0001 William Lane Craig publishes a work of erudition, titled, In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration (Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, ISBN 978-0-8028-79911-0). The bibliography contains over 250 references.
Part One discusses what is at stake.
Part Two covers the Biblical “data” concerning Adam and runs 210 pages.
Part Three covers scientific evidence about the start of humanity (broadly defined) and runs 117 pages.
0002 Overall, the first two-thirds of the book discusses the importance of the historical Adam and explores what types of stories are contained in Genesis 2.4-11. Then, the final one-third addresses the question, “If humanity descends from a single couple, then where would we locate that couple in the scientific story of human evolution?”
0003 Clearly, this professor would have been assisted by glancing at the masterworks in the Razie Mah series, The Human Niche, An Archaeology of the Fall and How To Define the Word “Religion”, available at smashwords and other electronic book venues.
Every sentence in this book is well composed and carefully reasoned. But, Craig’s quest ends at a location that is anything but. He writes (more or less), “Adam may be plausibly identified as a member of Homo heidelbergensis, living 750,000 years ago.”
The quest ends where the book should have started.
Then, the title could have been, “What if Adam and Eve are really the first humans?”
What if, indeed.
0006 Craig’s argument presumes, all along, that Adam and Eve are the first humans.
In this examination, I do not neglect the opposing question, “What if they are not?”
0112 This is the last blog concerning this particular book. I post this blog first, because WordPress places the latest blog closest to the top for each month. Chronologically, the first blog in a series appears last on the month’s list and the last blog eventually appears first. There is a certain logic to this, which I appreciate and adjust my posts accordingly. My goal is to limit my examinations to one-month duration.
0113 I summarize.
0114 First, Part Three of Craig’s book associates to Genesis 1:26, the intention of man. The time frame corresponds to the period after the domestication of fire and before the speciation of anatomically modern humans. Our religious sensibilities evolve during this period, as discussed in the e-masterwork, The Human Niche.
0115 Second, Part Two of Craig’s book attempts to define Genesis 2:4-11 as mytho-history. The attempt turns Craig’s definition into an inquiry concerning the first singularity. The first singularity associates to the start of the Ubaid culture of southern Mesopotamia. The hypothesis of the first singularity explains why our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in. The consequences of the first singularity are captured by the stories of Adam and Eve. This is a theme in the e-masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.
0116 Third, Part One of Craig’s book sets a path to a category-based nested form, defining3 the stories of Adam and Eve2as emerging from (and situating) Jewish covenantal history (meaning1), the ancient Near East and Genesis 1-11 (presence1), and the notion that Adam originates humanity’s tragic flaw (message1). The categorical structure of definition is introduced in the e-masterwork, How to Define the Word “Religion”.
0117 Fourth, Part One presents ten family resemblances characterizing the term, “myth”. These family resemblances associate to all the elements in a three-tier interscope. The interscope is a relational structure, presented in the e-work, A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.
0118 Fifth, Part Two fills in the interscope of myth with the ten family resemblances, leading to an understanding that Genesis 2:4-11 and the origin stories of the ancient Near East pertain to the same prehistoric events and processes, occurring during the Ubaid, the Uruk and the Sumerian Dynastic archaeological periods.
0119 Sixth, Part Three fails to capitalize on the fact that both the Genesis Primeval History and the origin stories of the ancient Near East portray a recent creation of humanity. This failure follows a lacuna in the modern discipline of Anthropology, which does not envision that our current Lebenswelt is not the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.
Why does modern Anthropology not register the first singularity?
Modern Anthropology self-identifies as science. Modern Anthropology belongs to the waning Age of Ideas.
The hypothesis of the first singularity belongs to the dawning Age of Triadic Relations. Peirce’s philosophy opens a new, semiotic consciousness. That consciousness calls for a postmodern Anthropology radically different from what modern intellectuals call “postmodern”.
0120 My thanks to William Lane Craig, for demonstrating the beauty of good English prose, even while missing the mark in his quest for the historical Adam.
0001 In this series of blogs, I examine John H. Walton’s book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate, published in 2015 by Intervarsity Press. John Walton is a Professor of the Old Testament and has published other commentaries.
0002 I examine this book from the point of views of (A) natural philosophy and (B) the hypothesis of the first singularity.
0003 From the first point of view (A), what Walton calls, “archetypal”, may also be construed as “noumenal”, as opposed to “phenomenal”. According to Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) Natural Philosophy, modern science construes each thing as a noumenon and its phenomena. A noumenon is the thing itself. Phenomena are its observable and measurable facets. Science models phenomena. Science cannot address the noumenon, the thing itself.
0004 So, how we recognize noumena, things themselves?
Noumena are the subject of philosophical inquiry. Aristotle’s hylomorphe is the first step in philosophical inquiry. We perceive the thing itself, directly, as a dyadic relation containing two contiguous real elements. Aristotle calls the two real elements, matter and form.
What about the contiguity?
The contiguity will be placed in brackets.
I will use another one of Aristotle’s terms for the contiguity. The term has been the subject of a lot of wooly thinking. So, the choice is rich, in more ways than one.
0005 According to Charles Peirce, the category of secondness, the realm of actuality, consists in two contiguous real elements.
According to Aristotle, the hylomorphe is (basically) matter [substantiates] form. The verb, “substantiates”, is the same as the noun, “substance”.
Here is a picture.
0006 Human recognition of hylomorphes is immediate and intuitively natural.
We evolved to recognize noumena, things themselves.
This is how the ancient world thinks. Greek philosophers ask, “Why are there things instead of nothing?” The answer ends up with Aristotle’s proposal. The hylomorphe is the portal to natural philosophy. Natural philosophy considers things in themselves.
0007 Today, science-lovers fixate on phenomena, such as the observable and measurable aspects of a thing, called “original sin”. Then, they they build models for how Adam could be the direct cause of this thing.
In contrast, Walton argues that the civilizations of the ancient Near East look at this issue from the noumenal side. Adam is contiguous with what is wrong with the world. Paul wrestles with this hylomorphe in his famous letters to the Corinthians and the Romans.
0008 From the second point of view (B), Walton’s propositions appear more and more like a noumenon whose phenomena yield a novel scientific hypothesis. This novel hypothesis is formally proposed in the masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.
In 2015, John Walton and his collaborator, N.T. Wright, are not aware of this novelty. The hypothesis of the first singularity changes everything.
0009 In the conclusion, Walton states that his book demonstrates that Genesis 1 is concerned with God’s ordering of a grand sacred space with the goal of coming into relation with us. Genesis 2.4 starts with God planting humans within a sacred space, within the grand sacred space, only to find that we bite. We bite into the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Isn’t that smart?
0010 We deceive ourselves.
We introduce chaos into God’s order.
Oh, I meant to say, it is Adam’s fault.
0011 Weirdly, this sounds a lot like all the other origin stories of the ancient Near East, especially the ones recovered by archaeologists from royal libraries that burnt to the ground thousands of years ago. Cuneiform clay tablets fire into brick. The bricks retain their integrity even when buried by detritus. Then, they are excavated by modern archaeologists. Then, archaeologists miraculously find a way to read the script.
0012 Walton has the advantage of these archaeological discoveries. Walton has the advantage of new scholarship on Paul and the Jewish civilization during the Second Temple Period. Yet, he writes in the twilight of the Age of Ideas.
0013 This examination brings his propositions into the dawning Age of Triadic Relations.
Walton sets forth 21 propositions.To these, I attend.
Ancient documents simultaneously express esoteric and plain-speaking aspects.
They describe things unseen, as well as things seen.
0015 For sixteen centuries, interpreters of the Old and the New Testaments wrestle with both aspects, producing the great doctrines and codifying the contradictions inherent in Christian revelation.
Then, the sixteenth-century Reformers of northern Europe lobby to jettison the esoteric components and press for plain-spoken interpretations, that anyone can perform. They do so while retaining the great doctrines.
One hundred years of plain-speaking interpretations later, seventeenth-century Europeans encounter the arguments of the mechanical philosophers. Mechanical philosophers take plain-speaking to a whole new level. The scientific and industrial revolutions follow in the next two centuries.
0017 In the nineteenth century, archaeological excavations recover hundreds of thousands of cuneiform texts from tells (or “hills”) throughout the Near East. This inspires the inquiries that inform Walton’s book. How do reformers, in their plain-speaking tradition, confront this new evidence about the ancient Near East?
Ancient documents simultaneously express esoteric and plain-speaking aspects.
The esoteric aspects address those-in-the-know. The insiders hear one aspect.
The plain-speaking aspects address those-who-are-not-in-the-know. They are not exactly insiders. They are not outsiders, either. So, they need a plain message to grasp.
0001 In the same issue as Carol Hill’s article (reviewed in this blog in Feb. 2022), philosopher Roy Clouser offers a complementary note, entitled, “Three Theological Arguments in Support of Carol Hill’s Reading of the Historicity of Genesis and Original Sin” (Perspectives in Science and Christian Faith, volume 73(3), pages 145-151).
0002 Hill makes three assertions (A-C).
(A) The stories of Adam and Eve associate to the archaeological Ubaid Period of southern Mesopotamia.
(B) The worldviews of the ancient Near East must be accounted for in this association.
(C) The association may have global implications, as indicated by the passage of a recipe for transforming copper ore into metal from the ancient Near East to all of Eurasia.
These associations cohere to the hypothesis of the first singularity. They are also consistent with a realization that the science of human evolution may be ignoring a key question. Why is our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?
0003 Clouser wants to add a few theological points.
A Christian theologian goes to the doctor and asks, “What is wrong with me?”
The doctor replies, “It might be original sin. The stories of Adam and Eve don’t need to be reconciled with science. But, Augustine and science, that is your problem.”
0005 Clouser relies on an interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 appearing in Joseph Soloveitchik’s book, The Lonely Man of Faith. The title is ironic, since Soloveitchik is lonely in name only. He is one of the leading Orthodox Jewish theologians of the twentieth century.
The things that Soloveitchik writes. Some of them buttress Carol Hill’s argument.
0006 Here is the first point.
The Old Testament does not support the claim that Adam and Eve are the first humans. After all, where does Cain get his wife?
0007 Ah, that goes into the problem of Saint Augustine.
Augustine misreads Paul’s letter to the Romans. Well, actually, his Latin translation of Roman 5:12 has a crucial infidelity to the Greek text. The Latin slippage implies that we are all guilty of Adam’s sin. The Greek original suggests that we are all doomed because of Adam’s error.
The McGuffey Reader poetically waxes, “In Adam’s Fall, we sinned all.”
0008 Should Augustine have known better? Should the translator be blamed?
These questions step around an issue so tricky that everyone walks around it. Spoken words are slippery.
Augustine slips up. But, the slip serves as evidence for an important point.
0009 Adam and Eve may not be the first humans on Earth. But, they may be the first to rely on the slipperiness of spoken words to come to a conclusion that turns out to be highly problematic.
0010 Is this a theological implication of the first singularity?
Adam and Eve are the first humans in the history of redemption. They are neither perfect nor immortal. So, they screwed up.
0012 How did they do it?
They thought that they understood the meanings, presences and messages latent in their speech-alone words.
0013 This slip up brings Clouser back to Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans, where Adam’s covenantal failure is compared to Christ’s covenantal success.
More or less, Paul says that sin enters the world through one man, Adam… but, wait a second… before Moses there is no law, so how can there be sin?
0014 In other words, the actuality of sin2 potentiating death1 in the normal context of the Mosaic law3 must have been functioning after Adam and before Moses, even though Moses is yet to be formally present.
0015 Clouser concludes that this imputation suggests that there are humans contemporary to Adam. Plus, their sins are not held against them, because God has not made Himself known.
0016 However, there are other suggestions that come to mind with the hypothesis of the first singularity.
Before Adam, do humans have access to a (metaphorical, or perhaps, literal) tree of life, which conveys an immortality unfamiliar to what we civilized folk currently imagine?
After Adam and before Moses, are folk, living within our current Lebenswelt, trapped within the imputation of Mosaic law, precisely as Paul notes?
0017 See the e-book An Archaeology of the Fall.
Also, see Comments on Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12-19.
These are available at smashwords and other e-book venues.
0018 Paul’s aside fits the triadic structure found in A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form.
Here is a picture for humans after Adam and before Moses.
0019 The normal context of the imputed Mosaic Law3 brings the actuality of sin2 into relation with the possibilities inherent in death1.
0020 Now, if I erase the normal context3 and potential1 and replace them with items from the stories of Adam and Eve, I produce the following nested form.
The normal context of the Garden of Eden3 brings the actuality of sin2 into relation with the potential of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil1.
0021 These two nested forms complement one another. The theological implications cannot be ignored. The Garden of Eden marks a transition from the Lebenswelt that we evolved in to our current Lebenswelt. The first singularity is a scientific hypothesis concerning the nature of this transition. The Mosaic law associates to our current Lebenswelt.
Adam and Eve are not the first humans.
Adam and Eve are fairy tale figures, standing at the portal to our current Lebenswelt.
0023 A third point supports Carol Hill’s commitment that Old Testament “celebrities” are real people.
0024 Clouser’s terminology is revealing. Adam and Eve are “celebrities”. Are “celebrities” real people?
I can visualize the headlines in the netherworld at the moment when Adam and Eve achieve celebrity status. “Adam and Eve Fall For It.” Read all about it.
0025 The key is “read”.
0026 Undoubtedly, the Pentateuch is a compilation of oral traditions. Once codified, during or after the Babylonian exile, the compilation becomes fixed as canon. Codification raises a host of issues, such as the reliability of the preceding oral traditions.
Or, are these oral traditions already codified in secret documents?
Does the question sound absurd?
Oh, the slipperiness of spoken words.
0027 Am I worried about the reliability of oral traditions or the reality within oral traditions?
0028 The Biblical text itself conveys a reality, in the objective sense of the word, that is assumed by the subjective realities engaged by the underlying oral traditions. Even if Adam and Eve are fairy-tale figures in text, they are real in an oral tradition. Even if Noah is an epic figure in text, he is real in an oral tradition.
0029 Why do the writers of the New Testament take the realness of the Old Testament for granted?
Please do not quote me on what I am about to say.
Despite the fact that the Old Testament is written, the biblical oral traditions are alive and well at the time of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Everyone knows that the words are now written, so they use the word “scripture”, acknowledging this fact. However, even though Paul can read the written text, the apostles (and most early Christians) cannot.
My conclusion is that Jesus recites the scriptures, with as much precision as the written text. So, does John the Baptist. They draw crowds that already know the oral tradition and marvel at its theatrical articulation. Jesus and John are performers. What a performance they give. They recite the scriptures so convincingly that members of the audiencewhisper to one another, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”
0030 The New Testament is composed while the oral traditions of reciting the scriptures are alive and well. The spoken word renders a subjective reality. In the beginning, is the word, which, dare I say, tells us that spoken words are slippery things. Listen to the stories of Adam and Eve.
The objective reality conveyed in the written word enters the historical theodrama the moment when Christianity spreads from Israel.
Does that bring me back to Augustine’s slip up?
The slipperiness of spoken words also applies to the written text.