Rational Faith


The Three Faces of Mitochondrial Eve

The Three Faces of Mitochondrial Eve


 

 


Eve White in the movie The Three Faces of Eve suffers from what is popularly known as multi-personality disorder. As the title suggests she manifests three distinct personalities. There is a theory of human origins called "Mitochondrial Eve" that is similarly expressed with three separate concepts. As is usual in the origins debate, what one believes about mitochondrial Eve is dependent on your worldview. So what is one to make of these three understandings of mitochondrial Eve? Follow along as we shed light on the proper understanding of mitochondrial Eve.

Laying the Ground Work: definitions

Eve (The First Woman)

In his documentary, "What is a Woman" (viewable on The Daily Wire after subscribing) Matt Walsh pokes fun at people who refuse to define what a woman is. Because by defining what a woman is, you're also defining what a woman is not. And for the woke crowd who want to believe that men can be a woman be just declaring it to be so, that thought is anathema.

But you can't make sense of mitochondrial Eve if you don't have a clear concept of what a woman is. And far from being pedantic, the need to define "woman" is a sign of this woke burdened and fallen generation. But woke ideology can't change realities which is reflected not only in biology, but also in language. It's not too surprising that in Hebrew as in English the word "woman" is constructed from, and is essentially a modified form of the word "man."  In Hebrew, man is "ish" (אִישׁ); woman is "ishshah" (אִישָּׁה); an appropriate word play when considering the origin of women since the first woman was formed from the first man (Gen 2.22).

Since we're being technical for our discussion of mitochondrial eve, we'll define a woman as an adult human with XX chromosomes and female reproductive organs. Eve, then is the first woman. Evolutionists would probably object to that, but to get to a definition they probably wouldn't object to you need to add "mitochondrial" in front of Eve. Mitochondrial Eve is defined below.

Mitochondria
Mitochondria are the power makers of the cell - they create the energy used by the cell. They are inherited only from the mother. (A key attribute in this discussion.) View Purdom's explanation here.

Nuclear DNA, Mitochondrial DNA
Refer to the following diagram for these two items.
Nuclear DNA is what we commonly hear about - that which is sequenced and used to by the various services to indentify your origins and relatives. This DNA is located in the nucleus of the cell.

Mitochondria, on the other hand are organelles that exist outside the nucleus, and as mentioned above contain a distinct set of DNA (thus the term mitochondrial DNA) that is inherited only from the mother.

Molecular Clock

A Molecular clock relates the time two species diverged to the number of differences between their DNA sequences. The thought being that mutations occur at a regular rate, so you can calculate the time between two species - if you know the number of mutations based on this supposed molecular clock. As with any system for measuring time it needs to be calidbrated and Purdom points out three problems calibrating the so called DNA "molecular clock":

  1. The assumption that the fossil record is accurate
  2. The assumption that radiometric dating is accurate
  3. The assumption that humans have diverged from chimps.

 

Thus, Purdom argues, (correctly) they are not an independent measurement of time. They are unreliable because the assumptions are false. Evolutionists, however, think they are reliable. Here is the description of the molecular clock from the evolutionary supporting Nova documentary, "Becoming Human" part 2:


 

Keep in mind, this is an evolutionary concept. Creationists should not support the supposed DNA molecular clock because of the above false assumptions among other problems.

Distribution of Mutations

Mutations are a change in the genetic code from the original code. (Original perfect code creationists would argue.) Once there is a change, that change will be propagated to future generations from parent to child. But that takes time. It doesn't happen instantaneously.

This leads to an observation that was highlighted in my article on Y Chromosome Adam. Geneticist Rob Carter points out:

“The more rare a mutation is, the more recent it is.”[1]

This makes sense. If a mutation is recent, it has not had much opportunity to spread. Thus it is rare. This is clear and makes the corollary equally clear: If a mutation is common and widespread, then it must have occurred a long time ago. Only by being around for a long time, would it have the opportunity to be wide spread.

Okay, now that we've laid a foundation for understanding, let's look at the three faces of Mitochondrial Eve.

 

Three Views of Mitochondrial Eve:

As is usually the case, definitions play a key role on how you understand any concept. For example when Big Bang theorists talk about the universe exploding into existence from "nothing", they don't mean "nothing" as you and I understand it. For more on how Big Bang theorists such as Lawrene Kraus and Leonard Susskind slip somethings (plural) into their nothing, read my article "Exposing the Big Magic Behind the Big Bang" So as to not go too far off topic, I won't go into the details here. I will just point out that definitions are key so we must pay attention to them and understand what people mean when they use various terms.

View 1 of Mitochondrial Eve - Evolutionary
Answers in Genesis geneticist Georgia Purdom defines this first view of mitochondrial Eve - the evolutionary view - as "...the maternal most recent common ancestor for all living humans. And she is believed to have lived around 100,000 - 200,000 years ago based on the fossil record, radiometric dating, things like that. So basically we all have her mitochondria." You can view that definition here.

View 2 of Mitochondrial Eve - Christian Redirection

Purdom goes on to point out that Christians have identified a problem with the time frame of evolutionary mitochondrial eve. There is a problem inherent in using the molecular clock. Evolutionists calibrate the molecular clock such that there's one expected mutation every 12,000 years. At that rate, Mitochondrial Eve falls into the 100,000 -200,000 year time frame. But after careful study (320 generational events) it was discovered that there's actually a mutation every 800 years.[2] When the date for Mitochondrial Eve is recalculated based on the actual, observed rate of mutation, Mitochondrial Eve comes out to be about 6,000 years old.

As you might expect, this got biblical Creationists excited - here was apparently proof of the biblical Time line, and biblical Eve. Not so fast Dr Purdom warns. The whole theory is based on false assumptions. I agree. It's like recalibrating the Big Bang theory to state the whole thing occurred in 6,000 years instead of 13.8 billion years. They'll never do that, but even if they did, creationists should not get excited. Why? Because the whole theory of the Big Bang is wrong. It's an adult fairy tale to explain the origin of the universe without God and without miracles. (They fail at both.) Making one facet of it  appear accurate does not make the overall story true. The whole thing is false. The same must be said about the evolutionary concept of Mitochondrial Eve. It's meant to support an evolutionary, "Out of Africa" viewpoint. But  the whole thing is false - regardless of the dates you assign to Eve.

View 3 of Mitochondrial Eve - Testimony of the Evidence

Genetic researcher Dr Rob Carter has pointed out we can test the claims of the Bible against the secular evolutionary claims. Let's look at a broad overview of the claims:

  Bible/Creation Secular/Evolution
Starting pool of people 2 10,000
Time frame
(Years ago)
6,000 100,000 -
1 million
Location Eden Africa

Based on these starting points, if you include data from nuclear DNA (instead of just mitochondrial DNA) one would expect:

Biblical Expectation:
 - Some variation in the X Chromosome.
 - Small variations in mitochondrial DNA, due to the relatively recent event of the flood (about 4,400 years ago) with the variations traceable back to three starting points of the wives of the sons of Noah. (Gen 9.18-19)

 
Evolutionary Expectation:
 - Wide spread variation in the X Chromosome (many more in the starting points in the pool, plus much more time to diverge.)
 - Widespread diversity in mitochondrial DNA due to the supposed lengthy amount of time (100,000 - 1 million years) mutations would have had to accumulate.
No expectation that all people would have mitochondrial DNA traceable to one of three distinct lines

Assessing The Biblical Expectations

The flood of Noah's day was a key event that should stamp the world's genome pools with highly defined and observable genetic differences. Let's take a closer look at it and consider:

How many different Y Chromosomes were on the ark? (One...from Adam.
How many different X Chromosomes on the ark? Between seven and nine. Most creationists think 8 that could be inherited.)

Where did the 7-9 range come from? Consider the number of different X Chromosomes that could have been passed from the eight people on the ark. (Gen 7:7, 13). These X Chromosomes vary a small bit due to mutations that accumulated over the 10 generations that passed since between Eve and the sons of Noah.

Number of X Chromosomes passed:
Noah:
Zero (He would pass Y to his Sons)
Mrs Noah: Two (She passed one of her two X chromosomes to her sons, but likely did not directly participate in repopulating the  earth based on Gen 9.18-19)

Shem: (X1 or X2 from mom Mrs Noah)
Ham: (X1 or X2 from mom Mrs Noah)
Japheth: (X1 or X2 from mom Mrs Noah)
Mrs Shem: 2
Mrs Ham: 2
Mrs Japheth: 2

When you count up the X Chromosomes that could be passed (Noah's would make 9, but he could not pass it to sons) you wind up with 8 X chromosome variations that could be used to re-populate the world.

But since mitochondrial DNA is only passed from the mother, the only variations would come from the wives of  Shem, Ham and Japheth - so only 3 variations - and they would only have the mutations collected since the creation of Eve (10 generations ago).

Thus according to the biblical account, you'd expect to find:

  • Much variation in X Chromosomes
  • Some diversity in mitochondrial DNA (but not as much as in nuclear X Chromosomes), and they would all trace back to three starting women.
  • Very small, minute diversity in Y Chromosomes.

According to Dr Rob Carter, this is precisely what the evidence shows.[3]

 

Assessment
Dr Georgia Purdom provides a concise summary of the conclusions of Dr Rob Carter. They are presented below. Note in the first point (a) the dispersion event referenced is the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, which forced people to separate by language, and the three mitochondrial lines referenced are those that would belong to the wives of the sons of Noah who repopulated the earth after the flood. Here's the summary:

"The genetic facts, apart from the formulation of historical scenarios, are clear:
a. There was a single dispersal of mankind with three main mitochondrial lineages interspersed within the clans
b. This dispersal either passed through, or originated within, the Middle East."
c. These things happened in the recent past.
d. The dispersion was essentially tribal in nature, with small groups pushing into previously - uninhabited territory. ...These facts are very consistent ith a biblical scenario."

Here's the clip:

Conclusions

When we look at the three faces of mitochondrial eve - the evolutionary account, the creationist modification, and the evidential realities, the evidence makes the conclusions firm:

The evolutionary mitochondrial Eve is false and the tools used to support it are based on false assumptions. Therefore, the tools too are false and  unreliable. Thus:
- The Molecular Clock is unreliable and cannot and does not provide the expected reliability or evidence expected by evolutionists.
- The Fossil Record is misinterpreted by evolutionists - it is a record of burial after the flood, not a record of evolution, and thus cannot support the mitochondrial clock.
- Radiometric Dating is likewise based on false assumptions. It does not "date" anything, it relates a ratio of radioactive/non-radioactive material to an artifact, and based and assumptions they assign a date. It thus likewise is unreliable because of false assumptions.
- The supposed evolution of humans from Apes never happened. There is no undisputed evidence of it, and according to the theory the fossil record should be replete with transitionary forms. There is not a single undisputed transitionary form.
- The "Out of Africa" theory of human origins is likewise falsified with this falsification of mitochondrial Eve.

The Creationist Modification of the evolutionary mitochondrial Eve, where the date is re-calibrated to come up with a first woman - mitochondrial Eve 6,000 years ago. While meeting the biblical time frame, is an ill-advised tack to take. Consider it like trying to prove the truth of the virgin birth using the wide spread accounts of a Saint Nick who flies through the air in a reindeer drawn sleigh delivering gifts to children on Christmas eve. A bad idea. Using falsehoods to support the truth is always a bad idea.

The Evidential Realities found in both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA strongly support the biblical account. Particularly the fact that all human mitochondrial DNA trace back to one of three women points decisively to the biblical model. The evolutionary model has no explanation for this. Further the evidence available today points to the existence of:

- a biblical Adam
- A biblical Eve

The evidence also points to the Reality of the events of:
- The Creation of Adam and Eve
- The Flood of Noah's Day
- The Dispersion at the Tower of Babel

And thus both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA confirm and support the biblical account, not the man-made evolutionary account which has one again been proved false.

- The evolutionary concept of Mitochondrial Eve is irredeemably false, even by a creationist understanding.

In short, Creationists should not be promoting mitochondrial Eve. We should be upholding the biblical account of Eve, which is supported by the evidence of both nuclear or mitochondrial DNA.
 

 


Duane Caldwell | August  29, 2022


Notes

1. Rob Carter ref. from Creation in the 21st Century, episode “Y Chromosome Adam”, Documentary, 2019

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2. View Purdom's discussion here
Georgia Purdom, Genetics, Evolution and Creation: Most Asked Questions - Dr. Georgia Purdom, YouTube, Aug 24, 2016,
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3. Rob Carter, Mitochondrial Eve and the 3 “Daughters of Noah", CMI DVD, 2009
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Image
Movie Poster composite, 2022