ATSS: Bryan Ness, “Adam and Modern Genetics”
2 November 2022 |
by Bryan Ness
When I started my biology education in 1980, I was confident that the creation story in the Bible could stand up to scientific scrutiny. As a third-generation Adventist educated in Adventist schools from first grade through high school, I had been taught that the earth was young (about 6,000 years old), and that geology, properly understood, supported this interpretation. I also had no doubt that the Adam of Genesis was the first man, created by God from the soil, and that all modern humans were descended from him. Evolutionists might claim that humans evolved from ancient primates and that our closest evolutionary relatives are chimpanzees and gorillas, but the fossil evidence was wholly inadequate to support their theories because there were so few “pre-human” fossils and paleoanthropologists couldn’t agree on precisely how humans had evolved.
As I began studying genetics in college, and later in graduate school, I believed that the newer insights from modern genetics would settle such questions as the origin of man in favor of a Biblical creation model using the principles of intelligent design. Sure, humans and chimpanzees might resemble each other in numerous ways, but this was only because the two species had a common designer, the God of the Bible, who used many of the same design elements to create each. As more and more genetic data accumulated, much of the newer data, rather than supporting an intelligent design approach, showed signs of evolution. Numerous lines of genetic evidence now support the contention that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor from which we evolved.
With data from many individual human genomes, both modern and ancient, including genomic data from Neanderthals, Denisovans, and a variety of other pre-human remains, it has also become apparent that the extensive genetic diversity of modern humans could not have developed in a mere 6,000 years from a single human pair. In fact, according to some population geneticists, all modern humans today have been derived from a population of no fewer than 10,000 individuals sometime between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago. The reason for the broad time range is that through most of human history there were many more than 10,000 individuals, the smaller number representing a bottleneck in the human population.
These many modern genetic discoveries clash directly with the traditional view that all of humanity are derived from a single human pair, Adam and Eve, approximately 6,000 years ago. Since Adventists have traditionally believed that God speaks to us through both the Bible and the book of nature, what should we do when the evidence from these assumed compatible sources is so clearly at odds? Have we perhaps interpreted the book of Genesis incorrectly? Are there ways to recognize the scientific evidence and reinterpret the Biblical stories so that the two complement one another? In this seminar I will explore some potential solutions to this conundrum.
Bryan Ness is a professor of biology at Pacific Union College.
Dan Jett is a retired attorney living in the Sacramento area of California.
How to join:
Passcode: Adam and Eve’s son who murdered his brother because God didn’t accept his sacrifice of fruits and vegetables. FOUR CHARACTERS, ALL CAPS.
ATSS starting time depends on where you are. If you’re on the west coast of the United States, it’ll be 10:30 AM. On the east coast, 1:30 PM. Please calculate the correct time where you live.
The class is intended to last about 2 hours, though the conversation often continues to 4 PM (Eastern time).
About our class:
- The AT Sabbath Seminar is intended to be a courteous forum. We discuss and ask questions politely. We don’t accuse, get angry, or put people down.
- Stick to the topic in both comments and chat discussion.
- Make your comments and questions short—don’t dominate.
- Keep your microphones muted unless you are called upon to make your comment or ask your question.
- Indicate your interest in speaking by raising your electronic hand—under the “reactions” button.
- Please use your name when you sign in! Not your phone number, not your initials. This will help us differentiate you from unwelcome guests who want to disrupt us. You can set your name after signing on by clicking on the 3 dots next to your picture, which drops down a menu.
- If it should happen that we are attacked so that we have to stop the meeting, we’ll quickly post a new meeting link on our AT Facebook page.
We look forward to getting acquainted with you!
- Gerald Winslow
- Jon Paulien
- Bryan Ness
- Bill Knott
- Marko Lukic
- Andreas Bochmann
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