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

Nice, tell me what I am shocked at first and then ask me if I am shocked. :rofl:

I am an evolutionist. I also am a Christian who sees no reason to beleive a Bible that is false, or teaches falsehoods.


Nope. The only time I’ve ever testified was at someone’s drunk driving trial.

So you must be good with the following:

  1. a replication of the Babylonian (and Egyptianized) belief in a Firmament?;
    [per Genesis and Job]

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
2) death sentence for working on the Sabbath?;
[CORRECTION! Not per Genesis, but per Old Testament]

  1. death sentence for adultery?;
    [supported in the OT, argued against in the New Testament]

  2. a global flood that reached AT LEAST to the foothills of the mountains of Urartu/Ararat?;

  3. a talking donkey?;

  4. the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom, INCLUDING the Simeonites who resided south of Judah.

The sentence you used: “I also am a Christian who sees no reason to believe a Bible that is false, or teaches falsehoods.” is at the core of the whole problem, and you seem rather cavalier about how you describe your stance.

Ok, I see you are the one who ran the simulation showing that one couldn’t rule out a single pair before 500 kyr. This issue is why I moved Adam and Eve way back in time to match other things as well as avoid the ‘allele’ problem. While you might be a supporter of Swamidass, your work there certainly doesn’t hurt my view of a 5.3 myr old Adam either.

@gbob [ @Swamidass ]

Well… I was involved in some of those discussions… but I didn’t run any of the science.

So… what do you say when a Young Earther says you DO support a Bible that teaches lies, if you think Adam lived 5.3 million years ago?

When you write…

… you should see that the GAE scenarios are wide open to even this kind of interpretation. As a matter of fact, the odds are that you will find MORE people agreeing with you under PeacefulScience (even if the headcount is still low) than in any other Biblical “camp” of creation.

This is BECAUSE Joshua doesn’t attempt to limit the applicability of GAE to what he PERSONALLY believes… he does have personal beliefs… and they differ from mine considerably.

So… can you make it official now, and withdraw your accusation of cowardice? This particular sentence does not sit well with the hundreds of people who are discussing GAE, from sincere Christians to the rank and file of scientists.

I have been toying about writing what I expect my first conversation with God will be like if the accommodationalists are correct. I think I will do that–watch for in the sweet bye and bye. post in a day or two.

First, the law no longer applies to us. Jesus didn’t stone the woman for adultery, so why you think I should believe some of the things you say I must be good at, I don’t know. I guess you have a caricature in your mind of anyone who beleives the bible, that they must be a loathesome person.
Your questions remind me of atheist questions, so I will ask, all in the spirit you showed, of assuming the worst in one another, are you an atheist?
OK, to your questions.

  1. a replication of the Babylonian (and Egyptianized) belief in a Firmament?;
    [per Genesis and Job]

First off you are historically wrong about the Babylonian firmament. It wasn’t anything like the domed sky I assume you are referring to.

"During the latter part of the nineteenth century, critical scholars commonly suggested that the ancient Hebrews borrowed many of their ideas, including the notion that heaven was a solid hemisphere, from the Babylonians, probably while the former people were exiled there. The idea that the Hebrews borrowed from the Babylonians was especially common during the panBabylonian craze that gripped biblical scholarship for a brief period during the early twentieth century.7 Closer comparative analysis between Babylonian and Hebrew thought has, however, found so many significant differences between the two that the idea of direct borrowing has been virtually abandoned by subsequent scholarship. Still there have been some who continue to suggest that the ancient Hebrews borrowed cosmological concepts, including the idea of a solid domed heaven, from the Mesopotamians. However, even this idea had to be scuttled when more recent work by Wilfred G. Lambert could find no evidence that the Mesopotamians believed in a hard-domed heaven; rather, he traces this idea to Peter Jensen’s mistranslation of the term “heavens” in his translation of the Enuma Elish. Lambert’s student, Wayne Horowitz, attempted to piece together a Mesopotamian cosmology from a number of ancient documents, but it is quite different from anything found in the Hebrew Bible . Horowitz’s study suggests that the Mesopotamians believed in six flat heavens, suspended one above the other by cables. When it came to interpreting the stars and the heavens, the Mesopotamians were more interested in astrology (i.e., what the gods were doing and what it meant for humanity) than they were in cosmology. There is no evidence that the Mesopotamians ever believed in a solid heavenly vault. " Randall W. Younker and Richard M. Davidson, The Myth of the Solid Heavenly Dome: Another Look at the Hebrew (Raqia), Andrews University Seminary Studies, No. 1(2011), 125-147, p. 126-127

From this it is clear that the Hebrews didn’t borrow this silly domed sky from the Babylonians

Secondly, I did grad work in Philosophy of science and had to read loads of medieval/Greco Roman philosophers. I never ran into one who believed the domed sky business. Indeed, historians have been pointing out that this argument was invented in the 17th century by atheists. And everyone believes it today because they are taught it uncritically.

“Historians of science have been proving this point for at least 70 years (most recently Edward Grant, David Lindberg, Daniel Woodward, and Robert S. Westman), without making notable headway against the error. Schoolchildren in the US, Europe, and Japan are for the most part being taught the same old nonsense. How and why did this nonsense emerge?” Jeffrey Burton Russell, The Myth of the Flat Earth, www.veritas-ucsb.org/library/russell/FlatEarth.html www.veritas-ucsb.org/library/russell/FlatEarth.html

This actually fits what I remember from my grad school days:

"Historians Jeffery Burton Russell and Christine Garwood respectively debunk the long-held view among modern scholars that ancient philosophers and scientists of the early Christian church, late antiquity, and the Middle Ages believed the earth was flat. After an extensive review of the letters, papers, and books of all the major thinkers throughout these periods, Russell and Garwood made the surprising discovery that apart from a few isolated individuals, no one believed in a flat earth.indeed, the common consensus throughout this entire period among virtually all scholars and churchmen was that the earth was spherical. Where, then, did the flat-earth understanding of early Christian and medieval thought originate? They were able to trace its origin to the early nineteenth century when antireligious sentiment was high among many scholars and intellectuals. Randall W. Younker and Richard M. Davidson, The Myth of the Solid Heavenly Dome: Another Look at the Hebrew (Raqia), Andrews University Seminary Studies, No. 1(2011), 125-147, p. 134-135 https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3130&context=auss

The concept of firmament comes from the Septuagint’s choice of firmament for ‘raqia’. The translators were trying to impress the Greeks who believed in Ptolemy’s crystal spheres. But raqia has the meaning of spreading out–that is not a word for something solid. And indeed space is expanding. I know you won’t like that last part, but if one does away with the Septuagint’s word choice, there is little in the Hebrew to show that they believed it was solid. (and yes, some translators have been influenced by this false Idea and have used English word choices that support a domed sky.)

  1. death sentence for working on the Sabbath?;
    [per Genesis]

I don’t believe Genesis says that. But again, the law no longer applies to us. We are in the age of Grace.

  1. death sentence for adultery?;
    [supported in the OT, argued against in the New Testament]

Well, you answerred your own question here.

  1. a global flood that reached AT LEAST to the foothills of the mountains of Urartu/Ararat?;

No, I believe in a very different scenario which you won’t like, but I don’t care. My flood.

  1. a talking donkey?;

This is so silly. I am a Christian. By definition that means I believe God raised a man from the dead. Think about that! If a God can raise a man from the dead, I suspect he can make a donkey talk. Which is harder to do? Not only do I think the donkey talked, I believe in the snake as well. Why not? If God can raise a man from the dead, then that should be a piece of cake.

You are clearly a materialist regardless of whether or not you claim to be a Christian.

  1. the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom, INCLUDING the Simeonites who resided south of Judah.

Is this a question?

I am going to meet my maker soon, and I will believe what is in His word. If that makes me a target of ridicule, so be it. One can’t please everybody and if one does, he becomes that lukewarm water spoken of in Rev 3. It seems I am an outlier to the polls you use to determine what we should believe.

I think a site that my old friend Paul Nelson is part of said you ran the simulation.

A population geneticist named Dr. Steve Schaffner of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ran a simulation to determine whether a bottleneck of two individuals was possible. He found that, at dates older than 500,000 years ago, a bottleneck could not be ruled out.https://evolutionnews.org/2018/03/is-there-a-first-human-couple-in-our-past-new-evidence-and-arguments/

Those conversations tend to be short. Mostly they think I hold the views I do to please my former employers, that I can’t really beleive the geology rules out a global flood. lol But I do try to tell them there is another way to maintain historicity in Scripture than the one they try.

First, I doubt I would find people who agree with what I have done even there. I have never found a home among christians of any stripe at all. The CRSQ at Woodmorrappes urgins put Emmett Williams in as editor to stop me from publishing. He rejected already accepted article. Then when I left yec, I ws called an apostate. The old ASA listserve most people thought I was nuts, kinda like here. I ran with some atheists in the late 90s and early 00’s they were happy with me as Michelle OI noted, but that was because they were using me. Otherwise they thought I was nuts to beleive in Christianity. I even became good friends with Will Provine.

As to limiting the GAE, I dont’ see any use for it. And no, if a guy disowns his own view in the very article he writes to advance it, I do find that cowardly. Surely you are not going to tell me that Josh doesn’t believe what he wrote, are you?

I have written or co-written articles for geophysical journals, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Journal of Statistics and Planning, CRSQ, PSCF given papers on IT and History of Seismic. Never once have I said anything near what Josh did. If someone didn’t like my views, I would stand there and take the criticism, and either alter my view, or defend my view. Indeed, that PSCF article is the only article I think I have ever read where the author says nowhere do I present my opinions. That at least makes that statement unique in the scientific literature.

I have sworn off the word “domed” (or “dome”) long ago, right here at BioLogos.

But the firmament is firm, no matter what ancient culture referred to it. So… setting aside the issue of “flat ceiling” or “dome ceiling”, the challenge is to find the culture that did NOT believe in a ceiling to the Earth’s sky. Have you seen ancient illustrations in connection with Greco-Roman Mithraism? One of the newest religions in the world… and there was a ceiling to the mortal sphere there too.

Regarding working on the Sabbath… yeah, that was a typo. And I accept your references to the New Testament as under a new covenant of grace… so I’ll skip the rest of those points!


So, you are of the school that the global flood is more correctly understood as a regional flood. I believe you will find strong support from @Jonathan_Burke on this point… no doubt with differences in the details (which he will defend to the death).

As to your discussion with your old friend Paul Nelson… perhaps he is mistaken? Dr. Steve Schaffner is readily identifiable, and NOT to be confused with my login ID of @gbrooks9. I did not run the simulations. I assure you. So… does it usually take TWO times to have an important correction hit the mark with you?

But let’s proceed directly to your accusations against Joshua Swamidass:


Do you have mild case of oppositionalism?

I have explained, in great detail, and my details have been confirmed by yet another human (Michelle, at @MOls ).

Joshua’s views on GAE are on how the GAE is constructed.

He has personal views on religion, some of which overlaps on at least one or two versions of GAE scenarios.

I have personal views on religion, almost none of which overlaps on GAE scenarios.

What exactly is your problem that you cannot retract the charge of COWARDICE which you mistakenly applied to Joshua - - on the mistaken understanding that GAE is a single scenario, that Joshua should affirm or deny?

Your credibility is at stake here. Please consider your response before you just write anything that comes into your head.

I am neither a supporter of Josh nor a detractor. I have no personal interest in his proposal, in fact. I do want to get the science straight, though.


A post was split to a new topic: Private discussion

That is the way it ought to be. Let’s get the science straight. Unfortunately Christians who are not scientists are tied so strongly to a given idea that they will go down with the ship rather than let go of their favored idea. Some might say I am a prime example of that, but at least I have read thousands of scientific articles and thousands of scientific books to help me build my ship. In my mind it will sink only if the Med flood is suddently said never to have happened.

personal reply:

Hi George

Karl Giberson must have left BioLogos before I logged onto it, and so I know nothing about his views of the interplay between science and religion, but, in my book, you provide the best guidance that the average evangelical layperson could want. Christy makes cogent arguments to those Fundmentalists who fear bringing any scientific knowledge into interpreting Biblical passages, while Swamidass arguments (in my opinion) go over the head of those without up-to-date knowledge of biogenetics . I lack many communication skills, and so I am pleased that, at least to you, I have conveyed (pretty much) my position that evolution gives clearer meaning to the purpose God has for humankind—i.e… we were NOT created sinless and then Fell , but rather we were created with a strong tendency to selfishness (as animals driven to reproduce at all costs) and thus are, instead, challenged to Rise to the level of being in God’s Image driven by love and empathy.

As to what shaped my present position:

  1. I am a “Cradle (Roman) Catholic” who has adopted many unorthodox views as my education progressed (and the Vatican continued to drag their collective feet).

  2. Education: K-8 parochial school (Sisters of St. Joseph); Pomona College (B.A., Magna Cum Lauda, Phi Beta Kappa); M.S, & Ph.D., (Physical Organic Chemistry) U. of Chicago,

  3. U.S. Army infantry PFC, WW2 (“educated” by 3 in. hole in skull from German rifle grenade)

  4. Political affiliation: registered Republican but votes Democratic most frequently.

I have every reason to view through rose colored glasses the way our government has treated me personally. The G.I. Bill allowed me to get a good education, and a veteran’s pension covers my income tax (often). There is no denying our Intelligence services failed us miserably in the past: in Viet Nam and in Iraq possibly in Afganistan (?) (where I’m told the U.S. armed the Taliban–seeing they were “freedom fighters” against those dastardly communist Russians). But, were I in charge, would things have turned out better?

And so I am optimistic for the future, even in the midst of this viral pandemic, and even tho we are led by someone I see as a candidate for ‘involuntary admission to an asylum’ rather than to a second term–and even tho astronomy gives us a scary view of the size of the universe (but not much of a hint of what God must truly be like). My life experiences compell me to believe that He/She loves me, and that He/She will lead humankind to a life on this Earth that, according to Scripture, will be a “Heavenly Kingdom” optimizing both our spiritual and material natures.

Three cheers for Polyanna !!!

Al Leo

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You got your thoughts into the thread just in time! It looks like it is set to automatically close, regardless of activity level, sometime tomorrow!

I see this text down at the bottom of the thread!:

“This topic will automatically close in a day.”

[[ @MOls and @gbob, do take notice! ]]


Albert, I am so pleased to know a little bit more about your background and your personal thoughts. During my lonely years here at BioLogos, boldly suggesting God Guides Evolution (or the clever word play by someone else: Evolution: God-Guided, aka E.G.G.), you have been the one voice of enthusiasm for such a daring idea.

Some of have been sympathetic … but only you were gung ho about it.
Or at least you were the MOST gung ho about it!

Those postings were always a great shot in the arm to push me forward into the dark corners of BioLogos… where Calvinist-style writers feared to tread. Not that I’m a Calvinist… but I am not afraid of Calvinist thinking. I think we can get to Univeralism without violating free will ever - - through the Chess Master Scenario.

So… to have God guiding evolution is just another wonderful thing to throw into the mix!

Sorry I left you on your own for so long, Glenn. I suppose since my name is up there, I should have something to say. For those uninterested in unending peaceful dialogue, this will be TL/DR.

All of the above is spot-on critique.

Technically, the only thing it adds to the Tasmanians is original sin. By the time Swamidass wrote the book, he’d realized the problem of making too great a distinction between the people “outside the garden” and Adam and Eve and their descendants. As a result, the two become virtually indistinguishable. The “biological humans” are created in the image of God and endowed with a soul. They know right from wrong, have a conscience, and occasionally violate it by choosing evil. They are identical to the Gentiles Paul describes in Rom. 2:12-16.

In other words, the Tasmanians (and every other “pre-Adamic” culture in the world) already possessed the knowledge of good and evil and violated it before Adam’s European descendants arrived, carrying with them Adam’s lineage of original sin. The Tasmanians were already sinners before the Europeans arrived. Anyone who chooses evil knowing that it is evil is guilty of sin. Romans 2. If GAE is true, the Fall happened before the Fall. This absurdity makes Adam superfluous. As you said, GAE therefore isn’t necessary and doesn’t explain anything.

Right. Here’s how I put it in a conversation where someone said a Tasmanian woman raped by a European could have a second child by another man not stained by original sin:

Returning to your description of the Tasmanian child of rape, the results strike me as unjust. Can’t help it. Sorry. Two people are born from the same mother and raised in the same culture, yet one is born with ontological “original sin” and condemned to hell, while the other is not. Both children will sin through the course of their lives, but the sins of the “original sinner” somehow are more offensive to God than those of the “aboriginal sinner.” If that seems fair to you, all I can say is we have different ideas of fairness.

Here’s an even more interesting question: Could anyone tell, just from observing these two children grow to maturity, that only one was a sinner tracing his genealogy to Adam? Would it be possible to observe a change in the behavior of the Tasmanians as original sin made its way through the population? Frankly, the whole thing is absurd.

I also wonder how, exactly, sin spreads along genealogical lines? From your description, I’m having a hard time distinguishing “genealogical transmission” of sin from biological transmission. What’s the mechanism? Is it biological transmission, or something else? It can’t be cultural or systemic, because the culture of Tasmania wasn’t infected (there’s that word again!) with original sin until the child of rape was born. The mother wasn’t an original sinner, so she couldn’t enculturate the child into Adamic sinfulness. The rest of society wasn’t yet stained by Adam’s sin, so systemic evils couldn’t have existed on the island. How, then, did that lone sinner on the island pass his/her sinfulness onto their children? Since cultural and systemic mechanisms are off the table, the only possibility is biological transmission.

Right. Any “just” conception of original sin must fit the term – it has to be “original” to the human race. Sinfulness must be introduced at the beginning, or corporate solidarity is lost. If Adam and Eve are a recent historical add-on, humanity is immediately divided into the haves and have-nots, which is unjust on its face.

I’ll come back to Bruniquel and the language stuff tomorrow, if the thread isn’t already closed.

No problem Jay. Help is always welcome but not required. lol

I found out later you had already used the Tasmanians. My write up was aimed for Dick Fischer, but Im glad I had a couple of other isolates out there.

It might be for the best that this is about to end. I think I was about to get in trouble again. lol.

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Let me remind all to address only ideas and issues and stay away from personal issues. If you can stay on track, wrap up loose ends as this post closes tomorrow.

Drawing on what I’ve heard from your podcast and other posts you’ve written, Jay, you don’t believe in Original Sin. Is that right? And is your statement above the reason why you don’t believe in original sin? Or have misunderstood your theory?


A post was merged into an existing topic: Fairness and Adam’s original sin

Will move to another post to continue discussion as this one is closing. Stuck at home with iPad, and it is not working well,sto do so , so having trouble moving. Sorry for that if awkward.

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