Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 1 of 22)

0001 The book under examination is published by T&T Clark in New York, London and Dublin, carries an ISBN number: 978-0-5677-0635-5, and presents the full title of The Origin of Humanity and Evolution: Science and Scripture in Conversation.

This examination considers the book from the point of view of Razie Mah’s three masterworks, The Human Niche, An Archaeology of the Fall and How To Define The Word “Religion”, corresponding to the Lebenswelt that we evolved inthe first singularity and our current Lebenswelt, respectively.

Needless to say, in this volume, Andrew Ter Ern Loke is not aware of the scientific proposals offered by Razie Mah’s masterworks.  His goal is to formulate a point of view whereby the role of Adam and Eve in Augustine’s Christian tradition does not contradict the modern view of human evolution, which is surpassed by Razie Mah’s corrective.

The goal of this examination is to show that Loke intimates the proposed scientific corrective, even though he is unaware of its existence.

0002 According to the back cover, in 2022, Andrew Ter Ern Loke is an associate professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.  In the acknowledgements, the author thanks scientists, philosophers, a historian of science, biblical scholars and theologians for helpful discussions.  Among the list is William Lane Craig, whose recent book, The Historical Adam, is reviewed in November 2022 in Razie Mah’s blog.

Loke’s book is dedicated to a computational biologist, Joshua Swamidass, who proposes a technical solution that permits all humans to descend from one male, named “Adam”, and that one “Adam” corresponds to the one mentioned in Genesis 2.4 on.

0003 Technical solution?

There are two stories of human origins in the formerly Christian West, the Christian ones are found in Genesis and the modern Western ones concern the scientific disciplines of natural history, genetics and archaeology.  So the question arises, asking, “How do these match?”

They would match if “Adam” is the first human.  After all, the name, “adamah”, is ambiguous, referring to humankind, the male of the species, as well as one apparently ill-fated fellow once living on an island, in a special place called, “Eden”, near the confluence of four rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates.

0004 Unfortunately, the scientific discipline of genetics rules out that option. Adam and Eve are not the first pair of humans.  Contemporary human population genetics shows no sharp bottleneck that would correspond to a single pair as the first humans (as proposed by Saint Augustine, over 1600 years ago, during the twilight of the Roman Empire).  This lack of correspondence opens the opportunity for other technical solutions, such as the genealogical approach by Joshua Swamidass and the approach formulated in Loke’s book.  Neither Swamidass nor Loke propose that Adam and Eve are the first humans.  Loke designates Adam as “God’s Image Bearer” and works from there.

0005 Here is a different way to look at the issue.

Imagine a map of the Nile, running up through Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.  Now, pick up a mental pencil and relabel parts of the great river.

0006 The first chapter of Genesis is the upper reaches of the southern Nile, with the great lake, named “Victoria” (to those who speak English).  Genesis 2.4-10 is like the lower reaches of the northern Nile, ending in the magnificent delta.  The Mediterranean is where history begins.

Imagine that there is a great waterfall between the upper and lower reaches, instead of a series of impassable rapids.  Upland from the waterfall is the time of De Nile.  Downland from the waterfall is the time of DeNial.  The waterfall is the first singularity.

A traveler, starting at the falls, can theoretically walk in both directions, along De Nile or along DeNial.  But, there is the challenge of the descent and the ascent.  Looking from the top of the falls, one cannot see the bottom.  Looking from the bottom of the falls, one cannot see the top.  However, at either location, the traveler knows that there must be a bottom and there must be a top.

Well, the traveler does not really know for certain.

The traveler only looks down from the top or up from the bottom and makes a guess about the other realm.

0006 As if to repeat the pattern, Loke’s book takes a turn near the middle of the text, in section five of chapter five, carrying the title, “The Image of God”.

Loke writes that Adam and Eve, labeled by God as “Image Bearers of God”, are the first human beings.  This does not require them to be the first anatomically modern humans or the genetic founders of all humans.  Rather, the key issue is how humans are defined.

0007 It is sort of like that imaginary waterfall.

If one stands upstream, which is highland and south, human beings are defined by the scientific scenario summarized in section 5.1.

If one stands downstream, which is lowland and north, various philosophers and religious traditions offer opinions as to what humans are.  Loke mentions Plato, Aristotle, Upanishadic Hinduism, Buddhism, Marxism, existentialism, sociobiology and contemporary philosophy.  Each has a unique definition of “the human”.

The waterfall is neither upstream nor downstream.  The waterfall is contiguous with both.

How does this division within continuity work?

0008 The Greimas square may assist.  The Greimas square is a purely relational structure that is useful for discerning a constellation of meanings that surround a particular spoken term.

A century ago, the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure proposed that spoken language consists in two arbitrarily related systems of differences, parole (French for “talk”) and langue (French for “language”).  One system is external.  Parolecan be scientifically observed and measured.  Langue is internal, only certain changes in physiological conditions can be observed and measured.

0009 So, the question arises, “How does one define any particular spoken phrase or word?”

That is the subject of Razie Mah’s masterwork, How To Define the Word “Religion”, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

0010 Happily, for this examination, there is method that respects the purely relational configuration posed by Saussure.

That method is the Greimas square.

0011 Here is a picture.

Figure 01

0012 The focal term goes with A.

The first contrast of A that comes to mind enters B.

Then, a term that contradicts B goes into C.  The term, “contradicts”, may be transliterated into “speaks against”.  So, C speaks against B.  Then, one finds that C complements A.

Finally, a contrast that comes to mind with C goes into D.  Then, one should find that D speaks against A and complements B.

0013 The Greimas square is a probe of the terms that are adjacent to (or metaphorically “near”) a focal term (A).

0014 The following figure applies to Loke’s discussion of Adam and Eve as the first “Image Bearers of God”.

Figure 02

0015 We are the descendants of Adam (A), so we are heir to his title, “Image Bearer of God”.

But, there is a problem.  Adam falls.  So do we.

In contrast, many philosophies and traditions define who we are (B) without regard to God’s original appellation.

Speaking against the philosophers and traditionalists, Adam is the first holding the title (C), which will be passed on to the rest of humanity by means that are not genetic.  So, despite all other opinion, Adam is… er, at least… was… until, you know, the unfortunate incident… the first bearer of this title.  I suppose he never lost the title…

…he just made a bad decision that doomed all of subsequent humanity.

In contrast, the Biblical use of adam (technically, “adamah”) is a pun which means “earth man” or “humanity” (D).

This raises the question as to whether adam as humanity (D) contradicts (A) humans labeled as the Image Bearers of Godand complements (B) “humans” defined by philosophers and other religious traditions.

I suppose that one could argue for “yes”, as well as “no”.

0016 As it turns out, the metaphor of a map of the Nile River, altered by a number 2 pencil, also fits into a Greimas square.

Figure 03

Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 22 of 22)

0184 In chapter seven, Loke concludes.

The concept of Adam and Eve as the “Image Bearers of God” stands at the core of this book.

Figure 39

0185 As much as the author tries to capitalize on the idea that Adam and Eve receive a title, and that this title passes to all humanity through a genetic… oh, a not genetic mechanism, Loke does not arrive at his destination, the answer to the question of the Fall.

How is Original Sin passed from Adam to us?

Why is Jesus the New Adam?

0186 Before Traducianism is challenged by the science of genetics, these questions are easy to answer.

Afterwards, Traducianism itself becomes an example of langue, the mental processing that is arbitrarily related to parole, that is, speech-alone talk

0187 Yet, there is hope.  The first singularity coincides with the fall of Adam and Eve.  What is old is made new again.

Figure 40

0188 Future inquiry will extend beyond the book-ends of total depravity and the loss of original justice, into the natures of true versus false and honest versus deceptive.

0189 Who are we?

The behavior of humans in our current Lebenswelt is so different from the behavior of humans in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, that we might as well label ourselves a different species.

0190 Here is my suggestion.

We should call all humans living in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, Homo sapiens.

We should call all humans living in our current Lebenswelt, Homo boobiens.

0191 Only Homo boobiens can acquire specialized knowledge so exclusive that it makes them unbelievably stupid.  In our world of unconstrained complexity, high intelligence empowers profound Dummheit.  Just ask the experts.  They will tell you that their recipes for disaster are utterly sensible and moral.

0192 Perhaps, in future academic controversies, the coincidence of the fall of Adam and Eve and the hypothesis of the first singularity will inspire evolutionary scientists to compete with Christian theologians in accounting for the Pascal sacrifice.

The Christian theologian says, “Christ dies for our sins.”

The scientist replies, “No, Christ dies for our stupidity.”

Sin results in death.  So does stupidity.

Plus, we are never so stupid as when we play word games in order to lie to ourselves.

0193 The attraction of Loke’s theoretical framework, that Adam and Eve are the first to receive the God-given honorific, “Image Bearer of God”, is that the title is immediately spoiled in the Genesis 2.4-4 narrative, where Adam and Eve demonstrate that, while they are certainly created in the image of God, they cannot live up to the title.  None of us can.

0194 There is good reason.  Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  So, we cannot even live up to who we evolved to be.  We are tempted to believe that our own spoken words picture or point to their referents, when they are really placeholders in systems of differences (at least, according to Ferdinand de Saussure, the founder of modern language studies).  We can place a label on anything, then use those labels to manufacture a coherent network of relational elements that seems totally convincing, because every element of the relational structure is occupied by a label.

0195 Inadvertently, the author reveals this in his defense of Traducianism.

In his innocence and earnestness, Loke demonstrates how we may use spoken words to confuse ourselves.  Can we label the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “intelligence” and “stupidity”?  The moment that we do, some customers will demand the “intelligent” fruits and leave the “stupid” fruits for the less choosy.

Are the picky customers ahead of the game?  

Or, are the less choosy correct in concluding that the fruits are all the same?

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

0196 With that said, I conclude my examination of this work, full of intelligence and stupidity, just as one expects from a descendant of Adam and Eve.  My thanks go to the author.  The arguments offered in this book tell me that we stand on the verge of a new age of understanding, where everything old is made new again.


Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin” (Part 1 of 13)

0180 If David Graeber and David Wengrow’s recent book, subtitled, A New History of Humanity, is a breakthrough in postmodern anthropology, then it is so because it displays a semitic textual structure, instead of a greek textual structure.

These two styles are discussed in An Instructor’s Guide to An Archaeology of the Fall.  Rather than eliminating possibilities in order to arrive at the most likely correct interpretation, these authors play literary tricks, coupling chapters one and twelve, A:A’, chapters two and eleven, B:B’, and chapters three through nine and chapter ten, C:C’.

Figure 24

0182 The semitic structure is A:B:C:C’:B’:A’.  In Comments on David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Book (2021) The Dawn of Everything (by Razie Mah, available and smashwords and other e-book venues), the work is discussed in the pattern A:A’, B:B’ and C:C’.  Notably, the bulk of the book covers the last layer, C:C’, and balances seven chapters (three through nine, C) against one chapter (ten, C’).  Chapter ten is twice as long as any other chapter.

0183 Plus, chapter ten stands on its own, allowing me to place an examination in Razie Mah’s blog, with the title Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”.  If the reader first encounters the blog, the commentary is available.  If the reader first purchases the commentary, then the reader can call the blog to the attention of others.


Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”(Part 13 of 13)

0255 Graeber and Wengrow’s exploration of the dawn of everything ends with a cruel joke.

The “state”2b, as defined by social science, cannot indirectly emerge from (and situate) righteousness1aC, while, at the same time, manifesting the characteristics of “domination”2a.

So, how is the contemporary left’s dream of achieving the virtues of liberty, equality and fraternity through the apparatus of the state2b going to work?

Thus ends the third layer, C:C’, of the author’s wide-ranging exercise in the semitic textual style.  The Dawn of Everythingis contemporary postmodern social science at its finest.  The authors start by searching for the origins of social inequality.  They end with the promise of a new history of humanity.

These authors do not know what they do not know.  But they do suspect this…

0256 …A new history of the world awaits.  There is a new way to describe the dawn of everything, where “everything” corresponds to “our current Lebenswelt”.

Yet, their explorations play out as a dark joke, almost as cruel as the joke that, long ago, a talking serpent plays on a naive young woman.

My thanks to the authors.  My condolences as well, on more than one level.

These comments provide views that dramatically re-present the vistas intimated in David Graeber and David Wengrow’s book.  Welcome to a new age of understanding: The Age of Triadic Relations.