Latest Critique of Venema's Claims About Past Human Population Sizes

Wait, I thought my theological concerns and objections were just “hang-ups” a minute ago. haha

Then don’t. [quote=“Swamidass, post:40, topic:37034”]
@Jay313 you have explained your goal to build a concordist account of a figurative Adam. I think that is a great idea to add to the mix. You should do this, and from a scientific point of view there is no difference between this an a recent de novo Adam.
I’m on a quest for truth, not just another interpretation to add to the mix. Whether my conception comes close to the truth or not is for others to judge, not me.

Maybe concepts of sin and original sin need to be reconsidered. It wouldn’t be the first time; original sin as inherited from Augustine was a post-biblical innovation after all.



In re-reading your post, I wonder if you are “tracking” where @Swamidass is investigating:

  1. Using genealogical paradigms, it has been shown that population genetics can be compared to a a flower… a long stem, with just a few contributors from the distant past, which then deploys laterally like the blossoming of a rose, where a dramatically larger number of contributors from more recent timelines are present in the population.

  2. If the YEC’s need the special creation of a mated pair, 4000 years ago, anyone who believes that God works miracles could propose that such a pair was created, as long as it acknowledges that they pair was created in the midst of a much larger population of genetically similar humans - - a population that is the natural result of hundreds of thousands and millions of years of mammalian evolution.

  3. Computer-run scenarios, using very pessemistic assumptions on human travel, have repeatedly shown that well within 4000 years, a group of various mated pairs can become the universal ancestors of every person in the world now living. Naturally, there are also mated pairings that hit dead-ends, and do not survive into the present age.

  4. The Limits of Such a Mixed Scenario?

A. Yep, the idea that Adam and Eve are the only universal ancestor would have to be given up.

B. But, on the flip side, we have the solution to the current diversity we see in the modern human genome. It doesn’t come from Adam & Eve, it comes from the non-Adamic population they joined, a genetic diversity created over hundreds if not thousands of generations.

C. Adam & Eve get to experience special creation 4000 years ago.

D. But the mechanism for “the need for redemption” has to be genealogically sustained, rather than genetically sustained, because there would be no support for the idea that all of current humanity is genetically derived from Adam & Eve.

E. If we agree that “the soul” is what needs redemption, instead of the body, then whatever “Federal Headship” might mean under the current YEC assumptions could still hold true in this mixed scenario.

(i) Does God deliver a “soul-that-needs-redemption” to each new person?

(ii) Or is there some sort of psychological “contagion” that each new generation obtains from the prior one?

See, it doesn’t matter whether it is (i), (ii) or even some other model… it still works in this mixed model of Adam & Eve experiencing special creation 4000 years ago, and joining a much larger population of humans not related to Adams, and with or without, any special powers of moral observation that we would currently expect from the descendants of Adam & Eve.

Thoughts, @Jay313 ?

@Jonathan_Burke, you are always my toughest audience. What are your thoughts on how I have parsed out the dynamics?

This is fine, as long as you don’t also have a global flood that kills all but 8 individuals.


Exactly!, @glipsnort.

Which is [something I never would have imagined encouraging last year] … why @Jonathan_Burke’s assessment of the Noah’s Flood texts has become so important!

His scriptural workarounds will become quite necessary for the whole ball of wax to hold together !

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Except that is also true in the AIG model, so no big deal there.

That is true, however the Flood is much easier to deal with than Adam.

  1. The flood is never referenced in the new testament to make theological claims.
  2. The flood does not appear in any historical creeds or discourse as a central claim.
  3. Over the last 50 years, old earth creation and young earth creation have made peace. RTB has successfully established themselves as a viable alternative to YEC, and they do not affirm a global flood.
  4. There is a good deal of textual evidence in Scripture against a flood that covers the whole globe.
  5. There is a massive amount of evidence against a global that covers all mountains.
  6. There is a massive amount of evidence for a global flood that covers vast coastal areas, but not mountains as the seas only rise 400 ft (that was a surprise wasn’t it?)

So why is the flood important to YEC? Despite what AIG might say, it is not really historically about taking Genesis as history. @TedDavis might comment (if we are lucky), but Flood Geology is predicated on the notion that there is large amounts of evidence for a global flood (denying #5).

So this becomes more about evidence than Scripture and theology. Here @jammycakes, @Joel_Duff, @davidson and Wolgemuth have done a great deal of good. This argument, however, is not about theology and Scripture like the Adam debate. In this phase, we only need follow RTB and Hugh Ross’s excellent example.


A quote from Ken Ham

“Think about it: if you accept a real global Flood, then you destroy (rightly) evolution’s millions of years of history, as supposedly recorded in the fossils found in the layers of rock.”

To deny Noah’s Flood would open the floodgates to evolution in his mind. Flood Geology is just their way to try to maintain the truth of the Flood.

To me it seems AIG’s main reason for being is to just deny evolution for reasons unrelated to Genesis. They just use Genesis as another hammer to beat on evolution.

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That is right. They are motivated by an anti-evolution worldview.

The most durable theological problem raised against evolution is Adam. However, if evolution is silent on Adam, as many of us now believe, this begs a question. Why be anti-evolution? It is certainly not for the theological reasons that everyone has claimed for so long.

This then undercuts the reason for holding the line.

@Swamidass +( @jammycakes, @Joel_Duff, @davidson ) + @Jonathan_Burke

Excellent summation – I’m “all in” … and I’m taking some chips from friends and putting them “all in” as well!

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Yes, I am.

I keep saying this, but it keeps bouncing off heads like a rubber ball. I’m not interested in constructing a hypothetical scenario that YEC’s “need.” You and Joshua and everyone else are free to do so. I’m not stopping you. I’m just pointing out reasons why the scenario doesn’t make sense to me, which brings me to …

Where to begin? Like most Christians, I cannot conceive a situation in which some of the world was “Fallen” and some was still “unFallen” by the first century A.D., when Christ “died for all” (2 Cor. 15). The genealogical magic must have been completed by that time.

The math in the model is an interesting hypothetical, but sooner or later you must apply it to a time period in actual history. So, forget the model for a minute and look at actual history. Is there any evidence to support the theory? Show me a boat capable of sailing to South America in the Bronze Age (or earlier). Show me evidence that someone – anyone – of that era was aware that the Americas existed besides the people who lived there. There is a reason those continents were populated by a migration across a land bridge and not by people arriving in the Mayflower.

My thoughts? Implausible in the extreme. But so is “flood geology,” and it seems to have won quite an audience for itself …


Yes, another work-around to throw on the pile. Anyone got a match?

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Umm…Matthew 24:37-39, Luke 17:26-27, Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 2:5. The coming of the Kingdom is not a theological claim? Noah appears in Luke’s genealogy. If Adam’s appearance there is theologically significant, why isn’t Noah’s. Both Peter and the author of Hebrews reference Noah and the Flood to make rhetorical points. Just because we don’t really get the stuff about preaching to the imprisoned souls, doesn’t mean it isn’t theological. I don’t think you can draw as neat a line as you are doing between Jesus and other NT authors mentioning the Flood and Jesus and Paul mentioning Adam. Your distinction sounds pretty ad hoc to me.


I still do not see young earth creationists giving up their “straightforward reading” of Genesis 1 so easily. I can certainly see the question of Adam and Eve as being of paramount importance in creation theology, precisely because of references in other parts of the Bible. But YECs are YEC because they interpret the entire “creation week” as literal, not simply because they hold to the special creation of mankind. I think it’s fair to say that YECs are YEC because they believe that holding the Bible as the highest form of authority requires them to reject scientific conclusions that contrast with a literal interpretation of the creation account in any way. We have all heard YECs say things like “no amount of evidence could turn me from my viewpoint”. I don’t believe that convincing most YECs that evolution cannot exclude the possibility of Adam and Eve will allow them to change their minds about the rest of the creation week. Hopefully, this approach will work for some, but I think our best hope for the majority of YECs is to convince them that acceptance of evolution is not a theological threat to the spread of the Gospel. I don’t think there are a great many that care one way or another about the science.


What’s this “fallen” and “unfallen” distinction you’re making? I think I know but I’d rather not just guess.

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I am not saying Noah was never referenced, but universal descent from Noah does not have the same importance as Adam. Moreover, there is also textual evidence for people who survived the flood (Nephilim).

Reasons to Believe does a great deal of excellent work on this.

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Who is saying that? The whole point we have made is that we would all be Fallen by AD 1.

This is all dealt with in the paper @Jay313. It passed peer review with people more skeptical than you, without any scientific objections. There is just evidence and information you are ignorant of. Take a look at the paper. It is on my website.

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Josh, If OEC and YEC have made peace, I see no evidence of it whatsoever. You probably haven’t read my recent columns. These two speak directly to this point:

I’ll put a separate comment on the Flood and YECs.


@TedDavis that is not where they made peace. Look at these places:

  1. Chicago Statement on Inerrancy and Interpretation
  2. Biola’s Belief Statement
  3. Ratio Christi’s Belief Statement
  4. @paulnelson58’s Big Tent ID Article

Those at Ratio Christi in particular have some recent and important stories to tell about this. Yes, the advocacy groups are still at each other, but in most cases they have ecclesially made peace.

I would imagine that the folks more likely to be convinced by @swamidass’s approach are OEC, actually. I don’t know why we keep talking about convincing YEC folks with a model that rejects a 7-day creation. There is other groundwork that needs to be laid before YEC folks could accept any model that includes an old earth, and genealogical Adam doesn’t lay that groundwork. But the value here is in preserving a theologically / hermeneutically traditional Adam for OEC folks who struggle with evolutionary models because they fear it means giving up a “literal” Adam.


You’re lucky today, @Swamidass. :wink: Or perhaps not, once you read this. :confounded:

Defending the historicity of Noah’s Flood has been central to the YEC movement from the beginning. That’s one of the main reasons why George McCready Price pushed “flood geology,” the other reason being that it totally demolishes any evolutionary inference from the fossil record (i.e., if Flood geology is true). Certainly most YECs say that there is much evidence for a global flood. Henry Morris pushed the “evidentialist” approach in the book that launched modern creationism, but his co-author John C Whitcomb, Jr., has always been much more enamored of a “presuppositionalist” approach, and that’s what AiG is now wedded to.

In almost all cases, however, YECs will say that, if scientists would just take the historicity of the Flood seriously as a fact, they would be forced to look at the evidence differently.


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