Something that's really bothered me about Christian religions is their complete acceptance of the idea that we are - all of us - products of incestuous relationships.

In their view, it all started with Adam and Eve.  Fast forward a little over 1,000 years and hit the reset button with Noah, his three sons, and the wives of each.

I just can't get past how sick and twisted that is, and how none of them seem to have a problem with it.  

Am I the only one?

Tags: Adam, Ark, Eve, Incest, Noah

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The idea of genetic shallowness never crosses the mind of Christians. Any population that starts out with even just a handful of individuals, let alone two, has a shallow gene pool and risks getting wiped out because of the population's similarities.

Nevermind that many stories of the Bible only mention characters "begetting" males.
that's how all our populations started out, though. Original human tribes were very, very small and limited by our current standards of what constitutes genetic variety...
Yeah but it's also not a stretch to say that tribes interbred or that Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man/woman did some cross-species breeding. That's different from saying "God wiped out the whole planet except for one family and the whole population of the human race grew from that family."

In the animal kingdom, individuals leaving the group and taking his genes to other "tribes" happens all the time. The more complex the animal, the greater for the need for genetic diversity. Isolationism either forces an extinction or forces evolution via mutation. And then the process starts all over again.
Yeah, that's true. It did happen and was not uncommon.
I remember watching some documentary on the original settling of Australia by Indonesian peoples. The scientists had run a bunch of computer simulations to estimate how many colonizing couples it would have taken to establish the new population. I think that the models showed nineteen to be the minimum number. However, I can't find the documentary so I have no idea how reliable it was, nor am I even certain if I am remembering the right number.

Either way, only nineteen couples is still a very small group and would probably necessitate cousins procreating at some point.
...the genetic defects that almost always go along with incestuous conceptions

So, I agree that the minimum viable population idea would seem to disprove the possibility of such a small family repopulating the entire species. However, incestuous mating does not necessarily mean genetic defects are going to happen. As B. and I discuss a little later in this thread, incestuous mating increases the probability of deleterious/negative genetic effects but does not imply genetic defects must occur.

I used the example of Charles Darwin marrying his first cousin and having sick children, but in that case the parents both came from wealthy families where inbreeding was more common than most of us can imagine these days and so it was even more likely that some of the children would have some genetic defects. That family line still continues.

I'm in no way arguing for religion here. But I don't see an argument against incest to be an argument against religion.
/seconded

incest does not equal genetic defects. It certainly isn't an "almost always" relationship by any stretch of the imagination.

The link between incest and "defects" is a grossly exaggerated assumption in the non-scientific community. If you're not carrying the genes for defects, you can't pass them along, regardless of who you mate with. As Graham pointed out, the consequences of incest generally don't appear until multiple generations have engaged in the practice -- and the relationship has to be close. From a biological perspective, cousins are a fairly "safe" match, assuming one of each parents' was from outside the family.
Offspring born from incest is NOT too sick to reach sexual maturity, NOT sterile, and is NOT suffering genetic defects -- at least not after one go at it anyway.

As stated previously, all our DNA (at least that of white, Northern European descent, from what I remember from Sykes book -- or maybe that was just one of the seven, I don't actually know offhand anymore) can be traced back to seven original women. We are ALL cousins, and our relationship to each other is far closer than the average laymen assumes or understands (or even wants to know).

There are no magical "incest diseases", there are only the same diseases we suffer now, and as I've said previously, if you're not carrying the gene for it, you can't pass it along. Also like I said in my other post, primary concern would be a weakened immune system due to identical MHC's, therefore giving use less resistance against pathogens.
But even so, the risk is very small.

Incest is nowhere near as biologically detrimental as it is culturally repugnant. I think we've made it out to be worse than it is in order to justify our own repulsion of it.
We're still incestuous progeny by an evolutionary standpoint, just more time has passed.

Author & scientist Bryan Sykes has written some wonderful books on evolutionary biology, namely "The Seven Daughters of Eve" (not religious, just mocking with a religious connotation). They have traced much of the modern population via their mitochondrial DNA to seven original women (mitochondrial DNA is only passed through the mother, so BOTH sons & daughters inherit it -- way less convoluted than tracing a patriarchal tree!).
I'll have to be sure to check it out! Thanks!
We aren't necessarily incestuous progeny based on Mitochondrial Eve, if that's the implication.
Who are they to decide what is metaphor, and what is the literal word of God?

If they don't believe it, how do they explain how and why we are all here, and why there wasn't any mention of other people?

Also, if it's not a metaphor, I don't want to hear another Xtian mention the stupid, "It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" line ever again.
Which brings us to another problem I have with Xtian beliefs. When something comes along which proves, unequivocally, that something in the bible is wrong, they just kick the can further down the road. They explain away the discrepancy as the passage being taken out of context, that it's a metaphor, etc. They willfully choose to remain ignorant.

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