Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Origin of Man....?

My first foray into personal development was at the tender age of seven (I still remember my soft page, black and red text Bible that I won in Church); researching and reading the Holy Bible (by self motivation). This journey of course naturally began at the ancient Jewish Mosaic Text of Genesis that supposedly defined the origin of man as iterated to most kids from Christian homes around the world- year in, year out. At that tender age however, I had important questions that basically stood Genesis on top of its head. 

Map of Early Human Migration

Clearly, I knew then that incest would have to be accepted for the story of the Garden of Eden to make sense (now I know that the human race will long be extinct via genetic degradation due to inbreeding if this were the case); something inside me also told me without doubt that I shared no existential close resemblance to an Asian, European and/or Indian to warrant common ancestry from one man and woman (supposedly Adam & Eve). I guess while I was inquisitive however, I never felt the urge to investigate further lest I get stuck in my quest to approach revelation by midyear 1991. 
It was not until secondary school that I got exposed to the science of genetics, DNA and evolution. Straight up, I rejected the evolutionary theory of man evolving from lower beings because even to this day it didn't make as much sense (at least not any more sense than the Jewish myth of Adam and Eve). However, I found a backward realization to the plethora of origin stories out there during my inquisitive teenage years. I dabbled into Yoruba nationalism, and at some point swore by the Orunmila/Oduduwa Yoruba origin story even though I knew it was laughable. Quite interestingly, it was this experience that made me make peace between my faith (Christianity creationism), Science (evolution & DNA) and my ancestry (the Yoruba-Ife creation story).

First, I theorized quickly on exposure to other "my ethnic group is superior or was the first man" theory of Yorubas, Gas and Hausas that nearly every old world culture had one of these stories. Hence, it made sense that Moses had his story with the Jewish people smack at the center of it all. Indeed, my follow-up research on the history of the compilation of the Holy Bible also gave credence to this "origin bias" , and confirmed my already formed notion that as a Christian I must make distinction between the Torah (mainly the Old testaments), the Gospel (basically the biography of my Savior, Jesus Christ) and the epistles (the doctrinal foundation of the modern church). My conclusion of course removed my dogmatic adherence to a non-Christian (really Judaical) story of Adam & Eve. 

A second conclusion which I must credit to my open minded upbringing (thanks Dad & Mom, for those late night discussions) was that doubting the creation story as written in Genesis was not and is not blasphemous. Indeed, believing the Adam and Eve story is not central to being a good Christian. Indeed, the only thing I was told I'd need to believe was that Jesus died for my sins and saved me..heck, I was fine with that, and am still cool with it...thank you very much. This second conclusion, however made me open to external influences and investigation of new hypothesis and theories.

The two questions I sought to answer were:

1. How did mankind achieve diverse physical characteristics and ethnic (racial) characteristics?

2. What is the origin of man?

Clearly, the first question will be easily answered than the second. The first has underpinning theories including pure evolution, mutation and in some cases discrete creationism. None of them made sense to me. One that was always interesting was that of migration and interbreeding to closely related species, which man then outcompeted and go distinct. The theory was that man as a specie somehow originated in Africa, moved outwards and as he bred with related species like the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon and recently Denisovans. The resulting interbreeding with these species found in wide regions, yielded the different races depending on what was bred with..according to this hypothesis. Which makes sense.

recent report by  BBC on likely interbreeding with the Denisovans (and their abundance in Asia) bolstered the "migration/interbreeding hypothesis" of the origin of diverse nationality of mankind. Clearly the original sociological Negroid, Mongoloid and Caucasoid discreet race groups seem to have been accounted for with the Negroid leading the human divergence from Africa. And that appears to solve my quest for answers to question number 1, supported of course by science and common sense. Why do I have a feeling that faith will solve question number 2? 

For example, An estimated 1 to 4 percent of the DNA in Europeans and Asians (i.e. French, Chinese and Papua probands) is non-modern, and shared with ancient Neanderthal DNA rather than with Sub-Saharan Africans (i.e. Yoruba and San probands).[64] The cause of this is unclear. It has been suggested it is due to interbreeding between Neanderthals and the ancestors of non-Africans after they left Africa, but this is not certain. 

Map of Genetic Divergence -
Sampling human mitochondrial DNA Scientifically 

Furthermore, aside from human migration maps produced based on archeological finds and duration of habitation that proves the migration/interbreeding theory, the theory gains further credibility with more recent DNA maps reconstructed, based on the human family tree and the study of maternal inherited Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which have led to the identification of the Mitochondrial Eve (L) . This of course is not to be confused with the origin story; as it reveals just statistical frequency of occurrence of the most ancient commonly traceable matrilineal ancestor. Not to say prior ancestors don't exist. How? Of course, that is the search that is still on. 

I guess a further study of the human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup tree perhaps will help scientists and sociologists investigate diseases, and development issues with modern man respectively. I will be interested in investigating of course, no matter how cynical or distasteful it might be, the correlation between being evolved on the DNA tree or being with fairly primitive DNA and how that correlates to the human development index. Heck, all the developing countries seem to have high frequency of L0 to L6 just from a quick glance at the DNA evolution tree. More developed nations, except those in Americas, have the later evolved genes. Hmm, explains why USA can't get to keep it together? Too many under evolved genes in Texas perhaps.  

May be it explains why Gbagbo cannot just relinquish power...an under evolved African perhaps. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thankful for the Year that Is

As we all get ready for the season of gift, thanks and appreciation, it is often the case that we focus on those things that are ephemeral. In the middle of the materialism of this season, I reflect back on a year that is and will soon be over...year 2010.

I have truly been blessed in 2010. A year when dreams were fulfilled, paths previously envisioned were conquered, contacts previously fantasized were made and ultimately when the rubber hit the road. I am grateful for love, for family and for friendship. 2010 indeed was a stuff of dreams. It is the year of growth...or rather growing up.

As we approach the New Year 2011, I am reminded that every year has its own unique offering. I will forever be grateful to 2010 for being the year of laying foundations for an eternity of giving and building. Happy Holidays folks!

PS: Spending New Year in New York..how appropriate. Working on the book, "The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier...and preparing for my Adjunct Professorship gig at the Monterey Institute in California for January. Looking forward to my first professorship experience. Trust me, "Professor Oluwagbemi" in an email sounded absolutely weird. Welcome, 2011. 


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