Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 1 of 6)

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. 


Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 2 of 6)

0004 I have a joke.

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 result?

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?


Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 3 of 6)

0011 The first point keys into the second point.

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.


Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 4 of 6)

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.

Figure 1

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.

Figure 2

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.

Fairy tale figures are larger than life.


Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 5 of 6)

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.


Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 6 of 6)

0031 Roy Clouser closes with a stern warning that the documentary approach, investigating the alleged secret documents underlying the Old Testament, should only be carried out by experts, who are convinced that their certification protects them from the fact that they, like Augustine, are vulnerable to the slipperiness of spoken words.

His article serves as a witness to a philosophical and theological world that has not come to terms with the implications that will follow once our scientific world comes to terms with the hypothesis of the first singularity.

0032 Surely, Clouser is on target, in that a rabbi is chosen for intelligence, rather than theatrical genius.  But, occasionally, both gifts arrive at the same doorstep.  Ask the followers of Rabbi Joseph Solovietchik.

0033 I suspect that commentary by Orthodox Jews will swivel on the tiny stone of the first singularity.


Is this the stone that the scientific builders rejected?

Or, is it a jewel that turns the imagination?

The early stories of Genesis are insider fairy tales about the social trends towards unconstrained complexity in the Ubaid and Uruk archaeological periods of southern Mesopotamia.

Swivel and turn.

0034 Orthodox Jews might appreciate another work by Razie Mah, also available at smashwords and other e-work venues.

Comments on Jeremy Cohen’s Essay (1980) “Original Sin as the Evil Inclination”

This electronic work belongs to the series, Reverberations of the Fall.


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.