Were They Real? The Scientific Case for Adam and Eve
by Dr. Fazale (“Fuz”) Rana
Did Adam and Eve really exist? Did all humanity originate from a single pair? These questions are not peripheral topics for an academic debate; they are central to the Christian faith.
Toward this end, recent advances in molecular genetics are quite provocative. As Hugh Ross and I discuss in Who Was Adam?, numerous studies indicate that humanity originated: (1) recently (around 100,000 years ago, plus or minus 20,000 years or so); (2) at a single location (East Africa)—close to where some Bible scholars think the Garden of Eden was located; and (3) from a small population
Moreover, analysis of mitochondrial DNA (which provides insight into the origin of the maternal lineage) indicates that humanity traces back to a single ancestral sequence that could be interpreted as a single woman. Likewise, characterization of Y-chromosomal DNA (which provides insight into the origin of the
paternal lineage) indicates that all men trace their origin back to a single ancestral sequence that could be interpreted as a single man.
These astounding results harmonize with a traditional reading of the biblical account of human origins, and suggest that Adam and Eve likely existed as real persons who gave rise to all of humanity.
But Did Adam and Eve Exist? Population Size
Others have challenged this interpretation, arguing that the genetic data shows that humanity arose from thousands of individuals, not two.1 The chief basis for this claim comes from estimates of the ancestral population size of humans based on genetic diversity.
It is possible to estimate the effective population size of any ancestral group from genetic diversity of present-day populations if the mutation rate is known. As discussed in Who Was Adam?, a number of these types of studies do indeed indicate that humans stem from a small population, on the order of a few hundred to a few thousand.2
Skeptics of the traditional reading of the biblical account of human origins uncritically accept these results. They argue that the data indicate humanity experienced a genetic bottleneck, with the population collapsing to a relatively small number of individuals. Consequently humanity arose from the thousands of survivors, not a primeval pair…
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