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

(Brad Kramer) #81

If I was a young-earth creationist, I would find this very condescending.

(Jay Johnson) #82

Gosh, you guys just won’t give it up. I said it was an example for the sake of illustration. [quote=“Jay313, post:76, topic:37034”]
South America is just a good example for people to wrap their minds around. It is theoretically possible,

At the risk of quoting myself again …

(Steve Schaffner) #83

Fine, but examples for the sake of illustration should be examples of the kind of thing you want to illustrate.

(George Brooks) #84


To paraphrase something I once said before, long ago, working out some of the more intricate details of a proposal, when there are both YEC’s and Skeptics present, is like trying to arrange a date with a good-looking co-worker while your spouse is sitting next to both of you having a cup of coffee!

They might complain for a moment, but when they realize the “scientist” rejects the special creation of Adam because the scientist demands proof that an unknown man landed at an unknown place in an unknown year, they will come running to me and my friends - - talking about the mean bully they just met…


How easy is it for a YEC to read “consistent with the evidence” and then portray it as “supported by the evidence”? I would say that if it hasn’t happened yet, it will happen soon with respect to Swamidass’ work. I think it might be worth the effort to use language that isn’t so easily misconstrued, but it is just a suggestion.

(Peaceful Science) #86


@Jay313 at some point you are going to have to read the article. You seem to argue that it is an absurd conclusions. It is not. It is a plausible estimate based on what we know of that time. With an extensive discussion of the archaeological evidence that bears on this. I would request you be less dismissive of science of which you little knowledge.

  1. In the paper, we show with one plausible assumption, it is likely that we have very recent UGAs (e.g. 6 kya UGA for by AD 1) . Remember “plausible + likely => plausible”, not a “string of maybe” as you put it.

  2. However, most models do not need 6 kya Adam. For Adam 10 kya becoming UGA by AD 1 (before seas rise btw), the assumption becomes more plausible and the estimate becomes overwhelmingly likely.

  3. We show why the convergence times are actually very conservative, and are expect in a better simulation to converge more quickly. The farther back in time, the quicker we expect convergence (because land bridges are still intact, and population is smaller).

That is why Jeff Hardin (in consultation with @JeffSchloss and @DarrelFalk) recently endorsed recent UGAs a “plausible” (not unlikely) assertion consistent with the evidence. This is important. We are talking about well established estimates, based on a single plausible assumption. Perhaps @Sy_Garte can comment further.

Here is one of the figures from the paper. Notice how we say that science cannot discriminate between the two options? That is because to deny recent UGAs you have to make a different scientific assumption. We face a problem of “perfectly complementary total negatives.” EITHER

  1. There was absolutely no mixing for at least one population for thousands of years (an absolute negative)
  2. No absolute isolation of any population for thousands of years (an absolute negative)

Both cannot simultaneously be true (in the way we construe them), at least one has to be true, and neither can be determined with evidence.

This is actually an interesting conundrum from an epistemological point of view. Science cannot establish absolute negatives of these kinds (which would require truly comprehensive knowledge of the distant past). Essentially, the ultimate question requires total knowledge to adjudicate, so it is outside of science to know. Looking at the data, however, we see mixing everywhere we look; not isolation. So though we cannot say for sure, recent UGAs are certainly plausible.

Still, the longer the time period, the more plausible #2 is, which is why one would struggle to find a population geneticist that did not think the identical ancestor point was earlier than 15 kya.

As I write in the paper, reaching the limits of science, there is “flexibility in the scientific account.”

(Peaceful Science) #87

This is fairly complex. It is more than just “consistent,” because it is also “plausible.” There is evidence supporting its plausibility. However, the peer reviewed paper (to avoid quote mining) is very careful in how everything is stated. Also, everything is predicated on an evolved population outside the garden.

Will people misunderstand the conclusions? Of course they will. It is already happening on this thread. It is just going to take a while for everyone to catch up on the science. There is just an immense amount of subtlety here on both a scientific level, and also in understanding how it interacts with theology, and the debate at large.


I can’t help but think of Gould’s attempts at describing this interaction that culminated in his idea of Non-Overlapping Magisteria. Trying to sort out the roles of fact, faith, orthodoxy, theology, and tradition is not for the feint of heart, so you have my respect for trying to tread those waters as someone coming from the world of science. It is difficult enough to discuss these topics in a way that is understandable, and doubly so when some people may be trying to misunderstand what you are saying.

Good luck!

(Jon) #89

Ok thanks. I guess I don’t know exactly what the magical difference is between the two groups, and how it gets transferred from one to the other. Can anyone explain what “fallen” means in this context? Descended from someone who has sinned? What I don’t understand is how it makes one group of people theologically or physically different from the other, unless it’s talking about some kind of original sin (I don’t believe in original sin).

(Peaceful Science) #90

This an example of the theological conversation that is ongoing right now. It will take some time for the dust to settle. It will be fun!

(Jon) #91

I can’t wait! I think the conversation about original sin is only about 1,800 years old, so I’m sure there’s lots to add. But yeah, if terms like “fallen/non-fallen” are going to be thrown around, then it’s pretty important to be clear about what they mean, otherwise they’re basically useless.

(Peaceful Science) #92

No one has made the distinction between genetic and genealogical in the conversation before. It has just not been considered. THere are some really interesting ways forward…I have another paper in prep. More than one theologian is going deeper too.

I know this hard to believe, but this is a genuinely new idea.

(George Brooks) #93

@Jonathan_Burke and the Eastern Orthodox are in sync as far as Original Sin not being a valid construct.

But one of the points of this approach is to engage the YEC perception of what Original Sin would have to be.

One possible bridge in vocabulary is the idea that the “old saw” - - Federal Headship - - is a synonym for
"Passed on by Genealogical Descent". Folks like Jonathan don’t have to buy into Original Sin … all they have to do is buy into the relevance of God passing a redemptive-related status by genealogical connections, and not by genetic ones.

I think the following ideas are very likely the kind that drive Protestants crazy, but I don’t see any way around this issue:

For those folks who hold to Original Sin - - does it make any sense to think that Original Sin is like a birth mark? Do we really think that this “original sin thing” is something that the Mother or Father pass on by inheritance?

Or, is this “Original Sin” something that God mixes in with the Soul when he creates a soul to go with each body? Isn’t God the one who makes souls? If we agree, do we also agree that Original Sin is something that attaches to the Soul?

Thoughts from any quarter?

(Peaceful Science) #94

Do not forget about ancestral sin, with is the eastern orthodox equivalent of original sin.

(Jon) #95

Yeah I can see that the genetic/genealogical idea is new, but the original sin discussion is not, and I don’t think it can be avoided or sidestepped.

Yes. As I’ve said, this is not a new debate, and the solution is ready to hand; original sin and anything like it (ancestral sin, whatever), needs to be scrapped.

(Peaceful Science) #96

Give it time…

(George Brooks) #97


Don’t you think there is a way of avoiding the challenge?

Can’t we just “let them” have Federal Headship … and move along?


They are not the same.

(Peaceful Science) #99

They are related.

(George Brooks) #100

@Swamidass, any multi-source scan of Eastern Orthodox views on “Original Sin” would show they have as much use for the idea as @Jonathan_Burke.

It informs virtually nothing of their theology or metaphysics, other than the idea that biology supports a sinful path and all humans will fail to avoid sin.

But there is nothing in any of their discussion that takes on the Western proportion of Original Sin, Inherited Sin, Federal Sin or whatever…

Pretend Jonthan is Orthodox… his answers will be Orthodox answers…