National Public Radio recently interviewed Trinity Western University biologist Dennis Venema, who stated his belief that humans did not descend from Adam and Eve.1 Venema, an evangelical evolutionist, claimed that genetics studies show "there is no way we can be traced back to a single couple."2 Do the data really contradict the biblical account of human history?
"Given the genetic variation of people today, [Venema] says scientists can't get that [starting] population size below 10,000 people at any time in our evolutionary history," NPR reported.2 But this claim fails for three reasons. First, it relies on the presumption of "evolutionary history," not scientific data. Second, the idea that an initial group of 10,000 humans evolved from primates is mathematically impossible. Third, a descent from Adam and Eve actually does explain the patterns in modern human genetics.
Venema assumed, as do all evolutionists, that humans evolved from primates. Evolutionists have not even attempted to test modern scientific observations against realistic biblical parameters, and this makes little sense if someone wishes to claim that human genetics refutes the historical reality of Adam. Shouldn't such a person at least attempt to examine the genetic possibility of an Adamic ancestry before completely ruling it out?
Instead, evolutionists assume that all genetic differences between individuals resulted from mutations. For example, Venema said:
You would have to postulate that there's been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.2
But if Adam was created with DNA variations, then one would not have to postulate astronomical mutation rates. And could the mutations in Venema's model actually have produced the DNA differences that are distributed among today's people groups, even if millions of years were available?
About 700 million information-packed DNA differences exist—including genetic and genomic differences—between humans and chimpanzees.3 Each of these changes would need to become "fixed" into the whole population of primates in order to transform them into humans.
But even if a single human-like mutation fortuitously occurred in both members of a reproducing pair, it would have virtually no chance of spreading to all 10,000 "emerging" humans. Instead, through interbreeding with non-mutants, the mutation would diffuse and disappear after only a few generations.
The only way for that mutation to spread throughout the population is for enough of the non-mutants to die, producing a preponderance of mutants. The problem is that the number of those who would have to be eliminated in order for the mutants to outnumber the non-mutants is more than the population could afford to sacrifice.4 Humans could not possibly have evolved from primates through lucky genetic accidents.
Biblical parameters can actually explain human genetics. To see how, some basic background is helpful.
All people are 99 percent genetically similar.5 Only a small part of the one percent difference is comprised of DNA sequences that can distinguish between individuals. Most of that one percent is shared within several large people groups.
For example, any Vietnamese is 99 percent genetically identical to any Ethiopian. Of the one percent DNA sequence difference between the two, the large majority is shared by all within their ethnic group, whether Vietnamese or Ethiopian. A small minority of that one percent is unique to each individual person.
That one percent DNA difference is easily explained by originally created "alleles," or genetic differences between two original sets of chromosomes, in Adam. Mutations in subsequent generations have added to those original differences. Biologist Robert Carter generated distributions of human DNA differences using Bible-based assumptions: Adam and Eve had many (~10 million) alleles, mutations have been accumulating for 6,000 years, and humanity experienced rapid population growth after Adam, after the Flood, and in various places after the dispersion from Babel.6
Remarkably, the distribution of DNA differences resulting from these parameters very closely matches what has been measured across modern peoples. "Most genetic variation comes in two versions and these versions are found distributed throughout the world's population," according to Dr. Carter.7 Because most alleles have two versions—one from each paired chromosome—the majority of genetic differences among people were likely derived from Adam's alleles, with only a minority of the differences coming from mutations. Not only does the biblical account of Adam and Eve withstand the test of human genetics, it accurately matches what is observed!
Those who claim that humanity has a primate ancestry have ignored the possibility of a historical Adam from the outset. They also have ignored critiques of their postulated pre-human population that show it to be impossible. However, when a feasible Adam and Eve model is actually tested, it matches the known genetics of the human race.
- Genesis 2, Acts 17:26, and 1 Corinthians 15 affirm that all humans are descendants of Adam.
- Hagerty, B. B. Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve. NPR Morning Edition. Posted on npr.org August 9, 2011, accessed August 10, 2011.
- "In view of the random character of the sampling strategy, our results indicate that roughly one-quarter of our genome shares no immediate ancestry with chimpanzees." Ebersberger, I. et al. 2007. Mapping Human Genetic Ancestry. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 24 (10): 2266-2276. One quarter (25 percent) of 3.2 billion bases in the human genome is over 700 million DNA bases.
- ReMine, W. J. 2005. Cost theory and the cost of substitution—a clarification. Journal of Creation. (formerly TJ). 19 (1): 113-125.
- What is DNA? National Institutes of Health fact sheet. Posted on nih.gov, accessed August 10, 2011.
- Carter, R. W. The Non-Mythical Adam and Eve!: Refuting errors by Francis Collins and BioLogos. Creation Ministries International. Posted on creation.com August 20, 2011, accessed August 20, 2011.
- Carter, R. W. Does Genetics Point to a Single Primal Couple?: A response to claims to the contrary from BioLogos. Creation Ministries International. Posted on creation.com April 30, 2011, accessed August 25, 2011.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on August 26, 2011.