Six items appear below:

1 Genesis and Human Origins  K Straughen
2 Genesis and Human Origins Anonymous
3 Genesis and Human Origins – Reply K Straughen
4 Genesis & Human Origins Part 2 Anonymous
5 Hindu Scriptures & Atomic Weapons K Straughen
6 Scientific Discovery Predicted Anonymous

 

Genesis and Human Origins

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 109, 2006 July)

Introduction

Christian fundamentalists and creationists reject evolution, and embrace a literal interpretation of Genesis believing this provides an accurate account of the origin of Mankind. Moreover, some also claim the theory of evolution contributes to amoral behaviour:

"Darwin introduced what seemed to be a scientific basis for not believing in a Creator-God to whom man was responsible. The impact of this thought bomb is that since man had no special beginning, he has no special purpose or destiny. This thinking leads many to sink into a moral [sic.] behaviour, disorientation, and despair." (H. Lindsey & C. C. Carlson: Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, page 78.)
 
If we read between the lines of the above quote we can see that Lindsay et al are assuming evolution is an inherently immoral idea. However, it is not justifiable to arrive at this conclusion because scientific theories are neither moral nor immoral; they are ethically neutral – science investigates and describes the natural world, and nature is a non-conscious and therefore non-moral entity.

If acknowledging the fact of human evolution has caused some people to fall into despair and amoral ways, then this is unfortunate. However, it is their reaction to the truth that is at fault rather than the theory itself. Many Christians accept the fact that Mankind has evolved from prehuman ancestors without suffering any adverse effects, and the same can be said of atheists and agnostics.

Moreover, has belief in a Creator-God improved the ethics of the faithful? Sadly, the history of Christianity is replete with instances of people being harmed in the name of God, Jesus and the Bible: the torture and murder of heretics, and of women accused of being witches, and the cruel persecution of the Jews. In view of these facts, I do not think that we can truthfully say it has.

Nevertheless, the fundamentalists believe the idea of Mankind's divine creation by a supposedly benevolent God, is somehow morally superior to the theory of human evolution. In this article I shall examine the fundamentalists' assumptions and highlight the ethical and scientific problems associated with the literalist position.
 

Myths of Origin

There is no basis for believing Genesis gives us an accurate account of human origins. The Biblical story is a myth – a sacred account that embodies the cultural values of an ancient people. It is not, nor was it ever meant to be a scientific description of the emergence of the Universe, Life and Mankind.

That Genesis is a purely human invention rather than an infallible divine revelation is proven by the fact that it contains two different creation stories:

The first story (Gen. 1-2:4a) is the priestly version of creation, and dates from about the 6th century BC. The second version, (Gen. 2:4b -25) which scholars call the Yahwist-Elohist version (a joint work of either two schools or individuals) is the older story, and was probably written in the 8th century BC. Both accounts were written by unknown persons, and were probably combined into the final form before 400 BC by another unknown author.

These stories draw their imagery from older Mesopotamian ideas of which the Garden in Eden is an example:

"Recent Sumerian studies have shown that the conception of a divine garden and of a state when sickness and death did not exist and wild animals did not prey on one another is to be found in Sumerian mythology. The description of this earthly Paradise is contained in the Sumerian poem which Dr Kramer has called the Epic of Emmerkar". (S. H. Hooke: Middle Eastern Mythology, page 114.)

  Moreover, the two accounts of creation contradict each other as the following table (based on Hooke's: page 105-106) shows.

Gen. 1-2:4a Gen. 2:4 –25b
Original state of Cosmos Original state of Cosmos
Watery chaos. Elohim creates in six days Waterless wasteland, no vegetation. Yahweh Elohim creates. No timeframe given
Order of Creation  Order of Creation
1. Light 1. Man out of dust
2. Solid Firmament of heaven 2. The Garden in Eden
3. Dry land. 3. Trees
4. The orders of vegetation 4. Animals, beasts, birds
5. Sun, moon, stars 5. Eve from Adam's rib.
6. Birds, fish
7. Animals and humans.

Male and female created together.



These different creation stories reflect the different stages in the development of Israelite religion. The reason why they were joined together despite their contradictions is probably due to both being so well known that the final editor felt neither could be rejected. After having outlined the mythical nature of Genesis, I shall now examine the Adam and Eve story from an ethical perspective.
 

Primordial Perversions

According to the Bible, God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings. Scripture says of Adam:  "Thus it is written, The first man Adam became a living being." (1 Cor. 15:45.)

And of Eve it says: "The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." (Gen. 3:20.)
 
If this is a historical fact, as the fundamentalists would have us believe, then it follows that there is no pre-Adamic race dwelling on Earth, and all human beings who are alive today, are descendants of this original couple, and it also follows that God approves of incest.

Firstly, Eve was created from one of Adam's ribs; therefore she is, except for the gender determining components, derived from the same genetic material as her future husband, and is in a very real sense his sister. Secondly, all of Adam and Eve's children would, as they too are the only human beings in the world, have had to engage in sexual intercourse with each other in order to fulfil God's command to:

"Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth." (Gen. 1:28.)  
Is this situation really tenable? Are people likely to "be fruitful and multiply" under such conditions? The answer is a resounding no, for research has shown that even unrelated children who grow up together are not normally sexually attracted to one another, and therefore do not usually have offspring:
"A revealing study of communal living on an Israeli kibbutz indicates that human children who grow up together do not mate either. Here infants were placed in peer groups, where they remained all day while their parents worked in the fields. Before the age of ten these children often engaged in sexual play, but around this age the boys and girls became inhibited and tense with one another. Then in their teens, they developed strong brother-sister bonds. Curiously, almost none married within the group. From 2,769 kibbutzim marriages, only 13 occurred between peers. And in all these marriages, the mates had left their communal peer group before the age of six. Apparently, during a critical period in childhood, individuals normally lose forever all sexual desire for those around them." (H.E. Fisher: The Sex Contract, page 90.)  

Moral Inconsistencies

The problem for fundamentalists (who believe these stories to be factual) is that the Bible strictly forbids incestuous relations:

"None of you shall approach any one near of kin to him to uncover nakedness. I am the Lord." (Lev. 18:6.)
  NOTE: The phrase "to uncover nakedness" is a Biblical euphemism for coition. Leviticus further states that:
"If a man takes his sister, a daughter of his father or a daughter of his mother, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a shameful thing, and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people; he has uncovered his sister's nakedness, he shall bear his inequity." (Lev. 20:17.)  
Deuteronomy is even more explicate in its condemnation of incest:  " 'Cursed be he who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.' And all the people shall say 'Amen'." (Duet. 27:22.)
 

Social Discord & Inbreeding Pathology

Is the propagation of the human race by incest a wise plan? The answer no, it is not. The reason why incestuous relationships are forbidden in almost every society is because such relationships tend to breed social discord, and this must be avoided at all costs if a society is to survive:

"It [the incest taboo] was all about the suppression of disharmonising abnormal behaviour. Such conformism looks harsh to modem eyes, even though we have plenty of examples of it in our own societies. However, when so much depended on unity of action in the environment in which humans evolved, wayward behaviour had potentially destructive consequences for everybody." (P. Bateson: What About Incest, page 106 in How Things Are.)
  Indeed, any society that was based on universal incestuous marriages a state that is consistent with a literal reading of Genesis would contain within it the seeds of its own destruction. Moreover, apart from having the potential to disrupt the stability of society, incest also has serious biological consequences – recent research indicates inbreeding (which is what incest is) in hominid populations has left us vulnerable to genetic disease because it produced a high number of non advantageous mutations.

  "The researchers believe the high rate of mutations is seen because the hominid ancestor to both species [the study was carried out on humans and chimpanzees] went through an evolutionary bottleneck, when its breeding population was limited to about 10,000 individuals.

This meant that the process of pruning out damaging mutations via natural selection of the fittest mates was more difficult and slower. In. contrast, rats and mice have descended from a much larger population, leaving them less susceptible to genetic diseases.

Adam Eyre-Walker, a member of the research team at the University of Sussex, UK says the phenomenon is comparable to the genetic problems experienced by severely endangered species, in which inbreeding can accelerate extinction."

(Hominid Inbreeding Left Humans Vulnerable to disease
www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6920 )

If a population of 10,000 individuals left us vulnerable to disease, imagine the problems that would arise if the group consisted of only two individuals. Moreover, this disastrous situation would be made even worse by the social discord associated with incestuous practices. Indeed, if Genesis were literally true, then the human race would have gone extinct ages ago.

 

Mitochondrial Eve, Hominid Evolution & Population

Creationists may attempt to gain credence for their views by referring to the fact that molecular geneticists have been able to trace part of humanity's genetic inheritance – in this case mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only from the mother – to a single female who lived in Africa circa 143,000 years ago.

This discovery, however, does not support their beliefs for the following reason:

"It is important to remind ourselves that in all other regards, there was probably nothing remarkable or special about Mitochondrial Eve; she was certainly not the First Woman, or the founder of the species Homo sapiens. Many earlier women were unquestionably of our species, but happen not to have any direct female lines of descendents leading to people living today." (D.C. Dennett: Darwin's Dangerous Idea, page 98.)

Mitochondrial Eve was not a divine creation – she would have had parents like any other person, would have been conceived in the same way. There was nothing supernatural about her origins:
 
"Although Mitochondrial. Eve was named after Eve of the Genesis creation myth, this has led to some misunderstandings among the general public. A common misconception is that Mitochondrial Eve was the only living female of her time–she was not (indeed, had she been, humanity would have probably become extinct). Rather, at all times during humanity's existence there has been a large population of humans. Many women alive at the same time as Mitochondrial eve have descendents alive today. However, only Mitochondrial Eve produced an unbroken line of daughters that persists today–each of the other matrilineal lineages was broken when a woman had only sons, or no children at all...
Mitochondrial Eve was the most recent matrilineal ancestor of humans alive today. However, at times in the past, as certain lineages died out, the common matrilineal ancestor would have been passed to a different woman. For example, the common matrilineal ancestor of the population alive at the time of Mitochondrial Eve would have lived still further back in time."
(Mitochondrial Eve  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial-Eve)

Furthermore, recent studies of Y chromosome mutations indicate the most recent ancestor of all males living today lived in Africa 59,000 years ago – 84,000 years later than the date given for Mitochondrial Eve (a possible explanation for this finding is that our genes evolved as a mosaic, with different components of our DNA emerging at different times). Clearly, these findings do not support the Biblical myth of Adam & Eve.

Indeed, the fossil record clearly shows populations of prehumans evolving towards humanity. There is no evidence for the existence of a single pair of human beings from whom we are all descended. Furthermore, there is nothing in the fossil record that indicates the human race owes its existence to a supernatural cause – the idea of a spontaneous creation, or the idea that God guided human evolution:

"What all these [hominid fossil] discoveries have made clear is that, far from having been a single-minded linear struggle, a matter of constantly perfecting adaptation, the history of the hominid family has been one of repeated evolutionary trial and error: of new hominid species spawned, competing, and becoming extinct. We take it for granted that Homo sapiens is the lone hominid on Earth, but this is probably unusual. In the past, coexistence and competition among hominid species have quite likely been much more typical. This realisation is salutary, for whereas our egotistical species likes to think of itself as the pinnacle of evolution, any accurate view of ourselves requires recognising Homo sapiens as merely one more twig on a great branching bush of evolutionary experimentation." (I. Tattersall: Rethinking Human Evolution, page 25 in Archaeology, Vol. 52, No. 4.)
 
Since we were never "the lone hominid on Earth", then to which species of hominid did Adam and Eve belong? For example, DNA analysis has shown that the Neanderthals are not related to the 'Mitochondrial Eve' population mentioned earlier; in fact they appear to be a different species:

 
"In 1997, for the first time, the structure of a small fragment of mitochondrial DNA extracted from bone found in the Neander Valley in 1856 was analysed. On average it proved to differ more from any similar piece of modem mitochondrial DNA than two modern similar pieces differ from one other. The study's authors reject the notion of continuity between Neanderthals and modem populations, estimating that the isolation and separate evolution of the Neanderthal linage are several hundred thousand years old." Q.J. Hublin: The Quest for Adam, page 35 in Archaeology, Vol. 52, No. 4.)
 
Because Creationists reject evolution, these facts cause considerable theological problems for the literalist position – Were there two separate creations? If so, were there two Gardens, and several commissions of Original Sin? Furthermore, if Adam and Eve's children interbred with other hominid species then this may count as bestiality, which the Bible strictly forbids: 
"Whoever lies with a beast shall be put to death." (Ex. 22:19.)
 
In addition to the Adam and Eve myth, the creationists also believe that the Earth is no more than 10,000 years old. However, it is highly unlikely that the current global population of c. 5 billion people could have reached its present size in so short a time, especially if all people alive today are the descendants of only two human beings, and in support of this contention I quote the following:

"A median value for estimates of the human population C. 10,000 years ago is 8 million. Populations began increasing est. 9500 years ago with the spread of gardeners [before this period people led hunter-gatherer lifestyles]; they may have grown more rapidly in the period 9500 to 5000 years ago than subsequently; as disease tightened its grip, population growth had ceased, or gone into reverse, by 2000 years ago. A second major transition, ushering in the present population explosion, started in China 300 years ago (AD 1700); it spread to Europe (C. 1800) and then to most of the world (C. 1930)." (N. Calder: Timescale, page 266-267.)
 
The first human beings who were anatomically modem in appearance – the Cro-Magnons – appear in the archaeological record C. 45,000 years ago, and yet 10,000 years ago when, according to the creationists, the earth was "without form and void" (Gen. 12), the global population was already C. 8 million. Given the creationist timetable, how could a single human couple produce eight million descendants virtually instantaneously? It just isn't possible, and serves as additional proof of the untenable nature of creationist pseudoscience.

 

Conclusion

The ethical issues: If taken literally, the Bible appears to portray God sanctioning incest on the one hand and condemning it on the other – God creates Adam and Eve even though It knows full well that their children will have to copulate with each other in order to perpetuate the human race, even though "cursed be he who lies with his sister."

Moreover, the Bible's portrayal of a morally inconsistent God, and the fact that a society based on incest would prove disastrous, makes a mockery of the creationist position.

The scientific issues: There is no sound evidence that Genesis gives us an accurate account of the emergence of humanity. Indeed, it cannot as it is based on the prescientific mythologies of civilisation's childhood that make no mention of the evolution of the Universe, life and Mankind.

By contrast, most mainstream Christians accept that our species has evolved from prehuman ancestors, and that the mythical account in Genesis, although inspired by faith in God, is nevertheless the product of a prescientific people, who sought to explain the origin of things using the limited and inaccurate knowledge of their age.
 

Bibliography

Bateson, P. What About Incest in Brockman, J. (Ed.) & Matson, K. (Ed.) How Things Are, William Morrow & Co. Inc., New York, 1995.

Calder, N. Timescale, Chatto & Windus, The Hogarth Press, London, 1984.

Dennett, D.C. Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Penguin Press, London, 1995.

Fisher, H.E. The Sex Contract, Granada Publishing Ltd., London, 1982.

Fox, R. L. The Unauthorised Version, Penguin Books, England, 1992.

Hook, S. M. Middle Eastern Mythology, Penguin Books, England, 1981.

Hublin, J. J. The Quest for Adam, in Archaeology, Vol. 52, No. 4, Archaeological Institute of America, New York, 1999.

Hominid Inbreeding Left Humans Vulnerable to Disease
www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6920

Leaky, R. & Lewin, R. Origins Reconsidered, Abacus, London, 1993.

Lindsey, H. & Carlson, C.C. 1974 Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, Bantam Books, New York

Mitochondrial Eve http://en.wikipedia.org/wikiMitochondrial_Eve

Tattersall, I. Rethinking Human Evolution, in Archaeology, Vol. 52, No. 4, Archaeological Institute of America, New York, 1999.

Thomas, A. Did Eve Precede Adam?
www.abc.net.au/science/news/print_206915.htm

Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version).



 

GENESIS AND HUMAN ORIGINS

Anonymous

(Investigator 110, 2006 September)
 

ALLEGED CONTRADICTIONS

Bible critics, including K Straughen (Investigator 109), allege that Genesis 1 and 2 contain contradictory creation stories written centuries apart and combined around 500 BC by editors who failed to remove the contradictions.

Genesis 1 repeatedly mentions water and therefore supposedly originated in Babylon by River Euphrates. Genesis 2 supposedly originated in a desert in Southern Israel because "God had not caused it to rain" (2:5).

Lists of "contradictions" differ – the following is the gist of it:

GENESIS 1
GENESIS 2
Darkness and water Dry desert
Six days No time frame
Humans created after plants and animals Humans created before plants and animals
Adam & Eve made in a single creative act Adam & Eve created separately
Creator called "God" Creator is called "Lord God"
Creator speaks and creative acts occur Creation is hands on – e.g. humans created from "earth"
Order created out of chaos No mention of order out of chaos


Consider a book about World War II. One chapter has the words Hitler, Churchill, Berlin, Japan, United States, Europe, Pacific, atomic bomb, etc. In another chapter the preceding words are absent or infrequent. Instead we read of Tobruk, Rommel, Montgomery, Egypt, etc. Many dates, casualty figures, and battles also differ. Can these "contradictions" be explained?

How about: The author of World War II found two mythologies from unknown sources and ineptly combined them. One unknown source says more about Europe and mentions snow, rivers, rain and mud – therefore his story originated in a wet area. The other unknown source says more about Africa. He omits rivers and rain because he was a desert bedouin.

Does this explain the "contradictions"? No. A better explanation is that an author may summarize a big story in an introductory chapter and then partition the story into major themes for detailed discussion in subsequent chapters. The wrongly labelled "contradictions" are merely different but true details.

Genesis 1 starts creation with our planet covered in water, dark, lifeless, and swept by wind. (Note that "spirit of God" in 1:2 should be "wind of God" and refers to a powerful wind.) In 1974 I read Bombarded Earth (Gallant, 1964), a book about asteroid impacts. I realized that the description in Genesis 1:2 coincides with what Earth would be like after the crash of a large asteroid into an ocean. (Investigator 19; 62; 81 p.4; 82 p.11; 83 p.54)

In 1974 the notion of giant asteroid impacts was still fringe science. I was criticized in 1979 for mentioning it in a university science essay. Then, starting in 1980, the entire scientific world swung toward acceptance and it's now mainstream science.

At least one oceanic crater from an asteroid big enough to have rendered the Earth as described in Genesis 1:2 has been found. (#98 p. 46)

Such predictive success makes it reasonable to take Genesis seriously and to rethink the alleged "contradictions"!

GENERATIONS

Genesis 1 to 2:2 presents the six days of creation including Adam and Eve.

After that, Genesis 2:4 reads "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and heavens."

Critics allege that Genesis 2:4 is the dividing point between the two alleged creation stories. Let's examine this.

The phrase "These are the generations of…" occurs 13 times in the Old Testament – Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1, 9; 37:2; Numbers 3:1; Ruth 4:18

"Generations" translates the Hebrew "toledot" perhaps meaning "origins", "family history" or even "essential details".

Wiseman (1936) interpreted the phrase as always marking the conclusion of a section. However, Wiseman's analysis fails in Ruth 4:18 where the phrase points forwards.

Kidner (1967) says, "…this phrase in Genesis always looks forward, introducing a new stage of the book." (p. 59)

Rather than one or the other, my answer is both. "These are the generations of…" refers to something written earlier with the intention of presenting more information about it.

In Genesis 2:4 the phrase refers back to the creation story of Genesis 1 in order to continue with more information about Adam and Eve.

The New Scoffield Reference Bible even adds the subheading "Further detail (vv. 4-25) about creation of man".

All instances of "these are the generations of" connect what is written earlier with details coming subsequently and unite it into one story.

 

EXTRA DETAIL in GENESIS 2

Genesis 2:4-5 concludes the main creation story.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord made the earth and the heavens.
 
Verses 5 to 25 return to the topic of Adam and Eve to give additional details. It's not a second creation story since it has no reference to the sun, moon, stars and seas. Calling Genesis 2 a second creation story is as silly as calling the African campaign a "second account of World War II" and then crying "contradiction" because it omits Stalingrad, Japan, China and U-Boats.

The additional details about "man" in Genesis 2 include:

  These extras do not contradict Chapter 1. Chapter 2 is about an area called Eden (2:8) and not about the entire Earth.

EDEN

Genesis 2:5-6 says:

…no plant of the field [sadeh] was yet in the earth (eretz) and no herb of the field [sadeh] had yet sprung up–for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth [eretz], and there was no man to till the ground [adamah]; but a mist went up from the earth [eretz] and watered the whole face of the ground [adamah]–and the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground [adamah]…

  Critics allege that in Genesis 1 humans are created after plants, whereas here in Genesis 2 humans come before plants.

However, 2:5-6 does not refer to all vegetation but to the "plant…and…herb of the field [sadeh]".

The Hebrew sadeh refers to areas cultivated or suitable for cultivation. Eretz refers to large areas such as tribal homelands, countries, or (as in Genesis 1) to all land as far as it extends. We see the distinction between sadeh and eretz here:

Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land [eretz]. And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land [eretz], "…I give the price of the field [sadeh]; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there." (Genesis 23:12-13)

The LORD said to Moses, "Stretch forth your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land [eretz] of Egypt, upon man, and beast and every herb of the field [sadeh], throughout the land [eretz] of Egypt." (Exodus 9:22)

Thus in Genesis 2:5-6 eretz does not refer to planet Earth but to the land of Eden and "no rain on the earth" means no rain in Eden. The "plant" and "herb" refers to plants that humans cultivate in fields (sadeh). The verse, therefore teaches that there was no agriculture before man "till[ed] the ground".

It had not rained in the land of Eden – we're not told for how long – but it was watered by a mist (2:6) and by rivers.

Genesis 2:19 continues:

So out of the ground [adamah] the LORD God formed every beast of the field [sadeh] and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them…

Is this a contradiction because animals here are "formed" after Adam whereas in Genesis 1:24-25 animals are "made" before Adam?

One reply is that 2:19 can be translated "had formed", the pluperfect tense instead of the past tense. There's an Internet page where a J P Holding responds to a Jim Merritt and makes a case from Hebrew grammar for the pluperfect. I won't repeat the arguments but cite some Bible translations that agree:

Now Yahweh God had formed from the ground every living thing of the field…
(Rotherham Emphasized Bible, 1959)

And the Lord God having formed
Douay-Rheims version, 1955)

… all the beasts that roam the earth and all that flies through the air were ready fashioned
(Knox Version, 1965)

Out of the ground the LORD God had formed
(Revised Berkely Version, 1974

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground…
(NIV Student Bible, 1986)

Genesis 2:19 – if the pluperfect is accepted – merely reminds the reader that animals and flying creatures at this stage already existed as recorded in 1:24-25.

There are, however, explanations that retain the past tense – "formed". One explanation is that "to form" [Hebrew yatsar] need not refer to instantaneous creation but can refer to ordinary reproduction.

"Yatsar" occurs about 60 times in the Old Testament.

For example, God "formed" the people of Israel. (Isaiah 43:1, 7, 21; 44:2; Jeremiah 51:19)  Of Jeremiah we read "I formed thee in the womb…" (5:1) Isaiah was "formed…from the womb…" (49:5) Long after creation finished God "formed" Leviathan (crocodile or whale). (Psalm 104:26)

The statement "So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird" therefore means that reproduction was occurring naturally under God's oversight.  "Out of the ground" could refer to vegetation as the basis of the food chain and/or to where animals and many birds are born – on the ground.
 

INCEST AND INBREEDING

If humanity began with two people would inbreeding have produced defective offspring? Focus magazine says:

But in time, new mutations would occur, and these would broaden the gene pool. Genetic fitness would therefore tend to increase through the generations. Eventually the population would evolve to be as healthy as if it had descended from many – rather than just two – founders. (May 1997, p.46)
 
Straughen's comparison with the Kibbutz situation, where few kids brought up together later marry each other, is irrelevant since the Bible lacks detail about how Adam and Eve raised their kids. Whether closely related people cohabit depends on numerous factors. A short piece in Investigator No. 2 said:

Reece Sloane and Cindy McClellan met through a Kansas dating agency in January and became lovers. They had much in common – dancing, travelling and both were adopted. In May a private detective found they also had the same biological father – Cecil Deardorf. Said Cindy: "I just cried and cried… We have to keep telling each other we are brother and sister."  
The Egyptian pharoahs married and bred within the royal family including brother/sister marriages. The Canaanites too cohabited with close relatives. (Leviticus 20:23) Today cohabitation between close relatives still occurs but is illegal because it increases the risk of offspring inheriting genetic problems.

With Adam and Eve the situation was different. The Bible says that all God's works are "perfect". Adam and Eve were also created to live indefinitely. (2:16-17) Therefore we expect that they had self-repair mechanisms similar to creatures that regrow severed limbs, and immune systems able to counteract all disease-causing organisms.

In today's terms the first humans had "perfect genes" – they had no genetic defects or weaknesses to pass on to offspring

Nor would inbreeding between Adam and Eve's offspring be "morally inconsistent" with later Bible commands against inbreeding. The Bible states that where there is no law, sin is not counted. (Romans 5:13) Similarly in today's world, conduct condemned by a new law is not punished "retroactively". Nor is enactment of new legislation "inconsistent" especially if the circumstances it applies to are new as well.

If the Bible story of human origins is correct it follows that the initial human genome became increasingly damaged. This new situation required new rules against human inbreeding to reduce the risk of producing defective offspring.
 

MITOCHONDRIAL EVE

Straughen (#109 pp 18-19) presented current views about "Mitochondrial Eve" and states that the "most recent ancestor of all males" lived "84,000 years later".

We debated human origins in #86; 87; 88; 89; 90 and Straughen has written nothing truly new. We still cannot identify any peers of Mitochondrial Eve – whatever number is estimated depends on prior assumptions.

Nor did I claim that "Mitochondrial Eve" and Eve in the Bible are the same. To prove or disprove such a claim requires their DNA samples, which we don't have.

What I claimed were similarities between science and the Bible as follows:

  1. Both Eves were "the mother of all [humans]";
  2. Another human-like species (now called Neanderthals) existed alongside the descendants of both Eves;
  3. The human race descended from one human "father";
  4. Fossils linking humans to earlier hominids, or humans and Neanderthals to a common ancestor, are not known – this is true scientifically and is anticipated from Genesis.
Points "1" to "3" were not available 30 years ago. Point "4" is unaffected by hominid fossils since proof of continuity between hominid species requires DNA evidence. Without DNA we might repeat the error of scientists who claimed Neanderthals were our ancestors (but were disproved by genetics in 1996).

Much remains unclear, like the 84,000-year difference between "Eve" and "Adam". The "genetic clock", however, is here dating something not shown to exist – since humans fossils go back only 40,000 years – and therefore may be wrong.

I argued, in #86, that Genesis is too brief to work out how "God" made humans. Even the Catholic version, which accepts evolution and suggests God created humans by giving two hominids "souls", might fit Genesis. However, it's also true that science has not shown genetic continuity between humans and earlier hominids. At present, it still seems that humans started without predecessors.

The Bible is being proved by science over a time-scale of centuries as I've demonstrated in 100 Investigator articles. Let's let science take its course on human origins and see what happens.
 

ARGUMENT REPEATED

Consider an argument I presented in #109: The Bible teaching that the original humans could have lived indefinitely in health amounts to the claim that they were initially "gifted with perfect genes".

The Bible also teaches that humans can achieve almost anything if they were united:

Behold, they are one people…and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. (Genesis 11:5-7)  
And if an alleged event [e.g. that humans began with "perfect genes"] leaves traces – the traces in this case being the human genome of today – that make the alleged event reproducible it could amount to proof.

Some scientists speculate that genetic engineering will eventually create "super humans". In New Scientist they are called "the incredibles". (May 13, 2006) The attributes of the "incredibles" may include life-spans of centuries, regeneration of destroyed body parts, and super-efficient immune systems.

Perhaps proof of our origins lies not in the fossils but in the future.
 

REFERENCES:

Gallant, R. L. C. 1964 Bombarded Earth, John Baker.

Kidner, D. 1967 Genesis An Introduction and Commentary, Inter-Varsity.

Wigram G. V. Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament: Adamah p. 21, Eretz p. 157; Sadeh p. 1197, Bagster & Sons.

Wiseman, P. J. 1936 New Discoveries in Babylonia about Genesis, Marshall, Morgan & Scott.




Genesis & Human Origins - Reply

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 111, 2006 November)

In response to Anonymous' critique (No. 110) of my article in No. 109, I offer this brief and very general reply to finalize the discussion on this topic.

The analogy concerning books on World War II may not be a relevant comparison because we have ample evidence for the occurrence of this event, whereas the same can't be said for the events described in Genesis.

The suggestion that Genesis describes, in part, an ancient asteroid impact is, as far as I can see, without any firm basis, and is similar to claiming an ancient Hindu text describes the use of atomic weapons because some of the imagery contained therein can be construed as a nuclear explosion. (See Further Reading).

I respect Anonymous as a person, however, it seems to me that what his interpretations consist of is merely an attempt to clothe mythology in the respectable garments of scientific ideas, thereby creating the illusion that the Bible is in keeping with the empirical paradigms of our modem age, and therefore more believable.

By doing so I think he is missing the whole point of Biblical mythology, which is simply this: Genesis is an ancient creation story that reflects the prevailing beliefs of the age in which it was written, and therefore must be interpreted within the context of that time rather than ideas of the 21st century.

The intentions of the authors of Genesis were similar to the intentions of other creation myth formulators – to give an account of the world's origin that was in keeping with the cultural context and knowledge of the society in which they lived.

That reference is made in all such stories to supernatural agencies and the miraculous as explanations for human origins is understandable because these concepts were in keeping with the prevailing pre-scientific beliefs of the age. The idea that a supernatural being (or beings) created the world may have arisen from the following faulty analogy – man can create; therefore the world must be the work of a larger and more powerful creator.

Although I respect Anonymous right to his beliefs, I must remain skeptical of them on the basis that there is no sound evidence for their veracity. After all, Anonymous, as far as I can see, has not provided any reasonable grounds why Scripture should be interpreted his way, except for the (implicit) assumption that contradictions can be resolved by doing so.

When I say this I do not mean to depreciate his efforts. Speaking as a former Christian, I too, attempted to reconcile Genesis with science by interpreting it allegorically – that the six days of Creation represented six time periods of indeterminate length.

However, as I read more and thought about my own beliefs, I slowly came to realize I was merely engaging in an elaborate form of self-deception, that I was assuming (without any sound reason) Scripture had multiple meanings – one set for its unsophisticated authors, another for modem science orientated persons.

History shows this kind of thinking is a common fallacy. In the past Scripture has been interpreted in such a way as to lend support to all kinds of ideas current at the time, including belief in a flat Earth. Clearly, a clever man can make the Bible say what he wants it to say so he can keep on believing. I, too, have been guilty of this delusion.
 

Further Reading

Genesis Mythology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis

Creation Myths of the World
http://library.thinkquest.org/29064/main.html

Atomic Weapons in Hindu Scriptures
www.crystalinks.com/vedic.html

 



Genesis & Human Origins Part 2

Anonymous

(Investigator 112, 2007 January)


Mr Straughen says, "The suggestion that Genesis describes an ancient asteroid impact is, as far as I can see, without any firm basis." (#111 p. 47)

The Genesis description of the world before creation – dark, water-covered, swept by powerful wind, and lifeless – mentions no asteroid. It's just a description. My attitude to it as a young person around 1970 was puzzlement. However, I also considered it a test case: If the Bible is "inspired" then science would eventually explain the Genesis description; if not inspired then science won't.

What subsequently happened – my reading Bombarded Earth in 1974, the whole world of science after 1980 shifting into believing in asteroid impacts, and the discovery of an oceanic crater from an asteroid big enough to produce the Genesis conditions – has already been told.

That's powerful evidence. Hundreds of other Bible teachings such as the wrongness of racism and the danger of immorality have also proved true. Straughen's unchanging refrain of "myth", "myth", "myth" is therefore out of touch.

He refers to a website about Hindu "mythology" (#111 p. 47) which claims that imagery in ancient Hindu writings describes atomic weapons. I checked and found that:

The website also has claims about flying saucers, Atlantis, 20,000-year-old civilizations fighting nuclear wars, and ancient trips to the Moon. Such stuff rejects more science than Young Earth Creationism and is useless in assessing the Bible.

Currently we're observing another fundamental shift in science:

Several times in Investigator I've discussed biblical predictions about the "sea and waves" causing "distress of nations".

I suspected the threat in 1970 and felt validated upon reading Wilderness and Plenty by Frank D Darling (1971 pp 62-63). I still have a 1973 news report about "Crazy Weather" which I retained thinking it might be early evidence of climate change and rising sea levels. In 1984 I wrote a 9000-word university essay, titled Air Pollution and the World's Climate, which in part evaluated the possibility of rising oceans swamping the world's coasts.

Today numerous weather records are being broken; scientists everywhere are speaking out; the Al Gore film opened many eyes; and the 700-page Nicholas Stern report was called the "most significant document of our time." The world of science is shifting again – shifting, without realizing it, toward the Bible!

Asteroid impacts and global warming are important topics because:

    1. Billions of human lives will be at stake;
    2. Human technology is capable of countering these threats and, if so, this makes the "end of the world" a free choice.
I've now gone beyond the boundaries of our debate, which was about human origins. Let us remember that the Bible is plausible on human origins and that Genesis has one creation story not two.
 



Hindu Scriptures & Atomic Weapons

K. Straughen

(Investigator 113, 2007 March)


There are sections of Hindu scripture that can be interpreted as the use of atomic weapons. The following, for example, suggests (with a little imagination) the use of a tactical nuclear device:

Slaughtered by the Narayana weapon, as if consumed by a conflagration, the Pandava troops were exceedingly afflicted all over the field in that battle. Indeed, O lord, as fire consumeth a heap of dry grass in summer, even so did that weapon consume the army of the Pandus.
The Mahabarata, Book 7: Drona Parva, Drona Vadh Prava, Section CC
www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m07/m07l96.htm

Indeed, Hindu scripture is currently being used by Indian nationalists to justify their country's nuclear weapons program.

Of course, to suggest that the ancient Hindus had knowledge of atomic weapons and that this is evident in their holy books is complete nonsense, and the interested reader is referred to the following article as proof:

The Bomb of the Blue God
www.samarmagazine.org/archive/article.php?id=36

 


SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY PREDICTED

Anonymous

(Investigator 114, 2007 May)

Straughen (#113 p. 4) quotes a Hindu Scripture that can be imagined as referring to atomic weapons and on that basis he rejects the scientific confirmation of the Bible in Genesis 1:2.

Genesis 1:2 describes the Earth before creation. As a young person I puzzled over it but decided that if it's false then science won't confirm it, but if true then science would. About 30 years later the result was decisive. The sort of scientific discovery that was needed was predicted in Investigator – and science found it!

Did any Hindu use his Scriptures, before nuclear fission was known, to predict nuclear weapons?

Anonymous

More Bible debates on this website:

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/