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 -----
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?:
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,"  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,"  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," , 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, , 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?
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.