Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Possible Multiple Branches of Homo Sapiens Throw Into Question the Genetic Adam & Eve Theory

I really do not understand the complex nature of genetic studies into human evolution.  The science quickly surpasses my attempts at understanding what is said.  However, TDAXP linked to an interesting Gene Expression post on how it appears that the whole theory of a genetic/mitochondrial Eve theory is flawed.

More and more it is looking like, as the blog post states, there "may have been... several admixture events with 'other' lineages, both within, and outside of, Africa."  Translation:  there may have been several groups of humans that mixed into the "out of Africa" humans we focus on when discussing the rise of man.  The rest is above my head but the implication is clear, our understanding of human evolution is still our best guess which is likely to change some more, much like our understanding of evolution itself has and expansion of humans into the Western Hemisphere.

TDAXP mentioned the "Land of Nod" when bringing the story to my attention.  I find that the Bibical reference is relevant to this possible scientific discovery, much further in fact than the simple Adam & Eve and mitochondrial Eve connection.

First, a bit of background.  In the Bible, Cain is forced to leave his home after he killed his brother Abel.  "Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16 RSV-CE).  However, before Cain does so he expressed his fear to God that others would kill him. "Then Cain said to the Lord, Guilt like mine is too great to find forgiveness. And now thou art robbing me of the ground, and I shall be cut off from thy protection, and wander over the earth, a fugitive; anyone I meet will slay me" (Genesis 4:13-14 Knox).  But it all worked out for Cain in the end because God gave him a mark of protection, got married, and started a family.

The question of who was Cain afraid of and where his wife came from has been a theological question for some for a long period of time.  While orthodox interpretations of Abrahamic faiths contend that these others are other children of Adam and Eve, there have been scatterings of Biblical literalists who contend that some souless form of humans lived before Adam and lived in Nod.  The theory became a common racist theme to set apart the Protestant White, Northern European race from others in the 1700s.  Today the pre-Adamite theory continues to divide some creationists.

While I am not trying to get religious on this topic, the reason why I am telling this religious aside is point out that once the orthodoxy (not necessarily the literalness but the orthodox interpretation) of Genesis was questioned a multitude of creation theories, of which pre-Adamites was just one, were disputed over for hundreds of years.  I fully expect that, if the pure-mitochondrial Eve rise of man theory is shown to be unlikely then we will be bombarded by many very scientific sound and unsound theories on the rise of man for decades.  However, I would take everything with skepticism because the more we find out about the rise of man the more we understand the gaps in our theories.

No comments: