|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
(Investigator 109, 2006 July)
reject evolution, and embrace a literal interpretation of Genesis
this provides an accurate account of the origin of Mankind. Moreover,
also claim the theory of evolution contributes to amoral behaviour:
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.
the idea of Mankind's divine creation by a supposedly benevolent God,
somehow morally superior to the theory of human evolution. In this
I shall examine the fundamentalists' assumptions and highlight the
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:
These stories draw their
imagery from older
Mesopotamian ideas of which the Garden in Eden is an example:
|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.
According to the Bible,
God created Adam
and Eve, the first human beings. Scripture says of Adam: "Thus it is written, The
became a living being." (1 Cor. 15:45.)
Firstly, Eve was created
from one of Adam's
ribs; therefore she is, except for the gender determining components,
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
The problem for
fundamentalists (who believe
these stories to be factual) is that the Bible strictly forbids
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
are forbidden in almost every society is because such relationships
to breed social discord, and this must be avoided at all costs if a
is to survive:
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."
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:
Indeed, the fossil record
clearly shows populations
of prehumans evolving towards humanity. There is no evidence for the
of a single pair of human beings from whom we are all descended.
there is nothing in the fossil record that indicates the human race
its existence to a supernatural cause – the idea of a spontaneous
or the idea that God guided human evolution:
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
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.
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.
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.
A. Did Eve Precede
GENESIS AND HUMAN ORIGINS
(Investigator 110, 2006
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).
|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|
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)
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".
EXTRA DETAIL in GENESIS 2
Genesis 2:4-5 concludes
the main creation
The additional details
about "man" in Genesis
Genesis 2:5-6 says:
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
tribal homelands, countries, or (as in Genesis 1) to all land
far as it extends. We see the distinction between sadeh and eretz
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:
One reply is that 2:19 can
"had formed", the pluperfect tense instead of the past tense. There's
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
but cite some Bible translations that agree:
And the Lord God having
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
(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
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
reproduction was occurring naturally under God's oversight. "Out
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:
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.
new situation required new rules against human inbreeding to reduce the
risk of producing defective offspring.
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
science and the Bible as follows:
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
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:
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.
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.
P. J. 1936 New
Discoveries in Babylonia
about Genesis, Marshall, Morgan & Scott.
Genesis & Human Origins - Reply
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
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
he wants it to say so he can keep on believing. I, too, have been
of this delusion.
Myths of the
Genesis & Human Origins Part 2
(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:
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:
Hindu Scriptures & Atomic Weapons
(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:
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:
SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY PREDICTED
(Investigator 114, 2007
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?