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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Genesis 1:26-27, Creation of Humans in Near Eastern Myths And The Paleolithic Era

This article presents evidence to support the conclusion that Gods creation of Adam and Eve(1a) is a Near Eastern (Southwest Asian) myth. This conclusion is a premise in a linked argument spread out over a series of articles intended to debunk Genesis 1-11 and Romans 5.

This article is a collection of notes put together from sources that are represented by quick reference links to similar webpages to make it easy to get more information as quickly as possible. The original sources are listed at the end.

P1. The Interconnectedness of The Ancients - Demonstrates the robust ancient civilizations at the time and that Canaan, Israel and Judah were central to them. Discusses trade routes, seafaring, the link between whales and the Leviathans of Mythology and how long it would take to get from one civilization to another by sea.
P2. Genesis 1:1-25 Is An Amalgam of Near Eastern Creation Myths. Demonstrates the prior existence of key elements of the story of the creation of the Universe that appears in Genesis.
P3. Genesis 1:26-1:27, Creation of Humans in Near Eastern Myths And The Paleolithic Era. Demonstrates that the physical evidence contradicts the story of the making of the first humans in Genesis.

There are two versions of the Human Creation Story in Genesis(1b). The concept is the same but the details are different. That is consistent with the criteria for folklore(2) described in Alan Dundees book "Holy Writ as Oral Lit" which are "multiple existence and variation". The bible is full of stories with the same concept but different details. For example, compare Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah. Here is a list of folklore characteristics I pulled down from a high school website.
* Generally part of the oral tradition of a group. Most stories are told rather than read
* Passed down from one generation to another
* Take on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told, and the personality of the storyteller
* Speak to universal and timeless themes. The try to make sense of our existence, help humans cope with the world in which they live, or explain the origin of something.
* Often about the common person
* May contain supernatural elements
* Function to validate certain aspects of culture

Generally, myths are a subcategory of Folklore that contain supernatural or Religious components.

The famous Documentary Hypothesis(3) posits that the Torah (aka Pentateuch, first five books of the Old Testament) is a collection of writing from four sources over a period of about 500-600 hundred years. Genesis 1 is from "The Priestly" source(4) , and Genesis 2 is from "The Jawist" source(5) (Jawist being the German word for Yawist). Using this as our guide, that would make the first creation story from about 450 BCE and the second one from around 950 BCE. The characteristics of the Torah that support the Documentary Hypothesis are some of the same characteristics that are consistent with the definition of Folklore. Some bible scholars don't like the documentary hypothesis, but they seem to be in the minority, and I haven't seen any compelling arguments to refute it. In one of the courses I listened to the teacher try to pick apart the Documentary Hypothesis but he used "special pleading"and wasn't very convincing.

Both creation stories were incorporated into the Torah about 400 BCE(5) during the rule of the Persian Empire. There are many differences in the two stories. Some differences in the two stories reflect the time, place and theology that they were written in. The First story, written later, has a God removed from creation and does not play much of a role with Humans after the creation. It was supposedly written during the Persian Rule after the Babylonian Exile. The second story was written much earlier and reflects a God that is involved and an integral part of Human Lives. It was supposedly written 500 hundred years earlier when the Jews were relatively self-governing and self-reliant.

Four major differences in the two stories follow, but there are many others that are not covered here.
A. God is referred to by different names in each story. In the first story he is referred to as Elohim (“God”) and in the second story he is referred to as Yahweh (“LORD”) or Yahweh Elohim (“LORD God”).
B. The methods of creation are different. In the first story creation occurs by the spoken word and in the second story creation occurs by physical means (for example, God plants a garden).
C. The order of creation is different in the two stories. The first story follows the order in the Enuma Elish(6) and starts with vegetation and proceeds to animals on to humans, and the second story begins with the male human, then the vegetation in the Garden of Eden, and then the animal kingdom.
D. In the first story, the man and woman are created together, but in the second story, the male is created first, with the female made later from his rib.

Multiple existence and variation is the Criteria for Folklore

GENESIS 1:26-1:27
* Genesis 1-31 Closely follows the structure of the Enuma Elish in the creation of the world
* Genesis 1:26-27
-- Generally thought to be written much earlier, and attributed to the "Priestly" writer
-- Has evidence of polytheism (7). At the time of the writing of Genesis, the theology about Angels hadn't been developed (angels were an aspect of God and not separate beings)(8), neither had the trinity, or use of the "Royal We" by royalty to refer to themselves in the third person.
-- We can see from the Bible that the Early Jews struggled with Polytheism which is supported by Archeology.
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

* Humans having aspects of a God are common in myths whether its breath, blood, body or spit
- Hinduism has a God Purusha(9) ritually sacrificed himself to make the cosmos and humans out of pieces of himself.
- Enuma Elish has man being made from the blood of the God Kingu(10) and dirt.

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

God made a man and a woman. They were supposed to be the first and therefore alone. But we know from Paleontology that many different forms of hominids existed before our species Homo Sapiens Sapiens in the Paleolithic era(11). Therefore this claim does not fit the physical evidence.

Before you proceed any further, I highly recommend you visit
The Genographic Project, a joint Effort between National Geographic and IBM. It is a great quick and concise source of Human Ancestry information and serves as a complementary multimedia presentation for this article, looks nicer and is much more entertaining.

Unlike our story in Genesis, the following has been derived from physical evidence retrieved by the hard, backbreaking, and mind-numbing work of millions of truth seekers over the course of more than a hundred years. is a good place to start for a quick reference to this type of information

In the Paleolithic era, climate changes caused Ice Ages which played a key part in Human migration. It caused the Sahara to expand and contract (12a), fossils and tools have been found in and around dried up lake beds in the Desert. So far three main forms of Hominid have been identified (of which Homo was the direct ancestor of Humanity), which belong to two broad groups.

* 2.4 - 1.5 million BCE:
- Homo Habilis(13), bipedal, made and used tools, butchered meat with tools, physically possible for speech but likely brain didn't support language, became dependent on technology, had greater social intelligence.

* 1.8 million BCE and 300,000 BCE:
- Homo Erectus(14) controlled fire, improves the tools, followed herds, migrated north with herds, hunted Big Game, adapted to Ice Age climate about 780,000 BCE
- First diaspora, Homo Erectus spread to Asia, Eurasia, and as they evolved crept into Europe (between 1.8m BCE and 800,000 BCE).

* 500,000 - 250,000 BCE:
- Homo Erectus larger brain size, better developed Broca's Area(14a) needed for speech, , rudimentary communication with sounds and gestures, butchers animals, migrated as far as Europe, lived among ice sheets and glaciers, tools and fossils found in Ubeidiya(14b) in Israel from 1.4m BCE, followed the herds, lived near lakes and rivers, 500,000 BCE drove large prey such as bison over cliffs, used spears, cooperated among themselves.

* 300,000 - 30,000 BCE:
- Leslie Aiello and Robin Dunbar theorize that language ability appeared in humans 250,000 BCE(15,16)
- Neanderthals(17) more sophisticated than Homo Erectus developed more or less in parallel with Homo Sapiens, improves tools lived 230,000 and 30,000 years ago, lived alongside Homo Sapiens, might have had language, certainly rudimentary communication, obviously able to survive in warmer temperatures additionally they adapted well to the extreme cold of the Ice Age using northernmost settlements in summer, made composite tools which have more than one part, but eventually died off by 40,000 BCE leaving only Homo Sapiens
- The earliest indications of rituals and/or religious behavior are found among Neanderthals(18).
-- Neanderthals buried their dead carefully with food and implements and removed the brains from human skulls. This practice suggests cannibalism, probably to gain the skills and virtues of the deceased. Neanderthals also preserved skulls and bones of cave bears on platforms or shelves in their caves.

* 200,000 - 100,000 BCE:
- Homo Sapiens Sapiens(19) - Modern forms of Homo Sapiens first appear about 195,000 years ago in Africa.
- Three groups or major grades of archaic forms have been identified
-- Early archaic Homo Sapiens closer to Homo Erectus, heavily built, 200,000 BCE. Molecular Biology mitochondrial DNA points to humans evolving in tropical Sub-Sahara Africa and is a potentially reliable link between modern and ancestral humans, "Mitochondrial Eve"(20) points to a population which we all have in common in Africa.
-- Late archaic Homo Sapiens, mosaic of different features found on surviving skulls, small bands of different creatures numbering in the thousands, more modern date to 100,000 BCE
-- Anatomically modern widely distributed at least 115,000 BCE in east and southern Africa

* 100,000 - 40,000 BCE:
* The Great Diaspora(21)
- Ecological background affects, appearance of new hunting kits south of the Sahara ~100k years ago.
- Evolution of modern humans had run its course from 100-70,000 BCE ago in east and southern Africa, far earlier than Europe and Asia, Neanderthals flourished in Europe, and southwest Asia,
- In 70,000 BCE estimate of worlds human population is around 2,000(21).
- With the serendipitous mutation of the FOXP2(22) gene, Humans acquired modern language abilities and were capable of sophisticated communications(23), facts concepts and ideas, emotions, reason, planning, adapting, dramatic changes in cognitive ability.
- Two theories of the dispersion of humans. 1. out of Africa Hypothesis(24), 2. multi-regional (recently refuted)(25), DNA examination shows that Neanderthals and humans are incompatible and cannot interbreed(26).
- DNA, blood groups and enzymes show that , there is a primary split between Africans and non-Africans, Eurasians-SW Asians.
- It appears that all humans have a common male ancestor who has been named "Adam".
From the National Geographic Genographic project(27)
"Adam--60,000 ya
--"Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. he lived in Africa some 60,000 ya, which means that all humans lived in Africa until at least that time.
-- Unlike his biblical namesake, this Adam was no the only man alive in his era. Rather , he is unique because his descendants are the only ones to survive to the present day.
-- It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. he is the coalescensce point of all the genetic diversity found in the world's disparate peoples. Adam had human ancestors as well, but we have not remaining genetic evidence of them. The changes to the Y chromosome that we follow back through the generations to identify Adam end in the commonality of that shared ancestor. (genographic project)"
-- As the climate in the Sahara changed by becoming wetter, and dryer in a periodic cycle, animals and people moved in and out of it. Before 100,000 years ago the Sahara had many shallow lakes and semi-arid grasslands. When the Sahara dried up, everything moved out to the edges.
-- Sometime between 100,000 and 60,000 years ago humans moved out of Africa. They would have followed any of several migration options, including through the Nile Valley, across the Red Sea, and along the northern coast. Fossils in the Qafzeh Cave(28) and other places in Israel show that Homo Sapiens Sapiens and Neanderthal lived alongside each other for thousands of years.
-- During the height of the last glaciation the geography of southeast Asia was different than it is today. Sea levels were 300 feet lower than they are now. There is good evidence for seafaring after 50,000 BCE(29). The distance between land was shorter.
- Remains of early human beings from the Upper Paleolithic era show a religious life similar to that of Neanderthals.
-- Mousterian material culture of the Middle Paleolithic appears throughout the Mediterranean basin.
-- Human beings from this era (like the Neanderthals) share a concern with proper treatment of the dead.
-- During this era, the dead were buried carefully, usually with the feet pulled up into a contracted position.
-- Burials were often in the cave where the group lived or in another cave nearby.
-- The body was typically buried under a stone slab with ornaments, stone tools, food, and weapons.
- About 40,000 years ago, with the appearance of the Cro-Magnon culture, tool kits started becoming markedly more sophisticated, using a wider variety of raw materials such as bone and antler, and containing new implements for making clothing, engraving and sculpting. Fine artwork, in the form of decorated tools, beads, ivory carvings of humans and animals, clay figurines, musical instruments, and spectacular cave paintings appeared over the next 20,000 years.

* 30,000–10,000 BCE:
- In The Upper Paleolithic era There were major changes in how humans behaved.
-- Early Homo Sapiens in Europe carved antlers, painted the walls of caves and molded clay figures.
-- They made exaggerated clay female figurines that appear to be associated with fertility rites.
-- Old Stone Age religious rituals appear to be intended to maintain harmony between the living and dead.
-- The end of the Old Stone Age is marked by a revolution in material culture and substantial climate changes.
-- The end of the Paleolithic era leads to changes in religious activities to address changes in how people lived.

* 10,000 BCE:
- the estimated world population was 1-10 million.(30)


Adam and Eve are Near Eastern (Southwest Asia) Creation Myths because
- Signs of human intelligence and non-specific pagan "religion" start with the Neanderthals. They include tool making, origin of speech and language and a pagan belief in the supernatural. Experts start talking about rudimentary communication about 500,000 years ago, burying the dead about 100,000 years ago, evidence of Cro-Magnon religion in cave paintings 45,000 years ago,
- Physical evidence for Evolution from one of three forms of hominids in sub-Saharan Africa, the expansion and contraction of the Sahara as the catalyst for migration, Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, the first diaspora, Neanderthals, Homo Sapiens second diaspora, and the out of Africa theory
- Micro biology and genetics advances converge on an origin in sub-Saharan Africa around 60,000 BCE
- Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens Sapiens co-existed and were not genetically compatible,
- Human Founder populations (and in general) need more than two individuals (discussion deferred to the next article).
- Stories of Man made from dirt appear earlier than the Torah in Southwest Asia and all over the world (discussion deferred to the next article).

Adam and Eve don't fit.

My speculation (which is not a necessary component of this argument, but which I am willing to commit to) follows.

Since communication and intelligence evolved slowly with the different species that would wind up being human, and the Human FOXP2 gene mutation facilitated higher order communication, and the evolving ability to think in the abstract, and humans were reduced to small groups in the same area until they scattered about 60,000 years ago, I think it is highly likely that folklore that is shared world wide, such as gods making humans from the ground, originated with prehistoric humans in sub-Saharan Africa.

Simple forms of reasoning are reasoning from sign, analogy and correlation. Even house pets can manage that. I imagine, though prehistoric humans couldn't verbalize it, they had a concept of "other minds". They had themselves as a point of reference, saw others that seemed to be like themselves, realized that something was in control of that other body. Likewise, it must be the same with everything. So something must be in control of storms, flooding, fire, rock slides, the sun, the moon, etc. In a word, something they can't see is in control. If people are more powerful than the Deer, then surely whatever controls the storms is more powerful than people.

Additionally, one is told they came from their parent, but where did the first parent come from? Where do other things come from? Well if the plants grow up from the ground, and water comes from the ground, practically everything comes from the ground, then it should be no great intellectual leap to reason that people came from the ground too.

That brings us to Genesis 2 and the making of Adam.....
To Be Continued

Quick Reference to material in the sources. For the Quick References, Wikipedia is used liberally because while academics don't consider Wikipedia definitive or acceptable as a source they do consider it generally good enough for quick reference. Please do not confuse quick references with the sources. The sources are where the majority of information came from.

1. Human Prehistory and First Civilizations, The Teaching Company
2. Story of Human Language
3. Great World Religions: Hinduism (2nd Edition), The Teaching Company
4. Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World, The Teaching Company
5. The Bible With Sources Revealed

6. The Book of Genesis, The Teaching Company
7. Great Figures of the Old Testament, The Teaching Company.
8. "Holy Writ As Oral Lit", Alan Dundees.
9. National Geographic Genographic Project

Quick References on the web
1a. Adam and Eve
1b. Creation according to Genesis
2. Folklore
3. Documentary Hypothesis
4. Priestly Source
5. Jawist

6. Enuma Elish Text online
7. Evidence of Polytheism
8. Angels Jewish Theology
9. Purusha
10. Kingu

11. Paleolithic
12 .
12a. Sahara Pump Theory
13. HomoHabilis
14. Homo Erectus
14a. Broca's Area in Homo Erectus
14b. Ubeidiya, Israel
15. Early human language

16. Neanderthal Speaks
18. Paleolithic Burials
19. Homo Sapiens Sapiens
20. Mitochondrial Eve

21. Humans nearly wiped out 70,000 years a ago
22. FOXP2
23. Origin of language
24. Out of Africa Hypothesis
25. New Research Proves Single Origin Of Humans In Africa

26. Neanderthals not an ancestor
27. Genographic Project
28. Qafzeh
29. Earliest seafarers
30. U.S. Census Bureau Historical Estimate of World Population
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