The Genesis leap
Posted on Sunday, 17 April, 2011 | 5 comments
Columnist: Tammy A. Branom
Many civilizations have strikingly similar creation myths. One of the most prominent creation stories is the Christian bible Book of Genesis that relates of the beginning of the universe, earth, and humans. For much of my life, I have contemplated just how earth (and we) all came to be. Are we simply stemmed from a fish millions of years ago figuring out it had legs and walked out onto the solid ground? Did aliens interfere with human evolution? Did God and Angels create and mold us? Did survivors of an ancient civilization lost to cataclysm manage to span out over the globe and teach other less intelligent humans how to live? Did we of the present or of our own future somehow make sure we existed or just end up accidentally creating our ancient ancestors?
So many questions; so many directions. These directions led me to be kicked out of my Sunday school class as a kid and subsequently to meet with the reverend of our church for my (heretical) view.
In Sunday school, we were discussing Cain and Able. My attention was directed to the fact that, although Cain was the son of Adam and Eve and therefore one of the first people (supposedly) on earth, he had to be “marked” by God so that no one in the cities would harm him for killing his brother. Who were these people in the cities if Cain was one of the first people? Simple, I was told. Adam and Eve and their children were only one example of God’s creation of humans. Okay. So, why did Cain need to be marked? How would these other people know so quickly what he did? Well, apparently rumors traveled fast back then, too.
Now I was confused and looked back at the very beginning of Genesis. If Adam and Eve were only one example of God’s creation of humans, then were they all cast out for eating the fruit? Did the serpent tempt them all? In addition, was the serpent really a bad guy? I mean, without him, none of us would probably exist, considering the punishment for Eve was to bear children. Don’t we all owe the serpent a debt of gratitude? And, the big one that got me in trouble: Who really lied to Adam and Eve? Everyone involved went with the perception that when God said, “You will die,” He meant that if they ate the fruit, they would die immediately. The serpent said, “No you won’t.” Well, they didn’t. And what was God’s response when confronted with it? You will, I just didn’t say when.
What? So, God’s sense of humor played out in that moment? Cornered, he reverted to smart alleck remarks? I suddenly felt sorry for the serpent, whose punishment was to be what sounds like having his arms and legs removed so he would have to crawl around on his belly for the rest of his life. Brutal. However, that also raises the question of whether the “serpent” was truly a snake-like creature at all.
I was told in my meeting with the reverend, that the serpent was another name for Satan. I found that remarkable because Satan didn’t fall until later. I was also informed Satan just went around undoing things God did, tempting people as he does to this day (?). I didn’t see it that way. If any part of the Genesis story was true, I think the serpent saw or even knew something else and wanted humans to grow. So, in HIS infinite wisdom, he went into the Petrie dish called Eden and changed the conditions of the test. Then, voila, presto, changeo. The God dude came in later and saw what happened, questioned his “children” (experiments) and became angry that someone messed with his stuff. Then, all hell broke loose.
Well, that’s how I thought when I still believed in all that.
Now, I see that Genesis is just a story, albeit an imaginative story, of human evolution. Where exactly it started and who passed it along is a mystery, but in my research, I can see parallels of the Genesis story to that of evolutionary landmarks. This also leads me to believe that Genesis is probably not as old as people think, and is likely not altogether a history of the beginning of the universe, but instead a tale of humans emerging from the darkness of catastrophe.
Recently, I read separate articles regarding human evolution and I started researching all over again, seeking the information of what I thought best described the beginning passages of the Genesis book. My findings led me to possible answers.
We’ve all seen it, the graph of humankind starting on one end as a prehistoric chimp and progressing to the right to a modern man. Not everyone, but many people know that science has blown this view of the evolution of humans clear out of the water. Neanderthals, once believed to be simply another step in evolution, actually lived side-by-side to Homo Sapiens and mated with them, although this is still controversial in many circles. There is also some controversy around whether Home Erectus and Neanderthals existed together and possibly mated with each other. There is much debate over this, although most indications are that they did not. Nonetheless, Homo Sapiens came along and it is quite possible that their competition for resources led to the extinction of Neanderthals.
That information alone reminds me of ancient aliens coming to earth and choosing to make slaves of early humans. The primitive Neanderthals were the hosts for alien genetic manipulation and Homo Sapiens were the result. The remaining primitive Neanderthals died off because of the faster, stronger, more intelligent Homo Sapiens.
Easy enough to buy into, I suppose. However, I wanted a more plausible explanation for biblical accounts. This led me to the Toba Eruption.
A volcanic super eruption occurred sometime between 69,000 and 77,000 years ago at Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia. It is believed that this eruption led to a 6 to 10 year volcanic winter, possibly followed by 1,000 years of severe cooling. (A thousand years? Where have we heard this number before? Reminds me of Revelation when Jesus returns and God comes at the end of everything and reigns for 1,000 years.) The Toba event also coincides with the onset of the last glacial age, lending more credence to the 1,000 years of cooling.
During the Toba volcanic winter, the sky would have been blotted out, black for those 6 to 10 years. If the 1,000 years occurred, or even if it hadn’t, there would be massive die-offs of vegetation and animals--humans included. This would easily have caused a bottleneck of humans, wiping them out almost entirely, which is what is believed by proponents of the theory. It is conjectured that the human population was reduced to 10,000 or even as low as 1,000 breeding pairs. Perfect scenario for the Eden numbers.
As indicated by fossils, a small band of Homo Sapiens left Africa between 100,000 to 50,000 years ago. Some reports say 70,000 to 50,000, but the numbers still coincide with a time after the Toba event. Many mammal populations recovered from the period of low numbers at about this same time (70,000 to 50,000 years ago). This time also has human population rapid increasing, along with progress, innovations, and migration. Races would have abruptly differentiated in this period as well, due to the rapid migration and not been gradual as has been the accepted thought.
Although the affect the Toba event had on Homo Sapiens is heavily debated, I think it is quite plausible for the Genesis Effect. Out of the darkness (volcanic winter), light one day came down (the sun finally peeked through). People were spread out, possibly into pairs. Animals started to return along with vegetation. (God created the heavens and earth and all the animals.) In one particular incident, someone ate something (fruit), probably sat under a tree (an image of Issac Newton comes to mind), and came up with an idea to move out of that unproductive place. On this journey out, this person and his mate found others and so went the story of Out of Africa.
But, now who was God and the serpent? And why do they seem so much smarter? The easy answer is aliens, but that’s not for me. Is it possible there were other civilizations in existence on earth and they were migrating as well? Definitely possible. To primitive Homo Sapiens in a bottlenecked area, these smarter people could have been god-like. Remember, we’re talking a possible 1,000 years here. A lot can happen in 1,000 years or even 100 years. Just look at the technological advancements of us today in just the past 50 years. Perhaps another civilization adapted more quickly to the earth changes, hiding underground and continuing to multiply. Or, perchance, the entire planet was not severely affected. It has been indicated that other groups of Homo Sapiens survived the Toba event relatively without much problem with the speculation that these groups were simply upwind of Toba. I guess the serpent (smoky wisps?) didn’t get to everyone after all. Maybe the preacher was right. Adam and Eve were merely a single case of several.
In the final leg of my recent research, I also read some more on the “Great Leap Forward” debate. At around 50,000 years ago, humans took a surprising upswing in all manner of behavior. New hunting techniques, improved and specialized hunting tools, better clothing, and even jewelry came into being. Painting, living space, and rituals all became the norm. Is this when Homo Sapiens were taught by older, more “advanced” people migrating as well? Seems plausible. Teachers teach. And, if you have nowhere local to teach, you go find a place to teach. This also lends to the idea that there were many “gods” of different things. Every teacher has his specialty. Most of the travelers were likely male, as females tend to be homebodies. Besides that, females traveling alone left themselves open to attack. Men would be attacked too, but just as today, a woman alone is more vulnerable than a man alone.
So, there are my conclusions as to a logical Genesis beginning. Although it may not have been the Toba event exactly, particular details do make some sense. Where did the older, wiser civilization come from? Upwind, I suspect. Only the fossil record will say for certain. The Human Family Tree has many, many branches and the dates of human ancestry date farther back than most people ever dreamed. The latest addition, Ardipithecus ramidus, or “Ardi,” lived about 4 million years ago. There are human relatives that predate Ardi, albeit only in fragments, that existed 2 or 3 million years before him. That’s very different from what I learned in science class when I was in school.
So, who’s to say that one day another dimension won’t slip into ours and send some of us hurtling back through time to become those migrating teachers, wandering through the world, making sure Homo Sapiens don’t die-off--and leaving our shoed footprints in soft soil to be uncovered one day to cause great controversy. To err is human.
And maybe, just maybe, we are that God and that serpent. After all, we were created in HIS image. Was God a human?
With answers sometimes come more questions.Article Copyright© Tammy A. Branom - reproduced with permission.