Thursday, June 28, 2018

Macro-Evolution's Rate Problem

The recent issue of Discover Magazine from July-August 2018 had some information in it that I have sought for a long time. It was an estimate of the number of genera, not just species, which had gone extinct in each of the earth's five great mass extinctions since the Cambrian explosion 543 million years ago. The ratio between lost species and lost Genera was roughly half in each of the five extinctions (some would argue we are in a sixth mass extinction now in part due to human activity).

I had used a higher ratio in the past when I went through this thought experiment. I used five or ten species per genera, but using these estimates the number should be closer to two. Though there are more than two species in the average Genera, it would make sense that a global extinction event that took out one species would also take out a closely related species more often than an unrelated one. Still, the ratio can serve as a rough proxy for the number of genera there were in the past when you consider that such a large proportion of the worlds species and genera were eliminated that the ratio-skewing would be minimized. Its like a poll taken that questions 3/4ths of all voters. It doesn't matter much if your sample is skewed because its such a large proportion of the whole.

Now all we need is a good estimate of the number of species around today. Though the vast majority of them have not been cataloged the current best estimate of that number is 8.7 million. Some of these are deep sea animals to which we have little access. In other cases the problem is that a group of animals looks so alike that we consider them the same species but they are actually two or more species and we just haven't looked close enough to notice that yet. So let's be very conservative and reduce the number of species to those which are so different from other populations and so accessible that we already know they are a species. That would be about 1 million. So as you can see I am really trimming the numbers here as far as what macro-evolution is required to do to be validated. I am allowing for how puny our powers of observation can be.

Earth has had five mass extinctions since 543 million years ago, each about 90 million years apart. The last one was 65 million years ago so it is reasonable to assume that the others produced at least as much diversity as the last one, since they have had on average significantly more time to do so. But let's be conservative and say they also only produced 1 million new species that are different and accessible enough so that were they around today we could recognize them as such.

So there was an initial burst of animal life in the Cambrian which produced, let us say, 1 million "spottable" species. Then five mass extinctions after that which did the same. That is a total of six million "spotable" species and therefore roughly three million genera over the past 543 million years. That's the "rate" at which evolution would have to produce new genera to explain what we see. You will note that these numbers are pretty conservative given the estimated number of actual living species, that the time to produce these species is much less than the average time between mass extinctions, and even though a species may be difficult to spot a genus should be much easier to detect.

But even using these conservative numbers 543 million years / 3 million genera from "spotable" species = and average of one new genus in less than 200 years. That's how fast evolution had to work in order to produce the diversity of life we see. Is that the rate of evolution which we observe? Has there been even one case of a new genus evolving in recorded human history?

It looks from here that something else was happening in the past, a force at work which is not at work today with the same power. This fits well with the cosmology put forth in Early Genesis, the Revealed Cosmology. In it, this realm is a copy of the Land Above, but one subjected to futility. Up there, when God speaks, it happens. Down here, its a bumpy process and though creation might try, it can't do God's will without God's help. Just like us.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Should RTB/OEC's Tweak Models in Light of New Data and if so How?

 The current Reasons to Believe model for humanity has been challenged by the work of Dr. Joshua Swamidass. 
Even if his conclusions check out, this is not a death blow against OEC by any means, or even the overall RTB model, which they call the “testable creation model”. For example the astronomical aspects of their model still do quite well. The question of whether humanity evolved from a common ancestor with chimpanzees via known evolutionary processes is a separate question from whether there were humans outside the garden before Adam and Eve, how long ago all this happened, and also separate from the question of whether the flood of Noah eliminated the balance of humanity or just the balance of the line of Adam. 
This new data just means that they may need to adapt their model in a way which accommodates what we have learned, much like evolutionary theory itself changes to accommodate new data. They can continue to represent the OEC position (which I also think is the “most correct” overall view). 
If so, what should this model now look like with respect to humanity? I have a few suggestions and you may have some of your own. I realize the TE members of this board may not appreciate this exercise. I ask that they not switch forks on their putative evolutionary tree (go ape) over this, but I’d like to bring RTB closer to Peaceful Science by first getting us all to agree on what happened before we get to questions about how it happened. 
Obviously the OEC position in particular with respect to humanity is that both the race adam and the man Adam were specially created by God, though these can now be seen as separate events and therefore not necessarily done by the same means. The good thing about this for RTB is that they no longer have to stretch the genealogies to the breaking point with vast “gaps”. The genealogies are for the line of the man Adam, not the race adam which was already present (though not as agriculturalists) when Adam was formed. 
The new RTB model could reject the claim that humanity arose 310,000 years ago and propose a more recent though still ancient date. The molecular clock evidence suggesting a date for humanity of 260 K ago could be explained by the initial human population (in the new model God would have created a “host” of humans prior to Adam and Eve) containing some genetic diversity. That is, the initial human population was somewhat different from the start, thus not all of the differences were due to acquired mutations. This would show an older clock time than actual time. Some evidence suggests that molecular clocks run fast anyway. This would be easy to do because the evidence for a 300K plus date for humanity is very much over-blown IMHO. 
The issue of limited in-breeding between humans and other hominids should be addressed by the model. I propose that it be turned into a plus not a minus. It allows us to test for anomalies in the standard evolutionary model. While there is evidence that such in-breeding occurred, the same evidence indicates that there were barriers to hybrid fertility. Lions and tigers can sometimes produce offspring, but they are not known to breed in the wild and those offspring likewise have fertility problems. So we can see that in nature things can happen which nature itself does not “prefer” in terms of Darwinian outcomes. 
There is evidence to suggest that most of the genes which we may have acquired from hominids such as Neanderthals are slowly being weeded out of the human genome over time, as if nature was correcting a mistake. There are also signs that many other genes which were thought to be a result of such hybridization are now considered to be the ancestral state of our own species. That is, they represent a re-introduction of genes originally possessed but lost by chance in our own human ancestors and thus do not represent a genuine influx of new genetic material to our species. Perhaps it is best to consider Neanderthals and Denisovans to be like the satyrs of myth- like us, interested in us, but not really “of” us. 
That brings me to another point which could be a part of the new OEC model. Instead of humans originating in Africa, perhaps they originated in the mid-east or in many places at once but the vast majority of those who survived were from Africa. Thus the OOA movement 55-60K ago was humanity re-populating the rest of the old world, absorbing or wiping out small and scattered human groups- who may have been highly admixed with other hominids and the true source for much of the few non-human genes we still see in our own genomes. As our power to analyze genomes increases we see tantalizing hints of this previous larger human population in some isolated human groups, particularly those in SE Asia, and the islands near to Australia. I think they admixed with other human groups as well, but the work of Dr. Swamidass has shown how quickly genetic minorities can become genetic ghosts. This applies to more than just Adam. It could apply to this proposed non-African human population as well. 
In addition, much of what we think of as “human evolution” may simply be an artifact of the genetic impact of hybridization events with other hominids being weeded out over time. That is, the original group of human beings may have looked much like the San do now and not like “archaic” Homo Sapiens at all. The OEC position can postulate that the “archaic” appearance was a result of hybridization with these other hominids, and the loss of such “primitive” features would simply be “evolution” via reversion to the mean for humanity- a still ongoing process. 
Under this scenario I would expect to find in Africa an inconsistent pattern of human remains- features far too “modern” looking for their time in some finds and typically “archaic” in others. Perhaps even in the same digs. Thus Africa would represent a place where some populations of humanity resisted being “dragged down” by hybridization events which spelled doom both for the human populations whose participation in such events became the norm and the other hominid groups as well. Unfortunately I don’t think we have enough finds in Africa at present to establish much of a pattern either way. 
This brings me to Adam. While it may very well be that Adam and Eve have become “genetic ghosts”, if they left a detectable signature one of the traits of this signature would likely be an absence of other-hominid genes relative to surrounding  (Eurasian) populations. That is, they would not have had Neanderthal or Denisovan genes. Thus modern populations which contained more of Adam and Eve's genes would have fewer other-hominid genes than populations which had a lower proportion of genes from Adam and Eve. A sudden appearance in prehistory of a population with a reduced load of non-human genes in the same time and place as Adam would represent an anomaly explainable by a de-novo creation of Adam as a “re-do” of the original human condition. 
So while the new findings may be considered a setback for some aspects of that specific model, the new data presents new opportunities to explore and improve OEC models.
Of course the OEC model I advocate can be found in my book, which resolves these and many other paradoxical issues...

Get the book

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Study Supports Christ-Centered Model Theory for Origin of Canaanites

A new genetic study has confirmed the scenario laid out in "Early Genesis the Revealed Cosmology" in terms of dates and population structure for the origin of the Canaanites. This is important because it supports the Christ-centered model's date for the flood of Noah (6,500 YBP), its extent (the line of Adam and not all of humanity), and the location of Adam and Eve's clan post-garden (from the Taurus Mountains to the Zagros Mountains).

I postulated an origin for Adam and Eve and the families of Noah in Anatolia and the Taurus and Zagros mountains. Further, that the clans of Noah entered Mesopotamia and started the Uruk expansion, which ended around 3100 BC. This corresponds to the scattering after Babel where it is written “afterward were the families of the Canaanites scattered abroad.” Further, I postulated that the references to the families of Noah in Gen. 9 and 10 (“by these were the earth divided”) does NOT refer to a situation where these families constituted the whole human population but rather that they added the natives into their households wherever they went and these became the core of new nations.

So about 5100 years ago people with the J1 Y-haplogroup (the Cohen Y-hap) who originated in NE Anatolia and NW Iran, after a stop in Mesopotamia, left for Canaan and mixed with the locals creating a new population. The study is saying just what I said in the book. They said it based on a DNA study, I said it based on a study of the scriptures.
Here is a partial run-down of some highlights of the study put together by a colleague (with his own ideas on these matters) on the Peaceful Science blog:

“… the two Sidon_BA [Phoenician Bronze Age] males carried the Y-chromosome haplogroups45 J-P58 (J1a2b) and J-M12 (J2b) (Tables 1 and S4; Figure S11), both common male lineages in the Near East today.”

“Haplogroup J-P58 is frequent in the Arabian peninsula with proposed origins in the Zagros/Taurus mountain region.46 It forms the vast majority of the Y chromosomes in southwestern Mesopotamia and reaches particularly high frequencies (74.1%) in Marsh Arabs in Iraq.47” [Speculation: Marsh Arabs have high Scythian-like genetic component!]

On the other hand, haplogroup J-M12 is widespread at low frequency from the Balkans to India and the Himalayas, with Albanians having the highest proportions (14.3%).48

We compiled frequencies of Y-chromosome haplogroups in this geographical area and their changes over time in a dataset of ancient and modern Levantine populations (Figure S12), and note, similarly to Lazaridis et al.,13 that haplogroup J was absent in all Natufian and Neolithic Levant male individuals examined thus far, but emerged during the Bronze Age in Lebanon and Jordan along with ancestry related to Iran_ChL (Iran Chalcolithic).

We next sought to estimate the time when the Iran_ChL-related ancestry penetrated the Levant…. Using ALDER50 (with mindis: 0.005), we set the Lebanese as the admixed test population and Natufians, Levant_N, Sidon_BA, Iran_N, and Iran_ChL as reference populations. ….The most significant result was for mixture of Levant_N and Iran_ChL (p = 0.013) around 181 ± 54 generations ago, or ∼5,000 ± 1,500 ya …. This admixture time, based entirely on genetic data, fits the known ages of the samples based on archaeological data since it falls between the dates of Sidon_BA (3,650–3,750 ya) and Iran_ChL (6,500–5,500 ya).