Sunday, November 3, 2019

In the image of God, He created them

Where to begin?

This article explores current scientific theories and findings on the origin of humanity through the lens of Scripture.  Belief that the Bible is God's inerrant testimony to mankind, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, provides the valuable insight necessary to understand the color woven through the tapestry of human history and pre-history.  That's a poetic way of saying that the story gets complicated but the Bible holds the keys to sorting it out.  We can look at scientific evidence through Scripture and we can know that Scripture is a high quality instrument for doing so.  But the scientific evidence is just that: evidence, scant clues to a distant past.  This is a caution against holding dogmatically to any emerging picture that forms. My goal is to present as a clear a picture as I can with the evidence at hand, and then to keep abreast of the shifting scientific evidence and re-present a clearer picture in the future, if that becomes possible.  What I won't do is place a stake in the ground saying "this is it" on any territory other than the ground of Scripture itself.

Ages Of Joy considers Genesis 1 to belongs to the genre of epic narrative.  This view holds that Genesis 1 was written to present a theologically correct view of God and creation while serving as a timeless polemic against false narratives: both godless creation stories and polytheistic stories.  The Author's intent appears to be to present the actual history of the creation and preparation of the Earth as a series of "births", each generation being represented as one Day.  Looking through the lens of Scripture, the Ages Of Joy perspective seeks the six days of creation in the geologic history of the Earth, identifying them by the content described in Genesis 1.

Our topic at hand addresses the sixth day of creation, which is the day during which God created male and female in His image.  We go on from there to explore Genesis 2, the story of Adam and Eve and then follow the thread further through the time of Noah.  Buckle up!

The Alleged Homeland of Modern Humans

An article with a controversial headline proclaims the finding of "the homeland of modern humans".  In summary the article claims that the birthplace of modern humans has been located in southern Africa, that the female lineage of modern humans is two-hundred thousand years old, and that climate change drove humans out of their birthplace beginning one-hundred thirty-thousand years ago.

From a Christian perspective, this seems all wrong.  The Bible teaches us to expect that the first humans, Adam and Eve, lived in the middle east, and much more recently than 200,000 years ago.  Furthermore, we look to "sin" as the force that drove humans away form the Garden of Eden, not climate change.

So, let's examine the evidence that the researchers bring to the table, and how their findings square with the Bible.

The study was led by Professor Vanessa Hayes from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and University of Sydney who is also named as an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria.  Her team collected blood samples from local communities in Namibia and South Africa to isolate 198 new, rare mitogenomes which are passed down mother to daughter, from one generation to the next.

The Genetic Clues

Here is a brief explanation of how that works, which you can skip if you are either already familiar or not that interested:
Each baby that is born inherits genetic material from both parents.  The woman's body provides a cell, called an egg, that includes within it mitochondria.  Mitochondria are the energy producing mechanism within a cell and are like tiny cells-within-a-cell.  Each mitochondria has a small genome (genetic code) of its own.  This genome, abbreviated mtDNA, comes only from the mother and is passed on to sons and daughters.  However, only daughters pass them on again to their offspring, via their eggs.  As such, the mtDNA in a person's cells was handed down generation after generation from their most distant female ancestor. 
In a similar fashion, men pass on their DNA through sperm.  But these tiny cells do not contain mitochondria.  They don't produce energy but rather are meant to live just a short time.  Sperm contain DNA from the father, including either an X chromosome or a Y chromosome.  When the Y chromosome (Y-DNA) is passed on, a baby boy will be born.  If the boy grows up and has a son, he passes on the Y chromosome that he inherited from  his father, and ultimately from his most distant male ancestor. 
Most of the DNA in a person is a mix of contributions from mother and father, and is called nuclear DNA and it determines most of our genetic characteristics.  Studying nuclear DNA can tell us about the mix of ethnicities in our ancestors, and even provide hints as to how long ago that mixing happened.  Each kind of DNA, mtDNA, Y-DNA, and nuclear DNA can be studied to answer different questions about our ancestors.
Over time, genomes experience changes to non-coding regions of the DNA.  Because they are non-coding, they don't seem to affect the person and are simply preserved and passed on.  It's kind of like writing a city and date on a dollar bill and passing it on.  It's still a functioning dollar bill, but it's been changed in a way that is permanent and accumulates every time someone adds to it.  It tells us something about where and when the dollar bill has changed hands.
By tracking genetic changes, the "relatedness" of two individuals can be assessed.  For example, take an ancestor with a given DNA, being passed on mother to daughter, mother to daughter, etc.  Now assume a woman has a daughter whose mtDNA has a slight change in the non-coding region. This change is called a marker and we will call this marker L0.  All of her daughters and granddaughters and so on will have marker L0 until finally one of them gets another marker, for example marker a.    Now all of the decedents will have L0a markers.  Now suppose an L0a woman has two daughters, one is L0a just like her, but the other is L0ab, picking up another change.  Later on, the L0ab has an ancestor with change L0abc.  But other daughters that were in the L0ab line, could also have changes.  They will not pick up the same c changes, so we will call them L0abx and then L0abxy.  So after a while, there are two diverged lineages: one composed of L0abc, L0abcd, etc and the other with L0abxy, L0abxyz, etc.  Both lineages can trace themselves back to a common ancestor with just the L0ab markers, and they also share the L0 woman as their most distant common ancestor.
The rate of accruing changes, each new marker (a, b, c, d, x, y, z, etc) is very approximately equal over time and therefore, some calculation of how long ago the common ancestors lived can be estimated.  When ancient DNA can be recovered from bones, the assumed mutation rate can be checked against the dates ascertained for the bones.
From the article: "Mitochondrial DNA acts like a time capsule of our ancestral mothers, accumulating changes slowly over generations. Comparing the complete DNA code, or mitogenome, from different individuals provides information on how closely they are related."

A River Basin

Based on the above evidence, combined with linguistic, cultural, and geographic information, the authors conclude that the ancestor of all women lived in the Great Zambini River Basin region 200,000 years ago.  That's in the midst of the southern part of Africa.  The lineage is referred to as the L0 lineage, the oldest branch of the human female genetic tree.  All other human lineages not sharing this L0 woman as a common ancestor have died out, leaving no survivors to this day.  So was this woman Eve?  And was the Garden of Eden in Zambini?

I am going to argue, "No", as the answer to both questions.  Still, there is something interesting about this location as the birthplace of humanity.  It is a river basin described as "a vast wetland, which is known to be one of the most productive ecosystems for sustaining life".

That description bears some resemblance to the Garden of Eden in the Bible in Genesis chapter 2:
and a mist (or spring) was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground
And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. 
10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.

The Bible describes a lush, well-watered river-basin environment created for human flourishing.  It makes sense that God would place Adam and Eve in such an environment, and this scientific study aligns with the Biblical idea about the kind of environment in which the first humans would thrive.

But that takes us back to the problem that the location and timing do not seem to agree with the Biblical story.  I will suggest two ways forward at this point.

The first path is fairly simple.  One may conclude that this scientific evidence supports the gist of the Biblical creation story and be satisfied that what the Bible teaches is correct about human origins.  Perhaps at the time that writing was invented, which occurred in the Middle East, the story, passed along from generation to generation, was written down referring to places known to the author that fit the description from the traditional narrative.  So, when the story of Adam and Even was finally able to be written, the Tigris-Euphrates River Basin was the closest parallel to the Zambini River Basin, whose exact location had been lost track of over time.  If you are satisfied with this, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort that will be expended in taking the longer path I lay out next.

A Deeper Story

The second path to explaining the origin of humanity is quite a bit more involved, but it's the path I will take you on.  It involves some twists and turns and some ideas that may be very new and very uncomfortable to grapple with for the first time.

The discovery that modern humans also share genetic material, in other words ancestors, with Neanderthal and Denisovans came as a shocking discovery.  However controversial this theory was at its inception, it has since been demonstrated by repeated analysis of ancient DNA from humans, Neanderthal, and Denisovans.  Neanderthals and Denisovans are often categorized as Homo Sapiens, in part because they can successfully interbreed with human beings.  But they appear distantly related to human beings and more closely related to each other.  It has been shown that most genetic samples from non-African groups tested so far contain remnants of Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA.  In other words, seemingly all non-Africans share some small traces of DNA that go back much farther than 200,000 years ago.  Evidence for this linkage is still putative.  As of November 2017, genome-wide DNA sequences for just 5 Neanderthals had been isolated.

So what about Africans?  While genetic time capsules in human female mitochondrial DNA contain a wealth of tantalizing information, they don't tell the whole story.  Fossils from Africa dating to about 195,000 years ago, namely the Omo remains, indicate an overall modern human morphology with some primitive features.  Analysis of other African fossils, the Herto Man, dated to 160,000 years ago, ascribes that fossil to the Homo Sapiens Idaltu sub-species, which is still considered an anatomic ancestor to true anatomically modern humans.

The homeland article describes two migrations out of South Africa.  The first occurred 130,000 years ago and followed to the northeast green, vegetated corridors that opened up as the climate changed.  This was the first successful migration away from this ancestral homeland of homo sapiens bearing the L0 marker.  But these early northeastern migrants struggled to thrive as the climate dried out again.  A second wave of migrants headed southwest to the tip of South Africa about 110,000 years ago.  There they are thought to have thrived by exploiting the marine environment that provided abundant foraging opportunity.

Changing climate conditions split the populations into isolated groups that developed under different environmental conditions.  By 130,000 years ago, the population had diverged from their L0 roots to an L1 group in West Africa, L2 in East  Africa, and L3 in the region of North Africa and possibly the Levant.  L0 remnants remained in Southern Africa.

Climate models of Africa and the Middle East identify two main time windows when the Arabian Peninsula, instead of being a barren desert, was a lush grassland.   One such window opened between about 120,000 to 90,000 years ago.

An early migration out of Africa by humans has been identified by the discovery of a fossil human finger bone, found with stone tools, and dated to 88,000 years ago.  Early migrants were lingering in Arabia when the window closed.

Despite all this, according to the Recent African Origins of Modern Humans scientific model, the early migrations out of Africa had all died out or retreated to Africa by 80,000 years ago.

Changing climate conditions opened up another opportunity for humans to spread out of Africa about 70,000 years ago.

Would The Real Modern Human Please Step Forward?

While human-looking creatures may have been wandering the Earth since 200,000 years ago, evidence from skulls demonstrates that the modern human brain shape did not appear until 100,000 to 35,000 years ago.  The wide date range in this case is attributed to the sparsity of high quality fossils in this time period.  Future discoveries may be needed to narrow down this time window.  As corroborating evidence, the oldest human-made arrowheads date to 64,000 years ago.  Arrowheads are considered "micro-lithic" technology, in other words, finely crafted stone tools.  Arrowheads and the bows necessary to project them are difficult to make and speak to abilities unique to human beings as distinct from earlier creatures.

What this testifies to is that these earlier humans, while physically and mentally similar to modern humans, were still not fit and ready for what God would do next.

Acts 17:26 testifies to how God works in human history. "And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allowed periods and the boundaries of their dwelling places".

Pressure in Africa to find a route off the continent may have contributed to a confluence of migrants from various areas within Africa meeting in an area west of the Red Sea.  Here, a best-of-breed human population may have arisen, the fittest of all Africa.  Hybrids incorporating the best features and fit for finally establishing a permanent presence of humans outside of Africa may have arisen at this time.

As climate change occurred across Africa and the Middle East, there were limited time windows when humans could effectively migrate from one area to another.  Stretches of dry, hot desert separated groups from each other for thousands of years at a time.  While some sophisticated human behaviors existed in South Africa as early as 100,000 years ago, these humans were trapped.  Then 60,000 to 70,000 years ago, the changing climate opened up a fertile lane from South to East Africa.

Researchers suggest that the mixing of Southern and Eastern Africans created an admixture that was ripe to expand to the whole world:
Those East African people were biologically little different from the South Africans -- they were all modern Homo sapiens, their brains were just as advanced and they were undoubtedly cognitively ready to receive the benefits of the new ideas and upgrade. But the way it happened might not have been so very different from a modern isolated stone-age culture encountering and embracing western civilization today.
In any case, it looks as if something happened when the groups from the South encountered the East, with the upshot being the greatest diaspora of Homo sapiens ever known -- both throughout Africa and out of Africa to settle much of Eurasia and as far as Australia within the space of only a few thousand years.  New light on origin of modern humans,  March 20, 2019
The Bible gives us the backstory on what God was doing:
Genesis 1:26-28 English Standard Version (ESV) 
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Three times in Genesis 1:27, God is declared as the creator of human beings.  The emphasis conveys that all this work is certainly His.  The Bible also states that humans were blessed to fill the earth and subdue it.  Until about 70,000 years ago, early humans were mostly trapped in Africa and those that did make it out, failed to thrive.

Finally, God had created men and women in His image.  He was about to bless them.

But what about Adam and Eve?

Genesis 2 in the Bible relates the story of God forming Adam from the dust of the Earth, placing him in the Garden of Eden, creating Eve from Adam's flesh, and bringing her to Adam in the Garden.  Since humans had already moved beyond the Great Zambini River Basin, are we looking for a new Garden of Eden?  Yes, we are.  And the Bible also tells us where to look.

Genesis 2:8-14 "...the LORD God planted a garden, in the east... A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.  ...the Pishon... the Gihon... the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria.... and the Euphrates."

The Tigris and Euphrates drain into what is now the Persian Gulf.  But 70,000 years ago, during the ice age, the sea levels were lower and what is now a gulf was once a fertile river basin, the likely location of the ancient Garden of Eden.  So how did people get from Africa, to the Garden of Eden in the East?  Let's consider two more clues.

The first is clear enough:  Genesis 2:15 says, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it."

The second clue takes a bit more work and its interpretation is subject to debate.  But here it is:
Hosea 11:1b "out of Egypt I called my son."

This verse is used figuratively of the nation of Israel, when God led them by way of the Red Sea away from Egypt and out into the Sinai Desert.  It is also fulfilled in Matthew 2:13-15 by Jesus returning from Egypt, where he and his family had fled, back to Israel.

Adam, the first man, is also called "the Son of God", just as Jesus was.  Of Jesus Christ it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit." 1 Corinthians  15:45.

This parallel gives us our second clue.  God called Adam out of Egypt and put him in Eden.  We can't prove this directly from the Bible - it is only suggested.  But if we follow this thread, we can interpret the scientific record or humanity's origin through the lens of Scripture.

A 2015 study supports the idea that successful migration of humans out of Africa took a northerly route from Egypt into Sinai, probably 55,000 to 65,000 years ago, and almost certainly more recently than 75,000 years ago.  It was this migration that filled Earth with humans.

Some evidence suggests that sea-faring humans populated the island of Luzon, Philippines by 67,000 years ago.  It cannot yet be proven that these were modern humans, however.

Adam

Now we arrive at a more narrative, explanatory place in telling the human story.  What follows is speculative at best.

By about 70,000 years ago [a range from about 75,000 to 65,000 should be considered based on research available at this time], God had cultivated the human physical and mental form until it was ready to bear His image, not only physically, but now also spiritually.  Consider a small band of human beings, fully formed as to the flesh, but lacking this one thing: an immortal spirit.  There they lived, in or near Egypt.  Perhaps in the Land of Goshen where the Israelites dwelt for 400 years while God shepherded them into a great nation from the 70 descendants of Jacob.

For comparison, the entire pre-1492 native population of the Americas is thought to have descended from just 70 individuals who crossed the land bridge between Asia and North America.

Now suppose that among this group, God sees a young woman.  She will bear a son who will be the son of God.  Not God Incarnate, but Image Bearer of God, Adam, the First Man.  Consider the parallel: in Christ, spirit took on flesh; in Adam, flesh took on spirit.

God's Spirit overshadowed this young woman.  She became pregnant and bore a son, whom God named Adam.  Unlike the Angels in Heaven, Adam is made of the dust of Earth, like an animal, like the creatures before him.  But unlike all other creatures, into Adam God breathed an immortal soul, and Adam became a living being.  Not living in the sense of physical life, but living in a much greater sense - that of spiritual life.

Perhaps, like Jesus, while yet a small child, God called Adam's family out of Egypt, across the fertile wilderness to the Persian Oasis.  Jesus, at age 12, went to the Temple of God, where His family did not find Him for three days.  Perhaps it was similar for Adam.  Perhaps at about age 12, God appeared to Adam and led him on a walk-about.  A walk-about is the traditional rite of the Australian Aboriginal people, which marks a transition to adulthood sometime between the ages of 10 and 16.  Since Aboriginal culture extends back almost 65,000 years, this tradition may have begun with God and Adam in some fashion.

 God led Adam to the garden He had prepared - the Garden of Eden.  There, Adam lived alone for a time, visited only by God Himself.  God taught Adam how to tend the Garden.

Adam left the hunter-gatherer lifestyle behind.  He became an arboreal cultivator, that is he survived by tending trees.  A 2011 study indicates humans were wearing clothing as early as 170,000 years ago.  But not Adam.  He abandoned the practice and the lice that came with it.  Good riddance.

In time, Adam matured and was ready for a mate.  Instead of God finding a mate among his hunter-gatherer family, God had something else in mind.  After all, Adam was special.  He was spiritually alive, unlike anyone else.  Adam also had been endowed with extraordinarily long life.

Eve

So God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep.  God took flesh, perhaps a stem cell from the bone of Adam's rib.  From this genetic material, which would have contained both X and Y chromosomes, God fashioned the XX DNA of a woman.  Perhaps a surrogate mother was again employed, to carry Eve to conception.  In time, she grew to an adult woman.  God brought her to Adam in the Garden.  She was flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone. But more importantly, she was spiritually alive like he was.  She became the "mother of all the living", just as testified to by Scripture.

Adam and Eve were the first spiritual human beings.  They were endowed with long life.  If they remained obedient to God, they would never have to be spiritually separated from Him.   They would never die.

But Adam and Eve disobeyed God.  In shame, they resumed the practice of wearing clothing.  Because they were cultivators, not hunters, they made their clothes from plants.  They may have patterned them after the clothing worn by their estranged people group.

God found them and banished them from Eden.  Not being hunters and gatherers, they and their children attempted to cultivate the ground and shepherd animals instead of hunting them.

Cain

In time Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, their first two sons.  In jealousy, Cain murdered Abel.  Cain was banished.

Abel the shepherd is no more and Cain the farmer is banished from his farm.  Early efforts in agriculture take a brutal hit.  While evidence exists that limited agriculture efforts continue, the true agricultural revolution will have to wait until after Noah's Flood.

Cain was also afraid.

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.[e] 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod,[f] east of Eden.

Taken at face value, there clearly are other people alive on the Earth of whom Cain is afraid.  In fact, they live in a land called Nod, which literally means the land of wandering.  There are other people wandering around east of Eden.  These people would be from the estranged family of Adam and their descendants; heavily armed hunter-gatherers, mighty hunters of whom to be afraid.  It makes some sense to identify these with the "sons and daughters of men" while the descendants of Adam, the son of God, and of Eve, would be identified as the "sons and daughters of God".  See the cryptic content of Genesis 6:4:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
In time Cain took a wife.

Cain's wife presumably was not of the line of Adam and Eve.  She was perhaps what the Bible would call "a daughter of man".  Perhaps she did not have an extraordinary life span.  Cain and his wife gave birth to a son, Enoch.  Enoch had Eve for a grandmother.  Eve was the mother of all the living and Enoch, as a descendant of Eve, would have been a spiritual human being like Adam, Eve, and Cain.  But unlike the genealogy leading to Noah, the genealogy of the descendants of Cain make no claims of long lives.

The Mother of All the Living

At the beginning of this article, the mitochondrial types (mtDNA) of female humans,  L0, L1, L2, and L3 were discussed.  An article published in 2018 makes the case that the L3 female lineage originated outside of Africa about 71,000 years ago and then led to a migration of fully modern humans back into Africa 70,000 years ago.  With these L3 females, human males with a Y-DNA type of E also migrated back into Africa.  The results of the study indicate a "joint and global replacement of the [indigenous] male and female African lineages by the new Eurasian incomers".   This global replacement in Africa and the expansion of humans to the rest of the world effectively resets the true location of human origins.  Spiritually modern humans did not evolve in Africa and then migrate out.  Rather, God put Adam and Eve in a Garden in the Middle East and from there the world was populated.

The human male Y-DNA type begins with A, followed by BT, CT, CF, an elusive DE, and then D and E.  From there it further diverged.  The L3 mtDNA diverged into M and N types outside of Africa, and then further diverged.

In the scenario under consideration, Adam would have inherited his mother's mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), either L3 or a slightly pre-L3 version.  Eve, made from Adam, would have the same mtDNA.  Of course, we cannot rule out modifications by God.  After all, God did imbue Adam and Eve with long life spans, so in a sense, we should expect modifications of some kind.  God may have created the CT Y-DNA type first in Adam.  CT is currently referred to as the "Eurasian Adam" or "Out of Africa Adam" by some in the genetic archaeology community.  Unfortunately, many of those who do so probably fail to realize how close to correct they may actually be.

Expanding to the East, those in the land of wandering continued East.  The oldest permanent people group outside of Africa and the Middle East are the Australian Aborigines.  These people settled Australia up to 55,000 years ago (or possibly earlier), taking the male Y-DNA type C* with them.  The women among them carry M and N, but not L3.  It is reasonable to believe that these settlers bore God's image with them to Australia, as descendants of Adam and Eve.

In time, spiritual humanity spread among the daughters and sons of man, perhaps rapidly.  Humans began to disperse into the world.  The direct line of Adam and Eve, who went on to have other sons and daughters, retained a more correct knowledge of God and long life.  These are called the sons of God.  The descendants of Cain, admixed with the ancient race, will have a distant hint of their ancestral lineages, potentially up to 200,000 years old.

The descendants of Adam and Eve migrated back into Africa, to Australia, to Eurasia and throughout the whole world.

In a short time, everyone on Earth will have acquired a shared ancestry with Adam and Eve and a spiritual nature.  All who do not, including Neanderthals and Denisovans died out.  Human beings took over the world.  By about 65,000 years ago, humanity was establishing a more global reach.

The First City

Cain built a city in the land of wandering (Nod) and named it after his son, Enoch.  This may be significant in that ultimately, God's plan involves building a city for His people.  But Cain cannot accomplish God's vision for humanity, having rebelled against God.  Still, humanity's drive to build cities and congregate people is referenced again in Genesis 11:4 which records this: Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Cain's motivation may have been similar.  Possibly, Cain's city was little more than a semi-permanent encampment, but we don't really know.  In any case, humanity dispersed.

The Genealogy of Noah

The interpretation of the ancestral line from Adam to Noah is one of the most controversial issues in creation theology.  Since we have so far posited that Adam lived somewhere around 70,000 years ago, the next question is, when did Noah live?

In another post, Toward An Historical Timeline for Genesis 2 through 11, I make a case for the Flood occurring somewhere near 10,000 BC.  That means Noah's genealogy back to Adam spanned 60,000 years.  That's a lot of ground to cover.

There are many interesting aspects to the genealogies in Genesis, but some elements stand out.  One is the great length of the lives of the people mentioned.  The other is that the age of the father at the son's birth and the age of the father's death are recorded.  We have already mentioned acceptance of the long life span of the individual in Adam and Eve's direct line of descent.  None-the-less, the total of these ages will not yield 60,000 years.  If we assume that only the most important ancestors are recorded, it is still interesting to think about why the genealogies are recorded the way they are.

We can reasonably assume that the genealogy was passed down, generation to generation, orally.  Now, it's not difficult to memorize even a very long genealogy, but we can't make assumptions about what the genealogies mean without some context.

The ancestors of the San People of South Africa are thought to date back about 70,000 years.  In other words, they might have been some of the first to admix with Adam and Eve's descendants and they retain a genetic signal of the mtDNA L0 maternal lineage and the A & B Y-DNA paternal lineage that pre-date Adam and Eve.  Therefore, how they propagated their genealogies might be of some relevance in understanding how we should look at the genealogies in the book of Genesis, chapters 5 and 11.
Some San groups practice naming conventions by which people are named after their grandparents or uncles and aunts, who are classificatory grandparents in some systems.  Names jump downwards through generations, from grandparents to grandchildren.  Among Ju/'hoansi and Naro, all those who share the same name are believed to be descended from the original namesake ancestor.  p. 130 Anthropology of the Bushment, by Alan Barnard, 2007.
Since "all those who share the same name are believed to be descended from the original namesake ancestor", this could hamper trying to "add up ages" to get a grand total of time elapsed.  Now, we don't know that the Biblical genealogies followed San conventions, of course.  But the point is, we really don't know what the conventions were at all.  Given that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 both include ten generations, one convention could have been to just keep the ten most important.

This article on wikipedia includes an interesting graphic comparing the Genealogies of Cain and Seth, in the section by that name.  It provides some food for thought as to what to make of these genealogies as a whole.

We can assume that these genealogies represent truth about humanity's past because Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, included them in the Bible.  But it cannot be assumed that they were dictated directly to Moses by God Himself as a kind of absolute record.  Like other genealogies in the Bible, they are likely the work of human scribes and historians whose contributions were included in the Bible according to God's sovereign will for our benefit and His glory.

Summary

I have written quite a few ideas in the article that may be very new to you as the reader, and may be even alarming or offensive.  In fact, many of the ideas presented here would have had scant evidence even several years ago.  This article may raise as many questions as it tries to answer.  I welcome your feedback and offer my views in good faith that as a fellow Christian I desire to see God glorified for all He has done.

While it appears that God may have been honing the human creature into His image over hundreds of thousands of years, He also revealed to us in the Bible the true story of bringing spiritual life into this natural world.  Through Adam, God blessed humanity with more than just physical resemblance to the human form.  God blessed humanity with spiritual life and a moral obligation to worship God as our  Creator.  I hope you will join me in doing so.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Update on Historical Timeline for Genesis 2 through 11

In a previous post, Toward An Historical Timeline for Genesis 2 through 11, a speculative timeline based on the controversial Younger Dryas Impact Theory and the speculative Enoch Prophecy interpretation was detailed.

This theory posits that a disintegrating comet struck Earth 12,800 years ago and kicked off a 1,200 year period of ice age conditions, caused the extinction of many large animal species, and wiped out some people groups around the world.  Speculatively, this comet strike might correspond to the prophecy of Enoch recorded in the Book of Jude in the Bible.  Given the controversial and speculative nature of these ideas, we present them here mostly just for interest.  Neither concept can be proven at this point.

That timeline development was inspired by the article, Major Cosmic impact 12,800 years ago which detailed the discovery of a "black mat" layer in Chile, 12,800 years in age, thought to correspond to a major Earth impact event by a disintegrating comet.  This event is associated with:

  • disappearance of South American Pleistocene megafauna fossils
  • abrupt shift in regional vegetation
  • disappearance of human artifacts
evidenced by:
  • microscopic spherules thought to be caused by a extremely high temperature melt event
  • spherules containing chromium associated with local rocks, indicating a local impact
  • charcoal remnants of a large biomass burning event
  • rapidity of climate change better attributable to an atmospheric rather than oceanic effect

This evidence added on to similar data from North America and Western Europe.

Today's post is a follow up based on African evidence support Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis published October 2, 2019.  While the evidence is not strong enough to confirm the Hypothesis, it adds support from finds in Africa.  The evidence in hand is a layer of Platinum-rich dust dated to 12,800 years ago that was thought to be kicked up by the impact.

This theory is still considered controversial, even with mounting evidence.  The scientific process is meticulous and often cautious.  Last year a major impact crater was discover in Greenland, called the Hiawatha Crater.  It is 31 kilometers in diameter and such an impact would be expected to have a world-wide climate altering impact.  However, the Hiawatha Crater is covered in ice and therefore requires a long bore hole or some similar technique to sample its material and date its age.  So far, it cannot be definitely linked to the 12,800 year ago events.  While many investigators would relish that information, it is not easily obtained.

For now, my original post can continue to stand as an interesting speculative timeline with some new incremental evidence in its favor.




Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Rewriting the textbooks; but not the AOJ creation model

Sometimes there are exciting and profound scientific discoveries that are said to require a "re-writing of the scientific textbooks".  What does that mean to creation models that align the geologic history with the Biblical account in Genesis 1?  A recent article in Science Daily provides a chance to test what happens.

A press release from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg includes a nice graphic worth following the link to see.  Discovery of a drop of ancient seawater is found to provide evidence that plate tectonics started 600 million years earlier that geology textbooks currently claim.  The clues analyzed to come to this conclusion were gathered from a drop of molten rock encased in a mineral called olivine that provided a kind of time-capsule that dated to 3.3 billion years ago.   That places the formation of the sample during the Archean Eon which spanned from 4 billion to 2.5 billion years ago.

This shifts the start of plate tectonics from near the end of the Archean to the middle.  The Ages of Joy creation model sees a strong correlation between the events of the Archean and the events of Day 1.  Light-driven photosynthesis purifying the deep is the primary mechanism at work described in Genesis 1 for Day 1.  However, God's revelation to Job provides additional insight in to the early Earth.

Job 38:8-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Or who shut in the sea with doors
    when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
    and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
Even from the birth of the ocean, it's waves pounded ancient coastlines lifted up by plate tectonics and volcanic mountain building.  These early continents were barren, rocky craglands, not yet graced with the plant life God created on Day 3.  While the details in some textbooks may need to be re-written, the Ages of Joy creation model can easily accommodate this shift in dates and appreciates the increasingly detailed and accurate natural history of Earth that is being refined by scientists around the world.

Quoting from the article: "Earth is the only planet in our solar system that is shaped by plate tectonics and without it the planet would be uninhabitable."

This is exactly the kind of scientific discovery that our creation model anticipates.  God most certainly created the Earth to be inhabited, and without His handiwork, no life would exist.

Proverbs 8:31 English Standard Version (ESV)

31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.
Glory to God in the highest!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Importance of Story Telling

As I researched the topic of story telling for this blog post, I came across a paper, The Importance of Story Telling, on the Homeschool Legal Defense Association site covering the very topic that was on my heart.  It is well written - a student submission to an essay contest - and is worth reading.  I would like to express my thanks to the anonymous author.

The essay asserts that story telling is the most important tradition possessed by mankind.  If true, then perhaps that is why God chose to communicate to human beings through story.  He has given us the narrative histories of the Old Testament, the parables of Christ in the Gospels, the harrowing tales of faith and adventure in the book of Acts, and so many other stories - stories mixed with lessons for our lives, with truth from beyond this universe, and with hope for all mankind.

Here at Ages of Joy, we believe that the stories recorded in the Bible are True Stories.  Not just true, but the truest kind of Truth.  Sure, there are names and places and events from this world's historical past, recorded often by eyewitnesses who gave as accurate an account as humanly possible.  But even more importantly, there is Truth expressed that transcends this world, communicated by God to men and women through many different means.  This Truth is truer than anything in this universe, because it was True before this universe even came into being.  This Truth is so lofty and profound that the means of this world can only barely represent it.  But by the power of God's Holy Spirit, He reaches down into the hearts and minds of mankind, to those who will listen, and reveals these deep Truths.

Some of that Truth speaks of the creation of this universe, because God wants us to know that He made us, that He is our Creator.  God authored this universe and He authored the stories in the Bible about His authoring this universe.  We can learn a great deal about what God made and when God made it from scientific investigation.  But we can only learn why God made mankind and this universe from God Himself.  He chose to reveal that kind of truth in Person.

Mankind has always wondered about Who created us, how we got here, what our purpose in life is.  God has placed within the human heart such a desperate need to know the answers to these questions, that in absence of revelation, we make up answers.  We tell stories - stories meant to fill the void in our hearts and our minds with answers to big questions, like Why am I here? and Where did I come from? Of course for these stories to help us, to satisfy our longing we have to believe them.  To believe them, we have to be told these stories by people we trust - by people who seem to accept the stories as true for themselves.  Often, these stories are handed down from parents to children, other times from teachers to pupils.  Sometimes they are discovered in dusty books or among the broken shards in a ruined city.  The most important stories are handed down for hundreds or thousands of years and are guarded as sacred relics from our ancestors.

But God did not create mankind with a longing to know the answers to the questions of our origins just to give us opportunity for creative expression and community building.  His purpose was not to simply give us a reason for traditions and language.  He intended that our quest for answers would lead us to Himself.  For that to happen, our desire for Truth has to be stronger than our desire to know.  For we can know many things that are not True.  But it is of much greater worth to know a few things are are really True.

A long time ago, mankind began telling stories about gods and goddesses creating the world, and animals, and man.  These stories became the traditions around which religions were built and cultures were formed.  But because they were not true stories, this led to a great deal of harm.  The storytellers became power brokers and used their power for personal gain at the expense of others.  The True Story of God had been lost.  Mankind had mostly forgotten and abandoned the old tale and invented many new ones.

Into this mess, God sent a miracle.  The miracle took the form of story.  In this case, a True Story.  In fact, several True Stories.  And these True Stories are what this blog site is all about.  One of those stories was passed down by a family from the very beginning.  It starts with the first man, Adam; is handed down through his descendants; and finally makes it way to a man named Moses, who captured it into what would become the Bible.  Another True Story was revealed that regards the creation of the world in which we live and of mankind.  This story appears to have been given to a priest for it is written in an elevated style.  That story also made its way to Moses and it too was captured into the Bible.  The priest's story starts with the phrase: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  The Biblical book of Genesis records the priest's story starting with chapter one, verse one and concludes with chapter two, verse three, and then summarizes it in chapter two, verse four.  The story of Adam's family line follows thereafter.  There are other True Stories about creation recorded in the Bible as well, such as the Story of Job.  From all these True Stories, we can have solid answers about why God made us, who God is, and what God intends for us to do.

But how do we know that the stories in the Bible are the True Stories and not just made up stories?  Well, in olden times, God testified to them by miracles.  The people who received the stories knew that the stories were True Stories because God appeared to them.  In the times that followed, the stories were safeguarded and handed down, all the way to us today.  We can trust them because they are True Stories from God.  But in modern times, God has also testified to these stories through scientific discovery.  We can use science to help us weed out which ancient stories were made up, and which ancient stories were truly established by revelation.

Here at Ages of Joy, we believe that science powerfully testifies that the creation stories of the Book of Genesis are True Stories.  Genesis 1:1-2:4 is written in a genre of epic literature as a polemic against false creation stories by encapsulating the true history of God's creative acts in sufficient detail that all other pretenders can be recognized as nonsense while it alone is vindicated by the physical evidence provided by the creation itself.  At Ages of Joy, we want to help readers to see how and why that is a case that can be made and successfully defended.  We recognize that this is not a trivial task.  We see that there is a need to "tell the story" in such a way that the True Story of creation can be recognized as True and the false stories as false.

It is important for our culture, our families, and our Church to be able to weave the tapestry of these stories, stories from the Bible and stories from nature, in to the True Story that our children can receive with trust and in sincerity pass on to their own children and to all the seekers of Truth that they meet.  This does not mean changing the stories in the Bible.  It does entail explaining them and translating them into our time and place in history as all our faithful ancestors before us have done.

Therefore, we must develop this narrative.  We must tell the story.  Reading Genesis 1 does not so much answer questions as it does prompt us to ask the right questions and for the right reasons in order to know the right God in the right way.  God's creation itself testifies about Him and is meant to be studied to answer many questions.  At Ages of Joy we see the value in writing a narrative for parents and teachers and children that bridges some of the gaps and points seekers in the right direction.  We want to point people to the God of the Bible and to the True Story written on tablets of stone by the finger of God and by the chisel of Moses and written in the stones and the bones of the dusty earth and in the biological genes and astronomical scenes witnessed through scopes both micro and macro.

Please keep reading this blog and contribute your thoughts in comments or questions as we prepare this narrative together.










Thursday, June 6, 2019

Updated Chart of Genesis 1 Parallels

Creation Day and EventsGenesis 1:1-2:4 (YLT)Genesis 1 Parallels and Comments
Genesis 2:4 These [are] births of the heavens and of the earth in their being prepared, in the day of Jehovah God's making earth and heavens;Summary statement of the whole work placed at the end in ancient texts. (Toldot theory)
Big Bang

Elements Formed
Genesis 1:1In the beginning
of God's
preparing the heavens and the earth
Multiple generations of stars produce the full array of elements from which the Sun, Earth, and Moon formed.

Formation of all types of galaxies, stars, planets, astroids, comets, moons, quasars, and blackholes.
Solar Ignition of the SunAnd God maketh the two great luminaries, the great luminary2
Moon-forming impact…and the small luminary 
Ongoing star formation-- and the stars —
Hadean

(The Birth of the Deep)
the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness [is] on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters,Light from the new Sun cannot penetrate the thick atmosphere of Earth created by the conditions of the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB).
ConditionsEarth formless, void, darkenedHeavens formed, filled, illumined
Late Heavy Bombardment…and darkness [is] on the face of the deep…
DAY 1

Archean

(The Birth of Day and Night)
[Ordained] `Let light be;’Luminaries light the Deep and the Earthto give Light upon the Earth:’1
and light is. 4 And God seeth the light that [it is] good,to give light upon the earth,…3
[Separated]and God separateth between the light and the darkness,Luminaries separate Day and Nightto make a separation between the day and the night,…1
[Called]
5 and God calleth to the light `Day,' and to the darkness He hath called `Night;'
for the rule of the day, …
for the rule of the night;…
2
and to rule over day and over night,
3
and to make a separation between the light and the darkness;
Oxygenation EventAnd there was evening and there was morning — day one.
DAY 2

Proterozoic

(The Birth of the Protective Firmament)
And God saith,Luminaries Appear in the Expanse
[Ordained] `Let an expanse be in the midst of the waters,…`Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens,…1
and let it be separating between waters and waters.’
[Fulfilled] And God maketh the expanse,and they have been for luminaries in the expanseof the heavens,…2
and it separateth between the waters which [are] under the expanse, and the waters which [are] above the expanse: and it is so.
[Called] And God calleth to the expanse`Heavens;'and God giveth them in the expanse of the heavens3
Snowball EarthAnd there was evening and there was morning — day second.
DAY 3

Paleozoic
Mesozoic

(The Birth of the Continents and Seas and Plants)
And God saith,And God saith,
`Let the waters under the heavens be collected unto one place,`Let the waters teem with the teeming living creature,1
and let the dry land be seen:'and fowl let fly on the earthon the face of the expanse of the heavens.’2
and it is so.
And God calleth to the dry land `Earth,'`Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas,2
and to the collection of the waters He hath called `Seas;'and the fowl let multiply in the earth:'1
and God seeth that [it is] good.
And God saith,And God saith,
`Let the earth yield tender grass,`Let the earth bring forththe living creature after its kind, cattle1
herb sowing seed,and creeping thing,2
fruit-tree (whose seed [is] in itself) making fruit after its kind, on the earth:'and beast of the earth after its kind:'3
and it is so.and it is so.
And the earth bringeth forth tender grass,And God maketh the beast of the earth after its kind,3
herb sowing seed after its kind,and the cattle after their kind,1
and tree making fruit (whose seed [is] in itself) after its kind;and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind,2
and God seeth that [it is] good;and God seeth that [it is] good.
Fruit Trees RadiateAnd there was evening and there was morning — day third.
DAY 4

Upper Cretaceous

(The Birth of Signs, Seasons, Days, and Years)
`Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens,Luminaries appear in the sky on Day 2.1
to make a separation between the day and the night,Luminaries separate day and night on Day 1.1
[to signify signs, seasons, days, years]then they have been for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years,God's providence in creating the luminaries and so ordering them to serve the needs of plant, beast, and man.
and they have been for luminaries in the expanse of the heavens,The expanse of the heavens opened on Day 2, at which time the lumenaries shown forth.2
to give Light upon the Earth:’Refering the light-giving role of the luminaries as fulfilled since Day 1.1
and it is so.Now luminaries also serve as signs.
And God maketh the two great luminaries,
the great luminary
and the small luminary - and the stars -
In the beginning, God filled the heavens with lights.2
The separation of day from night by the luminaries ordained on Day 1.
2
and God giveth them in the expanse of the heavensRepetition highlights the poetic structure and underscores God is the One who did this when He formed the expanse on Day 2.3
to give light upon the earth,Ordained on Day 13
and to rule over day and night,Ordained on Day 1
3
and to make a separation between the light and the darkness;Ordained on Day 1
and God seeth that [it is] good;God's signifies approval. Begun on Day 1, expanded on Day 2, completes on Day 4.
K-T ExtinctionAnd there was evening and there was morning — day fourth.
DAY 5

Paleogene

(The Birth of Modern Fish and Birds)
And God saith,
`Let the waters teem with the teeming living creature,1
and fowl let fly on the earth on the face of the expanse of the heavens.'2
And God prepareth
the great monsters, and every living creature that is creeping, which the waters have teemed with, after their kind, and every fowl with wing, after its kind
and God seeth that [it is] good. And God blesseth them, saying,
`Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas,1
and the fowl let multiply in the earth:'2
E-O ExtinctionAnd there was evening and there was morning — day fifth.
Oligocene

(The Birth of Specially Endowed Plants)
giving of plants for mankind, beasts, birds, and every creeping thing

The sudden appearance of 60 species of grasses, fruit trees, and other plants that utilized effecient C4 photosynthesis fueled the rapid ascendancy of mammals.

DAY 6












Neogene

(The Birth of Cattle, Small Mammals, and Wild Animals)
And God saith,
`Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle1
and creeping thing,2
and beast of the earth after its kind:'3
it is so
And God maketh the beast of the earth after its kind,3
and the cattle after their kind,1
and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind,2
and God seeth that [it is] good.
And God saith,
`Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,
and let them rule (3 dominions)
over fish of thesea,1
and over fowl of theheavens,2
and over cattle,1
and over all the earth,2
and over every creeping thing that is creeping on theearth.'33
27 And God prepareth the man in His image; in the image of God He prepared him, a male and a female He prepared them.
And God blesseth them, and God saith to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (3-fold command)
and subdue it and rule (3 dominions)
over fish of thesea,1
and over fowl of theheavens,2
and over every living thing that is creeping upon theearth.”3
And God saith, `Lo, I have given to you (3 groups of plants; man plus 3 groups of creatures)
every herb sowing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth,1
and every tree in which [is] the fruit of a tree sowing seed,2
Quaternary

(The Birth of the Human Race in Adam and Eve)
to you it is for food;
and to every beast of the earth,1
and to every fowl of the heavens,2
and to every creeping thing on the earth, in which [is] breath of life,3
every green herb [is] for food:’3
and it is so.
31 And God seeth all that He hath done, and lo, very good;
Special creation of Adam and Eve
Toba VolcanoAnd there was evening and there was morning — day the sixth.
DAY 7Anthropozoic

(This Generation)
Genesis 2:1 And the heavens and the earth are completed, and all their host;
2 and God completeth by the seventh day His work which He hath made, and ceaseth by the seventh day from all His work which He hath made.
3 And God blesseth the seventh day, and sanctifieth it, for in it He hath ceased from all His work which God had prepared for making.
4 These [are] births of the heavens and of the earth in their being prepared, in the day of Jehovah God's making earth and heavens;
The Fall
The Flood
Abraham
Christ
The Church
The Harvest at the End of the Age
The Age to Come
The New Heavens and the New Earth
Kingdom of LightOuter Darkness
agesofjoy.blogspot.com© William D Rogers 2018, 2019

In the image of God, He created them

Where to begin? This article explores current scientific theories and findings on the origin of humanity through the lens of Scripture.  B...