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The Genealogical Adam and Eve
Evolutionary science teaches that humans arose as a population, sharing common ancestors with other animals. Most readers of the book of Genesis in the past understood all humans descended from Adam and Eve, a couple specially created by God. These two teachings seem contradictory, but is that necessarily so? In the fractured conversation of human origins, can new insight guide us to solid ground in both science and theology?
In The Genealogical Adam and Eve, S. Joshua Swamidass tests a scientific hypothesis: What if the traditional account is somehow true, with the origins of Adam and Eve taking place alongside evolution? Building on well-established but overlooked science, Swamidass explains how it's possible for Adam and Eve to be rightly identified as the ancestors of everyone. His analysis opens up new possibilities for understanding Adam and Eve, consistent both with current scientific consensus and with traditional readings of Scripture. These new possibilities open a conversation about what it means to be human.
In this book, Swamidass
Some think Adam and Eve are a myth. Some think evolution is a myth. Either way, the best available science opens up space to engage larger questions together. In this bold exploration, Swamidass charts a new way forward for peace between mainstream science and the Christian faith.
"Dr. Swamidass's contribution is extremely significant, reshaping our understanding of the theological implications of evolution and population genetics. There is a recurring pattern in the history of science and religion. First, a scientific discovery and its seeming implications are treated as settled science and demands are made for a radical departure from recognizable Christian theology. Second, a sober corrective recognizes the legitimacy of the discovery but clarifies the real implications, and in so doing provides breathing room for real theological reflection, development, and genuine intellectual progress. Dr Swamidass, in this book, offers just such a sober corrective."
"It is unusual to find a professional scientist with a keen interest in theology, but Joshua Swamidass, a computational biologist, is just such a person. The Genealogical Adam and Eve is a scientifically informed and biblically engaged study of human origins. Many will find shocking its claims concerning universal common ancestors in the relatively recent past. Agree or disagree, the reader will find this to be a stimulating and thought-provoking book."
"Swamidass proposes a genealogical Adam as a way to help resolve conflict among the competing creation and evolution models for human origins. He is to be commended for exhorting us all to 'find that better way together' to resolve our differences with patience and humility."
"I am one of the many scientists who have maintained that the existence of Adam and Eve as ancestors of all people on earth is incompatible with the scientific data. In this book, Joshua Swamidass effectively demonstrates that people like me, stuck in a specific genetic paradigm, were wrong. Ironically, it was Richard Dawkins who first pointed to the key calculation fifteen years ago in The Ancestor's Tale. In explaining the results, Dawkins wrote, "I don't know about you, but I find these dates [for the last common ancestor] astonishingly recent." I read Dawkins's book soon after it came out but failed to appreciate its biblical ramifications. However, in writing this book Swamidass helps us remove our blinders. He shows in a clearly written, highly accessible style how a traditional understanding of the Genesis narrative, including the sudden creation of Adam and Eve, is fully compatible with science. Although creation through the evolutionary process is still central to the story, the existence of two individuals—ancestors of us all—is now freed from what seemed like scientific inconsistency and placed, once again, purely into the realm of theology where it belongs."
Part 1: Fracture
1. Courage, Curiosity, Empathy
Part 2: Ancestor
2. A Genealogical Hypothesis
3. Genetics Is Not Genealogy
4. Ancestors of Everyone Today
5. Genealogical Adams and Eves
6. The Mythology of Isolation
7. Direct and Miraculous Creation
Part 3: Human
8. Humans in Science
9. Humans in Theology
10. The Error of Polygenesis
11. Humans of the Text
Part 4: Mystery
12. The Splintering of Traditions
13. Recovering Many Traditions Together
14. A Narrative Experiment
15. Falling into Exile
16. Justice, Mercy, and Ancestry
17. Ending at a Beginning
Part 5: Crossroad
18. Tolerance, Humility, Patience
Appendix: Evidence and the Resurrection Bibliography Bibliography