Y-Chromosome Adam & Mitochondrial Eve: Is Science Confirming Genesis?

First, they said Genesis, Eden, and Adam and Eve were just a "miserable myth". Then something strange started to happen ...

Evidence started to stack up that all mankind originated in the same place: the "Out of Africa" model. Genesis was still just a myth though regarding our common ancestry through Adam and Eve. Then something strange started to happen ...

Genetic evidence started to stack up for a common matrilineal ancestor: "Mitochondrial Eve" or mt-Eve, mt-MRCA. Genesis was still just a myth though regarding Adam. Then something strange started to happen ...

Genetic evidence started to stack up for a common patrilineal ancestor: "Y-chromosome Adam" or Y-MRCA. Genesis was still just a myth though because Adam and Eve were still separated by huge gulfs of time, if not geography and distance. Then something strange started to happen ...

Evidence began to stack up that Adam and Eve may have lived on the planet at the same time. But Genesis was still just a myth because Adam and Eve were certainly not the only humans around at the time and certainly never met. Then something strange started to happen ...

Can you guess where this is headed?

Science's Unsuccessful Assassination of Adam and Eve 

G. K. Chesterton begins Orthodoxy by describing a man who sets sail from England to discover a new land. The adventurer accidentally gets turned around and returns to England, but he believes it to be the new land he had sought to discover. The adventurer finds himself looking at familiar things as if seeing them for the first time.

Science, in the person of Charles Darwin, set sail from England on the H.M.S. Beagle in 1831. A very similar adventure followed. Science quickly abandoned the reigning conception of mankind's origin in the common ancestors of Adam and Eve.

Roger Ingersoll, "The Great Agnostic" orator of the 19th century, said that after Darwin and Huxley, "The Garden of Eden faded away, Adam and Eve fell back to dust, the snake crawled into the grass, and Jehovah became a miserable myth."

Common Ancestry is Important! One Common Human Family

It should be noted that there is something profoundly anti-racist about the entire human race originating with Adam and Eve. This means were all one family!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 842) makes this point regarding the Church and non-Christians:

All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city.

Not only does this render racism ridiculous. Our common origin speaks to our common destination.

From Polygenism to Monogenism: Just how many Adams were running around?

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however, science had a big problem believing that all races had a common origin. People just couldn't or believe that blacks and whites were descended from the same ancestors.

This belief in multiple ancestors is called Polygenism. The predominant strain of polygenism was Co-Adamism which can be traced back to Paracelsus in 1520[1] and even to the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate.[2] Co-Adamism is the claim that there were multiple Adams or small groups of men, which were created at the same time but in different places around the globe. This is how the different races would have been separately created.

Notice that we're going back to the 1500s and 300s. It should be no surprise that the science of man's origins pre-dates Charles Darwin by a long shot.

Polygenism has traditionally been a belief of non-Christians, as it appears to contradict the Bible. The Church, through the findings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, explicitly rejected the idea of polygenism in 1909.

Multi-Regional Hypothesis to "Out of Africa" Theory

The rejection of common ancestors was the scientific standard model until the time of Darwin. Over time the various threads of polygenism coalesced into the Multi-Regional Hypothesis (MRH) or the polycentric hypothesis.

MRH and polygenism persists even to this day.[3] This may be because the opposite of polygenism, monogenism, comes far too close for comfort to the original Biblical understanding.

However, the predominating scientific theory of human origins is now the "Out of Africa" Theory. This is the theory that our species originally came "Out of Africa" and that such happened fairly recently.

Darwin was an early proponent of the "Out of Africa" Theory. Darwin wrote in the Descent of Man that "it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere."

The "Out of Africa" theory was later confirmed by anthropologists' discovery of fossils of small-brained hominids in East Africa, such as the Leakey's discoveries in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.  

Mitochondrial Eve: Genetic science weighs in 

We receive our mitochondrial DNA from our mothers. Mitochondrial Eve, therefore, is the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line traced back by their mitochondrial DNA purely through their mothers. Eventually, all the lines trace back to one woman: Mitochondrial Eve.

Still unclear on what is meant by "Mitochondrial Eve"? Check out the video below:

In 1987, research from Allan Wilson, Mark Stoneking, Rebecca L. Cann and Wesley M. Brown was published in Nature. This was the first demonstration of the existence of Mitochondrial Eve. Wilson, Stoneking, Cann, and Brown found that mutation in our mitochondrial DNA happened unexpectedly fast and much faster than that of nuclear DNA.

After analysing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 147 people from around the world and charting their genetic relationships, they were able to construct a molecular clock. A molecular clock is a tool used to calculate when lifeform's lineage diverged. They used the molecular clock to estimate Mitochondrial Eve's age.

Studies keep coming out with new estimates of when Mitochondrial Eve would have lived. For example, here's a 2010 Rice University study, estimating that Mitochondrial Eve lived about 200,000 years ago. Here's a 2013 international study published in Current Biology, estimating that Mitochondrial Eve lived about 120,000-197,000 years ago.

Y-Chromosome Adam

First off, women have two X-chromosomes. A woman's genotype is XX. Men have one X-chromosome and one Y-chromosome. A man's genotype is XY.

Men have just one son on average. Evolutionary theory predicts that for any given man there is a high probability that his paternal line will eventually come to an end. That is to say, one of a man's grandsons, great-grandsons, etc. will eventually not have a son. Just ask King Henry VIII about trying to get a male heir.

Once the line of direct male heirs ends, all of a man's male descendants thereafter will have inherited their Y chromosome from other men. In fact, it is highly probable that at some point in the past, all men except one possessed Y chromosomes that by now are extinct. All men living now, then, would have a Y chromosome descended from that one man. This is Y-chromosome Adam.

Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam could have co-existed

At first it was assumed that Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam were separated by a vast gulf of time. Then further scientific studies found something strange ...

Two recent studies of the age of Y-Chromosome Adam have yielded an age very close to Mitochondrial Eve's. These studies by Bustamante and Francalacci have concluded that "genetic Adam and Eve did not live too far apart in time."

Carolos Bustamante, a population geneticist at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, led a team that sequenced the Y chromosomes of 69 males from around the world and uncovered about 9,000 previously unknown DNA sequence variations. According to the journal Nature, they used these variations "to create a more reliable molecular clock and found that Adam lived between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago." Analyzing the same men's mtDNA sequences suggested that Eve lived between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago.[4] 

A similar study by Francalacci of men on the island of Sardinia also suggested that Adam lived 180,000–200,000 years ago, similar to estimates of Eve’s age.[5] 

Conclusion: Science moves from no where near Eden to next-door neighbors 

At first, scientific and evolutionary theories - polygenism, co-Adamism, and Multi-Regional Hypothesis (MRH) - believed that the human race had no common origin whatsoever, whether from a certain location, like Eden, or certain common ancestors, like Adam and Eve. 

Then, anthropologists discovered that mankind likely originated in a specific region of eastern Africa: Anthropological Eden.  

Then, geneticists discovered a common female ancestor: Mitochondrial Eve.

Then, geneticists discovered a common male ancestor: Y-Chromosome Adam. 

Then, geneticists discovered that our two common ancestors might have lived at the same time. 

Summary: science has confirmed that mankind has common ancestors, one male and one female, from the same time and place. 

Wow, that sounds pretty close to what Genesis told us 4,000 years ago.  

EXTRA: Archaeological Evidence for the Immortal Soul: Why would Homo Sapiens (humans) develop art and not other hominids?

To return to G. K. Chesterton for a moment, he said that "Art is the signature of man." Is there a connection between the capacity to behold and create beauty and the immortal soul? Perhaps we might see such a connection by comparing our ancestor to Neanderthals, our non-human cousins.

As recently as 40,000 years ago in Europe, the Neanderthals show almost no evidence of the symbolic thinking, such as art and sculpture, that is associated with language. This represents a stark difference compared to the Homo sapiens from the same era. 

40,000 years ago, Homo sapiens had plentiful art, musical instruments, and specialized tools, such as sewing needles. Neanderthals likely didn’t even have sewn clothing - interestingly, Adam & Eve immediately started sewing clothing following the Fall. Instead of sewn clothing, Neanderthals would have merely draped themselves with skins.[6] 

And, despite evidence that between 1–5% of the human genome might be derived from human-Neanderthal matings, the Neanderthals went extinct as a species while we flourished.[7] Such matings might make one think of the nephilim of Genesis 6:1-4, who resulted from the mating of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men", thought to be the descendants of Seth and Cain, respectively.

Mitochondrial Eve: Genetics Confirming Genesis? Sources Cited:

[1] Graves, Joseph, The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium, Rutgers University Press, 2003, p. 25.
[2] Co-Adamism is also found in some Greco-Roman literature, including the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate. In Julian's "Letter to a Priest," he wrote that he believed Zeus made multiple creations of man and women. In his Against the Galilaens, Julian presented his reasoning for this belief. Julian had noticed that the Germanics and Scythians were different in their bodies and complexion to the Africans.
[3] Scattered proponents of polygenism remained well into the 20th century. Carleton Coon, for example, thought as late as 1962 that H. sapiens arose five times from H. erectus in five places.
[4] Poznik, G. D. et al. Science 341, 562–565 (2013).
[5] Francalacci, P. et al. Science 341, 565–569 (2013).
[6] Pagel M., Wired for culture: origins of the human social mind, WW Norton & Company; 2012.
[7] Kuhlwilm M, Gronau I, Hubisz MJ, de Filippo C, Prado-Martinez J, Kircher M, et al. Ancient gene flow from early modern humans into Eastern Neanderthals, Nature, 2016; 530(7591):429–33. doi: 10.1038/nature16544.


  1. Excellent article!
    By the way, until recently it was thought that the universe itself was essentially static and unchanging over time.
    Then something strange happened …
    And we now have the “Big Bang” theory that shows that our universe (irrespective of theories about other parallel universes) had a beginning. Gosh!

  2. Raymond, yes! Thanks for your comment! This is actually the first in a series of articles I plan to write about science confirming Genesis. I plan to write on Steady-State Universe Theory versus the Big Bang, especially about the good father, Father LeMaitre. Also, geological evidence of a/the Great Flood and archaeological evidence about Abraham and David. I've actually already done the Abraham article. Here it is: https://www.thescottsmithblog.com/2018/05/who-was-abraham-modern-attack-on-abraham.html

  3. Please add me to your posts. In some 1800 Catholic books uncorrupted by modernization, the garden of Eden was in Irac.

  4. If "soulish" Adam and Eve lived that long ago (i.e. > 100,000 years ago), why the long lag until evidence of tool making and art around 60,000 years ago?

  5. I admit I find Frank's question on the extreme length of time lag a fair question; but I'm not bothered by it either. I guess when we die and we're finally in communion with God, all our questions will be answered, or it just won't matter. Great article.

  6. Thanks for your comments, Chris and Frank! Frank does have a good question. I think the easiest answer is that these dates vary wildly in the scientific research. For example, bones marked by butcher tools have been found at the Dikika site in Ethiopia (https://www.nature.com/articles/nature09248). This puts evidence of tool-making back 3.4 million years, though for Australopithecus afarensis, not Homo sapiens. As far as art goes, we are constantly making new discoveries, like the cave paintings in Sulawesi, and it's always possible the oldest evidence is just lost to time and the elements. This boils down to what Chris said, our questions will eventually be answered. What do you guys think?

  7. Great article. I've just recently discovered an Italian author who discussed scientifically a private revelation about Genesis. May be someone would be interested:
    Thank you indeed for your attention.
    Paolo Gasparini, Venice

  8. "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown."
    -- Genesis 6:4

    That citation is not to bring up a discussion of the Nephilim, but to point out that Moses' first audience must have been aware of a lengthy pre-Noah history that Moses doesn't bother to elaborate on, as his audience apparently already knew of "the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown." This makes me wonder if the time between Adam and Noah wasn't a considerably longer period of time than the Book of Genesis, up to this point, conveys to modern readers. We have no idea of many things Moses assumed his initial audience knew all about.

    If it turns out that scientific genetic analysis determines that Y-Chromosome Adam lived long after Mitochondrial Eve, then we must remember that the dating of the lifetime of Y-Chromosome Adam can only go back to Noah (assuming those on the Ark really were the only humans that survived the cataclysm). Noah's sons' wives would allow the dating of the lifetime of Mitochondrial Eve to go back all they way to Eve. So, assuming that the final determination of these dates is correct, we would have a rough idea of the period of years between Adam and Noah. Personally, I think it may be tens of thousands of years.

  9. "Noah's sons' wives would allow the dating of the lifetime of Mitochondrial Eve to go back all they way to Eve."

    Now that I think about it, a bottleneck consisting of just three women might not allow that. ;o)

    Does anybody know about that?

  10. It’s an exaggeration to infer that the mechanism that allows mitochondria DNA to propagates through women only, and the Y-chromosome propagating in men, necessitates a single male or female. Actually, genetics reaffirms the fossil record, as human genetic diversity, the markers and mutations present in our DNA, would necessitate a starting population of 6,000-10,000 hominins in the homo genus.

    Its amazing that prior to rise of civilizations, the only means that information was passed down was via genetics, but now we are able to develop exponentially faster than other species, due to our language and technology. The current scientific world view holds that about 6 million years ago we split from chimpanzees, Australopithecus - Lucy, evolving to be bipedal, but there is a large gap in the fossil record from there to homo habilis, when the first genus of humans were formed about 2.8-3 million years ago, as archaeological evidence has shown evidence of tools near burial sites, cooking, hunting. Then fast forward 300,000 years the social development of proto-languages, burial rituals, hunter gather societies developed. Then to 200,000 years when we humans, homo sapiens, sapiens come to the block. However, there were 13 other cousin species of humans, homo erectus, and more, that died out, some human anthropologist contend it was our unique ability to organize socially that lend to other homo genus demise. Then 70,000 years ago, we have our most recent behaviorally modern humans that by 50,000 years ago developed language, culture, art, to 12,000 years evidence of agriculture, farming, animal husbandry, the birth of civilizations, written languages, villages became cities, cities became kingdoms and empires. Then 500 years ago, explosion of science, 300 Years ago with the industrial revolution, and now 50 years ago with development of computers and technology.

    There just so happens to be a conference in Baltimore next month focusing on this very subject worth looking into, if you weren’t already aware. Biology and genetics with theological implications, organized by Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project, that became a Christian relatively recently, and formed a group called Biologos (https://biologos.org/about-us#our-history) that's worth looking into, top Christian geneticists/biologist dialoguing with theologians.

    I myself cannot fully embrace the current scientific worldview, as I am more orthodox in my theology, subscribing to the doctrine of original sin, and there more would necessitate an historical Adam and Eve, undeniable typology present in NT - Pauline epistles. And dislike Adam and Eve as archetypes as it would then diminish such doctrine, and invite the argument of God of the gaps in an evolutionary theism approach. And dislike literal reading of Genesis, too left brain of an approach, as obvious two creation accounts, issues with Cain's wife, and also how cities could be built so quickly with only one family. But do enjoy reading young earth creationist accounts, like Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis. He has an interesting exegesis on wedding feast at Cana, pointing to how God could create something new with appearance of old age, as good wine is aged wine.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading what direction you will go in subsequent articles.

  11. If you were to talk to any one of the scientists whose work you have cited and make the claims you have made here they would laugh in your face.

    Actually, no, they wouldn't do that. They would smile and gently try to explain how you've misunderstood their work. And if you persisted they would find some excuse to change the subject or end the conversation, because that's how polite scientists deal with people who think they know what they are talking about but really don't. The fact is, just about every popular article that has ever been written on this subject takes pains to make it clear that the existence of a Y-chromosome Adam and a Mitochondrial Eve in no way implies that we are all descended from those two people alone and no one else.

    And in fact other lines of genetic evidence -- which you seem to be unaware of -- make it clear that Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve had thousands of contemporaries who are all equally our ancestors. The only thing special about Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve is that they are our ancestors in direct male and female lines. But so what? I didn't get my Y-chromosome from my maternal grandfather, but he's still my ancestor, isn't he? In the same way, I didn't get my Y-chromosome from any of Y-chromosome Adam's many male contemporaries, but they are still my ancestors as well. It's really very simple, and it's hard to understand how an intelligent person could have missed this point, unless he was absolutely determined to miss it.

  12. @Anonymous: Speaking of being determined to miss the point - thanks for your comment, btw - the point is that "something strange" keeps happening. The further science progresses, the closer it comes to the revealed Truth of the Bible. Our most recent discoveries keep circling back to what we were first taught. The more we try to sever the ties with these "silly fables", the more we find ourselves tied to them. No, mt-Eve and Y-Adam are not perfect representations of Adam and Eve ... yet. Wait for the next great leap forward.