A Tale of Two Eves

06/16/2014

There were apparently two Eves, two mothers of all mankind. One, according to the Bible was created some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. The other, according to certain anthropologists, first arose out of Africa perhaps 200,000 years ago and is referred to as Mitochondrial Eve. So will the real Eve please stand up. While the Bible, as I’ve mentioned before in a number of other posts, has never been able to come close to proving its timeline, science continues to struggle with its own theories. I say theories because they’re always changing or as Ashley Montague once said, “Science is proof without certainty.”

Take the theory of Mitochondrial Eve for example. Based on the work of Alan Wilson and Rebecca Cann, science discarded its previous concept of the origins of man and fully embraced Wilson and Cann’s “Out of Africa” theory. Again, it was simply a “theory”. In their seminal paper entitled The Recent African Genesis of Humans Wilson and Cann actually posited, “that all humans today can be traced along maternal lines of descent to a woman who lived about 200,000 years ago, probably in Africa.” The operative word here is probably and yet science gladly embraced it as fact.

Of course, the issue is now somewhat moot as Wilson and Cann realized that their findings were flawed. Based on their new tests on Australian Aboriginal mitochondrial DNA, they put the origin of man back to 400,000 years ago, in their opinion earlier than any other racial group. That’s Australia, mate, not Africa. The thing is that science is like a dog with an old bone. That is, it doesn’t want to give it up  the “Out of Africa” theory.

As for myself, it doesn’t matter what science and religion believe in or which dogmatic idea holds sway at any point in time. As Bernard Werber so eloquently put it, “The point is not to
believe or not believe. 
What matters is to ask 
as many questions as possible.” As for religion, it will be forever be married to the idea that God created the world in six days and science will constantly be in love with its theory du jour. Through it all, probably no one will believe that it would have been possible to have had multiple Adam and Eves in various locations around the planet; further, no one will believe that man had existed on this planet for millions of years; no one will believe that evolution was aided and directed by off-planet entities; and certainly no one will believe that there is a God, a prime creator of all things, but that he is not the god of the Bible. Instead, we are stuck with the tale of two Eves.

 

“Every conscious thought you have, every moment you spend on an idea, is a commitment to be stuck with that idea and with aspects of that level of thinking, for the rest of your life.”

– Kevin Michel, Moving Through Parallel Worlds To Achieve Your Dreams

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18 Responses to “A Tale of Two Eves”

  1. tildeb said

    A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step—known as a theory—in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon. (a good article)

    You’re trying to talk about science without understanding the terminology of science you are criticizing. The problem is entirely your own, namely, that you confuse what a theory means – an explanation demonstrated to fit the data – with a hypothesis. There is no ‘theory’ of human parentage save evolution and the sub category of human genetics. Of on these matters there is no scientifically valid ‘debate’.

    None.

    How much or how little confidence we place in the mitochondrial Eve hypotheses is based on how well it fits the evidence. As new evidence arrives, the date and location changes. This is a strength of the scientific method and not a weakness as you present it to be. If the hypothesis seems to fit all of the data, then we increase our confidence in it not with belief or personal opinion/preference but by how well the explanation produces products that work for everyone everywhere all the time based on the underlying explanation… in this case genetics. The very information you use to try to discredit a specific mitochondrial Eve comes from genetics that has been demonstrated to work for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s why your DNA informs your heritage, why your biology is linked to mine, why our biology is linked to all life on earth, why medication is efficacious, and so on. The same method is used to produce your cell phone; to discredit one is to discredit the other and I don’t for a moment think you understand that this is, in effect, what you’re actually doing. You want your cake – knowledge adduced from reality using the scientific method and all the products it produces that work – and eat it, too – holding creationist beliefs contrary to some bits of knowledge adduced from reality to suit your religion beliefs. And you rationalize these contrary beliefs to be magically equivalent when they aren’t equivalently adduced. The knowledge produced by the scientific method has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with an equivalent kind of belief applied to various and conflicting religious ideologies.

    You should already know this. That you don’t is very concerning.

    • chicagoja said

      Thank you for your comments. I wasn’t discussing the scientific method – only pondering the results. However, you missed the point of my post. It’s about belief systems and the role they play in our lives. As for science, I take a back seat to people like:
      – David Eagleman – “What a life in science really teaches you is the vastness of our ignorance.”
      – Robert Lanza – “We have failed to protect science against speculative extensions of nature, continuing to assign physical and mathematical
      properties to hypothetical entities beyond what is observable in nature.”
      – Paul Feyerabend – “Thus science is much closer to myth than scientific philosophy is prepared to admit… it is inherently superior only for those who
      have already decided in favour of a certain ideology, or who have accepted it without having ever examined its advantages and its
      limits.”
      Hope that clarifies where I stand on these issues.

  2. justagrumpyoldman said

    John, I suggest you ignore the posturing of the previous commenter. You are correct in believing that Wilson and Cann were basing their comments on theory. “…“that all humans today can be traced along maternal lines of descent to a woman who lived about 200,000 years ago…” is statement enough that they considered it a theory. It was a theory. It was not until they discovered the flaw that they then had to create another hypothesis to develop a better theory. The hypothesis comes before the theory is formed.

    Love your work here and your writing style – clear and clean, considered thought and knowledgable.

    – Grumpy

    • chicagoja said

      Thank you for your comments. Theories, hypothesis; they’re big words often used by people with big vocabularies but no critical thinking skills. Therefore, I have no use for them. I’m much more interested in why we believe than what it is that we believe in (and the big words we use to justify those beliefs). Come again any time.

      • justagrumpyoldman said

        Your welcome John and you seem to be a man of my own heart. My takeaway from your article is that neither the information in the Bible nor the the theories of the scientists are provable. We will probably never know the truth and in the end it doesn’t matter. I will be back to finish reading your archive…

      • chicagoja said

        You’re right. How can “anything” be provable when we can’t understand the universe, or even our own bodies for that matter. Life isn’t about knowledge anyway; it’s about experience, or to take a phrase out of the scientific realm – it’s about observation. Happy trails partner.

      • tildeb said

        *sigh*

        Again, confusion with the scientific terminology leads you to making claims like this.

        Science is a method and not a conclusion.

        Science isn’t about ‘proofs’. Proofs are used in an axiomatic system. The universe is not an axiomatic system.

        Science is about creating explanatory models. If the model works, then we grant it a higher degree of confidence. This is why scientific theories are deserving of our highest confidence… because they work for everyone everywhere all the time. The by-products of these explanatory models are what you use all the time: applications, therapies, and technologies you expect to work because they have been DEMONSTRATED to work… for everyone everywhere all the time.

        None of this is equivalent to religiously endorsed faith-based claims. Faith-based claims don’t produce similar applications, therapies, and technologies. Faith-based beliefs are not demonstrable like science-adduced beliefs and they fail to produce explanatory models that work for everyone everywhere all the time.

        Pretending that these kinds of beliefs are equivalent – that each produces a different kind of explanatory model that works when this is demonstrably false – is delusional thinking. It is factually incorrect. If such a claim is maintained in spite of knowing it is incorrect then this is a concern if one wishes to profess a care about honouring what’s true. It should be even more of a concern for anyone who takes seriously the intentional breaking of a commandment not to do this.

      • chicagoja said

        Of course science is about proofs. In the end, it’s only about proofs. That’s what drives the funding of Science. As a result, some scientists take theories and call them proof. Richard Dawkins is a case in point.

      • tildeb said

        Only in the vernacular. Science is about informing probabilities and likelihood. The point is that confidence is reflected by these and not personal opinions and the kind of beliefs used to inform religions.

    • tildeb said

      It’s not ‘posturing’, Grumpy. My comment is to clarify why belief in a biblical Eve and belief in a mitochondrial Eve are not equivalent kinds of belief. I thought John was worthy of a clarification why.

      You make it sound as if population genetics is founded on an ever-changing basis (that finding better evidence reveals the prior hypothesis to be ‘flawed’) when it is anything but. Self correction, you may be startled to hear, isn’t a flaw in methodology but a vast improvement over dogma.

      You also completely ignore all the mutually supportive lines of enquiry, for the out-of-Africa hypothesis… such as linguistic development that parallels such a migration, to name but one.

      I suspect you don’t really care and that’s fine, but don’t pretend that your disinterest is somehow insightful. The biblical version of a Poof!ed woman (in one version of Genesis) is not in any way, shape, or fashion a meaningful and supported alternative yet equivalent explanation. It’s a faith-based rather than evidence-adduced belief.

      • justagrumpyoldman said

        It certainly came across that way, with an air of very strong admonishment and a supercilious attitude (as you have again in this comment). Once again you are using semantics and lack of exploration of the topic to attack the person, rather than discuss the topic or more correctly while discussing the topic.

        Even if the article used slightly incorrect terminology, it needs to be written in a way that the `common man’ can understand the point, not just for academics and pseudo-intellectuals.

        I hardly expect John has set out to write a thesis. Each article is a compact thought provoker and it has been interesting to follow his thought processes across each article, as person exploring the world for the Truth.

        I have my own thoughts about what has been written, as do many others here but we are discussing not attacking. Keep it clean please…

      • tildeb said

        Well, of course it’s an admonishment because my comments attempt to correct a misrepresentation! And it’s an intentional misrepresentation to make two things equivalent when they are not! Hence, my examples.

        If by ‘clean’ and ‘not attacking’ you mean non-confrontational, non-critical, fully accepting, then the comment section becomes nothing more than a cheering section celebrating how well it echoes the OP. If this is the case, then I won’t bother correcting obvious and intentional distortions of what’s demonstrably true what’s true is not the primary consideration! The OP’s truth value then doesn’t matter… as much as tone in responding to it.

        How is that a meaningful and enlightening exchange? It’s like exchanging identical recipes; it may look good and feel like an exchange, but is it?

        If one wishes to have an informed opinion about such matters described in the OP based on what’s true and demonstrably so, then one will have to gird one’s loins for confrontation, for criticism, for having one’s opinions challenged if there is cause. My comments reveal this cause.

        For example, your claim of ‘slightly incorrect terminology’ is ‘slightly’ off to the degree that knowledge adduced from reality is not ‘slightly’ equivalent to faith-based claims imposed on it. And we know this is more than ‘slight’ when the two are in opposition and conflict!

        In addition, just because you couch the scope of this difference in such a distorted way as to present it to be more a tangential matter of semantics rather than the central feature of my reason for commenting reveals a more than slight degree of a willingness on your part to dismiss what’s true in the name of preferring non critical tone and personal respect.

        Respecting what’s not true in the name of tone consideration I don’t think deserves any intellectual respect whatsoever whether you call it ‘clean’ or some other pleasant and nice term. I respect intellectual honesty and integrity too much to make them equivalent to going along to getting along. Sometimes we need to have our notions challenged. When we empower our comfort level ensconced in religious belief to be the arbiter of what’s true rather than reality’s arbitration of it, and then allow the tone to determine our respect. we’ve left the playing field of meaningful criticism to get at what’s true and entered the domain of our own comfort to be the judge. Hence, the analogy of receiving the same recipe: we haven’t ‘received’ anything we didn’t already start with!

      • chicagoja said

        I wish you guys would take your petty arguments someplace else. By the way, “reality’s arbitration of it” by definition requires an arbiter. I can only image in your view of nirvana who that would be.

      • tildeb said

        By the way, no it doesn’t. Reality itself is the arbiter, meaning it – and not our beliefs – determines what is true about it. And we can use this by seeing if explanations produce stuff that works reliably and consistently well… for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s why you’re reading this… and not because you ‘believe’ your computer and the technology and applications that seem to work into existence. Reality has arbitrated these explanations we use to be worthy of our confidence for just this reason and my belief and your belief has nothing whatsoever to do with it. So when reality arbitrates your belief in the biblical Eve to be without merit, it seems only one of us is willing to grant to reality this role of arbiter. You try to equivocate and make your contrary beliefs in the biblical Eve equivalent for really poor reasons worthy of little if any confidence.

        Now if reality had indicated a mitochondrial Eve and a Y Adam of the same date to which everyone of us could trace our lineage, then reality – and not your beliefs – would have lent it its arbitrated merit. But this isn’t the case, is it? Why, I wonder? Do you wonder?

      • chicagoja said

        Too much double speak for me. You say if reality had indicated. What reality. Is it a living thing? Is it evidence in the form of sensory experiences that we process through our brain to produce our personal beliefs? Reality, as you use the term, must have a source and an arbiter. There has to be someone who interprets and declares to the world that a belief in the biblical Eve (certainly not mine) is without merit. You say that you have granted to reality this role of arbiter. That’s what brainwashed people do when they accept other peoples’ beliefs on faith. By the way, I don’t live in your pseudo-intellectual world where other pseudo intellectuals have already decided reality (like we all came Out of Africa). Since I don’t live in that world, I also choose not to communicate with such people. Good bye and good luck with “reality” arbitrating everything for you.

      • justagrumpyoldman said

        PMSL!!!!

  3. justagrumpyoldman said

    My apologies Ethical Warrior, I was not out to argue only to gently point out that your blog is not a scientific journal – requiring the same rigourous scrutiny. However, I should not have kept pushing his buttons at the expense of your blog space.

    I laugh only because people that are bound hand and foot by their belief systems can not handle someone pushing back. It threatens their world. You wonder about why we believe, rather than what we believe and this is a graphic example. Science can be supported with the the same maniacal fervour as a religious zealot. Both are the same thing to me.

    I look forward to your next article… and promise to behave

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