back to article Geneticists resolve human dilemma of Adam's boy-toy status

The largest-ever study of the male Y chromosome has shown that the so-called "Adam" – the most common genetic ancestor to modern humans – is much older than previously thought, which solves a troubling dilemma for geneticists. Geneticists have spent a lot of time examining the genes of humans in the hope for finding what's …

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  1. DougS Silver badge

    Reaching the Americas 15,000 years ago

    There are some alternate theories that the Americas were reached well before this time over the sea versus the Alaska land bridge, but the evidence is mostly underwater due to sea level changes. So while 15,000 probably is a fixed point, it shouldn't be taken as a certainty.

    1. Rampant Spaniel
      Angel

      Re: Reaching the Americas 15,000 years ago

      That is impossible. I have it on good authority (a collection of heavily edited and repeatedly badly translated documents, subjectively interpreted) the earth is only 6000 years old. Yet more proof that this science thing is a sham, nothing more than people failing a test left to challenge their faith ;)

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: Reaching the Americas 15,000 years ago

      You forget, the Clovis people died out and were replaced later.

      That hints at two waves, one extinct and one surviving (well, nearly so, on reservations) today.

  2. Zobbo

    I've watched Fox news

    "...humanity reaching the Americas"

    Debatable

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: I've watched Fox news

      '"...humanity reaching the Americas"

      Debatable'

      Not debatable at all. Various groups arrived in the Americas in the ancient past.

      Their groups were later diluted and nearly exterminated due to the poor behavior of some English subjects who later became revolting.

      1. wowfood
        Joke

        Re: I've watched Fox news

        I don't know, I've looked over at the Americas a couple times, and there are very VERY few signs of any human intelligence.

        Are you certain you got your facts straight?

      2. g e
        Coat

        Re: I've watched Fox news

        That would explain all the Spanish-speaking and Smallpox then

  3. 0_Flybert_0

    really Iian ? .. you might think we are a backward christian theocracy .. but all most all of us did go to school to the point of learning geology and how the solar system and earth were formed and how long ago .. ditto with life .. evolution .. Y .. and X chromosomes too ! .. 30% may say they believe in the bible .. or Jesus .. but there is no way 30% think the world is just 10,000 years old

    1. Ian Emery Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Really 0_Flybert_0

      One of your Senators doesnt believe in Global Warming because it isnt mentioned IN THE BIBLE!!

      (I dont believe in man-made Global warming either, but at least I am an agnostic).

      Is global warming caused by Paris and too many other "hot" looking women??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Ian Emery

        "One of your Senators doesnt believe in Global Warming because it isnt mentioned IN THE BIBLE!!" which means that 30% of the US population believes that the earth is 10,000 years old?

        You're not as smart as you think.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Wzrd1

        Re: Really 0_Flybert_0

        I have to give Ian this one.

        During my over half century of life, I've watched a less than secular United States become secular, then begin to advance even to less than previous in secular, with near religious war ready to break out.

        But then, there are people like me giving pause to the farthest of the right. For, when they "denounce" me as "liberal" and remind me of their guns, I initiate a comparison of firearms in our mutual collections. I usually win, when I don't, a mutual admiration of historic items defuses the idiocy. Then, we talk about austere environmental operations, then digress to protecting our kids and grandkids.

        Fairly often, I win a convert. The rest of the time, the childless idiot, who frequently lacks a mate, is cowed.

        If I can't get respect due another human, I'll accept fear.

        For, what is operative is not what one *would* do, but what others perceive what you *may* do. ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ 0_Flybert_0

      I understand your disbelief, but that would then suggest that the Yougov polling method is a pile of crap. It would be very instructive to see the results of the same poll conducted here in the UK. If it showed much more than 10% believing that it's all down to God then I'd certainly suspect the polling method.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: @ 0_Flybert_0

        It'd probably be pretty instructive to come over here and see all the religious retards first-hand, especially in the Southeast. They're not so bad in Orlando itself, but go to one of the rinky-dink towns like Sparr, Ocala or Oviedo, and it'll be a culture shock.

        I could tell dozens of stories, but you'd owe me a lot of beer.

        Paris, because even she's not that stupid.

    3. Ross K Silver badge
      WTF?

      but all most all of us did go to school to the point of learning geology and how the solar system and earth were formed and how long ago

      It's a pity you didn't spend your time in school learning how to spell or form a sentence correctly.

      Anyhow, I digress. The fact that schools in the US are allowed teach creationism doesn't help dispel the notion that you Americans are backward yokels who think that dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time as Jesus.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoqSas2uFKw

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Mind you - some British schools also teach fairy stories as well.

        1. Ross K Silver badge

          Mind you - some British schools also teach fairy stories as well.

          True. It's not just the hardcore Christians - Islamic schools teach this creationist/intelligent design nonsense too.

          The French have the right idea...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I was actually talking about the classics by the Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Anderson etc...

            1. Mephistro Silver badge

              (@ AC 3rd August 2013 14:25 GMT)

              "I was actually talking about the classics by the Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Anderson etc..."

              Yeah, but those schools don't tell children that those fairy tales are true.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Yes, but as literature!

        2. jonathanb Silver badge

          They teach it in Religious Studies, and they teach a variety of different religions.

        3. Wzrd1

          "Mind you - some British schools also teach fairy stories as well."

          When I was in high school, we had comparative culture and religion classes in our culture class.

          Such stories would be considered valuable in those classes.

          Not so valuable as a factual educational class.

          When I was in school, we were educated in "the new math", which meant that we understood sets, subsets, statistics, etc. Hence, I can spend ages balancing my checkbook due to a lack in mathematical capability that is inborn, but can understand epidemiologists discussing their statistics.

          Our children can balance a checkbook, but have zero clue about what statistics are about.

        4. cyborg
          Terminator

          It's not whether or not they teach them it's whether or not they teach them as factual or not.

          I learnt about Egyptian and Greek mythology in primary scool and did Latin in secondary.

          I will never forget asking in a RE class in first year of secondary school to the teacher - can't have been too many lessons in since we're starting off with the Pentateuch - if he believed any of this and he said he thought it helped. Since I found this stuff boring and the Greek and Egyptian mythologies interesting I wasn't convinced.

        5. omnicent
          Coat

          "Mind you - some British schools also teach fairy stories as well."

          Yes, its called the 'English Literature' subject...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Of course dinosaurs existed the same time as Jesus. I mean, they existed the same time as Fred Flintstone didn't they?

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Joke

          Meet the flintstones...

          Bugger me! Are you saying Fred Flintstone was Jesus??? So i guess that makes Wilma Mary Magdelene. Hmm is Barney, Peter or Judas?

        2. Wzrd1

          Never met Fred, but I walked Ben Franklin to school and helped him fight off dinosaurs.

          Or something. ;)

          No, I'm not nearly that old, I only physically feel that old. :/

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        dinosaurs

        They did roam the Earth at the same time as Jesus. I can't stop my wife putting out food for them.

        To misquote Terry Pratchett, there are things that are believed only by backward societies and by scientists.

      4. Wzrd1

        "It's a pity you didn't spend your time in school learning how to spell or form a sentence correctly."

        In part, I blame England for not documenting the language properly until after the American independence. In part, I blame the US educational system.

        For my generation and a short period prior, I'd blame the former, after, I'd have to largely blame the latter.

        As in when I went to school, my school had a donated observatory with a quite competent telescope, many electron microscopes, worked with live reagents in chemistry.

        When our children went to school, one electron microscope was about and not available to students, the observatory was removed and destroyed, there were not reagents, only M&M's.

        And that was on the "college preparatory" course level!

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Off a couple thousand years

        Ross K> doesn't help dispel the notion that you Americans are backward yokels who think that dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time as Jesus.

        There is no mention in the Bible about dinosaur like creatures living during the time of Jesus.

        The book of the Bible in question is Job - there are not too many living vegetarian creatures known to man with a tail like a cedar tree. (I guess a 3000-4000 year old text shouldn't know about the diet, behavior, and anatomy of dinosaur-like creatures, unless they used similar scientific principles during the excavation of creature fossils to what is used today or the general assumption is that the creatures existed then.)

        http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+40%3A15-24&version=KJV

        That is not the only reference in Job, to dinosaur-like creatures. It is really a problem either way for the sceptic: the creatures existed during the time of the writing of The Bible or the people who wrote the Bible used modern scientific techniques in excavation, reconstruction, and analysis before recording their observations. A common way to avoid this decision point is via ad hominem approach.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Behemoth Read Comprehension fail

          "The book of the Bible in question is Job - there are not too many living vegetarian creatures known to man with a tail like a cedar tree. "

          The KJV says "He moveth his tail like a cedar..."

          In more modern translations we have."Its tail sways like a cedar" (NIV) and "His tail stands up like a cedar," (Good News Translation). Nowhere does it say the Behemoth's tail was as thick as a cedar.

          1. Kyle Roberts

            Re: Behemoth Read Comprehension fail

            Would it not be a bit pointless describing the behemoth's tail as "like a cedar", if you did not mean to say it was a big tail?

            "It's tail sways like a cedar... a baby cedar!" Not likely to impress.

        2. Kyle Roberts

          Re: Off a couple thousand years

          There were actually dinosaurs in the time of Jesus - right up to today! :-D

          http://www.newzealand.com/travel/media/features/naturesustainable-tourism/nature_tuatara-living-dinosaur_feature.cfm

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Evolution ? Not for most Americans

      We Yanks are proud of the fact that we are dumb enough to believe Bishop Usher when he calculated all the begats in the Bible back to 4004 BC.

      God must have created science to have something to laugh at or perhaps just to test our faith.

      Of course, there are many books of the Bible missing between Exodus and Deuteronomy, but that's one of God's jokes, too.

      1. Wzrd1

        Re: Evolution ? Not for most Americans

        "God must have created science to have something to laugh at or perhaps just to test our faith."

        I've long been a deist. A deity refuses to micromanage a single species on a seventh rate planet on a third rate solar system (I'm being overly generous here).

        Still, I'm convinced that the Platypus was a joke left to confuse and confound science. ;)

      2. g e
        Black Helicopters

        @AC You Yanks...

        Those books aren't missing, they're locked in the Vatican vault where the seriously inconvenient information within them can never reach the light of day.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Evolution ? Not for most Americans (who can read)

        Anon --- God must have created science to have something to laugh at or perhaps just to test our faith

        ~2,000 years ago, 1 Thessalonians from The Bible commanded to "Test all things". There must have been a reason for God to lay the foundation of Modern Science.

        A plain reading of Genesis is very clear: the universe was created with Age. Adam was not recorded to have started as a cell, but rather fully formed, with age. The trees had age, otherwise they would not have fruit. Similar situation with light (eliminating the problem with "light years".)

        Perhaps God created Atheism to ridicule those who are too ignorant to read? Perhaps, so a large number of Americans can laugh at the ADD nature of those who would fail a 3rd grade reading test?

    5. jonathanb Silver badge

      Of course they don't think the world is 10,000 years old, as God created it on 5th October 3761BC, about 5773 years ago.

      1. Orion
        FAIL

        About??

        I love how it was "about" 5773 years ago, and yet there is an exact date attached to it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "5th October 3761BC, about 5773 years ago."

        Which calendar was that?

    6. 2StrokeRider
      Holmes

      Slap the silly git author with fishes. While there are a small number of Christians around the world, not just in the Americas, who believe in a sub 10k age earth, this is not a mainstream Christian belief. There are in fact people that believe the moon landings were a hoax. Pointing out the fringe is humerus, but not when false numbers are claimed.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        Headmaster

        @2StrokeRider

        Pointing out the fringe is humerus

        If you can point out your fringe with your humerus then you must have very flexible shoulder joints.

  4. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Sir

    "under 10,000 years old"

    If that were the case, it would still smell fairly new, and it doesn't. And besides, you'd still be able to see the wrapping floating around in space somewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sir

      So that's where all the bubble film comes from...

  5. flearider

    plz tell me where 10k yrs came from in the bible ?there are no dates ..and man live a lot longer back then ...

    it's either that or

    did they take into consideration of the alien intervention of cross breeding 2 or more species

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      "... alien intervention of cross breeding 2 or more species"

      That would certainly explain Bible Belt Americans...

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      plz tell me where 10k yrs came from in the bible ?

      Counting backwards. As demonstrated by Bishop Ussher who upon arriving at a date for creation of Sunday October 23rd 4004 BC decided that it must be true, rather than disproving the whole book as the myths and ramblings of some desert tribesmen and farmers.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: plz tell me where 10k yrs came from in the bible ?

        But Usher used a lot of false assumptions not actually written in the Bible. Also some stuff in the Bible he misunderstood.

        There are only really identifiable date points from when Abraham leaves Ur of the Chaldeans. There is some Archaeological evidence for Nimrod, who is mentioned in passing. Really Usher was practically making it up and those that take his approach are ignoring what the Bible text says as well as definite evidence.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          those that take his approach are ignoring what the Bible text says

          Sounds reasonable...

        2. Rampant Spaniel

          making it up

          Wonder where he got the inspiration for that ;-)

          Bit cheeky really, making something up and conning lots of gullible people into believing it.

          1. billse10

            Re: making it up

            "Bit cheeky really, making something up and conning lots of gullible people into believing it"

            Yes, that sort of thing should be left to the professionals, aka political parties

        3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Joke

          Re: plz tell me where 10k yrs came from in the bible ?

          "Really Usher was practically making it up"

          Not like the rest of the book which is gospel true.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: plz tell me where 10k yrs came from in the bible ?

        ", rather than disproving the whole book as the myths and ramblings of some desert tribesmen and farmers."

        You might also include some of them sounding like the ramblings of someone with syphilis eating their brain.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      The Bible has Jesus's exact lineage back to Adam, and we have a reasonably good idea when he was born. Not 1AD. The bible says it was during the reign of King Herod, and King Herod died in 4BC.

      1. Ross K Silver badge
        FAIL

        @jonathanb

        The Bible has Jesus's exact lineage back to Adam, and we have a reasonably good idea when he was born.

        And The Simpsons has been on TV since 1989, which by my reckoning makes Bart Simpson at least 24 years old.

        What's your point? Jesus, Adam and Bart SImpson are all fictional characters.

      2. Yet Another Commentard

        "The Bible has Jesus's exact lineage back to Adam, and we have a reasonably good idea when he was born. Not 1AD. The bible says it was during the reign of King Herod, and King Herod died in 4BC."

        Er, no. The Bible (in Matthew) gives St Joseph's lineage, but one of the pretty important things in the Bible is that St Joseph, whilst being Mary's hubby, had nothing to do with the conception, so not Jesus' lineage at all. Her lineage wasn't important, as she's just a vessel. The Bible can be a bit sexist like that. Just look at Abraham's treatment of women. it looks to me as being just a really bad post-event justification to fit in with earlier prophecies that Jesus would be of Abraham's lineage, missing the point that he's nothing to do with fathering Jesus.

        Also there's a problem that Herod was dead before the Census of Quirinius (about 7AD) as described in Luke. No other censuses that even remotely fit the bill are recorded, and you'd assume events like that would be noted by those pesky Romans. Even then it wouldn't apply to St Joseph as he wasn't Roman, and there was never a universal census involving non-Romans. So that gives Herod a few issues making the massacre of innocents decree on account of being dead. Mind you, there's no other record of the massacre either. You'd expect that sort of thing to feature somewhere in Roman history. So we have Luke and Matthew contradicting each other, and neither making sense in the overall history of things. Doesn't bode well for an infallible god or any guessing by counting method.

        In short - "We have the fossils. We win"

  6. Uffish
    Alien

    His and her ages.

    On a purely pedantic tangent to the excellent comments so far, may I suggest that the ages of proto-adam and proto-eve must be identical . If not, from where did Roger the lodger originate?

    1. Colin Millar
      Facepalm

      Re: His and her ages.

      As any fule kno Roger the lodger is an alien that Stan Smith saved from Area 51.

      1. Philip Lewis
        Alien

        Re: His and her ages.

        "As any fule kno Roger the lodger is an alien that Stan Smith saved from Area 51."

        What was a big footed tennis player doing in Area 51? Inquiring minds need to know.

  7. Arachnoid

    .and man live a lot longer back then ...

    Yea didn't some of those Bible dudes live for hundreds of years..........they sure had their five a day.

  8. croc

    Archeologically established point???

    "Y chromosomes change relatively little over the millennia, and the team was able to used an archeologically established point – humanity reaching the Americas around 15,000 years ago – by comparing the genetic data from the two populations. This was used to establish a "molecular clock" of genetic change in the Y chromosome."

    Given that there are many sites in the americas that make this date somewhat controversial, how can this population be used as the basis for any kind of clock? (And what do molecules have to do with gene sequences?)

    Maybe they should have used the aboriginal population of Australia as their stable sample. I mean, there at least you have a relatively unchanged set of gene sequences going back some 50k years.

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: Archeologically established point???

      It's a reference point, and if we revise that date, it shifts the derived dates in proportion. The error bars are pretty big on this anyway. The old figures, the two different age ranges overlapped. Both figures have been revised. There is a much better match. And it is rather difficult to explain if this generic Adam and Eve are widely separated. He looked so much younger than Mitochondrial Eve that it was hard to see how he could have frozen out the other male lines. Maybe Y-chromosome Adam discovered the G-spot.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: (And what do molecules have to do with gene sequences?)

      DNA and RNA-related stuff is referred to as "molecular genetics" (sometimes "molecular biology", although the latter is somewhat wider and includes the science of proteins, too). That's because they study the molecular basis of heredity as opposed to phenotypic traits (which transmission is much harder to predict -or work out backwards, as the case may be). DNA strands _are_ (extremely large) molecules, indeed. That would be something that gene sequences have to do with molecules, don't you think?

  9. btrower

    The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts."

    ― Bertrand Russell

    It is not necessary that there be one objective truth and nothing else. In fact, it is not likely there even *is* one objective truth for all values of 'truth'. Even if there were, I highly doubt many of us would be equipped to understand it.

    The scientific narrative seems more explanatory (to me) for things like engineering or DNA sequencing. That does not preclude the utility of a religious narrative. The religious narrative may be, for some, a better fit for making 'organic sense' of the world. There is nothing wrong with that.

    Religious and moral norms provide heuristics for calculating the optimal strategy for our near-immortal genes to continue to propagate. Very few people likely even understand that last sentence and less still have any likelihood of turning it into a reliable calculation. However, most people can likely use the cultural norms they were taught as children to muddle through.

    It is possible to hold both scientific and religious narratives in esteem. They are not mutually exclusive. That is why you see them both on display all the time. People on both sides of the fence would be well served by a little intellectual humility and some time spent understanding the other side's point of view.

    1. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

      "Religious and moral norms provide heuristics for calculating the optimal strategy for our near-immortal genes to continue to propagate"

      This is true, but a little bit one sided. As memes, religions also evolve, and usually they end up being bad for their followers. At some moment, religions become entities capable of doing whatever they need to survive and grow, and have no problem throwing away any moral claims. Consider "Thou shalt not kill.", and the way it has been sidestepped by all the Abrahamic religions. That's where Crusades, Jihads and Inquisitions come from.

      From a given moment in their development, all religions become big fat parasites that support whatever government has the power, milk/rob people for their money/resources and act like a cork that prevents the societies upon which they feed from improving.

      Oh, and who said that you need a religion so you can have morals?

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

        Even if you put aside the question of truth, the question remains: "What are the implications of what you believe?"

        The Crusades and the Inquisition both come from a corruption of values - the church institutions took on the values which were opposite to those of the religion. I suspect this was mostly due to the acquisition of temporal power, whereupon they became like all other greedy, power-seeking, money-grubbing organisations. However, at least the basic values contradict this behaviour. The old testament is full of prophecies of doom which God pronounces on his own people because they have become like everyone else around them.

        The Muslims appear to have started out on the warparth and the Jews got lost in legalism, bringing down their own God's curses upon themselves. Buddhists will tell you that pain is all in the mind and Hindu's see little to be gained in interfering with karma - the universe's way of judging wrong-doing which ensures that whatever lot in life you have is deserved.

        > Oh, and who said that you need a religion so you can have morals?

        No you don't need religion to have morals, but to have morals as an atheist is irrational. In fact, if you believe in the genetic machine, your personhood is purely a product of your environment, like the sand dune shapes in the Sahara or the melting ice (or otherwise) at the poles. Any concern for your children's welfare in the face of AGW is just genetic programming and has no intrinsic value. You have no more freedom of choice than an ice-cream machine and even changing your mind is just a result of your genetic programming. Sure you can look after the poor and the homeless, but what is the reason? Surely that is going against evolution, the survival of the fittest - you are diluting the gene-pool with failed material.

        I have to laugh with irony when people trot out the crusades as an argument against religion, conveniently disregarding the millions more killed during the least religious and scientifically advanced 20th & 21st centuries. Conveniently ignoring the fact that under atheism, there is no intrinsic curb on my hatred and greed. I fight for my genes to get ahead - sometimes I cooperate, when no-one is looking, I don't have to. I just throw it into the pot and claim its up to history to judge.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct. (@ P.Lee)

          Even if you put aside the question of truth, the question remains: "What are the implications of what you believe?""

          I don't want to put aside the question of truth. If you put aside the question of truth, many other important concepts will suffer the consequences. Trusting someone who said that things are so and so 'cause God told me' is dangerous and just plain stupid, in my opinion.

          The implications of what religious people believe are that they have to trust some guys that, basically can define as dogma whatever they want without needing to provide proof. After a while, you get people saying that adulterous women must be stoned, God forbids blood transfusions, the Pope is infallible and the Earth is ~6000 years old, just to give a few examples.

          but to have morals as an atheist is irrational.

          Totally wrong. If humans didn't live in societies and weren't dependent on other humans, you'd be right, but we live and evolve in societies/cultures/civilizations. And one of these without an ethical framework will last, in Historical terms- a very short time, and look to people living under them like a living hell. On the other hand, religions manipulate the morals for their own benefit, which usually ends up harming their followers.

          1. rurwin

            Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct. (@ P.Lee)

            > but to have morals as an atheist is irrational.

            Frankly, I find that belief terrifying.

            I assume you mean that without religion to hold you back you would feel free to murder, rob and rape all day and every day. Most of us are not like that. Most of us actually like acting selflessly for the general good. We might not always succeed, but neither do the religious succeed all the time.

            Religion is in serious danger of losing the moral high ground. I'm not talking about the child abuse stories. Those are a little like shooting fish in a barrel, and the church now admits that it's handling was wrong. However on matters such as family planning, women's rights and gay rights, no major religion is as enlightened as modern secular morality.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

          "Conveniently ignoring the fact that under atheism, there is no intrinsic curb on my hatred and greed"

          In the case of Christianity, it's a bit hard to follow a church where a significant number of it's officers have buggered little boys over many years and had their crimes covered up by their superiors. One wonders where the "intrinsic curb" supposedly lacking in atheists is operating in the minds of those religious persons who are supposed to teach and/or set examples for their followers.

        3. cyborg
          FAIL

          Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

          <quote>but to have morals as an atheist is irrational. </quote>

          No.

          <quote>Conveniently ignoring the fact that under atheism, there is no intrinsic curb on my hatred and greed.</quote>

          No.

          <quote>Sure you can look after the poor and the homeless, but what is the reason? Surely that is going against evolution, the survival of the fittest - you are diluting the gene-pool with failed material.</quote>

          Populations evolve. Not individuals. We're all in concurrent genetic experiments. Fittest is relative. We engineer our environment more than any other organism except microbes. Many people don't look after the poor and the homeless. It may or may not be beneficial to the overall population. Survival rates for populations with those traits over the changing environment will change that.

          In short: we do *not* implement evolution according to some Malthusian definition. We implement genetic strategies which may or may not lead to their survival. They vary - that is enough. And with meme theory much the same war of strategies may well be playing out in our minds and now with temes in our machines.

          Note: genetic strategies are not absolutes. Environments may vary. No guarantees are made as to whether your genetic transport system implements complex environmental feedback systems or not. Warranty void if dead. The value of your genome may fall as well as rise.

    2. CCCP
      FAIL

      Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

      @btrower

      Like many on the deity side you assume, in passing, religion a necessary precondition to morals: "Religious and moral norms...". This is not true. Read the God Delusion chapter on morals. Morals in and of themselves are useful for understanding many things. Also, morals seem to be universal to all humans, and to some extent animals. Religion not so much.

      Also, you use religion and the religious narrative in the singular. Do Norse Religion and Buddhism count? Or are they just silly sideshows to "real" religion. Please specify.

      Further, funny how deitists seem threatened as soon as more light is shed on prehistory by science.

      Your argument is invalid or at best incomplete.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

      "The scientific narrative seems more explanatory (to me) for things like engineering or DNA sequencing. That does not preclude the utility of a religious narrative. The religious narrative may be, for some, a better fit for making 'organic sense' of the world. There is nothing wrong with that."

      "It is possible to hold both scientific and religious narratives in esteem. They are not mutually exclusive."

      The late and dearly missed Chris Hitchens would have begged to differ. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens

    4. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

      it is not likely there even *is* one objective truth for all values of 'truth'

      So is the statement above true or not? I'm pretty sure that it's an instance of Epimenides' Paradox dressed up with a bit of probability.

      If you believe in multiple values of true, then it must be impossible for you to evaluate any proposition.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ btrower

      You sir speak a lot of sense.

  10. Ross K Silver badge

    It is possible to hold both scientific and religious narratives in esteem. They are not mutually exclusive. That is why you see them both on display all the time.

    Never mind science and religion coexisting...

    The various brands of religious bigots can't get on together.

    Sunni vs. Shia

    Muslim vs. Jew

    Catholic vs. Protestant

    People are conditioned to believe that their guy up in the clouds is better than the other guy's multi-armed elephant. That's religion for you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's really weird

      is that in all of the examples you gave, it's THE SAME GOD. Most of the holy texts are based around the same starting point, as well.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: What's really weird

        My money's on the multi-armed elephant, best celebrity death match ever!

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Elephant every time, especially if it is stood on a Turtle.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'multi armed elephant'

      Given the way Indian businessmen have been reversing the direction of the British Empire recently, Bramah is indeed on the side of Ghanesh.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There, fixed it for you !

      Sunni vs. Shia

      Muslim vs. everyone

      Catholic vs. Protestant/Jews

      1. Ross K Silver badge
        Holmes

        No, you didn't fix it for me. You just proved you're another sad, bigoted anonymous asshole.

  11. Yet Another Commentard

    Corrections

    Drew

    (or whoever) there's a word missing in the first paragraph, it's the word "recent" as in "most recent common ancestor" not "most common genetic ancestor".

    Herewith from the paper's abstract:

    "we estimate the time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of the Y chromosome to be 120 to 156 thousand years"

    Where has the "send corrections" button gone? Am I just being blind?

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    My this has bought the $deity bothers out in force.

    Let me suggest a position everyone could live with.

    1)1 second after you die everyone gets to find out wheather their positions was correct.

    2)If someone asks what your position is by all means feel free to explain it to them, but if they don't, don't. They will take their chances with their PoV, as will you when the time comes.

    Might I also point out the implication of the "Mitochondrial" Eve is that the phrase "All men are brothers," is a literal statement of fact, not a charming philosophical position.

    All wars are civil, and all conflict is internecine.

  13. wiggers

    Headline

    I thought the term was toy-boy, not boy-toy.

  14. Odiou

    What is one day for God?

    Who is to say that God operates within the time time constraints as determined by modern humans? I think that God has a different concept of time that we, as humans; about which, can only generalize with minimal inference.

    1. spiny norman
      Angel

      Re: What is one day for God?

      'God' said Man, 'God, is it true, a hundred thousand million years for you is like nothing in the way our time is reckoned?'

      'True' said God.

      'And God' said Man, 'God, is it true, a hundred thousand million dollars, too, is like something handy when the waiter's beckoned?'

      'True' said God.

      'Then, God, slip me a dollar through. One little dollar can't mean anything to you.'

      'True', said God. 'Do you mind waiting for a second?'

      'G', Christopher Logue's ABC. I can highly recommend the rest of it, if you can find a copy.

    2. cyborg
      Mushroom

      Re: What is one day for God?

      The obvious answer for an infinite being is that time is meaningless.

      But then so are a bunch of thin haired apes so why do some of them insist it must care about them so much?

  15. Kyle Roberts

    Creation less than 10,000 ya

    That's pretty hard to believe, since we've all been taught true science - that at first there was absolutely nothing, which somehow exploded for no known reason and became everything.

    Then chemicals decided to swirl together in a soup and luckily (!) chanced to form 'simple' life forms able to reproduce and get food from the environment!!

    These added vast amounts of genetic information (a process never observed in the real world) by means of chance mutations (which we inexplicably desperately avoid for ourselves and our offspring) and resulted in mankind - an animal with a very fertile imagination indeed

    :-) :-D

    1. cyborg
      WTF?

      Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

      You joined just to post this?

      1. Steven Roper
        Devil

        Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

        Of course he did.

        Every faithful believer knows there's no mileage in preaching to the choir. You must go out and spread the Good News amongst the sinners! And what better place to shine the Light of the Lord than the benighted cesspit of atheist heathen unbelieving science geeks comprising the commentard community of El Reg?

        1. Kyle Roberts

          Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

          "Every faithful believer knows there's no mileage in preaching to the choir."

          Reading the posts, I thought that's what was happening here :-D So I thought I'd join in and make it more interesting for you - is that OK? Do you mind having a bit of a debate, or do you only want yes men here?

          1. Mephistro Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya (@ Kyle Roberts)

            You just lowered the mean IQ of this forum ten points. You are forcing us to take desperate measures:

            "BEGONE FROM THIS FORUM, OH YOU FOUL SPIRIT OF A CHRISTIAN TROLL!"

            If this isn't enough, we'll send you a Richard Dawkins dedicated photograph. You have been warned!

            1. Kyle Roberts

              Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya (@ Kyle Roberts)

              :-D

      2. Kyle Roberts

        Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

        No :-)

        I Love a good debate, and it seemed like a bunch of good mates patting themselves on their backs that they are so enlightened. Care to answer the post?

  16. Jtom Bronze badge

    Consider this

    Over my rather longish life, I have seen a steady decline in those professing to be religious or spiritual, and an opposite increase in the rudeness, crudeness, and coarseness in society. I believe the two are directly related. Perhaps Mankind engaging in hope of a significant reason for existence is a good thing. At the very least, perhaps we should not ridicule it. We already have enough selfish behavior.

    1. rurwin

      Re: Consider this

      Over my rather longish life, I have seen a steady increase in religious and scientific fundamentalism, and an increase in the rudeness, crudeness, and coarseness in society.

      It does not have to be black or white. Plenty of scientists are religious. Plenty of the religious do not believe the literal physical truth of every word in the Bible. Most people just want to get along with everyone else.

    2. Ross K Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Consider this

      Over my rather longish life, I have seen a steady decline in those professing to be religious or spiritual, and an opposite increase in the rudeness, crudeness, and coarseness in society. I believe the two are directly related.

      Reality and what you believe are two different things.

      Perhaps the "steady decline in those professing to be religious" might have something to do with child sex abuse, Magdalene Laundries, Westboro Baptists and all that other "selfish behavior" that comes from organised religion.

    3. lglethal Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Consider this

      And in my longish life, I have noticed an increase in rudeness, crudeness and coraseness whilst seeing a steady decline in the number of hours that politicians work!

      I therefore declare that in order to improve mankind for the better, all politicians must be forced to work 80hr weeks, and not be allowed outside of parliament unless they are dead (either actually or politically I'm not too concerned which...).

      (Two little things called Causation and Correlation, you know?)

  17. Winkypop Silver badge

    Please science!

    Please refrain from using religious analogies.

    Adam and Eve?

    Really?

    Educated people know you are just being cute but the baked-on, hard-core fundies see it as a confirmation of their ye olde book of myths [TM].

    Next thing you know some whack-adoo-fundy is telling the press, "see, even scientists believe in Adam and Eve'...

  18. P0l0nium

    Our Islamic cousins actually have a pretty laid-back view of creation timescales.

    They interpret the OT as saying God created the universe in 7 "periods" and they are open to a "period" being millions of years.: No conflict with reality there ....

    Where they fall down is evolution, as follows:

    So, mice evolved from small dinosaurs? - OK!

    And squirrels evolved from mice? - OK!

    And lemurs evolved from squirrels? - OK!

    And monkeys evolved from lemurs? - OK!

    And chimpanzees evolved from monkeys?- OK!

    And humans evolved from chimps? - INFIDEL!

    1. Winkypop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Hang on there Cheetah...

      I think you will find that humans and chimpanzees shared the same ancestor at one point.

      We didn't evolve from chimps, they are simply our closest living cousins. Humans share about 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees.

      1. cyborg
        Boffin

        Re: Hang on there Cheetah...

        But people don't understand what tree structures are. They only understand the list structure. Where we're at the "top" of the list and everything else isn't.

      2. Yet Another Commentard

        Re: Hang on there Cheetah...

        "I think you will find that humans and chimpanzees shared the same ancestor at one point.

        We didn't evolve from chimps, they are simply our closest living cousins. Humans share about 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees."

        Yep, indeedy.

        We share a common ancestor with modern day chimps (common and ever-shagging-but-still-endangered bonobos) about 6 million years ago (about 250,000 generations, giving rise to a whole new category yo great-great....great grandmother's so ugly jokes). It wasn't a chimp and it wasn't a human, its population split into the two genuses pan and homo.

        We actually share a common ancestor with every living thing on the planet if you go back far enough.

        Your 99%DNA quote may be correct; we share an incredible amount of DNA with most things, it's just how evolution works. You can see this in some proteins. I think one of the cytokines is identical (or near as dammit) in every living thing on the face of the planet.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, if we are going to take on religion ...

    For some juicy soundbites from a powerful intellect not unwilling to call spade a spade:

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/richard_dawkins.html

    1. Kyle Roberts

      Re: Meanwhile, if we are going to take on religion ...

      And yet even Dawkin's powerful intellect is stumped when asked to give instances of mutations that add new information to the genome... talk about "believing despite a complete lack of evidence".

      1. Ross K Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile, if we are going to take on religion ...

        talk about "believing despite a complete lack of evidence".

        Could you elaborate on that comment please? Creationists love quoting that Dawkins interview as some kind of great Creationist win, but there is some debate on whether or not the tape of the interview was edited for "dramatic effect".

        Anyhow, I could just as easily ask you to give me a few examples of proof that Odin/God/Ganesh/Yahweh exists...

        1. Kyle Roberts

          Re: Meanwhile, if we are going to take on religion ...

          Hi Ross

          There was a debate, and accusations were made of an "ambush". The interviewer's answer was here:

          http://www.trueorigin.org/ca_gb_01.asp

          After a hundred years of searching and (for example) decades of studying fruit flies bombarded with radiation to induce mutations... one would think there would be many exmples.

          It seems that Dawkins still hasn't answered with examples.

          Re: proof God exists... it's a bit like asking me for proof my MOTHER exists. Show you her passport - could be FAKE. Show you a photo - Someone else's mother! The only thing I can do is appeal to logic that I MUST have had a mother (unless I was created from dust) because everyone has a mother.

          1. Ross K Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Meanwhile, if we are going to take on religion ...

            Re: proof God exists... it's a bit like asking me for proof my MOTHER exists. Show you her passport - could be FAKE. Show you a photo - Someone else's mother! The only thing I can do is appeal to logic that I MUST have had a mother (unless I was created from dust) because everyone has a mother.

            The only thing you could do is appeal to logic? Not really.

            A simple DNA test would prove that you are your mother's offspring.

            But in short you're telling me there's no proof that one or any God exists - I'm simply expected to let logic wash over me?

            1. Kyle Roberts

              Re: Meanwhile, if we are going to take on religion ...

              Ross K: "A simple DNA test would prove that you are your mother's offspring."

              Good point for my argument. I suspect there would be those who would NOT accept DNA evidence either, as it is not 100%, only 99.99 something - if they had some irrational reason to hope she did not exist, even as some people hope there is no God!

              "But in short you're telling me there's no proof that one or any God exists - I'm simply expected to let logic wash over me?"

              A good dose of logic would do wonders for evolutionary science :-)

              Yes, you can deduce by logic that a Creator exists, and even which of the many possible alternatives is the likely Real Creator.

              Once you meet your Creator there is lots of evidence - but for most people it's going to look subjective and circumstantial. Doesn't make it wrong though.

  20. Herby Silver badge

    Interesting, but...

    Can someone explain why humans have 4 blood types (generally accepted ones)?

    Most other species (Dogs, Cats, Cattle, Pigs, etc.) have only one.

  21. DanceMan
    Thumb Up

    "gets through the Pearly Gates"

    Cute euphemism in an article about genetics and ancestry.

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