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A Hard Lesson: Interpretation, Genomic Data, and the Scriptures

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March 8, 2011 Tags: Human Origins
A Hard Lesson: Interpretation, Genomic Data, and the Scriptures

Today's entry was written by Arie Leegwater. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of BioLogos. You can read more about what we believe here.


Today’s post is adapted from an editorial introducing the September 2010 volume of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (PSCF), the peer-reviewed journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA).1 The issue contains several articles of interest to the BioLogos Community, including one by BioLogos Senior Fellow Dennis R. Venema on the evidence from genomics for common ancestry between apes and humans.

Two other papers in the volume, by Calvin College Theologians Daniel C. Harlow and John R. Schneider, examine the historicity of Adam and Eve and original sin. Both authors suggest that the traditional Augustinian understanding of these doctrines must be reexamined in light of the many strands of scientific evidence pointing to the gradual creation of human beings through an evolutionary process.

While there is much food for thought in these two papers, we caution against pronouncing judgment too quickly, either for or against the ideas they contain. Certainly BioLogos supports accepting scientific conclusions where the science is clear. It is clear, for example, that the whole human race did not come from a single ancestral pair. What is not clear, however, is whether acceptance of an evolutionary view of creation requires rejection or substantial revision of these doctrines. (Denis Alexander’s recent BioLogos paper, while not the final word on the matter, demonstrates that historicity may, in fact, be embraced within an evolutionary framework.)

Harlow and Schneider’s papers have caused no little stir in some Reformed circles. Importantly, the question is not whether their ideas are heretical or even whether these doctrines should be open for discussion in the first place. Rather the question is how a given Christian tradition, the Reformed faith in this case, may determine the range of views consistent with its own creeds and confessional statements. As BioLogos is not affiliated with any single Christian tradition, we do not have identical concerns. Our interest is two-fold: we want to protect the integrity of both science and Scripture and create a place for Christians to engage in healthy dialogue on these difficult issues.

Dr. Leegwater’s editorial is important in the conversation for several reasons. First, he humbly admits that in reviewing new data in genomics and evolutionary science, some of his most cherished beliefs were challenged. It is a good reminder that encountering facts that conflict with our deepest beliefs is painful and disorienting, if not downright frightening. We should thus be charitable with those who disagree with us. At the same time, wrestling together is good for the church—iron sharpens iron—and it should not be avoided, for failing to seriously consider new data is not a satisfactory option for truth-seeking Christians. Second, Leegwater recognizes that we tend to oversimplify the issue of interpretation. Too often, he notes, a false dichotomy is presented: “Should science be interpreted by Scripture or Scripture by science?” Neither simple approach gives full integrity to the entirety of God’s Two-Book revelation. Finally, Leegwater observes that we are embedded in a rationalistic Western culture that elevates the methods of science in ways that invite unhelpful responses to Scripture. In reaction to the positivist edicts of science, he says, we tend to reduce Scripture to a collection of infallible intellectual assertions. In doing this we forget the richness of faith, for “faith has to do with promises and expectations, with the certainty of our identity as God-related creatures.”

Introduction written by Kathryn Applegate

Dr. Leegwater's Editorial

On a late April 2010 visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, I viewed a diversity of exhibits, particularly those in the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. To move from panel to panel describing and detailing the evolution of humans from primate forebears to modern humans, one is taken on a journey of over seven million years. This mind-boggling experience, coupled with a recent Science issue detailing the mapping of the Neanderthal genome and its genomic heritage in modern humans, and reading this issue of PSCF, devoted to the historicity of Adam and Eve, genomics, and evolutionary science, challenged some of my long-cherished positions. Such encounters call for a serious examination and reconsideration of certain crucial matters.

Speaking personally, it was a hard lesson to digest, as I suspect it may be for many readers of PSCF. What should we make of all the diverse anthropological evidence collected from several continents as well as the recently acquired detailed genomic data? Should we sweep it under the rug, considering it to be the result of a shameful misguided investigation, since it assumes a view that calls into question the “plain straightforward reading of Scripture”? Or should we dispute the science and suggest the data is open to multiple concordist interpretations? Neither of these positions would be fair to the nature of scientific practice. “Science in God’s world has its own proper task of giving joy, its own peculiar ministry of healing, its own God-given gift of serving up nuanced insight for one’s neighbor” (Calvin Seerveld). Nor would either position honor the role of hermeneutics in interpreting biblical literature.

Parenthetically, as an editor of PSCF, I have often hoped that I could keep these matters at a studied distance, because, in my opinion, there are many other pressing and important issues which the Christian community needs to address and which, due to the ferocity of the debates, frequently become emasculated. And secondly, and for perhaps far too long, a discussion of origins has functioned (for many) as the self-identity or touchstone of the ASA.

But, back to the matter at hand. If we accept the long-drawn-out saga of the evolution of living forms in creation, how must we then understand ourselves? Where and how do we humans “fit” in this development? That question is often the dominant theme in discussions about origins. As someone has perceptively remarked, “It is not the ‘fourth day,’ but rather the ‘sixth day’ that is in question.” To hold that the center and meaning of our life lies outside ourselves may be a posture that many persons and different religions share. But to honor this position as a Christian confession takes one on an eccentric and peculiar journey. In his Institutes, Calvin raised the classic question of human self-understanding, the question of how humans can know themselves. The answer that Calvin gives points us away from our desire to first examine ourselves: “Again it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself” (I.i.12). We, as humans, are essentially God-related creatures (Homo religionis).

While recognizing our human condition, we also need to tread carefully. The intense debates often assume the stage is set by positing “hard scientific data” to be in tension with our (systematic) theologies. In simple terms, the scene is portrayed as a battle between believing science and believing Scrip-ture. Should science be interpreted by Scripture or Scripture by science? We desire simple satisfying answers. To a large extent, however, we have simplified the issues. Putting the matter in this way, I think, will cause us to lose sight of the integrity of both the Bible and of science. If the reliability of the Bible as the Word of God is wedded to its scientific reliability, the “scientific” battles for an infallible Word of God have been lost from the start. We have then placed both on the same (scientific) level, and in the process, we will lose the reliability of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are not written as a historical research report, nor do they give a scientific account. Rather, they are a testimony of faith, albeit in the form of God-inspired literature. The Bible is part of creation which bears witness to the Word of God who was present at Creation. The Bible points us to Christ. The Bible is divinely inspired, but it is not divine. The Holy Scripture in its entirety is revelation, but it is not the whole of revelation. Reducing the Word of God to the Scriptures can be a form of bibliolatry. The revelatory Word of God for creation speaks to its reliability and trustworthiness.

Stating it differently, the Bible speaks in prescientific language and pictures. It employs the language of the day, reflecting the world-picture of the original audience. The language of the Bible is accommodated to the cosmological and historical awareness of the day. In our eyes, these cosmological world-pictures may seem hopelessly scientifically naive, but the Word and Spirit are able—the church confesses—to penetrate our hearts, regardless of our local customs and situations, or of the world-pictures we hold.

In addition, we often discount the philosophical and historical contexts that undergird many of our procedures of interpretation. We live in a westernized rationalist culture which probably reached its zenith in the Enlightenment, but is still clearly regnant in the practice of the natural sciences and the theological sciences. This historical context has shaped our view of the Bible and its interpretation: we like (or deem it necessary) to compare the scientific propositions of science with the propositional revelation (teachings) of Scripture. In an effort to counteract the rational infallibility of scientific propositions, Christians respond with the rational infallibility of revealed propositions. Consequently, employing the term “inerrancy” to describe the character of the Scriptures seems inherently tied to a rationalistic and positivistic position and plays into the hands of higher criticism. Our intellectual instincts tend to treat faith as basically an intellectual matter. But faith is much richer in its purview. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1, RSV). Faith has to do with promises and expectations, with the certainty of our identity as God-related creatures.


1. ASA was established in 1941 as a fellowship of those in science and related disciplines who prize both faithfulness to the Word of God and integrity in science. ASA members benefit from a robust dialogue about wide-ranging and pressing issues in science and faith through multiple blogs, publications like PSCF and the new God and Nature e-zine, and both regional and national events such as the upcoming 66th Annual Meeting, “Science-Faith Synergy: Glorifying God and Serving Humanity.” Interested in connecting with fellow Christians in science? It’s easy to join online.

Arie Leegwater is a professor emeritus of chemistry at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and editor of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, the journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. He received his doctorate in chemistry from The Ohio State University, where his thesis was on steric effects in organic chemistry.

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Paul D. - #53833

March 10th 2011

Above should read “categorically disagree”.

Martin Rizley - #53841

March 10th 2011

Penman and
“In other words, invoking the Spirit’s illumination. . .is a position that simply ends all discussion.”
 “If there exists a sure way to render reason and rational debate meaningless, Mr. Rizley has discovered it.” 
I disagree that my position ends all discussion, for I am NOT advocating an unreasoning faith, but the principle of “sola Scriptura”—all legitimate interpretations of the text of Scripture must be based on the text of Scripture itself.  The Spirit bears witness to what is in the Scripture, thereby convincing us of the truth.   So one must be able to give exegetical or textual reasons for abandoning what seems to be the straightforward literal meaning of a text for one that appears totally contrary to its ‘natural’ sense.   I am inviting the two of you to reason with me by asking you, “What textual reasons do you have for seeing Adam as merely a ‘symbolic’ figure representing a ‘group’ of early hominids?  My textual reasons for regarding Adam as a literal person including the following:  1)  his name appears in genealogical lists linking him to persons whose historicity are beyond all dispute; 2)  the names of three of his sons are recorded in Scripture, and the descendants of two of his sons, Cain and Seth, are also listed; 3)  his age at the birth of Seth is listed, as well as his age at the time of his death; 4) a passing reference is made to ‘other sons and daughters’ whom he begat; 5)  he is clearly regarded as an historical figure parallel to Jesus by the apostle Paul; his ONE sin is set forth as the cause of humanity’s sinful condition and alienation from God.   These are some of the textual reasons I have for regarding Adam as a literal person.  Can you give me ANY textual reasons for regarding him as a merely literary or symbolic figure—reasons that any “Berean” diligently searching the Scriptures could “see” in the text?  If you cannot give me any scriptural reasons for denying Adam’s historicity, then who is closing off all reasoned argument concerning the correct interpretation of Scripture?

Jon Garvey - #53844

March 10th 2011

At the risk of sounding like a cracked record (or a corrupted mp3!) one needs to repeatedly correct the misunderstanding that genetic data excludes a historic “first spiritual human”, or “first sinner”,  though it does exclude a single couple as the sole physical progenitor of the current human race.

Many consider that for God to constitute a member of the race (at any stage of history or pre-history) as spiritual federal head of the race would suffice to preserve the historical understanding. Both imago dei and accountability for sin could be bequeathed on the whole race by divine fiat; or spread through this “Adam’s” teaching or by imitation.

Even classical Augustinian spread by procreation still works, since we have had many common ancestors during the existence of our race, the most recent within the last 2-3,000 years (http://jongarvey.co.uk/download/pdf/adammrca.pdf)

You wouldn’t expect to find discussion of such issues at the Smithsonian Institute, but one wonders why they are so seldom brought to the table here, and a fully evolutionary view of human origins - despite its grave philosophical and theological shortcomings - given preference. Since it is not, then, the science that excludes the traditional positions, one has to suspect philosophical and theological presuppositions are at work.

Benoît Hébert - #53861

March 10th 2011

Hi  Jon, 

I read the link to your paper about Adam and Eve. I had noticed your reactions whenever Adam’s historicity was questionned, but never took time to read your paper.

Correct me if I’m wrong. You seem to hold to a strict augustinian view of original sin and even of original guilt. “in classical evangelical theology, the sin of one man with its IMPUTATION and transmission to his progeny is a tragic single event.”...“insome way their GUILT and fallen nature would then pass to the rest of mankind via federal headship….”

So am I guilty of Adam’s sin? Do children go to hell if they are not baptized?

I agree with you that the transmission of a sinful nature may be part of the traditionnel evangelical theology. But I know no evangelical denomination holding the notion of inherited guilt…

You seem to defend a kind of “homo divinus” model, but what suprises me is that these MRCA studies don’t seem to have raised much enthusiasm. Denis Alexander didn’t use it for example. Did any geneticist like Dennis Vennema react about it? If indeed the human race had a common ancestor within the last 2000 3000 years, reactions should have been very strong, the vatican? How come this relative silence? Maybe I just didn’t get the information. ....

What I find a very weak argument is your very litteral interpretation of the flood.
” If we take the flood literally, its extent has only to be enough to eradicate Adam’s corrupted line;”
So you accept a local flood, and you expect the biblical author to know that every sinner has precisely been the victim of the flood? By revelation?

If MRCA studies are to have the impact you expect, I guess ithey should raise a large consensus, which doesn’t seem to be the case.
penman - #53865

March 10th 2011

Martin Rizley - #53841

But what if you reject all our arguments, Martin, on the grounds that the Holy Spirit teaches you that the plain, obvious meaning of the text is your view, not ours? How would we counter that?

Besides, I can’t argue with you on this particular point, Martin. I accept the historicity of Adam. I think he was the representative covenant-head of all “imago dei” humankind. His fall was the fall of the race. I just don’t think he was the literal fleshly father of all humans. The text doesn’t demand that, & there are elements in the text that tell against it (who Cain feared would kill him, Cain’s wife [without incest], the inhabitants of Nod who helped Cain build a city).

On the issue of principle, however: if you’re prepared to change your mind about what a text means because of reasoned argument, what becomes of all the high-powered rhetoric about the witness of the Spirit? I just don’t follow this at all.

Jon Garvey - #53870

March 10th 2011

@Benoît Hébert - #53861

Hi Benoit. To be strictly honest, it’s not so much that I’m totally convinced by the MRCA approach, but that it provides a legitimate way for a classical theological understanding to remain unchallenged by the science. Augustinian thought remains important in Catholic, Reformed and other traditions (including the Orthodox, though often denied), and to reject it on supposed anthropological grounds is a sleight of hand. I’m very comfortable with its being argued on theological grounds.

The questions you raise about imputation of original sin are answered in a thousand authors from Augustine on, but as to denominations the case is made (weakly) in Article IX of the 39 Articles of the C of E, and (strongly) in Ch VI sections III-IV of the Westminster Confession. For an orthodox treatment see http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/310/-correct-translation-romans-5.12/
As to why it is not more widely discussed, it may be that it is based on 2 relatively recent articles in an obscure field rather than the mainstream field of human origins. Or, conceivably, there are reasons for not wanting Adam to have existed.

On the Flood, is there really a problem with revelation to the author? Doesn’t the story deal with God’s revelation to Noah of his intention?

Jon Garvey - #53871

March 10th 2011


another reason I keep raising the MRCA issue is that authors keep agonising over the impossibility of a historical Adam in the light of the genetics. Once one gets past the necessity for Adam and Eve to be the first 2 Homo sapiens (which Scripture does not claim, sitting apart from our ideas on philogeny) that impossibility is simply untrue, and ought not to be trotted out as a stumbling block.

R Hampton - #53884

March 10th 2011

I disagree that my position ends all discussion, for I am NOT advocating
an unreasoning faith, but the principle of “sola Scriptura”

And what exactly is the principle of Sola Scriptura?

...while the Reformers famously emphasized Scripture as the ultimate
authority for doctrine and Christian living, the modern doctrine of sola scriptura
falsely pits the Reformers against the Scholastics on the issue of
tradition. Unlike modern Protestants, the Reformers did not pit
Scripture and tradition against each other as antithetical sources of
authority, even though they did affirm the normative priority of
Scripture in theology and ethics. The Reformers also did not play
special revelation off against general revelation, as tends to happen
, both were considered legitimate forms of revelation that served
distinct roles in theology.

- Stephen J. Grabill, Natural Law and the Protestant Moral Tradition, Acton Commentary November 15, 2006

Gregory - #53904

March 10th 2011

“Yes, there are non evolving things!!” - Benoît

O.k. then, Benoît, other than God/Allah/Yhwh, please give some examples of non-evolving things.

“evidence of absence” as Denis Venema as shown so well.” - Benoît

Do I understand you are suggesting that D. Venema has ‘discovered’ some kind of genomic ‘EVIDENCE of absence,’ i.e. that there was no/ & could not have been a ‘real, historical Adam & Eve’?!

“Do you  personaly believe in mongenism because you think the Bible teaches you so?”- Benoît
I am a montheist, yes, in large part because that is what the Bible teaches. The current consensus in (the science of) paleontology is around monogenism, as opposed to polygenism. I accept that consensus & it does seem to more accurately fit with ‘what the Bible teaches’, as well as Church history, traditions and teachings.

Quid pro quo: Are you personally an advocate of polygenism, Benoît?

Martin Rizley - #53919

March 10th 2011

 “If you’re prepared to change your mind about what a text means because of reasoned argument, what becomes of all the high-powered rhetoric about the witness of the Spirit? I just don’t follow this at all.”  I emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in granting understanding of the text to emphasize thedifference between the interpretation of nature (the scientist’s domain) and the interpretation of Scriptural teaching (the theologian’s domain).    Human reason alone (even unregenerate human reason)  is sufficient to do the work of a scientist, for the scientist does not study divine revelation per se—he studies only the “fringe features” of that created VEHICLE—the physical cosmos— that God USES to communicate revelation about Himself to mankind generally.  By ‘fringe features’ I mean such things as the physical dimensions, material composition, and ordinary operations of the physical universe.  From the measurements and calculations he makes, the scientist certain conclusions about the recent and more distant past.  But those conclusions do not constitute divine revelation, for the scientist does not study the divine revelation about Himself that God is communicating through nature.  He does not look beyond the ‘created’ to the ‘Creator,’ but focuses solely on the material world—its dimensions, physical composition, structure, and operations.    The theologian, on the other hand, studies in a direct way divine revelation by seeking to understand God’s inspired words given to men in the Bible.  He understands that in order to understand and receive the message, he needs something more than his natural reason operating by its own light; since his mind is fallen and darkened by sin, he needs a special illuminating work of the Spirit of God.   He knows that the “things of the Spirit of God” cannot be understood unless they are ‘spiritually discerned’ through the Spirit of God enlightening our minds.  To interpret Scripture, we must use our minds to understand the meaning of words in their grammatical, literary, and historical context; the Bible is a book addressed to our minds, and some interpretations are more reasonable than others, because they make better sense of the textual data.  But something more than human reason is needed to be “fully persuaded” that God really is saying what He seems to be saying in Scripture, particularly if we bring to the text certain unexamined, erroneous philosophical, religious or scientific assumptions that prevent us from hearing what He is saying.   If you don’t admit this, then you are placing the proper understanding of Scripture fully within the intellectual capacities of the natural man and his rational faculties, which directly contradicts 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. 

R Hampton - #53937

March 10th 2011

Martin Rizley,

Both Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon fiercely defended Sola Scriptura, so it’s important to note their relationship with the (then) revolutionary astronomy presented by contemporary Nicolaus Copernicus. Luther was dismissive because it conflicted with his common sense understanding of the world (as relayed by his physical senses) and his interpretation of the Bible. Melanchthon, who looked after University of Wittenberg following Luther’s death, promoted the teaching of the Copernican model as a practical mathematical hypothesis whilst he denied it as a factual representation of reality (for much the same reasons as Luther). Ironically, “Luther was not primarily interested in science. But the Reformation created a climate of openness and acceptance of new ideas, which generally encouraged scientific development. With the development of printing, new scientific as well as religious ideas spread rapidly.”

So how do you correlate the doctrine of Sola Scripture given that Luther’s understood the Earth is the center of the universe, and that the Sun and the planets revolve around us? And why did future Lutherans allow the authority of Science via Nature to over rule the authority the Theology via Scripture?

Martin Rizley - #53947

March 11th 2011

R Hampton,
You may think it atrocious of Luther to question the science of  his day; but if he was firmly convinced that the Bible taught a geocentric cosmology, then he was right to hang onto that belief until the Lord led him out of it by enlightening him from the Word of God  to see things in a different light.  His refusal to let the declarations of science overrule the teaching of Scripture, and his deep distrust in human reason as an infallible authority, was fundamentally right-minded, and a testimony to his firm commitment to the principle of Sola Scriptura.  His one mistake may have been an unwillingness to ‘test’ his understanding of Scripture by re-examining the Bible’s teaching and asking the question, “Does the teaching of Scripture really contradict heliocentrism in science?”  Had he given more thought to that question,  perhaps in time he would have seen that a literal interpretation of Scripture by no means requires a geocentric cosmology.   Since the Hebrews conceived of the sun as a ‘light in the sky’ (Genesis 1:16), not as a spherical body in outer space, they quite rightly describe the sun, in its role as a light in the sky, as ‘going around’ the earth.   That says nothing at all about the sun’s relationship to the earth as a spherical body in outer space.   The language of Scripture is phenomenlogical; as a “light in the sky,” the sun does indeed move from one end of heaven to the other, then ‘hurry back’ to the place from which it started.  There is no error in that description; in fact, we use the same language today when we speak of the sun rising and setting, because we are not thinking about the cosmological relation of astral bodies to one another, but of the sun’s relation to us as a light bearer in the sky.  Later Lutherans came to see, as Luther did not, that the descriptive language of Scripture is fully compatible with either a geocentric or heliocentric cosmology in science.

conrad - #53955

March 11th 2011

”  Since the Hebrews conceived of the sun as a ‘light in the sky’ (Genesis 1:16), not as a spherical body in outer space, they quite rightly describe the sun, in its role as a light in the sky, as ‘going around’ the earth.”

This concept of the sun as a light also explains why the sun [as a light] could be added on day 4.
[Even though the sun is older than the earth.]
The actual event was a collision between earth and another planet which blew off the dense clouded atmosphere over earth which had blocked light.
That collision also created the moon.
conrad - #53965

March 11th 2011

Atrahasis Genesis 2–8 

Agriculture by irrigation 

Eden watered by irrigation 

I don’t know if anyone actually read the Harlow article or not but he tells of eden being a dry land watered by springs.

 This situation actually existed when sea levels were lower and the southern edge of Saudi Arabia had springs supplying abundant fresh water while no rain fell.

I cannot remember the researcher but that was published within the past 6 months.

 People leaving Africa skirting the seashore would have found such a benign environment about 11 thousand years ago.

Benoît Hébert - #53974

March 11th 2011

Hi Gregory,

I’m not a native english speaker, so it is sometimes hard for me to find the exact words to express myself. Of course, I consider Dennis vennema and Denis Alexander as geneticists who made it possible for guys like me to understand the genetic evidence for evolution and the existence of a human bottleneck in its very early population, but not the discoverer of this!

What do you mean by the consensus in paleontology in favor of monogenism? a recent one? a an ancient one?

Of course asking you if you were in favor of monogenism didn’t mean I believed that polygenism excluded the possibility of historical Adam and Eve, as I understood in Jon Garvey’s reaction.

Sin is for me the main example of something that is not an evolutionnary feature, as I already mentionned in this discussion.

I am not qualified to be the advocate of polygenism. I just note that there seem to be a consensus on this point among geneticists qualified in the field form different independant lines of evidence.

To Jon Garvey

I find it more and more difficult to hold to a strict augustinian vision of original sin. I come from an evangelical background where we don’t baptize children but adults only…

Your view of the flood seem to me very unlikely. As Paul Seely as remarkably showed on this blog (and I don’t make him the discoverer of this), the flood is probably based on an event dated -2900 BC  and was clearly universal for the biblical author, and killed every body except Noah and his family, which we today know is false.
Gregory - #53975

March 11th 2011

Buenos dias Benoît, Pas de problème avec les langues. I am interested in your ideas and arguments more than in the way you communicate them. (Said by a person living in a country with a different native tongue.)

“I am not qualified to be the advocate of polygenism. I just note that there seem to be a consensus on this point among geneticists qualified in the field form different independant lines of evidence.” - Benoît

Just so I can be sure, are you saying you think, perceive or know somehow that Dr. Dennis Venema is a polygenist, i.e. that he accepts/advocates polygenism? I don’t recall ever reading him say this and frankly do not know his position vis-a-vis mono- vs. poly-genism. Please direct me to any publication or recording he has made in this regard.

And are you suggesting there is a ‘consensus’ (among X scientists, e.g. palaeontologists) that supports polygenesis of human beings and not monogenesis? In other words, goodbye to the ‘out-of-Africa’ approach, hello multiple origins of human beings (races/species) around the world?

You may not yourself be ‘qualified to judge,’ but that does not mean you are not free to consider the ideological meaning of ‘geneticism’ and to establish your views safely against it. On this topic we are having, ‘geneticism’ means “trying to explain away Adam and Eve using genetics/genomics,” and is a brand of scientism. Such is this dehumanized ‘biological science,’ totally, intentionally & proudly ‘unreflexive,’ that is making claims about human beings, oftentimes with pretensions of self-certainty held by mathematical physicists.

Does D. Venema *anywhere* write that genetics/genomics has *proved* the non-real, historical (nature of) Adam and Eve?

Geneticists/genomicists speaking about “the existence of a human bottleneck in its very early population” is a far, far cry from *proving* there was not and could not have been a ‘real, historical Adam and Eve.’ That is the point at issue. I’m sure you see a difference between the two, Benoît?


p.s. Vatican.

Gregory - #53977

March 11th 2011

Also, Benoît, I am still curious and waiting for some examples of ‘non-evolving things,’ which you expressed with emphasis do actually exist. Could you please explain what you meant?


Benoît Hébert - #53993

March 11th 2011


I don’t like the tone our conversation is taking and I fear it might end like the one you had with George Murphy. 

I have said enough for you to understand my toughts…and it’s not my role to speak for others.  Dennis Venema has written articles about genetics are available on this blog
Jon Garvey - #54002

March 11th 2011

@Benoît Hébert - #53974

I’m not averse to the idea of the c2900BC flood being the basis of the Biblical Flood, especially in view of the strong evidence that such a flood in Mesopotamia was the basis for the Mesopotamian myths and indirectly the Biblical narrative.

Given the whole Mesopotamian background, despite the universalistic tone of the Adapa story, etc, I doubt the Sumerians and Babylonians had in mind so much a global flood. They did, according to Ashurbanipal, have access to records both before and after the event. However, they did consider Mesopotamia the only part of the “globe” that mattered (their greater leaders being termed “king of the world” or even of “the Universe”). It seems to me likely to me that the Biblical writers had a similar viewpoint, given that Mesopotamia is the stage for all the events in the early chapters of Genesis.

As has often been pointed out, there is plenty of translation bias towards a world-flood in Genesis when a regional-flood could equally be intended. The question, then, is the meaning of the “all flesh” it destroyed. It’s not easy, from our perspective, to see whether the Genesis writer considered “mankind” in terms of “all hominids everywhere” or “all the descendants of the first priest/viceroy of Yahweh.” He/they almost certainly had access to the Sumerian stories - did they consider them false, or their own story to be complementary to these?

Martin Rizley - #54008

March 11th 2011

conrad,  You write, “The actual event was a collision between earth and another planet which blew off the dense clouded atmosphere over earth which had blocked light.  That collision also created the moon.”  Of course, this statement is based on the assumption that the uniformitarian interpretation of the scientific data is indisputably correct and that the days of creation were long geological periods.   You believe that as strongly as you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead (apparently).   Quite frankly, I don’t put that much unqualified ‘faith’ in uniformitarian science when it comes to the subject of origins.   What I know to be true (as a Christian) is that the Bible is the truest source of information we have about the past—more sure than any writing based solely on the extrapolations of human reason from scientific data viewed through uniformitarian lenses.  I grant you the fact that the Bible nowhere speaks explicitly of a ‘twenty-four hour duration” of  the creation days in the way it speaks explicitly of an historical Adam, a literal fall and flood, etc.    Moreover, the first three days were obviously UNLIKE our days in that they were not “ruled by the sun;”   so theoretically, they could have differed in other ways, as well—including their precise duration.   Nevertheless, I personally believe that all six days of creation were “24-hour like” in that each day consisted of one complete rotational cycle of light and darkness, so that each day had a ‘day and a night’ with a morning and an evening.  Whether or not the initial period of darkness before God said “let there be light!” lasted for a very, very long period of time is an open question, in my opinion.    Whether or not the astral bodies were “there” in some sense from day one and became visible in earth’s sky on day four, when they formed and placed in earth’s sky as “light bearers,” is another open question, in my opinion.   What I am fairly sure about, however, is that the Bible is to be taken literally when it says that God made the universe in six days of light followed by darkness—six days with a ‘morning’ and an ‘evening.’   It is on that basis that He commands Israel to keep the Sabbath day—in order to imitate God’s own pattern in creating the world.   I believe that intellectuals, who are so easily ensnared by elaborate theories that can quickly move them away from the simplicity of the Bible’s teaching, do well to submit their intellects to the overruling judgment of God and that point, and to hold all scientific theories based on uniformitarian assumptions and human reason ALONE with a loose grasp.  

R Hampton - #54032

March 11th 2011

I am fairly sure about, however, is that the Bible is to be taken
literally when it says that God made the universe in six days of light
followed by darkness—six days with a ‘morning’ and an ‘evening.’

As sure as Luther was of the Sun and planets orbiting the Earth?

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