Saturday, November 24, 2018

Adam and Eve: Four Views

Although there seems to be a common perception that scientific discoveries contradict the Bible, actually just the opposite is true. Instead, the things we have learned about the origin and development of the universe overwhelmingly agree with the biblical story of creation. Details about the history of the earth agree with the order and the events described in Genesis as discussed in previous posts Genesis and Science Reconciled and Unlocking Genesis One, for example. Yet within this clear overlap between science and Scripture in so many areas, there seems to me to be one issue that produces some friction between what science has discovered so far and a straightforward reading of the Bible. That has to do with exactly when Adam and Eve lived, if they were the only two humans alive at the time, and how all of humanity is related to them.

In previous posts I have affirmed that current genetic evidence shows that all humans are related to a single male and single female and that I believe it is possible that within current scientific knowledge that couple lived about 50,000 years ago and were the first two humans and the genetic ancestors of all humanity. Then in my most recent post I discussed four other possibilities for who Adam and Eve were. In this post I will summarize these views and categorize them according to archeological and scriptural consistency. So let's first label and briefly review each of the five views (which I have consolidated into four views below).
  1. Ancient Traditional View: In my previous post this was called the sole-genetic progenitorship, that Adam and Eve lived about 500 to 700 thousand years ago and were  the genetic ancestors of all humans and also of all other close relatives of humans like Neanderthals and Denisovans.
  2. Modern Traditional View: In my previous post this was called the genetic-interbreeding progenitorship, that Adam and Eve were the genetic ancestors of all humans and that some of Adam and Eve's ancestors interbred with non-human species. Most scientists would say this would have to be about 200,000 years ago. However, my proposal that this could have been as recent as 50,000 years ago would also fall within this category. This view would be held by Reasons to Believe, a progressive creation organization that would affirm Adam and Eve as God's special creation with no evolutionary ancestors.
  3. Genealogical View: In my previous post this was called the sole-genealogical progenitorship, that Adam and Eve are the genealogical ancestors of all humans and could have lived as recent as 6000 years ago, but were not the genetic ancestors of all humans. 
  4. Federal View: Adam and Eve could have lived as recent as 6000 years ago and were a representative couple among a population of humans. They are not the genetic ancestor of all humans and not necessarily even the genealogical ancestors of all humans.
For each of these views I will comment on a few things. First, I will simply state whether or not that view allows for the traditional understanding that Adam and Eve were the genetic ancestors of all humans. Second I will state whether or not the view allows us to all be related to Adam and Eve through our genealogy. Finally, I will comment on what seems to be a major problem with reconciling the biblical record with the archeological record, which is that the culture of Adam and Eve in the Bible seems to coincide with human culture that emerged about 10,000 years ago including cities, agricultural, domestic animals, and other elements of modern civilization but does not seem to coincide with how humans lived before that time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Adam and Eve and Evolutionary Creation

Within evangelical Christianity there are many different views about how and when God created the universe and humans and about who Adam and Eve were. Very generally, we can categorize these beliefs into three options: (1) Young Earth Creationists (YEC) who believe that God created the universe about six thousand years ago and would deny that the big bang or macroscopic evolution occurred, (2) Old Earth Creationists (OEC), also called Progressive Creationists, who would say God used the big bang to create the universe about 14 billion years ago but did not use the process of macroscopic evolution to create humans or other life, so that God has supernaturally created the major classes of life over the last 4 billion years, and (3) Evolutionary Creationists (EC), also called Theistic Evolutionists, who would say that God used both the big bang and macroscopic evolution to create the universe and all life, including humans.

I personally believe that all three of the above options could be defended biblically (which I will discuss in a later blog post). I would currently classify myself as an Old Earth Creationist because I believe that the scientific case for the big bang is indisputable, but I don't believe that the scientific case for evolution is conclusive or compelling. So biblically, I could accept and defend any of the above options but scientifically I can only defend the second option at this time.

Over the last two blog posts I have presented my opinion that the current genetic and archeological scientific evidence is consistent with Adam and Eve living about 50 thousand years ago and being the first two humans and the sole genetic ancestors of all humans. I have also stated that almost all Christian and non-Christian scientists who study human ancestry would not agree with me as to that being the most likely scenario, or maybe even a viable scenario. So what are the various options for Adam and Eve that are held by Evolutionary Creationists and how do those options fit into the biblical narrative? I'll discuss the answer to the first question in this blog entry and the answer to the second question in the next.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Adam and Eve and the Cultural Big Bang

In my investigation of what science has to tell us about the existence of Adam and Eve, I am intrigued by a question that is widely disputed among the scientists who study this subject. The question is when and how modern human behavior developed. One idea that has been proposed is particularly controversial with both scientific proponents and scientific critics. The idea goes by different names including "the cultural big bang," "the late Paleolithic revolution," and "the great leap forward." The proposal is that modern human behavior began suddenly about 50,000 or so years ago. This idea was particularly popular about 15 years ago with many proponents still, though some scientists say that more recent archeological discoveries give hints of modern human behavior that began about 100,000 years ago and developed slowly not suddenly.

I am a non-expert as I try to investigate this question since I am an experimental particle physicist and not an archeologist. But as an outsider, it does seem to me that there seems to be some kind of explosion of modern behavior about 50,000 years ago. It seems that at about that time humans began to develop a way of thinking that invented new tools and developed new ideas and began to shape the environment around them.