Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"I am a Christian but am in a muddle over beliefs regarding origins"

MD (copy to CED blog)

Thanks for your message asking questions about creation/ evolution matters. As is my policy, I will copy this reply to my blog CED, with your personal details changed/deleted and other changes, as I did with at least one of your previous private messages.

----- Original Message -----
From: MD
To: stephen jones
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2005 7:40 PM
Subject: questions about morton (sorry for the double)

MD>Dear Mr. Jones,
>
>I apologize first for the double emails. I've had a lot on my mind lately and really need your experience and fellowship as you seem to be quite well read in these matters. As I believe I've stated before, I am a Christian but am in a muddle over beliefs regarding origins lately. Namely ours. It seems each way I turn there is someone with a differing opinion. I came across several postings at the ASA and I know you're familiar with Glenn Morton. I'd always thought Hugh Ross was shooting pretty straight with his models but what do you make of it after reading this?:
>
>http://www.asa3.org/archive/evolution/199609/0215.html

Thanks for the link. But the Jinmium site that Morton in 1996 prematurely accepted as 75 kya (kya = 1,000 years ago) turned out to be less than 10 kya:

Science Daily. Source: CSIRO Australia Date: 1998-05-29 Tests Reveal True Age Of Controversial Jinmium Aboriginal Rock Shelter Tests by Australian scientists using world-leading dating technology have revealed the controversial Jinmium aboriginal rock shelter in the Northern Territory is less than ten thousand years old, the international science journal Nature announced today.
I pointed this out to Morton on the Calvin Reflector in 1998: http://www.asa3.org/archive/evolution/199801/0152.html

I agree with Hugh Ross' astronomy but not his anthropology. His attempt to stretch the Biblical genealogies to accommodate a literal Adam as a special ex nihilo/de novo creation unrelated to hominids, and the common ancestor of all humans, has failed because the evidence is that the Australian aborigines have been in Australia for at least 60 kya:

"Australia's oldest human remains, found at Lake Mungo, include the world's oldest ritual ochre burial (Mungo III) and the first recorded cremation (Mungo I). Until now, the importance of these finds has been constrained by limited chronologies and palaeoenvironmental information. Mungo III, the source of the world's oldest human mitochondrial DNA, has been variously estimated at 30 thousand years (kyr) old, 42-45 kyr old and 62 ± 6 kyr old, while radiocarbon estimates placed the Mungo I cremation near 20-26 kyr ago. Here we report a new series of 25 optical ages showing that both burials occurred at 40 ± 2 kyr ago and that humans were present at Lake Mungo by 50-46 kyr ago, synchronously with, or soon after, initial occupation of northern and Western Australia. Stratigraphic evidence indicates fluctuations between lake-full and drier conditions from 50 to 40 kyr ago, simultaneously with increased dust deposition, human arrival and continent-wide extinction of the megafauna. This was followed by sustained aridity between 40 and 30 kyr ago. This new chronology corrects previous estimates for human burials at this important site and provides a new picture of Homo sapiens adapting to deteriorating climate in the world's driest inhabited continent." (Bowler J. M., Johnston H., Olley J.M., Prescott J.R., Roberts R.G., Shawcross W. & Spooner N.A., "New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia," Nature, 421, 20 February 2003, pp.837 - 840. )

Assuming these dates are correct (which I do assume they are) this means that if Adam and Eve were the biological common ancestors of the Australian aborigines, the Biblical genealogies would have to be stretched back ~70-80 kya, which is past their breaking point.

It also doesn't fit the Neolithic (~10-20 kya) evidence of Genesis 4:

"It does matter when Adam was created, for there are phenomena in the description of his immediate descendants in Genesis 4 which are identifiable as Neolithic. As we correlate the biblical record of Adam and his descendants with the data of anthropology, there arise various issues which must be dealt with by the discipline of apologetics. ... an additional problem, to which we have already alluded, still remains: the problem of the Neolithic elements in Genesis 4. If Adam was created 30,000 years ago, if Cain and Abel were his immediate descendants, if we find genuinely Neolithic practices (e.g., agriculture) in Genesis 4, and if the Neolithic period began about 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, then we have the problem of a gap of at least 20,000 years between generations, the ultimate in generation gaps. ... Perhaps Cain and Abel were not really domesticators of plants and animals but rather in the language of Moses, and particularly of our translations, would only appear to be such. Their [Cain's and Abel's] respective concerns with vegetable and animal provisions might have been vastly more primitive." (Erickson M.J., "Christian Theology", Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, pp.485-486)

And also the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 lists the descendants of Adam through Noah and they are all Caucasian as Ramm points out:

"An examination of the Table of Nations of Gen. 10 discloses that no mention of the Mongoloid or Negroid races is made. Some anthropologists believe that it is impossible to make any racial distinctions among humans, others make two main divisions, but most accept with modifications and qualifications and exceptions the triadic division of Negroid, Mongoloid, and Caucasoid. As far as can be determined the early chapters of Genesis centre around that stream of humanity (part of the Caucasoid race) which produced the Semitic family of nations of which the Hebrews were a member. The sons of Noah were all Caucasian as far as can be determined, and so were all of their descendants. The Table of Nations gives no hint of any Negroid or Mongoloid peoples." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1955] Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, p.234)

I agree with Ramm that "The emphasis in Genesis is upon that group of cultures from which Abraham [and ultimately Jesus the Messiah] eventually came":

"The record neither affirms nor denies that man existed beyond the Mesopotamian valley. Noah certainly was not a preacher of righteousness to the peoples of Africa, of India, of China or of America-places where there is evidence for the existence of man many thousands of years before the flood (10,000 to 15,000 years in America). The emphasis in Genesis is upon that group of cultures from which Abraham eventually came." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1955] Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, p.163)

My view is that Genesis 1-11 is largely symbolic history, i.e. real history expressed in symbolic form (analogous to the other end of the Bible, the Book of Revelation). I may have quoted this to you before, giving the position of the great 19th century evangelical theologian James Orr, who regarded Genesis 3 as "old tradition clothed in oriental allegorical dress" but conveying "the truth":

"It is argued that the picture of God working like a potter with wet earth, anthropomorphically breathing life into man, constructing woman from a rib, with an idyllic garden, trees with theological significance, and a talking serpent, is the language of theological symbolism and not of literal prose. The theological truth is there, and this symbolism is the instrument of inspiration. We are not to think in terms of scientific and anti-scientific, but in terms of scientific and pre-scientific. The account is then pre-scientific and in theological symbolism which is the garment divine inspiration chose to reveal these truths for their more ready comprehension by the masses of untutored Christians. This is the view of James Orr who wrote: `I do not enter into the question of how we are to interpret the third chapter of Genesis-whether as history or allegory or myth, or most probably of all, as old tradition clothed in oriental allegorical dress-but the truth embodied in that narrative, viz. the fall of man from an original state of purity, I take to be vital to the Christian view.'" (Orr J., The Christian View of God and the World, 1897, p.185, in Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1955], Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, pp.223-224)

MD>I have no idea if Ross has responded to finds like this but I don't think he has. In your opinion, what is a reasonable date to put Adam at based on the evidence? It has to be before the flood because otherwise all of humanity wouldn't have been swept away. But this means it would be before the spread of man and that seems to have happened earlier than Ross dates it also, right?

See above. I have always kept an open mind that "Adam" could be either literal or symbolic for "Man". In the light of the scientific evidence, I now assume the latter (or at least if "Adam" was a literal man he could not be the biological common ancestor of all humans).

I agree with Brunner that we make a mistake in starting at Genesis for our doctrine of creation, when for every other doctrine we start at the New Testament as the later revelation of God, and work backwards to the Old Testament:

"Unfortunately the uniqueness of this Christian doctrine of Creation and the Creator is continually being obscured by the fact that theologians are so reluctant to begin their work with the New Testament; when they want to deal with the Creation they tend to begin with the Old Testament, although they never do this when they are speaking of the Redeemer. The emphasis on the story of Creation at the beginning of the Bible has constantly led theologians to forsake the rule, which they would otherwise follow, namely, that the basis of all Christian articles of faith is the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. So when we begin to study the subject of Creation, in the Bible we ought to start with the first chapter of the Gospel of John, and some other passages of the New Testament, and, not with the first chapter of Genesis. If we can make up our minds to stick to this rule, we shall be saved from many difficulties, which will inevitably occur if we begin with the story of Creation in the Old Testament. Of course, I do not wish to deny the permanent significance of, and the absolute necessity for, the Old Testament accounts of the Creation-not only in the first two chapters of Genesis but also in the Prophets, the Psalms, and in the Book of Job. In order to expand the somewhat scanty statements of the Testament we certainly need the weighty and enriching testimony of the Old Testament; but in principle these statements are as introductory in character as the Old Testament witness is to the Messiah is to that of the New Testament." (Brunner E., "The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption," Dogmatics Vol. II, Wyon O., trans, [1952], Lutterworth: London, 1955, Second Impression, pp.6-7)

I see Adam's primary importance is as a `type' of the Last Adam, Jesus (Rom 5:12-15; 1 Cor 15:21-23). I agree with evangelical theologians I have read (e.g. Bloesch?) who think the Church has made a mistake following Augustine in `biologising' original sin. As I read Paul, the imputation of the first Adam's sin and the last Adam's righteousness is legal, not biological, although humans have to be united as "one blood" (Acts 17:26) for that to work. Jesus was Homo sapiens and His atoning death applied to the only species that could sin, Homo sapiens. As it happens, by `coincidence' I bought a secondhand book the other day (that I assume was sent by God to me since I had been thinking and praying about the topic) which confirmed what I had thought:

"The key idea which runs through his [St. Paul's] Christology and binds it to his soteriology is that of solidarity or representation. Jesus became one with man in order to put an end to sinful man in order that a new man might come into being. He became what man is in order that by his death and resurrection man might become what he is. The most sustained expositions of Jesus' representative significance come in Rom. 5:12-21 and I Cor. 15:20 ff., 45-9. In both instances Jesus is compared and contrasted with Adam. The point of the comparison and contrast lies in the representative significance of the two men. Adam means "man", "mankind". Paul speaks about Adam as a way of speaking about mankind. Adam represents what man might have been and what man now is. Adam is man made for fellowship with God become slave of selfishness and pride. Adam is sinful man. Jesus too is representative man. He represents a new kind of man - man who not only dies but lives again. The first Adam represents physical man ... man given over to death; the last Adam represents pneumatic man ... man alive from the dead. Now it is clear from the I Corinthians passage that Jesus only takes up his distinctively last Adam/man role as from the resurrection; only in and through resurrection does he become life-giving Spirit. How then can we characterize his representative function in his life and death? The answer seems to be that for Paul the earthly Jesus represents fallen man, man who though he lives again is first subject to death. Adam represents what man might have been and by his sin what man is. Jesus represents what man now is and by his obedience what man might become. " (Dunn J.D.G., "Paul's Understanding of the Death of Jesus," in Banks R., ed., "Reconciliation and Hope: New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology Presented to L.L. Morris on His 60th Birthday," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1974, pp.126-127. Emphasis in original)

MD>But then even answering the above, we're left to wonder: what about the flood? I saw your exchange again with Morton at http://www.asa3.org/archive/evolution/199702/0130.html and it was interesting, but do we have flood deposit evidence for the site you suggested at Lake Van? What about Morton's reply about the Ark needing an outboard motor to go against the current if Lake Van were the site? Stating that we shouldn't expect to find evidence is far too close to a 'young earth' reply I'm afraid.

As I said in the debate at the time on the Calvin Reflector, the Bible itself indicates there was no thick layer of mud (which would become a "flood deposit"). As for "the Ark needing an outboard motor to go against the current if Lake Van were the site", there is nothing in the Biblical account about a "current". One would need to know the topographical profile at that time to know there would be a "current" away from Lake Van. One could just as easily postulate a "current" into Lake Van. The Bible indicates the floodwater did not drain away immediately (Gen 8:1). To claim that we "should... expect to find [geological] evidence" today of Noah's Flood is to claim that we "should... expect to find [geological] evidence" of every local flood that has occurred in the last ~20 kya. But it is the rule rather than the exception that geological strata is missing, due to erosion, earth movement, etc. Also, now that I have done a geology unit in my biology degree, I know that flood deposits are not normally laid down in the high country where the water is fast, but rather downstream where the water slows (e.g. where a river meets the sea). There is positive Biblical data that "the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat" (Gen 8:4), which the Lake Van theory would fit. However, if that is not good enough for you, then there is nothing further I can (or want to) say.

MD>Back to humanity quickly. If we do date man back near 100 k (or 50 even), what about the activities ascribed to Cain and Abel? These are things that occurred between 10-20 k ago aren't they? How on earth do we reconcile that tangle?

See above.

MD>Very confused but God bless,

I hope the above will help. However, if it doesn't, then there is nothing more that I can say. As I have said to you before, I don't have the time to respond to such private messages, so please don't send me any more. Thanks.

[...]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

10 comments:

Garrett said...

Hi, Steve, interesting post. I agree with a lot of it, but have comments on other parts.

I agree that much of the early chapters of Genesis are symbolic history, or as my pastor calls it, "stylized history", with a lot of Near Eastern symbolic theological gloss, and that there is a good amount of internal evidence for this. However, I find it nearly impossible, whether starting at the NT and working back, or starting at the OT and going forward, to conclude that they aren't saying that Adam at least existed.

I also agree that the imputation of Adam's sin is legal rather than biological, but as you say, humans are the only species that can sin, and so this moral propensity must have begun at some point. Unless humans went a few generations without ever sinning, it seems reasonable to conclude that the first person who could sin did sin. Even if the Australian Aborigines were given moral propensity independently, and weren't biologically descended from the first sinner, this would still be the case. So, I don't see why the symbolic history in Genesis shouldn't be taken as relating this actual event, but with a symbolism to make it comprehensible to the ancient Near East.

nivek_nailgun said...

So, taking it as some sort of symbolic history...doesn't that leave us wondering what is possibly symbolic in the Neolithic elements in chapter 4? How can this be explained in your view?

Stephen E. Jones said...

Garrett said...

G>Hi, Steve, interesting post. I agree with a lot of it, but have comments on other parts.

Thanks for your comment.

G>I agree that much of the early chapters of Genesis are symbolic history, or as my pastor calls it, "stylized history", with a lot of Near Eastern symbolic theological gloss, and that there is a good amount of internal evidence for this.

Thanks also for your agreement.

G>However, I find it nearly impossible, whether starting at the NT and working back, or starting at the OT and going forward, to conclude that they aren't saying that Adam at least existed.

As I said, I accept that Adam could have been a literal person, but there is internal evidence that he was not, as neo-evangelical scholar Clark Pinnock pointed out:

"Conservatives are very `touchy' about the historicity of the fall of Adam, because of its importance to their soteriology and theodicy, and, therefore, about the status of the Genesis narratives on that event (Genesis 2-3). They are reluctant to admit that the literary genre in that case is figurative rather than strictly literal even though the hints are very strong that it is symbolic: Adam (which means `Mankind') marries Eve (which means `Life), and their son Cain (which means `Forger') becomes a wanderer in the land of Nod (which means `Wandering')!" (Pinnock C.H., "The Scripture Principle," Hodder & Staughton: London, 1985, pp.116-117)

My main point was that if Adam was a literal person, he could not be both Neolithic (~10-20 kya), as Genesis 4 indicates and also be the common ancestor of all humans.

Also there is further scientific (i.e. genetic) evidence that Adam was not a literal person, the MHC complex indicating a minimum ancestral humans population size of of ~10,000 individuals ~5-10 mya:

"Perhaps the most difficult genetic data for an integrative approach are the histocompatibility loci (HLA) found in all vertebrates. These genes encode peptide presentation proteins, proteins that have the task of presenting possible foreign proteins (called antigens) to the immune system for inspection. They are among the most diverse loci (genes) in the genome, loci with more than 150 very diverse alleles (different versions of the gene). It is thought that heterozygous individuals (with two different versions of the gene) are better protected against disease (fitter) than homozygotes (with two identical versions of the gene). This higher fitness for heterozygotes is termed `over dominance' and is considered to be the cause that maintains the very high levels of diversity in these loci. The evolutionary question raised by this diversity is (a) whether this diversity has been maintained over millions of years and thus passed on from parent species to daughter species; or (b) whether this diversity was generated rapidly - by point mutation, recombination, and gene conversion - after a species' origin. As usual, there are two schools of thought. One thinks the data show that scores of human alleles are most close to matching chimpanzee alleles. The other school thinks there are only ten to fifteen such truly ancient lineages. The former postulate an effective Pleistocene population size of ancestral humans of over 100,000; the latter, under 10,000. The logic is this: only a few ancient lineages are likely to exist in a population with a recent bottleneck. In fact, if the population was much larger prior to the bottleneck, a few very divergent alleles could come through. However, if the issue is a single couple as source for the human species, *both* positions pose serious difficulties for Adam's identity. For example, consider the specific histocompatability gene `HLA-DRB1:' Even the `few alleles' school of thought holds that there are fifteen or so very old alternative allelic lineages, lineages with a coalescence point of 5- 10 million years. Whether Adam and Eve were created by providence through descent from a hominid lineage or are an original pair created without ancestors, they can have only 4 DRB1 alleles between them. If one human pair is the sole ancestor of all living people, all the human HLA alleles must be descended from those four `adamic' alleles. All the diversity must have been produced by modifying those four versions of the HLA-DRB1 gene since Adam and Eve were created. Yet a 5-10 million year coalescence would apparently make Adam a `monkey's uncle' (ancestral to at least chimps, gorillas, and humans)." (Wilcox D.L., "Finding Adam: The Genetics of Human Origins," in Miller K.B., ed., "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 2003, pp.250-252. Emphasis original)

However, having thought about it for many years, I personally now don't find it "nearly impossible" to believe that "Adam" really was, who his very name implies, Man, i.e. a symbol for Mankind, i.e. "Adam is not so much a private person as the head of the human race. ... He is Everyman and therefore Representative Man":

"We see the fall of man as an event that happens in both prehistory (Urgeschichte) and universal history. The tale in Genesis concerns not only a first fall and first man but a universal fall and universal man. Adam is not so much a private person as the head of the human race. He is generic as well as first man. He is Everyman and therefore Representative Man. He is the representative of both our original parents and of all humankind, and Paul sometimes combines these two motifs. [It is quite clear that Paul, who here reflects his Rabbinic training, uses Adam as a pedagogical example or teaching model. In 1 Corinthians 15:22 Adam is depicted as both the first man and representative man. In Romans 5:12 ff. it is essential to Paul's argument that Adam be the first sinner, though Genesis pictures Eve as the first sinner. In 1 Timothy 2:14 Paul argues that Eve and not Adam was the first sinner again in order to make a pedagogical point.] It is human nature which sins in the Genesis narrative and not simply the first man. ... Yet this does not mean that the story of Adam and Eve as presented in Genesis is itself exact, literal history. ... James Orr suggests that the Genesis narrative is `old tradition clothed in oriental allegorical dress,' but he insists in line with the older orthodoxy that it refers to a fall from an original state of purity.' [Orr J., "The Christian View of God and the World," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1948, p.185]" (Bloesch D.G., "Essentials of Evangelical Theology," HarperCollins: San Francisco CA, 1982, Vol. 1, reprint, pp.106-107)

G>I also agree that the imputation of Adam's sin is legal rather than biological, but as you say, humans are the only species that can sin, and so this moral propensity must have begun at some point. Unless humans went a few generations without ever sinning, it seems reasonable to conclude that the first person who could sin did sin. Even if the Australian Aborigines were given moral propensity independently, and weren't biologically descended from the first sinner, this would still be the case. So, I don't see why the symbolic history in Genesis shouldn't be taken as relating this actual event, but with a symbolism to make it comprehensible to the ancient Near East.

Agreed that there had to be a first human who sinned, just as for each human there has to be his/her first sin, i.e. a deliberate turning away from God. But when and who it actually was, only God knows. I know I must have rejected God in or before my early teens, because I became an avowed atheist in my mid-teens, but I don't remember when it actually happened that I first rejected God. I may have realized it at the time, but suppressed it. I presume that is true of every human.

I found helpful this quote by Alister McGrath on the dynamic "relationship between [Christian] biblical interpretation and the sciences" :

"Christianity is not a static entity; rather, it is like a growing plant. Although grounded in the Bible, the Christian theological tradition has always been mindful of the need to interpret its foundational text in the most authentic way possible. This has led to debates within the church over how best to interpret certain passages. In the first 500 years of Christianity, a number of basic principles emerged. One of these was to interpret the Bible in such a way that allowed a creative interaction with the best natural science of the day. The most influential theologian of this era was Augustine of Hippo (354-430), who is of especial importance in relation to the exploration of the relationship between biblical interpretation and the sciences. Augustine stressed the importance of respecting the conclusions of the sciences in relation to biblical exegesis. As Augustine observed in his commentary on Genesis, certain of its passages were genuinely open to diverse interpretations. It was therefore important to allow further scientific research to assist in the determination of which was the most appropriate mode of interpretation for a given passage: `In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines our position, we too fall with it. We should not battle for our own interpretation but for the teaching of the Holy Scripture. We should not wish to conform the meaning of Holy Scripture to our interpretation, but our interpretation to the meaning of Holy Scripture.' Augustine therefore urged that biblical interpretation should take due account of what could reasonably be regarded as established facts. This approach to biblical interpretation aimed to ensure that Christian theology never became trapped in a pre-scientific worldview. This has always been the dominant theme in Western biblical interpretation. Yet it does not preclude debates over what is the best approach. And these debates often involved trial and error, determining the best way of interpreting a biblical passage by an extended period of discussion and exploration." (McGrath A.E., "Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life," Blackwell: Malden MA, 2005, pp.69-70)

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

nivek_nailgun said...

NN>So, taking it as some sort of symbolic history...

Thanks for your question.

I don't particularly like the term "symbolic history" but I like even less the alternatives, "myth", "saga" or "legend". By Genesis `-11 being "symbolic history" I mean as I have defined it, as "real history expressed in symbolic form" "analogous to the Book of Revelation." By it I mean that the persons and events depicted *really* existed and happened, but have been given a generalized literary form to make them more universally applicable.

NN>doesn't that leave us wondering what is possibly symbolic in the Neolithic elements in chapter 4?

Not really. I regard *all* of Genesis 4 as "real history expressed in symbolic form."

NN>How can this be explained in your view?

My point was agreeing with Erickson that the context of Genesis 4 (which immediately follows Genesis 2-3) as being "Neolithic" which is only 10-20 kya, and not 70-80 kya, which it would have to be if the Australian aborigines were biological descendants of a literal Adam. See also my previous comment.

As for explaining my views, my personal experience is that I have spent over a decade (1994-2005) debating on a daily basis with all comers, creationists, theistic evolutionists, atheistic evolutionists, etc. In that time I rarely saw anyone (except me on common ancestry - http://www.asa3.org/archive/evolution/199505-10/0391.html) change their mind on a major issue. That is a major reason why I shut down my list CED (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/) at the height of its success, with 200+ members and 300+ posts a month, and started a blog. From my experience, I regard it as an unrealistic goal to convince anyone of anything if they don't (or won't) see the problems as I see them.

On responding to comments generally, as I have said before, I agree with this difference between blogs and message boards (lists), that "The word comment for weblogs implies that the author does not need further participation to reach a goal- comment if you want. Reply, on the other hand, implies that participation is explicitly requested by the poster":

"Weblogs and Message Boards both allow for responses from the community- new topics can be responded-to by others. Weblog topics have comments and message board topics have replies. This subtle difference in syntax reveals a difference in the roles. The word comment for weblogs implies that the author does not need further participation to reach a goal- comment if you want. Reply, on the other hand, implies that participation is explicitly requested by the poster. A discussion is not a discussion without a reply." (LeFever, L., "What are the Differences Between Message Boards and Weblogs?," Common Craft weblog, August 24, 2004. Emphasis in original http://www.commoncraft.com/archives/000768.html)

So I am just going to post my views to my blog, and others can take them or leave them. I do not regard responding to comments as a high priority and considered turning them off (I still might), in order to make more time for my higher priorities, writing my book, "Problems of Evolution" (http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/PoE/PoE00ToC.html) and posting to my blog. I will therefore respond only to what I consider to be constructive comments and criticisms on my blog posts, but if I get the impression that *nothing* I say will make any difference to a commenter, then I am not going to waste my time trying, and will ignore further comments from that person on that topic (and probably other topics).

Stephen E. Jones

Garrett said...

Thanks for the reply. You've given me a lot to mull over. I agree that NT use of Adam "does not mean that the story of Adam and Eve as presented in Genesis is itself exact, literal history" and that's not how I take it. However, I have great difficulty seeing any indication that any of the writers who mention Adam in the Bible consider him to be "representative man" only, instead of "generic as well as first man" as Bloesch puts it. I see where Paul contrasts Adam with Jesus as representatives of humanity with opposite roles, but certainly Jesus exists as a real person. Maybe it will come with time, but I just can't say, without thinking that I am simply deluding myself, that I can make out any hint of Adam being purely allegorical without remainder in any of the authors' "original intent", whereas I do see indication that many of the specifics of the story (Adam's name, his nostrils being "breathed" into, Satan's portrayal as a serpent, etc) are. For my part, the seemingly Neolithic aspects of the narrative don't really bother me. They're really just brief descriptions of peoples' professions, and I've just chalked them up to writers describing old traditions according to their own cultural categories. Anyhow, I will no doubt continue to struggle with this subject for a while to come (like your original emailer, I have been for some time already).

Just a couple questions, if you feel like responding. I'm really sorry to bug you. I know you're busy and I'm grateful for the time you've given me by responding already, but I'm just trying to work out what my theological options are:

1. I gather, from what you've said here, that you don't take the orthodox position on original sin? Ie, you don't think that we are born with a sin nature, but rather that we each fall individually, with Adam's fall being just an allegory for this process, rather than the first instance of it?

2. You said that by symbolic history you mean that "the persons and events depicted *really* existed and happened, but have been given a generalized literary form to make them more universally applicable." However, for Adam and Eve, you seem (to me) to be saying that they didn't really exist, except as their universal applications (that is, they "exist" purely as metaphors for you and me). Does the same go for Caine and Abel, and if so, what are they allegories for? Or did these things actually happen is some historical sense that has been generalized? I think maybe I'm not completely clear on what you mean by "really happened" and "generalized form".

3. You've mentioned in the past that man became behaviorially modern (which includes being a moral creature, correct?) some ~40,000 years ago. Is it your position that this happened to multiple individuals independently, across continents?

Missing said...

Regarding some of your comments on Dr. Hugh Ross' anthropology:

He does address these issues, including Australian Aborigines, see: Human Origins which is an archive of topics from his Creation Update radio program.

He and biologist Dr. Fazale Rana have just published a new book a few days ago, Who Was Adam? which details all the latest regarding human origins and studies on bipedal primates.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Darrick Dean said...

DD>Regarding some of your comments on Dr. Hugh Ross' anthropology:
>
>He does address these issues, including Australian Aborigines, see: Human Origins which is an archive of topics from his Creation Update radio program.

Thanks. I listened to it and Ross said on 28 June 2005 that the latest date for humans in Australia was ~40 kya. But as I posted, in NATURE of 20 February 2003, Bowler, et al. reported burial sites of Homo sapiens at Lake Mungo in Australia ~50 kya. Ross also said that his model for Adam was ~50 kya.

His model is therefore falsified on three counts: 1) the aborigines in Australia ~50 kya (which would be even earlier for the first arrivals); 2) the Neolithic (20-10 kya) internal evidence of Genesis 4; 3) the MHC evidence that Homo sapiens derived from a gene pool of ~10,000 individuals ~5-10 mya; and 4) the common ancestry evidence of: a) vitamin C pseudogene common with monkeys and apes (and I predict with Neanderthals when they sequence their nuclear DNA); b) endogenous retroviral sequences common to chimps, apes and monkeys (and I predict Neanderthals).

DD>He and biologist Dr. Fazale Rana have just published a new book a few days ago, Who Was Adam? which details all the latest regarding human origins and studies on bipedal primates.

Thanks for the info. I am way over my book budget at the moment, but I have added it to my book wants.

Steve

Missing said...

But as I posted, in NATURE of 20 February 2003, Bowler, et al. reported burial sites of Homo sapiens at Lake Mungo in Australia ~50 kya. Ross also said that his model for Adam was ~50 kya.

As Ross describes, the thermoluminescence datings only give an extreme upper limit. Other studies, such as Richard Roberts et al., "Optical and Radiocarbon Dating at Jinmium Rock Shelter in Northern Australia," Nature 393 (1998):358-62, detail dates at this site at a maximum of 3000 years old (in the layer that produced the 60,000-50 thermolunminescence date).

Ross writes that this does not rule out humans in Australia before 3000 years ago, other datings yield dates around 30,000 years ago [David B. Roberts, et al., "New Optical and Radiocarbon Dates...for the Human Colonization of Austrialia," Antiquity 71 (1997):183-88

In other words, the 60,000-50 date has been found to be highly unlikely. It seems that people holding to the 60,000 date are ignoring the limitations to thermolunminescence.

the MHC evidence that Homo sapiens derived from a gene pool of ~10,000 individuals ~5-10 mya;

Studies like this make conclusions far narrower than the data allows, simply based on preconcieved conclusions. Ross has detailed the full range of genetic studies elsewhere, including The Genesis Question (2nd ed) and the new book Who Was Adam?

You do make some interesting points that could refine Ross and Rana's model, it would be interesting for you to discuss your objections directly to them. I know they invite people of all views to give their side on their radio program in a non-debate fashion. They have been receptive to other views.

Missing said...

P.S. Dr. Ross summarized much of this in "New Date for First Aussies," however the new book gives a more extensive treatment.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Darrick Dean said...

>SJ>But as I posted, in NATURE of 20 February 2003, Bowler, et al. reported burial sites of Homo sapiens at Lake Mungo in Australia ~50 kya. Ross also said that his model for Adam was ~50 kya.

DD>As Ross describes, the thermoluminescence datings only give an extreme upper limit. Other studies, such as Richard Roberts et al., "Optical and Radiocarbon Dating at Jinmium Rock Shelter in Northern Australia," Nature 393 (1998):358-62, detail dates at this site at a maximum of 3000 years old (in the layer that produced the 60,000-50 thermolunminescence date).

Jimnium is a site in the Northern Territory, thousands of kilometres away from Lake Mungo in New South Wales. And the dating of the Lake Mungo site did not use "thermoluminescence" but "optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) [which is] similar but more reliable than thermoluminescence":

"A thorough analysis of the site of Australia's oldest human remains may settle the long and acrimonious debate over how long ago humans first colonised the continent. Experts have been arguing for decades about the age of the skeleton, dubbed Mungo Man. Now its discoverer says he has confirmed that it is 40,000 years old. ... In 1976, Bowler and his colleague Alan Thorne estimated the remains to be 30,000 years old. But in 1999, Thorne and his team at Australian National University in Canberra published a sensational new paper claiming Mungo Man was 62,000 years old. ... Now researchers at four separate laboratories, including Bowler and a member of Thorne's original team, claim that the burial of Mungo Man took place 40,000 years ago. The new dates were derived using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), similar but more reliable than thermoluminescence. Crucially, the researchers sampled sand from the exact burial sites, whereas it has emerged that Thorne's team had sampled sand 400 metres away. They have also dated stone tools - the earliest evidence of human occupation at the site - to 50,000 years ago."(Young E., "New arrival date for earliest Australians," 18 February 2003. http://makeashorterlink.com/?E179210EB)

And my understanding of "optically stimulated luminescence" (and "thermoluminescence") is that they measure the time from the *last* exposure to light:

"Optically Stimulated Luminescence or OSL Dating is a method of establishing the age of soil sediments. It is used by archaeologists as an alternative to radiocarbon dating. All soils contain trace minerals including uranium, thorium and potassium. These slowly decay over time and the ionising radiation they produce is absorbed by other constituents of the soil sediments such as quartz and feldspar. Stimulating samples using infrared light causes luminescence, the intensity of which varies depending on the amount of radiation absorbed. Exposure to sunlight resets the luminescent signature and so the time period since the soil was buried by later sediments can be calculated. Wind blown and colluvial deposits are particularly suitable for dating using this method as it can be certain that those soils were exposed to sunlight before being overlain. As the technique does not require organic samples it is more widely applicable that carbon dating. It is also reliable over a longer period than C14 and can be used on deposits up to 200,000 years old. OSL is therefore most commonly used on prehistoric sites." ("Optically stimulated luminescence dating," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optically_stimulated_luminescence_dating)

Therefore, if soil in the closest association with a fossil has an OSL date of ~40 kya, then that was the *last* time it was exposed to sunlight. It is therefore the *minimum* age of the fossil. Ross has in the past in his disputes with YEC's model, strongly defended radiometric dating methods. So if he now starts downplaying or rejecting radiometric dates that conflict with *his* model, then he is being hypocritical, and I am sure the YECs will point that out to him, e.g.

"It’s important to note that of the two evolutionary dates ["40,000 or 62,000" years ago] put forward, either one would further damage the credibility of Hugh Ross and other compromisers, who try to marry the Bible with billions of years and a local flood. Ross dates this Flood that wiped out all humanity (apart from Noah and his three sons) at 20-30 thousand years ago. Since he claims it was a local middle Eastern flood, he has to claim that humanity had not yet dispersed beyond the Middle East. Yet here we have humans that looked identical to modern humans living well before his date of the Flood. This puts day-agers like Ross in a bind, because they affirm the general reliability of long-age dating methods in other respects." (McKeever S. & Sarfati J., "Was Adam from Australia? The mystery of `Mungo Man'," 20 February 2003. http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2001/0117mungo.asp)

I trust this date for Mungo Man ~40 kya and ~50-46 kya occupation of the site (Bowler, et al., "New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia," Nature, 421, 20 February 2003, pp.837-840. http://makeashorterlink.com/?P5742100B), because it was the result of a fierce debate between proponents of the Multiregional-Regional Continuity hypothesis (led by Thorne) who wanted the dates to be as old as possible, and proponents of the Out of Africa hypothesis (led by Bowler) who wanted the dates to be as young as possible. Significantly, Ross just ignores this crucial 2003 NATURE paper and doesn't even reference it in his "New Date for First Aussies" article that D!

DD>Ross writes that this does not rule out humans in Australia before 3000 years ago, other datings yield dates around 30,000 years ago [David B. Roberts, et al., "New Optical and Radiocarbon Dates...for the Human Colonization of Austrialia," Antiquity 71 (1997):183-88

Darrick Dean said...
P.S. Dr. Ross summarized much of this in "New Date for First Aussies," however the new book gives a more extensive treatment.

Thanks for that link. But in it Ross miss-cites the main author of that Antiquity paper. It was not "David B. Roberts" - Ross has conflated the first two authors, "Bruno David" and "Richard Roberts." Its correct citation is "Bruno David, Richard Roberts, Claudio Tuniz, Rhys Jones and John Head, "New Optical and Radiocarbon Dates from Ngarrabullgan Cave, a Pleistocene Archeological Site in Australia: Implications for the Comparability of Time Clocks and for the Human Colonization of Australia," Antiquity 71 (1997): 183-88. And your ellipses, "...for the Human Colonization of Australia" omit the important fact that it was for just one cave (which is in "Queensland", a different state from Jimnium and Lake Mungo) and the significance of which is not that it is the earliest site, but that it provides a radiocarbon cross-check of the reliability of OSL dating (an important point which Ross does not mention):

"The human settlement of Australia falls into that period where dating is hard because it is near or beyond the reliable limit of radiocarbon study; instead a range of luminescence methods are being turned to (such as thermoluminescence at Jinmium: December 1996 ANTIQUITY). Ngarrabullgan Cave, a rock-shelter in Queensland, now offers a good suite of radiocarbon determinations which match well a pair of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates - encouraging sign that OSL determinations can be relied on." (Bruno D., Roberts R., Tuniz C., Jones R. & Head J., "New optical and radiocarbon dates from Ngarrabullgan Cave, a Pleistocene archaeological site in Australia: implications for the comparability of time clocks and for the human colonization of Australia," Antiquity, Vol. 71, No. 271, pp.183-188. http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/071/Ant0710183.htm)

Even a date "30,000 years ago" for human occupation of Australia would falsify the Ross-Rana model that Adam was ~50 kya, since humans would have to migrate from Mesopotamia to Queensland, taking ~20 kyr. But it was problematic to anthropologists that "early humans could ... have moved quickly enough to arrive in Australia before 50,000 years ago":

"Experts have been arguing for decades about the age of the skeleton, dubbed Mungo Man. Now its discoverer says he has confirmed that it is 40,000 years old. That date will reassure many palaeontologists, because if it were 60,000 years as suggested, Mungo Man would have challenged the popular "Out of Africa" hypothesis. This states that Homo sapiens evolved in the Rift Valley 100,000 years ago and then migrated around the world, displacing its hominid relatives. Many palaeontologists believe early humans could not have moved quickly enough to arrive in Australia before 50,000 years ago." (Young E., "New arrival date for earliest Australians," 18 February 2003. http://makeashorterlink.com/?E179210EB)

DD>In other words, the 60,000-50 date has been found to be highly unlikely. It seems that people holding to the 60,000 date are ignoring the limitations to thermolunminescence.

>SJ>the MHC evidence that Homo sapiens derived from a gene pool of ~10,000 individuals ~5-10 mya;

DD>Studies like this make conclusions far narrower than the data allows, simply based on preconcieved conclusions. Ross has detailed the full range of genetic studies elsewhere, including The Genesis Question (2nd ed) and the new book Who Was Adam?

We are *all* subject to "preconceived conclusions", including Ross. I would be *very* happy if Ross was right and in fact I used to defend his ~60,000 kya Adam model, but I have had to reluctantly give it up because the *evidence* (both Biblical and scientific) is against stretching the Biblical genealogies back ~50 kya, to fit in a literal Adam who is the biological ancestor of all humans. I repeat, there may have been a literal Neolithic (~10-20 kya) Adam who was the biological ancestor of the line that led through Abraham to Christ (Luke 3:23-28), the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), but he then would not be the biological ancestor of all humans. But symbolic elements in Genesis 2-3, indicate (to me at least) that Adam (Heb. "Man") and Eve (Heb. "Life") are symbols representing all mankind.

I have only the first (1998) edition of Ross's "The Genesis Question" and there is nothing about "genetic studies" in it that I can see. I did a brief search on "Hugh Ross" and MHC and I could not see where Ross engages with the MHC evidence. So it will have to wait until I can buy his "Who Was Adam?". Unlike TEs such as Morton, I do not regard refuting my fellow creationists (OEC and YEC) as a high priority-my higher priority is refuting our common enemy-naturalistic evolution.

DD>You do make some interesting points that could refine Ross and Rana's model, it would be interesting for you to discuss your objections directly to them. I know they invite people of all views to give their side on their radio program in a non-debate fashion. They have been receptive to other views.

See above on my priorities. I am sure Ross and Rana are well aware of these "points that could refine [their] model." But you are welcome to refer these issues to them if you want to.

Steve