Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Genesis Tells Us About Creation

Alice C. Linsley

The book of Genesis is used by young earth creationists to calculate the age of the earth, but Genesis can’t be used this way. Genesis doesn’t tell us how old the earth is. Bishop Usher’s calculations, based on the genealogical information, is flawed because he didn’t understand that some of the segments are telescopic, and that Adam and Eve are mythological first parents. He also didn’t realize that the kinship pattern revealed in Genesis 4 and 5 is the kinship pattern of Abraham’s African ancestors who lived only about 8000 years ago.

Genesis is regarded as irrelevant by macro-evolutionists (most of whom have never studied the text) because they think that it requires belief in six consecutive 24-hour days of creation. St. Augustine, an African bishop, believed each “yom” was an unspecified eon of time since this use of the word yom is found elsewhere in the Bible (as in the phrase "the day of the Lord").

At the risk of getting slammed by both macro-evolutionists and young earth creationists, I will briefly state what Genesis does tell us.

Genesis tells us that God created in an orderly fashion over a period of time and according to a plan. It is the work of science to discover that order and that plan. It is not the work of Bible scholars, although scholars of faith will have a fairly good idea about the plan. They will be waiting at the top of the mountain when the scientists finally arrive there.


Heather said...

I'm a recent reader of your blog and am interested in how anthropological data fits into the Genesis account. I was wondering if you had any theories about other Homo species (Homo neanderthalensis, H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, etc.) and how they fit (or don't fit) into the Genesis account. The only half-way reasonable accounts I have heard are from Reasons to Believe's Faz Rana (sp?) who basically claims Neanderthals (and other Homo species) were without the image of god, not human, and not any smarter than the great apes.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Welcome to Just Genesis! I hope that you will visit often. Your comment is interesting.

Genesis offers no data about early humans except the proposition that humans were created last and that they alone are made in the image of the Creator God. This is supported by science as we know that humans are late comers to planet earth. The uniqueness of humans among the creatures is also supported by observation. We have reason and can think critically about problesm, we have oral and written communication, a sense of humor and are able to laugh at ourselves (homo ludens).

As for the Neanderthals, they either died out, or more likely, they were absorbed into other human populations. Re-evaluation of the data concerning Neaderthals suggests that they were creative, communicative, married within their clans, and buried their dead with solemn ceremony, believing evidently that death is not the end.

Even the 3 million year fossil remains found in east Africa and most recently in Cameroon indicate humans, as these walked upright, had oppositional thumbs, human dentition, they shared food, and there is evidence of tools and campfires.

The Genesis geneaological data indicates that Abraham's ancestors were living in central Africa about 10 thousand years ago and there is actually a good deal of information about the central African populations from the time of Noah.

Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are not to be read as historical accounts. The first historical persons we meet are in Gen. 4 (Cain) and 5 (Seth) and their brides, who were the daughters of Nok. These persons can't be said to have lived more than 12 thousand years ago, at the earliest.

Heather said...

So, if I understand correctly, you consider any fossils of Homo species before 12,000 years ago to be 'outside' of any genealogical records of Genesis? But do you consider these other species to be human, to be made in the image of God? If so, do they then fit somewhere between Adam and Cain? I suppose you would then consider Adam to be a symbolic rather than literal/historical figure? I was thinking along this line a while ago but then was told that if Adam wasn't an actual historical individual person, then it would mean that he couldn't be mankind's federal head and therefore the idea that mankind is under the guilt of Adam's sin would have no merit. ??? What are your thoughts?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Homo fossil remains before 12,000 years are physical evidence for the presence of humans on earth before the time of Cain and Seth. Why would these humans not created in God's image? We don't know when the first human couples arrived on earth, but the evidence indicates that humans appeared rather suddenly around 3.5 million years ago. From the beginning humans were humans, if one judges by the indicators that paleoanthropologists use.

Genetics supports this picture also. Mitochondrial samples indicate the possibility of 4 or 5 original sets of Adam and Eve. (If you were the Creator and you wanted to insure the success of a species, wouldn't you create more than one original set of parents?)

Linguistics also supports this picture. The Afro-Asiatic language group of the peoples in Genesis is one of about 17 language groups. The groups are classified separately because they did not evolve from a single proto-language. This is something that macro-evolutionists haven't been able to fit into their scheme and so they generally ignore the linguistic evidence.

I consider Adam to be a symbolic rather than an historical figure. Genesis itself supports this as Adam's name is an etymological aetiology (See essay on Hermann Gunkel posted on Sept. 15). The names Adah amd Eve are not real names such as we have listed in the begats of Gen. 4 and 5 and 11.

Paul himself sees Adam in a Platonic sense as the eternal Form or Idea of Man. Many in the ancient world believed that the eternal Idea is more real than the historical because the historical passes away. The only way that Adam can in fact be federal head is an an Idea in the platonic sense. This is why the Apostle Paul speaks of the first Adam as having brought sin into the world while Jesus Christ the Perfect Adam brings redemption and salvation. Read this:

To tell the Gospel authentically, we must draw on both the mythical and the historical. That is why in the Hebrew Adam parallels Nok (the first historical father found in Genesis) in Psalm 8:5.

Thanks again for the terrific comments!

Anonymous said...

Linguistics also supports this picture. The Afro-Asiatic language group of the peoples in Genesis is one of about 17 language groups. The groups are classified separately because they did not evolve from a single proto-language. This is something that macro-evolutionists haven't been able to fit into their scheme and so they generally ignore the linguistic evidence.

Uhm, ... would You kindly care to expound upon this thought in greater detail? -- You're not by any chance suggesting that linguistical polyarchy indicates biological polyarchy, ... or are You? :-\ `cuz if You were, than that would make us two of a kind, and it scares the life outta me >:)

The world that was all of one language was the innitial proto-Afro-Asiatic one, which later split and evolved into numerous kindred languages, cultures and civilisations ... but -as You've already said here-, there's just no "proto-language" per se ...

... But aren't we two wrong, -assuming I understand You correctly here-? What has language got to do with anything? Cute little monkeys didn't possess it, so ... it only came much, much later into the picture ...

The current monarchical scientific world-view I find deeply curious and intriguing: they believe in a monarchical Universe (Big Bang), monarchical Life (common descent from a single unicellular organism that lived a few billions yrs back), one chromosomal Adam, a mitochondrial Eve, etc. -- I mean, it just goes on and on ... language, however, doesn't seem to fit into this cathegory ... not that it should either ...

Well, anyway, I await Your response


Alice C. Linsley said...

Never fear, Lucian. We are only human after all!

Language is fundamental to being human and yet we don't understand how we come by it or why there should be so many different languages.

There are 14 main language groups within the Indo-European family alone and each of these main groups has sub-groups or dialects.

Then there are 16 other families, each with main groups and sub-groups. Comparative linguistics looks for connections between languages within families and between languages in different families. The discipline has had considerable success, most recently in demonstrating that Ket (a language of Siberia) and Navaho (a language of the southwest of the USA) are cognate languages.

The Afro-Asiatic languages are the oldest known languages. In this group we have literally thousands of languages and dialects. The connections between these languages tell us a good deal about the worldview of the Afro-Asiatics. There are many connections between Hausa, Amharic, Chadic, Arabic, Hebrew, Sankrit, and even Dravidian.
For example, the Falasha of Ethiopia call their harvest festival "Ceki linga" and the new moon festival "Sarki". These words correlate to the Vedic "lingum" and religious festival of "Sakti".

There is much we don't know about human origins, but the facts should be allowed to speak for themselves, not forced into an obsolete model.