Nineteen items appear below:
1 Adam and Eve Anonymous 2 Adam and Eve – Final Reply to Anonymous K Straughen 3 Adam & Eve & Neanderthals Anonymous 4 Regarding Ancestral Eve John H Williams 5 Addendum – Adam & Eve K Straughen 6 To Straughen on Adam & Eve Anonymous 7 Eve not 'the mother of all' H Edwards 8 Evolution? Absolute Rubbish! H Edwards 9 Eve – The Mother of All Anonymous 10 Cain's Wife H Edwards 11 Interpretation, Accuracy & Neanderthals Anonymous 12 Different Interpretations–Then Unreliable H Edwards 13 Edwards Had Correct Insight on Genesis Anonymous 14 Interpretation and Lack of Detail H Edwards 15 Mr Edwards Thwarted Anonymous 16 Cleverness Thwarted? H Edwards 17 Human Origins Obfuscated Anonymous 18 Letter to Edwards Editor 19 Adam & Eve Debate Concludes H Edwards
ADAM AND EVEThe fossil record shows groups of pre-humans evolving towards humanity. (K Straughen, Investigator 85)
(Investigator 86, 2002 September)
The creation story in Genesis attributes the world's origin to God. The account is too short to easily see how scientific discoveries fit in. Suppose a man says, "I built that house on the hill." Because his statement is brief it allows for many interpretations. He may, for example, have "built" the house by signing a contract and a cheque. Another possibility is that he manufactured every nail and every item himself from raw materials and assembled everything alone.
Multiple possible interpretations do not imply that brief statements are false but rather, when more detail is wanted more investigation must be done.
One stance regarding Genesis is that of "Scientific Creationists". They claim the Universe is about 10,000 years old. They say that continental drift was 5,000 times faster in the past than now, the speed of light was millions of times faster, all fossils were laid down in a few weeks, all methods of dating the distant past are wrong, etc. If someone disagrees they ask, "Were you there?" Then they claim God was there and has given us a true account of what happened. In other words the Bible, their interpretation, and God's existence are all assumed true prior to any investigation.
My stance is different.
In Genesis Creation and Evolution (#83) I wrote, "The six days of creation can be regarded as six significant interventions of God superimposed on a planet that otherwise evolved naturally…" Let's see what this approach might make of Adam and Eve and of "pre-humans evolving".
Regarding Day Six – the creation of Adam and Eve – consider an analogy:
Suppose future scientists use genetics to create a new human species. Let's call the new species Homo superior. He has an IQ of 300; An immune system able to ward off every pathogen; A mind able to choose moral excellence in every area and stick to the decision; Self-repair mechanisms that could regrow a severed limb; A body able to make him world champion in every sport. Furthermore, Homo superior can live forever – if he eats essential nutrients from a genetically modified tree.
Would we find the origin of Homo superior in the fossil record? No – because he would be a new creation, created in the laboratory. What we would find, and do find, are fossils that anatomically resemble Homo superior.
My interpretation of the evidence of our origins – ie of Homo sapiens – is much like the preceding story:
Evolution occurred, including the evolution of human-resembling "ape men"; Humans are unconnected to the "ape men" and to their fossils – our originals arrived as if created.
Tree diagrams of "ape-men" i.e. hominids often have question marks between Homo sapiens and predecessors to indicate no known intermediary. (e.g. Scientific American, Jan. 2000, p.42)
Neanderthals coexisted with Homo sapiens and used to be considered our ancestors. However, they were ruled out as our ancestors in 1996:If the dates are correct, it is hard to see what else one can do with the venerated belief in our Neanderthal ancestry but chuck it.In Adam and Eve Not Neanderthals (#71 p.5) I showed where Genesis implies the existence of a race unrelated to the offspring of Adam and Eve but similar enough to permit interbreeding. Science has shown a similar situation between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals – they interacted and a few possibly interbred. (This might explain the origin of some human weaknesses and genetic defects.)
(The Bulletin, December 31, 1996 / January 7, 1997. p. 54)
After extracting DNA from fossil bones, anthropologists say they are now sure that Neanderthals were not our ancestors…
Northern Illinois University anthropologist Fred Smith…who has backed the view that Neanderthals were ancestral to the first modern humans in Europe, concedes that the new study is "the strongest evidence yet" that Neanderthals were not the ancestors of modern humans.
(New Scientist, 19 July, 1997, p. 5)
In addition we also have much scientific debate about findings in genetics that trace humans back to one original woman and one original man. Headings of reports include:
Clearly, it's more scientific at present to attribute our ancestry to "Adam and Eve" than to Neanderthals. 'Eve' was Asian says US geneticist
African Adam begat all men
All about Eve
The hunt for Adam and Eve.
Adam & Eve – Final Reply to Anonymous
(Investigator 87, 2002 November)
In his article Adam and Eve (# 86) Anonymous concludes his argument with the following statement: "Clearly, it's more scientific at present to attribute our ancestors to "Adam and Eve" than to Neanderthals." (p. 12).
In my opinion this statement is not supported by science. The Neanderthals form part of the hominid evolutionary tree that is best seen not as a simple linear chain, but as a multi-branched structure with many dead ends. Homo sapiens and Neanderthals most likely evolved from a common ancestor, rather than Homo sapiens directly from Neanderthals. Naturally, there is considerable debate between paleoanthropologists on the relationships between the various hominid species; however, I can't see how this justifies Anonymous' quoted conclusion.
Indeed, Anonymous offers no sound evidence in support of the view that humans were divinely created and interbred with naturally evolving hominids. He refers to articles discussing mitochondrial Eve – the source of our mitochondrial DNA. The tern 'Eve,' however, is somewhat misleading – this woman was a member of a population of perhaps 10,000 humans, certainly not the sole female representative of our species.
By contrast, many Christians see evolution as the process by which God brought humanity into being, and regard Genesis for what it is – a prescientific creation myth that is an example of early man's attempt to account for human origins.
This conclusion is borne out by Biblical scholars whose research has shown that the Hebrew version of Man's creation, rather than being a unique divine revelation, is derived from older Mesopotamian mythologies that have been reworked to conform to monotheistic ideas. For example, Some Sumerian accounts parallel Gen. 2:4 to 3:24 – they contain descriptions of a divine garden where sickness and death were nonexistent, and childbirth only became painful after woman was cursed for eating forbidden fruit.
Cornford, G. (Ed.) Pictorial Biblical Encyclopaedia, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1964
Hublin, J. J. The Quest for Adam, in Archaeology (Vol. 52, No. 4), Archaeological Institute of America, New York, 1999.
Leakey, R. & Lewin, R. Origins Reconsidered, Abacus, London, 1993.
ADAM & EVE & NEANDERTHALS
(Investigator 88, 2003 January)
Kirk Straughen (Investigator 87) says, "Anonymous offers no sound evidence in support of the view that humans were divinely created and interbred with naturally evolving hominids."
My "sound evidence" included:a. Tree diagrams of…hominids often have question marks between Homo sapiens and predecessors to indicate no known intermediary. (Scientific American, January 2000, p. 42)Mr Straughen needs to do more than ignore these facts – he needs to name and show us humanity's ancestor. He says, "Homo sapiens and Neanderthals most likely evolved from a common ancestor, rather than Homo sapiens directly from Neanderthals." However, Neanderthals are estimated to go back 250,000 years, modern humans came later. No ancestor common to both species is known.
b. For over a century many scientists believed Neanderthals were our ancestors but were was refuted in 1996.
Mitochondria are small organelles in the cytoplasm of cells and contain genetic material (DNA). Mothers contribute most mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to offspring because their egg cells contain cytoplasm; sperm contribute very little MtDNA.
In the1980s came the theory, based on studies of mtDNA, that all modern humans descended from one woman. This resembles the Bible teaching that, "Eve…was the mother of all living." (Genesis 3:20)
Straughen says, "…mitochondrial Eve…was a member of a population of perhaps 10,000 humans, certainly not the sole female representative of our species." Although ideas vary the theory of "mitochondrial Eve" is about ONE female – described as:
"…the ancestor of every living person…" (National Geographic, October 1988, p.460);
"…a single ancestor…" (The Advertiser, June 22, 1991, p.6);
"…the most recent common ancestor of all women." (New Scientist, March 13, 1998, p.4)
South Australia's Sunday Mail reported: "She died in Africa more than 150,000 years ago and researchers have now traced our genetic roots back to this one woman." (April 14, 2002, p. 42)
In 1995 came the theory – again based on genetics but this time of the Y-chromosome – that all men are derived from one male. As New Scientist put it, "Adam makes a date with Eve". (June 3, 1995, p.14)
Another claim is that almost all European men trace back to ten ancestors. (New Scientist, November 4, p.16; November 18, p.25, 2000)
The current scientific picture, then, resembles the Biblical picture of an original group of humans splitting up, dispersing, and developing into peoples and nations. Did those small, pre-historic groups have stories of their origins? If so, the Bible's account of creation, including the creation of humans, was not necessarily derived from Sumerian stories but both may originate far earlier.
There is in all this, however, only a partial overlap with the Bible. Evidence for the Bible is progressive – proceeding point by point, decade after decade–and involves scores of scientific disciplines. Why proof for The Bible has to accumulate gradually is explained in the "God and evil" debate in Investigator 65-69.
REGARDING ANCESTRAL EVE
John H Williams
(Investigator 89, 2003 March)
Further to Kirk Straughen's letter (#87) regarding the "ancestral Eve", I have a clipping from The Advertiser (20/4/00) which supports his rebuttal of Anonymous. In it, Oxford University Professor of Human Genetics, Brian Sykes, has shown that all Europeans are descended from just seven women he named Ursula, Xenia, Tara, Helen, Valda, Katrine and Jasmine. These were the 'founders' of seven clans which arrived in 'Europe' during the last 45,000 years.
Predictably, the 'journalistic' sobriquet of "Eve" has been too appealing to the literal-minded to resist!
The basis of this theory was a continent-wide 6,000 person sample of mitochondrial DNA, which is passed unaltered only from a mother to her children, by swabbing the inside of people's cheeks. This laborious and expensive process is an example of the effort required to test a hypothesis, one which is peer-assessed and which is replicable.
Sykes' findings support the idea that all modem humans derive from African (in what is now Kenya and Ethiopia) ancestors, who were from several clans that exist today. (For a fee, Sykes will help people trace their ancestors, at www.oxfordancestors.com.)
So where does this evidence, allied with substantial contributions from palaeontology and anthropology, leave the 'Edenists"?
Addendum – Adam & Eve
(Investigator 89, 2003 March)
Figure 1 [Here omitted] is a phylogenetic tree of human evolution (based on a diagram on page 29 in Archaeology - Vol. 52, No. 4) and illustrates current thinking regarding the evolution of Homo sapiens:"The emergence of the first Homo erectus (or Homo ergaster) [marked ? in Fig. 1] was an anatomical revolution, probably related to major behavioral changes. They were the first genuine humans, fully independent of trees. With a modem gait and a hairless, sweating skin cooling their body, they were highly mobile and well adapted to the burning sun of the African steppe and savanna. They were also the first humans to spread out of Africa." (Jean-Jacques Hublin: The Quest for Adam, page 33 in Archaeology - Vol. 52, No. 4)
Concerning Mitochondrial Eve: What evidence is there that this female was divinely created, and is "the mother of all living" (Gen. 1:20)? I think the answer is none:"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 descendants leading to people living today."
(Daniel C Dennett: Darwin's Dangerous idea, page 98.)
I'll paraphrase an illustration by Dennett to bring out the above: Suppose that sometime in the future a virulent pandemic swept the Earth clean of humanity except for a small tribe on a remote pacific island. These survivors would probably be closely related. This tribe's closest common direct ancestor (I'll call her X) would be a woman who lived hundreds or possibly thousands of generations later than Mitochondrial Eve, and this title would then pass to X, retroactively, just as it did to Mitochondrial Eve.
Now, suppose that after ten thousand years another technological civilization arises that can trace their ancestry back to Mitochondrial X, and have a creation story similar to that of Christianity. Would they be correct in assuming that Mitochondrial X was the mother of all living? No, they would not. Nor are our current Christians for similar reasons – similar causes in prehistory may have lead to the emergence of Mitochondrial Eve.
Dennett, Daniel C. Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Penguin Press, London. 1995.
Hublin, Jean-Jacques The Quest for Adam, Archaeology, Vol. 52, No. 4.
Tattersall, Ian. Rethinking Evolution, Archaeology, Vol. 52, No. 4.
To STRAUGHEN on ADAM & EVE
(Investigator 90, 2003 May)
Straughen argues for multiple "Eves" by postulating multiple near-extinctions of humanity after which one or a few women became the mother(s) of all subsequent humans. (#89 pp.14-15)
When genetics traces humans back to one woman, using "mitochondrial DNA", I presume it refers to the first of Straughen's postulated multiple Eves.
My other critic, John H Williams, cites Brian Sykes of the Institute for Molecular Medicine at Oxford who believes Europeans descended from seven women. (#89, p.16) Professor Sykes, however, calls these women "Seven Daughters of Eve". The label is metaphorical since the oldest "daughter" lived 45,000 years ago and the youngest 10,000. (Fortean Times, August 2000, p. 12) Sykes' research allows for one original woman whose descendants produced the seven female progenitors of Europeans.
However, this gets us far back to when little is known about humans. Also, we don't have information about multiple near extinctions. The Bible describes a great flood but that's not scientifically confirmed yet.
Straughen supplied a diagram, based on Archaeology Volume 57 No.4, that implies Homo sapiens and Neanderthals have a common ancestor but denotes the common ancestor with a question mark.
To refute what I wrote in #86 and #88 requires more than question marks. We need fossils and genetic proof connecting those fossils with Homo sapiens after them and earlier hominids before them.
Although unable to prove an alternative hypothesis Straughen claims, "[evidence that] Mitochondrial Eve…was divinely created…is none."
Since the supernatural (including the "divine") is by definition distinct from science, one cannot scientifically demonstrate the supernatural including divine creation. Anything demonstrated with science automatically, and by definition, becomes "natural".
The sciences of physics, mathematics and cosmology, however, show that other dimensions inaccessible to our senses and instruments probably exist. (M Kaku, 1994, Hyperspace, Oxford University Press) This, in turn, suggests at least the possibility that the supernatural exists. By relying on science the best we can, therefore, do is to show that something is unknown perhaps unknowable. If we reach such a conclusion, then maybe what is unknown or undiscoverable is so because it originated beyond science. Such is the case, at present, with human origins.
The evidence for "divine" origin of humans includes:
1. Study of mitochondrial DNA suggests to many scientists that all humans trace back to one original woman – and this agrees with the Bible since Eve is called "the mother of all".
2. The belief of many scientists that modern humans evolved from Neanderthals was demolished in 1996. Genesis has comments that imply a race resembling early humans (maybe Neanderthals?) and which interacted with humans but which was unrelated to Adam and Eve. (See #71 p. 5)
3. Fossils linking humans to earlier hominids, or linking both humans and Neanderthals to a common ancestor, are not known.
4. Skeptics used to complain that if humanity began with two people the necessity for inbreeding would have caused unhealthy offspring. Mike Gibson in 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)Furthermore, if the original two founders were "divinely created" their creation would exclude harmful genes – hence, initially, no harmful traits to pass on.
5. Many criticisms of The Bible have been mistaken and The Bible subsequently turned out accurate – I've shown this in many articles. The Bible merely seemed wrong because science had not caught up. The human-origins conflict might, therefore, be of the same sort i.e. science hasn't yet caught up.6. Science has not ruled out the supernatural but may, instead, imply it.
Although Straughen calls the evidence for divine creation of humans "none" my above-count makes six. There are, however, confounding factors. If humans and Neanderthals interbred – a possible explanation besides mutations for harmful genes in the human gene pool – then such Neanderthal DNA constitutes a link between humans and so-called "ape men".
Finally, remember that my interpretation, wherein evolution and creation interact, is only one approach and others disagree. I began (in #86 p.10) with an example of someone who says, "I built that house on the hill." From such a brief statement we cannot work out the details of how the house came about. Genesis is like that – the natural world is attributed to creation but the account is too short to work out from it the process whereby God created.
Eve not 'the mother of all'
(Investigator 91, 2003 July)
There can be no doubt that Eve was NOT the mother of all. Genesis 4:16-17 clearly states that Cain, the eldest and only surviving son of Eve, met his wife in Nod, on the cast of Eden. Therefore, other beings not only existed at the same time as Adam and Eve but in fact their lineage existed long before them.
Anonymous (#71 p.5) concurs with this although he attempts to cloud the issue by suggesting that they may have been a race 'resembling' humans. Then again, I guess in the age of talking snakes and flesh and bones being created out of dust anything is possible. Realistically though, I can't visualise Cain cohabiting with 'something' other than his own particularly a very hairy female with a receding forehead and ape-like gait.
That Cain's wife was not a nomadic spinster left on the shelf is bourn out in Genesis 4:17 where it says she 'bare Enoch who built a city.' Now let's face it, we don't build cities to house three people so Mr and Mrs Cain must have been part of a very large community. This would seem to contradict any suggestion that Cain perceived his Neanderthal wife through rose coloured spectacles or met her through a blind date on the Internet.
However, given that between Genesis 4:17 and 4: 22 there is a long series of 'begats' recorded, it wouldn't take that long to populate a city.
One of the later 'begats' by the name of Tubalcain (Genesis 4:22) was an 'instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.' This implies that this descendent of Cain's family, not too far down the family tree, was part of a large and relatively advanced society. Furthermore as the Stone Age preceded the Bronze and Iron Ages by thousands of years the evidence that Cain's wife was as human as Cain and not a Neanderthal or sub-species is hard to refute.
Apart from providing evidence that Eve was not the mother of all, having been born–sorry created!–at a date later than Cain's grandparents-in-law, it raises another question.
In Genesis 1:26 (King James Standard version) we read: "And God said, "Let us make man in our image after our likeness." In the Bible Society's Good News Bible the verse reads, "And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us." Unless "us", "we" and "our" are intended to be singular used in the same sense as the royal "we" (as in Queen Victoria's "We are not amused") then there must have existed more than one god.
The Bible tells us that one specific god (the God of the Bible - He - Him - the Lord) created Adam and Eve. The other unnamed gods therefore must have created the other humans outside of Eden. Despite this team of miracle surgeons who, using unspecified materials, put together arguably the most complex, sophisticated and intelligent animal ever to inhabit the Earth, they were also human. You may recall we were made in their image and their likeness, this implies that like their creations they also had a limited life – unfortunately their genius and secrets died with them! As Nietzsche so aptly put it 'God(s) is dead!'
The above should also provide an answer for the current genes dispute between Messrs Anonymous and Straughen!
Evolution? Absolute Rubbish!
(Investigator 91, 2003 July)
The theory of evolution was dismissed as 'absolute rubbish' by a writer in the March issue of The Australian Senior newspaper.
The correspondent, irate because the editor had published an article on evolution, continued by asserting that, "... the Bible has proved to be the most accurate record of earth's (sic) history beginning with the creation of mankind in the Garden of Eden about 6,500 years ago."
I responded with:
Let's review the evidence using the Bible as the reference source.
Genesis 1:27 & 2:22 alleges the creation of two human beings – Adam and Eve.
In Genesis 4:1,2 we are told that the couple had two children – Cane and Abel. Cane kills Abel and is driven out of Eden.
In Genesis 4:16 Cane ends up in Nod on the east of Eden where he meets his ladylove. She conceives and, according to Genesis 4:17-22, begat Enoch who begat Irad who begat Mehujael who begat Methusael who begat Lamech and so on ad nauseam. Interestingly all the descendants' names are recorded but not that of Cane's wife.
Accurate history? As there is no mention in the Bible of God creating human beings other than Adam and Eve, doesn't this brief account imply that other beings existed (specifically Cane's wife and her forebears) at the time God allegedly created the first humans? *
Based on that supposition alone, how can the Bible be seen to be an accurate record?
Unfortunately for the literalists, quoting from the Bible raises more questions than it answers.
For example: According to the Australian Senior correspondent and confirmed by the Bible, Adam and Eve were the first and only humans created by God about 6,500 years ago. Given that Babylonia was first settled about 4,000 BC this implies that in a period of approximately 500 years the descendants of Adam and Eve mutated into many diverse ethnic groups and spread themselves over the entire planet. An interesting one for Biblical geneticists and migration experts to explain.
But hang on! Weren't all bar eight drowned in the great deluge? Only Mr and Mrs Noah, their three sons and their sons' wives survived (Genesis 6:14-24). Oh dear! Back to the Bible!* I used this same argument when doing a Bible course some years ago. The response was "we don't want to debate this with you!"
EVE–THE MOTHER OF ALL
(Investigator 92, 2003 September)
Traditionally the Bible is understood as teaching that Cain and Abel were the first and second sons of Adam and Eve. However, this is interpretation. Genealogies and lists of relatives, in the Bible, are often incomplete and may name only those individuals important in some way. Females are often omitted.
Genesis 4:16-17 does not state that Cain "met his wife in Nod". (Edwards, Investigator 91 p. 10) The story allows for Cain going to "Nod" and taking his wife with him – in which case the wife might have been a sister. After Adam and Eve's third mentioned son, Seth, Adam "had other sons and daughters." (5:3-4) If Cain married a sister, then Adam and Eve would also have had daughters prior to Seth's birth but this is not directly mentioned.
Alternatively, Cain taking a wife could imply another race existed similar enough to humans for their females to be taken as wives.
There are gaps in the story allowing for multiple interpretations – including the interpretation that people other than Adam and Eve and their offspring existed and that the two species intermingled. (Kidner, D 1967. Genesis An Introduction and Commentary. Inter-Varsity. 26-31)
When Cain was banished "from the ground" – from the area that Adam and Eve and family inhabited – he feared that "whoever" found him would kill him. (4:12-16) This fear could also imply that another species, resembling humans, existed and were a threat.
Anthropology has now shown that early humans did meet another species that resembled them but from whom they did not descend – Neanderthals. (See Investigator 88 & 90)
That Cain "built a city" (4:17) does not necessarily imply a large population. One criterion distinguishing a "city" in ancient times was that a "city" had a wall around it. By our standards Cain would have built a tiny village. Also possible is that "he built a city" means he built the first dwellings and thus founded what became a city.
Edwards speculated Cain would not fancy a "very hairy [Neanderthal] female". However, many Canaanites had sex with animals (Leviticus 18:23-24) which some people also do today. Hence we cannot be precise about the preferences of Cain.
Genesis 6:4 says:The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and (also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.) These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.I've added the brackets to clarify that neither the "sons of God" nor the "children they bore" were Nephilim. Nephilim were "the mighty men of old, the men of renown". Being "of old" and "also afterward" suggests they existed before humans. This could refer to Neanderthals who were physically more powerful than humans and who existed before humans and "also afterward".
In "daughters of men" the Hebrew for men is "adam" whereas in "men of renown" it's "enosh". This might be another indicator that we're dealing with two categories of "men".
The scientific verdict on whether humans and Neanderthals interbred is still out. If they did interbreed it could be a cause, besides mutations, for deleterious genes in humans.
We would, in that case, also need to consider how Eve could be "the mother of all" since humans would, presumably, have genetic input from Neanderthal females.
Edwards' other queries regarding "we" and "our" in the creation story were touched on in the Trinity debate. (See Investigator 42)
(Investigator 93, 2003 November)
Regarding Cain's matrimonial status. In #92 p.46 para 3 Anonymous agrees that the verse implies that other beings existed. So why split hairs? If it is again a matter of speculation and interpretation then the Bible is not accurate or reliable.
INTERPRETATION, ACCURACY & NEANDERTHALS
(Investigator 94, 2004 January)
Differing interpretations of statements in a document do not necessarily imply the document is unreliable. They may instead imply that we're seeking details the writer didn't intend to give.
This is a problem with Genesis and science – people often seek more detail, or different detail, from Genesis than is there.
My understanding of Genesis, which Edwards saw independently, is that early humans interacted with another species of "man". In 1996 Neanderthals were shown by genetics to be unrelated to humans. So indeed there were two species of man! When the Bible is assessed using science, even correct Bible statements may appear wrong if science hasn't caught up!
DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS – THEN UNRELIABLE
(Investigator 95, 2004 March)
I fail to comprehend Anonymous' assertion that "Differing interpretations of statements in a document do not necessarily imply the document is unreliable." (#95 p.5)
Surely if a statement is interpreted as "the man is coloured" and another interpretation says "the man is white" the document is rendered unreliable.
EDWARDS HAD CORRECT INSIGHT ON GENESIS
(Investigator 96, 2004 May)
If two interpreters of a document disagree because their interpretations go beyond what the author intended to reveal, it is not the author's fault. Harry Edwards (#95 p.5) doesn't accept this – nevertheless it's self-evident.
Recently "A cat sat on the mat by my front door." If two people disagree on the colour of the mat their argument cannot be settled from my statement. Their different interpretations are not my fault because it's THEIR decision to argue about something my statement doesn't reveal. To conclude because of THEIR dispute that MY statement is false or unreliable extends the notions of falseness and unreliableness to such an extent that EVERYTHING ever written is unreliable.
This principle applies to every document of any size including the Bible. If interpreters disagree on points an author did not intend to reveal it's not the fault of the author, and his document is not necessarily unreliable.
Regarding the Bible book of Genesis: Many interpreters conclude that Genesis implies another species of "man" coexisted with the descendants of Adam and Eve. I concluded this independently uninfluenced by others. Rendle Short in Modern Discovery and the Bible (Third edition, 1952, p.114) had similar insight long before me. Harry Edwards noticed the same "some years ago". (#91)
By noticing that Genesis implies the coexistence of two species of "man" Edwards did what I've done a number of times – he used the Bible to anticipate future scientific discovery.
In 1996 science caught up and concluded that Neanderthals were unrelated to humans but coexisted (and possibly interbred) with humans.
INTERPRETATION AND LACK OF DETAIL
(Investigator 97, 2004 July)
Disputing my argument that different interpretations preclude any definitive conclusions, Anonymous responded (#96 p 4) with "A cat sat on the mat by my front door" opining that if two people disagree on the colour of the mat it is not the fault of the author.
Firstly, in the absence of any mention of the material of which the mat was made the disagreement would not have arisen in the first place.
Secondly, if to convey a true and accurate picture was the intent of the author, the cat, the mat and the front door all needed far more detailed descriptions.
Thirdly, an oft-used phrase when referring to a passage in the Bible is "it's revealed in the Bible." Why confuse the reader by obscuring the message?
Finally, as God is alleged to be the author of the Bible such lack of attention to detail is reprehensible and reflects badly on his literary skills. Of course he may have suffered from a speech impediment – a lisp or a stutter.
MR EDWARDS THWARTED
(Investigator 98, 2004 September)
The Investigator debate on Adam & Eve established an overlap of science and the Bible as follows:
1. One woman was the mother of all humans.
(This was scientifically accepted by about 1990.)
2. One man was the father of all humans.
(Tentatively established in 1995. New Scientist, June 3, 1995)
3. No known fossils link humans to any "apeman" species. It's as if we arrived "out of the blue". (Scientific American, January, 2000, p42)
4. Another species of "man" unrelated to humans co-existed with humans.
(In 1996 genetics showed that Neanderthals were unrelated to humans but co-existed with them.)
The fourth point was suggested by some Christian writers decades before its scientific confirmation in 1996.
Harry Edwards himself, perhaps prior to 1996, noticed that Genesis implies the existence of other people besides the offspring of Adam and Eve. He thought this refuted Genesis. But instead it's now another Bible point proved correct. Edwards is therefore a modern example of these words:"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart."
(1 Corinthians 1:19)
For Edwards to have his "cleverness thwarted" is not something negative but could be understood as God reaching out to Edwards using the process he claims to accept – science.
Despite the Bible being so clear that it, together with science, thwarted his cleverness Edwards again accuses the Bible of unclarity. (#97 p5) He repeats his accusation that the occurrence of multiple interpretations is the fault of the author and never of the readers. This is really a philosophical contention:- Is it possible to write anything that no one could misunderstand or that no one could draw implications from that the author didn't intend?
Edwards' answer is "Yes", whereas I'd say "No" because the writer lacks control over the mental processes, including irrational reasoning, of the readers.
Such philosophical input is a far cry from the discussion on human origins I had with Mr Straughen which Mr Edwards entered and is now obfuscating.
(Investigator 99, 2004 November)
In #98 p5, Anonymous says that I "accused the Bible of unclarity" and that "the occurrence of multiple interpretations is the fault of the author and never the readers."
In his opinion therefore, my "cleverness has been thwarted". However, I maintain that I am correct on both counts.
First: If a sentence, paragraph, statement or passage is open to interpretation then surely the author is at fault for not making his intended point clear.
Second: Surely the word "interpret" applies to the readers, as they are the ones charged with extracting the intelligence from what is written.
As to whether or not it is possible to write something that no one could misunderstand look at the signs festooning the environment – 'no smoking', 'dogs prohibited', 'no left turn' 'no parking' etc.
While on the subject of the Bible's alleged accuracy, how does Anonymous explain Genesis 1:3-26? The direct quotes from God himself. Given that Adam and Eve were not created until verse 27 who took notes of what God allegedly said in verses 3-26? A scribe from another tribe? Once an author starts to include alleged conversations without providing the evidence to substantiate them he looses all credibility and claim to accuracy.
I must apologise to Anonymous if he sees my input as obfuscating. Unfortunately as a high school dropout I lack the intellectual advantage of those blessed with a tertiary education and have to rely solely on common-sense reasoning.
Also on p5, Anonymous refers to the INVESTIGATOR debate on Adam and Eve reiterating that (1) the couple were the mother and father of all humans and that (2) another species of "man" co-existed with them.
Because of Cain's relationship with a female of this "other ethnic group" doesn't the second statement contradict the first given that the "other group" must have already existed before Adam and Eve were created? The title must therefore go to the in-law's side of the family.
The couple's descendants would also have had the genes of both groups; again contradicting Anonymous' answer on page 6 where he answers my question about Noah's family by referring me to some unnamed books on genetics. Well I have read a few but none suggested that all ethnic groups came from Noah's stock.
Consider the following reasoning in favour of independent beginnings.
Religious fundamentalists believe that the world and all that dwell in it were created about 6000 years ago. Bishop James Usher (or Ussher) (1581-1656) even calculated an exact date – the Creation being fixed at 4004 BC. At that time the known world consisted of the Middle East, Egypt and Asia Minor. There is no evidence of contact beyond those parameters.
In the Authorised King James version of the Bible published by Encyclopaedia Britannica, the date BC 2348-9 has been suggested as the time of Noah and the Deluge.
Considerable evidence of Homo erectus has been found in China dating back to the Palaeolithic Period (starting 2.5 million years ago and finishing about 10,000 years ago).
Archaeologists excavating in Chou k'ou tien have found intermittent human use from C 460,000 to 230,000 years ago.
In Maraiyur, India, artefacts (paintings, drawings and etchings) dating from the 8th millennium have been found.
In Australia, Aborigines show considerable genetic diversity but are quite distinct from those outside of Australia. In 1990, a date of 60,000 years has been suggested for a rock shelter in the Northern Territory.
Africa is of course widely recognised as the birthplace of Hominidae (the family to which modern humans belong). Anatomically, modern African peoples are believed to have appeared about 100,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence indicates that humans and their hominid forebears have inhabited the continent for some 4,000,000 years.
In view of the above perhaps Anonymous would care to explain.
1. How can Adam and Eve qualify as the Father and Mother of all humans when their daughter-in-law's family pre-date them?
2. How could any genetic mutations ascribed to Noah's family possibly account for the above mentioned long extant and diverse ethnic groups pre-dating them?
HUMAN ORIGINS OBFUSCATED
(Investigator 100, 2005 January)
DEBATE WAS FINISHED
Question: How does a debate that ended with certain facts established go on for 1½ more years?
Answer: When an obfuscator gate-crashes the debate, raises complex philosophical issues, misrepresents things previously written, accepts no answers, and goes off on ever more topics.
I research the Bible by going to the scientific literature. This usually establishes within Investigator's suggested "three rounds" whether a Bible statement is correct, dubious or untestable.
In 2002 I investigated whether the Adam and Eve story has any scientific support. I showed an overlap with science in four points:
- One woman was the mother of all humans.
- One man was the father of all humans.
- No known fossils link humans to any "apeman" species. It's as if we arrived "out of the blue".
- Another species of "man" unrelated to humans co-existed with humans.
The above conclusions are scientific, expressible in one sentence, and the topic was finished. Enter the obfuscator!
Obfuscation 1: Misrepresent points made so that the misrepresentation has to be explained and the point repeated.
For example, I pointed out in #98 that Edwards himself observed that Genesis implies there were people besides the offspring of Adam and Eve. Edwards had thought this refuted Genesis. But in 1996 it became another Bible point science proved correct. Edwards thus became an example of the words:"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart." (1 Corinthians 1:19)
In #99 Edwards distorted in what sense his cleverness was thwarted. Therefore I'll repeat it: His "cleverness was thwarted" because a point he thought refuted the Bible turned out correct.
Obfuscation 2: Claim the document has many interpretations and is inconsistent.
This claim would allow rehashing every misrepresentation of the Bible ever made. Rather than enter such a process I pointed out Edwards had raised a philosophical contention, namely:-
Is it possible to write something that no one could misunderstand?
My answer was "No" because the writer lacks control over the mental processes, including irrational reasoning, of the readers.
Edwards responded with examples he claimed "no one could misunderstand" such as a "No smoking" sign. Well, I was once in a no-smoking train compartment and everyone, except me, smoked cigarettes.
Perhaps the passengers:
- Couldn't read well enough;
- Had taken hallucinogenic drugs;
- Thought "no smoking" referred to cigars;
- Had brain damage that hindered understanding;
- Assumed, for whatever reason, the sign didn't apply.
Such barriers to understanding "No Smoking" are not the sign-writer's fault. And if two words can be misinterpreted so could any document. It follows that multiple interpretations of the Bible do not necessarily prove the Bible inconsistent.
An analysis of why misunderstanding occurs would get us into semantics, logic, nature of knowledge, psychology, neurology and more. There are also reasons why the Bible in particular is misunderstood. But these are different topics to human origins.
Obfuscation 3: Acknowledge nothing that's been proved or answered, just raise new questions and new topics. This obfuscation procedure could alone in principle extend a debate to eternity.
Chronology and Noah's Flood, for example, are separate topics to the four overlaps with science that I pointed out. Also separate is the question of how God's words (in Genesis 1) before humans were around could later be quoted. This query, however, is an easy one. If Edwards speaks and no one hears, Edwards' words could nevertheless be quoted by anyone to whom Edwards later repeats the words. This answers the logical aspect of how unheard words could be quoted. Whether God did in fact speak and later repeat it, is currently untestable. I mostly research Bible statements that are testable – and I've found hundreds of scientific accuracies, often astonishing ones.
Whether Neanderthals contributed DNA to the human genome is still unknown. If they did it would not make any Neanderthal the "mother of all humans" as Edwards claims because such DNA contribution would have:
(1) Occurred after the first humans lived;
(2) Contributed comparatively few genes.
Consider a comparison: Australian Aboriginals have contributed DNA to the White population but this does not make any Aboriginal the "mother of all the British".
Obfuscation 4: Bring up things not disputed and pretend they conflict with points made. For example Edwards lists various hominids. But they got mention two years ago without dispute.
<>The above types of obfuscation lead to endless argument on numberless topics with little useful result and constitute a rejection of science. I test Bible statements by reference to science and this mostly gives clear results. Edwards should let me get on with it.
LETTER TO EDWARDS
(Investigator 101, 2005 March)
It seems the disagreements between you and Anon regarding Adam and Eve are not making useful progress despite going on long enough.
I think a fair ending would be to let you, if you choose, sum up or otherwise have the final word but limited to one page.<>Editor
ADAM & EVE DEBATE CONCLUDES
(Investigator 101, 2005 March)
In complying with the editor's request to wind up the debate on Adam and Eve I restrict my comments to Anonymous' rebuttal of my contentions that a 'No smoking' sign is not open to interpretation and that Eve cannot be considered to be the mother of all humans.
Anonymous dismisses the former with a fatuous example wherein he assumes the sign could be misinterpreted because some people couldn't read well enough; had taken drugs or had brain damage. This is analogous to saying that all those who don't get the Bible's message can't read, take drugs or are brain damaged! He completely ignores that fact that regardless of one's cognitive skills it doesn't make the sign any less definitive.
On the basis of his 2002 investigation Anonymous disputes my contention that Eve cannot be the mother of all humans. He dismisses that contention on the grounds that I implied that "a Neanderthal was the mother of all humans." If he cares to read my article again he will note I referred to "another ethnic group" not a Neanderthal.
Anonymous concludes with "I test Bible statements by references to science and this mostly gives clear results. Edwards should let me get on with it."
OK, get on with this one.
Where has science located the foundations and pillars supporting heaven?
Refs: Gen. i. 6-8. Gen. vii. 11. Job. xxxvii. 18. 2 Sam. xxii. 8. Job. xxvi. 11.
Many Bible debates are on this website: