Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Facebook Conversation on Creationism

Alice C. Linsley

In the following Facebook thread some friends asked excellent questions and I asked their permission to post this at JUST GENESIS. This is the sort of conversation that can help people sort through the issues.

The conversation arose in response to this article about the discovery of trillions of stone artifacts in Africa. The article was posted by a Christian geologist. If humans have been on the earth only 5000-6000 years, they could not have produced the volume of work found at the stone working sites in Africa. At 40 million artifacts per year, it would take a population of 100,000 individuals 100,000 years to produce just 4 trillion artifacts.

  • Can there be a a conversation or a dialectic between the facts that make for one's faith and the narrative of "Genesis" that makes for the faith of "creationists" regarding the age of the earth and the origin of man. Can such a dialogue be possible?  - Sidney Davis

  • Alice Linsley Everything is possible, Sidney, but some conversations are less possible than others. Defining the term "creationist" is where we have to begin. There are different groups: young earth creationism, which is neither scientific nor Biblical; theistic creationism which is very popular with Evangelicals who accept evolutionary theories, some of which have no material support; old earth creationists who believe the Creator initiated creative or generative processes that resulted in humans, and old earth creationists who believe that humans represent a special creation, a sort of crown on the creation pyramid. Some of these are mutually exclusive positions and a dialectic between them is virtually impossible. I find it a waste of time to discuss Genesis with people who believe that the earth is only 6000 years old.

  • Jarold Williams My brain is defective, and so my opinion is not an intellectual one. But I think it doesn't matter, nor will we ever know, how old or young the earth is. What does matter to me is that God created everything that exists.

  • Chris Ali I wonder if they considered in their estimate of 10,000 artifacts per person that people lived longer during that time? If one person made 100 artifacts per day in his life time he would actually end up making over 18 millions artifacts. So if they calculate 18 million artifacts per person to their 20 generations x 100,000 formula then the young earth proponents may be right.

  • Kelly Trafford Marshall What is your opinion, Alice?

  • Alice Linsley Jarold, the earth is billions of years old, and the universe is even older.

  • Alice Linsley Chris, there is no evidence that people lived longer in the times before Noah (c. 3000 BC). The numbers assigned to the rulers who lived before the deluge are symbolic. Lamech the Younger, the father of Noah, lived 777 years, for example. Lamech the Elder, his father-in-law, sought God's grace 7 times what his ancestor Kain received. As St. John Chrysostom recognized, the line of Cain received great mercy. Not only 7 fold for Cain, but 77 fold for Lamech the Elder (Gen. 4:24), and 777 in the case of Lamech the Younger (Gen. 5:31).

  • Alice Linsley Kelly, I am an old earth creationist who believes that humans are a special creation, which is why they appear suddenly as fully human about 4 million years ago. I believe that the unity of organic life is not explained by Darwin's theories, but by the reality that all things were made in and through the One who also sustains all things.

  • Kelly Trafford Marshall So with the family tree in scripture, how do you get to 4 million years?

  • Alice Linsley Adam and Eve in Genesis represent the founding parents of the "red" people from whom Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus come. However, later Biblical writers pose them as the first created humans. Adam comes from Ha-dam, meaning blood, red color. This is known to be an extremely ancient genetic line. It is associated with the R1b haplogroup which still has the largest concentration in Upper Nile and around Lake Chad. The Upper Nile and Lake Chad are were the Rulers named in Genesis 4 and 5 lived. Noah was a ruler int he region of Lake Chad, which is the only place on earth that claims to be his homeland - Bor-No (Land of Noah). See this map:

  • Alice Linsley The oldest human fossils are dated to about 3.8 million years. This genetic lineage is believed to be about 20,000 years. I believe it is older, possibly 100,000 years. The Genesis narrative suggests that Abraham had a distinctive red skin tone that is associated with other rulers in this lineage: Esau and David. Analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Edomites reveals that it is identical to that of Abraham's Nilotic ancestors. This is what would be expected if Abraham is a descendant of both Ham and Shem.

    The Edomites may have been kin to the red Nubians. The Shasu of Nubia also lived in Edom. The red skin tone is a more dominant trait in HG R1b. The majority of men in England, Scotland and Ireland are in this Haplogroup.

  • Chris Ali Alice. What about the next verse after Genesis 5:41 that says "after Noah was 500 years old"? Is that symbolic as well?

  • Alice Linsley Yes, Chris. Scholars recognize that the numbers of years assigned to rulers in the ancient world was symbolic on many levels. The Sumerian king lists assign reigns of thousands of years, for example. Longevity claims for only eight Sumerian kings totaled 241,200 years. The reign of the Persian king Zahhak was said to be 1000 years. We shouldn't get hung up on the ages of the Biblical rulers. The fact that the Genesis king lists reflect a practice this old, means we are dealing with authentic material.

  • Alice Linsley  Kelly, here is a fuller explanation.


  • Alice Linsley Kelly, Here is a fuller explanation about the millions of years between the first created humans and Kain.


  • Kelly Trafford Marshall That's fascinating, Alice. If I had been taught these things in my college religion classes, I would have stuck with it!

  • Chris Ali Thanks Alice. I will be reading these later on. I have one more question. Proponents of young earth say that the the scientific methods used to date things is not accurate. For example, carbon dating, etc. In your opinion how accurate or reliable are these methods?

  • Alice Linsley Radio carbon dating is one method of dating, and it is used along with other methods, such as stratography, a systematic approach that involves bracketing. The ranges are based on all the data gathered. When something is dated between 12,000 - 8,000 years BP (before the present), we can be confident in saying that it dates to about 10,000 PB.  I am often asked if carbon 14 dating is reliable. People who distrust science point to this one method and claim that it is flawed. They seem unaware that there are many methods by which to date rocks and fossils, and that carbon dating techniques are continuously refined. Besides radiometric dating, scientists analyze the breakdown of amino acids. This amino acid racemization dating method has been around since the early 1970s. Dating is also measured by changes in an object's magnetic field.

  • Chris Ali Why do some Christians think that the old earth theory supports the theory of evolution?

  • Alice Linsley Because they have been presented with a false choice between Biblical literalism (poorly done) or Darwinian evolution (poorly done). The problem is one of inadequate education, lack of information, and false interpretations. We have to get Genesis right. It is the foundation of the whole of the Bible. Young earth creationism has caused many people to reject the Bible. They do not see that it is a reliable source of information. See this: 

  • Darwin's observations of the complexity, diversity and...

  • Dwight Huthwaite Do you feel that time could have been impacted by the fall in addition to man and creation?

Alice Linsley Time was created by God for constancy. Just as some stars are fixed for navigation. Just as the sun always rises in the east for orientation. Just as the constellations move in a clock like pattern so that we can predict cycles. There are some features of creation which are fixed and beyond man's reach; beyond the ability of man to have an impact on them. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that time was affected by the Fall.


Jay Eppinga said...

Saw the Naturalist Historian article. Fascinating stuff. I'd like to play devil's advocate for a minute in the other direction, if I might. ;)
For a stone age of 2M years, artifacts estimated to be 4T, an estimated population of 100k, the average artifacts fabricated per person per year is 20. Plausible.
Raises some interesting questions in my mind.
Which groups within the population hunted, and which did not? We might assume that only men hunted, however out in the West, both men and women hunt (though more common for men to hunt).
Did the people who used the tools, also make the artifacts? Or, was the task of fabrication relegated to special guilds?
How quickly did each new artifact wear out, with continued use?
Were artifacts sharpened one or more times during the time of use, or discarded as soon as they became dull?
Define, 'artifact.' Are the bits of scrap generated during fabrication, considered artifacts in their own right?
Is there evidence of improvement in artifact design over time, or at least a diversity of designs for artifacts that do similar tasks?
What tools were used to make the artifacts, and where are they? What became of the 'stuff' that the artifacts acted upon, and where is that?
I assume that the artifacts are evidence of hunting, but are they also evidence of trade? Of domestic life?
Do artifacts like these worldwide, tell stories similar to hagliogroups and cognates?

Jay Eppinga said...

Actually that wasn't devil's advocate playing. I should have edited that first paragraph.

Alice Linsley said...

Good questions, Jay.

Primitive populations had both division of labor along gender lines and coordination of efforts between the sexes. Men tended to hunt and women tended to prepare what was hunted. When it came to scavenging and cultivation, both males and females were involved.

As for tools, initially this was probably done by both males and females, but tool making came to be the exclusive work of a caste within the community, as did metal work, ceramic, leather work, etc. at a later time.

These flaked and knapped stones are considered artifacts because they are located at specific tool making sites. The artifacts reflect different methods which suggests that the makers were creating tools for different purposes/uses. Most were cutting, scraping, or butchering tools. Also some were more suited to puncturing.

Similar stone artifacts have been found near major water sources in Europe, Siberia, Asia, Australia and the British Isles. These are not as old.

Jay Eppinga said...

RE: "Similar stone artifacts have been found near major water sources in Europe, Siberia, Asia, Australia and the British Isles. These are not as old."

This suggests that migrations outside of Africa occurred after the development of tools. Was tool development a factor in migrations, sort of prerequisite?

Alice Linsley said...

Favorite tools were taken along by people as they moved from place to place. Especially tools that had ritual use, such as knives used for scarification, tooth removal, and circumcision. These stone tools tended to have a high sodium content, which was useful in the prevention of infection.

A more significant factor in migration was climate change.

Jay Eppinga said...

Thanks Alice. Really appreciate the conversation.

Heh .. the reference to circumcision got me on yet another tangent, and I perused some of your articles on that.

Male circumcision is a BIG DEAL in my wife's country of origin, the Philippines. According to my esteemed wife, if you are not circumcised, then you are not a man.

I inquired about the local church's teaching in the matter (RC), since it has seemed to me for a long time that the New Testament shuns the necessity of the practice, opting instead for baptism. Indeed, a Roman Catholic source confirms that their denomination frowns on the practice as a continuing sacrament.

The thing about the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines though is that .. it's not the same as what you get from Rome. It's in communion with Rome, but it doesn't align on some things (e.g., crucifixions during Holy Week).

I wonder .. You mentioned the migration of Kushites into the Philippines. Might male circumcision be a Kushite influence rather than a Christian one?

- Jay

Alice Linsley said...

Both male and female circumcision appear to have originated in the area today called Sudan and this was part of ancient Kush.

Though circumcision has some health benefits, it is not required of Christians. Nor is scarification and the removal of front teeth (called Naak). The Christian's body is to be adorned by Christ. This is what St. Paul means when he speaks of "putting on Christ."

DMA said...

"A more significant factor in migration was climate change."

It seems a population at rest stays at rest until acted upon by an outside force:


Jay Eppinga said...

I should qualify that Mindanao is by no means culturally (and linguistically for that matter) monolithic. They've got Visayan, the aboriginal mountain people, Chinese, Muslims, Catholic, "Baptist" (a category rather than a denomination). My wife celebrates the Western New Year with a Chinese custom.

One of my friends, a linguist / missionary remarked at how diverse the languages are there. Two people on the same road may walk up to one another and strike up a conversation. Sometimes they come to a point where they can't understand one another, and so they start substituting words from different languages. If not Visayan, try the national language; if not that, try English; if not that, try Chinese or Portuguese, etc. They usually aren't aware of this.

Anonymous - Fascinating stuff. I'm smiling right now, and Alice knows why. I won't elaborate on why I'm smiling as that would take us off-topic for even the blog. :)


Alice Linsley said...

Thanks, DMA, or the link to this great article. The genetic charts are fascinating!

Cornwall and Devon clans separated by a river called "Tamar" and the two sides had ancient mining operations and stone tombs like those of the Kushan of Southern Europe and the rulers of Edom whose ancestors were "sent-away sons" from Kush (Nile Valley).

In addition to climate change, war, or natural disasters, the Bible identifies the additional factor of the Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern, whereby first born sons rule and other sons are sent away to establish territories o their own.