Re: [asa] Re: Reading Genesis theologically NOT historically

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Sat Oct 03 2009 - 18:46:17 EDT

Hi Schwarzwald,

Okay, I see what you're getting at - so, yes, I do think one could historically identify a first human BUT with two MAJOR caveats: First, I note that even YEC's don't agree on how "human" is to be defined (except to offer the singularly unhelpful "human = made in the image of God" - which means...?) so I don't know why evolutionists are singled out for special treatment for their inability to offer a precise delineation; and, second, assuming evolution (which I do in this context) there is a complication which needs to be taken into account which I now articulate.

Let X be that characteristic a sufficient amount of which constitutes the criterion by which a being can be considered "human" (and, note, that almost any entity you care to suggest will be evident, to some limited degree, in non-human species - so we have to deal with "the sufficient amount of which" and not simply "the presence of which").


A = a being with insufficient amount of X
B = a being with sufficient amount of X

Make the (reasonable?) assumption that all properties within populations exist as a probability distribution (a bell curve, perhaps, but not necessarily)


For any population possessing X the amount of X within that population will be variously distributed.


At the point of transition from "pre-human" to "human" some individuals within the population will be A's whilst some will be B's.


The evolutionary transition from A to B would demonstrate a gradual "B-ward" shift in the distribution of X - i.e. the prevalence of B's over A's will gradually increase.

Now it should be obvious that there certainly will, at some point, be a first B - HOWEVER, probability distributions being what they are, the likelihood is that the offspring of that B will be an A.

So, if one traces a particular line of descent then one would, I imagine, see something like;


i.e. as time passes one sees an increasing prevalence of individuals who have the requisite amount of X to be considered properly human.

So, yes, one CAN pick a "first human" BUT I don't think it follows that this individual marks THE transition from pre-human to human - hence my reticence to give a definitive "yes" or "no" to Greg's question.

I think, personally, that I do affirm Greg's point that there MUST be some sort of distinction between the human and the pre-human HOWEVER I also think it would be somewhat disingenuous for me to offer a simple "yes" to the question Greg was asking.

Perhaps I should simply say that I think we can (albeit with difficulty) affirm the humanity of an individual creature - far more difficult to affirm the humanity of a population.

Make some sort of sense?

And when does Greg ask the obvious next question: at what point does "human culture" emerge as a discernible entity in an evolutionary scenario?


Schwarzwald wrote:
> Heya Murray,
> Just a short comment here. I'm in agreement with quite a lot of your
> perspective (sounds like you've taken in quite some interesting
> observations from aboriginal beliefs/practices!), but I don't think
> Murray was asking for a specific *when* A and B are distinguished, or
> even necessarily a *how* A and B are distinguished, but simply *that* A
> and B are, in fact, distinguished. That there was, somehow and someway,
> a 'first man' - and that man is distinct from non-man. Pretty simple,
> and I agree with Gregory about such a man existing, though I agree with
> you in turn about what the real importance of those passages were. So I
> guess I'm somewhere in the middle (though your take on Paul is also
> fascinating. You should be writing articles, Murray.)
> On Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 5:35 PM, Murray Hogg <
> <>> wrote:
> Hi Greg,
> p.p.s. you wrote: "sin isn't primarily an issue of disobedience
> but of relationship" - this is agreeable. Once you say 'degree'
> to a human-social scientist, however, there is a problem (though
> admittedly not to all of them/us) - it *is* a full-frontal
> attack on HSS sovereignty (even if you didn't know this when you
> spoke it).
> This is a really curious remark - but I suspect my perplexity is due
> to the brevity of your comment.
> There are some things which - without any protestation - are a
> matter of degree - colours on a spectrum, volume of noise, distance
> from a fixed point. And I can't imagine that such facts constitute a
> "full-frontal attack on HSS".
> So I can only guess that the issue is that if we can't precisely
> delineate the "human" then all that is generally regarded as "human"
> collapses into the merely "natural" leaving no place for a HSS
> perspective. Is that about it?
> Blessings,
> Murray
> To unsubscribe, send a message to
> <> with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sat Oct 3 18:46:50 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Oct 03 2009 - 18:46:50 EDT