Only one in a million U.S. Americans suffer from the horrible disease xeroderma pigmentosum, or "XP," but one in 40 from the Brazilian town of Araras has it. The affliction leads to tumors where sun hits skin, often the face and hands. Why is the disease so highly concentrated in Araras, and how could answering that question help unravel some confusion about Adam and Eve?
The Associated Press recently took photos during 38-year-old Djalma Jardim's visit to a local hospital. Jardim told AP, "As the years passed my condition got worse."1 Medical professionals did not properly diagnose his condition until 2010.
Some have now taken notice of the town's situation. Because XP is inherited, its high rate of incidence in Araras stems from intermarriage within descendants of a small group who carried the mutation when they founded the village long ago.
Jardim has had over 50 surgeries on his skin, and wears a prosthetic that covers part of his face that is no longer there. Previously unaware of the details of his condition, he spent his younger years working in nearby sun-drenched fields.
The mutation, or set of mutations, breaks important DNA repair enzymes. UV radiation from sunlight penetrates skin cells and damages their DNA. In most people, the enzyme systems mend the wreckage, but without adequate repair systems DNA is at the mercy of harmful radiation. Eventually, radiation mutates genes that control cell growth, leading to cancerous tumors.
Apparently, ancestors carried those mutations with them when they founded Araras. Intermarriage within their descendants increased the likelihood that those mutations would occur in a single individual.
This situation represents many others in which interfamilial marriage concentrates mutation's harmful effects. ICR earlier reported geneticists' research into a stuttering mutation in a Pakistani family's nervous-system gene.2
A clear principle emerges from these and so many similar observations: Intermarriage within descendants of small founding populations often produces harmful genetic defects. Assuming this has always been the case, some argue that all people could never have descended from only two progenitors—Adam and Eve. If we really came from Adam and Eve, wouldn't we all be loaded with many more mutations than we already have?
Science and Scripture clearly show this intermarriage principle has not always been in effect.
For starters, genetic mutations have been building up over time, with each generation adding its toxic drop to the Olympic-sized swimming pool of human DNA. After several hundred generations since Adam, our 60 or so new mutations per generation cause many diseases today, but our earliest parents did not carry near the number of mutations that we do.3 Scientists have even linked mutations in genes critical to nerve cells to the lowering of human IQs, and to the slowing of our reaction times over the last century and a half.4
So, if we were able to wind back time, wouldn't we see thousands of years' worth of mutations erased? Wouldn't our ancestors have had cleaner genes? With mutation-free genes, family members could have intermarried without risk of disease.
This idea fits God's assessment of His completed creation, including mankind, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day."5 Adam and Eve therefore had "very good" DNA sequences—probably perfect.6
It wasn't until sin's curse that God's creation began to decay, and it wasn't until a few thousand years after Adam and Eve that God instructed His nation, through Moses' law, to no longer marry close relations. Although the science of mutation buildup affirms Genesis history, xeroderma pigmentosum is a real and heartbreaking reminder of Adam and Eve's original sin and the broken world that resulted.
- Peres, E. AP PHOTOS: Rare disease afflicts Brazilian village. Houston Chronicle. Posted on chron.com May 5, 2014, accessed May 6, 2014.
- Thomas, B. Is There a Stuttering Gene? Creation Science Update. Posted on icr.org February 26, 2010, accessed May 6, 2014.
- Kong, A. et al. 2012. Rate of de novo mutations and the importance of father's age to disease risk. Nature. 488 (7412): 471-475.
- Woodley, M. A., J. te Nijenhuis, R. Murphy. 2013. Were the Victorians cleverer than us? The decline in general intelligence from a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time. Intelligence. 41(6): 843-850.
- Genesis 1:31.
- They possibly shared DNA (i.e., were genetic clones) since Eve was taken from Adam's literal side. Also, their genomes must have been packed with inherent variations that were not mutations—built-in variations that evolutionists overlook when genetically modeling human origins. See: Carter, R. The Non-Mythical Adam and Eve! Creation Ministries International. Posted on creation.com August 20, 2011, accessed May 6, 2014.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on May 19, 2014.