Friday, March 16, 2012

In Search of Answers

[Johnathan Clayborn]
Sometimes the most interesting things that you learn are things that you discover entirely by accident. This was certainly the case for me this week. Before I get to the meat of my article, I beg you to indulge me a paragraph or two explaining how I stumbled across all of this information.
To begin this story properly I need to take you back to 2005. I was very active in the online genealogy circles for people researching the Clayborn family. I was literally getting a few emails a week from people asking if I had heard of this person, or if I knew what happened to that person, etc. Then I had received an email from Dr. Alex Waldrop, a genetic researcher who was overseeing the Clayborn Family DNA Study. I was intrigued. I had never heard of this before.
Dr. Waldrop explained how Y-Chromosome DNA was passed down genetically from father to son with only very minor mutations over vast periods of time. This is the same basic test that courts use to determine father-son paternity. In theory, if you traced your family tree back to your great-great-great-great-great grandfather and you found his brother and you followed the line down through his son’s son’s son’s son, etc. until you found your modern day cousin, then you and he should have these exact same genetic markers in common. Naturally, this type of tool would be invaluable to genealogists because it could provide clues and links when a paper trail runs cold. Dr. Waldrop was compiling a results database of Clayborn DNA and he asked me to participate in the study. I agreed and in a few weeks a kit came and I swabbed my cheek and sent it off.
About a month later the results came back. The accompany report turned my world upside down. While I was part of Haplogroup R1b1 like the Clayborns, my DNA was not even remotely close to anything that even resembled a Clayborn. There was no doubt of my recent ancestry due to strong family traits and characteristics. I look as much like my father as my son looks like me. So then we went back to the paper trail and noticed a discrepancy in the 1860 census and came to discover that my ancestors were adopted by the Clayborns at that time.
Armed with this knowledge I examined my ancestors’ mother, Christina Croy. Naturally, I compared my DNA to that of the Croy family. Much to my disappointment I did not match them either. And that’s where the trail goes cold. Christina Croy totally disappears prior to 1850. Her early life, and the clues about the father of my ancestor are buried in some scrap of information that I have not been able to located on paper.
Naturally, I turned back to what I did have, my DNA results. I routinely search Y-Chromosome DNA databases in the hopes that a match will just appear one day where previously none had existed. So far my searches have been utterly fruitless. I do know that I have two extremely rare genetic markers for my specific haplogroup. One marker occurs only in 0.5% of the R1b1 population. The other marker occurs in 0.3% of the population. I often joke that due to this I’m a freak of nature, but the truth of it is that the statistical probability of some other family that’s not genetically related to me having these exact same mutations is so low that they should be considered an extreme improbability.
I was reading more about Y-DNA research as it relates to ancestry and some of the articles that I stumbled across took me from looking at Y-DNA studies of the recent ancestry and paternal lineage to Y-DNA studies of ancestry of the human species as a whole. I was surprised, but I learned to two important things; first, the taxonomic classification system is far more complex than they taught me in high school, and second, there is a massive amount of evidence that would seem to disprove the very notion of intelligent design.
First, the taxonomic classification system according to High School science is 8 levels deep. It goes; life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. In truth, this is infinitely more complex. Humans are 25 levels down in the classification system. There are also sub-kingdoms, sub-phylums, sub-orders, infraorders, parvorders, superfamilies (like the mob, I guess), sub-families, and tribes. Logically, I should have realized that High School science barely scratched the surface here, but I did not image that it would be so complex. The main reason for this is because prior to that time I did not have a need to know.
The second lesson was the most surprising; intelligent design seems more and more like a far-fetched idea with each passing year. Why do I say this? Because of the large amount of data that exists about other species in the genus Homo.
Everyone knows that we’re Homo Sapiens. What most people don’t know is that we’re actually Homo Sapiens Sapiens. This is to differentiate us from our extremely closely related genetic cousins, Homo Sapiens Idaltu who lived around 160,000 years ago. In fact, artists renditions of the skulls found of Idaltu show that they are so closely related to us that it would difficult to distinguish them on sight alone if they were alive today.
And, of course, let’s not forget Homo Neanderthalensis, once thought to be a direct ancestor of the human species scientists now believe them to genetically related cousins, albeit ones that did not contributed any considerable DNA to our present physiology, thus making them a parallel and separate species. The same thing is true of Homo Erectus.
Among the many other species within the genus Homo are; H. Gautengensis, H. Rudolfensis, H. Habilis, H. Ergaster, H. Antecessor, H. Heidelbergensis, H. Erectus, H. Rhodesiansis, H. Neanderthalensis, H. Floresiansis and the newly discovered Denivosa Hominin.  While some of these species are decidedly ape-like or inhuman in their appearance, others are quite similar to modern humans.
For me, the biggest question that is raised by the discovery of all of these different species is this; if God is perfect, and if intelligent design is truly the explanation for the origin of the Human race, then why were there so many different variations of human-related species? And why did none of them survive? Surely God would not have created a species that he knew to be flawed. It is obvious that scientists today still do not have definitive answers, but with each passing discovery it seems less and less likely that Humans are the direct creation of God.

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These blogs represent my thoughts, ideas and opinions. They may be different from yours. You may not agree with them. While I do enjoy a good, polite debate on a topic (where points are countered with other points based on logic, reason and fact), I do not enjoy an argument (where you tell me that I am wrong simply because you disagree and cannot offer any reasons to support your position). I am very respectful of others, and I expect everyone on here to be respectful in return, not only to me, but to each other as well. Disrespectful posts will be deleted automatically. Feel free to share your ideas, but keep it civil, please.