The advent of modern genetics has seen the evolutionary community redouble its efforts to argue for human-primate common ancestry and against the traditional Christian understanding of the origin of the human race. As has been argued in previous chapters, a careful reading of Genesis 1–11 indicates that God created Adam and Eve supernaturally and without prior ancestry, and that all of humanity traces their ancestry back to this original couple — and not to a group of primates or proto-humans. Combined with a careful reading of the rest of Scripture, this narrative places the creation date of Adam and Eve approximately 6,000 years ago and places another population bottleneck about 4,500 years ago at the time of the Flood. This scriptural framework leads to very specific expectations about the genetic differences among humans and other species, expectations that can be scientifically tested against modern genetic data. In this chapter, we contend that genetics confirms the recent, supernatural creation of Adam and Eve and refutes the evolutionary narrative on human origins.
Since most of the data that we’re going to discuss is already present within the technical scientific literature, the purpose of this chapter is to take this relatively unknown and obscure knowledge and present it in what we hope is an understandable and accessible manner for non-geneticists. To expound the details of the genetics of human origins in great depth would require a book-length treatment. Conversely, since most of the contents of this book chapter have already been argued, defended, and published as separate technical papers, we will provide here a summary of these papers with references for the more technically minded reader to explore later.
Because the genetics of human origins is a scientifically complex issue that becomes technical very quickly, we have simplified this chapter by organizing it around four major questions:
- From whom did humans originate: ape-like primates or fully human people?
- How many individuals spawned the human race: a population or a pair?
- When did humans originate: hundreds of thousands of years ago or about 6,000 years ago (i.e., ancient or recent)?
- Where did modern human populations originate: Africa or Ararat?
Though specific elements that will be covered under each of these questions are probably more familiar to the average reader (e.g., claims like “humans are 99% genetically identical to the apes,” “human chromosome 2 is the result of a fusion,” etc.), we have chosen to take a more comprehensive view rather than an apologetic medley approach. Our intention is to demonstrate that the biblical creation model accounts, not just for a handful of select genetic observations, but for the entire body of genetic evidence available today.
Introduction: A Critical Scientific Point
To recognize the strength of our conclusions in genetics, the reader needs to understand only one major technical scientific point. Surprisingly, this point is not any singular genetic observation. It is rather a careful understanding of how science works.
What follows should be uncontroversial. Since creationists and evolutionists were both taught their understanding of science from a common source — the scholarly educational community of the Western world — both agree on the specifics of how science should operate. For example, evolutionists didn’t learn their trade from creationist institutions, and we didn’t learn science in the back closet of a cloistered creationist enclave, either.1
Like many scientists, we learned our most memorable lessons on the nature and operation of science via trial and error. For example, while in a graduate course on developmental biology, my fellow students and I (Jeanson) were required to prepare short, mock grant proposals in lieu of tests. Specifically, this assignment involved writing up the proposal and then presenting it orally before a small group of students and professors.
After completing my ten-minute presentation in which I described a battery of experiments to test the scientific question in which I was interested, the professor leaned back in his chair and gave his frank assessment of my ideas. He said (paraphrased),
There are three types of experiments in the world. The first type distinguishes between two competing hypotheses, regardless of which way the experiment turns out. For example, if you hypothesize A, but the experiment demonstrates B, you’ve still learned something. This is the best and rarest type of experiment. The second type is valuable only if the experiment turns out one of the two possible ways. For example, if you hypothesize A, but the experiment does not support A and instead supports a whole host of alternative hypotheses, you’ve learned very little. If, instead, the experiment had confirmed hypothesis A, it would have been valuable.
He then said that I had proposed the third type of experiment — one in which nothing is learned regardless of the experimental outcome. Essentially, a type-3 experiment tests none of the hypotheses in question, including the one that the investigator has proposed. I had made a major — but memorable — error.
What my professor didn’t say is also critically important. Implicit in the professor’s description of my proposal was an assumption that experiments were actually going to be performed. If, instead of proposing a battery of experiments, I had simply asserted that my hypotheses were true, I would have been failed rather quickly. Stating hypotheses as fact is the cardinal sin of science, so much so that it doesn’t even receive a type designation. In fact, it’s not even in the domain of science. It’s pseudoscience.
For example, consider the question of what molecule is the substance of heredity, the instruction manual for building our physical features during the process of development. If we claim that “vital forces and biorhythms from Jupiter” are the real substance, and if we perform zero experiments to test or reject our claim, we’re simply spouting pseudoscience (and we would probably be laughed at by most intelligent human beings).
Instead, if we hypothesize that a chemical molecule called DNA is the substance, we have a hypothesis we can test. Another investigator might hypothesize that protein, not DNA, is the substance of heredity. If we try to test these hypotheses by analyzing the biochemical composition of sperm and egg, we would discover that we performed a type-3 experiment — sperm and egg possess both DNA and protein, which reveals nothing about which substance carries the hereditary information.
However, if we had discovered that sperm and egg lacked one of the two substances, we would have performed a type-2 experiment — the result would have eliminated one of the hypotheses, but it would not have positively confirmed the other (after all, there might be many hypotheses on what substances control heredity, and these hypotheses would need to be eliminated as well). To perform a type-1 experiment, we would have had to show that only DNA — and not protein — was the substance of heredity.
These sorts of experiments were done in the early part of the last century. In these experiments, investigators used organisms that were easy to work with, such as bacteria and viruses. Since some viruses infect bacteria by injecting certain chemical substances into their hosts that allow the virus to propagate itself, investigators found themselves with an elegant experimental system. In other words, if scientists could figure out what exactly the virus injected, they would know what the substance of heredity was in these organisms.
Since proteins contain certain chemicals (e.g., sulfur) that DNA lacks, and since DNA contains certain substances that proteins lack (e.g., phosphorus), chemically labeling sulfur in one experiment and phosphorus in the other would distinguish between these two hypotheses. When the viruses grown in the presence of chemically labeled sulfur were allowed to infect bacteria, the sulfur (e.g., protein) stayed on the outside of the bacteria. By contrast, when the viruses grown in the presence of chemically labeled phosphorus were allowed to infect bacteria, phosphorus (e.g., DNA) was found inside the bacterial cells. Furthermore, when the investigators analyzed the offspring of the viruses, these offspring contained chemically modified phosphorus — but not chemically modified sulfur. Clearly, the substance of heredity was DNA — and not protein.
Hence, to evaluate origins claims, we first have to determine if a claim is in the realm of science. In other words, we have to ask if the claim is simply a bold assertion of fact or if it is actually based on a scientific test. If it is based on the latter, we can proceed with determining which category of experiment the claim represents. Claims that represent type-3 experiments have no further relevance to the origins debate. In contrast, type-2 and type-1 tests have the potential to uncover something new about the competing origins hypotheses, but only type-1 experiments rigorously test young-earth creation (YEC) and evolution head-to-head (Table 1).
|Experiment Type||Models Compared||Ramifications||Frequency in Origins Debate|
|1||Creation vs. Evolution||The only head-to-head test in the origins debate||Rare|
|2||Evolution vs. itself (or Creation vs. itself)||Useful in refuting one of the models; useless in confirming a model||Occasional|
|3||No models compared||Completely useless in the origins debate||Very frequent|
Evolutionists agree with the essence of what we’ve just described.2 This agreement is borne out both historically and presently. Historically, one of the most common criticisms of the creation model is that it falls in the realm of pseudoscience — that it doesn’t make experimentally testable predictions but, instead, makes bald assertions of fact. Presently, in its promotion of theistic evolution (or as they say, evolutionary creation) the BioLogos community continues to repeat this accusation:
The reason Christian anti-evolutionary approaches are absent from the mainstream scientific literature is not because scientists are theologically or philosophically biased against them, but rather because they offer little in the way of useful tools for making accurate predictions about the natural world.3 [emphasis added]
Thus, all origins positions can agree that testable, accurate predictions are critical to science, and the ability of creationists and evolutionists to make them will be the major focus of this chapter.
However, while evolutionists agree with the nature of science as we described above, we intend to illustrate how evolutionists of all stripes fail to practice it — on each of the four major arenas of scientific investigation on the question of human origins (from whom, how many, when, and where humans originated) — and that, in contrast to the assertion above, creationists do make accurate predictions about the natural world and about human origins in particular. We also intend to demonstrate that creationist predictions are scientifically superior to those of evolutionists.