21st Century Research Smashes Molecular Clock Myths

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Belief in evolutionism requires one to reject the authority of Scripture regarding special creation of humans, along with different created kinds, or baramins, of living organisms. Biblical history must also be rejected, because millions of years are apparently required for nature to perform its evolutionary magic. Belief in evolutionism forces one to cling to a number of 19th and 20th Century hypotheses that use artificial constructs like the geologic column and Thomas Malthus’ population data as evidence for bacteria-to-people evolution.

Fortunately, the more we learn about Earth and life in the 21st Century, the more they proclaim the glory of their Creator and the Truth of the incredible story revealed in Scripture. An example of 21st Century research is the mounting evidence against the idea of molecular clocks. Natural history researchers look at differences in genes along with fossil evidence to determine when two species diverged from a common ancestor. For the human species, researchers use molecular clocks to predict the date of “Mitochondrial Eve”, our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) that supposedly originated in Africa.

Molecular clocks came into use in the 1960s. In the 1990 edition of Biology by Neil Campbell, an age between 200,000 and 400,000 years is given for “Eve” (p. 669). Moving ahead to 2004, we find in the 10th edition of Biology by Starr and Taggart that Eve is now only 100,000 to 200,000 years old (p. 471). The fact that the estimates were cut in half, on top of the huge error involved (50%), would make any reasonable scientist question molecular clocks.

And they do. As we entered the 21st century, we saw F.J. Ayala’s paper titled “Molecular Clock Mirages”. In 2006, world renowned evolutionary biologist Thomas Cavalier-Smith stated in a paper “Evolution is not evenly-paced and there are no real molecular clocks.” And then there’s F. Chang’s study using genealogy and statistics to predict an MRCA of less than 1,000 years ago. Chang began with an overly-simplified model, so over the next few years he added to it, and in 2003 colleague D. Rohde published research revealing an MRCA of between 2,000 and 5,000 years ago. And molecular clock skeptics Thorne and Wolpoff voiced their opinions in the 2003 Human Evolution Special Issue of Scientific American, flatly stating “putting aside the idea of a molecular clock, one can interpret the genetic data in a much more reasonable way.” (p. 52).

In 2004, Rohde, Chang, and Olson published their latest findings in Nature, and their computations shift the MRCA from Africa to somewhere in Asia. They also calculated that “all modern individuals have identical ancestors by about 3,000 BC.” Mentioning that their computer simulation was “far too conservative”, they used some more realistic numbers to come up with a “mean MRCA date is as recent as AD 55 and the mean IA date is 2,158 BC.”

The identical ancestors (IA) point differs from the MRCA. The MRCA is believed to have had many contemporaries of both sexes, and some of these also left unbroken chains of descendents down to today’s population. The IA differs in that it pushes further back in time to the point where populations can be divided into two groups: a group that left no descendents today, and a group from which all modern humans descended from. Such a scenario could arise from a population bottleneck, and the obvious example that comes to mind is the Flood described in the book of Genesis, which occurred around 2500 BC. The date of the Flood is within the range of IA dates computed by Rohde et al. During the Flood, a human population of 8 survived, and all others perished. While Rohde et al’s research does not “prove” the Genesis Flood, it definitely doesn’t rule it out.

In 2008, a paper by Matsen and Evans tried to tie genetics with the genealogy of Rohde et al, and they simply concluded genetic diversity is related to the number of descendants, confirming the ability of Rohde et al’s model to explain the human diversity we see today as resulting from a very recent ancestor.

21st Century research using genealogies instead of genetics may be a bit confusing, but the reason for that is not just the complex mathematics involved, but the basic fact that confusion exists over what happened in the past. To add to the confusion, in 2008 fossil collectors discovered a human footprint alongside that of a dinosaur. Fossil evidence like this is no problem for Christians who trust the historical accuracy of Scripture, but it is a huge contradiction to many others’ beliefs about the past. Is this fossil real?

The truth is, there will ALWAYS be confusion about what happened in the past because we cannot go back and verify it. Natural history research is not the same thing as testable, repeatable science, and should be approached as a “mixed question”, requiring inputs not just from science, but mainly history, followed by art, and philosophy. “Belief” in past events though is based on faith, either a God-given faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)in the story revealed in Scripture, or a blind faith in something else. Everybody believes in something, what do you believe?

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