August 4, 2020

Was Adam an Ardipithecus?

Was Adam an Ardipithecus?

I’ve mentioned several times in posts about Glenn R. Morton.  Morton was an ardent Young Earth Creationist, so ardent he switched professions from work as a geophysicist working for a seismic company and processing seismic data, and went into seismic interpretation where he would have to deal with more geologic data; so he could better defend YEC when he wrote articles for the Institute of Creation Research (ICR).  The story of how he left YEC can be found here.  In brief, he was simply overwhelmed by the actual data.

Glenn Morton aka “gbob”

Glenn frequently writes and comments on the BioLogos Forum under the handle “gbob”.  His profile for the BioLogos Forum can be seen here.  Several of his articles speculate on the location of Eden and the location of Noah’s Flood.  They include “Eden and the Flood: A Historical Reading of Genesis 2-3 and 6-9”, “The Location of the Flood”, and “Did Noah’s Flood Kill All Humans except his family?”.

Although no longer a Young Earth Creationist, and fully convinced of the timeline in the geologic record, Glenn is uncomfortable with assigning the early Genesis chapters as myth or allegory.  He says:

“No, I am not a young-earth creationist, I am a geophysicist who fully accepts the age of the earth and that we arose at least in part though evolution. My problem with changing what seems to be written as history (Gen 2-11) into mythology or allegory is that we cease trying to solve the problems. I also have an ethical problem with changing what the Bible clearly says. My friend Klax says the whole thing is mythology. At least he is logically consistent which is to be preferred to the position where one gets to pick uncomfortable parts of the Bible and say they are allegory/mythology, but then proclaim other parts as historically true (the resurrection). So, here is why I dislike altering the Bible to make it what we want it to be. In my mind, either make it true or make it mythological–all of it, but don’t inconsistently pick and choose due to the need of the moment.”

So in the articles mentioned above, Glenn tries to concord what is written in the Bible with the geologic record.  About 5.5 million years ago, tectonic activity closed off the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea diminished to a highly saline lake, much like the Dead Sea is now.  This is known as the   Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian Event. A succinct PBS video summarizing the MSC can be viewed here. At that time, there was no Persian Gulf and rivers such as the Tigris and Euphrates drained into the Mediterranean basin as the Arabian plateau was tilted in that direction.  The remnants of those canyons draining into the Mediterranean basin, including the 2500 meter deep Nile canyon, have been mapped seismically and confirmed by drilling. Glenn speculates that Eden would have been located in the Mediterranean basin.  He writes:

“So, where was Eden? Genesis 2:10-14 says:

“A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates (Gen. 2:10-14 [NIV]).

The first river, Pishon, I believe, came off of Cyprus… The second river flows through Cush. Cush is Ethiopia and thus this can be only one river, the Nile. The third and fourth rivers are the Tigris and Euphrates… They fit together if we look at the world as it would have appeared to a very, very ancient Adam… most of the land of Israel didn’t exist. The Persian Gulf didn’t exist. But the Zagros and Taurus mountains of Iran and Turkey did and water flowing off of them had to go somewhere. The nearest low area was the Mediterranean desert. There are canyons cut into bedrock along the Levant coast testifying that rivers did come that direction.”

This is a pretty ingenious fitting of the Bible description to a known geologic event, but what is even more ingenious is that the Strait of Gibraltar reopened catastrophically about 5.3 million years ago in an event known as the Zanclean flood or Zanclean deluge, and the Atlantic Ocean poured through the strait at a rate about 1,000 times that of the present day Amazon River, refilling the Mediterranean more or less to its present level during a period estimated to have been between several months and two years.  This, of course, would have been Noah’s Flood.

In his article “Did Noah’s Flood Kill All Humans except his family?”, Glenn notes the following reasons why he believes the Zanclean deluge was Noah’s flood:

  1. It is the only flood in earth history that matches the Biblical description exactly.
  2. Only at this time did the rivers of Eden flow into the same place.
  3. It was just at the time when the earliest hominids appeared on earth. If all the humans are confined to that basin, then when the flood happened, they all died.
  4. One couldn’t easily walk out of this area so an ark was necessary.
  5. It covered high mountains. This is the only local flood ever proposed that could cover 15,000 foot high mountains.
  6. Modeling of fluid flow shows that, depending upon how large the breach in the Gibraltar dam was, it would fill in between 8 months and 2 years.
  7. An object floating on the waters could have easily landed in southern Turkey, which the Bible calls the mountains of Ararat. The Bible does use the plural for mountains, not the singular, so the Bible doesn’t say Mount Ararat.
  8. Finally, I know of no other flooding event in geologic history that can satisfy the above check list.

Pretty impressive feat of matching actual scientific data to the Biblical account.  This is concordism at its finest.  As impressed as I am with Glenn’s attempt, I’ve got a couple of problems –

One is the stark dichotomy Glenn insists on between concordism and myth.  I do not think this is a Boolean choice between strict modern journalistic reporting and stuff just made up.  Just because a literary form is utilized does not mean true spiritual truth can’t be transmitted, and that transmission still be inspired by God.

I take the position that John Walton takes in books like “The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate”. Walton’s focus is not on concordism, that is, trying to show compatibility between the biblical accounts and scientific findings but rather on understanding the text of Scripture itself. Walton gives primary attention to the meaning and significance of these OT texts and what they communicate in their Ancient Near Eastern context.

Another excellent book that shows the stark dichotomy between concordism and myth is not the only valid interpretive grid is “Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science”, by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight.  McKnight shows that it is manifestly obvious that the text of Genesis came to be in the ancient near East (ANE).  It sounds like that world as read from similar contemporaneous texts, uses categories and terms and ideas from that world.  It has the “pre-scientific” assumptions of that world.  So if you don’t respect that text as designed for an ANE audience, you don’t really respect that text.

The second problem is that given the timeline Glenn is trying to use for the geologic events, the anthropologic timeline just doesn’t work.  Adam and Noah would have to have been early hominids like Ardipithecus ramidus or Ardipithecus kadabba.  That’s this guy:

Did Ardipithecus ramidus or Ardipithecus kadabba use tools?  No they did not; the first known tools are 2 million years after Ardipithecus ramidus lived.  So how did Noah the Ardipithecus build the ark?  I just cannot imagine how that could be.  Sorry Glenn– swing and a miss.  Good try, though.

But Glenn’s timeline raises another question not so easily answered.  Did Ardipithecus have human consciousness?  To what extent did this creature have knowledge of God?  Could it choose between right and wrong in any moral or ethical sense?  And if Ardipithecus is too “immature” then when did human consciousness arise? With Australopithecus?  Homo habilis?  Homo habilis is the oldest species given the designation Homo, by Leakey et al. (1964).

Homo habilis

How about Homo erectus?  Homo erectus is the first known species to develop control of fire, by about 1.5 Ma.  How about Homo heidelbergensis (in Africa also known as Homo rhodesiensis). They had long been thought to be a likely candidate for the last common ancestor of the Neanderthal and modern human lineages.

Reconstruction of Homo heidelbergensis

How about Neanderthals?  It is possible that Neanderthals believed in spirits and the afterlife. Scientists speculate that Neanderthals possibly buried food and prized items with their dead for their trip to the afterlife as the Egyptians and many ancient cultures did.  Would Neanderthals have shared in Adam’s guilt?  When did the guilty conscience evolve, or asking the question another way, when did God hold “persons” responsible for their “sins”?  I don’t know, obviously it is all speculation.  At least as far back as Neanderthals, but Ardipithecus seems too far back to me.  The Bible’s answer is the first man – Adam.  Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”  It would seem the Bible means modern humans i.e. Homo sapiens, but then again, no Biblical writer had any concept of pre-human hominids.

What do you think of Glenn’s theory?

Comments

  1. anonymous says

    The beginnings of our ‘humanity’?

    “Dr. Paul Brand tells of attending a lecture given by legendary anthropologist Margaret Mead. She posed the question to the audience,
    “What is the earliest sign of civiliztion in an ancient society?” A clay pot? Iron? Tools? Agriculture?
    No, she explained. To her, evidence of the earliest true civilization is a healed femur, the large3st bone in the human body, which she held up before the asembled group.
    She explained that a healed femur means that while a person was injured someone else CARED for them – gathered their food, tended to their injury and protected them.
    Her point?
    You can’t have civilization without COMPASSION. ”

    http://prestoncrest.org/media/2015_GREATER_05_God_Is_Greter_Than_Our_Differences_-_Romans_14-15.pdf

    • But animals show compassion — self-awareness together with empathy — so that is not a unique human trait, or the unique trait that makes us human, or else other species are human too, and also civilized by Mead’s definition.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Scale matters.

        Certainly animals show compassion. And they can fly into a raging fit the next moment. They also cannot do much about that compassion.

        That’s why “civilization” is a much better – and more interesting – question than “humanity”.

        I agree there is no essential trait unique to Humanity, whatever the borders of that are; not that nature has any interest in borders.

        • Mike the Geologist says

          What about “God-consciousness”? Or the guilty conscience? Do non-humans have a conscience?

          • Or maybe religion itself is unique to humanity? Do any other animals exhibit religious behavior, is there anything analogous to prayer, religious ritual, worship, etc., among non-human animals? What do zoologists say about the existence or nonexistence of religious behavior among non-humans?

          • Christiane says

            does ability to love count as God-consciousness?

            and cannot the animals ‘teach us’ about the Creator?
            “7But ask the animals, and they will instruct you; ask the birds of the air, and they will tell you. 8Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; let the fish of the sea inform you. 9Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?…” (from Job, chapter 12)

            it is thought that in the economy of God, the animals are ‘innocent’ of sin, as they live instinctively to survive and do not share the human capacity to ‘choose’ evil over good

            • Mike the Geologist says

              So along the evolutionary developmental line from Ardipithecus to Australopithecus to Homo habilis to Homo erectus to Homo heidelbergis to Neanderthals to Homo sapiens, when was the capacity to choose evil over good achieved? Was it a gradual continuum or was there a sudden emergence of a trait not previously as well developed? I’m asking rhetorically, of course, not that I expect you to be able to answer, Christiane. But, what is your opinion?

              • Christiane says

                my own thought is that
                we are made of the elements of the Earth, the elements that were forged in the stars

                at some moment in God’s knowing, and by His Hand, a living being that had evolved ‘became Adam’, the first ‘man’

                so I suppose I believe in ‘both’ ‘and’ ;
                that, at a moment in evolution, as a part of the unfolding of Creation and in some manner, ‘the breath of life’ was breathed into the primordial ‘Adam’ and this first ‘Adam’ became ‘human’, or as we are taught ‘made in the image of God’ and because of this alone, all ‘humans’ who descend from this ‘being’ are gifted with the same dignity and are worthy of respect

                simplistic? too much so? very likely, but I don’t know the proper words for what I sense happened, and that is about the best I can ‘word’ it for you on one cup of coffee, sorry

                • Christiane says

                  so MIKE-the-Geologist,

                  what do YOU think happened ?

                  was there a first Adam ? or maybe many ‘adams’ at a moment in evolution?
                  ?

                  I get a headache trying to ‘think’ about it, easier for me to picture ‘images’:
                  I ‘imagine’, but then, I think that human imagination itself is some way that God has made to communicate with us as well as through the gift of words as the more complex development of human speech

                  and it is in the imagery stored in our genetic human DNA, that I can see God also speaking to us of ‘who we are’ and Who He is’ in the most primordial way possible for our kind

                  we are capable of imagination, for better, or for worse

                  • Mike the Geologist says

                    I think there was an emergent property in the science end of evolution that coincides with the “image of God” emplaced in humans by God as spoken of in the scriptures.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > What about “God-consciousness”?

            How would one ever test such a notion. And it is fair to ask what that even means in Humans.

            > Or the guilty conscience?

            Again, hard to test. You’d need, I assume, at least an animal that has culture.

            > Do non-humans have a conscience?

            How distinct is that from the ‘ability’ to feel shame?

            We certainly see Depression in other animals.

            • anonymous says

              yes, animals grieve and suffer emotionally also

              they are also capable of great things and can witness to us of the Creator God

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Certainly animals show compassion. And they can fly into a raging fit the next moment.

          So do people, guys.

  2. I think concordism is always going to be the besetting sin of rationalists (of whom I am the chief). It’s hard to shake the conception that literal propositions are the highest form of truth, and try to shoehorn everything (especially the Bible) into that paradigm as much as possible. Several years ago, I could easily see myself doing exactly what gbob did here. But I am slowly realizing that scientistic rationalism was NOT the paradigm of truth used by the Biblical writers. They used typology. Analogy. Poetry. Even (CLUTCHES PEARLS) dramatic exaggeration. Hard stuff for a rationalist to swallow…

    • Christiane says

      ‘Story’ is embedded in our human DNA, echoes from Eden, images of another ‘place’, a better place; a feeling of loss and of longing

      human words make small vehicles for the conveyance of such a Story
      and it is for our poets and our artists to awaken us to the meaning of the primordial images we hold in the genetic memories of our humanity

      • And maybe story in conjunction with religion, the genesis and continued existence of which is dependent on story — indeed the two seem to be woven together from the start — is the “beginning of humanity,” and sets us apart from other living creatures.

        • Christiane says

          very much so . . . we ‘want to know’ more than we are capable of knowing, and that is a great mystery and likely part of the foundation of ‘who we are’ as ‘human persons’ made in the image of God’

          you get it too

          you are one of those species of poets who help give image to ‘the Story’ which makes you a bit of a treasure here at imonk in my view

      • A rationalist would counter that poetry did not land men on the moon. I say this not to belittle what you just said – but that is how my rationalist side reacts to things like what you just said.

        • Rationality has an important place. It is the the way we measure things, often one against another, to see if they fit the understanding we have arrived at, and which is more suitable to give our attention and energy to. Poetry did not land human beings on the moon; to get there you need carefully applied rationality. But poetry made us want to go to the moon to begin with. Oh, I’m not naive, I know that there are all kinds of mercantile and military reasons that got attached to, that rode the back of, that original poetic impulse; but it nevertheless was there from the beginning, since the first human being looked up at the moon in wonder, awe — and desire.

        • No poetry did not land men on the moon. Poetry made them want to go to the moon in the first place.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > that literal propositions are the highest form of truth

      Even if for arguments sake I accept that I am still left feeling about “concordism”: What’s the point? In the end it seems like an exercise in intellectual luxury.

      If I could – again for argument – convincingly argue that Adam was a Neanderthal… what of it?

  3. Michael Z says

    It’s hard for me to wrap my head around why anyone would dedicate so much time and energy to trying to come up with explanations like this. Even when it comes to something central to our faith like the resurrection – if your *best* proof that Christ is risen is some sort of elaborate historical/logical house of cards, your faith is on a very unsure footing. Far better to base it on the evidence of Jesus’ resurrected power that we experience as we follow him and grow closer to God through faith.

  4. “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around why anyone would dedicate so much time and energy to trying to come up with explanations like this.”

    Because if you are a rationalist and a concordist, these things HAVE to be explained. If they cannot, then some part of the equation – or the equation itself – is in error. You must then choose to discount science, discount the Bible, or give up rationalism as your worldview. Apparently, a lot of folks would rather give up science (YEC) or the Bible (Bart Ehrman) than give up rationalism.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Give up rationalism, and you can’t argue anymore, or be right.

      That’s why

      • anonymous says

        rationalism wants answers NOW, but that’s a problem, isn’t it? impatience shuts the door on knowledge, your gonna need a bigger block of time, a bigger boat, draw a larger circle, get a bigger box for your god . . . what an elusive pursuit to run after mystery and trap it into logic . . . ‘ si comprehendis, non est Deus’

        small steps, small steps, falling forward

    • flatrocker says

      I don’t see this in such stark and harsh terms. Simply having the curiosity to ponder these types of questions is part of what makes us human. I’ve heard it said there are four great questions that exist in every human heart. Namely – Where do we come from? Why are we here? What are we supposed to do? And where are we headed?

      Asking these questions and pondering the implications is healthy. Coming up with iron-clad, non-negotiative answers – not so much.

      • anonymous says

        that we can even ask those questions means more than any answers we might come up with

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Because if you are a rationalist and a concordist, these things HAVE to be explained.

      Nah.

      A ‘good’ rationalist lines up, to some degree, all the open questions – and then rank orders them in the order of their consequence.

      Many, many, questions will fall to the bottom of that stack – and never be reached.

      There is more at work here than cold rationalism. There is, at the heart of Concordist, a well hidden kernel of a belief in Magic! That if these deep secrets can be revealed something will accrue to the revealer.

  5. Burro (Mule) says

    The Bible seems to presuppose agriculture and domesticated animals from the very beginning. Our (supposedly) millennia-long career as hunter-gatherers doesn’t seem to have left a trace therein, not even as folktales.

    • flatrocker says

      Farming is boring.
      Tough to write an epic tale about radishes.

      • anonymous says

        🙂

      • But just let soldiers from a foreign city-state come and steal those radishes, and now you could have the beginnings of an epic war. In Homer’s epic, it was Helen that was stolen; but it is possible that he was romanticizing an actual event of history in which a bunch of radishes were abducted.

    • Civilization — that starts with cities — requires agriculture. The Bible was written long after civilization, and cities, had become central to human societies and experience, in that region of the Near Middle East and many other places around the world. Once civilization moves in, there is no longer any room for hunter-gatherers, they’re shouldered aside into nonexistence, and wherever civilized peoples may have encountered them at the fringes of their empires, they were looked on as devolved rather than original human beings. There would be no reason to hold onto those tales, in the absence of modern anthropology and an anthropological understanding of human origins.

      • I’ve also read that what we think of as warfare in the modern sense started with agriculture and the cities it made possible. Once you have the surplus that comes from agriculture, you have to store it; and once you have the surplus stored, you have to defend it, so you need an army; and once you have an army, you may decide to use it to take the food that’s stored in the city down the block; and if that city has an army too — which it likely does — then you have an all-out war, not a tribal ritual war but a war of total destruction, using every specialized means of technology you can devise or get your hands on.

    • Christiane says

      look at the cave drawings . . . the images painted before the written word was developed

      it’s there on the cave drawings of the hunters and the animals

      and of the development of agriculture? Stonehenge-type structures for calculating the movement of time so planting might begin . . . men looked to the movement of the stars (our Sun is a medium sized star) long before they noticed a Star in the sky that God used to guide the wisemen to Bethlehem

      the cave-dwellers were careful to leave their ‘record’ on the walls of their dwellings in ‘images’ . . . it is so hard to realize that the handprints on the caves in Argentina were made to ‘speak’ that ‘we were here, we lived, and we were human’ . . . a ‘history’ of record in imagery at the Cueva de Los Manos that people lives and wanted future humans to know that they had lived also ?. . . there truly are no words for the pathos of this, no
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cueva_de_las_Manos

  6. Quoting Glenn R. Morton: “My problem with changing what seems to be written as history (Gen 2-11) into mythology or allegory is that we cease trying to solve the problems.”

    There we see the problem. Why does he believe that Gen. 2-11 were written as history. What does “history” even mean within the cultural context in which Genesis was written? He seems to believe it meant pretty much the same thing as it does today. This is, um…, not well supported by the record.

    It gets worse: “My friend Klax says the whole thing is mythology. At least he is logically consistent which is to be preferred to the position where one gets to pick uncomfortable parts of the Bible and say they are allegory/mythology, but then proclaim other parts as historically true (the resurrection).”

    I’m not sure he knows what “mythology” means, in the context of ancient texts. But that is secondary. He seems to be saying that the entire Bible must be read the same way. Is he serious? I doubt it. No one actually reads, say, Psalms or the Song of Solomon of Paul’s epistles the same way they read Genesis. This argument is usually trotted out to defend reading Genesis as if it were a modern history, but quietly dropped the rest of the time.

    Frankly, this looks like a scientist who respects his own field, in this case geology, while dismissing out of hand other fields, such as textual criticism. So he creates hoops to jump through to accommodate geology. The result is utter nonsense, in light of other fields.

  7. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Even as a Christian I would not have been impressed by Glenn’s theory. The intellectual gymnastics are just too obvious.

    The real interesting question is the origin of the God-consciousness or the religious impulse, however it is named. One of the most enlightening books on this matter is the seminal “Religion in Human Evolution”, with the subtitle – “From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age”, by the American Sociologist, Robert N Bellah. The Axial age is roughly the first millennium BC.

    Bellah recognizes the origin of religion in a very interesting place – animal play. Play, even in animals, is very ritualistic – I chase you and then we switch and you chase me. There are rules. And soon, rituals emerge. Thus ritual precedes religion, and meaning is added much, much later. In essence, there doesn’t seem to be an aha! moment. And from meaning, comes power – shamans and priests and hierarchies and the differentiation of church and state (though these are still muddled, lol) and eventually doctrine.

    Interestingly, Bellah places the development of mimetic culture much later than Australopithecus, and more towards Homo Erectus. The latter, because of infant brain size, had children much earlier, who then required much longer care. This led to more shared caring tasks, the reduction of sexual dimorphism, pair-bonding, and social organisation, resulting in more complexity, and thus, more ritual, and importantly, the development of more and more complex language, Thus, meaning is born.

    The book is a rather hefty tome (over 700 pages including extensive footnotes), but recommended if one is interested in these matters. The Journal of the American Academy of Religion had an interesting review of this book as well as a companion work – see https://academic.oup.com/jaar/article/81/3/852/941342

    • I’m familiar with Bellah’s work and find it very interesting. I can also recommend the work of Pascal Boyer. For an interesting counter perspective to “origin of religions” studies let me recommend a relatively recent book by Brent Nongbri entitled BEFORE RELGION where he follows on the work of Tomoko Masazawa (THE INVENTION OF WORLD RELIGIONS) in trying to show that what we think of as “religion” is a modern concept that didn’t exist prior to the enlightenment and the Reformation. They show pretty clearly that the ancients didn’t really possess the concept at all! Challenging fascinating stuff..

    • Peter Wolfe says

      I agree with the comments about Glenn trying too hard to rationalize. I was AMAZED at his detailed postings, could not bring myself to read them. Good on Mike for plowing through them.

      I bumped across and read the book: Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
      by Peter Godfrey-Smith. He does not offer definite answers but boy are Octopus odd creatures compared with us. Yet they also demonstrate cognition.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I agree with the comments about Glenn trying too hard to rationalize. I was AMAZED at his detailed postings, could not bring myself to read them.

        As in the OCD-level microdetails of someone obsessed with their TRVTH?

      • anonymous says

        all of Creation reflects something of the Creator

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Even as a Christian I would not have been impressed by Glenn’s theory. The intellectual gymnastics are just too obvious.

      I’d put it as “he’s stretching it a LOT to fit”.

      Like the one joke in the online comic Freefall several years ago, where a burning-eyed Flat Earther is going on about “We just need to accelerate the planet to 99.99% of lightspeed! See? IT’S FLAT!”

      • David Greene says

        Glenn gave it a good try on the flood, at least he is not a YEC believer of a universal flood, I’ll give him that. But how is he going to rationalize the ages of the patriarchs without resorting to the mythological pick and choose which he excoriates? I’d be surprised if he could stretch anything enough to fit that. My opinion is that he shoots himself in the foot by rejecting myth.

  8. As I am simple my thoughts are this are simple. The Bible was written by people who were inspired by God or a knowledge that was revealed to them. As I explain things to my 5 year old granddaughter I keep it simple and use a story or analogy she can comprehend , I love her this much , hands stretch out, rainbow God loves us, day and night
    God made for us to know when to sleep. So the Bible is literature, great stories that reveal “truth” given to us by a higher power I call God. I get lost with most of Mike the Geologist science articles even though I enjoy them, he cannot make quantum physics simple enough or Einstein where I really get it, I am like my Granddaughter. So I believe in God, do not demand proof, take it on faith, believe the Gospel because of effect of it on my life. I am a none or done and attend any church that believes John 3.16. Works for me. The timeless wisdom, the impact the Bible has had on the world thought individuals is too much for no higher power not to be involved. The well thought out and reasoned science comment by Klasie seems valid but I will remain at my level and hope my Granddaughter gets to the level that makes her life worthwhile.. If we could prove everything in the Bible it would not be faith it would be responding to facts. Of course all of this is personal but it works for me. The Bible was written for do what it does, convey wisdom, advice and offer hope and faith. Believe it or Not. If all of this makes no sense than I will be a Monkeys Uncle or nephew or cousin or neighbor.

  9. Interesting read. Interesting comments. Not sure I know where I stand or what I think. Not sure anybody cares, either…LOL.

  10. I read the Book ‘A History of God’ by Karen Armstrong about 10 years ago. It really challenged me to rethink much of how I thought about faith, and how we come to understand God. Totaly changed the way I read scripture/creation story.

    • That book was a big help to me too. Showed me how the particular kind of God that I had trouble believing in was not the only option.

  11. I think Glenn is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and that’s not rational — or the way of the poetic heart either.

    • Square peg and round hole?
      A match that’s not rational.
      Lion lies with lamb.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I think Glenn is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and that’s not rational…

      Unless you add a sledgehammer:
      “YOU’LL FIT!”
      SMASH!
      “YOU’LL FIT!!”
      SMASH!
      “YOU’LL FIT!!!”

  12. Dana Ames says

    From Morton:
    “In my mind, either make it true or make it mythological–all of it, but don’t inconsistently pick and choose due to the need of the moment.”
    and
    “My problem with changing what seems to be written as history (Gen 2-11) into mythology or allegory is that we cease trying to solve the problems.”

    Flatrocker wrote: “I’ve heard it said there are four great questions that exist in every human heart. Namely – Where do we come from? Why are we here? What are we supposed to do? And where are we headed?”

    Like Mike Geologist, my biggest problem with this is the stark dichotomy between what Morton takes for “history” and his idea of myth/allegory. As Richard H. noted above, the people who wrote Scripture weren’t thinking about “history” the way we do. Further, what is under discussion here is ultimately (yet again) how to interpret Scripture. I would think that a Christian would want to interpret Scripture as a Christian. Therefore, it makes sense to look at how the Christians of the first few centuries interpreted Genesis. And they interpreted it as having layers of meaning. They had no argument with what the text says happened; they took it at face value, it was a given for them – but they saw that as simplistic and the least important way to look at it. (level 1) There was a moral point to what was recorded – how are we supposed to act in view of this text? Slightly deeper insight. (level 2) But, most importantly, what was the spiritual interpretation – that is, how is the text seen in light of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, the GodMan? And what are the ramifications of that? (level 3). Morton seems to be either not acquainted with this method of interpretation (no surprise with him being an American Protestant) or ignoring it, for whatever reason/s.

    Genesis was written in the context of ancient near eastern civilizations, and from that context is meant to at least begin to answer those four great questions – not to supply evidence for our post-Enlightenment criteria of “historicity” (and “proof”). I’d be interested in knowing what problems Morton thinks we will cease trying to solve if we move away from level 1, or even level 2. If those problems are regarding the ultimate meaning of the stories in Genesis, I have news for him: they’ve been solved a long time ago by the way the early Christians interpreted Scripture. To me, its interpretive meaning as set forth by those early theologians seeing the typology therein is monumentally interconnected and watertight, without having to establish the “historicity” of Genesis. There are plenty of other problems that can be explored. He’s grappling with concordance problems that have only existed for the past 400 years.

    As for which iteration of “human” were our first parents, I’m not sure it really matters in the light of those four great questions, except for the understanding of Trust. When did humans place trust in themselves in order to be able to live, rather than in God? Some of those early Christian theologians thought it was basically as soon as they were created. Trust (based in someone loving us and our ability to apprehend that) is what forms us as humans so that we can learn to love and have compassion. All of what God has done in Christ has been done because of God’s love for us and to clear the path of any obstacles to trusting him in the face of any fears of death/non-existence we might have. Since Christ has freed us from the tyranny of death, we no longer have any ontological excuse not to trust God. Those who don’t have faith (trusting loyalty) in God don’t trust him for other reasons, and ultimately there is no air-tight proof for God or for the Christian understanding of the meaning of what Jesus did. There is only various varieties of Witness – and a person either believes or doesn’t believe the witness.

    Christ is risen!
    Dana

    • One thing for sure, as a Christian I start with Jesus, which necessarily means with the witness to him of the first Christians, and then with the witness to him of the whole Church down through the centuries. I work my out — forward and backward, to the Eschaton and to the story of Adam and the beginning — from there.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Flatrocker wrote: “I’ve heard it said there are four great questions that exist in every human heart. Namely – Where do we come from? Why are we here? What are we supposed to do? And where are we headed?”

      “Where do we come from? Where are we going? And why do we spend so much time in-between wearing digital watches?”
      — HItchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy

      (Which also provides the answer to “Why are we here?” … “FORTY-TWO!”)

  13. David Greene says

    gbob says the following:

    “My friend Klax says the whole thing is mythology. At least he is logically consistent which is to be preferred to the position where one gets to pick uncomfortable parts of the Bible and say they are allegory/mythology, but then proclaim other parts as historically true (the resurrection). So, here is why I dislike altering the Bible to make it what we want it to be. In my mind, either make it true or make it mythological–all of it, but don’t inconsistently pick and choose due to the need of the moment.””

    My problem with gbob’s position is that the Bible is not one single book, it is a collection of 66 different books from different times with different authors so why should they all be held to the same set of rules as if they were one internally consistent book – which they are not.

    • So, here is why I dislike altering the Bible to make it what we want it to be.

      Just putting all those different texts between the covers of one volume, and treating them as a single volume, is altering them.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      …the Bible is not one single book, it is a collection of 66 different books from different times with different authors so why should they all be held to the same set of rules as if they were one internally consistent book – which they are not.

      Darby’s Dispensationalism was an attempt to make them one internally consistent book, holding them all to the same set of rules. And we’ve all seen the fruit of that.

  14. Iain Lovejoy says

    The view I have come to on the stories such as Eden and the flood in Genesis is that we have them backwards. We think, because we are principally a literate rather than verbal culture, and, even more importantly, we are not the culture for whom these stories were written down,that the purpose of these stories as written is to tell us, the reader, a story we have not heard before, and need to know, but it is not.
    The stories pre-date the book by millennia, and are stories everyone thought they already knew. The flood story in particular was common to just about every eastern Mediterranean and middle eastern culture in some form or other, as I understand it. Genesis is telling us *about* the stories, reinterpreting and explaining a history / mythology that was simply assumed to be true, to the extent that such dim and distant past for them could ever be truly established.
    I myself don’t doubt that there is some kind of real historical event behind the flood story, and this may well have been one of several possible vast historical floods I am seen proposed as candidates over the years, but am not sure that it really matters which, or the precise details. The point of the story as it is in Genesis is to explain (so far as it is possible) what we are to make of it, its meaning for us, and how such a catastrophe fits in with the nature of God, and the salvation story the Bible as a whole is trying to tell.
    (The Eden story I suspect is intended as largely an allegory from the beginning: as I have seen a Jewish commentator once write on it “It’s got a talking snake in it, how much more of a clue do you need?”)