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Friday, March 27, 2009

Quick post on population and human genetics


In Six Days

Why 50 Scientists Choose
to Believe in Creation

The above is the title of a publication in which fifty (out of several hundreds associated with the site) presented evidence to explain their belief in a literal six days of creation and a young earth. I will present excerpts from one of those fifty quickly.


James S. Allan, genetics


Dr. Allan is a former senior lecturer in genetics at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He holds a B.S. in agriculture from the University of Natal, an M.S. in agriculture from the University of Stellenbosch and a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He currently serves as an international consultant in the field of dairy cattle breeding.


"As a biologist in the field of population and quantitative genetics, I had believed in the theory of evolution for nearly 40 years. During that period of my life, the long-time requirements of the theory did not really concern me. Chance (genetic drift) and natural selection in response to gene mutation and/or environmental change seemed to be logically acceptable mechanisms for the assumed extent of adaptive radiation.

My research involved using biometrical methods of analysis. I was concerned to predict rates of genetic change as a result of applying artificial selection procedures of varying intensities, based on different kinds and amounts of information. The accuracy of prediction of the rate of genetic change can be assessed theoretically and the results can, in many cases and in the short-term, be checked empirically. The change in genetic merit (and associated phenotypic merit) from one generation to the next is due to changes in the relative frequencies of the underlying genes.

Over all those years, because I accepted the “fact” of evolution, I saw no reason to differentiate in principle between changes in relative gene frequency as a consequence of either short-term or long-term natural selection. To me, these forms of selection resulted in just the one simple principle of change in relative gene frequency, and the essence of the theory of evolution is change in relative gene frequency as a result of genetic drift and of natural selection in response to gene mutation and/or environmental change.

When, at a fairly advanced stage of my career, I became a Christian I began to read the Bible reverently and as intelligently as I was able. At that time most of my reading was focused in the New Testament and, as my main concern was to know more of Christ as my Savior, my opinion concerning the theory of evolution remained unchallenged. I did not, in fact, give it much thought.

One day, after I had been expounding on the universality of DNA as evidence for the theory of evolution, my wife, who had been a Christian much longer than I, asked me whether there was any reason for God to have used other genetic systems. Just one simple question, but it stimulated me to ask myself many more.

Was there any reason for God to have created life-forms on the basis of ABC … PQR … and XYZ as well as DNA? Were that so, would it have influenced my belief in the theory of evolution, or would I have interpreted it as a number of independent origins of life?

Was there any reason why God should not have created all forms of life as “variations on themes” and so have provided the observed orderly degrees of genetic and phenotypic resemblance as evidenced in taxonomic classification? Relatives tend to resemble one another in physical, functional and behavioral characteristics. This is a phenomenon which is basic to the science of genetics. The resemblance is due to the fact that relatives, sharing in the common gene pool of a reproducing population, have genes in common. The closer the relationship, the greater is the proportion of genes in common and, therefore, the greater is the degree of resemblance. The theory of evolution assumes a common origin for all forms of life and, therefore, infers that species, genera, families, orders, etc. are genetically related. They all do carry some genes with similar structure and function, yes, but did this imply genetic relationship in the normal, within-species sense, and was one at liberty to assume a common origin for all forms of life? Was there any reason why God should have created different species, genera, etc. in completely different ways and with completely different genes?"

Why, indeed? Dr. Allan goes into depth in the article, which I hope you do read. He presents evidence that requires millions of years for a prehuman chimp-like ancestor to evolve into a human, if indeed something like that ever happened. But allow me to present his portion of population analysis in which he extrapolates the human population back to a beginning point using both genetic and mathmatical training in the process:

"According to the 23rd General Population Conference in Beijing in 1997, the total human population of the earth in that year was assessed to be in the region of 6,000 million, showing that there has been a remarkable increase over the past 200 years. Estimates of the population numbers back to the year 1500 and a prediction for the year 2080 are given in the following table.

Year 1500 1650 1800 1900 1950 1997 2080
No. (millions) 300 550 1,000 1,700 2,500 6,000 10,000

Extrapolation further into the past gives the following approximate numbers:

Year –2000 –1000 0 1000
No. (millions) 1 50 100 250

I find these figures to be in close agreement with what one would expect from the biblical specification after the Flood in 2344 B.C. The assumed existence of thousands of millions of “prehumans” is both physically and scripturally unrealistic."

I believe it is obvious that a non-linear population growth is represented by the human race. Fits and starts have happened as rapid population growth probably occurred during the great warming period but plagues and wars and the little ice age hampered populations in some areas. Overall, the human population growth estimates take us back to around 2500 BC, which is about 4,500 years ago. Based upon the way the human population has been recorded to have expanded during the last few hundred years it is astonishing that anyone could believe that there has been a steadily expanding population for hundreds of thousands of years, let alone millions! No Sigmoidal curvature yet, that is for sure! (Although the United Nations chart predicts the sigmoidal curve to show up in the future).

No one looking at a chart of human population growth would categorize this as a linear chart. Nor would anyone suggest that we have reached stasis. This kind of growth is found in populations that are relatively young and did not begin long ago. Those of you who love math have to know this, I cannot imagine how you can ignore these kinds of numbers and believe that humanity has been around for any significant period of time.

Population growth is just one clue that the Biblical Flood absolutely took place somewhere in the neighborhood of 2500 BC and there are plenty of other indicators. Next post will go into more detail.

With thanks to the Guardian and Radar O'Reilly, linear, cubic, exponential and sigmoidal curves: exponential vs. linear and cubic curves
Exponential, linear and cubic curves

sigmoidal curve
A sigmoidal curve.

"As O'Reilly points out, in the end those curves always flatten out. They have to; there just aren't enough people, aliens, atoms, quarks to keep growing exponentially all the time. Growth always slows."

But growth has not yet slowed because the human population just hasn't had much time to grow yet.


13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, what complete and utter nonsense.

I'll just hit some of the high points:

1. This is a strawman argument: nobody argued for a linear progression. We already briefly touched on that in the comments. Taking the datapoints for 1 billion and 6 billion, mankind would have started in 1912.

Some of us consider that unlikely, though if the Bible said it was so, I would expect you to try to dismiss any and all historical sources that would agree with that.

2. Obviously this falls short of extrapolating to a population of 8 (the inhabitants of Noah's Ark), so you still owe an answer to that question.

And as you probably know, exponential curves are quite flat towards the left. As others have already commented, populations were quite stable for extended periods of time due to health etc. Our improved living conditions have made it possible for us to live longer as well as survive adversarial conditions that our ancestors would not have survived.

3. "I find these figures to be in close agreement with what one would expect from the biblical specification after the Flood in 2344 B.C."

For some reason, his extrapolation becomes linear (perhaps because he needs to do some "curve fitting" so he can hit a population of 8 around 2,344 BC):

100 million in 0 AD
50 million in 1,000 BC
1 million in 2,000 BC

That's a linear progression, not an exponential one. Put it on a graph along with his preceding numbers and see for yourself.

4. "The assumed existence of thousands of millions of “prehumans” is both physically and scripturally unrealistic."

I don't know what thousands of millions he is talking about here. But since he mentions physically realistic (I don't know what exactly "scripturally realistic" means), let's think about this progression in "realistic" terms. For example, there's this little comparison from here - go there for a better layout of this list.

World Population Date Event

17 2566 BC Construction of Great Pyramid
2,729 1332 BC Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten dies
5,000 1185 BC Trojan War
~1200 BC Hebrew exodus, # of males = 603,550 (excluding Levites)
32,971 776 BC First Olympic games
87,507 490 BC Greek wars with Persia
133,744 387 BC Brennus' Sack of Rome
586,678 28 BC Augustus' census of Rome (70 to 100 million counted)
655,683 1 AD Nice date

I forget if we've already discussed this on this blog.

5. I also seem to recall that after the flood there are mentions of meeting other tribes and nations later on. Radar can probably cite those for us, but I forget how they tie into these extrapolations.

6. We've also previously discussed whether it is possible for races to have evolved that quickly, and whether we still see evidence of those mechanisms today. There is no evidence that this is possible.

7. And we've already been over the fact that there was no discontinuity in other ancient civilizations at the time the supposedly global flood was taking place.

8. Nor is there evidence of it in dendrochronological records. I fully expect Radar to dismiss this with the claim that he's already answered this. He hasn't. Radar ran away from that argument, though we can gladly revisit it.

9. "But growth has not yet slowed because the human population just hasn't had much time to grow yet."

What kind of logic is that?! So growth will slow once the human population has had enough time to grow? Could you explain what you mean by this?

Growth has not yet slowed because the human population can still grow, i.e. it still has room and resources. Once those become more scarce (or there are deliberate measures to control population, such as in China), the graph will level off, as shown in the graph above at the top of the article.

-- creeper

highboy said...

"Some of us consider that unlikely, though if the Bible said it was so, I would expect you to try to dismiss any and all historical sources that would agree with that."

Quit acting like an ass.

"Our improved living conditions have made it possible for us to live longer as well as survive adversarial conditions that our ancestors would not have survived."

Improved living conditions? How? Compared to what? To a time in history that wouldn't have even had a tenth of the pollution we have now and not nearly the level of depletion in resources? What are you saying here?

Anonymous said...

OK so who's the "ass" again here highboy?
Creeper's statement is absolutely correct. Radar views the bible to be written by god and, as a result, he indeed does completely and utterly discard all evidence that he sees as contradicting it. And he does this ALL THE TIME. His starting point is that the bible is true and he works hard to try to ensure everything, at least on this blog, conforms with that "knowledge". So pointing out Radar's own pattern of behavior makes Creeper an ass then? Not in my opinion.
Speaking of ass like behavior, am I to really assume that you didn't understand the comment relative to "improved living conditions"? Can you honestly not understand and agree with the idea that modern lives are "easier" than those of our ancestors? You ever take medication of any sort? Do you understand that that same (potentially life saving) medicine wasn't available to your great great grandfather? Have you never heard about life expectancy figures and how they have increased significantly in recent history? Personally, I think you do know what Creeper is saying, you just don't want to think about it because it contradicts your (potentially literal) interpretation of the bible. I also think that you feel bad about poor Radar and the continuous heat he takes in the comments section of his own blog. So you throw in the odd comment to try to deflect some of the flames from your friend. I'm actually waiting for you to bring some substance to the discussion, other than something like, "I don't know about all those big words and whatnot but I think Radar is right..."

- Canucklehead

radar said...

Wow...creeper sez

1. This is a strawman argument: nobody argued for a linear progression. We already briefly touched on that in the comments. Taking the datapoints for 1 billion and 6 billion, mankind would have started in 1912.

A commenter suggested that I might be resorting to a linear progression and I was responding.

Some of us consider that unlikely, though if the Bible said it was so, I would expect you to try to dismiss any and all historical sources that would agree with that.

I consider the Bible to be the only reliable account of the beginnings of existence and life. The Bible is an historical source and the most accurate one for the early history of mankind. So, yes, I do use the Bible to help understand history.

2. Obviously this falls short of extrapolating to a population of 8 (the inhabitants of Noah's Ark), so you still owe an answer to that question.

And as you probably know, exponential curves are quite flat towards the left. As others have already commented, populations were quite stable for extended periods of time due to health etc. Our improved living conditions have made it possible for us to live longer as well as survive adversarial conditions that our ancestors would not have survived.

Yes, and no. The first men were not subject to anywhere near the mutation, pollution and disease that is found in the ecosystem now. The civilization before the Flood was wiped out entirely other than a few remnants found buried in coal so we have little knowledge of pre-Noahic existence.

Still, Noah's family would have been much healthier genetically than we are. They no doubt faced challenges rebuilding civilization largely from scratch, with a new ecosystem and a dynamically changing climate as the Earth adjusted to deep seas, high mountains, and the melting of glaciation that resulted from the Flood event. It must have been a real challenge to go from whatever level of sophistication the world had reached to being cooped up in a big wooden boat to finding yourself challenged to rebuild a new life from a giant mudpie.

No matter. Civilizations around the world trace their start from either Ham, Shem or Japheth (Noah's sons). Most of these records were oral histories recorded apart from any access to the Bible or they were found in writings that pre-existed the coming of Christianity to the region, so you cannot blame Christians for "contaminating" the history of other peoples.


3. "I find these figures to be in close agreement with what one would expect from the biblical specification after the Flood in 2344 B.C."

For some reason, his extrapolation becomes linear (perhaps because he needs to do some "curve fitting" so he can hit a population of 8 around 2,344 BC):

100 million in 0 AD
50 million in 1,000 BC
1 million in 2,000 BC

That's a linear progression, not an exponential one. Put it on a graph along with his preceding numbers and see for yourself.

He was using estimates of population other sources as I understand it there. I myself am certain the progression is NOT linear.

4. "The assumed existence of thousands of millions of “prehumans” is both physically and scripturally unrealistic."

I don't know what thousands of millions he is talking about here. But since he mentions physically realistic (I don't know what exactly "scripturally realistic" means), let's think about this progression in "realistic" terms. For example, there's this little comparison from here - go there for a better layout of this list.

World Population Date Event

17 2566 BC Construction of Great Pyramid
2,729 1332 BC Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten dies
5,000 1185 BC Trojan War
~1200 BC Hebrew exodus, # of males = 603,550 (excluding Levites)
32,971 776 BC First Olympic games
87,507 490 BC Greek wars with Persia
133,744 387 BC Brennus' Sack of Rome
586,678 28 BC Augustus' census of Rome (70 to 100 million counted)
655,683 1 AD Nice date

I forget if we've already discussed this on this blog.

For one thing, Egyptian history has been stretched by historians beyond the actual starting point. The best Egyptian sources credit the beginning of their empire as subsequent to the Tower of Babel event, which is mentioned in the history of Egypt. Extra long lives and ages are added to the Egyptian history by Egyptian historians who doubtless believed that greater ages were synonymous with status.

5. I also seem to recall that after the flood there are mentions of meeting other tribes and nations later on. Radar can probably cite those for us, but I forget how they tie into these extrapolations.

I long ago cited various races having listed one of the three sons of Noah as forefathers and the commonality of both a Flood and a Babel story of some kind. Apart from the Bible the stories undergo your basic Chinese Telephone warping but the basics are similar. Virtually every race and tribe has a flood story and a division of mankind story.

After Babel the descendants of Shem largely stayed in the Middle East, Japheth went East and North while Ham went primarily South. Both Hamites and Shemites ventured West later, populating the Americas. Rapid speciation within mankind would make it very easy for great differences in physical characteristics to show up within a few generations.


6. We've also previously discussed whether it is possible for races to have evolved that quickly, and whether we still see evidence of those mechanisms today. There is no evidence that this is possible.

Of course there is...as my previous rapid speciation post addressed. Those mechanisms have been tested and observed to occur.

7. And we've already been over the fact that there was no discontinuity in other ancient civilizations at the time the supposedly global flood was taking place.

Completely wrong! The flood stories are found all around the globe. Better still, the flood evidence is found around the globe. Are you familiar with the Tapeats Sandstone layering? One layer observed in the Grand Canyon traverses North America, then is found again in Europe and extends throughout much of the Middle East. How do local floods explain such an extensive water-caused rock layer? There are water-caused rock layers everywhere and sea-dwelling fossils found atop the mountains and plateaus of every continent.

8. Nor is there evidence of it in dendrochronological records. I fully expect Radar to dismiss this with the claim that he's already answered this. He hasn't. Radar ran away from that argument, though we can gladly revisit it.

As I have said previously, dendrochronological records cannot be read with total accuracy because we cannot prove what the rings represent with surety in terms of years and seasons. Furthermore, unlike the animal world, it is certain that plants survived the flood. Noah did not take plant life onto the Ark other than any needed food. Fossil remains indicate and experience with large floods teach us that floating mats of vegetation could survive a flood and then some uprooted plants, once settled into the mud, may well have kept alive. So if there is a Bristlecone Pine that proves to be 5,000 years old I would assert that it took a little ocean cruise earlier in life.

9. "But growth has not yet slowed because the human population just hasn't had much time to grow yet."

What kind of logic is that?! So growth will slow once the human population has had enough time to grow? Could you explain what you mean by this?

Growth has not yet slowed because the human population can still grow, i.e. it still has room and resources. Once those become more scarce (or there are deliberate measures to control population, such as in China), the graph will level off, as shown in the graph above at the top of the article.

-- creeper

In this last part you are agreeing with me? Hmmmm. Yes, the normal population curve begins to level out after a growth spurt that is exponential. Right now we still demonstrate exponential growth, indicative of a short few thousand years of population growth from a single family and not millions upon millions of years of slow growth.

highboy said...

"And he does this ALL THE TIME."

No he DOESN'T. But all caps IS FUN.

"So pointing out Radar's own pattern of behavior makes Creeper an ass then? Not in my opinion."

Which means a lot.

"Can you honestly not understand and agree with the idea that modern lives are "easier" than those of our ancestors? You ever take medication of any sort? Do you understand that that same (potentially life saving) medicine wasn't available to your great great grandfather?"

Do you understand that the statement that people live longer is totally without merit when compared with a world with that has thousands of years less population, pollution, and thousands of years worth of resources not depleted?

"Personally, I think you do know what Creeper is saying, you just don't want to think about it because it contradicts your (potentially literal) interpretation of the bible."

Um, no, nothing he said contradicts my literal interpretation of the Bible. Nothing whatsoever. Please show me what specifically.

"I'm actually waiting for you to bring some substance to the discussion"

Likewise son.

Anonymous said...

highboy (dad?), are you "high" right now? Because this paragraph is completely unintelligible (that means that it doesn't make any sense, by-the-way). I mean, just look at it,
"Do you understand that the statement that people live longer is totally without merit when compared with a world with that has thousands of years less population, pollution, and thousands of years worth of resources not depleted?"
Um, W...T...F...? Sorry hb, but you're going to have to think about that one for a little bit and try again because you just wrote down some gibberish right there dude.
You also write, "Um, no, nothing he said contradicts my literal interpretation of the Bible. Nothing whatsoever. Please show me what specifically.", relative to creeper's post. Sorry man, that was just a guess. Apparently it was not mock confusion, you were actually honestly confused (and apparently still are). That said, it is nice to see that nothing creeper said contradicts your "literal interpretation of the Bible". Although I suspect that this part might be a problem for you,
"7. And we've already been over the fact that there was no discontinuity in other ancient civilizations at the time the supposedly global flood was taking place.".
So you really have no trouble with this statement? Or this part?
"8. Nor is there evidence of it (the flood) in dendrochronological records."
If not, good for you, because that is one flexible "literal interpretation" you've got there, that allows you to be OK with carving out the global flood from the ol' good book. It's a start I suppose, although technically you may want to drop the "literal" part when describing your interpretation of the bible from now on. You know, for accuracy sake.

Oh and sorry I hurt your feelings by appearing to yell at you. I wasn't. I just wanted to emphasize those words and can't quite figure out HTML (again, not yelling) tags yet. To reiterate, I didn't realize you were so sensitive. My bad.

- Canucklehead

highboy said...

"Sorry hb, but you're going to have to think about that one for a little bit and try again because you just wrote down some gibberish right there dude."

Meaning you have no answer.

"If not, good for you, because that is one flexible "literal interpretation" you've got there, that allows you to be OK with carving out the global flood from the ol' good book. It's a start I suppose, although technically you may want to drop the "literal" part when describing your interpretation of the bible from now on. You know, for accuracy sake."

Oh I see, because you and creeper say "there is no evidence" that means its true and the whole idea of a global flood goes up in smoke. My what a concrete argument you just made there.

Anonymous said...

hb, you must be tired. Because that was incredibly weak on your part. Talk about "phoning it in" (I mean, I think I actually wrote 80% of your post). You say, "Meaning you have no answer.". Er, actually, no, not even close. As I said the first time, and I feel bad for again shining the light on your terrible writing skills here, but the section of your post that I quoted back to you actually doesn't make any sense. Read it again yourself. I dare you. Although, I'm getting the feeling that you don't really know what you were trying to say. That said, how hard is it to understand a concept like "improved living conditions" anyway? I say, try harder dude.
OK so on to your last paragraph... which unfortunately appears to mean that we're back to the topic of your "confusion". Do you remember that you said that "Nothing he (creeper) said contradicts my literal interpretation of the Bible. Nothing whatsoever."? Because I do. So you completely deny that anything creeper wrote in his post (a post you obviously didn't read by-the-by) contradicts your beliefs, and then I point out where, in his post, he actually does contradict said beliefs, and now you are all confused again. I'm actually not saying anything about the veracity of creepers comments (although I do understand them to be true), I was just saying that they fly in the face of your "worldview" (as radar likes to refer to it). So, go ahead and actually read creepers post and tell me if "nothing whatsoever" in it that's objectionable to your literal interpretation of the bible. Don't make me dare you again man...
To conclude, hb, I agree that creeper's word (or mine for that matter), on the fact that there is no evidence of the global flood found in the records of major civilizations in existence at the time the "flood" was to have occurred, is not a good enough reason, alone, to believe what creeper writes. It's that he is telling the truth, in that there is, in fact, no evidence, that should sway you. Although I guess if you are in possession of evidence to the contrary (aside from the bible in and of itself) please share. Otherwise your stance on this matter boils down to that "purposeful religious ignorance" again, which really, is no position to argue from (unless, of course, you like losing arguments).

- Canucklehead

PS - Relative to the "flood", at some point we should talk about what kind of god would decide decide to drown every living thing on earth (including innocent children and countless blameless animals) in order to show displeasure over the "wickedness of mankind". I mean, talk about a douchebag.

Mark K. Sprengel said...

PS - Relative to the "flood", at some point we should talk about what kind of god would decide decide to drown every living thing on earth (including innocent children and countless blameless animals) in order to show displeasure over the "wickedness of mankind". I mean, talk about a douchebag.Says the knucklehead who thinks restating the problem of evil argument in such terms makes it any more impressive.

Jon Woolf said...

Hmmm.... A bible scholar who doesn't know the Four Horsemen, Radar? Most disappointing, I must say.

Human population was basically static, or grew only very slowly, for a very long time. Disease, Famine, and War saw to that. In days of yore it wasn't uncommon for a couple to have four kids, lose three of them to plague, have three more kids, and lose two of them to famine. The Black Death alone has killed millions over the centuries; smallpox, syphilis, typhus, and other diseases have killed millions more. Floods and earthquakes have also done their part.

Really funny that you would try to drag ancient Egypt into this. No ancient culture on Earth has a better-documented history than the Two Lands. The record for Egypt is continuous, the timeline known in detail, from the time of Narmer five centuries before the Pyramids, right down to today. A sketchy history has even been filled in for a couple of centuries before Narmer. The notion that the Kings List was stretched to cover-up the Flood is as ridiculous as the pyramidiots' claims that the Great Pyramid was built as a future history of humanity.

Radar wrote: The flood stories are found all around the globe.

Are they all the same flood? Most ancient civilizations were in river valleys, which do have a tendency to flood every now and then. Hypothesis:

4450 BCE: massive flooding in Ganges River valley claims thousands of lives and almost wipes out Indian civilization.

4422 BCE: massive flooding in Yellow River floodplain claims thousands of lives and nearly wipes out Chinese civilization.

4200 BCE: massive flood in Tigris/Euphrates valley wipes out pre-Sumerian culture, and clears way for Sumerians to dominate that region. (Side note: for this flood, we have definite evidence, and Sumeria is where the Ark legend originated.)

and so on, for a variety of other cultures all over the Old World. Each experiences a huge river flood sometime in the period between about 4500 and 4000 BCE. Then...

2000 BCE: travelers from Sumeria talk to travelers from Ganges, who talk to travelers from China. All have stories of great Floods in their past. All make logical but erroneous conclusion that their legends refer to the same Flood, and it was world-wide.

OK, Radar. The ball is in your court. Prove my hypothesis is wrong.

Are you familiar with the Tapeats Sandstone layering? One layer observed in the Grand Canyon traverses North America, then is found again in Europe and extends throughout much of the Middle East.

Your source for this? Please provide a reliable cite, not a creationist.

How do local floods explain such an extensive water-caused rock layer?

Obviously they can't. But perhaps such ocean-bottom sedimentary rock formations are so extensive because they formed at the bottom of an ancient ocean.

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site radaractive.blogspot.com
Is this possible?

radar said...

Yes, what is your link?

Darwinists, you just hate real evidence, don't you? Sorry.

radar said...

Oh, yeah, I forgot that Jon Woolf, supposedly an expert, was not aware of the extent of the Tapeats Sandstone? Massive fail!