Genesis, domestication, and the evolution or gene transfer of advanced cognition/language

When we look at Genesis 1-11, especially Gen. 2-4, what we see is a “Neolithic Adam”. We see a man from the fertile crescent who received knowledge of farming and animal husbandry, as born out in the life of Cain and Abel. We see Cain the farmer who was fearful of being killed when banished, but then going and starting for a city. There is really no way to harmonize the Adam and Eve of the bible as our Y-MRCA and X-MRCA early paleolithic hunter-gather ancestors. I’ve been entertaining an interpretation that “biological humans” were created by God in Genesis 1 and given a command to “rule and subdue” and “eat whatever you want” and “fill the earth”. Something that may have been accomplished by the descendants of “old humanity” (x and y MRCA). Either out of Africa, or a small bottleneck near Africa. Physical humans were stuck for 100,000 years, as a purely “natural being”, but could not break through past the brink of survival, and having been given no command, they were not under sin. Then God, at the proper time (end of Ice Age) created Adam, genetically equivalent to all natural humans, but without any damage from “survival of the fittest” in his own nature/nurture. His parent was the personal God, and he was under perfect nurture–without any corrupted dispositions to “aggression, harm, indulgence” (i.e. “sin”). Then God gave him 1 command, and now all humanity was represented by Adam with a chance to the tree of life (he has the best chance to choose love vs. desire), but he chose independence from God and knowledge apart from him. Then knowledge, sin and accountability entered the world through Adam and spread to all mankind. How? Either Adam being a representative of humanity, as Christ was (ontologically, spiritually), or through the spread descents of Eve as “the living” (maybe passing on a higher language/awareness composition) So TE (biologos) folks really have a dilemma in my opinion. Either 1) Adam and Eve and their offspring resorted hunter-gather conditions after the fall 75-150??kya and remained that way until the Neolithic Revolution (which doesn’t harmonize with Genesis), or 2) Natural selection has been a process of the “awakening of mankind” via the selection of genes related to domestication, lack of aggression, language, and cognition. If the latter, and what point did “Adam come to be”? Moreover, if natural selection for those things has been occurring to bring about a “biological” Adam and Eve, wouldn’t have continued to occur for the last 100,000 years in a world apart form God? But this is a bit scary as it would mean humans are becoming “more or less fashioned in the image of God” via evolution. But what about a 3rd option? What if humans were :"formed’ in the image of God already, but not accountable? What if Adam’s lineage out of the Neolithic Holocene participated bringing mankind (not bios, but accountability) via domestication, language, sedentary life, and so on? In this way Adam spread sin. Because when humans get time on their hands, they no longer merely live for survival in relative innocence, but for knowledge/religion/power. Is it possible, that paleo-human were in some kind of unaccountable “stupor” of some sort, until more complex language and lifestyle arrived?
I think there has been a tendency in the field of anthropology to protect itself against racism and western superiority as they began to go out to study tribal hunter-gatherer cultures, so as not to imply that “civilized” cultures evolved more (intellectually, morally) than tribal ones. And they were right, they discovered that these cultures were not savages or ignorant, but really just like us. But where do we get the idea that early biological humanity (150-15kya) before it’s “process of domestication”, could not have been been substantially different? Perceived as threatening, because much of their lifestyle was similar to present day foraging communities, we protection archaic humans as we see ourselves in them. And I understand the concern there. But the fact is that all humans (today) have culture and language, and given the right environments and opportunities are capable of learning at the highest capacities. And in any given culture there is a diversity of talents, and even multiple intelligences (music, art, athletic, social, emotional, language, math). Even tribal communities today have to learn oral tradition, culture, and many nuanced pieces of information to insure continuity in community and survival. We are one race, I have no doubts about that. Moreover all post Neolithic (HG) practice religion, marriage, and moral thinking, and have some aspects of sedentary life (is there any culture today without knowledge of some types of plant and animal domestication? See below the email I sent to a secular anthropologist. Secular anthropologists have to admit that cognitive/behavioral evolution has been occurring since the dawn of humanity…such that what we are today is substantially different the paleo-humans.
What if present day foraging cultures are now (have really become) biologically different and more advanced (than past paleo HG’s>) and have also been influenced by 1) back migrations for the last 12kya, 2) parallel evolution in regards to domestication. Even Africa has had several back migrations (even amongst the deepest pockets of x and y MRCA), as well as Australia had a migration in the Neolithic Holocene which is connected to the discovered tribal languages. See the article pdf url attached about the global impact of farmers and language. Even some farmers may have assimilated back into foraging populations and lifestyles. People have really been all over the globe, and there really is not truly isolated culture since before the Neolithic that I know of. So what I am saying is this: could there have been a cognitive/social/genetic “microevolution” that has changed humanity since the receding of the Ice Age? Based on farming, language, religion, morality, cooperation? I understand that there are a handful of artistic and religious artifacts from the late paleolithic, but they are very sparse (venus figurines, cave painting). In other words, why would we assume there have only been major selective advantages in physiological adaptations, but not in cognitive adaptations since the beginnings of our “biological humanity”? Don’t anthropologists assume that those selective advantages were occurring that led up to our Y-MCRA and X-MRCA (i.e. how we became “human” so to speak)? So why wouldn’t those selections not have continued through migration, selective breeding, domestication, civilization and the like for the last 15,000 or so years? Wouldn’t the more cooperative, more linguistically capable, and more creative have more success and offspring? Why would we say that for 150,0000+ years there has been little genetic evolution in regards to domestication, intelligence, language, or morality (cooperation), and that the earliest “modern humans” out of Africa (150kya) were relatively the same as today?

https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.908.8346&rep=rep1&type=pdf

I see no evidence whatsoever that God gives technical knowledge to human beings. So I say, that in Adam and Eve what we see is simply two people of no great significance either biologically or archeologically which God chose to speak to initiating a personal relationship between God and man.

From Genesis 6, I take it that the grandchildren of Adam and Eve were a such a source of inspiration to the surrounding human populations that they were seen as giants – men of renown, i.e. the founders of human civilization.

Agreed! The timing is wrong. These correspond to a much earlier semi-bottleneck of the human population in southern Africa escaping a period of glaciation in the north (of a few thousand). I say semi-bottleneck because apparently some Neanderthals and Denisovans survived in the north and east to make some contribution to the human genetic pool as they migrated out of Africa to the rest of the world.

No. I see it as essential for Adam and Eve to have been at the dawn of human civilization 6-12 thousand BC in order for them to be of any great significance. But the significance would not be genetic but rather in the arena of ideas contributing to the advent of human civilization. Otherwise you would have to ask why the human race remain so unchanged for so long (longer than recorded history) – frankly going on as if nothing important had happened.

All of his reflects a modern obsession with genetics as if this is all our humanity consists of. Evolution is the process by which our genetic makeup was created over millions of years and there is only evidence to the contrary of any magical intervention or divine design in our genetics. Furthermore this is all buying into the Deist conception of God as the great watchmaker - a designer of machines rather than the Biblical understanding of God as a shepherd who looks after living organisms.

This is a weak (irrational and contrived) theology which I cannot credit at all. Instead let us understand that this whole notion of original sin as consisting of an accountability of all human beings for the actions of two people long ago is just plain dumb. Instead what we have is an inheritance of ideas from God’s communication with Adam which has been corrupted by a growing number of self-destructive habits. Thus in addition to our biological inheritance from our brethren in the rest of living organisms on the planet, we have an inheritance of ideas/ideals from God and an inheritance of habit from our first ancestors which causes us to fail in our efforts to live up to those ideals.

Thus instead of this contrived idea of Christ being a representative of humanity, then we have Christ as a restored source of that inheritance of ideas/ideals from God.

Yes there is a dilemma but not in the way you are thinking because Biologos is not a singularly defined ideological or theological group. We are simply Christians determined to find a reconciliation between authentic science and authentic Christianity. It was founded by a scientist like myself and others who converted to Christianity, and is joined here by others who see good reason to conform their understanding of Christianity to the findings of science. So yes we have a dilemma in making this reconciliation work theologically and scientifically, but we have no single way of doing so. Above you can see that my way of doing to is different from the position you have wrongly decided Biologos must be equated to.

Indeed, confronting this dilemma and looking for solutions for making this reconciliation work is what this forum is all about.

“I see no evidence whatsoever that God gives technical knowledge to human beings. So I say, that in Adam and Eve what we see is simply two people of no great significance either biologically or archeologically which God chose to speak to initiating a personal relationship between God and man.”

I think Adam does have some importance. It appears that Yahweh Elohim took personal interest in Adam’s survival and his descendants. He took him out of the special garden to “till the ground” (not to “hunt and gather”). His lineage is connected to Israel and Jesus Christ. I don’t think Adam had biological superiority, but cultural and spiritual heritage. I think we may agree on that.

“All of his reflects a modern obsession with genetics as if this is all our humanity consists of. Evolution is the process by which our genetic makeup was created over millions of years and there is only evidence to the contrary of any magical intervention or divine design in our genetics. Furthermore this is all buying into the Deist conception of God as the great watchmaker - a designer of machines rather than the Biblical understanding of God as a shepherd who looks after living organisms”.

I agree that the material should not be viewed negatively. Jesus’ came in the flesh, we will be raised into new bodies and live on a new earth, and it will be of a different order/glory. I don’t think we need a hard “dualism”, and we have been fearfully and wonderfully made. But to me it doesn’t matter if God created Adam form the dust via a process of evolution and then “selected him” or if he was created “ex-nihilo”. Cleary God has been at work “ex-nihilo” in human history through miraculous intervention, most importantly the virgin birth. But you can’t have “gradual succession into spirituality”, there is a leap. At what point does the organism look at the other one and think “maybe i shouldn’t kill you and eat you, that wouldn’t be right”. What point does one hominin look at he other one and try to say a simple verbal word like “no”, and then teach other other one he really means something. To have mankind experiencing “I think therefore I am, what is this world I live in?”, with no word from God or initiation of relationship for thousands of years… how do we call that a loving Shepheard of humanity/biology?

This is a weak (irrational and contrived) theology which I cannot credit at all. Instead let us understand that this whole notion of original sin as consisting of an accountability of all human beings for the actions of two people long ago is just plain dumb. Instead what we have is an inheritance of ideas from God’s communication with Adam which has been corrupted by a growing number of self-destructive habits. Thus in addition to our biological inheritance from our brethren in the rest of living organisms on the planet, we have an inheritance of ideas/ideals from God and an inheritance of habit from our first ancestors which causes us to fail in our efforts to live up to those ideals.

Consequence and accountability are connected. You experience consequences from your ancestors and their decision, we all do. I don’t see it as "the fate of the human race rested in Adam’, as the fate of the human race really rests in God. Rather, God was offering Adam a unique experience to make a free-will choice (no one else got to walk and talk with God in a special garden) which would have consequences for his descendants. God also give us that same type of responsibility. If you think there were other humans outside the clan of Adam, you have to accept that his choice impacted them. Cain and many other decedents of Adam went out raping and pillaging.

“Thus instead of this contrived idea of Christ being a representative of humanity, then we have Christ as a restored source of that inheritance of ideas/ideals from God.”

Jesus Chris is more than an ideas. He passes on righteousness. We are in him. He is the source of spiritual life. People are born again. Our connection to him is not biological, but spiritual. He does represent humanity to God. It was necessary for him to be made like his brethren.
“Indeed, confronting this dilemma and looking for solutions for making this reconciliation work is what this forum is all about.”

**That’s cool. I have not made a hard landing for or against TE. I believe Adam was a real historical figure, but I don’t think he necessarily had to be the first biological human (whatever that means).

It’s only a dilemma if you hold on to concordist approaches and locate Adam that far back in human history. Then you have a different problem of an oral history persisting for 100,000 years until it was recorded by a Semitic people with no cultural ties to the group in the story. That sounds super unlikely to me.

If you think Adam is a theological narrative about an archetype of humanity, not a literal history of the first human, then you are free to just say that some things (like when exactly in human history sin entered the world) are just not clear in Scripture.

I believe God has been working in the world for all of earth’s history and that he loves and cares for and interacts with all his creatures. How he related to emerging humans is something we just don’t know. The Genesis account is our story of God interacting with humanity (and we would say it is definitive because it culminates in Christ through whom humanity is saved), but I don’t think it has to be an exclusive story and that other cultures and times in other parts of the world never interacted with God.

I guess in summary, you are asking questions that are only relevant if you accept certain things as givens, which I think you will find many ECs or TEs don’t accept as givens.

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I like the way you are thinking through this, but feel you would benefit from looking at how EC folk tend to interpret Genesis a little closer. I am currently reading Denis Lemoureux’s bppk. the Bible and Ancient Science, and it is quite enlightening as to how we are often guilty of reading our modern scientific concepts into ancient scripture, distorting the message and meaning. It is a short and easy book to read, and one I would recommend heartily.

Another book your post reminded me of is Empire of the Summer Moon. It discusses the Comanche tribe of Native Americans, and specifically deals with the story of Quanah Parker, whose mother was kidnapped by Comanches, and when "rescued " years later, preferred tribal life to Anglo culture. Of interest to me in regard to your post, is that the culture of the Comanche was pretty much pure hunter-gatherer, and may well be close to what our more ancient ancestors experienced, yet integrated as well as can be expected into modern society, showing that any differences are cultural.

So the interaction can be one way from God?

So do I. That is why I argue that the timing is so important. 100,000 years or more ago and that significance vanishes. It must be more like 6,000 to 14,000 years ago at the dawn of civilization for him to retain some significance. The point was that we shouldn’t expect anything in the way of biological or archeological evidence. A communication with God has an enormous effect but not on biology or archeology.

Yes… which consists of ideas and ideals. Which for some strange reason you don’t think counts for much later in the post. :roll_eyes:

Sure. But he had no biological descendents. So ixnay on the genetics! No genetic significance to Jesus whatsoever.

It is called separation between man and God due to the fall. What is the ONE thing that can cause a parent to separate himself from his children? Ever think about that? Because a lot of people have a hard time thinking a parent storming off in a huff over a little disobedience to be a very good example of parenting.

But I see it over an over in stories and films where good parents leave their children for someone else to raise. That one thing is what is best for their children. The problem was NOT anger over a little disobedience. The problem was that God’s presence in their lives wasn’t helpful anymore and they had to live by the sweat of their own brow to learn that they simply couldn’t pass the blame for their mistakes on someone else.

Unlike you, I know that ideas are BIG medicine. But I don’t buy into this idea of a righteousness that can be borrowed or passed on from other people. (Last sentence edited in response to complaints)

Do you speak dolphin and know for sure they don’t interact with God? Plus, dogs interact with humans and “love” them in their way. Interaction doesn’t imply language. Neither does communication.

That’s a bit unnecessarily antagonistic.

I can easily visualize Sophia as a wolf-hound of fire lissajouing round my legs. All that yearns transcends.

This is my first time posting on biologos. I didn’t realize a lot of people also agree that Adam was from hat time period. I assumed most EC folks believed Adam to be the first biological human. I agree that Adam’s DNA (be it this or that) is insignificant, but his real space-time descendants are absolutely important. Jesus is a descendent of Adam as stated in Luke’s gospel.

Okay but genetics are important insofar as he was human and a descendent of Adam. Jesus needed to be human right? He couldn’t be incarnated as a full Neanderthal? hahah.

I am talking about biological humans before the fall (of Adam), living and dying in survival of the fittest from 200,000-12kya (time of Adam)? Did God apply his foreknowledge of Adam’s fall to them and subject them so separation before his decision? In what way were they human, spiritual, and accountable like Adam? I mean the world wasn’t exactly a giant garden of Eden before Adam. What I was trying to point out is that if something passed to humankind at the time of Adam brining them into an spiritual state, or making them persons or whatnot…something like that could revolutionize the world! I don’t know like multiples cites of agriculture popping across the globe, religion, cities…

This is condescending. But I guess you have it all figured out man. Why an need to exchange ideas, they don’t get you excited…

Nope. Being supporters of evolution the vast majority do not agree that Adam was the first homo sapiens (that’s the biological species). Being human is something else entirely.

Why?

I don’t think so. Ideas travel farther and faster than genetics. And that is where I think our humanity is to be found and not in genetics at all. Jesus would have had loads of children if the genetics was so all-fired important. Instead… He talked and talked and talked – it is all about ideas and ideals.

The Neanderthals are the same species and a contributor to modern homo-sapiens genetics. We can probably thank them for people with red hair. I don’t know that Jesus needed to be homo sapiens but He was: 100% human and 100% God. But I don’t think our humanity is about genetics. It is not the case that all human beings are genetically descended from Adam and Eve. Yet they all have the same inheritance of that communication from God poisoned with the bad habits of sin, which are not a matter of genetics.

That was when we were evolving biologically to have what it takes to understand what God was saying to Adam. Are you questioning His timing and knowledge of when we were ready? Considering the failure of A&E I don’t understand why you would suggest that God waited too long.

I don’t know… I think there are definitely a lot of premises behind your confusion and questioning which are difficult to pull out so I can explain why I don’t agree with them. Take your mention of the image of God which could be a long thread of discussion all by itself.

No. I don’t believe God is enslaved to this human theology where He has know anything. God can know what He chooses just as He can do what He chooses. Knowing what humans enslaved to sin will do is one thing, knowing what those who are fully alive without sin is another thing entirely.

I found your dismissive comments about ideas and ideals to be irritating and was a little too harsh in my response. And no this irrational idea about righteousness which rather than being about how we behave is instead this magical thing which can simply be borrowed or transferred to another person does not get me excited. I will also diss the ideas that life and free will can be imparted to inanimate objects with the wave of a magical wand like in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” so heads up in case that is going to offend you also.

P.S. Christy has ruled this comment of mine as excessively antagonistic so I will edit my post to tone it down a bit.

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The OT, with the exception of the first 11 chapters of Genesis, is a record of God’s chosen people. Which started with Abraham. The first 11 chapters are just a side bar on where Abraham originated. Just the size difference between 11 chapters and the rest of the OT shows you what was considered important. What is important is Jesus, as the Messiah, has to be a descendent of Abraham and in the line of David.

This is confusing. By “being human” do you mean “how humans should act” or “being image-bearers endowed with language, love, personhood, est.”? So are you saying that the homo sapiens before Adam were not “human” (“being human”)? Its seems like you have been arguing against that. Maybe what you are saying is that everything was a process up until Adam, but that seem silly. How different was he than his parents?

I explained why. Adam is the father of Jesus according to Luke. Adam is referred to as a historical figure with a lineage to Jesus.

Neanderthals are not the same species. They were a side branch was from who homo sapiens sapiens shared a common ancestor, which was not a homo sapiens. What’s amazing is that were were able to breed with them. There contribution was minimal. No human today has y or x DNA from them.

I like the way you just phrased this and find it appealing. The problem I see is that if millennia of evolution was occurring in survival of the species, then all those natural impulses we call “flesh” would really been a good thing ordained by God for our survival. But then how was Adam able to have innocence and fellowship with God? It can’t be that before he ate the fruit he could beat his wife (without guilt) or do some other evil and God just didn’t consider it sin because he only had one law. If his flesh was already tarnished towards sin by his nature and nurture (biological inheritance and natural environment from his parents, whoever they were??), then all God did was set him up for failure and the choice was a farce. But if God created him ex-nihilo and parented him perfectly (taught him language, named animals, fellowshipped with him) he could have existed as a man without a propensity towards sin, which then after the fall as he separated from God and was corrupted by his own self-corruption.

I don’t see how that gets around the problem. In fact, it makes it worse as it makes God the cause of his sinful nature, rather than his sinful nature having developed through a functionally moral neutral process.

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I didn’t say Adam was created with a sinful nature. I said he was created in innocent, with a human nature that was not corrupt, but his nature became corrupt after his fall. It’s possible to have a human nature without corruption 1) Jesus 2) resurrected humans

I think were are counting on a future where we inhabit flesh without corruption.

That is circular. God is responsible for Adam’s condition either way, if he created him via process or ex-nihilo! Don’t see how that would be any meaningful difference.

Yes all of which come from another inheritance which is not found in DNA but in ideas/ideals which are transmitted by human communication such as language, which is the substance of the human mind.

They were homo sapiens which means they were human biologically. This only points to the error of those making such a sharp distinction between human beings and animals that they would treat animals as nothing but stuff to do with as we please. Instead they are brothers… family and fellow inhabitants of a planet where the all its living organisms are very interdependent.

This is not to say that there are no significant differences. I think the differences were significant enough to doubt whether they should really be called primates. Just look at the definition, which we don’t fit at all. We may be closely related but we went in an entirely different direction in our evolution, first as the unrivaled long distance running hunters rather than tree dwellers (which also left our upper limbs that much more free to use for tools and weapons). And second as the users of language which enabled us to employ the survival strategy of cooperation to a degree which would transform the entire planet.

But frankly I think you would have a hard time thinking them human if you met them.

That doesn’t make it important.

So it was thought for a long time. But we were able to breed with them. And that make them the same species rather than a different one. You can argue that this doesn’t decide the matter but it cannot change the facts. Neanderthals were still mothers and fathers in homo sapiens families, and insistence that they are another species is going to sound just like similar talk throughout human history which frequently claimed that people different from them should not be considered human.

Incorrect. I think you mean y-chromosomal DNA and mitochondrial DNA which are both inherited in a linear fashion but you make too much of this. This is not any kind of measure of how much they contributed to our genetics. The vast majority of homo sapiens from the same time period did not contribute to these, and this all too likely includes both Adam and Eve (as not having contributed to your y-chromosomal DNA or mitochondrial DNA). Do you need me to explain why this is?

This simply points to another of these premises you have adopted which I do not share. I do not equate natural biological impulses with sin. I equate sin with self-destructive habits, such as blaming others for your own mistakes which makes it rather difficult to learn from your mistakes.

And this is only one of many strange premises in this diatribe of yours which I do not buy into. I find it difficult to even unpack them all. But perhaps the following is the most important: this idea that Adam and Eve were morally perfect and good, which you confuse with “innocence,” and this was some test of this perfection which they failed. On the contrary it is clear to me that they had a great deal more to learn and the crucial problem was a bad habit by which they refused to learn.

Then the result would be an angel.

23 When He began *His ministry Jesus Himself was about thirty years old, being, as was commonly held, the son of Joseph…38 the son of Matthat,the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Genesis 3: 15 And I put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;

  1. Scripture literately says Jesus was a descendent of Adam 2) Genesis 3:15 does not say that God promised the messiah through “women” or “womankind”, but through “the woman” as in Eve. Eve descendants were also Adams, and therefore the Christ had to be in Eve/Adam’s line.

I wouldn’t get too fixated on the names. Our Bibles just transliterate the sound of the words behind those names instead of translating them. But most of the names are everyday Hebrew words. The story feels less definite and more universal if you switch the transliterated names to translated names:

God forms mud into a creature called Mortals and brings it into a garden of Delight, but Mortals is alone. This is not good! So after making all the beasts and showing Mortals how they’re not suitable, God takes one side from Mortals to make a woman and closes up the remaining half as a man. But both sides of Mortals follow one of those beasts, a snake, and rebel against God. God reveals that the snake will be humbled and someday crushed by the woman’s seed, that the woman will painfully labour to produce offspring while her other half dominates her, that Mortals will painfully labour to produce crops before he faces his mortality and returns to mud.

Just before Mortals is banished from Delight, the woman is named Life. Then Mortals and Life have twins, named Lance and Vapour. But Lance strikes down Vapour so he’s gone in a breath. Lance flees to the land of Wandering. Then Mortals and Life produce Foundation, the replacement son to found the human race. And Foundation produces Humanity.

Or, rephrasing Luke’s genealogy with the Hebrew words, “He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph … of Humanity, of Foundation, of Mortals, of God.”

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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