Population Size and Time of Creation or Flood
SciCre Population Dynamics: An Exercise in Selective and Misleading Use of Data
Certain proponents of "scientific creationism" (SciCre) have put forward an argument that humans could not have evolved, simply because human population size shows that humans have only been around a few thousand years. Those putting forward the argument tie the original population size to either two (sometimes Adam and Eve, sometimes Noah and his wife) or eight (Noah's immediate family), note a current population figure, and derive a rate of increase by use of some Biblical chronology to either creation, Noah's birth, or The Flood. It should be noted that biblically, what should be argued is either descent from two (Adam and Eve) or from six (Noah's sons and their wives). While some admit up front that the calculation of rate of increase yields an average value and that the actual rate of increase varies, many do not. The crux of the argument comes when they use the derived rate of increase for comparison to the deep time that evolutionary timetables give. The numbers of humans that would be present, they say, were evolution true, would be far greater than what we observe today, and thus evolution of humans must be false. Some are precise enough to restrict their conclusion to only humans, others leave how much is disproved unspecified. Some utilize the numbers to infer intermediate population sizes.
I am going to point out some problems with the SciCre population argument.
First, the argument assumes what it is supposed to prove. Second, all such arguments yield absurd values for population sizes at historical times. Third, the argument ignores what is known about population dynamics from other species. Fourth, final population size is an unreliable indicator of initial population time. I am only interested in the anti-evolutionary components of the SciCre population argument; use of the population argument in apologetics is not something I care about. I don't think that anyone can demonstrate that real population dynamics disbar Global Flood scenarios, so if use in apologetics is all that is intended from some source, I have no real beef with it.
I will take as an example one such argument forwarded by William Williams in his 1925 book, "Evolution Disproved", and illustrate my points above. This is available online at http://www.ldolphin.org/wmwilliams.html
First, the population argument assumes what it is supposed to prove.
- Now, according to the chronology of Hales, based on the Septuagint text, 5077 years have elapsed since the flood, and 5177 years since the ancestors of mankind numbered only two, Noah and his wife. By dividing 5177 by 30.75, we find it requires an average of 168.3 years for the human race to double its numbers, in order to make the present population. This is a reasonable average length of time.
By this calculation, Williams has coupled his rate of increase to his specific timetable, the timetable that the argument is supposed to validate. If the population argument were to mean something, the rate of increase would be derived from independent information, not from the information that is at issue. It should surprise no one that Williams is able to show precise concordance of current population with a timetable since The Flood, since that is how he cooked the numbers to begin with.
Second, all such arguments yield absurd values for population sizes at historical times. I will first demonstrate that Williams utilizes his numbers to derive intermediate population sizes.
- The testimony of all the experts in the present Scopes trial in Tennessee (who escaped cross-examination) was to the effect that evolution was in harmony with some facts and therefore possibly true. The above mathematical calculations prove that the evolution of man was certainly not true. They fail to make their case even if we grant their claims. These figures prove the Bible story, and scrap every guess of the great age and the brute origin of man. It will be observed that the above calculations point to the unity of the race in the days of Noah, 5,177 years ago, rather than in the days of Adam 7,333 years ago, according to Hales' chronology. If the race increased at the Jewish rate, not over 16,384 perished by the Flood, fewer than by many a modern catastrophe. This most merciful providence of God started the race anew with a righteous head.
Now, if there had been not flood to destroy the human race, then the descendants of Adam, in the 7333 years, would have been 16,384 times the 1,804,187,000 or 29,559,799,808,000; or computed at the Jewish rate of net increase for 7333 years since Adam, the population have been still greater, or 35,184,372,088,832. These calculations are in perfect accord with the Scripture story of the special creation of man, and the destruction of the race by a flood. Had it not been for the flood, the earth could not have sustained the descendants of Adam. Is not his demonstration decisive and final?
Now that we have verified that making inferences as to intermediate population values is an activity engaged in by even those people who forward these arguments, we can proceed to showing what the population argument implies about the human population size at various points in history. The following follows from Williams set of population parameters: 5,177 years prior to 1925 for an initial population of 2, and a doubling time of 168.3 years.
World Population Date Event
17 2566 BC Construction of Great Pyramid
2,729 1332 BC Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten dies
5,000 1185 BC Trojan War
~1200 BC Hebrew exodus, # of males = 603,550 (excluding Levites)
32,971 776 BC First Olympic games
87,507 490 BC Greek wars with Persia
133,744 387 BC Brennus' Sack of Rome
586,678 28 BC Augustus' census of Rome (70 to 100
655,683 1 AD Nice date
While I worked from Williams' example, any similar argument will produce a similar set of counter-factual intermediate values. What the real values tell us is that human population does not always increase exponentially, and thus current population cannot tell us an initial population time.
Third, the argument ignores what is known about population dynamics from other species. Various other species can be observed to sometimes reproduce exponentially, but we observe that such populations fluctuate, stabilize, or crash. In no case do exponentially reproducing populations "take over the world" as SciCre'ists assure us would be the case if evolution were true. In recent times, human population growth has been exponential, but this does not mean that the human population has been growing exponentially for all its residence time. Just as the number of E. coli present in your gut will not tell us your birthday or the time of your last use of an antibiotic, so human population size is decoupled from when Homo sapiens arose, or even when a bottleneck may have occurred.
Fourth, final population size is an unreliable indicator of initial population time. This is really a reiteration of the last point. There is no general means of inferring a history of population sizes from a current population size. Attempting to do so coupled with the claim that such attempts disprove evolution shows both ignorance and hubris.
I will add a fifth point, really a corollary to the first point. The SciCre argument is self-contained, and deliberately ignores all other sources of information. Human history does not record a global flood. Human history is continuous through the times proposed for a global flood. Geological evidence shows no sign of a global flood. Fossil evidence indicates that mankind is far more ancient than SciCre'ists would admit.
None of this evidence goes away or is addressed by the population argument.
In short, the SciCre population argument fails on many different criteria. Honest creationists should eschew its use.