The author of this blog is finishing up his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Arizona.  His interdisciplinary research is in the intersection of fields such as Genetics, Anthropology, Computer Science, and Mathematics (Probability).  His dissertation seeks to elucidate the history of human demography using modern DNA sequences.

Or put simply, “How did humans get here?”

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. knowledgetoday  |  March 29, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    I love your site. Keep it up !

  • 2. David  |  May 1, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I can answer your question without ever opening a book. It’s the same answer that was given to Hillary Clinton in Mexico when she visited the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. She asked the priest “Who painted that?” The priest answered her, “God.” How did humans get here? Same answer. “God”. And nothing you can research will ever produce a better answer than that.

    • 3. mathgeneration  |  May 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm

      First of all, if you look at the footage of Clinton’s trip to Mexico you will notice that they are standing in front of a replica of the image and not the original one. The priest, or monsignor rather, is pointing to a man-made duplicate of the original. So technically God did not draw the one Clinton was asking about… but I get your point.

      Whether or not God made the universe is not my area of research. What am I interested in is how it all works. Evolution is a fact, period. I have no problem accepting that God made the universe and God made the process of evolution. That’s not the point. The point is how does it all work. The bible itself is a history book of human migrations, and tries to answer where we come from. The bible is not a one-word book that just says “God.” The bible itself does not follow your own advise, which is simply “God.”

      The world is a beautiful place. Christians owe it to God to find out how beautiful the science that God created works.

      • 4. David  |  May 4, 2009 at 9:51 am

        I don’t hold it against Hillary too much, because she’s not Catholic as far as I’m aware. Actually, it’s just an excuse for people to point a finger at her and laugh. Not very Christian!

        Regarding evolution, it’s not a fact, it’s still a theory. The theory of evolution. One that I hold high regard for. The moment of human creation came when God breathed a soul into the first ‘humans’. There’s no conflict, according to the Church, between Genesis and evolution. My biggest point is that, when we take God out of any equation, we usually get it wrong. I think you need to study up a bit and see that it was the Catholic Church that fostered scientific understanding for 2000 years. Regarding “The bible itself does not follow your own advise” It does…it’s all summed up in 4 words at the beginning of Genesis, and a few more at the beginning of the Gospel of John…Genesis “In the beginning, God…” and John “In the beginning was the Word”.

        I agree, the world is a beautiful place-everywhere I look I see God’s glory. I watch series like “Planet Earth”, and come away knowing what an awesome God did all this!

    • 5. cancerwarrior  |  May 3, 2009 at 4:17 pm

      Your one word answer “God” to the question “How did humans get here?” means nothing. Even if you were to substitute the word “God” with “evolution” we would still be nowhere. The study OF evolution would explain a little more about our origins. The action of answering this question is closer to the truth than a word. I believe that knowledge, including this fundamental question, will always be progressing and will always ask for more digging. That’s the beauty of science, after all, that you can never run out of questions. On the contrary, an answer to one question can arise many more questions and may even lead you to a totally different perspective that your initial idea. So why stop at “God”? Why not ask, “Why God?” or “Why God and not others?” or “Why did God start this world?” The possibilities are endless! Otherwise how can you know that “nothing you can research will ever produce a better answer than that”?

      • 6. David  |  May 4, 2009 at 9:53 am

        I didn’t suggest that we stop. I suggested where we start. And finish.

        See above about how the Church does not stifle scientific research. She embraces it. As long as scientists always remember that God is involved.

      • 7. mathgeneration  |  May 4, 2009 at 10:28 pm

        While the Church has embraced some scientific research, it is still years behind.

        Some examples:

        Heliocentric vs. earth-centered universe
        Big bang
        Hell vs. psychology
        Whether IVF babies have a soul. Originally they said no, but then it turned out these babies turned out to be normal, so they had to revise their fear-based premature decision and admit that these babies also have a soul
        I can go on…

        My claim is that sometimes scientists are closer to God than the Church is. Scientists are on a search for Truth, and the Truth is sometimes humbling. Sometimes you are wrong and have to revise what you already knew. This is not the case with the church, especially in matters that are ex cathedra.

      • 8. David  |  May 5, 2009 at 8:55 am

        You’re wrong about being behind. The Church did not support any of the first three when they were theories, which evolution and the big bang are. Theories. Unproven as yet. Once it was shown to be truth, heliocentric was accepted, but Galileo had no proof. Evolution and the big bang, the Church has the same attitude. When you prove it, we’ll listen. Until then, we’re not denying it, but we’re not accepting it either.

        There’s never been a question whether human life has a soul. The thought of creating such children was and is immoral, but once created, an embryo has a soul. Always has.
        I don’t understand your question on hell vs psychology. Hell is and has always been defined as the absence or turning away from God.

        The Church has no problems with scientists searching for the truth. They just insist on keeping God, who is the ultimate truth, in focus. Ex Cathedra has nothing to do with science. Has to do with faith and morals, explicitly. The Church is not in the business of science. I know that they took a hard line when the heliocentric theory was brought forth, and they were wrong how they dug in their heels, but their basic stance was “If you can’t prove it, it’s not ready yet. When you can prove it, come talk to us.” The Church does embrace truth.

      • 9. mathgeneration  |  May 6, 2009 at 12:54 pm

        With all due respect, you need to do your research instead of saying things that simply are not true.

        First off, it was official church teaching that the earth was the center of the universe. Galileo had all the proof that was needed, and he had to hide the evidence until after his death. But let me ask you a question. Why do you accept the heliocentric THEORY. It has not been proven. It’s just a theory after all, just as gravity is. No one has ever seen gravity, but you will not deny its existence, will you?

        As for evolution, you need to do your research once again because the official Catholic Church stance is that evolution is true. The pope even met with the most famous evolutionist of the time, Stephen Jay Gould, and the Church as issued official papers stating that evolution is true. But it does take a while for teaching from the Vatican to make their way down to the churches.

        For example, did you know the previous pope said that there is no Hell, but rather it is just a psychological state of mind? That’s a powerful thing to say, but how many Catholics still believe in the fire and brimstone version of hell?

        Here are some more facts for you. When the New World was first discovered, there was a real debate as to whether the Native Americans had a soul. And there were a few decades were you could accept that they did not have a soul, and still be in line with Church thinking…. now we know this to be ridiculous, but not all the church thinks are says is true.

        When it came to IVF children, the church said BEFORE IT HAPPENED, that these babies would not have souls, since they were not conceived in the holy sanctity of sex between mother and father (we’ll ignore the case of rape for now). They predicted no soul. But they were wrong! So they had to revise their theories.

        These are all facts. The church has done many good things, but it has also done many bad things, and many things that completely contradict itself.

        Just a few points I wanted to make.

      • 10. David  |  May 6, 2009 at 5:05 pm

        Regarding heliocentricity, you’re right, the official position, was that the earth is the center of the universe. Look at it! Everything looks like it goes around the earth. So what? You don’t realize that the judges who presided over Galileo’s case were not the only people who held to a geocentric view of the universe. It was the received view among scientists at the time. Galileo did not prove heliocentricity-he couldn’t address the issue of parallax shifts.

        Galileo could have safely proposed heliocentricity as a theory or a method to more simply account for the planets’ motions. His problem arose when he stopped proposing it as a scientific theory and began proclaiming it as truth, though there was no conclusive proof of it at the time. Even so, Galileo would not have been in so much trouble if he had chosen to stay within the realm of science and out of the realm of theology. Theologians were not prepared to entertain the heliocentric theory based on a layman’s interpretation. Yet Galileo insisted on moving the debate into a theological realm. There is little question that if Galileo had kept the discussion within the accepted boundaries of astronomy (i.e., predicting planetary motions) and had not claimed physical truth for the heliocentric theory, the issue would not have escalated to the point it did. After all, he had not proved the new theory beyond reasonable doubt. At Galileo’s request, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit—one of the most important Catholic theologians of the day—issued a certificate that, although it forbade Galileo to hold or defend the heliocentric theory, did not prevent him from conjecturing it. But Galileo pushed the limit, wrote a book which insulted the Pope. Galileo had mocked the very person he needed as a benefactor. He also alienated his long-time supporters, the Jesuits, with attacks on one of their astronomers. The result was the infamous trial, which is still heralded as the final separation of science and religion. Galileo was not tortured, held under house arrest in the palace of the ambassador to the Vatican. Considering that at this same time, witches were being burned at the stake in Salem Mass by Protestants, Galileo was treated very well.

        Regarding evolution, cosmological evolution, the Church has infallibly defined that the universe was specially created out of nothing. Vatican I solemnly defined that everyone must “confess the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing” (Canons on God the Creator of All Things, canon 5).

        The Church does not have an official position on whether the stars, nebulae, and planets we see today were created at that time or whether they developed over time (for example, in the aftermath of the Big Bang that modern cosmologists discuss). However, the Church would maintain that, if the stars and planets did develop over time, this still ultimately must be attributed to God and his plan, for Scripture records: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host [stars, nebulae, planets] by the breath of his mouth” (Ps. 33:6).

        Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that, if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him.

        Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul.

        Pope JPII said there is no PHYSICAL hell, true, but also stated at the same time that hell is separation, even in this life, from the joyful communion with God. He said the instances of hell in scripture are symbolic. It doesn’t matter how many Catholics believe something, it matters that the Church teaches the truth.
        When the New World was founded, the debate was whether or not the natives were even human. But not in the official Church. That’s why expeditions had missionaries-to convert the natives.
        Show me where the Church stated that IVF children have no soul.
        So I haven’t seen one “fact” of yours yet that is really a fact.
        I believe the heliocentric theory because that’s what looks right to me.

  • 11. Rick  |  November 18, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Hmmmm, you say evolution is a fact. What is evolution? Micro, macro, in between?
    What is God?
    It is all about semantics, or is it?
    Maybe it is about the heart, soul, & mind of each one of us? But who is able to know that …

    • 12. mathgeneration  |  November 18, 2009 at 8:22 am

      Evolve means to change, not necessary for better or worse, but change nonetheless. This is an observable fact.

      We see flu strains evolve in front of us, we see generations of flies evolving, and we can observe human evolution between generations although this is slower. No kid looks like their parents, and no two (non-twin) siblings are exactly alike. Mutations arise every generation, and thus we evolve.

      It’s not semantics at all, it’s a fact. Change is life. Evolution is life.


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