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Blood Brothers

February 14, 2016

1920 map showing races of the world classified by skin color. White populations shown in red. Black populations shown in grey. Mixed black and white populations shown in purple. Native American populations shown in orange.

Though genetics, linguistics, anthropology, and archaeology do not always agree, it is possible with modern advances to trace human ancestry back thousands of years.

Adam and Eve…Sort of

The most recent common ancestor from whom all people living today are thought to have descended, along the paternal line, bears the formal moniker Y-MRCA but is known to friends as “Y-chromosomal Adam”. The comparable female ancestor mt-MRCA was traced through the mitochondrial DNA passed maternally. She is, therefore, called “Mitochondrial Eve”.

Scientists do not view Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve as the biblical couple. They may not even have been contemporaries. But they did pass down their genes to us.


Thirteen markers on the Y-chromosome distinguish the various populations across the globe.

Mutation, migration, and sexual reproduction, itself, all contribute toward genetic variation. Add to the complexity epigenetics, which involves heritable changes in appearance and gene expression not resulting from changes in the DNA sequence.

Variation is actually a strength.  It increases the chances that some in the population will be able to survive a new threat.

The statistical differences in susceptibility to some diseases, among the various populations on earth, illustrate this. Since genes can change over time, these differences are thought to have developed in response to local diseases. Sickle cell anemia may, for example, provide genetic resistance to malaria.

Blood Brothers

Whether any of such factors can be used to define race is disputed. There are no genes for race per se. But the frequency with which certain genes occur in a given population can be used to apply a label to that population.

This may have more sociological than genetic significance. For purposes of a blood transfusion, it is essential to identify blood type…not skin color or point of geographic origin. You might say that makes us blood brothers.

What Christians know – over and apart from all this – is that we were all fashioned by the same Creator, and all saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Happy Valentine’s Day


From → Christian, Religion

  1. Jesus and the Apostle Paul, both referred to Adam and Eve as literal individuals. In the Book of Luke, the genealogy of Jesus is traced back to Adam. It’s difficult to trace the genealogy of an individual back to a symbol or an allegory.

    Also, the fall of Adam and Eve gives rise to original sin. If Adam and Eve did not exist as a literal couple, there would be no original sin, Christ’s death on the cross would have no meaning, and the whole New Testament would fall apart.

    However, it is very interesting that modern demographics can trace the beginning of all civilization back to a point in the region bounded by modern Israel and Northern Egypt. Of course, in ancient times there was a great deal of travel throughout the region. The demographic findings are very consistent with Biblical teaching.

    • Thank you for putting this in a biblical context, Dr. Stebbins.

      There is still a great deal of dispute among scientists about the age of Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve. But, as I understand it, their existence does not rule out the existence of a biblical couple, who preceded them. It merely illustrates, for those who are not bible-believing Christians, that we are all members of one family.

      You are entirely correct that the moral concept of original sin is most readily explained by the existence of a literal couple, as described in Genesis.

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