Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 1 of 15)

0001 Carol A. Hill publishes a complicated essay in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (volume 13(5), 131-144), the flagship journal of the American Scientific Affiliation.  The full title is “Original Sin with Respect to Science, Origins, Historicity of Genesis and Traditional Church Values”.

0002 Fifteen blogs are required to discuss this short article covering four interrelated topics.


Much of my work covers the same territory.

0003 The goal of my blogs is to expand on the implications of Hill’s work.

0004 The stories of Adam and Eve (1) connect to history and (2) are more compelling than anyone (outside of those familiar with the works of Razie Mah) currently imagines.

Adam and Eve stand at the threshold of the first singularity.


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 2 of 15)

0005 Until recently, Christianity in the West promulgated the doctrine of original sin articulated by Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD).  Augustine’s formulation has two features, one theological and one scientific.

The theological side is diagnostic.  Look at the mess we are in, and have been in, since the start of our current Lebenswelt.

The scientific side proposes a cause.  Original sin starts with Adam and Eve’s disobedience.  Original sin spreads to all humanity, because Adam and Eve are the biological parents of all contemporary humans.  Original sin passes from generation to generation through descent.

0006 Today, Augustine’s scientific proposal does not hold.  Archaeological evidence places the first anatomically modern humans at 200,000 years ago, long before the Biblical placement of Adam and Eve as sometime right before the dawn of civilization.  Furthermore, DNA evidence shows that there is no genetic bottleneck for our species, as would be expected from descent from a single pair.

What does this suggest?

Adam is not who we think he is.

0007 This is why Carol Hill writes the article under review.

She wants to establish that Adam associates to the archaeology of southern Mesopotamia. 

She is not alone.  I have published electronic works and blogs on the topic as well.  The following commentaries are available at smashwords and other electronic book venues.

Comments on Five Views in the Book (2020) “Original Sin and the Fall”

Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) “Adam and the Genome”

Comments on Daniel Houck’s Book (2020) “Aquinas, Original Sin, and the Challenge of Evolution”

Comments on James DeFrancisco’s Essay “Original Sin and the Fall”

0008 What does this imply?

Augustine’s scientific link between Adam and all contemporary humans may be debunked.  But, there is another scientific story to tell.


Augustine’s diagnosis of original sin is still valid.


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 3 of 15)

0009 If Carol Hill is on target, then the stories of Adam and Eve (1) connect to history and (2) demand a new scientific understanding of how that history connects to human evolution.

0010 Is this an ironic target?

If Augustine is correct, then the stories of Adam and Eve (1) entangle all humanity and (2) demand a theological understanding of our current Lebenswelt.

0011 Hill examines the opening of the stories of Adam and Eve.  Genesis 2.4 on paints a landscape, rich in details, pointing to the Ubaid archaeological period in southern Mesopotamia.  The Ubaid settles during the Wet Neolithic, when four rivers feed into the infilling Persian Gulf.  Two of the rivers are the Tigris and Euphrates. The other two rivers later become dry beds as the Wet Neolithic slowly ends.  Ubaid villages eventually become Uruk townships. Uruk townships eventually give rise to Sumerian city-states.  In sum, the Ubaid marks the start of a one-way trend towards the world’s first civilization.

The precise start of the Ubaid is hard to pinpoint.  I place the marker at 7800 years ago.  The Ubaid is the first culture on Earth to manifest the potential of unconstrained social complexity (that is, of civilization).  In other words, from its inception, the Ubaid marches towards greater and greater labor and social specialization, eventually culminating around 5000 years ago, in the Sumerian Dynastic.

0012 What is going on in southwestern Asia at this time?

0013 Hill identifies two material trends.

One is Neolithic (or “new stone”) tools.  These are associated with agriculture.  Wheat cultivation is evident as far back as 12,000 years ago.  The primary agricultural revolution slowly spreads from southwest Asia to all Eurasia.

The other is Chalcolithic (or “copper stone”) tools.  Sometime around 7000 years ago, someone invents a technique for transforming copper ore into copper.  The recipe passes through the Fertile Crescent, and then spreads into Eurasia.

0014 From the Genesis story, Adam associates to the Neolithic.  After all, God creates him and puts him in a garden.  Gardens are cultivated.

0015 Adam precedes the Chalcolithic, but not by much.


Cain starts a city.  Urbanism begins with the Uruk period, following the Ubaid.

Noah associates to a great flood in ancient Mesopotamia, during the late Uruk period.

0016 More importantly, a cultural change starts in the Ubaid, potentiates civilization, and then radiates outwards from southern Mesopotamia to the rest of Eurasia.  The Neolithic sets the stage.  The copper-making business may be one of the opening acts.


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 4 of 15)

0017 Carol Hill suggests that Adam and Eve associate to the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  To me, they represent the start of the Ubaid, as it coalesces on the edge of the rising waters of the Persian Gulf.

0018 This raises questions.

Why does God place Adam and Eve at the start of the Ubaid?

If Adam and Eve are not the first human pair, then why would Genesis describe God fashioning humans out of earth and rib?

Certainly, humans appear as images of God in the Creation Story, which has the character of an evolutionary drama.  Why do the stories of Adam and Eve present a creation weirdly disconnected from the prior Creation Story?  I say “weird”, because our current Lebenswelt is obviously not the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  Plus, all other origin stories of the ancient Near East depict a recent creation of humans.  It is as if our species passed through some sci-fi singularity.

Why does God bless Adam and Eve with Seth, at a time when men call upon the name of the Lord?  Had they previously forgotten the name?  Or was the name of God gestured, rather than spoken? The line of Seth eventually gives rise to the line of Abraham.  So, the line of Seth belongs to the comprehensive history of the Jews, not the world.  Yet, Genesis implies that all humanity is somehow entangled with what happened in the Garden of Eden.

0019 The mystery deepens when Noah is not a figure in a pan-Eurasian and pan-African flood, dating prior to the Paleolithic migrations starting over 50,000 years ago.  No, Noah is a figure in the Uruk period.  Other origin stories of the ancient Near East testify to a great flood in southern Mesopotamia.  The king lists record the disruption.

0020 These questions come to the fore in Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) Adam and the Genome.


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 5 of 15)

0021 Copper catches Carol Hill’s eye.  She is a geologist.  She knows that, once the trick of cooking copper ore and getting copper metal is discovered, then it should spread on the wings of mimicry.  Do we have a potential date for the discovery?  How about 7250 years ago?  This is 550 years after the Ubaid begins and 1250 years before the start of the Uruk period.

0022 Hill mentions Otzi the Iceman.  5250 years ago, Otzi lives in the mountainous region between Italy and Austria.  He falls to his death while crossing a glacier.

Lucky for us, I suppose.  Modern archaeologists recover his body, well preserved by the ice, along with all his traveling gear, including a copper axe.

0023 What does this suggest?

In 2000 years, the recipe for transforming copper ore into metal passes from southwest Asia through northern Italy.

By current standards, this is a slow transmission of cultural information.

By the standards of the Paleolithic, this is a rapid transmission.

0024 The key is the one-wayness of the transmission.  Once those who have the recipe make copper metal, there is no going back.  The cultural change is irreversible.

Otzi has a copper axe.  His great-great-…-great grandson will have one made of bronze.


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 6 of 15)

0025 Why is the previous hypothetical important?

Er… what is the previous hypothetical?

If the ancient recipe for transforming copper ore into copper metal starts in the Ubaid and if the recipe ends up making Otzi the Iceman’s axe, 2000 years later, in northern Italy, then this recipe is an indicator that irreversible cultural changesspread from the Ubaid to all of Eurasia.

0026 Are there other cultural productions that spread from the Ubaid to all Eurasia?

I am sure there is.

And, they are far more significant than the alchemic transformation of copper ore.

0027 Hill mentions that southern Mesopotamia is the location of one of the world’s first civilizations.

How about that?

0028 Does ‘something cultural’ potentiate the formation of civilization in southern Mesopotamia, then spread outwards to the rest of the world?  Does this ‘cultural something’ then potentiate the formation of civilizations in nearby Nile and Indus river valleys?

I bet it does.


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 7 of 15)

0029 What does Carol Hill conclude?

If Adam and Eve and their immediate descendants can be placed in the late Neolithic world of southern Mesopotamia, and if the Old Testament begins Genesis 2.4 at that time and not before, then the stories of Adam and Eve mark the start of Jewish covenant history, not human history.

0030 Well, not human history, directly.

0031 Once this conclusion is drawn, two of the three main Christian reconciliations between human evolution and original sin cannot retain their integrity.  The young-Earth and the progressive creationist paradigms depict Adam and Eve as the first humans.  Therefore, Adam and Eve stand at the start of both humanity and human history.

Oh, that is already in contradiction, since the start of humanity (200,000 years ago) does not coincide with the beginning of human history (which associates with civilization, dating less than 7800 years ago).

0032 The third reconciliation, Denis Lamoureux’s evolutionary creationist view, apparently retains scientific respectability.  But, at what cost?  Adam and Eve are not historical figures.  Maybe, they do not exist.  Or, if they do exist, how can we separate what comes from worldviews of the ancient Near East and what actually comes from history?

Ah, this question faces a twist.

The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia may mark the start of human history.  If the stories of Adam and Eve, of Cain and Abel, of Lamech, and of Noah offer an insider’s view of the history of the Ubaid and Uruk periods, and if ‘something cultural’ passes from the Ubaid to all humanity, potentiating unconstrained social complexity, then Lamoureux’s question comes with a twist.  The Ubaid potentiates human history.  Adam and Eve associate to the Ubaid.

Consider the e-article, The Inevitable Twist: Comments on Lamoureux’s Question, available at smashwords and other e-work vendors.


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 8 of 15)

0033 Adam and Eve are fairy tale figures.

The early Genesis stories are fairy tales about a real, historical event.

This real historical event entangles all humanity.

0034 These are the statements that Carol Hill is on her way to isolate.

The stories of Adam and Eve mark the start of Jewish covenant history, which proceeds directly, through descent, to the fulfillment of all that goes before, that is, Jesus Christ.

The real event that Adam and Eve represent is the start of the Ubaid, the initiation of unconstrained social complexity in southern Mesopotamia, directly, and in the entire world, indirectly.

0035 Jewish covenant history is real and theological.

A hypothesis linking the Ubaid to the initiation of unconstrained social complexity throughout the world is real and scientific.

Shades of Saint Augustine of Hippo!  There are two movements, one theological and one scientific.

0036 Plus, the scientific movement is the one under consideration.

Is there such a hypothesis?

Yes, there is.

But, obviously, Hill is not currently aware of it.


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 9 of 15)

0037 Carol Hill next turns to the historicity of the Genesis text.  She introduces a worldview approach similar to Lamoureux’s.  The science-scripture dialogue must respect archaeological science and the worldview of those who preserved and wrote the scriptures.

0038 First, she does not explicitly label the genre of the stories of Adam and Eve.  She does not call them, “fairy tales”.  Instead, she writes (page 139), “The important point is that, while the Adam and Eve / Garden of Eden story could have involved real people residing in a real place, the writing of this story by the biblical authors was commensurate with the use of figurative images in narratives common to the ancient Near East.”

0039 Second, Noah is both a fairytale figure and an epic hero.  This explains the two styles intermingled in the story of Noah’s flood.  One style goes with the earlier fairy tales.  The other style goes with the later Patriarchs (more or less).

0040 Third, Abraham is an epic hero.

0041 So, the question of genre comes to the fore.

I may ask, “Is Genesis fairy tale, epic or ancient Near Eastern mythology?”

0042 Others frame the question differently.

A review of a recent book on this subject may be found in the November and December 2021 blog at www.raziemah.com.  The title of the blog is Looking at the Book (2015) “Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither?”.

Three scholars of the Bible contribute to this 2015 book, James Hoffmeier, Gordon Wehnam and Kenton Sparks.  These theologians wrestle with various worldview approaches, with insight-filled results.

Yet, their insights are not complete, because, like Hill, they do not know about the scientific hypothesis addressing the question, “Why is our current Lebenswelt not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?”


Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with Respect to Science” (Part 10 of 15)

0043 Carol Hill offers a worldview approach.  In order to understand the historicity of Adam and Noah, one must take into account the worldview of the Ubaid and Uruk periods of southern Mesopotamia.

Such an approach makes sense, if Adam and Noah are fairy-tale figures.

0044 Fairy tale figures are real, at least to mothers and their children.  They are so real that the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Lamech and Noah retain their integrity for thousands of years, propagated by the descendants of Seth and later, the descendants of Abraham.

0045 Similarly, the Patriarchs are real figures, wrapped in a mantle of epic narrative.  Greece has bards.  So does Israel.

0046 These issues are discussed in the blog posted in January 2022, Looking at Mark Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil”.