June 13th, 2011 by M. French

This month’s Christianity Today cover story concerns ‘The Search for the Historical Adam’, and includes thoughts from various Christian scientific and biblical camps on the historicity of Adam.

Fuz Rana and Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe (great scholars we’ve had on The Line of Fire multiple times) gave the following response to the article, which Rana describes as unbalanced, calling it “more of a mouthpiece for theistic evolution”:

[Link to Audio]

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In the audio file, Dr. Rana responds to the assertion from BioLogos in the article that “… the human population, … ‘was definitely never as small as two …. Our species diverged as a population. The data are absolutely clear on that.'” with the following statement (the models he mentions are the ones that are used to make the claim that BioLogos is making here):

These models are not that robust, they are prone to error, so … for us to completely abandon the historic Christian faith in light of the evidence from genomics that indicates a recent origin for humanity, from a single location, from a small population of individuals arguably traceable to a single man and single woman, to throw that all out, and the historic Christian faith out the window, based on population size estimates, when we know these estimates are crude, that to me is very short-sighted, and its a defeatist attitude I think, on the part of at least some evangelicals.

The article that Rana mentions on the results of a genetic experiment involving sheep, which shows how models may predict larger original population sizes than there actually were , is below:

In 2007 a research team reported on the genetic diversity of wild mouflon sheep on one of the islands that are part of the Kerguelen sub-Antarctic archipelago. This group of sheep provided researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to study the effects of population dynamics on genetic diversity in small populations.

In 1957 a male and female yearling were placed onto Haute Island (an island in the Kerguelen Archipelago). These two sheep were taken from a captive population in France. By the beginning of the 1970s, the number had grown to 100 individuals and peaked at 700 sheep in 1977. Since that time the population has fluctuated in a cyclical manner between 250 and 700 members.

Given that the population began with only two individuals (the founder effect), has experienced cyclical changes in the population size, and was isolated on an island, the researchers expected very low genetic diversity (measured as heterozygosity).

Using mathematical models, the heterozygosity of a population can be computed at any point in time from the heterozygosity of the ancestral population (which was known for the original mouflon pair) and the original population size.

What the researchers discovered, however, when they measured this quantity directly for the sheep on Haute Island was that it exceeded the predictions made by the models by up to a factor of 4. In other words, the models underestimated the genetic diversity of the actual population.

As we attempt to sift through the various biblical and scientific evidences on the historicity and meaning of the Adam of Genesis, lets keep in mind these words from agnostic mathematician David Berlinski on where evolutionary biology as the exclusive mechanism for the diversity of life we see really stands with regard to testability and coherence:

“Before you can ask ‘Is Darwinian theory correct or not?’, You have to ask the preliminary question ‘Is it clear enough so that it could be correct?’. That’s a very different question. One of my prevailing doctrines about Darwinian theory is ‘Man, that thing is just a mess. It’s like looking into a room full of smoke.’ Nothing in the theory is precisely, clearly, carefully defined or delineated. It lacks all of the rigor one expects from mathematical physics, and mathematical physics lacks all the rigor one expects from mathematics. So we’re talking about a gradual descent down the level of intelligibility until we reach evolutionary biology.”

– from Expelled April 18 2008 29.33

 

Marcus French is the Editor of Voice of Revolution, and helps produce the daily syndicated radio talk show, The Line of Fire.

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