Science and Biblical Interpretation

An article on science and biblical interpretation caught my eye last week (Oct. 13, 2013) not because Dr. Jason Lisle is a “young earth” creationist (he is the director of research at the Institute of Creation Research), an untenable position from my perspective, but because of his claim that people should not “rely on science rather than the Bible to answer questions about our origin, even for just parts.” Let me cite a portion of the article:

A "young earth" creationist, who also believes the universe is much younger than many astronomers calculate, says once people begin to rely on science rather than the Bible to answer questions about our origin, even for just parts, they are asking for trouble.

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"It's a very slippery slope when you decide that there are some sections of the Bible that you are going to allow the secular scientist to tell you what it really means," said Dr. Jason Lisle, during an interview with the press shortly after his debate at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics with astronomer and pastor Dr. Hugh Ross, who argued for a universe that is nearly 15 billion years old.

"You've opened a very dangerous door," Lisle continued. "Basically, you've decided to say that 'I'm going to make the secular scientist my ultimate standard by which I interpret the scriptures' and if you are consistent with that, and most people are not, thank goodness, but if you are well, hey, most scientists don't believe the resurrection of the dead is possible."

In other words, people become susceptible to their own interpretations of the Bible at other points in its books and chapters as well.

The problem, he suggests, is that if one allows “the secular scientist to tell you what it {the Bible} really means,” “you've decided to say that 'I'm going to make the secular scientist my ultimate standard by which I interpret the scriptures'.” This creates further issues, according to Lisle, because “most scientists don't believe the resurrection of the dead is possible.” Finally, the article says, though it is not clear that these are Lisle’s words, if people doubt a portion of the Bible they “become susceptible to their own interpretations of the Bible at other points in its books and chapters as well.”

The article states that “Lisle's full-time apologetics ministry is focused on the defense of Genesis.” About the age of the universe, he says that “when you make an age estimate scientifically you have to make certain assumptions, and for that reason you can never really prove the age of something scientifically…You need a history book and fortunately we have a history book and not just any history book. It's the history book by the one who actually did the creating, the one who never lies and the one who knows everything – that history book is the one written by God.”

At the conference at which he spoke, Lisle was asked as to whether issues of the age of creation were related at all to salvation. He answered that

"in a sense it's not. You know, believing in six days [for the creation of the earth] is not a requirement for salvation … God makes it very clear in His word – we're saved by His grace received through faith in Christ and not by works. It's not requiring to have our theology exactly right, but that doesn't mean we should be sloppy in our theology. The time scale of creation does have an effect on Christian theology," he said.

"I would argue that although you can be saved apart from believing in six days, in a way, salvation does not make sense apart from creation in six days. If you believe in millions of years, if you believe the fossils are millions of years old, you have death before Adam sinned, in which case death cannot be the result of Adam's sin if it was already there for millions of years. If death is not the penalty for sin then why did Jesus die on the cross?

"The Gospel message which is predicated on death being the penalty for sin and Christ paying that for us. That itself is predicated on Creation, that goes back to a literal Genesis," Lyle concluded.

I wanted to outline the article carefully because I think there are a number of faulty or limited assumptions and claims made about the nature and process of biblical interpretation and its relationship to science and also one significant point he makes about the relationship of the age of the earth to Christian doctrine.

Let me first outline what I see as the faulty or limited assumptions or claims:

1)      We should rely on the Bible rather than on science to answer questions about our origin;

2)      We should not let secular scientists tell us what some sections of the Bible really mean;

3)      If people pay attention to science they “become susceptible to their own interpretations of the Bible at other points in its books and chapters as well;”

4)      Science causes you “to make certain assumptions,” with the implication that how Lisle reads the Bible does not rely on assumptions;

5)      The Bible is a “history book…written by God.”

The one significant point he makes is about the possible or potential implications of the age of the universe for Christian teaching about original sin and the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross if physical death was not “the penalty for sin” but had existed for millions of years. There are possible answers to this problem, but he has here pointed out a significant theological issue.

As to faulty or limited assumptions or claims:

1)      Should we rely on the Bible rather than on science to answer questions about our origin? I think there is often a mistake about what the Bible is and what the Bible is intended to answer and this is related to the various genres of biblical literature. At some level, Genesis does tell us about our origin: creation was the purpose oriented result of a loving God, who created this world as very good. These are theological claims about the nature of creation, but it does not seem that Genesis can answer the questions related to the processes of creation. We can see the theological impetus in the mythological nature of the creation accounts, and that there is more than one creation account for instance in Genesis 1-3, but the claim that science has nothing to teach us suggests that interpretation is a literalistic enterprise, obvious to any reader and intended to be read as an historical narrative and not as a mythic-poetical theological account.

Such a reading is also anti-rational, in that it proposes that whatever reason can propose to us, in this case the empirical processes of natural science, must be rejected a prioribecause they disagree with a literalistic, historical reading of Genesis 1-3. This leads to the second assumption.

2)      Is it problematic to let secular scientists tell us what some sections of the Bible really mean? I must admit that I interpret the Bible, not with an eye toward secular scientists, but with my full attention on the text of the Bible, using all of the resources available to an interpreter, such as historical context, the creation myths of other ancient peoples, the literary genre of the text, and human reason. Human reason is where secular science might come into play, but it is not because they are “scientists” as such, but because what such scientists propose about the nature of reality seems reasonable. The reality is that we all must pay attention to reason and the reasonableness of our claims. We can certainly have foundational disagreements about what we accept as reasonable evidence for interpreting biblical texts, but the fact that evidence begins with scientists does not mean that they are “interpreting” biblical texts, only that we accept some of their evidence as valuable for interpreting certain texts. There is a major difference in these stances, as I still accept the revealed nature of the Bible, which many scientists (and non-scientists for that matter) would find unreasonable, but which I find reasonable to maintain along with some scientific evidence about the age of the cosmos and the origin of human beings through the processes of evolution. The fact that I see evolution and creation guided by God would set me apart from many scientists, yet I see it as reasonable, and can accept both the theological claims of Genesis and the scientific claims of science.

3)      The claim that if people pay attention to science they “become susceptible to their own interpretations of the Bible at other points in its books and chapters as well” supposes that Lisle does not have his owninterpretation of the Bible, but “an” interpretation of the Bible which is “the” biblical interpretation. This sort of naïve realism is common among some interpreters, who do not see themselves as influenced by bias, prejudice, limitations of understanding, or their own historical time period, but only by “the truth,” or “the proper interpretation” of the Bible. Yet, all biblical interpretation is personally and historically conditioned and has not always been agreed upon or accepted at other stages of history. This is not a relativistic position, but one that takes into account perspective and the need to constantly have one’s own interpretations placed under scrutiny in the cold light of evidence and reason.

4)      So is it true that science causes you “to make certain assumptions”? It does; it makes the assumption that you will pay attention to evidence, even if, ultimately, you reject that evidence or disagree with that evidence. If scientific evidence is the product of human reason then we ought to pay attention to that evidence. Science does not cause you, however, to make the assumption of a non-theistic world, if that is what Lisle means by “make certain assumptions.” All interpreters make certain assumptions about the world. I assume that there is a God and that the Bible was revealed by God through human beings in history; I also assume that this world can be studied and understood empirically, although that is not the extent of human knowledge or knowing.

I would suggest that Lisle reads the Bible with a number of assumptions – that it is the literal world of God, that it is inerrant, etc., - and that he would be willing to support these assumptions if called upon. Every interpreter brings assumptions to his or her reading of the text and science, which relies upon reason, is one of the assumptions that rational readers of the Bible must bring to the biblical text, that is, that the biblical God acts in ways which make sense to human readers, though they ways of God are not always obvious or clear. If rationality does not underlie our reading of the Bible, it is not clear how interpreters can speak to one another.

5)      One assumption I do not make, however, is that the Bible is a “history book…written by God.” There is history in the Bible, and there are historical realities upon which Christian faith is based, but not every text in the Bible is intended as “history” or as “historical.”  Some passages are mythic, some are poetic, some are prophetic, and some are historical. This does make the task of the interpreter more complex, as the interpreter must make decisions and arguments as to the genre of the text and propose why a text must be construed in one way or another, but it is the proper task of the interpreter. I would certainly argue for the historicity of Jesus’ life, crucifixion and resurrection, though not every interpreter would, and this is the job of the interpreter.

The second issue is what is meant by the Bible being a book “written by God.” This implies that God has transcribed the Bible, or inspired human beings almost as automatons to write the Bible as directed by God. The nature of inspiration is a difficult issue for Christians of all sorts, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Evangelical, but the general Christian understanding is that human beings used all of their abilities, knowledge, skill and personality to write texts which are, in some way, guided by God, but that these are texts which emerge from and reflect the historical time periods in which they are written, the scientific limitations of those ages, and actual skills and abilities of the authors. If the claim that the Bible is a book “written by God” is meant to suggest that there is no human involvement in the writing of the Bible, this does not make sense of the human production of the texts or the actual texts in their historical context.

Lisle is correct, though, that scientific understandings might impact the nature of Christian theological claims about an actual “Adam and Eve,” or the doctrine of original sin. I wrote about this a couple of years ago at America and it is a more complex issue than many Christians might think. Catholic theology itself is not as clear cut on this issue as it might first seem. I wrote there,

Apart from the general claim that we cannot ignore the relationship between science and theology, significantly he {Pope John Paul II} stated  that “theology will have to call on the findings of science to one degree or another as it pursues its primary concern for the human person, the reaches of freedom, the possibilities of Christian community, the nature of belief and the intelligibility of nature and history.” This is a task that will be perpetually unfinished in some ways, as both science and theology are perpetually unfinished, but it seems that clarity is still needed in determining the basic implications of what even a theistic understanding of evolution implies for human origins. This is quite apart from the literary study of Genesis, which has clearly outlined the complex nature of these myths of human origins, their relationship to and dependence upon other ancient Near Eastern accounts of human origins and the theological not historical nature of these accounts. As John Paul II asked,

“If the cosmologies of the ancient Near Eastern world could be purified and assimilated into the first chapters of Genesis, might not contemporary cosmology have something to offer to our reflections upon creation? Does an evolutionary perspective bring any light to bear upon theological anthropology, the meaning of the human person as theimago Dei, the problem of Christology – and even upon the development of doctrine itself? What, if any, are the eschatological implications of contemporary cosmology, especially in light of the vast future of our universe? Can theological method fruitfully appropriate insights from scientific methodology and the philosophy of science?”

These are all excellent questions, but for those of us who have thought the answers of human origins in Catholic theology were more clearly in line with the findings of evolutionary theory, there seems to be more ambiguity than I was aware. Even if Catholic theology is long beyond Mohler's unease that the Bible is more than history or his rejection of evolutionary theory, it seems that the questions he asks regarding Adam and Eve still have answers vaguely similar to his.

The theological issues Lisle raises are significant, but biblical interpretation will not be able to answer them if it rejects science out of hand, for the rejection of science as such is the rejection of reason and biblical interpretation must rely on reason. There is no other option.

John W. Martens

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Marie Rehbein
4 years 1 month ago
The ICR website states in several places that God created the world in literally six twenty-four hour days. In other words, if the world had existed when God created the world, the time it took God to create the world could have been measured to be the equivalent of six twenty-four earth-hour days. These are people who for some reason need the Bible to be literally true in this exact way or else they cannot believe. Real scientists who have said that God days are millions of years long and that creation took a long time by our standards are rejected by the ICR. Unless I am not understanding the argument correctly, the idea is that if Genesis is not literally true with regard to time estimates, then the existence of Adam and Eve is questionable and the concept of original sin is invalid. However, from my perspective, the concept of original sin is a given and the story of Adam and Eve is an attempt to personify the nature of it. In my understanding, if the world were perfect, it could not exist, because it could not change. Therefore it must contain imperfection, and some of this imperfection takes the form of sin and evil. Unless I have my theology wrong, Jesus did not come to perfect the world, but to subdue the effects of this imperfection on the relationship between God and humanity. I once contemplated the idea that many cultures engaged in ritual sacrifice, but instead of looking at it the way we do now, as something primitive and superstitious that we outgrew as we became more informed, I considered whether this had been God's will for a time to get humanity ready to understand the purpose of Jesus coming as the sacrificial bearer of our sins. I really don't understand the approach of starting with Genesis, when we can start with the real world and work our way back to Genesis so easily.
Michael Barberi
4 years 1 month ago
I never questioned whether modern humans evolved from first human parents, namely a particular Adam and Eve. Recently, however, I have conducted several Y-DNA tests in an effort to complete my paper research on my family origins (which I was able to trace back to the 1500s in a small town in Italy). DNA genealogy is the latest scientific method of connecting us to ancient times when modern humans first migrated out of Africa to eventually populate the world. I read several books on human migration and there is currently consensus in the scientific community that modern humans (homo sapiens sapiens) all trace back to a so-called Adam and Eve that migrated out of Africa about 80,000 years ago +/- a margin of error. At that time, modern humans existed in Africa and date to about 200,000 years ago. However, all non-African modern humans can be traced to one so-called Y-Adam and Mitochondrial Eve. We also know that more primitive forms of humanoids existed at that time, namely, Neanderthals and Homo erectus and they have been dated to millions of years ago. These primitive forms of humanoids also migrated out of Africa and conclusive evidence of them are found in other parts of the world. Modern humans did not evolve from them. Modern humans replaced Homo erectus and Neanderthals as they did not survive the many climatic changes that occurred in history. This begs the question. If modern humans evolved from one Adam and Eve with a soul given to them by God, then at what point in the evolution of modern humans did this occur? In other words, when did God give these modern humans a soul? Since we know that modern humans migrated out of Africa 80,000 years ago and we are all descended from this so-called Adam and Eve, then according to the genealogy of the Bible God gave Adam and Eve a soul about 4,000-5,000 years ago. If true, this implies that the many modern humans who existed before 5,000 years ago had no soul until one was given to one particular Adam and Eve about 5,000 years ago. Perhaps the Bible story was more about the time when modern humans reached a stage when they could reason and choose between good and evil, when eschatology became a real question, and the time when God decided to intervene directly and convincingly into human existence to teach us how to live. It is a mystery like so many other mysteries where faith is the only answer.
Ghislain RUY
4 years 1 month ago
Dear Sir, you have analyzed and well written this problem. Although difficult, I do no t think that the doctrine of the original sin will be impaired nor changed. To make it short, not as an 'autodafe' but as a logical conclusion: times will come when scientist will be the best supporters of the Bible. Sincerely yours
John Martens
4 years 1 month ago

Dear Marie, Michael and Ghislain,

 

Thank you so much for your comments. I wanted to make the point that reason is essential in biblical interpretation, as it is in science. We cannot do without it. As to the second issue - how much influence should the findings of science have on biblical interpretation? - I think there can be genuine disagreements, since the findings of science do indeed change themselves. The question is particularly stark for using science to interpret the Bible because the teachings of the faith do indeed rest on faith in a number of cases, but are challnged by scientific findings. Ghislain suggests that "times will come when scientist will be the best supporters of the Bible," but I do not see that happening anytime soon, unless the scientist in question already accepts the Bible as revelation.

Marie's point  that she does not "understand the approach of starting with Genesis, when we can start with the real world and work our way back to Genesis so easily," is the issue of starting with revelation or reason. It depends: Christians accept that Genesis is revealed, the issue for me is whether that means the methods for interpreting Genesis are obvious. I do not think they are. How we interpret revelation must be guided by reason.

As Michael says, "it is a mystery like so many other mysteries where faith is the only answer." I agree, but since theology is the process of faith seeking understanding, we cannot avoid continuing to probe for answers and knowledge.

Thanks everyone for responding!

John

 

Michael Barberi
4 years 1 month ago
Your welcome John, and thanks for the reply. Continued scholarship is a given if we are to use of God-given reason and get answers to legitimate questions about the Adam and Eve Bible story. Without convincing answers, our reason will be shrouded in mystery and the only thing left is faith and grace.
Marie Rehbein
4 years 1 month ago
John, in science one may not say that something that cannot be explained must be God. If a theory claims that God does something, it is considered religion and not science. When we use reason, those who have faith consider themselves to be using something God-given, given for the purpose of understanding the revelation in Scripture. Those who do not have faith, however, consider reasoning to be a biological process that enables us to think analytically, discover other natural processes, and possibly invent the idea of God. When people assert that science validates Scripture, they are unwittingly raising science above faith; virtually making a god out of it. The method of interpreting Genesis may not be obvious, but it seems obvious that it cannot be done using science the way scientists have agreed is scientific.
J Cosgrove
4 years 1 month ago
John, My undergraduate degree was in science, mathematics and physics and later had to learn some biology for our business. About 15 years ago I saw an article about some professor in California being censored for questioning Darwin's ideas on evolution. At the time I had assumed that Darwin's ideas were the basis for evolution and well proven. So I was curious and started reading about the issue. A short time later, there was a conference on Intelligent Design sponsored by a Catholic organization in New York. Since I live in the area my wife and I went to it. Most of the major names in Intelligent Design were there, Michael Behe, William Dembski and Stephen Meyer. I found their presentations incredibly interesting so I started to read all I could about evolution. By the way nothing at the conference related to Genesis or a young earth. It was pure biology and mathematics/probability. Since then I have read a couple dozen books, purchased several college biology textbooks, books on evolutionary biology, books on evolution by Dawkins, Jerry Coyle, Futuyama, Ayala (an ex priest), Gee and several books supporting Intelligent Design. I know fairly well all the arguments and the science and who are the players in the evolution debate. The debate branches out into cosmology concerning the origins of the universe and what is called the "Fine Tuning" hypothesis and the origin of life itself. So the three main areas at issue are the origin of the universe, the origin of life and the origin of multi-cellular life and the various species. Notice that I used the word "origin" in each case. There are several other issues such as origin of existence or why does anything exist, the origin of consciousness for humans and the origin of the Earth. Science has done a remarkable job explaining what happens once something exists but has done a rather poor job of explaining origins with the origin of the universe and the origin of life seemingly beyond any natural explanations. Most people assumed that Darwin's ideas explained life's changes over the 3.5 billion years since life first supposedly appeared on Earth. However, my assessment of the science behind evolution is that Darwin's ideas are bad science and there is no know mechanism that can explain the changes of life since it first appeared almost 4 billion years ago. The typical person thinks Darwin's ideas are a given as I did 15 years ago but there is very strong biological research that says Darwin's ideas can only explain trivial changes in a species and anything really novel or complex is well beyond what is called neo Darwinian theory or sometimes called the Modern Synthesis. Along the way to trying to understand the science, I found that there are essentially four groups out there that are driving the discussions.
The first is the scientists or mainly atheists who must have a naturalistic mechanism for evolution and the origin of life and the origin of the universe. They control the academy and determine what gets into textbooks and gets published in the journals. If someone publishes something contrary to Darwin, they circle the wagons and essentially ostracize the point of view. It is interesting that these scientist's view of evolution is determined by an ideology. This is the most common aspect of what determines acceptance of a theory of evolution. It is ideology and not science. If they followed the science, Darwin's ideas would disappear from science textbooks and be relegated to a chapter in the History of Science.
The second group are often called Theistic Evolutionists or TE's. They too subscribe to Darwin's ideas and do so for ideological reasons. They believe in an omniscient all powerful God Who would have the capability of setting the universe in motion and the origin of life and the various species were then the result of the initial conditions built into the universe. Why they accept Darwin's ideas is because they cannot conceive of any other mechanism for life's changes. If someone came up with a non-Darwinian mechanism that would explain evolution they would change as would the atheistic scientists. Both these groups want a naturalistic process but for very different reasons. One wants it because a creator is anathema to their atheistic beliefs and the other wants it because the creator must be omniscient. These two groups make strange bedfellows and it turns out that many of the TE's will vigorously support the atheistic scientists on evolution because both hate the other two groups.
The third group are the YEC's or young earth creationists which you have written about above. They are a strange group to me but I have been discussing evolution for several years and run into them all the time. To a person they are invariably nice people and are certainly more Christian than most of the people I meet in real life and on this particular site. Their science is driven by their religious beliefs and it is interesting to watch them dance around the obvious shortcomings of their beliefs. Their biology is actually preety good as biology does not depend on evolution despite what the typical biologist would say. I have never seen anyone show how any particular belief in a mechanism of evolution is essential to biology. As an aside, modern genetics or micro-evolution is not an issue with them so they can make good doctors or research scientists in biology. But like the TE's and the atheistic scientists, their science on many things is driven by ideology. Because of this they are generally mocked by the science community who will make outrageous claims about them and their intelligence. Mocking is a standard tool of censure by scientists but YEC's understanding of biology especially evolutionary biology is superior to nearly all scientists including biologists.
The fourth group are those who follow the science and will interpret religion through what has been actually shown or proven. They tend to follow the evidence. They would accept Darwin's ideas if they were true but have found that what Darwin proposed is very limited. This group tends to support Intelligent Design as the most likely answer to the origin questions I mentioned above. Most are religious but not all. How they look at the bible will depend on who they are because many of these people are not Christian. Intelligent Design had been driven by two groups in the last 40 years. The first are scientists who are traditional believers in Christianity, including many Catholics and have no problem with the age of the earth and universe. The bible to them is completely in sync with an old earth/universe. The second group that has supported Intelligent Design are the YEC's. And because they are prominent in their espousal of Intelligent Design, the people opposing ID will try an lump all that support ID as creationists. However, this is not true as many who support ID believe in what science has learned about the age of the universe and the Earth and follow the biological arguments closely. The theological issue with ID is that it tends to point towards a God who is a tinkerer. A God who did not quite get it right and must step in every now and then to correct or nudge life in the right direction. To believers in the omniscient God, this is anathema. So the TE's will mock ID as will the atheistic scientists. But Catholic belief has been one of a tinkering God. It is painted on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. The Fall, the virgin birth, the Resurrection, prayer etc. are all a tinkering God or one that responds to His creation on an ongoing basis.
This is quite long and probably inappropriate for this site but I have found that few really understand the actual science and the implications of it. If humans evolved from anything, there is no known mechanism that could explain the biological changes that had to have happened for humans to appear. Each species has unique genetic sequences that generate unique proteins and the origin of these genetic sequence are unknown and seem to be beyond any known biological processes. The best that can be said is that it is a mystery especially the origin of humans. Maybe science will find out how it came about naturalistically but as of now there is nothing they can point to with any hope. And this is what should be taught to every child in the world and should be part of Catholic education. PS - my son played hockey at Shattuck St. Marys in Faribault.
Marie Rehbein
4 years 1 month ago
Pardon my interruption, but http://www.livescience.com/6379-frogs-surprisingly-humans-genetically-speaking.html It appears that recent research genome sequencing confirms the theory of evolution. Evidence for both evolution and natural selection is found in bacteria species, which in our lifetime have developed antibiotic resistance.
Michael Barberi
4 years 1 month ago
J. Cosgrove, I think the more important question is not about the origins of "life" (the first cell, et al) than it is about the origins and evolution of modern humans. Allow me some latitude here. There is wide consensus among scientists today based on DNA, archaeology, etc, that we can trace the origins of all modern humans who live "outside of Africa" to a Y-Adam and Mitochondrial-Eve that migrated out-of-Africa about 80,000 years ago. We also know that this so-called Adam and Eve can be traced to other modern humans that lived in Africa as far back as 200,000 years ago but never migrated out of Africa. We also know (consensus of scientists) that mutations, genetic drift and selection has produced a dizzying array of genetic patterns we see today, and the vast diversity we see in human populations. The question is: the origin of the "first" modern humans. Did they evolve from a more primitive form of humanoids? The answer: No as far as we know so far. For example, we did not evolve from Homo erectus or the Neanderthals. If Intelligent Design or God created the first modern humans, then when did this occur? The Bible does not offer us any reasoned evidence to answer this question. In fact, because of our continued scholarship in science, DNA, archaeology, Scripture, etc, many perplexing questions about the Bible story cannot be answered by our "reason" to the satisfaction of most scholars….at least at the present time. Clearly, some people and scientists believe they can answer this question, but I for one have not read such a theory, if one exists. If there is a scientific explanation of the Creation Story that adequately responses to the many questions I posited on this blog, let alone the many questions from scholars, then point me in the right direction. In my opinion, most Christians do not allow such mysteries to interfere in their lives as they strive to love God and neighbor according to their faith in Scripture. Why would we?
J Cosgrove
4 years 1 month ago
Hi Michael, I have never focused my attention on the origins of humans so much as the over all arguments for and against evolution per se. So I am afraid I cannot answer your question. There are major differences in anatomy between humans and their supposedly closest relative, chimpanzees. These differences are mainly in the coding regions of the genome and in the control areas for the coding regions. But to make it simple, humans have numerous unique proteins that reflect coding regions in the genome that are different from any other species. Science has no known process that can account for the origin of these genes and the corresponding proteins. It is thought that various processes alter the genome by adding additional sections to the genome and then these new parts of the genome will change over time by mutation eventually creating new genes and corresponding proteins. The only problem is that functional coding regions are extremely rare and the odds that a random process could produce one new functional protein is infinitesimally small let alone the hundreds or thousands of unique ones that are present in humans. This is a hot area of research because biologist realize what is at stake and what will happen to their belief system if they fail. Essentially this is saying that it is almost impossible for humans to evolve from something earlier. Humans are also a species that does not reproduce very quickly. So there is not as many generations for things to happen and for all these extremely complex changes to have happened. No one has ever identified one such change let alone hundreds and thousands and then these changes would have to permeate the species which is not easy. Evolutionary biologists lure one into what appears to be a simple process by photographs showing changes in form over time. They lead one to believe this is easy and happens often. The problem is there is no actual evidence for it. They have various bone fragments and that is essentially it. The rest is wishful thinking. As far as genetic analysis of human genomes, we are in the beginning. The first one was done only a dozen years ago and now we have services that analyze parts of our genome for health and ancestry reasons. I may contact you separately on this. I think I still have your email from a year ago. I am very interested in the Y chromosome. I have a analysis from 23andme and cannot understand it. My paternal great grandfather is the wild card amongst my near ancestors. He died as a young man in the late 1890s so I want to see which of the thousand so called relatives that 23andme said I have are in this line. They are all 4-6th cousins. I am just curious how you traced back the Y gene. By the way unless one is descendant from Africa, nearly all the rest of the world had Neanderthal genes. The average is about 3% and ranges from 2-4%. My genome had 3% Neanderthal. So according to biology we are the same species since there was inner breeding.
Michael Barberi
4 years 1 month ago
I have traced my Barbieri family to the 1500 in Italy. This took me 10 years and I had to learn to read Latin and Italian. I never could understand Notarial Gothic, but found someone that could translate it for me. I collected over 2,000 records and this included every Barbieri from a small Italian mountain town called Cerreto Sannita. Since then, I have learned to research Irish records, Swedish records and German (but not so good). I have become quite a genealogy sleuth and have helped many people scale their brick walls. Hence, I would be happy to help you with your genealogy including DNA results. Keep in mind that Neanderthals and Homo erectus migrated out of Africa more than a million of years ago. It was only modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) that migrated out of Africa 80,000 years ago. They existed along side of these primitive hominoids and some may have interbreed with them. However, we are not descended from them. As for gene growth, humanoid brains stopped growing a million years ago. We have invented Paleolithic technology (e.g., stone tools, the wheel, the spear and harpoon) through our imagination and many attempts of failure until success. The spread of new technologies all coincided with dramatic changes in climate and population expansions into new territories, advances in boat building and sailing in response to the flooding of the continental shelf as the sea levels rose and fell. Language, specially the spoke word, is seen as having arisen suddenly among modern humans between 35,000 and 50,00 years ago as one kind of "big bang" special event. The movement from a culture of hunter gathers to a culture of farming/agriculture meant that people stayed put so to speak unless climate forced them to move. As such, villages and communities were formed. All of this begs the question about the Adam and Eve in the Bible. If you trace back all the descendants of these first parents, you get to about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. That's it. You have to deal with the DNA and archeological evidence that demonstrates that modern humans migrated out of Africa to eventually populate the world about 80,000 years ago. In other words, we have to answer questions about out-of-Africa modern humans (post 80,000 years ago) and in-Africa modern humans (pre-80,000 years ago). Perhaps the Adam and Eve of the Bible were created by God and were thrown out of Paradise and entered the world in Africa about 200,000 years ago. If so, we have a many more questions to answer.
Dan Hannula
4 years 1 month ago
John W. Martens is from my neighboring state of Minnesota. So, I hope he appreciates my humor when I say that such discussions about the exceptionalism of humankind among the Earth's species makes me smile and reminds me of those exceptional folks from Lake Wobegon. Among Minnesotans in Lake Wobegon, all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average. Or, to paraphrase Tommy Smothers, God liked me better than those chimpanzees!

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