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

(George Brooks) #144


I thought you would be interested in this short section from the recently linked book on mitochondrial diversity!
Maybe the diversity in Mitochondrial genetic diversity is sufficient to close the case?!


Mitochondrial chromosome sequences
"Deep coverage of the mitochondrial genome allowed us to manually curate sequences for 163 samples (Supplementary Information). Although variants that were fixed within an individual were consistent with the known phylogeny of the mitochondrial genome (Supplementary Fig. 5), we found a considerable amount of variation within individuals (heteroplasmy)."

" For example, length heteroplasmy was detected in 79% of individuals compared with 52% using capillary sequencing19, largely in the control region (Supplementary Fig. 6a). Base-substitution heteroplasmy was observed in 45% of samples, seven times higher than reported in the control region alone, and was spread throughout the molecule…"


That is true. It is the early church that added the names of Mark and Matthew to these gospels.

(Richard Wright) #146

Hello TA,

The greatest evidence for Christianity is the message and the changed lives of people claiming to be followers of Christ, the exact things that compelled me to study the bible… Almost literally nobody gets into historical evidences during the conversion process. The reason they want to give their lives over to Christ is that something in their soul is yearning to be connected with their creator, and that can only come through Jesus Christ, because he’s the only one who sacrificed himself for our sins. Once you fall in love with God through Jesus, you won’t go searching out every religion, just like a man falling in love won’t date every available woman to see if she is, “the one”. For the record I wasn’t born into my faith. I was a Catholic, then a deist in college, then a biblical Christian. So I know what it’s like to see no evidences for any religion.

The 3 synoptic gospels do use a common source, Q. 2 of them are thought to be eyewitnesses accounts because the early church understood them to be authored by Mark and Matthew (Luke’s gospel is declared to be from research).

There have been claims of all kinds of evidences for different religions over time and it’s obviously impossible to investigate most, if any of them. If you want to say that I became a Christian because I was born into a, “Christian” country (which doesn’t exist IMO), fine, there’s nothing I can say, other that I’m blessed by God to find Him in a country where I won’t be killed for following Jesus. We can get into the details of the lives and teachings of Jesus vs. Mohammed if you like but I don’t think that’s a road that we need to go down.

(Richard Wright) #147

True, but the early church understood them to be written by Matthew and Mark, which would make them eyewitness accounts (or at least accounts from eyewitnesses).


Why would Matthew use Mark’s gospel and the hypothetical source “Q” (which Luke also used)?

(Richard Wright) #149

I have no idea.


I am happy that you found something important in your life, and I really don’t see any need for us to argue any further on the topic. Like I have said in previous posts, it would be a rather boring world if all of us agreed on everything. However, it really isn’t my intention to argue against Christianity in these threads even if I allow myself to get pulled into it at times. On top of that, I really don’t think it is the mission of BioLogos to provide a place where atheists and Christians can debate religion.

(Ann Gauger) #151

What is BioLogos’ mission? And what brings you here? Just curious?

(Ann Gauger) #152

Hi @T_aquaticus and @gbrooks9. Yes, the HLA complex is on one end of chromosome six. They are all extremely polymorphic, with thousands of alleles. But they also show high rates of mutation recombination, and strong balancing selection to boot. There needs to be a really good study to determine what drives the diversity and the apparent trans-species polymorphisms. Here’s another case when it’s dangerous to make claims before someone’s done the work.

Speaking of alleles. We could replace the X with A, C, T, or G



What brings me here is correcting bad misrepresentations of science. I also think it is worthwhile to clear up misconceptions that people have about atheists.

There could also be a bit of this as well:


Just to be clear, the linkage disequilibrium data that Venema cites in his book is not from the MHC complex.


I think you’re doing a great job. Some of my fellow Christians speak so disparagingly of atheists without realizing what they’re doing. One woman asked me “Do they even have a conscience?”

(Ann Gauger) #156


Agreed about linkage disequilibrium. But see the paper I just posted for HLA.

(Albert Leo) #157

What if we simply (but arbitrarily) defined humankind as the time in evolutionary history when a creature, belonging to the species Homo sapiens, longed to be connected to their Creator. [Note that this would include native Americans like Chief Seattle who saw and respected the Great Spirit who fashioned the stately forests and salmon-filled streams that graced his homeland.] Clearly this definition is aimed at satisfying those who highly value religion and theology in forming their world view. For those of us, like myself, who are leery of any belief that ‘flies in the face’ of science (archeology in this case), we can point out that some 40K - 50K yrs. ago Homo sapiens apparently took a Great Leap Forward, creating astonishingly ‘modern’ art, sculpture, and a belief in an afterlife. Without any known genetic change, they became Homo sapiens sapiens–i.e., US. We humans are thus NOT a finished product freshly made off a potter’s wheel. We are intermediary creatures whose exapted brains now operate as Minds capable of co-creating the kind of physical/spiritual being God intended prior to the Big Bang.

As a scientist, I am skeptical enough that I don’t expect to find the proof that biblical Christianity is True (capital T). It IS extraordinary that a band of simple fishermen (with help from one very articulate tentmaker) could start a movement that would spread world wide. But the spread of Islam and Buddhism also seems amazing to me. I for one accept Christianity because of Faith in the Truth that Jesus taught: that we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the only way that a Homo sapiens, a product of the evolution that produced what we perceive as natural evil, can hope to become what Scripture promises: to become the Image of our Creator.

Currently science cannot provide us with a biological mechanism that would explain the GLF. But I am confident that in time it will. And when that happens it will in no way eliminate God’s role in it. As I see it, the biggest hurdle to overcome is facing up to the fact that, in using evolution as a creative tool, God did not create an Adam&Eve in sinless perfection, as Genesis would have us believe, but as one step on the way to become his Image Bearer. Jesus invites us to take the next steps.
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #158


I don’t “get” your objection. Sure… there are higher rates of mutation recombination. So? It’s not infinitely higher, is it?

If Evolutionary interpretation is correct, then there is a good chance (though not a perfectly certain one) that even with the dmonstrably higher rate of recombination, the Human HLA complex (with its thousands of alleles) may still be impossible to produce from one mated pair in just 6000 years.

Does someone have an equation here? Let’s just do the math?

What kind of indescribable recombination rate would it take to produce current Human diversity of HLA from 2 humans in 6000 years?

Somebody “gots to have” a calculator around here…

(Ann Gauger) #159

@gbrooks9 What’s with the 6000 years? I am down for a million. And yes, some one should run a sumulation, but it won’t be easy.

(George Brooks) #160


Your alternate of a million years is a footnote.

The question is whether it is a Young Earth, or not.

The literalist want their 6000 years … and it isn’t possible.

(Ann Gauger) #161

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I was looking for a million year long footnote.

Maybe your question is whether it is a Young Earth or not. It’s not my question. I don’t see the question of the possibility of 2 sole progenitors as inextricably linked with a young earth.

The question I started with was “how strong was the evidence against Adam,” posed to me by a philosopher. He was talking about the scientific evidence, so it was reasonable to examine the question scientifically. I read about Ayala’s work, and the challenges it faced; I read about various coalescence methods; I read about linkage disequilibrium; I read about genetic differences and similarities. I read about the fossil evidence.

The chief problems were two fold: a) there was not enough time for the coordinated mutations required for our evolution from an ape to us to have occurred without guidance, and b) the population genetics models did not test the scenario directly. We are working on our own models for these two things now.

I get a certain vibe from you that you think I have to please some imaginary young earth coalition. I don’t. The results will be whatever they are as to time scale, and none of it will test the age of the earth.

(George Brooks) #162

@agauger, that’s ironic.
Because I get a vague vibe from you that you are more interested in contradicting Evolutionists than you are in contradicting Young Earth Creationists.

If you go to this post,

you will probably notice that you are one of the chief editors of a book that totally trashes Christian Evolutionists.

Why is it that we don’t find in your Editorial contribution anything about how impossible it is for human genetic diversity as we see it today to be compatible with any Creationist scenario that includes the specification that the Earth cannot be much older than 6000 years?

You seem to be grooming a logical fallacy – that since Evolutionists are not measuring the age of the Earth when they calculate the amount of time it took for humans to evolve - - then you don’t have to worry about the Earth’s age in Creationist scenarios.

That kind of logic doesn’t work in both directions. The time it takes for humans to evolve is the minimum age of the Earth - not the maximum. So if Creationists insist that the Earth cannot be older than 6000 years (more or less), it means, ipso facto, that their belief in the origin of humanity starting no more than 6000 years ago is wrong as well.

And the correct analysis that you should be offering your Creationist colleagues is: If Human Genetic Diversity suggests a time period of 1,000,000 years (just a hypothetical number for the purpose of this thread), then Creationists are honor-bound (by their pursuit of what is Truth) to adjust their analysis of Genesis to be consistent with a 1 million year time frame, not a 6000 year time frame.

If you were to have written something like that in the book … think how well known you would be by now! You could probably walk into any Foundation and get a grant to further any part of your ongoing research!

@Swamidass, or @cwhenderson, do you think my analysis is on the right track? Am I way off base? Or do you think I’m giving a fairly reasonable assessment to our colleague, @agauger?

(Curtis Henderson) #163

The book just plain makes me quite sad and a little angry, to be honest. Some of the quotes from the book introduction that @Bill_II posted are just plain inaccurate and off-base. Either those responsible for the book have not done enough investigation into what typical sentiments are among individuals that hold EC beliefs (the most likely scenario, in my opinion), or are misrepresenting those sentiments.

In any case, I have a hard time taking the “theological critique” part very seriously. It is difficult to listen to such accusations from those involved with DI, that institutionally makes no reference to the God of the Christian faith, leveled at Evolutionary Creationists that esteem God as Creator, through the process of evolution.