Thursday, July 05, 2007

Australian Aborigines, Europeans Share African Roots, DNA Suggests

Aborigines, Europeans Share African Roots, DNA Suggests, National Geographic, Kate Ravilious, May 7, 2007 ... An older article from my backlog, but an important one.

[Above: Map of early human migrations according to mitochondrial population genetics, Wikipedia]

Where did we come from? Part of the answer may lie in a new study that suggests Australian Aborigines and Europeans share the same roots-and that both emerged from a wave of African migrations more than 50,000 years ago. Both populations can be traced back to the same founders, according to study co-author Toomas Kivisild of the University of Cambridge. The finding may strike another nail into the coffin of the "multiregional" hypothesis-the idea humans evolved separately in different parts of the world. The scientists took blood samples from modern Aborigines and Asian populations and compared their DNA. The researchers then traced the family tree backward through their mitochondrial DNA (the female lineage) and Y chromosome DNA (the male lineage). "We could trace back to where the branches join by counting mutations in the DNA," said study co-author Phillip Endicott of the University of Oxford. Assuming an average DNA mutation rate, the scientists calculated how many years had passed since the populations split.

Boost for "Out of Africa" All of the Australian lineages fell within four DNA branches, which are associated with the exodus of modern humans from Africa between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago. As the theory suggests, Africans are believed to have migrated on foot to Eurasia, the large landmass where the European and Asian continents join. The descendants of these migrants may have been able to cross a land bridge between Australia and neighboring New Guinea when sea levels were lower 50,000 years ago ... . Previously archaeologists have argued that the change in skeletal features seen in Aborigine fossils-from slender about 40,000 years ago to stocky about 13,000 years ago-signals a mixing between modern humans and more ancient populations such as the Neandertals ... . But the new DNA results suggest no such intermingling occurred. "This result provides strong evidence for the 'Out of Africa' hypothesis and gives the multiregionalists much less room to move," said Richard Gillespie ... at the Australian National University in Canberra. Gillespie was not involved in the study. The research will be published in tomorrow's edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

No Outside Influence The findings may also influence the debate over whether Asian groups migrated to Australia more recently. Over the last 10,000 years the archaeological record in Australia has changed significantly, including the first appearance of the dingo-a type of dog-and new stone tool industries, "which (may) represent the intrusion of new human migrations into the continent," study co-author Endicott said. However, the distinctiveness of the Aborigine DNA means the population has remained relatively isolated, ruling out the possibility of later influxes into Australia from Asia. "If there had been Asian migrations, we would have expected to see regional specific subgroups in the Aboriginal DNA," Kivisild, of Cambridge, said. "But they were completely absent." ...

As the article says, this finding is "another nail into the coffin" of what is today called the "multiregional" hypothesis but originally was called Polygeneticism, i.e. that the human race tree stemmed from multiple roots. This is opposed to what has been called the "out of Africa" hypothesis, but which more recently is being called (e.g. by Wikipedia), the "recent single origin hypothesis." This was originally called Monogenticism, the view that humans all stemmed from a single root.

This latter is consistent with the Biblical view. Indeed, as paleoanthropologist Richard E. Leakey noted, originally the "`out of Africa' hypothesis" was called, "the `Noah's Ark' hypothesis and the `Garden of Eden' hypothesis" (my emphasis)!:

"Instead of being the product of an evolutionary trend throughout the Old World, modern humans are seen in the alternative model as having arisen in a single geographical location. Bands of modern Homo sapiens would have migrated from this location and expanded into the rest of the Old World, replacing existing premodern populations. This model has had several labels, such as the `Noah's Ark' hypothesis and the `Garden of Eden' hypothesis. Most recently, it has been called the `Out of Africa' hypothesis, because sub-Saharan Africa has been identified as the most likely place where the first modern humans evolved. Several anthropologists have contributed to this view, and Christopher Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, London, is its most vigorous proponent. The two models could hardly be more different: the multiregional- evolution model describes an evolutionary trend throughout the Old World toward modern Homo sapiens, with little population migration and no population replacement, whereas the `Out of Africa' model calls for the evolution of Homo sapiens in one location only, followed by extensive population migration across the Old World, resulting in the replacement of existing premodern populations. Moreover, in the first model, modern geographical populations (what are known as `races') would have deep genetic roots, having been essentially separate for as much as 2 million years; in the second model, these populations would have shallow genetic roots, all having derived from the single, recently evolved population in Africa." (Leakey, R.E., "The Origin of Humankind," [1994], Phoenix: London, Reprinted, 1995, pp.86-88).

The late Baptist theologian Bernard L. Ramm (1916-1992), more than 50 years ago echoed the point of the late Presbyterian theologian, Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) that, "The unity of the human race [monogeneticism] is one of the most important matters in Christian theology ... Theology is more concerned with the proof that man is one, rather than the near or far antiquity of man. Polygeneticism [multiple origins] is far more damaging to theology than any teaching of the vast antiquity of man":

"The unity of the human race [monogeneticism] is one of the most important matters in Christian theology. The Genesis record implies the unity of the race. and Paul's affirmations in Romans 5:12-17 and 1 Cor. 15:21-58 clearly teach it. Warfield writes:
So far from being of no concern to theology ... it would be truer to say that the whole doctrinal structure of the Bible account of redemption is founded on its assumption that the race of man is one organic whole, and may be dealt with as such. It is because all are one in Adam that in the matter of sin there is no difference, but all have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:12f.), and as well that in the new man there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:11). The unity of the old man in Adam is the postulate of the unity of the new man in Christ. [Warfied, B.B., "On the Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race," in "Biblical and Theological Studies," Presbyterian & Reformed: Philadelphia PA, 1911, p.261]
... The unity of the human race is capable of real defence. Anatomically the human body is the same form from pygmies to the giant Wattusies and from the fairest Scandinavian to the darkest negroid. Racial differences are superficial and are certainly of little survival value. Physiologically the race is one. Tests on pulse rate and breathing, show some variations which are not significant. Psychologically speaking, the powers of perception, the patterns of reaction, and the function of the central nervous system are similar in all the races. Physically the unity of the race is proven by racial interfertility. As far as we understand, the modern scientific anthropologists agree that mentally and physically the human race is one. ... Warfield asserts:
[The antiquity of the human race] has of itself no theological significance. It is to theology, as such, a matter of entire indifference how long man has existed on earth.' [Ibid, p.261]
The reason for this assertion is obvious. The sin of Adam imputed to humanity depends on the unity of humanity, not on the antiquity of humanity. Theology is more concerned with the proof that man is one, rather than the near or far antiquity of man. Polygeneticism [multiple origins] is far more damaging to theology than any teaching of the vast antiquity of man. In order to clear the atmosphere about the antiquity of man certain notions very widespread among evangelicals must be corrected. (Ramm, B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1954] Paternoster: Exeter UK, Reprinted, 1967, pp.214-216. Emphasis original).

However, this also is "another nail into the coffin" of the view (which I myself for many years held) that the Biblical genealogies can be stretched back "between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago" to a literal Adam and Eve who are the biological ancestors of the entire human race. But if Adam (Heb. "Man") and Eve (Heb. "life") are reinterpreted as symbols representing the unity of mankind, then "the two books of God ["Nature and Scripture"]" can be seen to "recite the same story":

"If we believe that the God of creation is the God of redemption, and that the God of redemption is the God of creation, then we are committed to some very positive theory of harmonization between science and evangelicalism. God cannot contradict His speech in Nature by His speech in Scripture. If the Author of Nature and Scripture are the same God, then the two books of God must eventually recite the same story." (Ramm, Ibid., p.25).

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
Also The Shroud of Turin blog.


Leviticus 26:36-39 36" 'As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them. 37They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies. 38You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. 39Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers' sins they will waste away.

4 comments:

Beast Rabban said...

Thanks for posting this fascinating piece, and the comments by Christian ministers stating that it supports the message in Genesis of the essential unity of humanity. You've done a great job.

This is important as atheists like Dawkins have been using this to try to steal Christians' thunder. I remember hearing Dawkins speak at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature 10 years ago, when he was promoting his book Unweaving the Rainbow. He was claiming that the 'Out of Africa' hypothesis was a huge advance for science in showing the unity of humanity, with the implication being that this somehow discredited religion.

Now the naval officers in the British West African squadron and the Pacific fleets charged with suppressing the slave trade were evangelical Anglicans who were partly motivated from their profound belief in the common humanity of White Europeans, Black Africans, Aboriginal Australians and Polynesians through their common descent from Adam and Eve. The point has been made by one New Zealand historian who declared that the Royal Navy was the most powerful force defending indigenous people's in the Pacific. In contrast to this, many of the atheist proponents of slavery based their arguments for the subjection of these peoples on pseudo-scientific theories rejecting common descent in a conscious, and very vocal, rejection of the Bible. Naturally, this is something Dawkins doesn't mention.

What is interesting is that the 19th century anti-slavery protests united Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Jews through their common rejection of institutional slavery based on the Biblical commandments against man-stealing, and they did hold common protests against it and those they suspected of continuing the trade in 19th century Australia.

It's great that you've dug this piece of information out which rebuts Dawkins' propaganda so precisely.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Beast Rabban

>Thanks for posting this fascinating piece, and the comments by Christian ministers stating that it supports the message in Genesis of the essential unity of humanity. You've done a great job.

Thanks for your thanks!

>This is important as atheists like Dawkins have been using this to try to steal Christians' thunder. I remember hearing Dawkins speak at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature 10 years ago, when he was promoting his book Unweaving the Rainbow. He was claiming that the 'Out of Africa' hypothesis was a huge advance for science in showing the unity of humanity, with the implication being that this somehow discredited religion.

It was interesting how many of Dawkins' fellow atheist/agnostics criticised his latest book, "The God Delusion" for his ignorance of Christian theology, e.g. evolutionary geneticist H. Allen Orr, who described Dawkins as an "amateur" in his level of understanding of Christian theology:

"Despite my admiration for much of Dawkins's work, I'm afraid that I'm among those scientists who must part company with him here. Indeed, The God Delusion seems to me badly flawed. Though I once labeled Dawkins a professional atheist, I'm forced, after reading his new book, to conclude he's actually more an amateur. ... The most disappointing feature of The God Delusion is Dawkins's failure to engage religious thought in any serious way. .. But the problem reflects Dawkins's cavalier attitude about the quality of religious thinking. Dawkins tends to dismiss simple expressions of belief as base superstition. Having no patience with the faith of fundamentalists, he also tends to dismiss more sophisticated expressions of belief as sophistry (he cannot, for instance, tolerate the meticulous reasoning of theologians). But if simple religion is barbaric (and thus unworthy of serious thought) and sophisticated religion is logic-chopping (and thus equally unworthy of serious thought), the ineluctable conclusion is that all religion is unworthy of serious thought. The result is The God Delusion, a book that never squarely faces its opponents. You will find no serious examination of Christian or Jewish theology in Dawkins's book (does he know Augustine rejected biblical literalism in the early fifth century?), no attempt to follow philosophical debates about the nature of religious propositions (are they like ordinary claims about everyday matters?), no effort to appreciate the complex history of interaction between the Church and science (does he know the Church had an important part in the rise of non-Aristotelian science?), and no attempt to understand even the simplest of religious attitudes (does Dawkins really believe, as he says, that Christians should be thrilled to learn they're terminally ill?)." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

>Now the naval officers in the British West African squadron and the Pacific fleets charged with suppressing the slave trade were evangelical Anglicans who were partly motivated from their profound belief in the common humanity of White Europeans, Black Africans, Aboriginal Australians and Polynesians through their common descent from Adam and Eve. The point has been made by one New Zealand historian who declared that the Royal Navy was the most powerful force defending indigenous people's in the Pacific. In contrast to this, many of the atheist proponents of slavery based their arguments for the subjection of these peoples on pseudo-scientific theories rejecting common descent in a conscious, and very vocal, rejection of the Bible. Naturally, this is something Dawkins doesn't mention.

Thanks for that information. I remember reading somewhere (but cannot find the reference) that it was the evangelicals who largely prevented the genocide of Australian aboriginals on the Australian mainland that occurred, in the absence of evangelicals, in Tasmania.

There is no doubt that, unlike monogenism (represented by the Out of Africa/Single Origin Hypothesis), polygenism (represented by the Multiregional Hypothesis) is inherently racist, since as one of my quotes in the post above said, "… in the first ["multiregional-evolution"] model, modern geographical populations (what are known as `races') would have deep genetic roots, having been essentially separate for as much as 2 million years" (Leakey, R.E., "The Origin of Humankind," 1994, pp.86-88).

The late Stephen Jay Gould noted out that "monogenism" "upheld the scriptural unity of all peoples in the single creation of Adam and Eve" whereas polygenism, "abandoned scripture as allegorical-and held that human races were separate biological species":

"Preevolutionary justifications for racial ranking proceeded in two modes. The `softer' argument-again using some inappropriate definitions from modern perspectives-upheld the scriptural unity of all peoples in the single creation of Adam and Eve. This view was called mogenism-or origin from a single source. Human races are a product of degeneration from Eden's perfection. Races have declined to different degrees, whites least and blacks most. ... The `harder' argument abandoned scripture as allegorical-and held that human races were separate biological species, the descendents of different Adams. As another form of life, blacks need not participate in the `equality of man.' Proponents of this argument were called `polygenists.' Degenerationism was probably the more popular argument, if only because scripture was not to be discarded lightly." (Gould, S.J., "The Mismeasure of Man," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 1981, p.39. Emphasis original)

Gould further noted that, "the identification of blacks as a separate and unequal species had obvious appeal as an argument for slavery" but for "The polygenists … their targets were parsons more often than abolitionists" because "Their theory, in asserting a plurality of human creations, contradicted the doctrine of a single Adam and contravened the literal truth of scripture":

"The leading American polygenists differed in their attitude toward slavery. ... But the identification of blacks as a separate and unequal species had obvious appeal as an argument for slavery. Josiah Nott, a leading polygenist, encountered particularly receptive audiences in the South for his `lectures on niggerology' (as he called them). ... Nonetheless, the polygenist argument did not occupy a primary place in the ideology of slavery in mid-nineteenth-century America-and for a good reason. For most Southerners, this excellent argument entailed too high a price. The polygenists had railed against ideologues as barriers to their pure search for truth, but their targets were parsons more often than abolitionists. Their theory, in asserting a plurality of human creations, contradicted the doctrine of a single Adam and contravened the literal truth of scripture." (Gould, 1981, pp.69-70)

>What is interesting is that the 19th century anti-slavery protests united Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Jews through their common rejection of institutional slavery based on the Biblical commandments against man-stealing, and they did hold common protests against it and those they suspected of continuing the trade in 19th century Australia.

Thanks again for this.

>It's great that you've dug this piece of information out which rebuts Dawkins' propaganda so precisely.

Glad to be of assistance.

Stephen E. Jones

Forrest said...

This is a very interesting, and mostly, unusually, well-written blog post. It's not exactly scientifically accurate, however.

DNA and mtDNA ( also known as mitochondrial DNA ) aren't the same thing, as your text implies. This doesn't lead to any material difference in how the data you present should be interpreted - but as you dig into the knowledge that's available, there's a beautiful and fascinating world belying the difference.

Although biblical genealogies don't seem capable of stretching back to Adam and Eve, you may find Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam of interest. One of the more surprising facts surrounding this "pair" is the number of years that separated them.

The single-origin theory of humans is the only one that matches with the facts, and with our best understanding of how the world operates. Clades branch apart; camels and llamas don't breed to create a hybrid species. Even horses and donkeys, who can mate and give birth to donkeys, produce infertile offspring. This is entirely consistent with how evolution works.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Forrest

Thanks for your comments.

>DNA and mtDNA (also known as mitochondrial DNA) aren't the same thing, as your text implies.

The National Geographic "text" distinguishes between "mitochondrial DNA (the female lineage) and Y chromosome DNA (the male lineage)," the latter being, as I presume most (if not all) readers of my CED blog would be aware, nuclear DNA.

>... Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam ... One of the more surprising facts surrounding this "pair" is the number of years that separated them.

Why should this be "surprising" since they are two ENTIRELY DIFFERENT things? I.e. Homo sapiens' LAST common mitochondial DNA ancestor and LAST common Y-chromosomal ancestor, not the respective FIRST common ancestors, who would, by definition, be the same year.

>The single-origin theory of humans is the only one that matches with the facts ... Clades branch apart ... horses and donkeys, who can mate and give birth to donkeys, produce infertile offspring.

Agreed. But nevertheless some (if not most) evolutionists for many years promoted the Multiregional Hypothesis.

Stringer's "African Exodus" (1996) and Leakey's "The Origin of Humankind," (1994) make it clear that the Multiregional Hypothesis once was the DOMINANT position among evolutionists.

>This is entirely consistent with how evolution works.

Since "evolution" constantly retrofits its theory to the current evidence, almost ANYTHING (and ITS OPPOSITE) is "consistent with how evolution works"!

ALL who proposed the Multiregional Hypothesis were/are evolutionists as were/are ALL who proposed the Out of Africa Hypothesis.

And if the Multiregional theory had proved to be true, then no doubt you would be commenting here that, "This is entirely consistent with how evolution works"!

My point was that the Christian theologians like Warfield and Ramm, defended the single origin of humanity theory (Monogeneticism), based on the BIBLICAL data, when many (if not most) evolutionists argued for the multiple origin of humanity theory (Polygeneticism).

Stephen E. Jones