01/18/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 12 of 16)

0070 In chapter five, Mark Smith asks, “When does the story of human sin begin in Genesis?”

0071 At this point, conditions further clarify.

The first audiences for the early stories of Genesis are children.  The first authors are their mothers, the daughters of Seth.  Eve is their great-great-…-great grandmother.  The stories convey to each child this lineage, a direct descent to this mother, who is center stage.  Eve is more than a foolish woman who talks to serpents.  Eve is your mother as well.

0072 What does it mean to be a mother, a woman, cursed under Eve’s indictment?

A Primer on the Family presents the family as a prototype of the corporation, the content level of the organization tier.  Eve, the woman, is the producer.  Her man is the management.  Her children are the service, or, in today’s terms, the human resources.  Eve does not change the centrality of the mother.  She magnifies it.

She offers a warning.

0073 The story of Eve’s temptation offers many lessons, including ones on the nature of desire.  As Smith points out, Genesis 3 portrays a deeply disturbing psychological narrative.  Don’t all good fairy tales?

Plus, I add, Eve’s narrative, along with other Genesis stories, captures the weirdness of the constellation of unconstrained social complexity during the Ubaid.  Adam and Eve are made in paradise, eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and are expelled.  Neither Genesis 2 nor 3 use the word, “sin”.  The label, “evil”, is only mentioned in the name of the infamous tree.

Afterwards, Eve bears two children, Cain and Abel.  Eve is the producer.

0074 “Sin” is mentioned in Genesis 4, along with the word for desire, “teshuqah”.  Desire appears in the temptation of Eve and in her rebuke, where God says, “Your desire will be for your man.”  Yes, the woman will desire her man to be her manager.  There is no sin in that.

So, where does the word, “sin”, first appear?

When Cain, the gardener, complains about God preferring burnt offerings of meat, God offers a revealing repost, saying (more or less), “If you do what is right, you can bear it.  If you do not do right, sin crouches at your door.  Its desire (teshuqah) is for you, but you can rule over it.”

The word, “sin”, appears for the first time.  It does so in conjunction with a desire that crouches, like a predator, at Cain’s threshold.  Cain can rule it.  Or, it can rule Cain.

We all know what happens next.

0075 The daughters of Seth do not pull punches.  This conjunction of “sin” and “desire” is so provocative that I wonder, what child would not remember it, later, as an adult?

Even more intriguing is how this conjunction exposes a disquieting reality within the Ubaid’s spiral towards unconstrained social complexity.  The idea of one brother killing the other is not out of the question.  Why?  Such killingis an artifact that validates what the murderous brother has been telling himself.

0076 In hand-speech talk, gesture-words picture or point to their referents.  So, the words cannot lie about what they refer to.

In speech-alone talk, spoken words do not picture or point to their referents.  Instead, we construct artifacts that validate our projection of meaning, presence and message.  We speak, and the world comes into creation.  Not just any creation.  Our creation.  Our imagination constructs artifacts that validate our spoken words.

0077 Oh, those damned artifacts.

When fatty portions are added to a fire, the fire jumps to life.

When cabbage is added to a fire, the fire smolders.

0078 One son does not talk to himself.  Instead, he praises God.

The other mutters under his breath.  He complains about God’s rejection of his artifacts.

0079 The children hear a fairy tale, telling them of dangers in their upcoming lives.

The mothers hear the tragedy of two sons, where one rules over his desires and the other does not.

0080 This is one of the poisonous fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of speech-alone talk.  I can create my own world through my own symbolic actions that simultaneously do not honor God and open the door to the one whose desire is for my desire.

Sin crouches at Cain’s door.  It desires to speak to him.

Behold the fruits of the tree of death.

01/17/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 13 of 16)

0081 Mark Smith points out other links between Genesis 3 and 4.

When God rebukes Adam, He curses the ground.

When God confronts Cain, He says, “…now you are cursed from the ground…”

God expels Adam and Eve from Eden.

Cain replies to God, saying, “…you have driven me out…”

Adam and Eve settle east of Eden.

Cain goes to live in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

0082 Genesis 4 does not elaborate on the crouching sin.  I suppose Abel’s murder is plain enough.

Smith notes that Abel’s offering is pleasing to the Lord.

Smith adds that God does not punish Cain for murdering Abel.

Smith does not say what happens next.  He is tracking two words, “sin” and “evil”.

0083 However, what happens next provides insight into the author-ity of Genesis 4.  After the murder, God gives Cain a mark, deterring others from killing Cain.  Cain founds a city.  Within a few generations, another murder occurs.  Lamech, who has two wives, murders a man with none.

0084 Here is a critique of the social conditions of the Ubaid.  Increasing labor and social specializations lead to greater wealth and power.  The haves learn to take from the have nots.

01/15/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 14 of 16)

0085 In chapter six, Mark Smith asks, “Where does human evil begin in Genesis?”

In Genesis 3, Eve takes the fruit.

In Genesis 6, divine sons take beautiful daughters.

0086 Genesis 6:2 describes divine males commandeering human females.

What does this mean?

An extrapolation from Lamech offers an answer.  These men are “divine” in name only.  These wealthy and powerful “gods” have designs on women who attract their attention.

Does this sound vaguely contemporary?

0087 Then, there is the word for design, “yester”.

In Genesis 6:5, God admits that every design of the thoughts of civilized hearts is only evil, continually.

In Genesis 8:21, God, having let loose the civilization-destroying flood, regrets the act, but does not change the diagnosis.  The design (yester) of the human heart is to evil from its youth.

Its youth?

Think of the start of the Ubaid.

Unconstrained social complexity is a condiiton2H.

0088 Yes, evil in Genesis, associates to design.

The same word, “yester”, appears in Genesis 2:7, when God designs a man from earthen materials.

Smith notes that “yester”, design, typically applies to craftsmanship.  With the story of Noah, craftsmanship applies to thoughts.  So I ask, “What tool shapes thought?”  The answer is spoken words.  This is an insight2V.

0089 Various origin myths of the ancient Near East mention the Great Flood of Mesopotamia as a civilization-changing event.  By the time of the flood, evil and design are already joined.  Everyone knows it.

0090 As far as Mark Smith is concerned, by the end of chapter six, he covers the genesis of “evil”, “sin” and the fall(out).  He has only “good” and “original sin” left.

01/14/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 15 of 16)

0091 In chapter seven, Mark Smith asks, “Are humans basically evil, according to Genesis?”

The question brings the reader back to the word, “good”, appearing in Genesis 1.

The question brings the reader forward to the term, “original sin”, a concept that swims right below the threshold of consciousness, after Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans.

0092 The condition of the early stories of Genesis is that of a family tradition, with enough continuity as to construct fairy tales about the thousands of years of increasing social complexity in the Ubaid and the Uruk, culminating in the Great Mesopotamian Flood, centuries before the start of the Sumerian Dynastic.  

These stories are fairy tales, told to children in Seth’s family tradition for thousands of years.  These stories are preserved by Sarah, who steps (along with Abraham) out of the Sumerian world, presumably during the tempestuous culmination of Ur III.

0093 There is something problematic about speech-alone talk.  It facilitates unconstrained social complexity.  It inclines humans towards sin and death.

Technically, if there is such a thing as original sin, then how could Abel and Enoch and Noah be good people from the start?

0094 What gives?

Original sin is all about the polarity between Adam’s greedy act and Jesus’s sacrifice.  It is a way to describe the economy of salvation.  Noah’s flood story says it all.  The design of the thoughts of human hearts is continually evil.  So, we sin.  Plus, we repent of our sins.  That is the nature of our current Lebenswelt.

0095 Smith proposes that the fairy tales of early Genesis are constructed backwards, within the Yahwist tradition, in order to provide a front end to the stories of Noah’s flood.

Such speculation seems viable when one is only looking at the Biblical text.

How easy it is to forget the oral traditions that leave no written trace.

How easy it is to erase such traces, for the ones who write the script.

11/30/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 1 of 38)

0001 Biblical scholars James Hoffmeier, Gordon Wenham and Kenton Sparks contribute to a little book, titled Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither?, edited by Charles Halton and published by Counterpoint Press (affiliated with Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

0002 The format is straightforward.  Each contributor offers an essay and responds to the other two essays.

0003 These essays and responses are written shortly after the e-publication of An Archaeology of the Fall, by Razie Mah, which dramatizes a scientific hypothesis about the potentiation of civilization (and how the Genesis stories can be re-imagined in light of the hypothesis).

Why is this significant?

The contributors to Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither?: Three Views on The Bible’s Earliest Chapters, are not aware of the hypothesis of the first singularity.

Their arguments may be examined a point of view that is aware of the hypothesis.

Finally, their innocence of the hypothesis may illuminate the origins of our current Lebenswelt, from within.

0004 What is the first singularity?

The series, Crystallizations of the Fall, at the smashwords website, offers a succinct introduction.  This series contains two works.

The First Singularity and its Fairy Tale Trace offers a brief scientific account for the potentiation of unconstrained social complexity.

Comments on Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12-19 offers a reading of Paul consistent with the consequences of the first singularity.

04/16/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 6 of 15)

0032 Here is a mirror picture of Hardin’s argument.

0033 Ah, the current narrative of human evolution cannot account for a twist. All written origin stories of the ancient Near East depict a recent creation of humanity.

What does that imply?

Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

Surely, the phenomena of the Developed Neolithic tell us as much.  Once the towns of the Uruk period arise in the Tigris and Euphrates River delta, there is no looking back.  Civilization begins.

0034 So, we can pose a question to the origin stories of the Ancient Near East.

What makes civilization possible?

They tell us that humans are recent creations by the gods.

0035 What does this imply?

The manufacture of humans by newly differentiated gods indicates that the ancient scribes and storytellers could not see beyond a certain point in the past.  They could not see into the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  I call this time horizon: the first singularity.

The evolutionary sciences do not see what is right in front of them.

Human evolution comes with a twist.

04/15/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 7 of 15)

0036 Human evolution comes with a twist?

What insights do we have from the Bible?

0037 First, there are two origins depicted in Genesis.  The Creation Story covers Genesis 1:1-2.3.  The stories of Adam and Eve start at Genesis 2.4.

Both comport with the style and content of ancient Near East texts.

0038 Second, those in Abraham’s tradition treat both origin stories as real.

The Creation Story justifies the Sabbath as a day of rest, as codified by Moses.  

The stories of Adam and Eve, in contrast, suddenly come into the limelight when St. Paul connects the Jewish revelation, fulfilled in Christ, to all humanity, all the way back to Adam.  Adam is where Jews and Gentiles converge.

0039 What does this imply?

The Bible conveys the noumenon of a recent prehistoric change, the first singularity, that alters the course of human evolution.

0040 There are two origin stories in the Bible.

Perhaps, to evolutionary scientists, the leisurely day-to-day development in Genesis One is a better analogy to the origin of our world and ourselves, than the bizarre abrupt manufacturing scenes in the stories of Adam and Eve.

At the same time, the surprising fairy-tale construction of Adam and Eve testifies that the evolutionary scientists miss a crucial turn of events.  All the written origin myths of the ancient Near East concur with the stories of Adam and Eve.  Humans are recent creations by the divine.

0041 Does Jeff Hardin call for new models of human evolution in light of both science and the Bible?

I suspect he does.

He does not go so far as to call for a new empirio-schematic judgment.

But, he is certainly not shutting the door.

04/13/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 9 of 15)

0048 What about the transition to our current Lebenswelt?

Is there a way that theological anthropology and the anthropology of civilized folk move together?

0049 Here is an interpretation of the Bible.

The fact that all written origin stories of the ancient Near East point to a recent creation of humans implies that the scribes and storytellers cannot see beyond a certain point in time, say 7821 years ago.  Adam and Eve are fairy tale figures standing at the portal of our current Lebenswelt.

0050 Here is a corresponding novel approach to evolutionary science.

Our current Lebenswelt is not the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  The transition is called the first singularity.  The first singularity begins with the appearance of the first speech-alone talking culture, the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  At this time, all other cultures practice hand-speech talk.

Hand-speech talk?

Speech is added to hand talk at the start of our own species, Homo sapiens.

By the time the first singularity initiates, hand-speech talk has been practiced for 200,000 years.

The transition from hand-speech talk to speech-alone talk is simple.  Drop the hand-component.  But no-one ever thinks of doing so, since hand talk grounds words in the natural sign qualities of icons and indexes.  Plus, humans have been enjoying hand-speech talk for countless generations.

0051 So how does the Ubaid culture do it?

By accident.  At the start of our current interglacial, the Persian Gulf is dry land, settled by two two unrelated hand-speech talking cultures, one land-loving Neolithic and one coast and river-loving Mesolithic. A significant and rapid rise of the sea marks the start of our current interglacial.  The Persian Gulf fills with water, pushing the two cultures together.

The cultures join into one.  They develop a pidgin from the two very different languages.  After a few generations, the pidgin turns into a fully linguistic creole.  The hand-component of hand-speech talk is lost.  Sumerian is the first speech-alone language.

Sumerian is a linguistic isolate.  It is unrelated to any family of spoken languages.

0052 The semiotic qualities of speech-alone talk are very different from hand-speech talk.  Hand-speech talk facilitates constrained social complexity.  Speech-alone talk fosters unconstrained complexity.

That is the science in a nutshell.

0053 Three series are devoted to the first singularity at the smashwords website.

The most direct is Crystallizations of the Fall, containing two articles: The First Singularity and Its Fairy Tale Trace, plus Comments on Original Death and Original Sin: Romans 5:12-19.  Skeptical science types should start here.

The most accessible is A Course on An Archaeology of the Fall, containing the namesake masterwork and an instructor’s guide.  Accompanying literature includes the early chapters of Genesis, chapter 5 of Paul’s letter to the Romans and Sura 5.  This is the best path for students and teachers.  This course is designed as a seminar.  Read and discuss.

Implications and further commentaries are located in the series Reverberations of the Fall.  Theologians should consider this series first.  Original sin is relevant, again.  But, here, I am getting ahead of myself.

04/12/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 10 of 15)

0054 So far, The Human Niche covers the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

An Archaeology of the Fall covers the first singularity.

In both these exercises, theological and biological anthropology move together, without violating the Positivist’s construction of what is.

What about our current Lebenswelt?

The first singularity initiates our current Lebenswelt.

Speech-alone talk spreads, through mimesis, to adjacent hand-speech talking cultures, on the basis of marginal differences of wealth and power.

0055 Why is the Ubaid wealthier and more powerful than surrounding hand-speech talking cultures?

Speech-alone talk works on symbols, while hand-speech relies on icons and indexes (even though language itself consists in two related systems of differences, that is, symbolic orders).  Speech-alone talk can name parts, irrespective of wholes.  In hand-speech talk, a part may name the whole.  Consequently, speech-alone talk facilitates specialized languages, which supports labor and social specialization.

The Ubaid has more wealth and power because it is further along a path of labor and social specialization.

0056 But, isn’t there a problem with speech-alone words that is not present in hand-speech talk?

Yes, in hand-speech talk, the gesture-word pictures or points to its referent.  So, of course, the word and referent go together.

In speech-alone talk, we innately anticipate that a spoken word pictures or points to its referent.  But, a speech act does not picture or point to anything.

What happens next?

We project meaning, presence and message into a spoken word.  Then, we construct an artifact that serves as a referent and validates the projected meaning, presence and message.  As long as the projection-validation works, the artifact is salient, and serves as a referent.

0057 Perhaps, the reader sees a problem with this arrangement.

Indeed, Augustine’s depiction of original sin only scratches the surface of the fallen character of our current Lebenswelt.  Some Reformed traditions have a more precise term: total depravity.

If a person is able to construct an artifact that validates the meaning, presence and message that “he” projects onto a spoken word, then what is to stop “him” from um… creating and taking advantage of a situation?

Welcome to our current Lebenswelt, where our own spoken words allow us to name our own “realities”.

0058 Here is another pairing of Biblical interpretations and a new approach to the human sciences.

04/11/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 11 of 15)

0059 Our current world is fallen, yet civilization constantly rises from the ashes of prior self-destructions.

The Bible depicts a cycle of formation, deformation, and reformation.

A new approach to the psychological and the social sciences ought to move in tandem with Biblical interpretation.

0060 Some evolutionary psychologists already stumble in this direction.

For example, today, people are fat, lazy and addicted to sugar.

Is the problem that our ancestors adapt to a world filled with fat-burning, strenuous and sugar-demanding activities?

No, with the benefits of civilization, the pressure is off.  We can afford to slow down, take rests and eat desserts.  The problem is our current Lebenswelt.

0061 When anyone asks me what I’m doing, I say, “I’m working.”

But, I’m really eating candy.

Yes, I project meaning, presence and message into the word, “work”.

And, my projection is paying off.

My own spoken words create an artifact that justifies my sloth, plus a little extra.

Fat, that is.

0062 Spoken words stimulate the production of artifacts that appear to validate the meaning, presence and message of spoken words.

Doesn’t that sound scientific?

The motif is so versatile.

Augustine proposes that the disorder caused by Adam’s rebellion resides in our privy parts.

Surely, he is on track.

What better incentive to manipulate meaning, presence and message, than to generate artifacts in the service of one’s privy parts?

The current Zeitgeist says, “It’s only natural.”

Augustine’s concept of concupiscence sounds like an orientation that postmoderns want to speak about… er… manage.