Sunday, December 30, 2018

Critiquing Hugh Ross Video/Model on Noah's Flood

In my opinion Dr. Hugh Ross is a fine Christian gentleman. His ministry sustained me in earlier decades and I have bought and read a number of his books. Before I was shown the Christ-Centered model for early Genesis I guess his model was the closest to what I believed for many years, although as data was coming in which negated it I was getting my doubts.

All that said, I have been asked to critique his video on the flood, shown above, since I have been saying that his model is not really feasible. If one just listens to the video, it seems pretty compelling, especially if the video is from eight or nine years ago before certain evidence started coming in.

I  now hold to a different Old Earth model. The Christ-centered model is a different way to look at Genesis, and it takes a lot of "unlearning" of theology which isn't really in the bible to "get it". So I am not trying to sell you on that here so much as to get people to see that the RTB model is increasingly untenable. If you are looking for a model that is still tenable, you may want to take on learning the Christ-centered model. Now on to the break-down:

Most of the first half hour Dr. Ross was making the case that the flood did not cover the whole physical globe and that the account did not really teach that all the earth's animals were on the ark - just those most associated with man. I agree with both points and in fact on point #2 I have gone into much further detail about the text of early Genesis to show the same thing. So for the first part there was nothing to critique. I hope and pray that Reasons to Believe adopts the Christ-centered model and that there is nothing to disagree about period. Until then...

The first point of disagreement is small potatoes. At about 28:05 he talks about the visual horizon from the ark. He thinks that in verse 8:5 Noah was on the top of the ark and had a more distant view of the horizon than the dove which failed to find a place to land (that he released in verse nine). That is why Ross thinks they report that "the tops of the mountains were seen" yet later the dove could not find them.

I don't think current depictions of the ark, with a nice row of windows on top, fits the text at all. The ark was just left open on its top center 1.5 cubits to let in air, but this was covered with what we would call today an awning.  This was the "cover" mentioned in verse thirteen and the text acts like they didn't really get a good look around until this cover was removed. That makes sense because if they were able to get a good look around prior to that then why release the birds to try and find land? I conclude that the earlier report of Shem, Ham, and Japheth that "the high hills were covered" (7:14-15) at the height of the flood was based on the fact that their ship had a draft of 15 cubits and did not run aground for months, plus they saw no mountains in the very limited distance they could see under the awning which covered the top of the roof of the ark.

So when verse five reports that "the tops of the mountains were seen" it is not talking about distant very high peaks- in fact the word for mountains there does not contain the same modifier which specifies "higher" peaks found elsewhere in the account. The tops they saw were not the tops of the highest peaks. They were the ones closest to their ship, visible through very shallow water. That is, they saw that some hills were close to poking out of the water and they wondered "is there dry land just beyond what we can see?" So they let a bird out to find out. They really didn't know much about what the surrounding countryside was like until they removed the "cover" or awning in verse thirteen, and the text conveys that. This allows for a smaller and more highland flood. If they had really had a 40ft high crow's nest, they may have seen distant mountains even at the height of the flood, but they didn't have that.

At around 34:58  and in time 58 in the video he talks about the whole world living in the region of Mesopotamia. He has a model where humanity is in this region, the flood destroys this region, and Noah's ark lands at the edge of the region (see 106:20 to see better where he thinks the ark landed). Does anyone want to explain to me how the ark, driven either east by the wind from the east that the text talks about, or south by natural drainage from the highlands into the gulf, still winds up landing at the northern edge of this region? Besides that, the best translations say that after the flood they journeyed from the east and found the land of Shinar. That is, the Ark landed east of Mesopotamia and they had to journey from the east to get the plain. Where he says the ark landed does not make sense on any level.

But that is a quarrel from the text. If what he is trying to do is Concordism then the model falls flat when it suggests that the entire human race lived in his proposed flood region 45-55K years ago. For example...

85,000 year old human finger bone found in Al-Wusta Arabia (outside proposed flood zone).

At least 70,000 year old teeth and tools from South Africa see also here.

In Egypt 55K ago...

In Northern Australia at least 59K ago....(paper here)

In China at least 80K ago.....(this is the most controversial of the bunch)

In Libya, a modern human mandible from 73KYA. See abstract & paper here.

From Israel, 55K ago....

There are probably some I missed, but even if I didn't this list is just going to grow. So far as we can tell at no time was humanity restricted to the area Dr. Ross says was subject to the flood. And that doesn't even take into account the DNA evidence. There is a lot about this field that we still don't know, but it is highly, highly unlikely that humanity was reduced to a single Y-chromosome only 55,000 years ago, which would be the case if all men except Noah and his sons perished in a flood at that time.

Add to all that the case from the scriptures that when they went to Mesopotamia after the flood, the text of Genesis suggests that it was already inhabited when the families of Noah got there. Don't worry, the Christ-centered model has text-based explanations for all this....but back to the Hugh Ross video:

Around 50:45 he connects the land being divided in the "days of Peleg" to the Bering Straight opening up. Peleg can mean "stream" or "channel" but it makes a lot more sense that Peleg was named this because of what was happening in his home region of Mesopotamia, not something happening thousands of miles away. It could have been referring to the dividing of the land referenced in Genesis 10:32. That is, a political division of territory which could have been marked by streams. It could have been speaking of the scattering at Babel, which might have occurred during his days. From 3-4 thousand B.C. they also began digging irrigation canals in southern Mesopotamia, so it could even be a reference to that. These are things that occurred much more recently than the end of the ice age of course, and I think his timeline is as much of a reach as the idea that Peleg got his name from the Bering Straight opening up.

Also around minute 58 he talks about snow melt being the source of the flood waters. This is in an effort to push the age of the flood further back in time. But the text of Genesis tells us where the water came from (rain and the fountains of the deep breaking up) and it's not from snow melt. At time 102 he talks about how the "timing is wrong" for the Black Sea flood to be the flood of Noah. Well maybe so but it is a lot closer to any rational reading of the genealogies than the RTB model is.

At around 106:50 he talks about Nineveh being close to where he thinks the ark landed and then points out that building Nineveh was something that they did soon after they got off the ark. Well, not exactly. They first found the plain in Shinar after coming from the east, and then Asshur went from the land of Shinar and built Nineveh. So I have already mentioned some of the problems the RTB model has with paleontology and genetics, but here are some problems it faces with archaeology in light of what the text of early Genesis says that the first few generations from the flood did......

1) Genesis 10:22 says that Shem was the father of Asshur, while in verse eleven we learn that Asshur founded several cities including Ninevah. The location and period of habitation of Ninevah is known. There was surely no city there prior to 8,000 years ago and probably much more recently than that. Thus the flood was not much earlier than 8,000 years ago and probably more recent than that. So the model is untenable- unless one wishes to postulate tens of thousands of years worth of skipped generations between Shem and his son Asshur.

2) Cush was the son of Ham (10:4) and Cush "begat" Nimrod (10:8) who was apparently a contemporary of Asshur mentioned above, since verse 11 also states that Asshur went out from the land it previously said was controlled by Nimrod in order to found Ninevah. Therefore it is difficult to attribute a huge number of generations from Cush to Nimrod. And Nimrod is also described as controlling several cities, at least one of whom (Erech) we can locate in historical time. Again, these cities don't go back tens of thousands of years in the past. We can tell roughly when they were founded.

3) The text indicates that Adam and Eve's descendants did not live as hunter-gatherers but were immediately guided into civilized practices like agriculture and animal husbandry. Gen. 4:2 says that Cain was a tiller of the soil, and Abel a keeper of sheep. It is extremely unlikely, to put it mildly, that sheep have been domesticated for 70,000 years. The very first ones were more like 10-15 thousand years ago (and the location and timing of the first domestication of most major livestock is a stunning confirmation of the Christ-centered model). The same is true with agriculture. The Reasons to Believe model must postulate that civilization was lost right after the fall and not recovered until recently. But the text does not indicate that. Gen. 4:20 describes Adah, seven generations from Adam, as the "father" of those who live in tents and travel with flocks. This would not be true if the practice died out immediately afterward and was rediscovered by unconnected individuals tens of thousands of years later.

In the same way, his brother Jubal is described as the "father" of those who play the harp and the organ. And Tubal-Cain (4:22) is described as an "instructor" in metallurgy. Thus the text contradicts the idea of lost arts.

4) In Gen. 5:29 Lamech the father of Noah references the curse on the soil and the associated toil therein. In other words they were still working the soil. In 8:22 God promises that seedtime and harvest will remain, indicating further that they were agricultural. Noah plants a vineyard (9:20) after landing.

5) Cain himself is described as founding a city (4:17). Is it realistic to think that men were building cities 70,000 years ago but there is no evidence for them until the last 12,000 years or so?

6) While a case can be made for a skipped generation here or there in the genealogies, the dates for humanity and its near-global dispersal have been pushed so far back that it makes the genealogies useless and even pointless. If the flood was 50,000 years ago how is it that the sons and grandsons of Shem, Ham, and Japheth were constructing/ruling cities whose place in history we know to be less than 8,000 years ago? If the flood was more recent, then how does it square with the overwhelming genetic and archaeological evidence that most of the old world not covered by ice sheets has been more or less continuously occupied for more than 40,000 years?

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Look, scientists change their model when the evidence starts going the other way. The evidence has gone the other way here. It is time to look at things differently. It is time to look at the text of Genesis differently. The Christ-centered model resolves all of these issues, but it means doing something that fallen human beings have a very hard time doing- admitting they were wrong about ideas they previously held. Nevertheless, doing so is one of the fundamental values of the Christian faith. We are not perfect, just forgiven. 



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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Evolution Rates: Stark Contrast Between Observed and Postulated


I have on more than one occasion had a dialogue with my friends who accept evolution which goes something like this: They point to a small difference which doubtless could occur by known processes and postulate that all change we see occurred via similar mechanisms. I counter that it is unsound to extrapolate that data so far as to be an explanation for great differences. I then try to show that evolution has a rate problem. That is, even if given enough time unguided nature could do everything they say it did, the question is really whether or not it is plausibly for it to be done in the time available. I point to evidence that known natural mechanisms don't operate at the rate required to explain the changes observed, even if you grant an old earth.

A perfect example showed up in the news this week. Scientists have been able to get what they think are more accurate dates on the period of vast change sometimes called the "Cambrian Explosion". They think the transition from Ecidarian to Cambrian occurred over less than 410,000 years, a much narrower window than the 5-10 million they were previously able to narrow it down to. That is just outrageously fast considering that life on earth went from animals with the complexity of sponges to pretty much every phyla of life on earth showing up right then- including some no longer with us. How did all that diversity occur so fast? By known evolutionary processes? That's absurd. 

If you want to see how fast known evolutionary processes work, see this article about speciation released the same week. The bottom line is that over the course of three million years a population of howler monkeys seems to have split into two "species".  The "split" is far from complete as they are still so close that hybridization occurs where the two populations mix. After three million years one population of Howler Monkeys has had an incomplete split into two populations. That's an example of how fast natural selection works in the real world. And while there are faster examples available they are always or almost always the result of a shuffling of existing genes, not the accumulation of new ones as would be necessary for the sort of macro-evolution my naturalist friends think happened. 

So there you have it. They can document an incomplete split of populations of Howler Monkeys over three million years and they think the same processes are responsible for what we see in the Cambrian- where dozens of new phyla appear in a mere fraction of the time. My protests that there must have been something else going on there- an unseen hand operating in the past which is no longer doing that now, are met with irritation and indignation. Which I guess would be OK, if it were paired with real answers. It's not.

Macro-evolution has a rate problem. Taken across the broad expanse of time (538 million years since the Cambrian began) it is noticeable. When you zoom in on the periods of greatest change it is glaring. The most often-used tactic of my more naturalist-leaning friends to my protests is to focus on the human-chimp differences and stress how that genetic gap is not so large given the supposed time between purported ancestors. Then they assume that if the observed naturalistic rate of change is within parameters for that particular example then can minimize or ignore the large picture I am pointing to.

I find this baffling. If I might give an analogy, it would be like my claiming that a certain species of worms had help travelling based on my observing repeated instances of them showing up thousands of miles away in a short period of time. Maybe humans took them there, maybe a migrating bird stored them in their gullets. I don't know, I just know the idea that they crawled to their new locations on their own is negated by the rate problem. They simply don't move fast enough to have made that trip on their own. My evolutionist friend replies by giving an instance where the worm populations are spotted only half a mile away a year later. In that instance it is quite possible they did make the trip under their own power. Not proven mind you, but possible given the short distance between the two points and the speed of the worms. My evolutionary friend then considers his case to be won.

Of course it isn't won. He or she is simply pointing to an instance where the "naturalistic" explanation is possible and then assuming that this establishes it as true. This is done whist ignoring all the instances where the rate problem suggests that their hypothesis is implausible. This is terrible reasoning but I have seen it done by brilliant people. In actuality the instances where the "naturalistic" explanation is plausible don't at all change the facts that there are instances where it does not. Even if we have more precise measurements available on the case where the worms stay close it doesn't change the fact that the other measurements still present a problem for their case which should be addressed rather than waived off. In particular since just showing that it is possible that the worms got from "A" to "B" on their own power in some instances does not at all prove that is how they got their in all such instances. 


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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sodom Found?

It appears as if they have found the remains of Sodom and Gomorrah, complete with the layer of salt and sulfate as described in Genesis. They give a date of the disaster, which looks to them like a meteorite airburst event, as 3700 years before present. This is somewhat more recent than my date for Abraham. I would place him in is prime at about 4,000 years before present. Still I am sure there are error bars on their date calculations.....  Article here. Paper here...

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Baptism and the Flood


What is baptism supposed to represent? Most evangelical churches, in particular the ones who immerse, would say that it is identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since I am obviously a big fan of Christ-centered teaching on scripture, that's the kind of view I could get behind and I do- at least as part of the picture. Romans chapter six verses one through four point to this view of baptism. 

While that is true, that passage is not the only verse in scripture which speaks about what baptism represents. Jesus Himself was baptized in water before His death, burial, and resurrection. He wasn't doing it to identify with His future death, burial, and resurrection. He was doing it to identify with us. John was preaching "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mark 1:4). But what is it about being washed in water which allows for sins to be forgiven?

Water in scripture has represented several things, but nothing more than judgement. Judgement itself can destroy, but can also bring life. The Holy Spirit is a particular type of water, living water. That is, the Spirit produces God's judgments which bring life, as when the Spirit convicts us of sin which we then turn away from. In passing through the water of baptism we are submitting to God's just judgment and asking Him to send His life-giving Holy Spirit to convict us of whatever sin still clings to us and needs to be washed away by said water. 

Without faith that God is just and His judgments right, baptism produces no salvation. It is not the act of passing through water which delivers, but the repentance with which the act is done which can deliver, when co-joined with faith. Repenting of sinful works by itself does not make them less sinful. One who murders is still guilty of murder, even if he later repents. So we dare not submit our lives to His just judgement without faith in Christ, that He has taken the wrath due us for love's sake. This is the only basis with which we can repent in confidence that we will be saved in the repenting. It is not enough to repent of dead works- as Judas did. That's not a saving faith. Repentance must go together with faith in Christ and His completed work.

Now I write most of what I wrote above based on the other main passage of scripture (besides Romans chapter six) which addresses the question of "what" baptism is supposed to be. That is First Peter 3:19-22. This is the passage on the "what" of baptism which I believe is under-preached for the simple reason that it is not comprehensible outside of the Christ-centered model for early Genesis. Indeed many versions now mis-translate this verse, and I think its because they can't comprehend what it actually says so they mis-translate it to speak of what they think it must mean instead. I will use the New King James here, which along with the KJV and a few others retain the original sense of the Greek...
19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Notice it says the eight in the ark were saved in the ark but through the water. That too is a little unclear because "through" can mean "passing through" or "by means of". Is it saying they were saved by means of the water, or by the ark through the water? The original King James is better here, because it says "by water." It is saying that the water saved them who were in the ark. Though the translators have since tried to emphasize the "through" part while leaving out the sense of "through the means of" if you go look at the Greek and how the word translated "through" is used it is clear that it is saying "through means of" or "by".  They were saved by the water, in the ark.

If you have any doubt that the text of verse twenty is saying that they were saved "by" water then simply keep reading to the next verse. The waters of the flood are considered a type of baptism, the waters of baptism being the anti-type. Not that the water can save us in itself- without the protection of being in the ark it would have destroyed Noah and without our protection of being in Christ the waters of God's judgement would also destroy us. Nevertheless, the water in some sense saves, though it is not the washing of the water which does the saving but the answer to the waters of judgment- which is to say Christ. Recognizing that we are evil does not in itself save us, it is faith and accepting that Christ paid the penalty for our sins in Himself that is necessary to complete salvation. And of course, faith is a gift of God, not a work of man. All we can do without God is feel miserable about our sins. We cannot answer for them in ourselves, but as the verse above says, He is our answer.

What I have written above is a limited view of what baptism does. It is as far as one can take that passage without a proper view of early Genesis. Yet we know that baptism is not just about taking us as we are, but the beginning of that which is impure in us being washed away by the Holy Spirit. It is the typical start of sanctification. Yes we are saved, but our flesh, that which is impure in us, dies. That in us which separates us from God is put to death. We are saved to be new creatures, not just the old version of ourselves escaping God's wrath, but the beginning of being a New Creature in Christ. 
This comparison does not work if just Noah and his family are the church and those destroyed are the unbelievers. The picture fails.

The picture which God is painted with the flood, and baptism as the anti-type of it, does not fit well with this misunderstanding. Baptism is not when unbelievers are submitted to judgement and are destroyed, but rather what is sinful in believers is subjected to judgement and destroyed. It is a purification of God's people, not those who are not His people. As it is written "judgement begins with the house of God." (1 Pet 4:17). The flood works better as a picture of baptism if the line of Adam does not represent all of humanity, but rather those who are supposed to be God's people. It is they who are "saved' by the flood by what is ungodly in them being put to death.

This also explains why, from the perspective of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the destruction of the flood had to be seen as total. As an adherent of the tablet theory, I believe that the last part of chapter seven is describing what they saw in the flood. To them, the eradication was total. This is in contrast with scriptures before and afterward which indicate there were other people in the world, outside the clan of Adam, who survived the flood. But to them, the destruction was total.

In the same way, baptism is to be seen by the initiate as the total destruction and giving up of the sin nature. Not of the world outside of course because it is about believers. In practice the sin reappears and the struggle continues, but ultimately the old man is dead and all that remains is in Christ, even as it seemed to the sons of Noah that all that remained was in the Ark. By the way, this also answers the question of "why a flood". God told Noah "with thee I will establish (set up) my covenant" (Gen. 6:18). He was going to use these events to point to baptism so that no other means of wrath or of deliverance would do. Leaving the area wouldn't do. They had to pass through the judgement, not avoid it. Just like we stay and submit to the waters of baptism, not because they are worldwide and we can't avoid them, but because we accept that they are just. This is another reason why the flood had to be local or regional rather than world-wide. It fits the picture of baptism better if Noah could have avoided the judgement, but instead passed through it protected by God's grace.

In the Christ-centered model for early Genesis Adam is a figure of Christ, not the father of the human race. He fathered the line of Messiah in a world already full of those who were not yet His. The line of Adam represents God's chosen people, they were the original chosen people. Like those later chosen people the children of Israel, they went astray. The rest of mankind was not a target of the flood. They are the unbelievers in this scenario and are not a part of the picture of baptism. The flood was aimed at the descendants of Adam, not all of humanity. It was a picture of judgement beginning with the house of God, and meant to point to baptism. The waters "saved" the chosen people in that God's judgment was purifying, destroying what is wicked in His people. God's judgment is purifying in our lives, condemning that in us which leads to death. This is the result of the flood, the result of baptism, and the result of the Holy Spirit. The water saves us, as the judgement of God which we submit to saves us, when combined with the Ark of Christ.

For more about the scriptural support of the Christ-Centered model for Early Genesis see.....



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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Last Creationist Model Standing is the Christ-Centered Model, and That's Good

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." -Arthur Conan Doyle via the character "Sherlock Holmes"
Many Christians still believe that God created the universe less than 10,000 years ago. I devoted a good deal of space in Early Genesis the Revealed Cosmology to showing how they are mishandling the scripture and feel no need to do so again here. Their position is increasingly untenable on the basis of evidence from the natural universe, but no evidence from the natural universe is necessary to show the error of this position. The Christ-Centered Model for early Genesis outlined in the book does not promote an Old Earth Creationist position so much as it promotes a Christ-centered position. Incidental to that is that the Seventh Day is both history and prophecy and not just a space of 24-hours. Indeed none of the "days" could have been 24-hour day/night cycles, for the text of Genesis very specifically defines what a "day" is in chapter one

But the latest advances in science are also showing most commonly-held Old Earth Creationist models to be untenable with either evidence from the natural universe and/or the text of scripture. As a result, some are turning to models like John Walton's "Cosmic Temple" idea. While I have no doubt there are strong parallels in Ancient Near Eastern religious practice and the text of early Genesis, I think he has it backwards. Those practices were attempts to co-opt the model laid out in early Genesis, not the reverse. I think the first two accounts in Genesis are earlier than these practices, and influenced them, not the other way around. 

Further, Walton believes that the account is "functional" and has nothing to do with the real material universe. I argue nearly the opposite- where the fit seems awkward it is because the text is describing what is happening in two realms at once. That is, the fashioning of both the natural and the supernatural realms, with the natural world being only a "shadow" of the eternal one. I don't consider Walton's model to be a "creationist" model and I doubt that he would either.

What about Old Earth Creationist models like those advocated by organizations like "Reasons to Believe" and people like Ann Gauger of the Biologic Institute? Gauger's model features a very early Adam and Eve, one that would not even be classified as a Homo-Sapiens. The Reasons to Believe Model, which I once advocated until the dates became too difficult to reconcile to the text, suggests a more recent but still very distant Adam, perhaps 70,000 to 100,000 years ago. This model then suggests that the flood of Noah was universal in respect to humanity (but not global) in that it reduced the human race to eight persons. It too happened in great antiquity according to this model. Reasons to Believe has in the past shown a willingness to adjust their models somewhat in the face of new data, as scientists should. If Reasons to Believe adopted the Christ-centered model and subjected it to the same kind of testing as its previous models, I believe it would be a huge win for them. As of now, they have a couple of more traditional OEC models.

Here are some "reasons to believe" that these models cannot be reconciled to the text of early Genesis, and the only plausible creationist models remaining are two-population models (Adam is not the founder of humanity, but rather the line of Messiah) as is the one in Early Genesis, the Revealed Cosmology.......

1)  Genesis 10:22 says that Shem was the father of Asshur, while in verse eleven we learn that Asshur founded several cities including Ninevah. The location and period of habitation of Ninevah is known. There was surely no city there prior to 8,000 years ago and probably much more recently than that. Thus the flood was not much earlier than 8,000 years ago and probably more recent than that. So the model is untenable- unless one wishes to postulate tens of thousands of years worth of skipped generations between Shem and his son Asshur in order to push the flood back to a date when all of humanity was restricted to the Levant. Of course there is no scientific evidence that this was ever the case.

2) Cush was the son of Ham (10:4) and Cush "begat" Nimrod (10:8) who was apparently a contemporary of Asshur mentioned above, since verse 11 also states that Asshur went out from the land it previously said was controlled by Nimrod in order to found Ninevah. Therefore it is difficult to attribute a huge number of generations from Cush to Nimrod. And Nimrod is also described as controlling several cities, at least one of whom (Erech) we can locate in historical time. Again, these cities don't go back tens of thousands of years in the past. We can tell roughly when they were founded.

3) The text indicates that Adam and Eve's descendants did not live as hunter-gatherers but were immediately guided into civilized practices like agriculture and animal husbandry. Gen. 4:2 says that Cain was a tiller of the soil, and Abel a keeper of sheep. It is extremely unlikely, to put it mildly, that sheep have been domesticated for 70,000 years. The very first ones were more like 10-15 thousand years ago (and the location and timing of the first domestication of most major livestock is a stunning confirmation of the Christ-centered model). The same is true with agriculture. The Reasons to Believe model must postulate that civilization was lost right after the fall and not recovered until recently. But the text does not indicate that. Gen. 4:20 describes Adah, seven generations from Adam, as the "father" of those who live in tents and travel with flocks. This would not be true if the practice died out immediately afterward and was rediscovered by unconnected individuals tens of thousands of years later.

In the same way, his brother Jubal is described as the "father" of those who play the harp and the organ. And Tubal-Cain (4:22) is described as an "instructor" in metallurgy. Thus the text contradicts the idea of lost arts.

4) In Gen. 5:29 Lamech the father of Noah references the curse on the soil and the associated toil therein. In other words they were still working the soil. In 8:22 God promises that seedtime and harvest will remain, indicating further that they were agricultural. Noah plants a vineyard (9:20) after landing. 

5) Cain himself is described as founding a city (4:17). Is it realistic to think that men were building cities 70,000 years ago but there is no evidence for them until the last 12,000 years or so?

6) While a case can be made for a skipped generation here or there in the genealogies, the dates for humanity and its near-global dispersal have been pushed so far back that it makes the genealogies useless and even pointless. If the flood was 50,000 years ago how is it that the sons and grandsons of Shem, Ham, and Japheth were constructing/ruling cities whose place in history we know to be less than 8,000 years ago? If the flood was more recent and also really wiped out all of humanity other than those on the ark, then how does it square with the overwhelming genetic and archaeological evidence that most of the old world not covered by ice sheets has been more or less continuously occupied for more than 40,000 years? 

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I want to emphasize that the text of the scripture and even creationism has not been refuted by all of these things. Instead long-held theology which is not actually in the bible has been refuted by them. And that's good. The church should reject unfounded ideas about Adam and the flood which were based on the Jewish take on the account. All of the difficulties I mentioned above and more can be resolved simply by doing what the church should have done centuries ago- view the text through the lens of Christ, and put Him at the center of the model. Perhaps science is going to force theologians to do what they should have done from the beginning, and as a bonus all of these paradoxes resolve cleanly. 

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PS- there is an idea floating out there called "Genealogical Adam" advocated by Dr. Joshua Swamidass, among others, and I should mention it. I don't consider it a competing model but rather a variation on a portion of the Christ-centered model which proposes a different solution to a specific theological problem inherent in any "two-population" model. I think it is too narrow in focus to be considered a "model" for early Genesis. I don't think he advocates for any particular model, just this idea on how to handle the transmission of the sin nature if there were another population of humans outside the garden in addition to Adam and Eve. I also believe he strongly considers the population outside the garden to have evolved, whereas I think both populations were the result of special creation.


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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Mammalian Vertebrate Study Knocks Macro-Evolutionary Paradigm Flat on its Back

A study of spine evolution in mammals has produced results opposite those expected under the current evolutionary paradigm. As usual, the scientists made a brave show of trying to cram their results into the framework of what is allowable under a strictly naturalistic view of things. But even as they did so they had to use language evocative of intelligent design and collaboration. It was the language that was fitting to use to describe what had happened.

They knew that reptiles, such as lizards, have a single type of vertebrae. Mammals have five different types and this allows the mammalian form to be adapted for living in many kinds of environments and moving about in a multitude of ways. The same can be said for mammal vs. reptile teeth by the way. Its as if Whoever was running the show decided that the mammal line was the one They were most interested in developing and mostly left the reptiles alone while continuing to develop the mammals.

Three, Four, Five types of vertebrae - coming 200 million years after the form is set.

Of course it makes little sense that a neutral force would concentrate development on one line to the exclusion of others. So far as they can tell there is no reason why evolution, if it can produce various types of teeth and vertebrate to help mammals, could not have done the same for reptiles. And yet despite the various forms of reptiles over the ages, the type seems to be locked into one shape of tooth and one form of vertebrate in each kind of reptile. If evolution was really powerful enough to create all that other change, why not vertebrae and teeth?

Scientists theorized that there was an advantage built into the line leading to mammals right from the beginning. This would not solve the problem explained in the paragraph above, but it would push it back in time. Then they could at least appeal to the idea that the changes which led to the mammalian line were simply changes in form to existing parts. That is, they were expecting to find that the line leading to mammals always had five different kinds of vertebrae for evolution to work with, and in time it utilized those differences due to evolutionary forces. Or as the article put it..
While mammal backbones are specialized, the regions that underlie them were believed to be ancient, dating back to the earliest land animals.
Mammals made the most of the existing anatomical blueprint, or so scientists believed. However, the new study is challenging this idea by looking into the fossil record.
Well, they discovered differently. What they consider the earliest ancestors of the mammal line had three types of vertebrae, not five. While that is more than the reptiles started with, it still means that new types of vertebrae popped up long after the purported line to mammals was established. Their expectation was that by then evolution should have just been adapting existing parts, not creating new categories of them. The article speaks of "dramatic changes" in the line leading to mammals. How did these changes occur? Here is where they start using the language of intelligent design in order to adequately describe what they see in the record...
"There appears to be some sort of cross-talk during development between the tissues that form the vertebrae and the shoulder blade," Pierce said. "We think this interaction resulted in the addition of a region near the shoulder as the forelimbs of our ancestors evolved to take on new shapes and functions."

Later, a region emerged near the pelvis. "It is this last region, the ribless lumbar region, that appears to be able to adapt the most to different environments," said Pierce."
So God didn't "make" the new types of vertebrae on these creatures, they made themselves by their parts talking to each other! They pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps in Lamarkian fashion. But apparently the body parts of reptiles don't have this same conversational ability.

The article ends by making a vague remark about how HOX genes may be involved in the change. I am sure they are, but that is not a scientific standard for explanations, in particular if one is going to assume that evolution is the sole force editing the HOX genes. I find that macro-evolution has different standard of proof than the rest of science. In macro-evolution, if they can imagine a way it might have happened, it is assumed to be true. Subject to further testing still to be sure, but otherwise accepted.

I look at the same evidence and it seems to be screaming Divine Intent, not random process. This would point to at least Theistic guiding of evolution. In truth there are some gray areas between Theistic Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Special Creation and in terms of this evidence its hard to say which it is most pointing to, but its sure not pointing to the naturalistic model.

Scripture of course speaks to the question of the emergence of animal forms, though it too does not give great detail. I am speaking of Genesis chapter one here, under the Christ-centered model for early Genesis chapter two is a special smaller and more limited creation account within the larger account in chapter one. Genesis chapter one says both that God commanded the earth to bring forth living creatures and that God made living creatures after their kind. So rather than body parts talking to one another to produce new features, as the scientist quoted above suggested, God and the earth were communicating to do so. The details on that are left off, but its not naturalistic evolution, and its not even theistic evolution in the most commonly accepted sense of God simply lining the dominoes up and tipping the first one and from there watching things go on their own. He pops up later in the story and does things- like for example, make a class of creatures with new types of vertebrae.






Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Evidence From Plant and Animal Domestication Strongly Supports the Christ-Centered Model for Adam

A chart from a paper by Melinda Zeder of the Smithsonian Institution. The dates are in years before present that the various animals were found to be domesticated with the core zones shaded. This paper was published without access to a study which came out just afterwards which pushed back the date on cattle domestication.

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There is quite a bit of evidence out there, a sliver of which I will reproduce in this post, that Adam was a real, historical person. There are too many coincidences coming together from our rapidly growing knowledge of antiquity to ignore. Something happened to mankind, starting in a particular place and time-  but not the time predicted by either Young Earth Creationist Models or the dominant Old Earth Creationist Models. Instead, the evidence lines up extremely well with the Christ-Centered model for Early Genesis. This is part of why I say that the Christ-Centered Model is the "Last Creationist Model Standing".

The Christ-Centered Model for Adam as described in Early Genesis the Revealed Cosmology takes the view that the events in Genesis chapter two are not just re-hashing those of chapter one. Rather it is describing a smaller creation within the larger creation of chapter one. The LORD God "sets up" Adam to have an agricultural lifestyle and even provides versions of some animals which would be useful to a farming ecosystem. That is, new domestic varieties of existing plants and animals were provided to Adam. Adam was, as a part of his mission to reconcile humanity to God, given the means to "jump start" civilization from a life of hunter-gatherers to those who truly ruled the natural world.

Here are some things the book (US) (UK) shows that the scriptures teach about Adam...

1) He lived around thirteen thousand years ago, reading the genealogies the "long way" but with no gaps in time between listed generations. He is a figure of Christ, not the sole father of humanity. He was formed to bring the line of Messiah which would reconcile and redeem the human race, not start it.

2) He benefited from his time with the LORD God, not only in learning how to tend a garden and handle domestic livestock, but even by obtaining access to domestic versions of plants and animals. The entire world benefited from what even the fallen Adam was able to share.

3) A northern location for Eden, near the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, not their mouth. Afterwards Adam lived just east of the Garden.

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Now if you compare those things to the picture at the head of this post, you will see a most amazing thing. Scientists trace the origin of all four our our major domestic farm animals to the same area that the book predicts for Adam, and just after the time predicted for Adam (in this model). The world first received its major domestic stock right there.

The same can be said for many plants. Wheat was first domesticated in the same geographic and temporal region.  Grapes can only be grown in a narrow zone, but this same region is in this zone as shown below...(I have circled in red where I think Noah's ark landed. You may recall he made wine soon after landing, and domesticated grapes originated in that region or just above it 10,000 or so years ago).



So the evidence we have from domestication of plants and animals indicates there was an epicenter for domestication. The account in Genesis makes the garden an epicenter of domestication. What was begun in the garden then spread to the whole earth, making civilization possible. Then, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. Adam was an actual person with a real place and time in history. It may not have been what we were taught in Sunday School, but it was real (and in scripture) none-the-less. We may not be able to find his grave, but the echos of what he did with the gifts given to him resound in our world even today, regardless of whether or not their source is recognized.


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Friday, November 2, 2018

The Light He Called Day

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What is the "context" in which the word "day" (Hebrew "yom") is used in the creation account? Christians have gone back and forth over it. One of the glaring omissions in this debate is what the account itself says that "day" means, note particularly what I have bolded in the passage below......

Genesis Chapter One:
2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
The Hebrew word "yom" can mean "day" in a lot of different contexts, but this account specifies what is meant by "day". It gives the context. The light is what God is calling "day" in this account. It's not a 24-hour day because the evening has nothing to do with the day, other than the condition which precedes it - things are marked by an increasing condition of darkness. The English translation obscures this because it adds words onto the last sentence of verse five which are not in the Hebrew. There is no definite article in the Hebrew here. It just says...

"There was evening there was morning first day."

When written like this it makes it more clear that the evening is not considered to be a part of the day. The light, which comes forth in the morning, is the day. The evening was not a part of it, just the condition which preceded it. This naturally fits and builds with the immediately previous text- as the world in verse three is said to be in darkness to begin with. This condition was then altered by God uttering His first command into creation "Let there be Light".

How did this light come to enter creation? Not by any of the means mentioned in the following days. Once God does a lot of the heavy lifting in the first two days, there is a point where God says something and the text immediately reports "it was so". In these instances some part of creation or God Himself subsequently does something as a part of this process. For example, God divided the light from the darkness once it was present in the world. But he didn't do anything to produce the light itself. There is no verb associated with the creation of the light, such as "dividing". Rather the very act of God speaking into His creation produced the light without any other action necessary. This is a clue, latter affirmed in scripture (see below), that God's Word itself is Light. If I say "I want to speak to you now" then I have accomplished my desire in the very act of saying it. In the same way, God calls light into existence merely by speaking, for His Word is light.

So in the context of the creation account, a "day" is the breaking forth of the light. And the light is God's word. The word for "light" used in Gen. 1:4 is that same root word used in Psalms 27:1 when David says "Yahweh is my light." See also Isaiah 10:17 and Micah 7:8 as well as the New Testament verses at the bottom of this post. Thus the meaning for "evening" and "morning" must be connected to the contextual meaning for "light". The evening is a decline in this light and the morning is a bursting forth of it. But the text does not say that the light is that of the sun, which does not appear in the heavens (though I think it was created in 1:1) until the fourth day.

This has immense theological implications. For one thing, it argues against the idea that initial conditions in creation were perfect until the fall of Adam. Creation may not have started sinful, but it started as a place of increasing chaos, darkness and emptiness (evening), only becoming illuminated and orderly once God spoke His Word into it (morning). This is just a small part of why I call this view of the text the "Christ Centered Model" for early Genesis. As the verses below indicate, the apostles made the same connection between Christ as being both the Word of God and the Light of the World.

So this is what is really happening on each of the "days" of the creation account. It has nothing to do with literal 24-hour days, except as metaphor. The sun was not even authorized for the tracking of time until the fourth day! Instead, God speaks His word into some aspect of creation and His word transforms some area of creation from increasing darkness, emptiness, and chaos into increasing illumination, fruitfulness, and order. Without God's word this world is in a condition of evening, getting darker and darker. Decaying. Once His word comes forth this condition is reversed for whatever part of creation God addresses. This includes our individual lives!

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The Gospel of John Chapter One....
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.


John 8:12 "I am the light of the world"



Thursday, November 1, 2018

Is the Evidence for Neanderthal-Sapiens Admixture Exaggerated and Over-Stated?

Cambridge Zoology Professor William Amos thinks so.  He has an alternative explanation for the data which suggests interbreeding occurred. He says that most of the signal can be explained by a lower mutation rate in the group of humans leaving Africa due to the fact that they had little diversity in their genes to start with. It is worth reading the abstract on the above link. That does not even consider the possibility that at least some of the gene similarities are due to viral infections, not interbreeding. That is, Eurasians and Neanderthals share some genetic material because they were infected by the same strains of virus and viruses can insert material into the genome. Eurasians picked up strains that Africans lacked because they lived in the same area as Neanderthals, not because of interbreeding.

To be fair, even Dr. Amos thinks that "some" inbreeding "probably" occurred, but this is yet another example of how the science media takes a "finding" in an area we are just beginning to really understand and repeats it until it becomes part of the narrative even when a lot of questions remain.

It now appears that some of those genes which the OOA humans got from (presumably) Neanderthals was actually the ancestral condition of the gene in both species which had been lost in modern humans. IOW, the Neanderthals did not give the Out-of-Africa Humans strictly neanderthal genes, some if not most of the genetic material scientists are ascribing to hybridization with Neanderthals could simply be the genes our species once had in common with them but lost being returned to us through mating with "somebody". That "somebody" may have been Neanderthals, or it may have been from a group of humans which left Africa earlier than the main OOA group (actually I don't think all of humanity began in Africa, I think almost all of the genes of humanity that survived was from Africa. In this view the OOA humans simply met the few survivors of humanity that had been outside of Africa from the beginning and absorbed or eliminated them so that little genetic trace remains except in a few backwaters as noted in the link above).

So even a large proportion of the "Neanderthal" genes we wind up keeping may not really have been exclusively "theirs" anyway. Thus whatever the true figure of percentage of neanderthal genome possessed by the average Eurasian, it is liable to be lower than the oft-cited 1.5%. Maybe I'm not "1.5% Neanderthal" as my genetic testing (and that of many of European ancestry) claimed. Maybe its half that, maybe a tenth of that. It could even be none.

The only reason why people cite admix is because some genes in Neanderthals are highly similar in modern humans. These are all "adaptive genes" and cis-regulatory areas. The stretches of the genome which really count (genes coding for structural elements like bone formation and particularly brain function) are ALWAYS different - these are called "Neanderthal deserts" and puzzle researchers.

There is a lab at Stanford University that is working on adaptive evolution. About 30% of mutations in the human proteome are driven by viruses alone. It is high time that people started ignoring D stats and started questioning whether, faced with identical viruses in identical areas, all hominin species (including modern humans) would not anyway identically adapt - ie identical mutations happen in both species because they are driven by the identical viruses. The same would be true in Africa, where parasites not present in the Northern Hemisphere are rife, driving adaptive mutations in the opposite direction. Adaptive mutations in two similar species does not mean admix. In Africa, both chimpanzees and modern humans have adapted to malaria by way of a mutation that causes sickle cell anaemia. No-one cites admix in this instance - it's parallel adaptation.

Let's keep testing.....

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Not From Adam's Rib- Neanderthal Rib Cage Study Shows Differences With Humans

I have noticed a full-court press in science media to make neanderthals "human". They keep saying it over and over and over again as if it were an established fact. They repeat it even as they report of facts which show there were substantial differences between us and them.

The attempt to stretch and re-define the term "human" to include other hominids such as Neanderthals is so broad that a contrarian like me automatically wants to resist it. Especially when this rush to redefine words comes in tandem with a stream of evidence indicating this attempt is incorrect.

The ability to make a fancy flint scraper is not what makes us human. When we say "he's inhuman" we don't mean that a person can't make a fancy flint scraper. We don't even mean that they can't draw a picture or think abstractly. We mean that they lack the moral and empathetic condition, the ability to connect on a level deeper than instinct, which is typical of our species, and so far as we know our species alone. We can connect to each other, and our Maker, in a way that animals cannot. Even hominid animals.

In previous articles I showed that neanderthals were genetically distinct from humans and that despite claims to the contrary they almost certainly did not do cave art in Spain 64,000 years ago (again not that the ability to do so is what makes us human).

This article noted..
"The differences between a Neanderthal and modern human thorax are striking," said Markus Bastir, senior research scientist at the Laboratory of Virtual Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History in Spain.......
 "The wide lower thorax of Neanderthals and the horizontal orientation of the ribs suggest that Neanderthals relied more on their diaphragm for breathing," said senior author Ella Been of Ono Academic College. "Modern humans, on the other hand, rely both on the diaphragm and on the expansion of the rib cage for breathing."
They didn't even breathe like us. The differences were "striking". And yet this article made haste to dismiss the significance of its own findings, declaring "Neanderthals are a type of human that emerged about 400,000 years ago, living mostly from what is today Western Europe to Central Asia." Well, why do they keep saying that when the closer they look, the more differences they find? Why the dogged determination to make "human" broader? 

The rib cage of a gorilla also has ribs which are curved at the back, along with a funnel shape in its overall structure like a neanderthal. The article implies that neanderthals walked even more upright than humans because of this feature. The back may have been straighter, as with that of the gorilla, but the head of the Gorilla still has a lean to it lacking in humans. I think its an example of ruggedness with an attendant lack of flexibility. Perhaps Neanderthals charged straight ahead like gorillas do when they fight. That aspect, rather than an even more "erect" posture than humans seems to me to be a more reasonable consequence of this discovery.

Rib cage of a gorilla from the inside. Note the curves of ribs at spine attachment.

I've seen so many articles repeating that this or that hominid is some kind of "human". It seems to me the fundamental question of what we are is too important to be established by mere repetition and propaganda tactics. It should be addressed on the basis of evidence, not emotional impulses in either direction.
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While scientists need to change some of their ideas, the church also needs to change some mistaken ideas about what the text of early Genesis is actually saying. It's a far more Christ-centered document than generally accepted theology accounts for.  The book below, available at no change for those with access to Kindle Unlimited, peels back the layers of misunderstanding and reveals the truth of Early Genesis and how it points to Christ. It takes some work, but for someone willing to do the work  the knowledge of the mystery of Christ in early Genesis is there for the having. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Transmission of the Tablets in the Tablet Theory

The Tablet Theory, sometimes called the Wiseman Hypothesis, is that Moses had help when he compiled the book of Genesis from a series of clay tablets inherited from his ancestors. The original hypothesis has some difficulties in the text, but a modified version of the tablet theory as described in "Early Genesis, The Revealed Cosmology" addresses the main criticisms which have been leveled at it. I will not repeat them here, but these modifications to the theory make it much more palatable.

The competing "Documentary Hypothesis" that Genesis was written much later by scribes who falsely attributed it to Moses is strongly refuted by, among other things, the summation of each account with a phrase popular in clay tablets in Mesopotamia around the time of Abraham (around 1800-1700 BC). Perhaps some place names were updated, as was a common practice then and today, but the essence of the text is from great antiquity.

There is no doubt that there are similarities and common threads in many ancient stories from Mesopotamia and the words of Genesis. It would be a book in itself to lay all this out, and one better written by an archaeologist, but I see signs that those stories are distorted versions and mutations of the account in Genesis, and not vice-versa. Are the pagan versions the only ones found when we excavate temples and palaces? They simply had the advantage of being the "party line" of ruling dynasties who could give their version of events from a state sponsored platform. The accounts we have in early Genesis were those from the family history of the line leading back to Adam. And in the Christ-centered model that was not everyone.

One difficulty with the Tablet Theory is that writing seems to have only been around in a crude form for five thousand years or so. And that was in cuniform not the proto-Hebrew/Canaanite script likely used by Moses (which is basically Hebrew). So far as we know, early Hebrew didn't come into use until about the time of Abraham. 

Unfortunately the answer may be lost in the mists of time. We are therefore forced into speculation within the bounds of what is reasonable or possible. One possibility is that the clan of Adam had a system of writing among themselves which resembled Canaanite (who were of common ancestry with the Hebrews after all) for a very long time and we simply did not find any samples of it until around the time of Abraham. Another possibility is that the original tablets were written in an even more ancient script. In such a case someone would have to know that ancient language and translate them. 

Perhaps it was Moses, with all the learning of Egypt at his disposal. Perhaps he didn't have to because Abraham translated the old tablets into new ones using the then-current language of the land. It is mighty suspicious that of the eleven "generations" or accounts in Genesis, none are from father Abraham, greatest of the patriarchs. This lack would be explained if he were the translator of them all. None were called the "generations of Abraham" because it was Abraham's family library. His job was to put the old accounts into proto-Hebrew, not write one with his own name on it.















Monday, October 8, 2018

Nine Hundred and Seventy Four Generations Before Adam?

It was recently brought to my attention (thank you J.D. Everett) that there is some indirect support in the Talmud for the idea that Adam was not the first man. This is intriguing because part of the Christ-centered model is that Adam's biblical role is not to be the sole father of humanity, but to bring the line of Messiah- he is a figure of Christ (Romans 5:14). To be sure this connection is more tenuous than that suggested by the Two Powers Theology which was a significant minority position of first century Jews, but it is another data point which suggests that the Christ Centered Model for Genesis dove-tails nicely with ideas which have long been on the periphery of theological debate.

The Talmud is a book of ancient Jewish commentary on what Christians call the "Old Testament", I don't consider the Talmud authoritative. It is people commenting on scripture, not scripture itself. Still, I find it interesting that ideas which can be connected with the Christ-centered model from Early Genesis the Revealed Cosmology have been to some extent a part of the conversation for a long time. In this case the idea is that the Torah was given "1,000 generations" prior to its compilation by Moses. Moses is only twenty-six generations from Adam.

The basis for the contention of these rabbis is found in the 105th Psalm. They translate it a little differently than I have seen it in English Bibles. For example the NIV has verses eight and nine saying...
8 He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.
Their translation of verse eight reads....
He remembered His covenant forever, the word He had commanded to the thousandth generation,
And on the face of it their translation makes more sense than the NIV. Otherwise if taken literally it implies that God's promise to Abraham is limited to 1,000 generations. This doesn't seem to line up well with the attributes or character of God. Thus the Jewish rabbis translated the verse like they did. Since they viewed the giving of the Torah as the written delivery of that promise, and Moses - in the 26th generation from Adam - compiled the Torah, they reasoned that there must have been 974 generations prior to Adam.

Here is an example of their commentary on the issue...
"R. Joshua b. Levi also said: "When Moses ascended on high, the ministering angels spoke before the Holy One, blessed be He: 'Sovereign of the Universe! What business has one born of woman amongst us?' 'He has come to receive the Torah,' answered He to them. Said they to Him, 'That secret treasure, which has been hidden by Thee for nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created."
This is described by Shabbat as being done "before the world was created". That's time before the beginning and leads to some other logical and scriptural problems. If there was no creation and no people, how does it even make sense to measure time at all, much less time in "generations"? Note: this idea is not the same thing as I am saying when I point out that a close look at the text show that there was an unspecified amount of time before the first day.

Some of these scholars thought that the previous people were on a different "plane of existence" and with the creation of Adam there was also a new plane of existence created. I would argue that the Garden of Eden was the new plane of existence and after the Fall it was lost to Adam and Eve, forcing them into the same environment as the rest of mankind. Others thought the souls of the previous 974 generations pre-existed creation but were inserted into the world after it was created. See for example this quote from Chagiga 13b-14b:

"It is taught: R. Simeon the Pious said: These are the nine hundred and seventy four generations who pressed themselves forward to be created before the world was created, but were not created: the Holy One, blessed be He, arose and planted them in every generation, and it is they who are the insolent of each generation. "

All kinds of "odd" ideas were suggested by the commentators as to who the 974 generations were that in their view existed, yet did not exist. Modern Jewish scholars continue to try and reconcile the paradoxes in the text. Here is one that, after reviewing some of the more bizarre speculations, suggests, along with other speculations with which I disagree, that there were people before Adam:
The question is, if Adam had progeny who did not possess a Divine soul, could he have had ancestors who also were similarly spiritually challenged?12 
When the Torah describes a part of Adam's core as the dust of the earth, could this refer to people who "existed yet never existed"? Could it describe an existence that may have had a physical effect on this world but no spiritual effect? Could Adam have physically had a mother while spiritually the breath of God served as an impetus for a new world?13
That is not at all what I teach at all about the "host" created on earth (Gen. 2:1), but I do think they were there. His view of Genesis 6:1-3, like the Christ-centered model, recognizes that there were two groups of humans being discussed, but in my view gets things muddled after that. The commonality is that it recognizes in the text that there were other people walking around which were not the offspring of Adam and Eve:

The introduction to the flood story includes a description the forced relations between the sons of Elohim and the daughters of man-Adam: powerful brutes taking innocent, refined women. The result was the flood, and the eradication of the brutal species. The only survivors are Noach and his descendants. These verses clearly outline the strained co-existence of two types of people. Were these other "men" descendants of Adam, or vestiges of an earlier world?
 My point is not to endorse any particular part of the Jewish speculation on the problem as being correct. My point is that they realized there was a problem. In their view, the text pointed to, in some sense, 974 generations occurring prior to the formation of Adam. They tried to reconcile that with their belief that creation was only six thousand years old, but they never quite developed a clean resolution to the paradox. The Christ-Centered Model does so, without the potentially racist implications about the "brutal species" (which is all of us due to sin).

A generation according to scripture is most often forty years, but seventy years and one-hundred years are also used to describe a generation. The latter figure is a generation connected to a promise and thus might be more reasonable to connect to this verse about God's promise. Regardless of the lack of coherence of their proposed solutions to the paradox, there is a long history to suggest the Jewish people recognized in their scriptures the possibility of generations before Adam. The solution to the paradox is to adopt the Christ-centered model of Early Genesis which places Adam as a figure of Christ for the "host" of humanity created before him. Though by now he is likely to be found somewhere in the family tree of all of us (a view called "Genealogical Adam"), he is the father of the line of Messiah, not all of humanity.

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Neo-Darwinism is Dead. What Replaces it?

Classical Darwinism died about fifty years ago as we understood more about how genetics worked. Neo-Darwinism replaced it, but it too is dead. Not that you would know that from either what is taught to your children in government-run schools or the media, but scientists on the cutting edge of the issues (that's not Bill Nye or Neil DeGrasse Tyson) know it.

Here are just a few of the many quotes I could use to show this:

“Unless the discourse around evolution is opened up to scientific perspectives beyond Darwinism, the education of generations to come is at risk of being sacrificed for the benefit of a dying theory.” – Stuart Newman ( professor of cell biology and anatomy at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY)

“There is no consistent tendency of evolution towards increased genomic complexity, and when complexity increases, this appears to be a non adaptive consequence of evolution under weak purifying selection rather than an adaptation.” (Eugene Koonin, Darwinian evolution in the light of genomics, Nucleic Acids Research, 37(4), 2009, pp. 1011-1034) Note "Purifying selection" here just means that genomes have a weak tendency to 'heal themselves'. When there is a mutation that has reduced function in a population, it can sometimes get fixed and restored- thus "increasing complexity" by taking things back to where they were before the mutation occurred.

“The Altenberg 16 … recognize that the theory of evolution which most practicing biologists accept and which is taught in classrooms today, is inadequate in explaining our existence [emphasis added]” (p. 19).

“A wave of scientists now questions natural selection’s role, though fewer will publicly admit it” (p. 20).

Both from "The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry by Suzan MazurNorth Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2010


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The evolutionary "Tree of Life" is also facing some serious challenges. It looks like "horizontal gene transfer" is a lot more common than we thought back when the evolutionary tree of life was developed. That is and for example, certain genes may be found in sponges and mammals- and nothing in between! Genes are found in two groups of creatures far apart in the classical evolutionary scenario and not found in vast gaps of creatures which are supposed to be between the two on the evolutionary scale. That doesn't fit the idea that a creature gets all its genetic information from its ancestors as modified by random mutations. Rather, it appears that a living creature is more like a cell phone that can download apps from vastly different sources to supplement and integrate with its main operating system.

But perhaps an even bigger challenge to the evolutionary tree of life is the work of Winston Ewert (see a rundown here). The idea of "nested hierarchies" has in recent times past constituted some of the strongest evidence for evolution. Oh it was not as clean and clear-cut as advocates tried to make it, but it is hard to deny that certain genes and mutations show up in what looks like nested hierarchies in a way consistent with the idea that all groups within them evolved from a common ancestor. And it is doubtless true to the extent which it applies: a group of similar species are a "nested hierarchy" within the same Genus for example. The problem for Neo-Darwinism is that efforts to extend that idea up the tree of life don't produce as good a fit at the higher taxonomic levels. What Ewert has done is used sophisticated mathematical analysis which shows that a "Dependency Graph" based on function is a somewhat better fit for the data than the idea of a Nested Hierarchy.

So "natural selection acting through random mutations" is not powerful enough to explain the complexity and diversity of all of Earth's biota throughout its history. It turns out chance dominates "natural selection". For example, humans have maybe 22,000 protein-producing genes. Each one of them is either more helpful than the average same gene in the rest of the population, or less helpful, or the same. Say one gene gets a hugely beneficial mutation and becomes three times as helpful as that same gene location in the average of the rest of the population. That is a huge leap. The vast majority of mutations are harmful. But even that huge leap would only help overall fitness increase by 3/22,000. Maybe other mutations that person has are more harmful and so overall fitness averages out. Maybe he gets eaten by a lion or steps on a snake and that mutation has no role in saving him. Chance overwhelms natural selection. This is true whether we are talking about weeding out mildly harmful mutations or spreading helpful ones.

Scientists are facing the probability that natural selection plays a minor role shaping life on earth. It weeds out only the most hurtful mutations and effects the details of creatures within their current forms. It's not the major player and perhaps not much of a minor player in increasing complexity and the arrival of new forms.

So if "Natural Selection" has been demoted to a minor player in the shaping of life on earth, what was the major player? "Chance" is all evolutionary scientists are left with. I have heard a couple respond to the inadequacy of natural selection by saying words to the effect of "but that's the old theory, the new one is that chance is the dominant change mechanism." Well, if that's what the data is pointing to then it's only honest to say so, but I am old enough to remember the days when creationists would say that it is not reasonable to assume that chance produced all the diversity and rise of complexity that we see in the earth's living things throughout time. And I remember the response "but we are not saying it was chance, we are saying that it was natural selection acting through chance." So it seems to me they are arguing in a circle, albeit one which has taken two decades to swing round.

Chance doesn't operate like this though. It may produce repeating patterns, but it doesn't drive increasing complexity and any increasing diversity it produces is through a loss of form and function into chaos, not exquisite adaptation. The explanation of "chance" is as unsatisfying now as it was decades ago when evolutionary scientists were assuring people like me that it was natural selection, not chance, driving evolution. 

Of course science is bound operationally by methodological naturalism. As scientists, they couldn't see God if God were standing right in front of them. Nor even acknowledge the gray areas between Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Special Creation. As men and women however, we ought to be able to take off that "science" cap which binds what we are allowed to consider (natural causes only) and realize that natural forces alone are insufficient to explain the diversity of life in Earth's history. To ascribe "chance" as the driving force of evolution is as close to ascribing life's diversity and complexity to God as science can get. And the scripture to some extent agrees. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 16:33 says...

We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.

Even the events we see as random are really ordered by Him.

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While scientists need to change some of their ideas about evolution, the church also needs to change some mistaken ideas about what the text of early Genesis is actually saying. It's a far more Christ-centered document than generally accepted theology accounts for.  The book below, available at no change for those with access to Kindle Unlimited, peels back the layers of misunderstanding and reveals the truth of Early Genesis and how it points to Christ. It takes some work, but for someone willing to do the work then the knowledge of the mystery of Christ in early Genesis is there for the having.