Who’s Your Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaddy?

Mixed Media
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The kit from National Geographic’s Genographic Project is just two simple swabs and a couple of test tubes. But what it can reveal about your genetic background is amazingly complex.

When the kit arrives, all you do is take a cheek swab, insert the swab into the tube, and send it to a lab that compares your sample with DNA from thousands of people around the globe. Researchers look for mutations in your X and Y chromosomes—like spelling mistakes in the genetic code—and trace them back to where and when those mutations were present.

If your ancestor had a mutation in his or her chromosomes, that marker is shared by all the descendants who come afterwards. Men, who have both X and Y chromosomes, carry markers for both their paternal and maternal lines. Women, who carry two X chromosomes, can see only their maternal line.

My son got the kit for Christmas. We only had to wait for six weeks before we got results. The researchers warn you to be prepared for surprises—and they were right.

My son’s paternal line (the Rang side) showed that our ancestors had moved out of Africa, through Saudi Arabia, had settled in northern India and then back west through Russia before arriving in Northern Europe. Interestingly, my dad had always claimed we had a distant Asian heritage stretching back beyond the written records. Turns out he was right.

And boy, does the time scale ever go far back. For example, the results say my earliest genetic paternal ancestor lived in Africa 75,000 years ago. The group scientists call “branch M45,” which moved into central Asia, did so 35,000 years ago. Even my first European ancestor—branch M343—wasn’t on the continent until 17,000 years ago. Scientists arrive at this data using what’s known as the “molecular clock,” which is the rate that molecules are transmitted in DNA.

This is where the science of molecular genetics would seem to contradict faith. So the challenge for any Christian taking the test will be trying to reconcile these two stories—the one written in Scripture and the one written in our DNA. It requires that we square the data—assembled using our God-given powers of reason and the records of natural history—with the story of creation and salvation.

About the Author

Lloyd Rang is the Communications Director at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a member of Rehoboth CRC in Bowmanville.

See comments (4)


One needs to differentiate between data/facts and interpretation.  The 'results' from the 'kit' is based merely on assumptions/interpretation,  Actually the question 'Who' was not answered.

Mere speculation should never be regarded as a reason to question the actual/real Biblical genealogy linking our Lord and Saviour to the first man, Adam.  

For more information see: http://creation.com/gentle-answer-mt-dna

"In summary, the molecular clock hypothesis relies on the Neutral Model of Evolution, which in turn depends on several key assumptions. Each of these assumptions has been contradicted in the evolutionary literature. Molecular clock theorists have to walk around with their fingers in their ears! But if the clock does not exist, there is no way to date evolutionary events, so they cling to it in desperation."

The full genealogy is available at: http://i1.wp.com/jeremymavis.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/messianic-genealogy-both-matthew-luke.jpg

Mr. Rang wrote an expanded version of this article in a recent edition of Christian Courier in which he claims that the science behind this project is "pretty iron-clad." The science of molecular genetics and the "molecular clock" that he heralds is far from being "iron clad." It is very problematic and relies primarily on predetermined assumptions and of course the always tempting desired results. This article once again displays the incredibly poor judgment of the banner editor when considering both content and research. If Mr. Rang wishes to purchase a kit of any kind he is free to do that. The internet is full of companies willing to sell just about anything. But to suggest in this publication that the results are some kind of scientific proof that the Bible is in error both in its timeline and in its chronology is disturbing. The constant barrage of articles undermining the accuracy of the Bible only cause confusion among readers, many who are ill equipped to see past the fog of speculation and assumption. 

Hi Arnold:

The molecular clock has been a mainstay of molecular genetics for about 50 years now. To say that it's science is well-established is simply a factual observation - though it's true to say that with more testing and greater sample sizes molecular clock analyses get more accurate (something the Genographic project itself points out).

On the issue of genetic kits - i agree that not all are created equal.  However the Genographic project is run by leading geneticist PIs and has an exceptional sample size - making it one of the more reputable tests out there. And the issue of whether one sees the bible as in "error" as the result of discoveries made in science is a hermenutical one, ultimately.  Personally, I take my cue from Saint Augustine on the matter and don't see the inerrancy of scripture as hanging on so delicate a thread as the science of human DNA.