December 7, 2018 | Jerry Bergman

Adam and Eve Were Real After All, Extensive Genetic Study Claims

Comparisons of mitochondrial DNA from millions of species suggests recent creation and a catastrophe.

Surprising genetic data suggests all life has recent roots.

by Dr Jerry Bergman

Much has been in the news in the last decade about the mother and father of all humans, often dubbed Adam and Eve after the creation story in Genesis. Much guesstimating is involved, mostly by evaluating the genetic differences of life existing today and extrapolating backwards.

Theistic Evolution’s Genetic Challenge

Dennis Venema, Professor and Department Chair at the Christian Trinity Western University at Langley, British Columbia, was formerly a creationist, but is now an evolutionist. Consequently, he has rejected the traditional Biblical teaching of Adam and Eve, concluding that the human genetic diversity today is so large that there could never have been a time in history when only two people could have established the entire human race. He concluded that two people could not have the genetic variety required to produce the offspring with the genetic variety existing today. Consequently, humans of today, in order to produce the genetic diversity seen today in humanity, required several thousand human founders. In his words,

genetics is well suited to addressing scientific questions such as whether humans share ancestry with other forms of life, and what our population structure looked like as we separated from our evolutionary relatives. . . . we do indeed share common ancestry with other species, and we descend from a large population that has never numbered below about 10,000 individuals throughout our evolutionary history. Scientifically speaking, these issues are straightforward and uncontroversial.[1]

He added that “species form slowly, as populations, due to the accumulation of numerous slight genetic differences [mutations] that shift the average characteristics of a population over time.” In other words, he accepts the classical definition of evolution, namely, that human and all life, are the result of billions of mistakes called mutations.

In fact, science is well suited to addressing scientific questions, such as whether humans share an ancestry with other, non-human forms of life. Research has documented that the genetic difference between humans and what is claimed today to be our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, is enormous. Specifically, the difference is close to 15 percent of the 3 billion base pairs that make up the genome. This amounts to 350,000,000 genetic differences, which is equal to a genetic chasm.[2] So much for our supposedly close relationship with other life forms!

Adam and the animals in the Garden of Eden; diorama from the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum (DFC)

Barcode Bombshell

Another example has emanated from a recent study of the genomic variation existing in life today.[3] The study, which will be reviewed here, compared mitochondrial DNA sequences (barcodes were used in this case, as explained below) from about 5 million specimens covering close to 100,000 animal species.[4] The data was assembled by scientists worldwide over the past 15 years and placed in the GenBank database maintained by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information. The comparison technique used is called barcoding. It involves a small stretch of DNA from a specific mitochondrial gene that is sequenced from numerous individuals from many species. So far over five million have been barcoded in this way.[5] This technique has shown that the sequence variation between individuals of a specific species is very small and clustered, whereas the sequence variation between species is very distinct, even for closely related species.  This pattern of distinctive sequence variation allows species identification.

This study appears to be one of the most devastating to Darwinism I have seen in the past few decades.

The study found only a minute average genetic difference in mitochondrial sequences exists between any two of Earth’s 7.6 billion humans. The typical difference within each of the 100,000 species they studied, including humans, is a mere .01% or 1 in 1,000 DNA base pairs that make up a DNA sequence. The researchers conclude “The same is likely true of over 90% of species on Earth today.”[6]

Genesis-Like Conclusions

The implications of this finding are clear: The “mass of evidence supports the hypothesis that most species, be it a bird or a moth or a fish, like modern humans, arose recently and have not had time to develop a lot of genetic diversity.”[7] They add that this finding is another example of the major gaps between existing life forms: “Genetically the world ‘is not a blurry place.’ Each species has its own specific mitochondrial sequence and other members of the same species are identical or tightly similar . . . .  species are ‘islands in sequence space’ with few intermediate ‘stepping stones’” between them. They even concluded that the mtDNA is so distinct that it should be the preferred way to define a species.

In short, differences between two species are about the same as the average genetic difference between any pair of any of the 100,000 animals they sequenced, including house sparrows, pigeons or robins. In short they concluded the results indicate that all life, including humans, originated close to the same time from between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago, supporting the Genesis creation account. The difference is, creationists do not push back the date of life’s origin nearly that far in the past, but the other conclusions are the same.

Mitochondria have a separate genome. Credit: Illustra Media

Mitochondrial vs Nuclear DNA

This extensive study, if it proves to be valid, openly falsifies Dennis Venema’s claim that the evidence of genetic diversity requires 10,000 human founder individuals. It requires only a few or even just two persons. One difference is that this study evaluated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), while I assume Venema relied on genomic DNA comparisons. Human mtDNA has 16,569 base pairs that encode for 37 genes compared to the 3 billion nuclear DNA base pairs that code for close to 23,000 genes. The authors of the study referenced here concluded that their evaluation of mtDNA will give very similar results as would nuclear DNA. Nonetheless nuclear evaluations will no doubt be done in the near future.

Mutation Rates and Implications

The main source claimed for evolution is natural selection of genetic variations, which should be greater as time goes by due to the accumulation of mutations and other sources of genetic variation, yet this study found all life, from claimed primitive ancient life forms to recently evolved life forms, have close to the same level of genetic variety. They also found that genetic variation as measured by the average difference in mitochondrial DNA between two individuals of the same species, does not increase with population size. It was the same for a population size of a few billion or just a few thousand. This study appears to be one of the most devastating to Darwinism I have seen in the past few decades.

Limits to Darwin’s Variability

Darwin was never able to even postulate the source of new genetic variety, but stressed infinite genetic variety existed in all types of animals and plants. His exact words were, “natural selection will account for the infinite diversity in structure” existing in nature.[8] Darwin’s 1844 writings provided further evidence that he thought there was no limit to variation, writing that “a limit to variation does exist in nature is assumed by most authors, though I am unable to discover a single fact on which this belief is grounded.”[9] Harvard trained attorney Norman MacBeth observed from his study of Darwin that “Darwin entertained the very questionable opinion that animals and plants could vary in all directions and to an unlimited degree.”[10]

Darwin, as far as we know, had no knowledge about genes or genetics, but did often stress that all life naturally had expressed a great deal of variety, an idea that was critical for his theory. If the same findings for mtDNA are also found for nuclear DNA, this will create a major serious problem for all forms of Darwinism.

Noah after the Flood. Artwork in Answers in Genesis Creation Museum

What Kind of Bottleneck Can Explain This?

The researchers realize this and have postulated a solution, namely that the results they found were due to a bottleneck of all, or most all, life caused by a major extinction event that saved a few select examples of each life type. The problem with this explanation, besides lack of evidence for a worldwide catastrophic extinction event of such magnitude that it wiped out almost every form of life from insects to primates, except a handful of fixed types, is that it is even difficult to postulate what type of event this might be. A flood would work, but this event requires some kind of ark of salvation to preserve a few examples of each life form type. Only a flood, not fire, volcanoes, poison gas, or radiation would achieve the results required.

Caveats

This research can only be regarded as preliminary, and is not without problems, as Ann Gauger noted in her review titled Does Barcoding DNA Reveal a Single Human Ancestral Pair?[11] Replication with  nuclear  DNA as well as replication by other means will be required to determine the value of the conclusions of the Stoeckle study. The concerns with this study also apply to the research that Venema relied on to form his conclusions. In short, much more work needs to be done including non-barcode techniques on this important idea.

Update 14 Dec 2018: Thaler and Stoeckle added a statement to their paper affirming Darwinism, apparently to distance themselves from creationists who were using their material as support for Genesis. They say,

This study is grounded in and strongly supports Darwinian evolution, including the understanding that all life has evolved from a common biological origin over several billion years.  This work follows mainstream views of human evolution. We do not propose there was a single “Adam” or “Eve”. We do not propose any catastrophic events.

Reporter Julie Borg of World Magazine attempted to contact Stoeckle to find out exactly how their work supports Darwinism, but did not receive clarification beyond a reiteration of the statement.

Jerry Bergman told the CEH Editor that these responses will likely become more common, because what else can they say? “It does not support Darwinism but I hope this flyback does not discourage research in this area in the future. That is my only worry.” He has believed for years that evolutionists will disprove their own theory, he said, “so we should not discourage this line of research.’


[1] Venema, Dennis. 2014. Adam, Eve, and Human Population Genetics: Defining the Issues. https://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/adam-eve-and-human-population-genetics-part-1-scripture-science-and-defining-the-issues

[2] Tompkins, Jeffrey. 2017. The Untold Story Behind DNA Similarity. Answers Magazine. May-June. 12(3):34-36. Dr. Jeffrey Tomkins earned a PhD in genetics from Clemson University and served on the genetics and biochemistry faculty there.

[3] Stoeckle, M. and D. S. Thaler. 2018. Why Should Mitochondria Define Species? Human Evolution. 33(1-2)1-30.

[4] Far From Special: Humanity’s Tiny DNA Differences are “Average” in Animal Kingdom. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-05/tca-ffs051418.php. P. 1

[5] Does Barcoding DNA Reveal a Single Human Ancestral Pair? 2018. https://evolutionnews.org/2018/12/does-barcoding-dna-reveal-a-single-human-pair/ December 5.

[6] Far From Special: Humanity’s Tiny DNA Differences are “Average” in Animal Kingdom. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-05/tca-ffs051418.php. P. 1

[7] Far From Special. p. 2.

[8] Darwin, Charles. 1859 Origin of Species. London: John Murray  p. 436

[9] Francis Darwin. 1909. The Foundations of the Origin of Species; Two Essays Written in 1848 and 1844.  Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1909 (reprinted by Kraus Reprint, New York, NY;  1969. p. 109.

[10] Norman Macbeth, Darwin Retried: An Appeal to Reason, Harvard Common Press, Boston, 1971, p. 30.

[11] https://evolutionnews.org/2018/12/does-barcoding-dna-reveal-a-single-human-pair/. See also Ann Gibbons. Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock. Science 2789:28-29.


Dr Jerry Bergman, professor, author and speaker, is a frequent contributor to Creation-Evolution Headlines. He is currently a staff scientist at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). See his Author Profile for his previous articles and more information.

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