I wanted to offer some independent comments not necessarily in relation to your post but about the same article (that may end up overlapping at some point).
I find it very curious to begin with and argument from underdetermination.
The reality is that disagreement is not just an issue in science and theology but in all areas of human reasoning and worldview formation. It’s known as the underdetermination of a theory.
The suggestion seems to be that there really isn’t enough empirical evidence to rule out certain hypotheses. Now this certainly occurs with one great example being between the steady state theory and the big bang theory. But this is very curious and literally any group could claim underdeterminism and use it to legitimize their view point. a common talking point of many young Earth creationist is that the evidence really can be interpreted either way. There’s no independent way to go ahead and tell whether or not they’re actually was a flood few thousand years ago that killed everything you cover the entire Earth. We all have the same facts and it’s just based upon one’s worldview. Now any YEC is dead wrong, and this introduction seems like a technical loophole that can exist and will be attractive to many Christian readers who believe various things like common ancestry are still up for debate (which many of these things are not).
I don’t have anything to add for the section titled: Applying Respectful Dialogue in Light of the Underdetermination of Theories. It’s pretty clear by this point the main argument will be that the model she will argue for, the RTB model, is not ruled out by evidence.
After this there is the section that the RTB model, Sole Progenitor Pair at an Intermediate Date, is in fact tenable. A few challenges to the idea were reportedly put forth in the podcast to which Roberts concludes:
Nevertheless, the RTB model can account for all the points raised above, perhaps with some modifications to underlying assumptions… the RTB sole progenitor pair model successfully fits the scientific data and the biblical data within this intermediate range, and acknowledging this would have brought clarity to the general listener.
My first reaction to this is: yeah that’s what they all say. Every young Earth creationist speaker I’ve ever heard declares basically the same thing. That is, any possible challenge to their model can easily be addressed and that their model makes better sense than the others. Since there were no links or articles that went along with this claim, the reader will have to take her at her word but I do find some of these previous examples from RTB interesting:
Presenting a paper on the scientific case for Adam and Eve. The article aims to cast doubt on population size estimates by presenting a paper that has nothing to do with effective population size calculations. And this reportedly strengthens the case of the RTB model.
- Another article on a primordial pair or population. There are 5 specific arguments presented as to why humanity did not begin as a population. We can reject a primordial population because 1) it’s based upon evolutionary bias, 2) the mathematical models are too simplified (no sources or better models/calculations are presented), 3) the models are quite poor at including certain phenomenon and a paper is cited. Remarkably the paper actually strengthens our understanding of population reconstructions and does not disagree with many of the results from previous modeling. 4) Unfortunately the Mouflon sheep of the previous bullet point are rementioned and 5) cites a study questioning whether mtDNA is a reliable predictor of human population size. But an important question which population size papers use mtDNA? I don’t know the answer so let me look for a random paper (this blog will work for now: https://blog.insito.me/arise-the-coalescent-e32501a90524). So then it seems the author just ignores actual calculations and then rejects them due to Adam and Eve being super important theologically.
Finally there is the section “Interpreting Human Population Genetics.” I’m not sure what else to add to this section, but there are a lot of “technical caveats” that despite being possible with maybe some evidence- don’t have evidence to support them. For example, a population dipping to a single couple near 500 kya has no positive evidence, but maybe can’t be ruled out by present evidence. There is also the technical trick where if you count non-homo sapiens as non-human then you can have interbreeding homo naledi or whomever with homo sapien and then the effective population size would include both our species’ populations.
This is an interesting conclusion:
As an RTB scholar I was looking for an acknowledgement that we have an empirically equivalent model that dates a sole progenitor pair to an intermediate date, and that correlates much of the scientific and biblical data within this range.
I think it would be great if there can be an RTB model that does engage with the data, not just what looks like to me as taking advantage of error bars with various measurements. Humans share common ancestry with other species and there is no positive evidence of a bottleneck of two at an ‘intermediate’ date. I think it’s a very big overstatement to conclude that it’s empirically equivalent model to that of population geneticists!