Four Views on the Historical Adam (Rauser Review)

(Jay Johnson) #61

Exactly. For @mitchellmckain, who has existentialist leanings, I would suggest going back and reading the beginning chapters of Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Angst.

(Mitchell W McKain) #62

It is hard to believe. And I will give you that it possible this one is a hoax or exaggerated in some way. But that just means you need to look for an example that hasn’t been exaggerated because the fact remains that there are considerable variation between people. Some are extraordinary.

(GJDS) #63

The numerous discussions on Adam, be they historical or genetic, have one thing in common - they seem to ignore the central theme, in that Adam and Eve were created and placed in a region separated from the rest of the world, to commune with God. The biblical account does not include many of the odd notions discussed, and I cannot see why it should.

Adding such notions seems to me to miss the point of the biblical teaching.

(Mitchell W McKain) #64

That is probably just adding a bigger can of worms. Surely you don’t imagine we are going to agree on what the point of the Biblical teaching is? And since the devil is in the details the issues we are discussing may indeed have some bearing on them. Besides what we are talking about is the very nature of humanity itself, which is very much on par with added questions of the nature of evil and sin which is what most people think the story is about.

(GJDS) #65

I am mindful of the opinions put regarding Adam that deal with genetics make up, assumed time spent in Eden and the view that Adam and Eve were “unprepared” for the world outside Eden. My point is that none of these matters are derived from the biblical account. The most we can say is such matters are not covered in the bible - so why make such a song and dance on these things.

Now sin and disobedience, deceit, and other such questions/matters commence with Adam and continue throughout the bible The only point that requires comment is the genealogies that commence with Adam and end with Christ. These have been adequately covered by stochastic modelling that has relied on all available data on humanity, including migrations, births and deaths, etc,. etc.,

(Mitchell W McKain) #66

Incorrect. I never said ordinary. Like I said, we do not know the details of the story. I just think the one I have given is more reasonable than necromancy making golems of dust and flesh, and that of memetic beginning of humanity rather than a genetic one.

LOL Why because you think there is a limitation on the number of conversations God can have with Adam? You trip all over yourself in your eagerness to fabricate inconsistencies.

So you have no idea of all the ways God has used in the Bible narrative to communicate to people? Let’s see… besides just talking to people there are dreams, visions, talking animals, signs, angels, … probably missing a few… But the real point here that you keep ignoring is that there is no reason to think that God can do less than any human parent.

Again so many bizarre assumptions. I do think there were other homo sapiens and Cain’s words in Genesis 4 agree with this. But I do not think there was high populations densities or sophisticated language and culture. This is all taking place before the beginning of civilization. The Bible certainly doesn’t speak of Adam and Eve having to deal with other people. Though their children and grandchildren became men of renown (Genesis 6) probably because they were the ones founding the language and cultures of the world.

And this is a problem why? You seem to be confusing God with a president who is too busy to bother teaching an infant.

I don’t think you have explained anything. The only thing I see in your posts is a bunch of flimsy excuses for why you don’t like the idea but no reasons of any substance for why this is not a reasonable possibility.

(Jay Johnson) #67

None of these matters would matter if Adam and Eve were the first human beings, which the literal interpretation traditionally has assumed. Once expelled from the Garden, they would not have to speak the same language or observe the same customs as the people nearby, because there would be no people, language, or culture outside the Garden to worry about. The point is moot. Adam and Eve and their offspring are the inventors of those things.

However, once you say that a literal Adam and Eve were not the first humans, then you open a whole new can of worms. If they had to speak an existing language and fit into an existing culture after their expulsion from the Garden, then the obvious questions are how they learned that language (any language!) and the norms of that culture.

Frankly, I don’t see how anyone – ancient or modern – could read Genesis 2-3 and conclude that the story is not about the creation and fall of the first humans. That is the point of the biblical teaching, and that’s what we’re discussing.

Incorrect. You really have no concept of children’s learning and brain development. Again, the limitations are not on God, but the children. Chomsky’s idea that children are born with a “universal grammar” was based on his observation that they are not exposed to enough conversational examples to acquire all the grammatical features of their native language. This is called the “poverty of the stimulus” argument. Chomsky was incorrect because he underestimated the number of examples that children passively observe, but he wouldn’t be wrong in the “recent Adam” scenario. If A&E’s only conversational partner is God, then the Lord better be in a talkative mood for at least a decade to make up the deficit.

God is spirit. The notion that he played nursemaid to Adam and Eve is ridiculous, as well as … Incorrect.

Incorrect. During the period you describe – 10,000 years ago +/- 4000 – the Fertile Crescent was the most populous place on the globe. By 4000 B.C., roughly 4 million people lived up and down those rivers, which is about the population density of New Mexico, also clustered around a river through the desert. “Sophisticated” language already existed 50,000 years ago, else the “Great Leap Forward” could not have happened, and “sophisticated” culture has been with us even longer than that.

Incorrect. I have described the problems with the idea from the standpoint of actual science and history. Your defense of the idea has been a series of special pleadings that amount to “God can do anything.” Sorry. That doesn’t work for me. Others are free to form their own opinions.

(Mitchell W McKain) #68

I have looked and I see absolutely NO EVIDENCE anywhere that children with only one parent to talk to have any difficulty learning language. So I think you are just making this up.

Chomsky? Strawman much?

Spirit is more real and substantial than physical not less so. God is totally capable of doing anything a human parent can do and more. Disagreeing with your religious opinions does not make something incorrect – big difference from saying something which contradicts what can easily be demonstrated by reading the posts made in the thread.

That just argues for an earlier time in that period. Like I said, later times in that period would mean that the inspiration Adam had from God would have to be more subtle. But since the evidence only shows that the region was first populated around 10,000 BC and agriculture well established by 9,000 BC there is nothing in the evidence to contradict what I have suggested.

That sounds like a reasonable hypothesis for the evolution of language. You are certainly entitled to whatever religious beliefs you choose. But I have yet to hear any evidence. The evidence I see is the development of written language around 3200 BC and nothing to support your hypothesis.

Incorrect. “God can do anything a human parent can do” is in no way similar to “God can do anything.” This alteration of my words is deliberate deception especially since I have spoken repeatedly against such abuses. I have explained that the omnipotence of God does not mean that God can do whatever we say by whatever means we care to dictate. But at the same time I will not support attempts to limit God by saying He cannot do the things which any human being can do. Sorry, your false accusation of “God can do anything” does not absolve you of the burden of proving your claim that God cannot teach language if you expect to convince me of such a thing. You are of course entitled to whatever opinions you choose.

(Mitchell W McKain) #69

Yes the problems is that this assumption doesn’t agree with the evidence.

Well of course it is about the first humans and what went wrong to explain how things ended up as they did. But the story tells of two people Adam and Eve and their children. I see no reason not to take this seriously about humanity beginning with two people with a close relationship to God as opposed to reducing humanito to a biological species of homo sapiens only. And I certainly see no reason to make this into metaphor only saying something about the social conditions of some group of people. That goes so far from the text that you are just making everything up.

(Jay Johnson) #70

Lol. Children with only one parent are still immersed in human culture. You really don’t have a clue, do you?

I’m sorry. I mistakenly believed 10,000-4,000 is 6,000, and 6,000 years ago is 4000 B.C. I just gave you the population estimate for your most recent time boundary.

Lol. I was just summing up the substance of your comments, but I’ll try not to abuse you any more.

I haven’t put forth my hypothesis. All that I’ve done is point out some of the problems for a recent, literal Adam and Eve.

(Mitchell W McKain) #71

Again you change my words. I said “children with only one parent to talk to” and that includes the possibility of a parent living in isolated from from civilization – something that can and does happen occasionally. So your talk of being immersed in human culture is utterly irrelevant to your claim that God cannot teach language to a child.

You should indeed be sorry for ignoring most of what I said. My suggestion for the time of Adam was 10,000+/- 4,000 years ago which is a period from 12,000 BC to 4000 BC. And I explained that the scenario with God teaching Adam language would be the earlier time before the beginning of civilization, while the latter times in that period would mean that God’s contribution to Adam was something more subtle. Of course if there was any actual evidence rather than just your pet hypotheses then my suggestion would need to be altered – something I am always ready to do. But you haven’t presented any of that yet, have you?

My use of the word “abuse” was not referring to you but to those who have used the “God can do anything” argument to for some nonsensical scenarios.

Your claim that sophisticated language existed 50,000 years ago and sophisticated culture for even longer is an hypothesis for which you have presented no evidence. Your talk of problems with enculturation is a valuable contribution to the discussion and worthy of consideration despite the fact that I have concluded that I don’t agree with your argument.

(Jay Johnson) #72

You can start with this one:

Abstract: Distances of raw material transportation reflect how hominid groups gather and exchange information. Early hominids moved raw materials short distances, suggesting a home range size, social complexity and communication system similar to primates in equivalent environments. After about 1.0 million years ago there was a large increase in raw material transfer distances, possibly a result of the emergence of the ability to pool information by using a protolanguage. Another increase in raw material transfer occurred during the late Middle Stone Age in Africa (after about 130,000 years ago), suggesting the operation of exchange networks. Exchange networks require a communication system with syntax, the use of symbols in social contexts and the ability to express displacement, which are the features of human language. Taking the Neanderthals as a case study, biological evidence and the results of computer simulations of the evolution of language, I argue for a gradual rather than catastrophic emergence of language coinciding with the first evidence of exchange networks.

A lot more where that came from …

(Mitchell W McKain) #73

That is quite reasonable. It also does a much better job at explaining an objection to the ideas of others here than the things you have been saying so far. It also reminds me that we can also say from studies of brain function that the development of language was likely to have been over a long enough time for there to be some interaction between the genetic development and the language development. And this certainly limits how much God could have contributed to the development of language in a relationship with a single individual. So you are certainly justified in suggesting that, at the very least, I have overstated possibilities for God contributing to the development of language in that particular way (call it a temporary aberration in the arguing of an old man). Congratulations!

(Jay Johnson) #74

So, I should try less sarcasm next time? Haha. Better yet … Discussion over diatribe! Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.


How on earth does God teach a language (I assume a spoken one) to a kid? It would have to be an artificial language (e.g. esperanto or Klingon) developed by God, since it doesn’t arise naturally, right? And God is spirit, without vocal folds, anyway. so how does he create sound? And what would a kid make of the sound and attribute meaning to it?

(Phil) #76

Well,we know God has language and vocal cords, because in Genesis 1 he spoke everything into existence. Can’t do that without language , words and vocal cords.



(GJDS) #78

The point of Genesis is that we have an account of the first human couple that were created in the image of God, were given the breath of life from God, and were in communion with God, until they were tempted and deceived.

If you and others cannot ‘fit’ this into some odd need for a theology for evolution and genetics, (or the odd view that Genesis must provide some science or other), that ‘can of worms’ is of your making.

The wording that may help some is that Adam and Eve are the first true humans, and this wording has been discussed by the RC.

(Shawn T Murphy) #79

None of these four scenarios deals with the biblical change of venue that occurs in Genesis 3:24.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

In this scenario, there are two Adams. One that lived in the garden of Eden within the spiritual place called Paradise. The other lived as a human on earth as described in Genesis 4, incarnating as one of the new humans around 200,000 years ago. The Bible does not care about the passage of time, but rather tells the important aspects of the story.

(Peter Waller) #80

There really isn’t a path to primates from insectivores (just saying)

“Moreover, primates have traditionally been seen as forming a graded series, ranging from primitive lemurs to highly advanced humans. This perceived gradation among primates is allied to the concept of a smooth transition from insectivores — the archetypal primitive mammals — to primates, across an ‘insectivore–primate boundary’. This idea was connected to the inclusion of the tree-shrews of South and Southeast Asia in the order Primates, accepted by Simpson in his classification. Many investigators saw tree-shrews as ideal intermediates between an insectivore, such as a hedgehog, and a relatively primitive primate, such as a lemur. But, this interpretation directly resulted from the ‘frozen ancestor’ approach to evolutionary relationships, in which extant species are taken as models for evolutionary stages. Of course, there is no evolutionary sequence from hedgehogs through tree-shrews to lemurs.”

Martin, Robert D. "Primates." Current Biology 22, no. 18 (2012): R785-R790.