A Boatload of Genetic Problems

A common question that many fundies can’t answer is “Where did Cain get his wife?” This question has an easy answer, at least if you listen to the folks over at Answers in Genesis. They have an overly-long article that addresses the issue.

Here’s the basic idea: Cain married his sister. That was perfectly OK in those days, because the law against it didn’t come along until the time of Moses.

What about the risk of genetic deformities caused by inbreeding? No worry! There were none! People back then were perfect. Problems didn’t crop up until Adam & Eve sinned by eating the apple. At that point, God punished them by sabotaging their DNA. That’s why the law against marrying your sister had to be implemented.

OK, I’ve got a bunch of problems with this whole concept, but let’s just accept this at face value for now and see where it leads.

Holy Smoke!

I came across an interesting article over at the Creationism Pages at HolySmoke.org.

This part of their site seems to be an archive of a bunch of articles and internet correspondences. Sadly, their link is dead, so I can’t find out any more.

The article that caught my eye is called “Noah’s Daughters?”. It articulates something that has been bothering me for a while. It’s a brief debate between a couple of folks named Robert Craft and Laurie Appleton. Robert Craft starts with:

Then let’s move to a harder problem — the limited gene pool. For any given gene, the population of the eight humans would contain only a maximum of 10 alleles — 2 each from the three son-in-laws and 2 each from Noah and his spouse. Since the daughter’s alleles would simply be subsets of those of Noah and his spouse, they add nothing to the gene pool.

Laurie Appleton replies:

Since I was NOT aware that Noah had any daughters, at least not on the Ark anyway, and neither did he have any sons-in laws there either then perhaps you should rephrase your question. The whole four women on the Ark might well have been NO relation to Noah at all, but from wholly different families.

That sounds like she’s already trying to weasel out, but Robert gives her the benefit of the doubt:

Fine, Laurie, I’ll play your game. Let’s say that all eight people on the Ark were unrelated. That means that each of them could have carried 2 different alleles for each gene or a total of 16 [2 x 8, Laurie] alleles for the entire population. Since the human genome encompasses up to 59 different alleles for some genes, FROM WHERE did the OTHER 43 alleles come?

You’ve got three choices:

1) There were more than 30 people on the Ark [and Scripture is fallible]

2) The Flood didn’t cover the entire world and at least 22 other humans survived [and Scripture is fallible]

3) 43 different alleles EVOLVED after the Food.

Pay yer money and take your choice, Laurie.

The web page does not record what, if anything, was her reply.

Final Question

In addition to the three problems above, I also want to know who the offspring of the Ark passengers married. Although it is true that the prohibition against marrying within the family would not come along until Moses, the flood story occurred after “The Fall”. The DNA was already defective by this point. Doesn’t that mean that everybody who believes the flood story is, by definition, the descendants of inbred hicks?

7 Responses to “A Boatload of Genetic Problems”

  1. Lepht Says:

    …wait. incest wasn’t wrong then, because there weren’t any laws against it?

    this is Dawkins’ Nasty Implication again. the more i see this shit, the more i think the religious honestly don’t have jack in the way of their own, independent ethics. if the laws forbid it, x is bad and evil and must never be done. if the laws do not, we can all do x and not worry, until laws are made forbidding it, at which point…

    seriously, if the Pope announced tomorrow that God said it was now OK to shoot the Protestants, what the fuck would happen in Northern Ireland?


  2. ParrotLover77 Says:

    I’ve always had a problem with morality being derived solely from the bible too. Even if you are Christian and believe the bible is the moral authority and ten commandments are absolutely to be followed to the letter, you must have an inner voice inside you that says “this is gross/wrong/evil/uncaring/inhuman” when you ponder over circumstances where, say, somebody was murdered, raped, etc… right? I mean, I do. My reaction is repulsion, disdain, anger… and it’s not because I fear eternal damnation (ie, I’m selfishly concerned only about myself). It’s because I am actually empathizing with the victim and have an internal morality telling me a certain situation is a “crime” and should be frowned upon and/or punished. Now whether you believe this empathy and morality is divinely inspired or is an advantagous evolutionary trait, it’s internal either way. It doesn’t simply come from reading a book and blindly following the laws. It comes from feeling what is right. So I’m hoping, at least, that if Old Testament Vengeful God ever comes back and orders rape, incest, and murder, followers would have a problem with that. I hope, anyway. But it doesn’t look as though fundies have as highly evolved moral compass as I do (if you don’t like the “e” word, replace it with “Godly”). Maybe that’s why they need a rule book so bad to refer to constantly. At least they are trying.

  3. Arkonbey Says:

    Wait. Wasn’t Abel murdered after The Fall? That shoots down the whole ‘perfect until the fall’ argument. Besides, when was the daughter born?

    Along the same lines: God marked Cain so that he would not be harmed by others. By who? His parents?

    Genesis actually makes a sort of sense if you look at it as the origin of the Israelites…

  4. Cabbie X Says:

    Gotta agree with ParrotLover77 (although I’m sure parrot loving is banned *somewhere* in the bible). Most xtians I’ve dealt with follow the biblical moral code, when they choose to actually follow it, from a place of ‘carrot and stick’. They either want to get to heaven (the carrot) or they are afraid of going to hell (the stick). I’ve always maintained that if I die and find myself standing in front of a really big guy with a horrible fashion sense (togas went out centuries ago), I’ll likely be allowed into the carnival funhouse ahead of all those pious types, as my moral compass isn’t based on reward or punishment, but rather on what feels right, trying to do no harm to my fellow beings.

  5. Christopher Says:

    Regarding the common answer to who married cain & able provided by the Answers in Genesis crowd…It doesn’t work!

    Consider this. Their argument is they were allowed to marry their sisters because God hadn’t given the laws against incest yet. Right? But then Cain murders Able & is punished by God…Why? Remember God hadn’t given the mosaic laws so murder wasn’t wrong by their argument.

    The common reply to this is “oh humans have the divine law written into their hearts. That’s why we have a conscience. So Cain would have just known that murder is wrong.”

    But this sort of reply undercuts the original argument. If we all have an internal version of God’s laws then Cain & Able already knew that incest was wrong.

    Only two ways out I can see.

    1) We don’t innately know right from wrong. Thereffore Cain didn’t know that murder was wrong & therefore God had no right to punish him.

    2) We do innately know right from wrong in which case Cain & Able knew that marrying their sisters was wrong. In which case why did God so arrange things that Cane & Able would be forced to perform what they knew were immoral acts to please God.

    As you can see if either route is chosen God comes off as a real jerk. But that’s only if you take the biblical story literally.

  6. andrew Says:

    James said:

    Only two ways out I can see.

    1) We don’t innately know right from wrong. Thereffore Cain didn’t know that murder was wrong & therefore God had no right to punish him.

    2) We do innately know right from wrong in which case Cain & Able knew that marrying their sisters was wrong. In which case why did God so arrange things that Cane & Able would be forced to perform what they knew were immoral acts to please God.

    Unfortunately their logic seems to be internally consistent. Murder is always wrong, but marrying your genetically-perfect sister is ok. That’s different from marrying your genetically-corrupted hag of a sister generations later.

  7. ParrotLover77 Says:

    “Genesis actually makes a sort of sense if you look at it as the origin of the Israelites…”

    You hit the nail on the head right there. When you take the bible in that context, lots of things begin to make sense (at least from a consistency standpoint, not from a historical standpoint).

    They married “others” from other tribes. After all, God is the god of the Israelites. So there may be other gods, then right? Apparently so because Genesis makes a HECK of a lot more sense when you take it that way.

    Moses led God’s people from enslavement, not just true believers in a world of false idol worshippers.

    The “there shall be no other god before me” commandment now makes sense. God isn’t worried about golden idols as much as he is worried about other gods usurping his authority.

    In the book of Job, Satan may actually be another “god” challenging God about his followers’ respect for him.

    Even in the new testament, the “wise men” who visited Jesus were not Jewish Kings from across the desert, but pagan magi who read the stars for signs, saw something that astrologically seemed huge and decided it might not be such a bad idea to pay a little respect to the embodiment of a god on Earth in human form.