Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Making of Man

Alice C. Linsley

Number three of the "Nine Meaty Questions" is "Do you believe in evolution of Man, or was he created out of dust, fully formed?"

Answer: I believe that from the first appearance of Man about 3.5 million years ago, Man has been a special creation of God, made in the Divine Image and therefore unique among creatures. I believe that Mankind is part of a fixed order of creation, meaning that He experiences change in form but not in essence. Further, I believe that the survival and technological development of humans has been superintended in a personal way by the Creator and that the Bible is a reliable account of a certain group of humans (Afro-Asiatics) from whom Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became Incarnate according to an extraordinarily ancient expectation.

Question number three, as worded, assumes that evolution of Man and creation of Man are irreconcilable ideas. Yet many who say they believe the Bible think that Man "evolves" as a fully formed creation of God. There is a good deal of this thinking among Roman Catholics and Protestants who have been influenced by modernism.

Mairnéalach, a reader of Just Genesis has articulated this position very well. Here is her answer to the question: "This question poses a false dichotomy, because it wants to insist a man cannot be created out of dust nor fully formed if he evolved. This is not true. An evolved man is still made out of dust, and he is still fully formed, as long as God's breath is in him. If there were creatures who were genetic precursors to the first real man, then they were not men, not in God's image, nor fully formed. They were mere beasts, until God finished their full formation with the gift of his breath. This is why scripture speaks of ungodliness as being 'as a beast', because it is a rejection of the gift of God's breath, and an insistence on behaving in the crude manner that we were before he put his breath in us."

In this view, "genetic precursors" of Man are not human in the biblical sense, that is, they were not created in the image of God and given life by God's breath. The problem with this explanation is simply the lack of physical evidence for genetic precursors. Primate fossils can be classified as either human or ape if sufficient fossil remains are recovered, especially in cases where artifacts are found or there is evidence of cooking fires.

In other words, convergence evolution lacks substantive physical evidence, as even evolutionists admit. The nearly complete skulls of people who lived 160,000 years ago are, in the words of paleontologist Tim White, "like modern-day humans in almost every feature."[1] Roux, a French geneticist, has stated "Evolutionary convergence at the molecular level is presumed to be widespread, but is poorly documented."[2] Convergent evolution is an interpretation, not an unbiased presentation of data.

Were Adam and Eve the first parents, they would have been created around 4 million years ago. Yet the rulers listed in Genesis 4 and 5 can be placed in history, so there is a disconnect between the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Cain and Seth. This is critical to understanding Genesis correctly.

Randy Beard has written, "I have always been curious about the land of Nod. If Adam and Eve were the first man and woman that God created, who were the people in the land of Nod created by? Were they not created in the image of God? Why doesn't Genesis explore their creation or beginnings?"

Obviously Randy sees that there is a problem if we read Genesis as a history text. The land of Nod/Nok already had a name, a ruler and laws. He wonders if God created the Nokites. The answer is that God created all humans, but the author of Genesis isn't telling us about all humans, only about those from whom the Son of God would become incarnate. That Genesis provides a detailed list of rulers (Gen. 4 and 5) descending, not from Adam and Eve, but from Nok, means that the Nokites are numbered among Jesus' distant ancestors.

Lisa Ransdell asked a similar question: "I was just curious if you believe that people outside the garden were created? If so what is the purpose for the garden, Adam and Eve? Do you have any time frame that you believe this was all created or do you believe in evolution?"

Suppose that Cain and Seth came from the Garden of Eden. According to Genesis, the Land of Nod is "to the east of Eden" and Cain went there when he was banished after murdering his brother. The Nigerian philologist, Modupe Oduyoye, has noted that the Hebrew words for Nod נוד and Nok נוך are virtually identical. So the Garden would be to the west of Nok, which is in the Jos Plateau of Nigeria. That would place Eden somewhere near the largest monument ever found in Africa - Eredo, on the Atlantic coast of Nigeria, less than 150 miles from Ife, which according to the Yoruba, is where God created the First Parents. It is interesting to note also that the Hahm/Yoruba word for garden or virgin forest is "egan" which appears to be the etiology of the Hebrew Eden and cognate to the Hebrew "gan", meaning garden.

Some believe that the creation of Man out of dust is not to be taken literally. A reader made this comment: "This is a literary description: man is formed from the materials of this world and given God's image and life breath." But this explanation neglects the fact that the story of the creation of Man, and all ancient creation stories, come from pre-literate tribal peoples, so it can't be understood as simply a "literary description". Instead, the Adam and Eve story must be understood in the context of African origin-ancestor stories, which are the only close parallels to the story of Adam and Eve.

The motif of first man and first woman is very common in African sacred story. According to the Yoruba of Nigeria, the Supreme God, Olorun, molded the first man and first woman and breathed into them life and sent them forth to settle the earth. They say that the center of this creative activity was Ife, the dwelling place of their First Ancestors.

The story of the first ancestors of the Gikuyu contains many of the motifs found in Genesis. There is first Man Gikuyu and first Woman Mumbi. There is a Tree of Life and a sacred mountain. And the story involves the birth of nine daughters (interesting since the Afro-Asiatic number system was base nine.) As with all the African stories, these stories are clearly intended for oral transmission from generation to generation.


1 Read the report on the 160,000 year old Ethiopian fossils here.

2. Roux et al, Structural analysis of the nurse shark (new) antigen receptor (NAR): Molecular convergence of NAR and unusual mammalian immunoglobulins, found here.

Related reading:  YEC Dogma is NOT Biblical; Theories of Creation: An overview


Mairnéalach said...

Alice- there is ample physical evidence for transitional forms. However, you and me agree that behavior (e.g. cooking fires, etc.) is the marker between man and ape. Sometimes I wonder if our disagreement is a tempest in a teapot.

You really missed my point about what constitutes "full formation" as a man-- and that is the breath of God. A creature is a beast (unformed) until he gets God's breath- then he is a man (truly, fully, formed). As a result of missing my point, you mischaracterized my argument and wrote it off to modernism.

By the way, pre-moderns were comfortable with the idea of creatures changing. To what extent Darwinism is an idol, it is modern by accident of history, but an ancient would have been a functional Darwinist by saying that the earth was self-existent. Plenty of ancients did, which means that modernism per se is not the problem. The heresy lies not in method of mechanics, but in the failure to attribute Christly mastery to the ongoing process of creation. The Darwinist gets plenty of mechanics correct. Idolators can do complex math, win military battles, connect the dots rightly, etc. They just fail to give God glory for his, or their own, works.

And finally, I'm a man, not a woman. On that note, for the record, and because no one in particular asked me, I do believe the rib account is a stylized, primeval memory revealed by God, rather than a journalistic account. I believe it is God revealing His purpose to us in His creation of sexual supplementarity, rather than attempting to tell us how many inches long his scalpel was when he performed the ribectomy.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Wow! I'm so sorry. I don't know why I assumed that you were a woman, and I apologize if I have misrepresented your viewpoint. Thanks for clarifying.

Down with the flu, so I'll have to provide a fuller reply later. Best wishes!

Mairnéalach said...

May our Physician be with you in mind, body and spirit through your flu. Please get well. Once again, thank you for your anthropologically informed insights, which are so sorely lacking in the Church.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Mairnéalach, thank you. If you are on Facebook, please consider joining the international group The Bible and Anthropology.