Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Mar 16 2007 - 12:29:12 EDT

Glenn, you always do a wonderful job of demanding specifics -- you should
have been a lawyer, you would've been a fantastic cross-examiner!

But, I've yet to see you provide specifics to a set of questions various
people have asked you: if we accept the evidence that some language, some
culture, and even some religion and altruism, were present in various
hominid lineages long before homo sapiens sapiens, why are those things
necessarily evidence of the image of God? What empirical observation
establishes these things as the image of God? What Biblical passage? Even
if all these characteristics are aspects of the image of God, why are hints
and precursors of those characteristics in earlier hominids -- or in
contemporary primates, for that matter -- themselves the image of God? (I
say "hints and precursors" because my understanding -- correct me if I'm
wrong -- is that the scientific consensus remains that these characteristics
that were present in earlier hominids were nowhere near as developed as they
became, relatively recently, in homo sapiens sapiens). Isn't it just as
reasonable to suggest that *part of* God's instilling of his image in Adam
involved the "perfection" of these characteristics in such a way that human
beings could exercise care and dominion over the rest of creation, develop
sophisticated artistic, religious, business, and social culture, and relate
intimately to the triune God, in a way that no other hominid could?
Clearly, as an empirical matter, no earlier hominid succeeded in doing these
things to even the minutest speck of a fraction of the achievements of
modern humanity.

And doesn't this at some level have to be a philosophical and theological
presupposition rather than something that is fully empirically demonstrable
in any event? What is the philosophical / theological foundation for a
belief that the image of God is entirely an empirical matter?

A last question: I haven't seen you address the MRCA studies based on
geneology. I grant that they do not establish monogenism. However, the
thought I'm trying to develop is that our notion of monogenism based on
common genetic ancestry is misplaced as far as the Biblical narratives are
concerned. The Biblical narratives relate to geneology, not genetics.
Therefore, all that is necessary for a *Biblical* monogenism, perhaps, is
that contemporary people could theoretically trace their geneological roots
to Adam and Eve, even if Adam and Eve were not the only people / beings
alive who contributed to the current human gene pool. It seems to me that
the geneological assertion is very plausible under the geneological MRCA
studies that have been published. And when the Bible presents geneologies,
those have nothing to do with genes. I think the geneology of Jesus in
Matthew 1, which traces Jesus' line through Joseph, establishes this
conclusively. Obviously, if the virgin birth is true, Jesus probably
(excepting a scenario where the Holy Spirit does a literal artificial
insemination using Joseph's semen) didn't inherit any genes from Joseph.

And a last thought on this question of geneological rather than genetic
monogenism -- actually a question for anyone who might know about this as an
historical matter. Obviously, a significant problem with my notion of
geneological monogenism is that it would conflict with the historic teaching
of the Church. However, my understanding of the Church's historic position
is that it was heavily informed by the mistaken belief that conception
involved the quickening of an "homunculus" -- a tiny person -- already
formed in the woman's womb. If I understand this view correctly, every
homunculus itself would contain humunculi. Thus, Eve, as the "mother of all
the living," would have carried all the humunculi that ever became or will
become quickened into living people.

We obviously now know that notion is false, but we seem to want to replace
it with genetics. So, instead of humunculi, we now tend to think we must be
able to attribute all present human genetic variation to Adam & Eve in order
to preserve monogenism. But obviously, even with this position, we've
already come so far from the classical notion of monogenism that it is
really something entirely different. While we all carry some genetic code
that reflects common ancestry going back to the chimp-human split (and
before), we obviosly don't all have identical sets of genes, with each other
or with our immediate ancestors, much less with Adam, whenever he lived. It
seems to me that any genetic perspective on monogenism is orders of
magnitude away from the classical position. All of which, I think, can
support the idea that Biblical monogenism is not a scientific concept about
heredity, but rather is a geneological concept, by which everyone can find
Adam & Eve in their geneological "family tree," even if Adam & Eve were not
the only people / beings living at the time they were alive who contributed
to the current human gene pool.

Having said all that, let me say this: all of this is of course
speculation. I don't claim this as a firm theory. At the end of the day, I
don't think we know enough about the science or the texts to assert anything
but tentative ideas on all of this.

On 3/16/07, Glenn Morton <> wrote:
> Had a wonderful dinner with Dick Fischer last night. This is for Jack,
> Bill
> Hamilton, George Murphy
> Jack wrote:
> > Quick response here.
> >
> > I used the term bicameral in reference to Burgy's post
> > referencing the book
> > with the name in the title.
> >
> Julian Jaynes book was influentical, but highly flawed. No one pays much
> attention to it today in anthropological circles.
> How could anyone get by, in talking
> or thinking, if there was no distinctive label for the
> talker or thinker? Yet in a book still taken surprisingly
> seriously in many quarters, Jaynes claimed (mainly on the
> basis of an uneasy liaison between split-brain theories and
> conventions in classical literature) that human self-
> consciousness as we know it developed less than four
> thousand years ago. However, in several languages we
> actually know what the morphophonemic form for the first
> person singular was at that and still earlier peirods, while
> in many more languages, first-person-singular forms can be
> reliably reconstructed for periods earlier still. One can
> only wonder who or what Jaynes thinks our ancestors of five
> thousand years ago thought they were referring to when they
> used their equivalents of 'I'." Derek Bickerton, Language
> and Human Behavior, (Seattle: University of Washington
> Press, 1995), p. 136-137
> And it is obserationally falsifieed by Helen Keller's experience.
> "This sensory reductionism is unsatisfactory to another school of
> Hardliners, who hold to
> a representational approach that, in its own way, is just as
> uncompromising.
> This school
> believes that language is the sole legitimate basis of consciousness.
> Instead of Bishop
> Berkeley's esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived), they might
> substitute esse est loqui or
> perhaps esse est verbum feci (to be is to be spoken, or made a word).
> Consciousness is linked
> to symbolic thought, entirely dependent on language, and unique to humans.
> Adherents to this
> approach do not accept that simple sensory awareness is ever sufficient
> evidence for true
> consciousness. For them, language alone is the key to consciousness. Some
> have taken this
> idea to extremes. Julian Jaynes once proposed that consciousness, in the
> sense of self-
> consciousness, was strictly a cultural invention, and a very recent one at
> that. Thus he
> restricted consciousness not only to those with language but to those with
> certain ideas and
> thought habits that are to be found only at specific times and places in
> human history."
> "Jayne's position is often seen as idiosyncratic, indeed eccentric, and
> not
> representative, yet it is not that far from many mainstream theories, such
> as Dennett's.
> For most of those who adopt such a viewpoint, only people who can capture
> their mental
> contents in language could be described as truly conscious. Presumably
> children, or the
> nonsigning deaf, or a variety of other people with disabilities could not
> become fully conscious
> unless they acquired sufficient proficiency in language. Some people have
> actually claimed
> this in writing. This includes Richard Rorty, who wrote in his book
> Contingency, Irony, and
> Solidarity: "We have no prelinguistic consciousness to which language
> needs
> to be adequate."
> This confirms the experience of Helen Keller, who, in her autobiography,
> testified that before
> having language, she was not fully conscious. However, as we shall see,
> this
> was a naive
> claim on her part. When we look at her own testimony about her life before
> she had language,
> we are led to believe that she was also conscious at that time. More about
> this later. We are
> obviously introducing quite a different meaning of the term
> "consciousness"
> when we identify it
> with language and symbolic representation." Merlin Donald, A Mind So Rare:
> The Evolution of
> Human Consciousness, (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001), p. 35
> > As far as language, I am not committed to written language as
> > the image of
> > God, I chose that because it is certainly a late development.
> > I would
> > suspect however that most of this development ocurred during
> > the neolithic
> > even though there is not evidence for it until later.
> Language goes much much further back. Joanna Mountain and colleagues have
> studied the click languages. The click languages consist of clicks made by
> the tongue added to other vowels and consonental sounds to form the full
> word. Two peoples, the Hadzabe and Jul'hoansi both speak click
> languages,
> sharing the identical clicks, but radically different vowel/consonantal
> arrangements for their words. The odds of the same clicks arising
> independently are quite small. So, the researchers believe that the
> clicks
> are due to common descent. Today the two peoples are 1600 km apart so they
> can't have borrowed the clicks from each other and these two peoples are
> as
> genetically separated as any two peoples on the face of the earth--in
> otherwords, one must go back 100kyr before their genes would allow for a
> common ancestor. Therefore, if the genetics says they are two branches of
> an ancient lineage and part of their language is also via common descent,
> then the conclusion is that language existed 100 kyr ago, so any assertion
> that language arose in the neolithic is observationally false. See my
> paper
> in the PSCF
> The initial report is at Alec Knight et al, "African Y chromosome and
> mtDNA
> divergence provides insight into the
> history of click languages," Current Biology, 13(2003):6:pp. 464-473
> >
> > Nevertheless, it might be something more subtle, such as the
> > ability to have
> > an abstract language, with grammer, and figurative speech,
> > that is what was
> > unique to the Adamites, and it spread from there.
> See above. This criterion means that Adam lived before the common ancestor
> of the Hadzabe and Jul'hoansi 100 kyr ago. The problem I see in
> apologetics
> is that very few actually dig deeply enough to know what set of facts need
> to be accounted for.
> This says
> > nothing about
> > "illiterate" peoples because it is just having the ability that is
> > important. And after I read your last sentence here, I know
> > you know what I
> > am getting at, even though I am not able to be more specific,
> > I am talking
> > about human language that is beyond what any animal can do.
> > I wonder if it
> > is also beyond what any homo sapiens prior to the neolithic could do.
> Fact is that not a single anthropologist believes that language arose in
> the
> Neolithic. The most conservative say 50 kyr ago and the vast majority say
> some sort of language existed back 2 million years ago and a few brave
> souls
> say that australopithecines had language.
> Dean Falk argues for at least 2 million years of language based upon the
> first occurrence of biological brain structures which today are used for
> the
> production of language.
> "The oldest evidence for Broca's area to date is from
> KNM-ER 1470, a H. habilis specimen from Kenya, dated at
> approximately two million years ago. From that date forward,
> brain size 'took off,' i.e., increased autocatalytically so that
> it nearly doubled in the genus Homo, reaching its maximum in
> Neanderthals. If hominids weren't using and refining language I
> would like to know what they were doing with their
> autocatalytically increasing brains (getting ready to draw
> pictures somehow doesn't seem like enough)." ~ Dean Falk,
> Comments, Current Anthropology, 30:2, April, 1989, p. 141-142.
> Terrence Deacon argues that language arose even earlier!
> "The remarkable expansion of the brain that took place in human
> evolution, and indirectly produced prefrontal expansion, was not the cause
> of symbolic language but a consequence of it. As experiments with
> chimpanzees demonstrate, under optimal training conditions they are
> capable
> of learning to use a simple symbol system. So, it is not inconceivable
> that
> the first step across the symbolic threshold was made by an
> australopithecine with roughly the cognitive capabilities of a modern
> chimpanzee, and that this initiated a complicated history of
> back-and-forth
> escalations in which symbol use selected for greater prefrontalization,
> more
> efficient articulatory and auditory capacities, and probably a suite of
> other ancillary capacities and predispositions which eased the acquisition
> and use of this new tool of communication and thought."Terrence W. Deacon,
> The Symbolic Species, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 340
> >
> > And this idea is related to history. Whatever the change was
> > what allowed
> > stories to be told, is the same ability that I think is
> > unique to humans,
> > and could be the image of God. Prior to this point there was
> > no history,
> > history started long before it was written down.
> >
> Fine, if we accept your definition, Adam can't be more recently than 100
> kyr
> ago, which moves him entirely out of the Neolithic. And if we accept that
> the existence of biological structures used for language are evidence that
> the skull's owner had language, then language existed for 2 million years
> AT
> One question, in general to all. If we don't believe that the Bible tells
> us
> anything scientific or historical, why do we believe we HAVE an image of
> God, which comes from that same ahistorical passage?
> Do we have the perverse methodology in which anything which can be
> verified
> is rejected and anything which can't be verified is ACCEPTED? That seems
> to
> be what I see.
> *****
> Bill Hamilton wrote:
> >I agree that if God inserts something into humans that makes no
> difference
> in behavior, then what is the benefit?
> >However, you are asking a different question: You are looking for
> differences in behavior that are detectable in the
> >archaeological record. I grant that art and burial of the dead with
> ceremony are indications of a developing spirituality,
> >but are they indicators that the image of God has been instilled? Or
> should
> we be looking for another, or possibly a
> >combination of factors? Or perhaps what we're looking for is undetectable
> in the archaeological record. Fro example in
> >Gen 4:26 it says "at that time men began to call on the name of God." If
> you were looking for that as an indication of the
> >image of God, you wouldn't necessarily find it.
> Think of Indiana Jones, and some of the temples he ran into when you read
> about this 425,000 year old site in Germany. It is called Bilzingleben.
> "But Mania's most intriguing find lies under a protective
> shed. As he opens the door sunlight illuminates a cluster of
> smooth stones and pieces of bone that he believes were arranged
> by humans to pave a 27-foot-wide circle.
> "'They intentionally paved this area for cultural
> activities,' says Mania. 'We found here a large anvil of
> quartzite set between the horns of a huge bison, near it were
> fractured human skulls.'" ~ Rick Gore, "The First Europeans,"
> National Geographic, July, 1997, p. 110
> If you walked into a village and saw that, you would know that people are
> calling upon the name of SOME God. So, if calling upon god is the
> definition
> of the image of God, then Adam must be at least 425,000 years old. The
> alternative to this is to ignore the data. By the way, modern druids
> (well,
> modern by comparison) paved the Loanshead of Daviott (a druidic stone
> circle
> about 25 miles NW of Aberdeen Scotland, in precisely the same fashion. It
> looks like a rubble of rocks, but the rubble is in a circle and is about
> the
> same diameter. I have pictures if anyone is interested.
> ***
> George M wrote:
> [GLM No, I meant what I said. I introduced Wells as 1 example of a
> scientists whose claims for a recent origin of humanity doesn't appear to
> be
> motivated by religious concerns. The extent to which I'm qualified to
> debate the issue is irrelevant. Your license to practice distance
> psychoanalysis is suspended.]
> Aw shucks, shrinks make such good money. But, I can analyze your
> statement
> above. Wells DOESN'T claim a recent origin of humanity. You are doing what
> you said YECs do. You are making Christians look ill-informed by missing
> what Wells is saying. I tried to point out your error, but you are now
> persisting in saying what Wells isn't saying. The age of the Y chromosome
> is not the age of humanity, no matter how much you or I might wish it to
> be
> so. It just represents the age of the lucky guy whose chromosome was the
> most widespread. Go back 10,000 years and there would have been some
> humans
> who didn't have that guy's y-chromsome but there probably would have been
> some other guy dated 80 or 90,000 years ago, from whome all y chromosomes
> were descended at that time. The y-chromosome Adam is a moving target.
> 5000
> years hence, it will be a guy who lived 55,000 years ago or so.
> If you don't understand this, then you are out of your depth here.
> [GLM You make wild claims & then pass by in silence the demonstrations
> that they're false. What I refuted here was the claim that people are
> arguing that the creation accounts are poetic and therefore CANNOT (not do
> not or may not) convey truth about the natural world - i.e., that the very
> nature of poetry precludes the possibility of conveying such truth.]
> George, I want to laugh here. I cited Jan de Konig who argued that it was
> poetic, and you didn't respond to that, effectively ignoring it, and then
> charge me with ignoring facts that falsify your claims.
> If you believe that the Genesis accounts are telling us something true
> historically, then it should be easy for you to answer the question, what,
> exactly is it telling us about history. I asked that simple question but
> got the diversion above about me not answering your comments. If you
> believe it is historical, then what is historical. If you can't tell us
> that, then I doubt your assertion above is nothing but a red herring.
> When you wrote:
> [GLM Again you ignore the refutation of your 1st extravagant claim & go
> on
> to a 2d. Your claim was that theologians never want to think anything new
> &
> I pointed out that that's nonsense.]
> I went back and looked for some kind of refutation. I simply don't know
> what
> the heck you are referring to. What did you refute. What 1st extravagant
> claim are you referring to?
> As the the second, I see theologians only thinking along lines of, it
> tells
> us YEC history or it tells us nothing that we can claim to be
> observationally verifiable. If you can point me to theologians who
> believe
> that the Bible is telling us something observationally verifiable while at
> the same time accepting the facts of modern science, I would be
> interested.
> Even the framework theory in my opinion doesn't fall out side of the 'it
> ain't history' school of thought. But your claims that there are new ways
> of thinking are easy to make, but harder to document especially if you see
> the world with the division I do.
> [GLM I.e., if I don't believe your resurrected stillborn ape-like mutant
> story then I don't believe God had a miraculous hand in creating mankind!]
> Oh, George, have some nuanced thinking for a change. It isn't my theory to
> which I refer. It is to the Bible, which you seem incapable of believing
> If you don't' believe the Bible where it says :
> "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into
> his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
> I don't care if you reject my theory, but if you decide that God didn't
> actually perform the activities in the above statement, then you simply
> have
> to admit that you don't' beleve there is a single shred of historical
> reality contained in Genesis 2:7. And if God didn't do that, then what
> miracle DID God do when mankind was formed?
> See, this is the problem. I at least present something that is close to
> Genesis 2:7. You simply believe it didn't happen but then turn around and
> try to tell everyone what a wonderful book the Bible is and that it
> teaches
> true theology. How would we know it teaches true theology if everything
> it
> says is false? Do you believe Genesis 2:7?
> [GLM I judge your claims by the standards you want them to satisfy &
> find
> them wanting. OTOH I want my arguments to be judged by appropriate
> theological standards - which include agreement with well-confirmed
> science
> but are hardly limited to that.]
> George, you speak so abstractly that there is not much one can say to
> this.
> What standards? Who set up these theological standards? George
> Murphy? And
> if you want to be in agreement with well-confirmed science, then why do
> you
> ignore genetics which clearly says that there has been no common human
> ancestral pair for at least 5 million years? I can't change that. I wish
> it
> weren't true. I wish every genetic system and every gene showed the same
> 100
> kyr age because only in that manner can we have a REAL Adam and Eve who
> are
> parents of all humanity, but the fact is that they don't. We have two
> choices, George, ignore it, or incorporate it into our theology. You want
> to
> ignore it. I don't.
> Do you even understand why all genes should show the very same age if we
> are
> all descended from a recent pair of ur-parents?
> [GLM Of course I am not saying that the God who raised Jesus _couldn't_
> raise a dead ape. What I'm saying is that there's no evidence that he did
> raise a dead ape, no realistic possibility of getting such evidence even
> if
> it did happen, & no reason to read such an event into Genesis. OTOH the
> NT
> clearly does speak of the resurrection of Jesus & one can give good
> historical arguments (Pannenberg, O'Collins, Wright e.g .) to support the
> claim - though not conclusive proof.]
> Well, George, one can say that about the talking snake, the floating ax
> head, and indeed, the resurrection itself. What real evidence do we have
> today concerning the resurrection? We have some claims that people saw the
> risen Lord, but in fact, there is not one shred of physical evidence
> remaining. So, if physical evidence becomes your standard, then by
> definition, there can't be evidence for the resurrection--the body is
> gone!
> Is there any real evidence that David slew Goliath? Is there any real
> evidence that Samuel was consecrated by his parents? All we have is the
> word of the Bible, but we also have the word that "God formed man of the
> dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and
> man became a living soul." But, there is no real evidence for that
> either.
> By your standard, you reduce the Bible to an evidentiaryless set of
> assertions.
> When I demanded that our solutions fit the details of what it is we are
> studying George wrote:
> [GLM Not enough for you but that's your problem. & again, the claim that
> your ape scenario agrees with Gen.2 in "details" is a vast overstatement.]
> So, is this an argument for sloppy research and ignoring data we don't
> like?
> It seems that if one doesn't want to deal with the details of an area of
> science, then one is saying it is ok to be sloppy and haphazard. Yes,
> that
> is my problem, George, I won't settle for slop. I did that when I was a
> and I won't accept it anymore because it is self-deception.
> [GLM Again I am not holding a "double standard of judgement." I am
> judging your cliams as you want them to be judging but I have not said
> that
> those criteria are the appropriate ones for theology. But OK, here's a
> prediction that comes naturally from my approach: If we encounter
> intelligent ETs we will find them to be sinful - or "fallen" if you will.
> (This is a slight adaptation of an argument of Bob Russell's.)]
> We probably have about as much chance at verifying this as we do at
> verifying my ape. Do you have one that is more likely to be verified? I
> would say that this illustrates that you don't apply the same standard to
> you as you do to me.
> [GLM You want not just "verification" - which I have - but theological
> prediction of novel scientific facts. I don't accept that as a criterion
> for
> theology but see my comment above.]
> You can claim verification but until you lay it out specifically in detail
> (which means dealing with the details sometheing you above eschewed), then
> I
> deny that you have verification.
> glenn
> They're Here: The Pathway Papers
> Foundation, Fall, and Flood
> Adam, Apes and Anthropology
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Received on Fri Mar 16 12:29:41 2007

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