THE EXISTENCE of fossil remains of early man with grossly brutalized features and interpreted as proof of man’s animal origin, poses a serious threat to Christian theology. Until these fossil remains became widely known, very few questioned the historicity of Adam and Eve. But today, whether Adam and Eve really existed in the historical sense that Genesis implies has become a matter of some debate even among Christian people.
Many still hold to a literal interpretation of these early records (as I most certainly do), whereas others feel that Adam and Eve are merely to be understood as symbolic representatives of the first truly human beings, who were in reality little more than made-over apes, evolved as to their bodies though with implanted “souls” to give them a unique constitution responsive to divine influences and capable of fellowship with God. The idea of instant creation of man followed by a real temptation involving a real tree in a real garden is held to belong to the days of a naive faith no longer justified in the light of present knowledge. And no serious thought is given, as a rule, to the possibility that the first human pair could have been nearly as recent as the traditional biblical chronology invites us to believe, much less that the first woman was actually taken out of the first man by a divine surgical operation of a sort.
But I am persuaded that when we abandon the concept of a truly historical Adam and Eve, experiencing a real temptation and Fall and expulsion from the Garden, we undermine the logical basis of the plan of salvation because that plan involves an undoing by a Second Adam of what the First Adam did, and it involves the reconstitution of a new family of human beings in the Lord Jesus Christ, capable of fulfilling the role for which Adam was originally created, and destined one day to do so. When we abandon the Genesis account of man’s origin, we undermine the rationale of the biblical view of man’s destiny.
What, then, are we to do with the current body of evidence which anthropological research has accumulated and which is almost
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universally interpreted in such a way as to challenge the biblical record of man’s early history at almost every point?
I suggest we accept wholeheartedly whatever factual knowledge there is but apply to it an alternative interpretation. We cannot merely reject it, for that is to commit intellectual suicide. But it can indeed be interpreted otherwise than from the current evolutionary viewpoint; and the alternative interpretation proves, to my mind, to be thoroughly satisfying and reasonable. And by adopting this alternative interpretation of the data we are really only fulfilling an accepted scientific dictum which holds that we should explain the past as far as possible in terms only of known events or processes happening at the present. We need only qualify this to include what has happened within the recent past, within clearly historical times, for which we have adequate documentation.
Of the seven Papers in this volume, the first (Fossil Remains of Early Man and the Record of Genesis) is just such a hold re-nterpretation of the meaning of the fossil remains of early man, taking cognizance of certain facts relative to their distribution around the world. It is logical and does not ignore the evidence, but it rather views it from a new perspective. The question of the time element is not considered in this reconstruction, since I believe that the whole question of chronology is still in a state of flux and the techniques of establishing the time frame are by no means yet entirely dependable. The new framework is undoubtedly an over-simplification, but it does point the way to a viable alternative that ought to be explored.
The second Paper (Primitive Cultures: A Second Look at the Problem of Their Historical Origin) revives an older view of primitive cultures in the light of far more information than its former proponents had at their disposal. This is in explanation of the evidence amply supported by comparatively recent historical events, that primitivism and barbarism are not necessarily the earliest stages of man’s condition but are more probably the result of degeneration. Indeed, the evidence indicates that the higher a civilization the greater the degeneration is likely to be when it breaks down. It is no longer safe, then, to assume that primitive society provides us with a picture of the earliest condition of man, or to put it in a slightly different form, that our primitive contemporaries are our contemporary ancestors.
The third Paper, (Establishing a Paleolithic I.Q.) takes a second look at the achievements of early man as evidence of his intelligence. More recent experiments by modern man to accomplish the same
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tasks by his techniques force us to conclude that our early forebears were quite as intelligent, if not more so, than we are today.
The fourth Paper (The Supposed Evolution of the Human Skull) shows how substantially environmental factors can modify the human skull and give it an ape-like cast that has no bearing whatever on phyletic relationships. The argument from comparative anatomy is seriously weakened in this respect in the light of present knowledge.
The fifth Paper (The Fallacy of Anthropological Reconstructions) is almost entirely negative in its approach, yet it serves to show how very little validity there really is to so many boldly conceived reconstructions that purport to demonstrate evolution in current textbooks.
The sixth paper (Who Taught Adam to Speak? ) deals with a particularly troublesome problem, the origin of language, a problem no nearer to solution than it was in Darwin’s day. Indeed, it has proved so baffling from an evolutionary point of view that it has become almost indecent even to raise the issue for discussion in scientific circles.
Finally, one further Paper (Light from Other Forms of Cultural Behaviour on Some Incidents in Scripture) shows that the study of the subject matter of cultural anthropology can be thoroughly worthwhile for the Christian and sheds light on many situations in the Old Testament and the New which have hitherto largely escaped attention in biblical commentaries.
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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved
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