Saturday, June 04, 2011

Were Adam and Eve Historical?

This article is a good summary of the current state of a very interesting debate. Lots of the points made in the debate are very good ones, and some of them see difficult to reconcile with other very good points.

For what it's worth, I'm not compleltely sure exactly what I think, but I want to affirm the following two points:

  1. Adam and Eve really existed.
  2. The scientific evidence is not deceptive.

It isn't obvious how to reconcile those points - here are a few ideas.

Were Adam and Eve the only people alive at the time? That probably depends on what you mean by "people". I think Biblically it is clear that they are the first real humans, because they are the first ones to be given the divine image, which was subsequently spoilt, and being human is fundamentally about the capacity for relationship with God. Were there other members of the genus homo alive at the time? Maybe, but if so Adam was their representative head and so after the Fall they share in his image, which is fallen from the image of God.

Although the scientific evidence is not deceptive, the study on that evidence may have been done badly for various reason. It may be there are factors of which they are unaware. They might have been using faulty models.


Unknown said...

Interesting, but in "River out of Eden" (I have the exact quote somewhere), Richard Dawkins wrote that, according to the scientific evidence, homo sapiens is descended from one single female.

Of course he wasn't arguing of an historical 'Eve', but was he also wrong?

John said...

I'm not a biologist, but the concept of the "Mitochondrial Eve" isn't just a Dawkins one.

The problem is that she isn't meant to have been the only woman alive at the time - just the only one who still has any living descendants. It's kind of similar to the fact that 8% of the population of a large part of Asia seem to be direct male-line descendants of Genghis Khan.

Unknown said...

John - I'm only asking whether Dawkins is wrong. I'd assumed he probably wasn't.

Unknown said...

Incidentally I was a biologist - in that I did a biology degree at Uni. But it was a very long time ago, when mitochondria had only just been discovered!

Unknown said...

Sorry about the multiple posts, but I then followed your link, which was interesting and led to another link which had this on recent modelling of population dynamics:

"These analyses suggest that the genealogies of all living humans overlap in remarkable ways in the recent past. In particular, the M[ost]R[ecent]C[ommon]A[ncestor] of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models. Moreover, among all individuals living more than just a few thousand years earlier than the MRCA, each present-day human has exactly the same set of genealogical ancestors."

So the emergence of 'modern' homo sapiens is a strange, interesting business. But his is well beyond my expertise.