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Evangelical Scientists Debate Creation Story 1014

Posted by timothy
from the at-least-no-one-else-has-dogma dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center find that four out of 10 Americans believe humanity descend from Adam and Eve, but NPR reports that evangelical scientists are now saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account and that it is unlikely that we all descended from a single pair of humans. 'That would be against all the genomic evidence that we've assembled over the last 20 years so not likely at all,' says biologist Dennis Venema, a senior fellow at BioLogos Foundation, a Christian group that tries to reconcile faith and science. 'You would have to postulate that there's been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.' Venema is part of a growing cadre of Christian scholars who say they want their faith to come into the 21st century and say it's time to face facts: There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence."
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Evangelical Scientists Debate Creation Story

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  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:20AM (#37176634)

    evangelical scientists are now saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account and that it is unlikely that we all descended from a single pair of humans.

    Science and religion rarely mess when comparing facts. I guess this is news because it's evangelical scientists? They're still pushing creationism, aren't they?

    • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:27AM (#37176680)

      Yes, yes they are.

      I think perhaps the title is misleading. Evangelical Scientists would be scientists who were evangelical about science.

      These people are Evangelical Christian "Scientists", who are part of the evangelical christian movement. While it's good they realise that the genetic evidence gives a good case against their religion, what they have failed to realise is that they are now no longer fundamentalist evangelical christians because they have just put reality over and above the idea of inerrant scripture.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:43AM (#37176874)

        Evangelical Christians believe they have been reborn and saved by Jesus and it's there duty to spread the word. Fundamentalists Christians believe in the literal interpretation of the bible as being absolute (despite over a thousand years of modifications, but I digress). You can be an Evangelical Christian and believe in Evolution. You just can't be an Evangelical-Fundamentalist Christian and believe in evolution.

        • by cultiv8 (1660093) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @11:44AM (#37179418) Homepage

          You can be an Evangelical Christian and believe in Evolution.

          Heretic! To suggest the bible may be full of stories and poems and metaphors, heresy! A product of the culture 2000 years ago, and subject to interpretation, hogwash! Jesus wrote the bible with his own hand, neigh, with both hands writing at the same time, and he's still PISSED OFF over losing the whole "sun is the center of the universe" debate.

        • Evangelical Christians believe they have been reborn and saved by Jesus and it's there duty to spread the word.

          Technically speaking, evangelical christians are those who hold to the Evangel, or the good news. If they believe this:
          and say it's time to face facts: There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence." (emphasis mine)
          Then they are manifestly not evangelical.

          Fundamentalists Christians believe in the literal interpretation of the bible as being absolute (despite over a thousand years of modifications, but I digress)

          The NIV, ESV, NASB, etc were independently translated from their hebrew and greek sources, and about 95% of the texts agree across the Dead Sea scrolls, the septuigint, the Vulgate (not actu

      • What amazes me is that discrediting of the Genesis account began in the 18th century, and only now, after countless volumes of evidence have been gathered falsifying any sensible literal interpretation of Genesis, do they suddenly stand up and go "Eh, well, looks like we can't read Genesis the way we'd like."

        Oh, and the genomic evidence they find so crucial has been around for 20 or 30 years. It's like staring at your refrigerator for a month before declaring "Yup, it's empty."

        • The genomic evidence is irrelevant. First of all you're starting with a basic premise of magical interference at the time of Adam, but then you assume that it was the last time god messed around with life. As long as magic is in play why not assume that the evidence can be explained by further magical interference at the time of the tower of babel?
    • Science and religion rarely mess when comparing facts. I guess this is news because it's evangelical scientists? They're still pushing creationism, aren't they?

      Many evangelicals are young-earthers, but not all. Calvin College, which is much of the focus of the NPR story, teaches evolution with little regard to the Genesis account. Any mention of God in science classes is much the same as in any other non-religion course at Calvin: care and awe for his creation, our work on earth as reformers (which can take a number of forms, not just the ones the Christian Right champions), and so on. You won't find any professor in the biology, physics, chemistry - or even relig

      • Basically no evangelicals are really young-Earth types. How do I know? Because they don't put their money where their mouths are.

        Finding oil is a very important and high-stakes issue for oil companies. Literally trillions of dollars are riding on it. Exxon's exploration budget alone is around $20 billion per year. When the chips are down and they need to find the most likely spots to drill - what kind of geology do they use? Flood geology, or mainstream? Which one actually delivers the goods?

        Let's assume the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Where did the oil come from? Was it created in the ground with the rest of the Earth? If so, is there a way to predict where it might be found? Or perhaps it really did form from plankton (with a few plants and dinosaurs), but about 10,000 times faster than any chemist believes it could in those conditions? Any way you look at it, a young Earth and a Flood would imply some very interesting scientific questions to ask, some interesting (and potentially extremely valuable) research programs to start. How come nobody's actually pursuing such research programs?

        Why don't creationists put together an investment fund, where people pay in and the stake is used as venture capital for things like oil and mineral rights? If "Flood geology" is really a better theory, then it should make better predictions about where raw materials are than standard geology does. The profits from such a venture could pay for a lot of evangelism. Why isn't anyone doing this?

        • don't know the difference between real geology, flood geology, or pancake geology (a really interesting new science I'm developing for optimizing syrup distribution). They're rich because they're daddy was rich, and his daddy was rich, and if you go back far enough because one of the daddy's was really, really big.

          As for the geologists themselves, well studies show the more education you have the less likely you are to believe this nonsense.
  • v_v (Score:2, Funny)

    by Haven (34895)

    The BioLogos Foundation and Center for Cognitive Dissonance

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's pretty funny, actually. They take their smartest creationists, put them in a room together, and tell them to think about it for a while. The result? "Yeah, this can't actually be true."

      What, exactly, did they think would happen?

  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:23AM (#37176646)

    When I had religion in primary school they had basically told us that the Genesis was to be taken metaphorically and not literally, in secondary school we had a light analysis of certain Jewish cultural things in that story (like 7 days, and a garden being paradise for a tribe which lived in the desert...)

    I didn't think people still believed it LITERALLY, this is news to me.

    • by rufty_tufty (888596) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:29AM (#37176696) Homepage

      I'm intrigued, how did they suggest you choose which should be taken as metaphors and as fact/instructions? Or did they indicate that all of the bible should be taken as a metaphor?

      • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:36AM (#37176800) Journal

        The really funny part is that the Bible itself says that it uses allegory! (Trivia question! Name a word which occurs exactly once in the entire Bible!)

        http://scripturetext.com/galatians/4-24.htm [scripturetext.com]

        Which things are an allegory...

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:42AM (#37177608)
        Actually, the Jewish bible can be divided into four types of text. The first are the stories, essentially the legends and myths of a group of ancient near-east tribes that were originally passed down orally and eventually written, along with a few more recent stories found in the Writings section of the bible (the Jewish bible has three sections, Torah, Prophets, and Writings). Then there are the laws, which are the civil and criminal laws of an ancient near-east country. Related to the laws are the chronicle-type texts, which are a combination of court records, military records, and historical documents (with a bit of mythology mixed in, which was apparently the style of that time). Finally there are the prayers / poems, which are things like Psalms, Lamentations, Song of Songs, and so forth.

        As for what should be taken as a metaphor, in general the legal sections are not taken to be metaphors, although some of the legal sections are not applicable anymore (e.g. pretty much everything concerning the temple in Jerusalem), and some have been expanded or superseded by later legal texts (e.g. the Talmud). The mythology and historical sections are almost always used as metaphors or in the context of teaching lessons about morality, or to put parts of the legal code into context. The prayers are still used in Jewish religious ceremonies, and people frequently read their prayers metaphorically.

        Of course, the view I just described is very much not-orthodox, and if there are any orthodox Jews reading /. this morning who would like to weigh in, I invite them to do so.
        • by shilly (142940)

          Tanakh on Slashdot! Who'd've thunk it?

          I think this is spot on, and every one but the black hats would agree with you.

      • by Toze (1668155) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:55AM (#37177808)

        It helps to understand that "the Bible is literally true in every word in its literal meaning and there are no metaphors" is a relatively recent aberration that is mostly restricted to America, as a result of the (I speak technically, not denigratingly) fundamentalist reaction to the legal victories of evolution over creationism. It generated a tremendous anti-intellectual feeling among a certain crowd of Christians, and that rift has been getting wider and wider. Part of that rift is the insistence that the Bible is to be taken "literally," which is a misappropriation of a method of interpretation most recently popularized by Martin Luther. Luther, however, emphasized the _plain_ meaning, not the _literal_, and was perfectly content with metaphorical interpretations- as, in fact, has most of the church since the period of the pre-Imperial church fathers.

        In other words, modern American anti-intellectual fundamentalism, while more noticeable to Americans, is neither the American nor the worldwide Christian norm, and those outside that strict/reactive interpretive tradition view it negatively for its very restricted view of scripture. Plenty of people do identify themselves as fundamentalist, or descended from fundamentalist traditions (which were, originally, about holding to the fundamentals of the faith and letting everything else slide, in a sort of ecumenism), without being rabid Bible-thumpers.

        To answer your question more directly, two mutually exclusive things can be true, as long as you're using "truth" carefully. In this case, Genesis as a mythic creation account is an explanation of why the world doesn't seem to be fair, why bad things happen to good people, and why there is still hope. It is "true" whether or not we're descended from a single pair or the rise of a species. The 6-day creation account is "true" as an explanation of the moral order of the universe, no matter how long it took to make the universe. And, of course, it's "true" as a reminder of the ultimate spiritual authority. None of these ideas are in conflict with scientific knowledge. Which isn't to say that this is my particular interpretation on things, but it's generally how people are reconciling new scientific knowledge with old religious views.

    • by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:37AM (#37176814) Homepage

      According to Karen Armstrong's book "The Case For God", taking religious stories literally is a pretty new development. She reckons that right back into prehistory, people understood that creation myths were just that -- myths. Stories with a point; something to teach us about how to live our lives, but still just stories. This is why the stories were so malleable, or why the same culture could have more than one, contradictory, creation story on the go at once.

      She reckons that was true of mainstream Christianity for most of its lifetime; literal readings being a 19th-20th century thing.

      • by RogerWilco (99615)

        It's much older. The Catolic vulgate and it's interpretation already were a problem for people like Galileo.

        But I don't see why these evangelical scientists have a problem with not taking everything in the Bible literally. The evangelicals I know have been taught from a young age that the Bible is the Truth and any scientific evidence that contradicts it, is manufactured by God to tempt the faithful.

        Now a stance like that might make it hard to be taken serious in certain scientific lines of work, but then I

    • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:43AM (#37176880)

      Unfortunately there are nutjobs like that still in existence. If you read a book you always should know about its creation and its cultural background. Thats what most of those nutjobs never do and know.

      The Bible was written about 400bc in the babylonian exile, which basically fortified the one god believe in israel. Add to that that basically every religion in that area had its own creation myth and those did not live in isolation and most of this was oral tales you end up with nice stories which might have some historical background or roots. For instance adam and eve could have existed but not alone and definitely not as first humans on earth but as historical persons sometime in the early bronze age.

      The prophets probably have been in existence given the timeframe of 1000-400 before the canonization, but even the existence of david and salomon are under question up until now at least as universal rulers over israel. I personally dont doubt both existed, but I personally doubt Salamon really was the ruler over the huge rich realm. But in the end, who really cares about all this.

      So there is a load of things in the old testament which is rather questionable from a historical point of view.
      Also have in mind that the middle east countries always have been countries of tales and fables, and all this stuff is dark bronze age.

      But back to those nutjobs, they read the bible word by word and think everything happened without even knowing an inch about the surrounding where it was written, when and by whom and which agenda was on the table. The political situations back then and why it was written (To give israel a solid cultural foundation and to fortify the one god believe which slowly but surely was winning thanks to the exile)
      You should never ever read a book written in the bronze age like you would do a historical book today. The mentality does not fit. Those books were not written for political accuracy but for giving tales to their people to live on and to answer the questions which arise in every generation, which have had ben orally transmitted and changed for hundreds of years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617)

      Never underestimate the weakness of the mind of the religious. It is their duty to surrender their minds for their god. To do otherwise would be unfaithful.

      What tickles me are the people who make exceptions and reservations in the minds. They think logically and critically except for that bounded region they call religion which they will not cross. The rest of the natural world is there to explore, work and play in, but when they get to the border of the forbidden zone, they halt in their tracks and can

  • Genesis is allegory.

    -jcr

  • by xyourfacekillerx (939258) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:23AM (#37176652)
    Why even bother with a theology you must admit contains errors? Which part of the Bible contains the facts, and which doesn't? And if you don't know, then what's the point of your faith? Only when it apparently contradicts science you can reject a doctrine, or what is the verification principle at play here for these "Christian" "scientists".

    Notice I'm not coming out in favor or against either science or religion here. I'm pointing out, I think these people are nothing more than deep-cover atheists. Their entire movement hinges on reconciling contradictions, by discarding the one assertion (religious dogma) in favor of the other (science), and then claiming the religion saved - which is at worst, a willful deceit, at best (I'm being charitable here) a collosal failure in the history of all rationality, and casts their ability to do logical inquiry into doubt. Neither alternative makes me willing to trust them.
    • by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:36AM (#37176794)

      Why even bother with a theology you must admit contains errors? Which part of the Bible contains the facts, and which doesn't? And if you don't know, then what's the point of your faith?

      Why even bother with history, when you must admit it contains errors? Which part of History Books contain facts, and which doesn't? Then what's the point of history?

      Same with the bible. The problem with the Bible, as I see it, is the fact that it's been hijacked by the all-or-nothing crowd. Read it. Decide what part of it (none, some, most, all) you believe. My denomination tends to see it as one of the leading human efforts to record a combination of history, myth, and philosophy. Other texts, including ones not yet written, may prove equally useful for exploring your faith, and relationship with God.

      BTW, even if you're a dyed-in-the-wool athiest, take a thumb through Proverbs sometimes. Theres a lot of good stuff in there (although some of it is a bit trite).

      • by Asic Eng (193332) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:02AM (#37177056)

        Why even bother with history, when you must admit it contains errors? Which part of History Books contain facts, and which doesn't?

        If we manage to gain new information about history, we will change the history books to reflect this. I don't believe the same is true for the bible.

      • by bertok (226922) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:37AM (#37177538)

        Why even bother with history, when you must admit it contains errors?

        History books can be checked against and cross-referenced with other facts -- ruins, fossil evidence, artefacts, multiple sources, geological evidence, art, and linguistics.

        The theological content of the Bible is the whole thing, in and of itself. There's few "real world" facts that it can be verified against. The few parts that can be verified -- like the creation story -- prove to be false, or otherwise are plain historical content instead of theological material.

        And truthfully, I don't bother all that much about history. It's interesting, entertaining even, but at the back of my mind I always know that the accuracy and authenticity is limited. I don't base my life on history. I don't force rules or behaviour onto others based on history. I don't change my vote based on history.

        Theres a lot of good stuff in there

        But which part is the "true word of God", and which part is myth, fabrication, or distortion? Based on authority or faith alone, you can't possibly know, not even in principle!

        Decide what part of it (none, some, most, all) you believe.

        You are in no position to 'decide', and nobody else is either. That's the problem. It doesn't matter how you feel about a passage, or whether you agree with it or not. The only thing that ought to matter is if the passage is the true word of God or not -- and that's not something that can ever be determined from ink on dead trees.

        For example, what if God approves of rape and slavery? It says so right in the Bible, so there's a decent chance that he does! You might decide to skip over those bits -- but then you no longer believe in the word of God -- and you are no longer a Christian.

        My denomination tends ...

        Exactly. You're not a true Christian who believes in the word of God. You picked some random mishmash to believe in that made you feel good.

        Don't worry though -- I'm yet to meet two theists who could agree with each other on the specifics, so you're not exactly unique in that regard. I bet that if I quizzed two random people from your denomination, they wouldn't agree with each other, let alone with some other random theist...

      • Why even bother with history, when you must admit it contains errors?

        Because history books are written by people who understand that the content represents one of several points of view. For example, American history books paint our founding fathers as heroes, whereas British history books paint them as traitors. Both are correct, depending on your point of view.

        Whereas Christianity (among other religions) promotes the nonsensical position that it is the ultimate authority on everything. Therefore, if one significant flaw is found in its dogma, then the rest is rendered s

    • Which part of the Bible contains the facts, and which doesn't? And if you don't know, then what's the point of your faith? Only when it apparently contradicts science you can reject a doctrine, or what is the verification principle at play here for these "Christian" "scientists".

      The point of faith is to live, do, and be better, where the metric of better is normative. Of course there is a verifiability/epistemelogical problem with what is better, but there is in science too. (I know, gasp, shudder, science has reproducable results--the point is how you decide what's best, what to aspire to and how to act. We make a normative decision to have faith in science the same way we do to have faith in religion. The difference is that once you make the normative decision to subscribe to

      • We make a normative decision to have faith in science the same way we do to have faith in religion.

        I, er, disagree [homeunix.net]. Strongly. There are big differences between 'believing in something based on evidence', 'believing in something without evidence', and 'believing in something despite evidence'.

    • Which part of the Bible contains the facts, and which doesn't?

      Context decides this. That context must include both related passages in the book, and conditions/culture of the time and even archeology. The idea that genesis is not literal does not start in science, but in theology actually. St Augustine was one of the first christian thinkers to assert(though he later changed his mind) that genesis was not literal. There are huge theological problems with taking genesis literally, even if science supported it.

    • To answer your question the best that I can...

      A complete by-chance, creation-free belief in existence (as best I understand it) still has the problem that if you go back far enough, something had to come from nothing, or its existence has to be taken as a given in order to progress. It also assumes that the laws of physics that created the Big Bang were in force before matter came into existence, so at some point the fundamental mathematical principles of the universe had to 'always exist'. To me, the diffe

  • Single source? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:24AM (#37176658) Homepage

    >it is unlikely that we all descended from a single pair of humans.

    I thought that Lucy/African Eve was the one that we're all descended from. Or was that a single pair of humans ... Lucy and multiple males.

    Or if we don't all descend from a common source (the rest having died or being killed off), does that give weight to racist arguments that blacks and whites are separate species?

    • Re:Single source? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jez9999 (618189) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:33AM (#37176740) Homepage Journal

      Not if you define seperate species as species that are unable to interbreed. Various lines of Homo could have descended separately down the evolutionary tree for a while, but not diverged enough that when they came together again, they were unable to interbreed.

    • by vlm (69642)

      >it is unlikely that we all descended from a single pair of humans.

      I thought that Lucy/African Eve was the one that we're all descended from. Or was that a single pair of humans ... Lucy and multiple males.

      Or if we don't all descend from a common source (the rest having died or being killed off), does that give weight to racist arguments that blacks and whites are separate species?

      The word you don't know to google for is "speciation"

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciation [wikipedia.org]

      The really short version of a really long subject using a /. car analogy is that 99.9% of parts for one model in adjacent years are interchangeable, but over an extremely long run, lets say pickup truck model from 1950 vs 2000, there eventually ends up being zero parts interchangeability ... they've drifted into "separate species" somewhere between 1950 and 2000, but at no individual model year could you really say t

    • It's true, we're all descended from one female, the "Mitochondrial Eve" [wikimedia.org] - in the sense that she's the most recent common matrilineal ancestor. That is to say, by chance, she had daughters, and they had daughters, and so forth. There were other women alive at the time, but at some point or another their great^n granddaughters had all sons.

      One major confusion is that species don't form from individuals. There's no 'single mutation that produces a new species'. There's always a population that diverges.

      For

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:24AM (#37176660)
    So, if the Church and 4 out of 10 Americans believe the Biblical version of creation, why are they so dead set against incest?
  • There is only one proper response.

    BURN HIM!

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:28AM (#37176690) Homepage

    If there was no fall, there was no need for redemption. If there was no need for redemption, there was no need for a savior. And without a savior, there is no Christianity.

    • If there was no fall, there was no need for redemption. If there was no need for redemption, there was no need for a savior. And without a savior, there is no Christianity.

      There was still a "fall". The evolution of consciousness brings us the "fruit of the garden of eden" i.e. the knowledge of right/wrong, good/evil, i.e. free will. In this particular nugget, they are compatible.

      Now if only "Jesus" can be transferred back into metaphor, and salvation to be considered knowing what good is and pursuing it, and asking for forgiveness when we transgress, rather than literally being interpreted as a magical bearded man born a few thousand years ago. That and forgiving me for ter

  • : Catholics have used the fourfold method of exegesis and Jews have Rabinnical texts - they still want to believe that the whole Bible is literal and that God through his holy scribes was incapible of metaphor?

    We still love our Christian brothers and sisters - even when they're uncomforttible eating Dino-shaped chicken nuggets.

  • by NonSequor (230139) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:33AM (#37176744) Journal

    There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence."

    Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If there's any meaning in this story it's allegorical. It's just a framework which was contrived to carry an idea.

    The story goes that man is created in a perfectly ordered universe, but has no active role except to assign labels to things. Adam and Eve decide to seize the means to take on decisions of greater consequence. As a result, they're cast out into the place where shit gets real and things have real consequences. If you want to make real decisions then those decisions have to have real consequences. Having free will means living in a world where you at times when you have to deal with suffering. That's the whole point of the story.

  • Dear Evangelicals, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wubby (56755) <.moc.yllavud. .ta. .yllavudt.> on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:37AM (#37176816) Homepage Journal

    Welcome to the 19th Century.

    Sincerely,
    Science

  • by StabnSteer (705930) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @08:46AM (#37176908) Homepage
    One of the biggest problems with denying the Adam and Eve story is that it negates the fundamental reason Jesus appeared - that is, to take on "our sins" created by the fall. Denying Adam and Eve pretty much throws a wrench into the whole works of Christianity, so this is bigger than just admitting that it is allegory or metaphor...
  • Garden of Eve (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sp3d2orbit (81173) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:05AM (#37177106)

    The Christian creation story is an allegory for the evolution of free will.

    Humans evolved in their present form hundreds of thousands of years ago. But for some reason civilization didn't take off until about 7,000 years ago, give or take. The reason civilization could not take hold everything to do with man's ability to live in a herd.

    We already know that humans can't deal well with herds of more than 150 people. For settlements to grow past 150 people meant that individuals would regularly come in contact with other humans that they did not directly know. For any stable settlement to occur, past 150 people, there had to be some new advancement in herd management, or as we call it: religion.

    At some point, or possibly in multiple places, humans developed this idea of god. God was the invention that allowed humans to live in a herd of more than 150 because it created an immortal, infinitely powerful alpha that could not be toppled via violent means. We hacked our own evolution. By trusting in a god, instead of a human leader, herds could grow past the 150 person limit. By trusting in a god rules could be handed down in his name and people would follow them (for the most part) without having to be beaten into submission. These rules, like don't sleep with your neighbors wife and don't kill each other, laid the foundation for larger and larger settlements.

    This advancement did not happen everywhere at once. It was a gradual transition. "Civilized" settlements would often come across humans who had not made this leap. To to the civilized, these rogue wanderers would seem like animals. They would be controlled by the desire to eat and rape and probably had no qualms about violence. Look at herds of baboons to see how aggressively they handle their herds.

    Free will, as we know it, is the idea that we are not controlled by our basic animal impulses. Those who lived in religious settlements could control their desire to rape and make decisions for the good of the herd. Those who lived outside those societies were still animals with no free will -- they lived only to eat and rape.

    The creation story is an allegory for this development. We used to live as animals (Garden of Eden) and were happy (though full of rape). Ignorance is bliss. Then, at some point we discovered free will (Tree of Knowledge). Forever after we would be cursed with the knowledge of our own death, but able to live with one another.

    • What a load of garbage. We didn't develop civilizations until the last 10,000 years because, in general, our population density was far too low (and you'll notice where such densities were still low up until a few centuries ago you didn't get urban civilizations). Urban civilization requires efficient agriculture to free up some portion of the population to specialize (ie. engineers, scribes, ruling class, accountants, that sort of thing). It's not like hunter-gatherers into Tierra del Fuego did not have

    • Re:Garden of Eve (Score:5, Insightful)

      by euroq (1818100) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @11:58AM (#37179624)

      Cool story, bro.

      However, almost all civilizations which developed religion separately were polytheistic and generally believed in ancestral spirits as well. They by no means believed in a single omnipotent god. The Credo religions (requiring "I believe...") first started with Zoroastrianism, and then much later and possibly separate with Judaism. Even Israelites were polytheistic until after the Babylonian Captivity.

      If you want your story to work, then you'll have to replace "God" with "the gods". There rarely was a single "alpha" omnipotent God. The idea of only a single God is actually very new historically.

      And exactly why do you emphasize rape so much? Do you think that atheists and Buddhists rape others constantly?

  • Extremely old news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tar-Alcarin (1325441) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:15AM (#37177250)

    It's been 15 years, and still most people (including most Christians) have not picked up on the fact that the Catholic church concluded this long ago.
    In a papal statement on the subject of evolution, dated Oct. 22nd 1996, pope John Paul II stated that "truth cannot contradict truth", and therefore the Genesis story of the Bible needed to be interpreted metaphorically, not literally.

    For those who are interested, the message is available here: http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp961022.htm [ewtn.com]

    How is it that Christian people (Catholics in particular; the pope is supposed to be your earthly representative for God) just seem to "forget" this ever happened?

  • by Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @09:42AM (#37177614)

    Genesis 7:21-23 [gutenberg.org] states:

    And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
    All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
    And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

    So it doesn't matter how many descendants Adam and Eve had -- after the Flood, humanity was (canonically, if you take Genesis literally) down to a population of 8. Those eight were Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their sons' wives according to Genesis 7:13:

    In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark

    Could you get as much genetic diversity starting with 8 people (five of whom, at least, were related by blood) in a short period of time?

    • by brit74 (831798)
      Even worse: it means every man alive got his Y-Chromosome from Noah, who lived sometime around 2400 BC. (This is because Noah's sons all inherited their Y-Chromosome from their dad.) There's far, far too much genetic diversity in the Y-Chromosome to suggest that it's only 4,400 years old.
  • by flibbidyfloo (451053) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @10:53AM (#37178570)

    I thought this was all explained by the Tower of Babel story. God got mad at mans' hubris and split us up into a bunch of different races, speaking different languages, all with a wave of his magic wand. That was a one-time instantaneous mutation that didn't require an ongoing high rate.

    Of course it's ridiculous poppycock, but that's not the point. If you accept that god is omnipotent and omniscient then you can explain away any inconsistencies easily. There's little point in trying to convince the deluded.

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