Tuesday, June 19, 2012

About Race, Human Populations and the Purpose of Mankind

Alice C. Linsley

Part 7: Answers to Questions about Race and Population
This continues the series "Answers to Hign Schoolers' Questions About Genesis."

Part 1: About God
Part 2: About Adam and Eve
Part 3: About the Serpent
Part 4: About the Flood
Part 5: About the Earth
Part 6: High Schoolers Wonder "Why Abraham?"

Q:  How did the different races come about?

A:  The modern conception of race is not biblical.  This explains why the term "race" does not appear in the Bible. In Genesis 25, we find the words goyim and leumim (peoples) to describe two peoples who descend from Jacob by Rebekah. In the New Testament, the Greek word ethnos is used for peoples or nations. The Hebrew goyim is used to distinguish non-Jews from Jews. Both goyim and ethnos refer to peoples or nations, and not to races.

There is a growing consensus that the term "race" is misleading.  Today molecular geneologists speak instead of DNA types called "haplogroups."  Haplogroups characterize the early migrations of human populations and can be used to connect ancestry with a geographical region or regions. A haplogroup identifies the descendants of a single individual who first showed a particular single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP. An SNP is a point on the DNA where a single base changes. This SNP change is passed through generations of the family, clan or caste, and can be used to genetically define populations. Individuals with the same genetic SNP mutation or "marker" can be linked back to the population where the marker first made an appearance. Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups have different haplogroup designations. The Y-chromosome traces a paternal haplogroup and the Mt-DNA traces a maternal haplogroup.

Genesis does not tell us about all the haplogroups. It only tells us about the peoples in haplogroup A, and specifically haplogroup A3b2, a subclade of haplogroup A3. Haplogroup A is the lineage of all human males, traced by the Y-chromosome. This means that the men named in Genesis have the oldest known human ancestry on the male ancestor's side.

Y-Chromosome haplogroup D is believed to represent the Great Coastal Migration from Arabia to Southeast Asia. It is found at high frequency among populations in Tibet, the Japanese Archipelago, and the Andaman Islands. The red hairy-faced Ainu of Japan, and the black Jarawa and Onge of the Andaman Islands who have no facial hair, are notable in that they possess almost exclusively haplogroup D chromosomes.

Mitochondrial Eve and her Daughters

A maternal ancestor to all modern humans called "Mitochondrial Eve" lived about 200,000 years ago. This conclusion is based on analyses of mitochondrial DNA. Found in the energy-producing centers of cells, mitochondrial DNA is passed down the maternal line, and can be traced back to one woman. Both males and females inherit the Mt-DNA from their mothers, but only females pass it on to their children. The people of Genesis are grouped according to their clan mothers: J1, N, X and L1, L2 and L3.  In these haplogroups we find every "racial" feature: black, white and red skin tones; brown, blue and green eyes; wooly, wavy and straight hair; facial hair and no facial hair; slanted or almond-shaped eyes and round eyes; high foreheads and low foreheads, thick lips and thin lips, prominent noses and flat noses, etc.

All Mt-DNA haplogroups found outside of Africa are descendants of haplogroup N, its sibling haplogroup M, or Mt-DNA haplogroup X.  M, N and X are the haplogroups that define migrations out of Africa. The Ainu are in Haplogroup X. They originated in the Nile Valley and spread to Japan, Finland and the Atlantic Coast of Canada.

The fact that the Hamites and Semites of Genesis cannot be separated linguistically or genetically, or in molecular genealogy, underscores that the Biblical text is speaking of one people in different ruling houses, not of different races. The lines of Ham and Shem intermarried according to analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of Abraham's ancestors.

Q:  If Adam and Eve's children married each other, isn't that the sin of incest?

A:  Incest is universally defined as sexual relations between parent and child, not between siblings. In the culture of Abraham's Horite people, the preferred marriage arrangement for the first wife was a half-sister.  Sarah was Abraham's first wife and his half-sister Sarah. Jochebed was Moses' father's half-sister and his first wife. However, sex between parent and child was taboo and forbidden. Such perversion was regarded as so despicable that it was used to slander Lot's Ammonite and Moabite descendants (Gen. 19: 30-38).

Q:  How did the whole earth's population come from just Adam and Eve?

A:  The Bible does not say that all human populations came from Adam and Eve. It does state that all who live today are of "one blood," but the first man, who would have lived millions of years ago, has no living descendants. His Y-chromosome became exist. In other words, he died without a lasting heritage. This is as we should expect based on Genesis 2:17, where we read that the Lord told the man, "For on the day that you eat it you shall surely die."

It is also not possible to say that the whole earth's population came from Noah's descendants after the flood.

Noah lived about 2490-2415 BC when the Sahara experienced a wet period (Karl W. Butzer 1966). Noah's life corresponds to the end of the 4th Dynasty in Egypt between about 2613 – 2494 BC. He may have seen the completion of the Great Sphinx at Giza. Before Noah, the Great Pyramids at Giza were built for the Pharaohs Menkaure, Khafre and Khufu. These monuments show no evidence of having been flooded.

The American archaeologist and Orientalist James Henry Breasted (186 –1935) was director of the Haskell Oriental Museum at the University of Chicago. The following Dynastic timeline follows Breasted.

Alignment of Egypt Chronology with Genesis
First Intermediate Period

    2475-2445 BC: 7th - 8th Dynasties 
    This is the time period of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth.

    2445–2160 BC: 9th -10th Dynasties
    This is the time period of Arpachshad, Salah, Eber and Peleg and Joktan.

Middle Kingdom

    2160-2000 BC: 11th Dynasty
    This is the time period of Nahor the Elder, Terah, Nahor and Abraham.

    2000-1788 BC: 12th Dynasty
    This is the time period of Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph.

Q:  Did other families exist on earth at the same time that Adam and Eve lived?

A: In the Bible, Adam and Eve are the archetypal first parents; the original couple. As first parents, they would have lived in Africa 4-5 million years ago. There is no evidence of others humans on Earth at that time.

That said, when Genesis speaks of Adam and Eve it speaks symbolically, not historically. On the other hand, Cain and Seth lived in historical time, between BC 2417-2360, long after the first couple. It is apparent that Genesis tells us truth in two distinct ways: through symbol or archetype, as in dreams, and through events in time and space, as in history. Humans have always grasped truth by both timeless symbol and real time experience.

Q:  Did all the peoples of the earth come from Noah's three sons after the flood?

A:  No.  Before, during and after Noah's time diverse ancient populations were scattered around the globe, mainly at the equator and meridians ranging equally distant from the axis point at one quarter of the circmference of the earth.

Credit: Jim Larison

The image below shows that the alignment forms a perfect circle halfway between the center and the outer edge of the projection.

Credit: Jim Larison

The evidence simply does not support the interpretation that all the peoples of the earth were destroyed in a catastrophic global flood and that the earth was repopulated by Noah's descendants. Consider the following population estimates by urban center between 2400 and 2200 BC, the time when Noah's flood would have occurred:

Memphis, Egypt - 32,000 inhabitants

Lagash, Iraq - 60,000 inhabitants

Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan - 40,000 inhabitants

Mari, Syria -50,000 inhabitants

China - Baodun is the largest settlement, covering an area of about 373 miles. There is no evidence of catastrophic destruction by flooding at six Baodun settlements straddling the Min River in central Sichuan province. The Min is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River.

There is no evidence that any of these peoples were wiped out by a worldwide flood and that all the people living on earth today are descendants of Noah's and his Afro-Asiatic sons.

That said, most of the peoples living in the region shown in red do appear to be genetically and linguistically related to the Afro-Asiatics.

Q:  How many generations are from Adam and Eve to Abraham?

A:  That is impossible to answer this because we cannot know when Adam and Eve existed. We also cannot say exactly how many generations from Cain to Abraham since the Genesis Kings lists do not correspond to generations, but to the ascension and reign of rulers.

Between 100,000 and 500 BC the average man lived less than 40 years and the average woman lived less than 38 years. These life spans would have been longer for rulers due to their superior diets and access to medical resources. So it is conceivable that the rulers named in Genesis lived relatively long lives, with the exception of those who died by assassination or in battle. We might estimate their live spans to be between 60 and 80 years (average would be 70). This would mean that a dynastic line of a depth of 10 rulers would represent between 300 and 400 years. It is difficult to be more specific without knowing if the heir is the firstborn of the sister-bride or the cousin-bride.

The following factors must be considered when trying to establish the time span from Cain to Abraham. 

1. One factor that must be considered is whether a ruler is the firstborn of the sister-bride or the cousin/niece bride. The sister-bride was the first wife and the wife of the ruler's youth. The cousin/niece bride was the wife that the heir married before ascending the throne. For the sister-wife's firstborn son, the father's age would be between 18 and 25 (median would be 21). So we can estimate that generally the firstborn son of the sister-wife would have been born when his father was about 21. For the cousin/niece bride's firstborn son the father's age would be between 45 and 60 (median would be 52). So we can estimate that the cousin-bride produced an heir or priest (for her father, not her husband) when her husband was about age 52.

2. A modular formula governed the order of marriage. This is alluded to in the account of Laban's insistance that the older sister (Leah) must marry before the younger (Rachel). The deliberation about who may marry whom involves a cycle of between 9 and 12. In this equation X represents firstborn son, and the possible matches are between 9 and 12 blood related females, but they must be considered in a fixed order of rotation. There will never be a 13th possibility. A bride must be selected from the 9-12 females and may be either a half-sister or a cousin, usually patrilineal, but sometimes matrilineal. The bride for the next son will be considered in the rotation, beginning with the next female in the rotation after the last match was made.

The number 9 is based on the evidence that Abraham's ancestors were organized in groups of 3 tribes that were comprised of 3 clans.  This means that there were 9 clans from which a consanguine bride could be chosen. The number 12 is based on the evidence of 12 tribe sets among the Afro-Arabians (12tribes of Jacob, 12 tribes of Ishmael) each with a celestial animal totem, the 12 moon phases, and the rising of 12 decan stars during the Egyptian summer.  These rising stars were regarded as messangers of the rising deity Horus.  This symbolism stands behind Jesus' appointment of 12 Apostles.

3. We must take into consideration the fact that we don't know how long the rulers of Genesis lived.  Noah is said to have lived 950 years. Methuselah lived 969 years. Methuselah's son, Lamech the Younger, lived 777 years. Terah, who was labeled an idol worshipper, lived longer than Jacob by 58 years. The numbers assigned to the Genesis rulers are symbolic and reflect the Afro-Arabian numerology which was linked to their astronomical observations. Clearly, symbolic numbers cannot be used to determine life spans. This is where we must turn to the evidence of paleontology, the study of ancient bones.

Q:  Why were the men in Genesis so old?

A. The life spans assigned to the kings of Genesis are symbolic. This was a common practice in the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Ancient clay tablets have been discovered that recount the greatness of Akkadian rulers and assign huge spans to the kings, suggesting a immortal nature. However, all these rulers lived normal live spans for rulers of the time. The average life span for rulers was between 73 and 75 years.

Paleontology indicates that the average lifespan of commoners was shorter. The life span of peoples living in the Nile Valley, Turkey and Mesopotamia during the time of the Genesis rulers was about 35 years for males and 30 years for females. This data corresponds to peoples in the Late Paleolithic (BC 30,000 to 9,000) when males lived about 34 years and females about 30 years.  During the Mesolithic (BC 9,000 to 7,000) males lived about 33 years and females about 31 years.  During the Early Neolithic (BC 7,000 to 5,000) males lived about 34 years and females about 30 years.

St. Jerome notes: "I am reviewing carefully the places in Scripture where I might find old age mentioned for the first time. Adam lived for 930 years, yet he is not called an old man. Methuselah's life was 969 years, and he is not called an old man. I am coming down all the way to the flood, and after the flood for almost three thousand years, and I find no one who has been called old. Abraham is the first, and certainly he was much younger than Methuselah." (Homilies on the Psalms 21)

Jerome observes that Abraham is the first man described as "old" in Genesis. Those who lived before him are not called old because the numbers assigned to them are symbolic. That the numbers are not to be taken literally is supported by the assignment of 930 years to Adam, the archetypal first Father.

Q:  Why did God create Mankind?

A: The answer to this question varies from religion to religion. Islam teaches in the Quran that Mankind was created to live in submission to Allah and for the purpose of worshipping Allah. Qur'an 51:56 states, "I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship."

The Jinn are divided into followers of Islam and followers of the abased Iblis (a sort of fallen angel). The Jinn were commanded to bow down before Adam, but Iblis refused. God said, "What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?" He replied, "I am better than him. You created me from fire and You created him from clay." God said, "Descend from heaven. It is not for you to be arrogant in it. So get out! You are one of the abased." Surah 7 (al-A`raf), 11-13.

Genesis 1 and 2 tell us that Mankind was created by a divine act and fashioned in the image of the Creator. Christians believe that Mankind was created to enjoy perfect fellowship with the Trinity, in whose image and likeness we were made. When we seek God, are renewed in our nature through Jesus Christ, and progress in sanctity by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we carry the created world with us to its renewal. When we fail in this, the created world suffers with us as well (Rom. 8:19-22).

Related reading:  YEC Dogma is NOT BiblicalThe Marriage and Ascendancy Pattern of Abraham's People; The Nile-Japan Ainu Connection; Thoughts on Calculating the Dates of the Patriarchs; The Shock of Mohammad Atta's Afterlife; Lifespans of Archaic Peoples: John Calvin on God's Motive in Creation

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