Friday, March 8, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing: More Adam and Eve Genetic Discussion

"If we take into account that, again, the difference is calibration, this result is compatible with all the other results that have been generated with regard to the y-chromosome data, and that data, I believe, supports a biblical understanding of human origins. So, I don't see this study as a challenge to our model or a challenge to the previous work that has been done. So, this is 'much ado about nothing,' in my opinion, all due to differences in clock calibration." ~ Dr. Fazale "Fuz" Rana

You may have seen articles like "African-American's Y chromosome sparks shift in evolutionary timetable" or "Don't call him 'Adam': South Carolina man’s genes help date first man" in the popular news in the past few days. These articles discuss some recent research based on the y-chromosome (y-c) of a South Carolina man, which appears to be genetically very different from the y-c's of most other men in the world. The difference of his y-c from the rest of ours pushes the date for modern humans back more than 200,000 years earlier than all previous studies have estimated. At least, that is what the researchers claim in their report on their findings.

Since I have written about the genetic research with regard to Adam and Eve in past articles (here and here) and argued for the historicity of the biblical account, I had planned to get the journal article on which these news articles are based and check out the data myself. However, a scientist whom I greatly respect--Dr. Fazale "Fuz" Rana--and who works for Reasons to Believe has already reviewed the data and reported his take on it in this podcast. I just finished listening to his evaluation of the research, and I think it is sound. I probably could not improve on it, so I recommend you go listen to what he has to say about it (the podcast is about 27 minutes long).

In sum, the crux of the whole issue is how these researchers calibrated their molecular clock analysis. (I have explained how molecular clocks work, and also discussed their failings, here.) They used a different calibration from every other bit genetic research that has ever been done. As a result, their research and date look significantly different from everyone else's. In addition, their date does not match the evidence from the fossil record, which is also a significant strike against them. If they had used the same calibration that everyone else uses, their date would have turned out to be slightly older than all previous research (and the fossil record evidence), but it would have agreed with all previous research within acceptable margins of experimental error. They argue that their calibration is superior, but they have no basis for making that assertion since there is no benchmark against which to measure molecular clock analysis except the fossil record, with which their date does not agree. What they have done is analogous to changing the calibration of your speedometer in your car and then trying to tell a police officer that you were not speeding based on your calibration. Neither he nor a judge is going to accept that your calibration is more reliable without hard, proven evidence. We should not accept this research unless it can show sufficient reason for overturning all previous research and the superiority of their calibration. Listen to Dr. Rana's podcast for a much more detailed explanation. It will be worth your time.

So, as Dr. Rana states above, this is really just "much ado about nothing." Until these researchers can prove with much more data the superiority of their calibration of molecular clocks, they have not overthrown the more generally accepted dates for Adam and Eve. Now, of course, evolutionists will say that those dates do not prove Adam and Eve at all, but I have argued elsewhere that the scientific data can be validly interpreted within a biblical framework that supports the historicity of the Genesis 1-3 account of human origins. No appeal to evolution is necessary to maintain a consistent view of the data, and this result does not change that.

By His Grace,

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