Swamidass' Review of Jay Johnson's Review of Genealogical Adam & Eve

Then in light of your clarification, what exactly does Swamidass’s theory actually explain ?

IF it isn’t to give people the image of God, then it accomplishes nothing at all, and is a useless theological appendage If we all have the image of God before Swamidass’s Adam, then we dont’ need Swamidass’s Adam to give us anything at all. And the image of God was given earlier. Why do I say that? because there is no flood that matches the description of the Bible except the infilling of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Might be concise, but I suspect the theologians will keep their own perspectives anyway without Swamidass’ blessing.


You know as well as I that there is never a shortage of protestant theologies to drive God’s Word into a million new and different pigeon holes…


Maybe there should be a law about blowing up the writings of an author that you haven’t actually read yet?

[1] God guides evolution; specifically, for the purpose of this discussion, God takes a branch of primates, and evolves them into humanity.

[2] This population of pre-Eden humans are the ones mentioned in Genesis 1. They bear the image of God.

[3] Genesis 2 specifies an important set of one-off miracles: the creation of a man, named Adam (superb word play), and the creation of a woman, who are genetically speaking, the same as the evolved humans… but they are given a special treatment, God’s teachings, in a jurisdiction called Eden. The Tree of Good and Evil, which is not mentioned in Genesis 1, is installed in Eden.

[4] Adam and Eve either fail the morality test, or maybe more accurately, pass the test of failing, and they are evicted from Eden, and they being to co-opt the Evolved human population by breeding into the larger population.

[5] Because genealogical heritage expands geometrically (in reverse of what happens to genetic heritage, which diminishes by half every generation until there are no more whole chromosomes left, the Adam legacy spreads throughout the human population. Computer simulations show that within 2000 years, a providential treatment of the Adam/Eve patrimony can co-opt the entire human population long before the birth of Jesus. If we INCLUDE the global flood, it happens almost immediataely after settling down from Noah’s generation.

[6] There Genesis references that seem intended to make the ancient reader wonder who else might have been around during Cain’s lifetime.

[7] Geneticists who study Universal Ancestral Pairs know that any one population can have several ancestral pairs that are “universal” to the entire existent population. This is because Pedigree Extinction also functions to eliminate a multitude of possible contender couples.

[8] Tasmania and other isolated spots can be considered just as likely to have been reached by Adam and Eve by God simply arranging a shipwreck here and there over the millenia… it doesn’t require a miracle… it only requires a providential view of history, to which the Christian audience that the GAE scenarios are addressed are already in touch with.

[9] Generally speaking, GAE scenarios vary the most on whether or not to treat a global flood at all, versus considering it a regional flood. It’s up to the audience to decide how important the flood is.

Agreed, but I don’t see what how swamidass’s view will stop that. Nothing will. Most protestant theologians have given up on Adam’s existence so, of what value is a genetic Adam to them? Especially given the problems.

You still haven’t told me what the purpose of Swamidass’s theory is if it isn’t to pass out the image of God.


Wow… this seems so hard.

  1. The general purpose of the GAE discussion is to show that since Science cannot really speak to one-off miracles, that we should see that the creation of Adam and Eve are just as much one-off miracles as the Virgin Birth.

  2. Specifically, the most salient benefit of the GAE discussion is to give skeptical Creationists a legitimate way to have their historical Adam and Eve (per the requirements of Romans 5), so that atonement can work the way St. Augustine says it works. Thus they can embrace EVOLUTION and still have their historical Adam and Eve !!!

  3. The need for (2) above is most profound in the West, since for centuries the Eastern Orthodox have been quite happy to understand atonement WITHOUT REVERTING to Romans 5 as a statement of original sin.

What else can I expand upon for you, @gbob?

Quite right, but it appears to me that I am being asked, not by you, to accept Swamidass’ theoyr based on its unprovability. lol

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[quote=“gbrooks9, post:26, topic:41799”]

  • the general purpose of the GAE discussion is to show that since Science cannot really speak to one-off miracles, that we should see that the creation of Adam and Eve are just as much one-off miracles as the Virgin Birth.

If GAE is miraculous, just say so and be done with it. there is no need to try to explain a miracle or a miracle of how a guy raced to Tasmania or South America to give them–well, not the image of God as I userstand your view.

Specifically, the most salient benefit of the GAE discussion is to give skeptical Creationists a legitimate way to have their historical Adam and Eve (per the requirements of Romans 5), so that atonement can work the way St. Augustine says it works. Thus they can embrace EVOLUTION and still have their historical Adam and Eve !!!

Good luck with that. I have had about 30 years experience to prove, at least to myself that YECs won’t bite on anything evolutionary.

The need for (2) above is most profound in the West, since for centuries the Eastern Orthodox have been quite happy to understand atonement WITHOUT REVERTING to Romans 5 as a statement of original sin.

All denominations have their theological flaws, including mine and including something I wrongly belieeve. Since lots of people are happy to have an Adam and Eve-less theology, just because someone is happy with there theology doesn’t constitute evidence that their theology is correct.

This is a great question, and a great mystery: what is the image of God? and likewise, how was original sin transmitted? Although a lot of people have a lot of different theories, I don’t know that anyone has fully satisfying explanations.

The other, perhaps related question to what you are asking is: why would it be important for there to be a de novo (or special) creation in the midst of an evolving population? I have been asking myself that one, too. One thought that I came up with (which you are welcome to critique) is:

By allowing for a special (and possibly even de novo) creation of Adam and Eve, we can understand how Adam and Eve were able to commune with God so directly and personally in the Garden. After Adam and Eve fell into sin, they could no longer stay in God’s presence, because God is perfect (Matthew 5:48) and His perfection excludes sinners from His presence (Isaiah 59:2, Romans 6:23). This direct interaction of Adam and Eve with God in the Garden gives us a beautiful picture of what we have lost through our sin, and what has now been made possible for us in heaven due to Jesus’s death and resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Thus, a de novo creation could establish direct, clear, original righteousness of Adam. (Swamidass offers an interesting speculation towards the end of his book that this role of a de novo creation in the establishment of the original righteousness of Adam could be analogous to why Jesus came to earth through a virgin birth.)

I also asked this question of Swamidass and Garvey over at the Peaceful Science forum, and received some interesting responses:

including a link to another thread discussion they had already had on the topic:


Agreed. Who said anything about affirming any one group or denomination was correct in what they believed?

But more importantly, now that you understand @Swamidass’s ideas a little better, can you happily retract your accusation of cowardice you made against him?

I’m pretty sure your hasty slam against Joshua was based on you not understanding his view for opening up dialogue, rather than trying to define a scenario that required everyone to agree on the specifics.

Wouldn’t you agree that we have cleared up these issues fairly well?


According to Genesis 9, at the very least, everyone alive after Noah possessed the image of God. And if Genesis 1 correctly refers to evolved humans (Homo erectus or not) bearing the image of God, then certainly the survivors of Adam’s lineage that includes some descent from evolved humans would also be said to bear the image of God.

Hi Michelle, I absolutely agree with you that the creation of man is important. I won’t say de novo creation because we have broken genes in our bodies which don’t work, called pseudogenes. they used to work, but mutations took out the control section of the gene and this missing control section of this one I am thinking of, discussed by Edward Max at Talk Origins,

4.6. Endogenous retroviruses. Because endogenous retroviruses are less numerous than the other nonfunctional DNA sequences discussed here, and because a relatively tiny fraction of the known human DNA sequences have been compared between species, there is a dearth of examples of shared endogenous retroviruses. However, at least five different examples of nearly identical retroviral sequences embedded at the same position in human and chimpanzee DNA have been reported (Bonner et al. PNAS 79:4709, 1982; Dangel et al. Immunogenetics 42:41, 1995; Svensson et al Immunogenetics 41:74,1995; Medstrand & Mager J Virol 72:9782, 1998; Barbulescu et al. Curr Biol 9:861, 1999), all apparently examples of retroviruses that were “caught” by ancestors of ours millions of years ago. One can anticipate that additional examples will be discovered as more sequence data become available, especially from the Y chromosome, which has been described as a “graveyard” for endogenous retrovirus sequences for both human and chimpanzee (Kjellman et al. Gene 161:163, 1995).

4.7 Implications of functionless sequences shared between species

All of the examples of functionless sequences shared between humans and chimpanzees reinforce the argument for evolution that would be compelling even if only one example were known. This argument can be understood by analogy with the legal cases discussed earlier in which shared errors were recognized as proof of copying. The appearance of the same “error”–that is, the same useless pseudogene or Alu sequence or endogenous retrovirus at the same position in human and ape DNA–cannot logically be explained by independent origins of the two sequences. The creationist argument discussed earlier–that similarities in DNA sequence simply reflect the creator’s plans for similar protein function in similar species–does not apply to sequences that do not have any function for the organism that harbors them. The possibility of identical genetic accidents creating the same two pseudogene or Alu or endogenous retrovirus independently in two different species by chance is so unlikely that it can be dismissed. As in the copyright cases discussed earlier, such shared “errors” indicate that copying of some sort must have occurred. Since there is no known mechanism by which sequences from modern apes could be copied into the same position of human DNA or vice versa, the existence of shared pseudogenes or retroposons leads to the logical conclusion that both the human and ape sequences were copied from ancestral sequences that must have arisen in a common ancestor of humans and apes.

This evidence for a common ancestor clinches the argument for human/ape evolution that follows from shared functionless sequences. Although the most numerous documented examples of such sequences shared between different species happen to link humans and apes (see for example Hamdi et al, J Mol Biol 284:861, 1999), this simply reflects the fact that the DNA of humans has been studied more intensively than DNA from any other higher species, while considerable homologous chimpanzee sequence is also known.http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/molgen/

I can not see a reason for God to create us out of nothing and insert useless non expressed pseudogenes at the same place in our genome as there is in the chimp genome. This clearly says our bodies have to be evolved. Otherwise if we believe in de Novo Creation we are setting up God for a charge of deception. This is why I think God had to start with the body of an ape.

But humans are extremely special in one regard that I think relates to the events in Eden (which so many reject). Human communication comes from our neocortex. All other animal vocalization comes from the emotional centers of the animal’s brain. People who study the origin of language can’t completely explain how we jumped to that area in an evolutionary sequence. Their best effort, in my opinion is the idea that we once communicated via sign language. But that isn’t vocalization!

Language is obviously as different from other animals’ communication systems as the elephant’s trunk is different from other animals’ nostrils. Nonhuman communication systems are based on one of three designs: a finite repertory of calls (one for warnings of predators, one for claims to territory, and so on), a continuous analog signal that registers the magnitude of some state (the livelier the dance of the bee, the richer the food source that it is telling its hivemates about), or a series of random variations on a theme (a birdsong repeated with a new twist each time: Charlie Parker with feathers). As we have seen, human language has a very different design. The discrete combinatorial system called ‘grammar’ makes human language infinite (there is no limit to the number of complex words or sentences in a language), digital (this infinity is achieved by rearranging discrete elements in particular orders and combinations, not by varying some signal along a continuum like the mercury in a thermometer), and compositional (each of the infinite combinations has a different meaning predictable from the meanings of its parts and the rules and principles arranging them).
"Even the seat of human language in the brain is special. The vocal calls of primates are controlled not by their cerebral cortex but by phylogenetically older neural structures in the brain stem and limbic system, structures that are heavily involved in emotion. Human vocalizations other than language, like sobbing, laughing, moaning, and shouting in pain, are also controlled subcortically. Subcortical structures even control the swearing that follows the arrival of a hammer on a thumb, that emerges as an involuntary tic in Tourette’s syndrome, and that can survive as Broca’s aphasics’ only speech. Genuine language, as we saw in the preceding chapter, is seated in the cerebral cortex, primarily the left perisylvian region.” ~ Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct, (New York: Harper/Perennial, 1994), p. 334

I think God showing the animals was God jump starting language. We can’t have language without a time of programing. Language in one sense is a program handed down from generation to generation. Consider a man who had no programming:

The fascinating picture shown in Genesis has God teaching man this most wondrous of skills. Naming is absolutely essential to this ability. Speech requires names for objects, otherwise there can be no subject or object in a sentence. This scene is reminiscent of some cases of people learning languages late in life. This is a very rare phenomenon because normally language must be learned quite early or the opportunity is lost. Stephen Pinker related the following interesting account of a languageless man finally grasping the concept of names and naming. He says,

"In her recent book A Man Without Words, Susan Schaller tells the story of Ildefonso, a twenty-seven-year-old illegal immigrant from a small Mexican village whom she met while working as a sign language interpreter in Los Angeles. Ildefonso’s animated eyes conveyed an unmistakable intelligence and curiosity, and Schaller became his volunteer teacher and companion. He soon showed her that he had a full grasp of number: he learned to do addition on paper in three minutes and had little trouble understanding the base-ten logic behind two-digit numbers. In an epiphany reminiscent of the story of Helen Keller, Ildefonso grasped the principle of naming when Schaller tried to teach him the sign for ‘cat.’ A dam burst, and he demanded to be shown the signs for all the objects he was familiar with. Soon he was able to convey to Schaller parts of his life story: how as a child he had begged his desperately poor parents to send him to school, the kinds of crops he had picked in different states, his evasions of immigration authorities. He led Schaller to other languageless adults in forgotten corners of society. Despite their isolation from the verbal world, they displayed many abstract forms of thinking, like rebuilding broken locks, handling money, playing card games, and entertaining each other with long pantomimed narratives."1

As in the biblical account, Schaller taught this man the names of objects, just as God taught Adam the names of the animals. However, one must concede the point that even language is not a prerequisite for inclusion in humanity. Ildefonso was fully human even without language. But, while not all humans speak, all who speak are human."Glenn R. Morton, Adam, Apes and Anthropology, DMD publishers, 1997, p. 49

Language requires several brain structures, and a program to run on those structures, a set of symbols.

As we find language in man today, it is not fully inborn, but the capacity for speech and conceptual thought is certainly innate; only the symbols themselves must be learned.” ~ Bernard Campbell, Human Evolution, (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., 1974), p. 336

And chimps are so way and away different from us in this regard that it is hard to see how we made the jump without something unique happening to us.

Indeed, Jane Goodall believes that vocalizations are so closely tied to emotional states that ‘the production of a sound in the absence of the appropriate emotional state seems to be an almost impossible task for a chimpanzee.’ Even among chimpanzees, the sound production appears to be controlled in the brain by the ancient structures of the limbic system and the brain stem, which we’ll read about shortly and which are involved in emotional response. The ‘higher’ centers of the brain do not appear to be much involved. This is a far cry (sorry!) from language as we humans know it, which is initiated in those higher centers 9the cerebral cortex) and is dependent on produciton and interpretation of sounds in isolation from the emotional states of the speaker and hearer. It is also dependent upon rules of grammar, syntax and so forth that are totally absent from the sound combinations chimpanzees make. So, no. Not only do chimpanzees not have language; they don’t even have an incipient form of it.” ~ Ian Tattersall, Becoming Human, (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1998), p. 60-61

God programmed Adams new brain with the symbols for the first language

That’s all fascinating. Thanks for pulling that together

And I agree with you on the evidence for common descent

Those pseudogenes are the reason I did what I did with the special creation of mankind. As I said, I don’t like it, but as far as I can think of solutions that is the only way to explain it within the context of special creation.

BTW, Jane Goodall burst the bubble of the chimp sign language believers when she said they seem to be making the same signs they do in the wild. lol

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GAE scenarios all hold to a pre-Eden population of evolved humanity… created through God-Guided Evolution.

You are good with God-Guided versions of Evolution, right? Pew surveys tell us that the majority of Americans believe that God had something to do with Evolution!

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So is our theology now to be determined by what is popular via polls?

Steve your name is awfully familiar to me frm years ago. Back in the 80s in the area of Creation/evolution. Was that you or someone else?

That was me (only it was the 90s, probably). I was a physicist then – now I’m a geneticist.

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Of course not.

But so many, including you, seem to be shocked at the idea that God would use Evolution… or are you shocked.

You think God used Evolution, right? This is sometimes an idea favored by Old Earthers … not consistently. What’s your position?

Did you testify at the Texas school book commission once?

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