Study Claims All Humans From a Single Couple

Several news outlets have reported research that indicates humanity sprang from a single human couple. Does this finding support the biblical account?

A fascinating story hit some of the newswires this past week. The report was picked up by prominent newspapers like The New York Post, The Daily Mail, The Irish Post and The New Zealand Herald. The basic story goes like this:

New research on mitochondrial DNA by scientists from the University of Basel in Switzerland and Rockefeller University in New York has led researchers to conclude that all human beings are descendants of a single human couple. By examining the mitochondrial DNA of 5 million humans and animals, the researchers concluded that all humans are related to the same original parents. This DNA serves as the genetic “bar code” for all life.

And it isn’t just human beings. Researchers concluded that 9 out of 10 animals are also related to a single mated couple. As expected, once the research was published, there were other experts who immediately criticized the findings, countering that it is inconceivable that all humanity, with all our physical diversity, could possibly have descended from a single set of parents.

The biblical view

Though the researchers still strongly support Darwinian evolution, many reporting these findings have noted how they tell a story that is similar to the biblical account of the origin of humankind.

Genesis 2 describes how God created the first man, named Adam, from the dust of the ground after He had created the animals. Afterward, God allowed him to name the animals. In that process Adam came to see that every other creature had a mate—except for himself. After Adam realized his aloneness, God took a rib from Adam, created a woman and presented her to him.

The Bible is clear that all humanity did descend from two people: Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:20 records: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 4 covers what happened to their first two children.

So the Bible is clear that all humanity did descend from two people: Adam and Eve. All of the diversity of humankind (including height, build, skin color, hair color, eye color, etc.) came from those two parents. This is also confirmed in Acts 17:26: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (emphasis added).

Though the researchers place this first couple 100,000 to 200,000 years before the biblical narrative, their findings seem to support the biblical explanation that all humanity originated from a single set of parents.

Time and again, modern researchers have made discoveries that support the Bible. Consider a few points:

  • Critics once doubted the existence of Assyrian King Sargon II because his name was not found outside of Scripture (Isaiah 20:1). However, archaeological excavations in Khorsabad, Iraq, unearthed the remains of his palace (including artifacts and writings). He did exist, just as the Bible says.
  • The Babylonian King Belshazzar was long believed to be a biblical error—until the Nabonidus Cylinder bearing his name was discovered in Ur.
  • In 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:30 the Bible records that Judah’s King Hezekiah built a tunnel in anticipation of the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrian King Sennacherib. That tunnel was unearthed in the 1600s, and in 1880 an inscription was discovered that scholars determined agrees with the biblical description.  
  • In 1832 Sennacherib’s Prism was discovered, which includes a description of his campaign against Judah. He described Hezekiah as trapped “like a caged bird.” Yet the prism does not describe Sennacherib’s victory—because there wasn’t one. The Bible reveals Sennacherib failed to conquer the kingdom of Judah (2 Chronicles 32:22).

While we could go on with more examples, this is enough for this short blog post. It shouldn’t surprise us that science has once again made a discovery that brings it closer in line with the Bible. Of course, our belief in the Bible is grounded in faith that it is the “word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and not on human discoveries.

About the Author

Tom Clark and Erik Jones

Tom Clark currently pastors the Bentonville, Van Buren and Mena, Arkansas, congregations of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association and serves as the senior pastor for congregations in Nigeria and Ghana, West Africa. Erik Jones is a full-time writer and editor at the Life, Hope & Truth offices near Dallas, Texas.