Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Adam and the Indigenous Australian genome - yet another line of evidence agaisnt monogenism

The fundamentalist Christian assertion that the entire human race descended from two people who lived six thousand years ago has long been falsified by both the comprehensive hominin fossil record stretching back millions of years into the past, and the evidence from human genetics that shows the human population was never smaller than a few thousand people. Given this, any further evidence demonstrating these points would seem to be overkill, but sometimes, a scientific paper arises that provides an elegant demonstration of this fact. 

A week ago, Nature published an article by Alan Cooper et al which analysed indigenous Australian mitochondrial DNA, showing that after arriving in Australia close to fifty thousand years ago, humans colonised the whole of the continent within a few thousand years. What was particularly fascinating was evidence that some indigenous Australian populations have been living continuously in particular areas for tens of thousands of years. As the authors note:
The long-standing and diverse phylogeographic patterns documented here are remarkable given the timescale involved, and raise the possibility that the central cultural attachment of Aboriginal Australians to ‘country’ may reflect the continuous presence of populations in discrete geographic areas for up to 50 kyr. [1]
Source: Nature (2017) doi:10.1038/nature/21416
Two things are apparent. The first is that the indigenous attachment to the land quite likely is based in the fact particular groups have been living in particular parts of the country for tens of thousands of years. The second, and theologically significant fact is that given particular tribal groups were living continuously in the same part of Australia for tens of thousands of years before Adam, it is clear that the dogmatic assertion that every human alive descended from two people who lived six thousand years ago simply cannot be reconciled with the evidence.


1. Tobler R et al "Aboriginal mitogenomes reveal 50,000 years of regionalism in Australia" Nature (2017) doi:10.1038/nature21416 p 4