When Did Adam Live? Pt 1 on Religion in the Hominids

In many ways, Christians don’t think about the details of what fossil man did. Most books that even touch on them are very cursory in their treatment. I decided that one of the things I need to do before I check out of this world is to lay out my best case for Genesis 1-11 to be historical. As some know here, I have long advocated for an ancient Adam, one much older than any other Genesis Scholar. Unless one knows the detailed data of why this is necessary, one can’t make a proper judgement on my suggestion.

I put out my historical reading of Genesis 1 a couple of weeks ago and decided to do about 4 or 5 articles on why Adam has to be very old before putting out my view of how Genesis 2-3 can be viewed historically and scientifically correct. As I have noted before here, I think this is very important, and the reaction I have had to my Historical Reading of Genesis 1 article has been more than I have ever gotten in the past, so I think other people might find it helpful to them to see how other parts of Scripture can be made historically accurate. But it will take about 5 posts to lay out the case for an ancient Adam.

Above is the altar structure from the Neanderthal sanctuary at Bruniquel, France. This object is dated to a time long prior to the advent of any Homo sapiens in Europe. There was only one human tribe that could have made it—the much derided Neanderthals. This is truly strong evidence of their religious proclivities. There are loads of other examples on my blog above if anyone is interested. Those not interested, don’t bother to reply.

I have not brought over the entire post on Religion among Neanderthals and H. erecti. If one is interested one can find it at:https://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/2019/06/when-did-adam-live-part-1-religion_15.html/ Below is what I consider the most important evidence of Neanderthal religion because they did very similar things to what the Maya Indians did when they worshipped in caves.

Below is from my blog on Bruniquel.

One of the things in Anthropology that bothers me is that if evidence of some activity among modern humans is discovered, it is automatically accepted, but if it is associated with Neanderthals, far too many automatically reject it. They also say the above sites are old, excavated prior to more modern techniques and don’t prove evidence of Neanderthal religion. But they have trouble saying that about the Neanderthal altar found at Bruniquel during modern times, using modern excavation techniques and uranium dated in 2016.

At Bruniquel, France, archeologists have excavated a squarish stone structure dating to 176,000 years ago. The original article only says it is older than 47,600 years, so until I wrote this, I had been unaware of the new dating. The new dating makes this an extremely important religious site. In this cave Neanderthals built a structure in which they burned a bear. Here is a picture of the structure, made of fallen stalactites. That this is a structure made by man is clear because random falling of stalactites wouldn’t cause this arrangement. Falling stalacties would land randomly.

Bednarik (1996, p. 104) writes:

“The cave of Bruniquel in southern France has just produced fascinating new evidence. Several hundred metres in from the cave entrance, a stone structure has been discovered. It is quadrilineal, measures four by five metres and has been constructed from pieces of stalagmite and stalactite. A burnt fragment of a bear bone found in it was radiocarbon analysed, yielding a ‘date’ of greater than 47 600 years BP. This suggests that the structure is the work of Neanderthals. It is located in complete darkness, which proves that the people who ventured so deep into the large cave system had reliable lighting and had the confidence to explore such depths. Bruniquel is one of several French caves that became closed subsequent to their Pleistocene use, but were artificially opened this century.”
"This appears to have been the ritual sacrifice of a bear. It is also the first proof that man went deep into caves long before they painted the walls.12

Work stopped at Bruniquel for some time because the lead anthropologist died. Then in 2016 new work was done which makes Bruniquel an even more remarkable site and almost conclusive of religion among the Neanderthals. The radiocarbon date obtained in the 1990s had only said the site was older than 47, 600 years, but didn’t say how old. In 2016, Jacques Jaubert and a large team dated the structure by uranium dating. They say:

'Uranium-series dating of stalagmite regrowths on the structures and on burnt bone, combined with the dating of stalagmite tips in the structures, give a reliable and replicated age of 176.5 thousand years (±2.1 thousand years), making these edifices among the oldest known well-dated constructions made by humans. Their presence at 336 metres from the entrance of the cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity."13

So the oldest well dated construction is of a site where bears were burned, deep in a dark cave. It was made by Neanderthals. At such an old date, there were no modern humans in Europe who could have constructed this thing.

Modern humans also worship in caves, so this is a very human type of activity Possibly the oldest Christian Church was found in a cave from the first century.:

He described a circular worship area with stone seats separated from a living area that had a long tunnel leading to a source of water and said the early Christians hid there from persecution . "14

Furthermore, the Maya often made sacrifices in deep dark hard-to-get-to-areas of caves:

“Historical and ethnographic accounts have long noted that Maya groups, including those still in existence, regularly conduct ritual activities in caves near their communities. Maya religion focuses strongly on the earth, Brady asserts. Caves, often in conjunction with mountains and water, embody the earth’s fundamental power and lie at the center of a four-cornered universe. Maya caves frequently contain cenotes, openings to underground water sources that further establish the cave’s sacred status.” 15

One of the most famous of these Maya sites is Actun Tunichil Muknal where a maiden was sacrificed. To get to this Maya site requires a mile long trek including hiking, wading, and underwater swiming. They didn’t go there because it was easy to get to, just like at Bruniquel.

" The cathedral-like ceiling is gigantic and glistens from the cave crystals. Enormous stalactites hang from the ceilings connecting to stalagmites creating giant pillars. The cave contains all shapes and sizes of pottery- even as big as beach balls. Archaeologist found remains such as nuts, seeds and spices inside the pots. Ceramics inside the cave were marked with kill holes indicating that they were used specifically for ceremonial purposes. “The Monkey Pot” is one of the four found in all of Central America".
" At the end of the highest chamber lies the magnificent “Crystal Maiden”. The skeleton of a 20 year old Mayan woman who’s death was believed to be a great sacrifice to appease the rain gods . This skeleton is covered in calcium carbonated crystals from the river flooding and receding over time. The magnificent maiden has drawn thousands to this sacred cave.16

To me it seems inescapable that Bruniquel is a Neanderthal religious site. It seems silly to think they went 336 meters, 1000 feet, into a dark cave just to barbeque the bear for dinner. Those who want to exclude Neanderthals from humanity’s circle can only do so by totally ignoring things like Bruniquel. The conclusion I draw here is that if Neanderthals were ritually sacrificing bears 176 thousand years ago, Thus, to say they couldn’t do it at Drachenloch, Regardou, Petershohle, Wilddmannlisloch and other sites at 80,000 years ago is illogical. The possibility that Neanderthals passed their bear cult religion to modern humans is a quite fascinating and quite likely idea. The circumpolar bear cult may be at least 176,000 years old.

This is widely accepted so what do you bring that is new?

Bill, you are missing the broader picture, probably because I didn’t bring all that post over here. I am going to lay out in several posts why Adam must be very ancient, and then present my view of Genesis 2-3, which I can tell you will be different from that of either YEC or 90% of the people here.

As to religion, As late as 2015 most anthropologists didn’t credit Neanderthal with religion and those few who did, had to temper their statements to get published. I think the date of Bruniquel is very important to break through that bias. Consider what is on my page about Bilszingleben, where in the middle of a big paved area there is a standing stone anvil with a bison horn on each side and a broken homo erectus skull at the foot of this stone. The symbolism is quite understandable to us–this is a hostile religion, but the discoverers in the nineties had to say, the Bilzingsleben inhabitants engaged in ‘special cultural activities’. A euphemism for sacrificing a fellow H. erectus on an altar :laughing:

I can also tell you that I have been advocating an old Adam for about 25 years, so in that sense, I am bringing nothing new, but my bet is 90% of people here want to put Adam within the past 200,000 years, and most of those within the past 20,000 years. What I have also brought new to these discussions is a novel location for the flood, mostly panned, but I want to lay out in these posts why an old adam is necessary and that it then fits with my view of the flood.

If I can be any more boring to you in the future, don’t hesitate to ask.

That would be the cutting edge to push through to most of the audience here - and I would say a conservative estimate of the challenge faced. You could probably narrow down the 20,000 years to even six to ten thousand. Because those (who believe in any literal Adam at all) would definitely need to be shown or persuaded how such a figure could be uprooted from our relatively modern agricultural context (or even his Israel context). Moving him out to tens [hundreds] of thousands of years may gain some hope of trying to put him at a biological headstream, but most of the audience here doesn’t see that happening anyway no matter when any individual may have lived, so they see a dubious gain with a large expense.

In any case, would that be a fair assessment of the challenge you address? You’ve been at it for decades and have impressive amounts of research to show, but still - it would be new for many here I’m sure.

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A Google Scholar search with “Neanderthal religion” returned over 3,000 results dated since 2015. I know I have read about it in my casual reading.

Necessary only if you want to force fit the Bible to science and that isn’t “necessary” by any means. A non-h sapiens Adam would really be a force fit.

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I love these nit picking debates. Sigh

If you had paid attention to your google scholar search, other than the number, you would have seen the second citation from 2012 say " no traces of Neanderthal religion have been found". Of course that is wrong. A google scholar search for Ghosts yields 619,000 but that doesn’t mean either than many people here believe in ghosts or that the scientific community believes in ghosts.Searches like that are kind of silly. The general anthropological view is that Neanderthals are not very advanced, a view I take exception too.

Secondly, Bill, if all this is well known, why is it hard to find in the religious literature anyone wanting Adam further back than about 200,000 years ago? If it is common knowledge among people here that H. erectus engaged in a religion, why is it that almost all commentators want him to just be a hominid?
I have been searching today for a commentator or author on papers about early Genesis for anyone who places Adam prior to 200 kyr ago and I can’t find anyone. So it appears to me that it isn’t so common a piece of knowledge as you seem to think.

Just out of curiousity Bill, When you write: “Necessary only if you want to force fit the Bible to science and that isn’t “necessary” by any means. A non-h sapiens Adam would really be a force fit.”

I am curious if you have actually read my historical reading of Genesis 1, most of which I posted here, but there is a wee bit more over on my blog.

And when you say a non-h sapiens Adam would really be a force fit, why don’t you wait a few weeks for all the evidence. I don’t want to spoil it all here buy incoherently dribbling the data out piecemeal. That never works. But if you do think that you would be wasting your time, then you won’t hurt my feelings by just ignoring me but you will never know what you are missing. Too many people have mind made up prior to actually looking at the data. Are you one of those?

I know Mervin. I totally agree that almost no one wants an old Adam. But most people never studied anthropology like I did, to actually swim in the data. I spent about 10 years reading multiple thousands of articles, and bought over 500 anthro books from elementary to very serious. I subscribed for years to several Anthro journals. I know the topic quite well, but it has been about 10 years or so since my last publication on the topic, so I do need to repolish a bit about what has happened in the last 10 years, which is why I had not known about the redating of Bruniquel.

The argument as laid out on my blog is the normal argument for evolutionary traits. If two related species have a trait then it is likely that the common ancestor did as well. Neanderthals and Humans split somewhere between 800kyr and 1 million years ago (I don’t like using haploid mtDNA for dating things because nuclear DNA coalescence times are 5 or more times longer and give better dates).

So, assuming the normal evolutionary argument leads immediately to the concept that religion (even if it was practiced with perishable materials ) has been on earth at least that long–about a million years. Since I firmly believe that the image of God is what causes us to engage In religion (Animals seem not to do it, and I don’t buy the concept that there is a chimp religion). Given all this, it means that those people a million years ago had religion.

I can actually add, that on my blog we have evidence of H. erectus building an altar, so not only do we have the above argument for the old existence of religion we have the fact that a parent species, H. erectus also was capable of engaging in religion. That then takes us back to 2 million years for the possible existence of religion because that is about when the first H. erectus is found. Thus, I find an Adam living 10,000 years ago or so to be such a Johnny-come-lately as to be incapable of actually performing the role that the bible says he performed–sin entering the world through him (there are some mighty brutal killings in the archaeological record using stone tools, long long before Adam lived).

So, yeah, this is stuff people here don’t want to consider. But I really don’t care if no one follows me down this path. But it is the only path that matches classical views of Christian theology with the scientific data. But I haven’t gone completely unnoticed out there:

" But it does seem unlikely that the present human race can be traced to a single male-female pair. As one example of the difficulty this idea faces, development of the present diversity of alleles of human histocompatibility genes from such a pair would require between five and ten million years.37 Unless we want to consider “Adam and Eve” the biological ancestors of all hominids, and perhaps even pongids, we must rule this out. "George L Murphy, Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ, Evolution, and Original Sin, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, June 2006, p. 114

It is interesting to me at least, Murphy’s reference 37 says in part, " Glenn R. Morton does date the biblical Adam over five million years ago. See, e.g., his Adam, Apes and Anthropology (Dallas, TX: DMD Publishing,1997). " Thus he acknowledges at least one person who has followed the data. And only in this way can we match the genealogical data and still believe in a single pair.

And amazingly, to me at least, knowing George, he actually tiptoes a wee bit towards my direction when he says:

It is important to recognize, however, that the creatures described by the biblical term ’adham, “human being,” cannot automatically be equated with the species Homo sapiens or with “anatomically modern humans.” The first humans in a theological sense were hominids in whom reason, self-awareness, and communication had developed to an extent that it was somehow possible for them to be aware of God’s address to them.” George L Murphy, Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ, Evolution, and Original Sin, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, June 2006, p. 114

Evidence is evidence and it needs cogent coherent systematic explanation. Currently Johnny-come-lately Adam appears to not do the trick.

Edited to add. Here we have Mevin telling me this is cutting edge if I can pull it off, and Bill telling me it is nothing new. lol. one can’t win no matter which direction one goes. lol

My reading of this PNAS paper from 2014 suggests the opposite is true. It seems that symbolic ritualistic practices, especially burial, were first discovered more than a century ago and were long associated with rituals until some questions were raised recently. The PNAS paper seeks to confirm the intentional ritualistic nature of the burials.

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Sadly reading one article won’t give you the lay of the land in any field of endeavor. Yes, 100 years ago, people thought Neanderthals had a concept of death, but in the 1960s Louis Binford came in and killed off the Man the Hunter phase brought about by Robert Ardrey’s 1961 book, and said fossil man was a scavenger. He achieved his goal by the technique of mere doubting. Sally Binford in the late 60s and early 70s began attacking Neanderthal burials as bunk, And then in 1989 Robert Gargett published “Grave Shortcomings” which did the same Binford treatment to burials and loads of people jumped off the Neanderthal burial band wagon. While the article was scorched by some, it did have the effect of once again pushing Neanderthals to the position of ‘other than us’.

Yes, you can always find someone who will say what you want to hear in anthro–it is one of the maddening things about it. To understand it correctly one really needs to read loads on it and consider the arguments from both sides and then make up your mind. Anthro ain’t physics where experiments can prove one right or wrong. Back in the 1990s I studied the out of Africa and multiregionalism. There were advocates of both positions but in the 90s, multiregionalism was a small minority of anthropologists. I felt the multiregionalists had the best arguments with the data and argued for it against the majority. It turns out, DNA proves the old Out of Africa theory is wrong because it allowed NO interbreeding with Neanderthals. Christ Stringer said no fertile offspring come come from that. But, if you read one or two articles you could find someone to agree with whatever position you wanted to have. It is just the nature of Anthro. So advice, don’t read one article and think you have it all down.

edited to add, during the 1800s no one thought such a brutish apelike creature as Neanderthal could ever have engaged in burial. So, the tides shift with the times in Anthro

Statement like that, and the claim that “those few who did, had to temper their statements to get published” are things that hurt your credibility. I am sure the history of thought and dispute about Neanderthal ritual is complex; it would have to be, given the nature of the topic. I would expect robust scholarly debate, and my post didn’t suggest anything otherwise. What is less clear to me is whether your summaries are accurate, and your obnoxious responses to @Bill_II don’t add confidence.

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In a sense my view but its with Adam and Eve being among the first humans to enter in the Garden which was an oasis and thus made contact with God Himself. Very interesting to read on Neanderthal and H. Erectus reforming cultic rituals long before humans, got me thinking on a lot about that. I just got the book “God: A Human History” by Reza Aslan and it goes into the evolution of our conception of who and what God is. haven’t fully gotten into the book yet as I’m busy reading a book on the history of Reconstruction in the South Post-Civil War but so far it seems to line up with what you have said so far.

My search was limited to no older than 2015 so I wouldn’t have seen that one. When you said

That piqued my interest as I know I have read this and I don’t delve into paleoanthropology that much. So I did a quick search to see if possibly things have change since 2015, which is a long time ago, and sure enough it seems they have. Also there have been several threads which touched on this subject here.

It is common knowledge for those that follow paleoanthropology. Not so much for those that are only interested in theology. Different areas of interest for sure. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. And how obscure can it be if I know about it? BTW, I think homo naledi were religious and they pre-date the Neanderthals.

The problem is not the evidence it is the assumption that Bible has to be “true” in a scientific sense. That is what makes it a force fit.

Just a bit of advice … Follow your own advice and break it up into multiple, shorter posts. This is a discussion forum, not a personal blog space. When you make a post that runs into thousands of words, people simply don’t read it. If you want to get some eyeballs on what you have to say, better make it much shorter than before. (Trying to be helpful, not critical.)

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Aren’t you quick to judge! Im just repeating what I am reading in the Anthro literature. Goren-Inbar found the Berekhat Ram figurine and Mania found the religious site of Bilzingleben

"While we are on the above subject: another recently discovered example of Middle Palaeolithic sophistication is the flint cortex plaque from Quneitra, Golan Heights, Israel. It was excavated a few years ago by Dr. Naama Goren-Inbar, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She described the find briefly in 1990, and later confided to your editor that she ‘dreads finding more such controversial objects’ because her colleagues then tend to question her credibility. Your editor finds it disturbing that majority view in archaeology can be enforced in this way. It is not the only such example to come to his attention, the German archaeologist Dr. Dietrich Mania, of Bilzingsleben fame, also confided to him that he is unwilling to publish the rest of his cultural material from that site because of the hostile reception of his previous reports. A senior american archaeologists discovered that his peers rejoiced in the fact that during his entire working life, they had collectively been able to ‘keep them out of all the mainstream journals’ through the refereeing system. Are these isolated cases, or symptoms of a more widespread attitude?"Robert G. Bednarick, “Middle Palaeolithic Engraving,” The Artefact 1996, 19:104

Rejecting what we don’t like to hearis a human problem. Here is another view of it in controlled circumstances: Maybe this hurts my credibility as well, but I do like how you are prepping to reject anything I say, even if the data says what I say it does.

When students who were either for or against capital punishment were shown the results of recent studies, one confirming, the other challenging their existing beliefs, both groups readily accepted only that study that confirmed their existing beliefs. In another experiment, participants were initially told a story that showed that a risk-taker was a very good firefighter, while another firefighter who was much more cautious was mediocre at the job. Given this information, the group concluded that risk-takers were better firefighters. They clung to this view even when told that the stories were just made up. Again, a magician performed fake psychic phenomena before a group of students. Afterwards they were asked whether they believed he had psychic powers, and about two thirds of the students believed that he did. They were then told that he was just a good magician and that he was faking it and he had no psychic powers. But about half of the students still believed that he really did have them.” Lewis Wolpert, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, (New York: W. W. Norton & co., 2006), p. 21

Thanks Jay, but each part is so long that if added together would mean few read the end. Each is a subject to themselves, religion, brain size, genetics, paleontology. Besides, it takes me a lot of time to write these things in between re-researching the issues so I can be sure my knowledge is updated and answering questions here. I posted what I posted above to start the discussion there. If no one want to go look at more data, more power to them. I am about to put out in a day or two put out data on brain size. You don’t have all that I had to give, nor even the most important example. We stopped corresponding before I got to it.

Edited to ask, This is a place for ideas to be presented isn’t it Jay? or have I misjudged Biologos’s site?

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Lol, well it seems that there is something new for you. See, even listening to heretics can be a learning experience.

Bill wrote of the Scripture:

The problem is not the evidence it is the assumption that Bible has to be “true” in a scientific sense. That is what makes it a force fit.

Ok, Bill, if you want to believe that a factually false book holds the key to metaphysical reality, God, heaven, salvation etc, that is certainly your right. But it does seem very logical or wise to me.

If a guy comes up to sell you a treasure map and you see that it starts in a town situated on Antarctica, logically one would question the legitimacy of the map. What I see so many doing is as if the seller of this treasure map says, “well it isn’t accurate Cartesically, but it will still lead you to a treasure” and the buyer replying, “yeah, I think you are right”

I think the proper response to the treasure map seller, is to walk away. It is the logical and wise thing to do because if the map starts at an impossible place, it doesn’t seem likely to lead anywhere useful. Same with the Bible and Christianity. If it starts with a nonsensical creation story, then it says to me, that God is clueless.

The point is it wasn’t new to me. Guess it is new to you. So far I haven’t seen anything new in what you are presenting.

It is completely logical when you realize the Bible only records the redemption story. You want to force natural history into the Bible and that isn’t going to fit.

@gbob, we certainly we welcome you putting forth you ideas, but it is not a site to self-publish books. Jay’s suggestion that you focus on one topic at a time will probably give you more participation than a lengthy post with multiple topics for discussion.
As our guidelines state, this is a forum for discussion and dialogue, not presentation of papers. That said, your idea is interesting and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
It sort of reminds me of the discussion on Dr. Venema’s presentation in Adam and the Genone. If I recall correctly, his reading of the data that there has not been a narrow bottleneck of less that 10,000 or so individuals of modern humans in the last 200,000 years was vindicated, though after discussion additional analysis does not rule out (though it also does not indicate) a bottleneck of 2 individuals in the far more distant past of earlier hominids than modern humans.
It will be interesting to see how your ideas integrate with that data.

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Hi Jpm, I am trying to focus on one topic at a time, right now it is religion among the hominids going way back in time. But I am asked a lot of questions about why anyone would want to see science in the Bible, so I have to answer those questions. lol, and now you raise genetics, which I will get into in about a week, but you are correct there is nothing that rules out a single pair in the way distant past, at least that I have seen, but I do want to talk about that later if you don’t mind,

When I have time, I will look for that book.