Adam as the 1st Man in Evolution

We now finally come to Mc Conkie's seventh, and most popular objection to evolution. He rejects evolution because it denies Adam his rightful place in the plan of salvation:

Father Adam was the mightiest and most intelligent spirit son of God, save Jesus (Jehovah) only, among all the pre-existent hosts destined to come to this earth... When the populating of the earth was to commence, Adam came to fill his foreordained mission and stand as the first man of all men. He was placed in the Garden of Eden, fell in due course from his state of immortality and innocence, and became the first mortal flesh on earth...
As a mortal man, Adam held the priesthood, had the fulness of the gospel, heard the voice of God and saw his face, received the ministration of angels, held the keys of the kingdom, enjoyed the gifts of the Spirit, was an intelligent and wise as any man (save Jesus only) who has ever lived... He and other men of his day enjoyed abundant spiritual endowments and possessed physical bodies superior to those of any men now on earth. Many, including Adam, lived nearly a thousand years on earth.

This is where many members are simply unwilling to continue with the evolutionists. This has a lot to do with their ideas about the fall as we have already seen. For Mormons, however, the issue runs deeper for Adam becomes a real character, not just a symbol, in most of their modern scriptures. Joseph went so far as to give him a location, Missouri, and a time, about 6,000 years ago.

This, however, is one of many versions of the historical Adam which are currently accepted by at least some faithful Mormons. Granted, some of these other versions are hardly popular in the Church, but I maintain that they are viable options.

1) Adam as first man
2) Adam as symbolic myth
3) Adam as (first) prophet
4) Adam as God

Each of these versions of Adam will recieve their own treatment in individual posts.

Adam as the First Man

The most popular version of Adam in the church by far is the maintains that Adam was the first man. All people are equally and completely descendants of him and his wife Eve. This couple entered mortality sometimes around 4,000 B.C.E. somewhere in Missouri. Thus, all lineages of man lead back to this couple who lived a mere 6,000 years ago on the American Continent.

Not just evolution, but science in general says that this couldn't be further from the truth. They too speak of a Y-Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, the most recent male and female ancestors, respectively, from which we have inherited our Y Chromosomes and Mitochondria.

Let us discuss Mitochondria Eve. Consider how each and every human living today (we will call this set E.t) was born of one and only one mother. Thus if we consider all of these mothers to be set E.t-1 it will invariably be smaller than E.t since nobody has more than one mother, but many mother have more than one child. Now consider the mothers of all those in E.t-1, we shall call it E.t-2. It too will be smaller by the same reasoning. If we continue back through time this way, we will come to the set E.0, which has only 1 member, Mitochondrial Eve, the closest female ancestor of all humans now living. All the mitochondrial cells in any human being today can be traced back to her mitochondrial cells.

The same logic can hold for our Y-Chromosome Adam as well. All of the Y-Chromosomes found in any living human being today can ultimately be traced back to Y-Chromosome Adam. We should also mention that these two individuals cannot both be the Adam and Eve of the Bible for one simple reason, they were not married.

They didn't even live in the same millennium as eachother. Since paternity is far less time and energy consuming than is maternity, the tendency in much of nature is for men (some more so than others) to have far more offspring than women. This is especially the case in polygamous societies and tribes. Thus the sets A.t, A.t-1... A.0 and so on will shrink far faster than the E.t, E.t-1... E.0 sets will.

A few more details about Mitochondrial Eve (and implicitly Y-Chromosome Adam). We know that she had more than 1 daughter which survived to reproduce. If she only had 1 then this daughter would be Mitochondrial Eve instead.

Second, and even more importantly, she had no clue that she was Mitochondrial Eve. Such a title can only be given in retrospect, almost necessarily thousands of years after the fact. She only become M.E. when all the other women who were contemporeous with her, as well as all their non-M.E.-descendants die off and all that remains is descendant of M.E. This will not happen for many, many generations after M.E.'s death.

Third, and closely related, is the fact that there was nothing special about M.E. other than the fact that her progeny survive. That is the only thing that set her apart from her contemporaries. She was not the first woman in any aspect. She was not much stronger, faster, more beautiful or more clever than any other woman of her day. This derives from the fact that she was no more of a mutant than anybody else. Remember, evolution maintains that we are all mutants, just like M.E.

Therefore, M.E., or Y.A. by the same logic, is not a very special title. Suppose a virus were to wipe out even 50% of the world's population. Surely a new woman in the distant past would then retroactively inherit the title M.E. The events that determine who will be M.E. or Y.A. do not take place until many generations after such people have come and gone.

Well then, who was the first human? There was none. Remember, we have rejected essentialism. There was no point when anybody could say that a particular person was human while its parents were not. Similar to the crowning of M.E. speciation can only be declared many generations after the fact. Thus, there never was an Adam and Eve in the "first man and woman" sense.

While the Genographic Project currently underway will surely refine these numbers, we can give dates to M.E. and Y.A. as Jared has already done. Mitochondrial Eve lived in Africa about 160,000 years ago. Y-Chromosome Adam lived, very probably in Africa as well, about 60,000 years ago.

There is no evidence which points to there every having been a first man or woman in the popular sense. There is no evidence which points to a universally common ancestor living a mere 6,000 years ago, least of all in the American continent. This version of Adam and Eve must be rejected if we are to accept evolution.

Summary: The most popular reasons for rejecting evolution have to do with Adam and Eve. There are, however, numerous versions of Adam and Eve worth believing in. The most popular one, which maintains that they were the first man and woman, goes directly against all the evidence gathered by science and must, therefore, be rejected.


Very cool. I love this blog. 

Posted by Kim Siever

4/21/2005 01:57:00 PM  

Yet what about Abraham as the father of us all?

4/21/2005 08:42:00 PM  

We can hold out for that for Adam, as I will mention in a coming post. This would fall under the "Adam as Prophet" heading. We should mention, however, that this is not what the issue is. We can talk about being a "spiritual father" with out even touching on evolution, but that is not what most people mean when they talk about Adam. It is a good suggestion though which will be mentioned in a later post. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

4/21/2005 09:40:00 PM  

Jeff Said:

"There is no evidence which points to a universally common ancestor living a mere 6,000 years ago. . ."

Hi. I have not read much about the Mitochondria Eve, and know nothing about genetics. I am at the mercy of the experts, who, in my view, are somewhat at the mercy of their pre-existing paradigms.

Here is one cite I quickly found to counter the "no evidence" claim quoted above. While you may be able to completely dismiss the evidence, that is different from "no evidence."

here and go to the link.

4/24/2005 06:49:00 PM  


I may be accused of being small minded, or seeking to defend a position instead of seeking after truth, but anything Answers in Genesis says is automatically suspect, in my book. I've seen enough compliants on other science blogs about them that I have a hard time having an open mind to their arguments.

They have a theological stake in making sure science conforms to their beliefs, and although they have a few degrees among them, they seem to be jacks-of-all-trades when it comes to science. I lack the expertise to really evaluate many of their arguments, so I have to make a judgment of what authorities I trust. I know scientists to be generally good an honest people, whose work is constantly criticised and challenged. I also have seen theologically-motivated arguments distort my own religion. It only takes a few falsehoods mixed with truth to really make sorting things out difficult. Therefore, I'll take the word of experts in the field over Answers in Genesis any day.

For specific responses to the link you gave, see here  and here

Posted by jared

4/25/2005 07:11:00 AM  

I can see that you have read quite a bit regarding IDC and other critiques on evolution. I'm just curious if you have read anything from the evolutionists.

When I first got into the evolution debates trying to figures out what it was that I should believe, I too started out with the IDC literature. I found it fairly convincing and wrote a 75 single-spaced-page essay critizicing evolution. My institute director loved it.

As you can now tell, however, things have changed for me. Once I started reading the other side of the story I realized who it was that seemed to be building their house upon the sand.

IDC has criticized Dawkin's computer simulation as not being a very good model for what happens in evolution. This is true for his model in vastly oversimplified. But these critiques have been more than over ruled by the results of the far more accurate program, Avida.

IDC's were also very excited about Behe's book on "irreducible complexity." Their excitement was two part, 1) they finally had a book written by a scientist on their side, and 2) the merit of their argument. Unfortunately, other scientists were not too impressed. They took the argument to heart and have shown that while it makes sense to the average layperson who might read his book, Behe's argument ultimately doesn't accomplish what he hoped.

After reading The Wedge material, I could criticize Darwin with the best of them, but I did not understand evolution. It wasn't until I started reading Dennett, Dawkins, Ruse and Zimmerman that I began to understand the rather conservative reasoning which evolutionists employ. These author's were not attacking IDC directly in their writings. The considered it hardly worth notice. For a response to Creationism read Pennock and Perakh.

There is a great book which I would recommend to Creationist and Evolutionist alike. Pennock's "Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics: Philosophical, Theological and Scientific Perspectives ." It is a compilation of essays (really good ones from each side) intended to give IDC's a chance to give it their best shot and let the scientist give theirs. It is about 700-800 pages, but well worth the read. While Pennock is clearly not with the IDC's, which makes some people think that he stacks the cards a bit, he really does allow them to give their best attacks and responses to the scientists' rebuttals. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

4/25/2005 12:23:00 PM  

Zimmerman? Did you mean Carl Zimmer? 

Posted by Jared

4/25/2005 01:06:00 PM  

I guess I'd posted over at your other blog by accident.

With regards to Adam as meaning First Man which McConkie makes a big deal of relative to Abr 1, I'd note that both Noah and Lehi would thus be Adams. Something to think about when considering how to deal with the historic Adam. 

Posted by clark

4/25/2005 01:52:00 PM  

Thanks for the correction Jared. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

4/25/2005 02:58:00 PM  

This versio of Adam would fit under the "Adam as (first) Prophet" heading which will yet be dealt with. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

4/25/2005 04:24:00 PM  

Jeffry, that's really not Adam as first prophet. Rather it is Adam as first patriarch. A rather significant difference.

4/28/2005 12:39:00 AM  

maybe you could explain the difference a little better. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/02/2005 04:33:00 PM  



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