But would you care to further support the point that he didn’t know of or understand the concept of randomness, or use it in his theory?[/quote]
Hi Lynn,

I should have written, “mutations or their randomness.”

Not really. It’s simply that we can look around us and see that much of the variation between organisms is heritable. Your relatives don’t look more like you than they look like me because they grew up in the same house together.

[quote] Lamarkianism could easily be described as non-random heritable variation.
[/quote]I don’t think so. It is acquired, nonrandom heritable traits.

I think that you are missing the point that the vast majority of the variation upon which selection acts is not from new mutations.

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Right, it’s mostly from old mutations.

I guess I didn’t see why your point was critical to what Al Leo was saying.

If that was all Darwin was saying, it wasn’t really news, was it?

I think it was important to Darwin’s theory that variations could be beneficial or detrimental (or neutral) but they didn’t have to be any particular thing, they didn’t have to be directed or planned, in order for evolution to work. If you don’t want to use the word random (or chance) to refer to this aspect of the theory, what would you use?

Thanks for the quote!

It looks like he’s leaving wiggle room and properly defining what he doesn’t know, good. But would his definition coincide with Al Leo’s original “(seemingly) random” phrase?

Readily observable and directly measurable heritable variation. Otherwise, consistency would demand that you advocate for mutagenesis instead of outbreeding for endangered species.

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No, I dont think so. Remember that Darwin knew nothing of mutations, DNA or even of genes (although he did have some knowledge that heredity of characteristics might be transmitted in Mendelian type packets). It wasnt until the 1940s with the experiments of Luria and Delbruck that biologists understood that mutations were not directed toward a purpose, but were more or less random, and then selected for their fitness.

Right, I get that.

So you’re saying that recombination is not considered a form of mutation? Or that the variation of a more distant relative of a population didn’t come from mutations either?

I didn’t think they were.

Yes. But as Darwin was speaking only with regard to fitness, I believe the point stands.

[quote=“Lynn_Munter, post:37, topic:36368”]
So you’re saying that recombination is not considered a form of mutation?[/quote]


Most selectable variation from a distant relative would likely be from reshuffling by basic sexual reproduction and recombination, not mutations.


I didn’t think they were [waiting around for mutations to happen].[/quote]

Yet that’s a staple of evolution denialism.

[quote]Yes. But as Darwin was speaking only with regard to fitness, I believe the point stands.
[/quote]I’m not sure to what point you refer, but as Sy pointed out, the randomness wrt to fitness was only demonstrated in the '40s.

One more thing: Darwin did acknowledge the possibility of evolution in the absence of selection–that is, truly random evolution to his eyes, not just in variation. That’s what we call neutral or drift today. However, it’s also correctly called non-Darwinian. That’s an extremely important reason not to paint Darwin with randomness.

My point is that Al is using the framing of those who are trying to deceive laypeople. This framing does not lend itself to understanding.

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The question is, “Do we have to believe in Adam and Eve (it should be, do we believe the biblical account of Adam and Eve)”,

My response is, “Why would any Christian fail to believe the biblical account?”

Millions of Christians do not believe the biblical account because it is inconsistent with findings in the ground, in the ocean and in the Cosmos, and because it is reasonable to think that an ancient writer did not have the advantage of space ships, telescopes, submarines and microscopes.

This is overstated in spades; indeed millions of Christians have believed, and continue to believe the biblical account, and it is by no means inconsistent with current knowledge, or ancient knowledge.

Perhaps the tendency to deify science from some fringe groups has a lot to do with these absurd questions.

“Over-stated in spades” ? I can see neither of us ever make statements of sweeping generalities.

I would be interested in knowing which part of my post was the most over-stated?

“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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