Would you believe it if you were told that ancient humans were genetically healthier than you? Well, here’s an article from Science Daily indicating just that.
One of the things I remember from my evolutionary teaching (or indoctrination) in school and college is that evolution is the survival of the fittest. The most fit organisms were the healthiest and would survive and reproduce, thus passing along genetic information that would, in time, produce new kinds of organisms and species, eventually leading to human beings as the most successful and dominant species on earth. Of course, this implies that the less fit- those diseased and sick organisms- would die off before they could reproduce, thus ending any possibility of bad genes being passed along to the rest of the population.
Therefore, if this were true, wouldn’t we expect modern humans to be healthier than ancient humans? Most certainly. And that’s why some scientists were surprised to learn that genetic studies show humans, in the last 500 to 1,000 years, are more disease prone than our ancestors in certain areas. Mental health problems, for example, are far worse today than they were in the past.
Researchers in this study examined the DNA of ancient human remains- including Neanderthals- and looked for genetic locations associated with diseases like heart disease, digestive problems, dental health, muscle disorders, psychiatric issues, and other ailments. “it was still perplexing to see a good many of our ancestor’s genomes looking considerably healthier than ours do,” said Joe Lachance, assistant professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences. “That wasn’t really expected.”
While there’s some truth to the “survival of the fittest” explanation, I suggest it misses the broader issue, and I think the article inadvertently shows this. It’s only logical that healthy organisms and people are going to have a better chance to survive and reproduce, while those less fit and unhealthy will tend to die off before they can reproduce. This study provides some evidence of this by pointing out that, at least in the case of heart disease, modern humans are less prone than our ancient ancestors. This may come as a surprise since heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, but, still, researchers believe it was more common in our ancestors; in other words, “Evolution appears, through the ages, to have weeded out genetic influences that promote disease, while promulgating influences that protect from disease,” writes the author.
Firstly, the author of this article conflates evolution with speciation and natural selection. Human beings didn’t ‘evolve’ anything new (like feathers). The ability of our immune system, along with our genetic makeup in general, allows us to produce offspring with certain advantages or disadvantages. The “weeding out” process he refers to is more of a physical barrier associated with environmental factors. The weeding out can be caused by war, famine, natural disasters, or even diverse populations. But what happens at the genetic level when we pass along specific traits from one generation to the next isn’t evolution- it’s heredity.
The article acknowledges this when Lachance admits, “larger populations are better able to purge disease-causing genetic variants.” In other words, any genetic flaws found in one particular culture, but not present in another, may be eliminated if parents from two different cultures marry and have offspring. Therefore, with an ever-growing world population, it’s easier to mask or eliminate certain genetic diseases. This explains why we don’t marry close relatives- doing so would greatly increase the offspring’s risk of genetic abnormalities. But that’s not the same thing as evolution in the Darwinian sense… humans are still human and aren’t evolving into something else even though their offspring are less prone to heart disease than their ancient ancestors.
The article mentions other factors contributing to modern health, such as the development of science, medicine, better food, shelter and clothing. The researchers, however, don’t know if certain diseased alleles remain in the human population, or if they’re masked by modern inventions, allowing people to reproduce before they die and pass them along.
Nonetheless, the study shows that modern humans are more prone to many more diseases than our ancestors, and the study highlights the rise of psychiatric disorders in particular, admitting that people living 2,000 to 6,000 years ago had much better mental health than we do.
This kind of study isn’t surprising to me because it affirms predictions I, and many other creationists, have made- namely that ancient humans were more genetically fit than us. And the findings in this study support these predictions while falsifying the evolutionary predictions.
Evolutionists like Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson have told us that science is interested in building models with predictive power, and makes testable predictions. Therefore, if the ability to make accurate predictions is a marker of good science, then I’d say the evolutionary predictions have been falsified, while creationist predictions have been confirmed.
However, I don’t know any evolutionist who would admit that this study falsifies evolution because they can easily manufacture an explanation to satisfy them; the theory of evolution is so elastic and bulletproof that any failed prediction is incorporated into the theory and considered a strength. But, by their own reckoning, this only demonstrates that evolution isn’t good science because it can’t be falsified.
The Bible, though, paints a completely different picture than evolution. The Bible tells us that man was created by God, rather than evolved, and that they lived for hundreds of years. This makes sense because Adam and Eve weren’t born, and therefore, couldn’t have accumulated any genetic defects. Genetic defects and mutations would have only occurred after the Fall described in Genesis 3, and those would gradually be introduced into the population over time. Then, after the flood, only Noah and his family would repopulate the earth with a much smaller amount of genetic diversity. At first their children would have intermarried out of necessity, and that was fine because, at that time, the human genome would have been robust. But eventually the genome began to degrade, and God commanded the Israelites not to marry a close relative (Leviticus 18); now marrying a close relative is associated with genetic abnormalities.
As a result, after thousands of years, it’s no surprise that humans are less fit than our ancestors, and studies like this provide evidence, supporting the Bible’s claims over evolution. If evolution were true, we should expect humans to be evolving into something different, but we don’t see this. Instead, what we see is “perplexing”, according to Lachance. Our bodies are riddled with heart disease, cancers, diabetes, mental illness and all sorts of diseases. I think the Bible offers a more consistent explanation than evolution.