Saturday, June 15, 2019

When Did Adam Live? Part 1 Religion

When Did Adam Live? Part 1 Religion
 by Glenn R Morton

Note: If you haven't read about the Days of Proclamation view, click the link to read it now because it is pre-requisite for all the posts which will follow this one..

This question of when Adam lived is essential to any further interpretation of Genesis 2-11. The time frame one chooses for Adam and Eve's existence (assuming one believes they were individuals), determines the range of time the flood could have happened, it determines how well the Biblical story fits with genetic data, and it determines whether all are descended from Adam or not. Even if one believes Adam represents a population, and wasn't an individual, the same questions are determined by when that population lived. Because of this I will investigate this question before presenting a historical reading of Genesis 2-3. Without knowing when Adam lived, we can't really interpret further.

 I have long advocated for a very old Adam, older than any other writer so far as I can determine. The reason for this is my view that evidence of religion equates to evidence of spirituality-even a false religion shows spirituality exists. In this post, we will look at evidence of religion. After this post, I envision a series of future posts where we will look at all the issues affecting when Adam lived. After this post, we will look at the lack of relationship between brain size and intelligence, asking the question how small a brain can carry the image of God? Then we will look at activities that would appear to require language. This is because language is a prerequisite for religion. Religion requires words to describe concepts about abstract and symbolic objects like God., Then we will look at the genetics problem for Adam and how far back we must place an individual Adam and Eve. We then look at the problem faced by paleontology and its relation to when the earliest hominid or erectus lived and the implications for how far back Adam and Eve might live. (disclosure, some of this comes from old web pages of mine). And after we finish looking at when Adam lived, I will post a historical reading of Genesis 2-3, but this anthropological work must come first or the reader won't see why what I suggest is necessary to match the data both of science and of the Scripture.

How do we determine some prehistoric group was religious? The straightforward answer to that question is that they do things we do. The oldest temple in the world dates to 9000 BC, 11,000 years ago, long before civilization arose. It is Gobekli Tepi where stone age people built a beautiful circular temple with dazzling carvings.1 This is like some of our temples. Thus we infer religiosity to the people in Gobekli Tepi. Some prehistoric societies made female figurines, and today some religions do that as well, as part of their religious observance. We recognize spirituality by animal and human sacrifice, and behaviors similar to varied religious practices of historical people.

Worshipping Bears: Religion Among the Neanderthals 

It is a given that all humans alive today are capable of engaging in religion even though some chose not to. It does appear that even the majority of atheists and agnostics believe in something supernatural or irrational.

 "The UK-based Understanding Unbelief project interviewed thousands of self-identified atheists and agnostics from six countries – Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, US and UK. It found that despite their godlessness, a majority believe in at least one supernatural phenomenon or entity."
 "Among atheists in the UK, for example, about 12 per cent believe in reincarnation and nearly 20 per cent life after death. All told, 71 per cent of atheists hold one or more such beliefs; for agnostics the figure is 92 per cent. Atheists and agnostics comprise about 37 per cent of the UK population, so when combined with religious people, that means a large majority of the general population believe in the supernatural."2

Because religion is widespread in the world and almost no one will deny it to modern H. sapiens, we will not review the abundance of evidence for religion among early modern humans but will go immediately to religion among the Neanderthals. The reason for this is that modern humans and Neanderthals split into two subpopulations about 800,000 to a million years ago. If both groups can engage in religion, then it implies that their common ancestor that long ago could also engage in religion. Unless of course, one believes in two Adams, one Neanderthal and one sapiens. Since I have never heard anyone suggest two Adams, I think we can rule that out.

I must start with a brief description of the circumpolar bear cult that modern humans engaged in.

"Using the Ainu of Japan as an example, the process usually takes about 2 years. After hunters capture a bear cub, the cub is raised by the village for about a year and a half. Some writers have observed Ainu women nursing baby bears while listening to missionaries speaking. The bear is beloved in the village and becomes a member of the village. Just before the Ainu move to their summer settlement they sacrifice the bear, descriptions of the ceremony apparently varied from village to village. Here is one description." 
"Among the Sakhalin Ainu, after the bear is taken out of the bear house it is killed with two pointed arrows (fig. 33.4), whereas the Hokkaido Ainu use blunt arrows (heper-ay) before critically wounding the bear with pointed arrows; they then strangle the bear between two logs. Male elders skin and dress the bear, which is then placed in front of the altar (nusa) where treasures are hung (fig. 33.5). After preliminary feasting outside at the altar, the Ainu bring the dissected bear into the house through the sacred window and continue their feast. Among the Hokkaido Ainu, the ceremony ends when the skull of the bear is placed on the nusa outside the house on a pole decorated with naw; the elder recites a farewell prayer while shooting an arrow toward the eastern sky, an act that signifies the departure of the deity. The Sakhalin Ainu take the bear skull, dressed in ritual wood shavings, and the bones, eyes, and penis (if a male) to a sacred pile in the mountains. They also sacrifice two carefully chosen dogs, which are considered to be servant-messengers to the bear deities. (For the Hokkaido Ainu bear ceremony, see Munro's film and Kitagawa [19611 for Sakhalin, see Pilsudski [1915] and Ohnuki-Tterney [1974: 90-97])".
 "Although often mistaken as cruel by outsiders, the bear ceremony is a ritual whereby the Ainu express their utmost respect to their deity, and its paramount significance is a sacred act. For the Sakhalin Ainui, the bear is not important as a food source: like other hunting societies that do not regularly eat their most prestigious big game-the !Kung San of the Kalahari Desert, for instance, do not regularly eat giraffe Ainu rarely eat bear meat, and the bear ceremony is held only once a year, if that. Even so, Ainu men and women find bear meat exquisite, unparalleled by any other food.

Ivar Lissner has a picture in his book of another way the bear was killed.4

Lissner described the Ainu beliefs. After the ritual slaying of the bear, many tribes collected the skulls of sacrificed bears and stacked them neatly in piles or neatly hung them in trees. When a bear is stripped of his hide, he looks similar to a man, so to the Ainu and maybe other bear cult tribes, the bear is a man masquerading as a bear and thus is an intermediary between them and heaven. When the bear is killed, the men eat the meat raw and drink the blood[GRM: shades of the Lords supper] and then his blood is used to anoint the hunters for the purpose of giving them success in hunting. It is believed that the bear's spirit becomes a guardian for the tribe. The Ainu use the same word for the bear's guardian spirit as they do for the North Star, so it seems that the association of the constellation of the little bear with the Pole Star goes far back in time.

But what of the Neanderthals? There are implications of religious beliefs held by Neanderthals in the collections of bear skulls found in their caves. The mere preservation of skulls need not suggest anything religious, but in some cases special attention was given to their placement, as was noted with some Siberian tribes. In one Neanderthal cave, five bear skulls were found in niches in the cave wall. The skulls of several cave bears in a group have been found surrounded by built-up stone walls, with some skulls having little stones placed around them, while others were set out on slabs.

"All this suggests some kind of bear cult, like that practiced until quite recently by the Chippewa and other North American Indians. After a Chippewa hunter had killed a bear, he would cut off the head, which was then decorated with beads and ribbons (in the period after contact with Europeans). Some tobacco was placed before its nose. The hunter would then make a little speech, apologizing to the bear for having had to kill it. Bear skulls were preserved and hung up on trees so that dogs and wolves could not get at them. Bear ceremonialism of this and related kinds had a wide circumpolar distribution--from the Great Lakes to the Ainu of northern Japan through various Siberian tribes, such as the Ostyaks and the Orochi, to the Finns and Lapps of Scandinavia. So wide a distribution of this trait, associated as it was with other apparently very early circumpolar traits, suggests great age. It is possible, therefore, that some aspects of this bear ceremonialism go back to Middle Paleolithic times."5

Middle Paleolithic times are Neanderthal times. Since we find similar things among the Neanderthals, we might very well be dealing with an 175,000 year old religion! Here is more data.

"All Mousterian burials are associated with living floors, except Regourdou, where the burial was placed in a sort of bear sanctuary in Layer IV, which was very elaborately constructed but showed no traces of regular habitation."

An amazing statement. What is the evidence for this sanctuary?

"Ten years earlier, another French archaeologist discovered at the 80,000-year-old site of Regourdou what seemed to have been the scene of a bear cult. The carefully arranged bones of a brown bear had been placed in a stone-lined pit, along with the skeleton of a young adult Neandertal."7

Regourdou is compared with Drachenloch. Campbell and Loy write:

"The most famous example of what has been claimed to be Neandertal Hunting magic is the so-called bear cult. It came to light when a German archaeologist, Emil Bachler, excavated the cave of Drachenloch between 1917 and 1923. Located 8,000 ft (2,400 m) up in the Swiss Alps, this 'lair of the dragons' tunnels deep into a mountainside. The front part of the cave, Bachler's work made clear, served as an occasional dwelling place for Neandertals. Farther back, Bachler found a cubical chest made of stones and measuring approximately 3.25 ft (1 m) on a side. The top of the chest was covered by a massive slab of stone. Inside were seven bear skulls, all apparently arranged with their muzzles facing the cave entrance. Still deeper in the cave were six bear skulls, seemingly set in niches along the walls. The Drachenloch find is not unique. At Regourdou in southern France, a rectangular pit, covered by a flat stone weighing nearly a ton, held the bones of more than 20 bears."8

 At Wildenmannlisloch we have a possible ceremonial figure, the Pseudo-Venus.

"How for instance can we to explain the discovery, in a carefully protected niche in one of the chambers of the Wildenmannlisloch, of a small figure resembling a female sculpture? Made out of the lower jaw of a cave bear, it may be either an artifact or a freak of nature. One thing is certain: the flattened planes of its 'head' were rubbed smooth by some human agency; perhaps, as Emil Bachler suggests, because the bone was originally used as an instrument for smoothing animal skins. This may be the reason why certain portions of the so-called 'pseudo-Venus' appear to have been polished. Bachler is of the opinion that the figure came into being accidentally, as a result of continual friction due to use, not as a deliberate attempt to reproduce the shape of the human head. I have examined the figure closely. The closed eyes, delicate mouth, small forehead, slim neck and back all convey an impression of careful workmanship. A second 'Venus' discovered in the same hiding place has smooth patches but no recognizable head. "Even if the pseudo-Venus was not actually made by Stone-Age man, the cave dweller must have noticed its resemblance to the figure of a girl. Why else would he have put it to one side and preserved it so carefully? The prehistorian Friedrich Behn in his book Vorgeschichte Europas, asserts that the people of the Neanderthalian race were lacking in any form of artistic impulse. The celebrated Venus statuettes of the Stone Age belong to the Aurignacian, a far later period. The pseudo-Venus may, therefore, be unique in its period, the earliest portrayal of the human figure known to have been made, or at least recognized as such, by man. It is probably the most remarkable evidence of prehistoric activity or comprehension in the world. Between four and five inches tall the Venus was found on October 21, 1926, and reposes today in the Heimatmuseum at Saint Gallen, a Paleolithic Sleeping Beauty waiting to rejoice the eye of the occasional visitor."9

The pseudovenus is reminiscent of what some Siberian tribes do today. "The strange little wooden figures which the Orochi and Manega carve on trees or occasionally display on wooden altars are effigies of a forest spirit whom they call Bainaca ."10

At Salzenhole and Petershohle we have:

"In the Salzofenhohle, more than six thousand feet up in the Totes Gebirge not far from Aussee in Austria, the paleontologist and paleobiologist Kurt Ehrenberg found three cave bears' skulls which had been accurately ringed with stones. In all three cases, charcoal remains were discovered beside or beneath the skulls. In Petershohle, bears' skulls had been carefully deposited in small holes and niches. In a cupboard-like recess in the rock wall, four feet above the floor of the cave, five skulls, two femurs and a humerus were found all belonging to cave bears. The skulls fell to pieces in the diggers' hands during removal. The man responsible for exploring the Petershohle, K. Hormann, declared: 'These skeletal remains could not have got up there or in there by any natural means.' It seems probable therefore that they were a conscious committal to eternity and a deliberate sacrifice, not a fortuitous act but a calculated gesture toward an exalted and timeless power."11

It is quite likely that Neanderthals engaged in a religion similar to that of the Chippewa, the Finns, the Ainu and other circum-polar people today. We may actually have an example of a religion with an age of more than 176,000 years.

One of the things in Anthropology that bothers me is that if evidence of some activity among modern humans is discovered, it is automatically accepted, but if it is associated with Neanderthals, far too many automatically reject it. They also say the above sites are old, excavated prior to more modern techniques and don't prove evidence of Neanderthal religion. But they have trouble saying that about the Neanderthal altar found at Bruniquel during modern times, using modern excavation techniques and uranium dated in 2016.

At Bruniquel, France, archeologists have excavated a squarish stone structure dating to 176,000 years ago. The original article only says it is older than 47,600 years,so until I wrote this, I had been unaware of the new dating. The new dating makes this an extremely important religious site. In this cave Neanderthals built a structure in which they burned a bear. Here is a picture of the structure, made of fallen stalactites. That this is a structure made by man is clear because random falling of stalactites wouldn't cause this arrangement. Falling stalacties would land randomly.

Bednarik (1996, p. 104) writes:

"The cave of Bruniquel in southern France has just produced fascinating new evidence. Several hundred metres in from the cave entrance, a stone structure has been discovered. It is quadrilineal, measures four by five metres and has been constructed from pieces of stalagmite and stalactite. A burnt fragment of a bear bone found in it was radiocarbon analysed, yielding a 'date' of greater than 47 600 years BP. This suggests that the structure is the work of Neanderthals. It is located in complete darkness, which proves that the people who ventured so deep into the large cave system had reliable lighting and had the confidence to explore such depths. Bruniquel is one of several French caves that became closed subsequent to their Pleistocene use, but were artificially opened this century." "This appears to have been the ritual sacrifice of a bear. It is also the first proof that man went deep into caves long before they painted the walls."12

Work stopped at Bruniquel for some time because the lead anthropologist died. Then in 2016 new work was done which makes Bruniquel an even more remarkable site and almost conclusive of religion among the Neanderthals. The radiocarbon date obtained in the 1990s had only said the site was older than 47, 600 years, but didn't say how old. In 2016, Jacques Jaubert and a large team dated the structure by uranium dating. They say:

"Uranium-series dating of stalagmite regrowths on the structures and on burnt bone, combined with the dating of stalagmite tips in the structures, give a reliable and replicated age of 176.5 thousand years (±2.1 thousand years), making these edifices among the oldest known well-dated constructions made by humans. Their presence at 336 metres from the entrance of the cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity."13

So the oldest well dated construction is of a site where bears were burned, deep in a dark cave. It was made by Neanderthals. At such an old date, there were no modern humans in Europe who could have constructed this thing.

Modern humans also worship in caves, so this is a very human type of activity. Even early Christians worshipped in a cave:

"He described a circular worship area with stone seats separated from a living area that had a long tunnel leading to a source of water and said the early Christians hid there from persecution. "14

Furthermore, the Maya often made sacrifices in deep dark hard-to-get-to-areas of caves:

"Historical and ethnographic accounts have long noted that Maya groups, including those still in existence, regularly conduct ritual activities in caves near their communities. Maya religion focuses strongly on the earth, Brady asserts. Caves, often in conjunction with mountains and water, embody the earth's fundamental power and lie at the center of a four-cornered universe. Maya caves frequently contain cenotes, openings to underground water sources that further establish the cave's sacred status." 15

One of the most famous of these Maya sites is Actun Tunichil Muknal where a maiden was sacrificed. To get to this Maya site requires a mile long trek including hiking, wading, and underwater swiming. They didn't go there because it was easy to get to, just like at Bruniquel.

"The cathedral-like ceiling is gigantic and glistens from the cave crystals. Enormous stalactites hang from the ceilings connecting to stalagmites creating giant pillars. The cave contains all shapes and sizes of pottery- even as big as beach balls. Archaeologist found remains such as nuts, seeds and spices inside the pots. Ceramics inside the cave were marked with kill holes indicating that they were used specifically for ceremonial purposes. “The Monkey Pot” is one of the four found in all of Central America".
 "At the end of the highest chamber lies the magnificent “Crystal Maiden”. The skeleton of a 20 year old Mayan woman who’s death was believed to be a great sacrifice to appease the rain gods. This skeleton is covered in calcium carbonated crystals from the river flooding and receding over time. The magnificent maiden has drawn thousands to this sacred cave."16

To me it seems inescapable that Bruniquel is a Neanderthal religious site. It seems silly to think they went 336 meters, 1000 feet, into a dark cave just to barbeque the bear for dinner. Those who want to exclude Neanderthals from humanity's circle can only do so by totally ignoring things like Bruniquel. The conclusion I draw here is that if Neanderthals were ritually sacrificing bears 176 thousand years ago, Thus, to say they couldn't do it at Drachenloch, Regardou, Petershohle, Wilddmannlisloch and other sites at 80,000 years ago is illogical. The possibility that Neanderthals passed their bear cult religion to modern humans is a quite fascinating and quite likely idea. The circumpolar bear cult may be at least 176,000 years or more old.
Further evidence of Neanderthal religion comes from Nahr Ibrahim. At Nahr Ibrahim, Lebanon, Neanderthals ritually sacrificed a deer. Marshack writes:

 "In the Mousterian cave shelter of Nahr Ibrahim in Lebanon the bones of a fallow deer (Dama mesopotamia) were gathered in a pile and topped by the skull cap. Many of the bones were unbroken and still articulated. Around the animal were bits of red ochre. While red ochre was common in the area and so may have been introduced inadvertently, the arrangement of the largely unbroken bones suggests a ritual use of parts of the animal."17

The ochre was proven to have been brought in from elsewhere by the discoverer (Solecki, 1982). This site is greater than 40,000 years old and so is likely Neanderthal.

Religion among the Erectines.

Imagine yourself in a jungle and you enter a currently deserted village, but you know people have lived here maybe last week. You see a big stone in the middle of the village and it is flanked on each side by a bison or cow horn. At the foot of the big stone is a broken human skull. Would you think you have stumbled into a people with a religion involving human sacrifice? If you don't you are very rare and maybe a bit suicidal. Most people will recognize the religious significance of such a setting, turn around and flee as rapidly as possible. Motifs like this have been used in movies for a century because the movie makers know that the viewers will recognize the symbolism.

There is just such an altar found at Bilzingsleben, Germany, made by H erectus. The excavators, Dietrich and Ursula Mania have found a 27-foot-diameter paved area that they say was used for "special cultural activities"18

Gore writes:

"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.'"19

Exactly what I described above. I would contend that the symbolism here, if found in a modern village, would be enough to cause one to turn and flee for his life. Such an arrangement of objects would immediately be interpreted as evidence of religion, and a hostile religion at that. Bilzingsleben dates to around 425,000 years ago. Not only that, it was an H. erectus skulls found there at the foot of the anvil stone.

Other signs of ritual among the erectines at 400,000 concerns an elephant skeleton found at Ambrona, Spain, symbolically arranged. This was written before the discovery of Bilzingsleben, Berekhat Ram and Tan-Tan (see below).

"Almost the complete left side of one elephant skeleton was found arranged as if for display, each bone turned over and replaced in the position it would have held in life. At the nearby site of Ambrona, Howell found several leg bones lying end to end in two perpendicular lines." . . ."The oddly symmetrical half-carcass was harder to explain - perhaps it was the remnant of some ritual, though no other signs that Homo erectus indulged in ceremony had ever been found."20

Of course, since then other early evidence has been found at Bilzingsleben, Berekhat Ram, and Tan-Tan, Morocco. The Venus figurines. There is also a huge involvement in the manufacture of female mother-goddess figurines, that extends back in time from present day to early man, to Neanderthals and thence to H. erectus. One could claim (and my catholic friends will be appalled) that statues of Mother Mary are part of this trend. Hindu's also have a mother Goddess. Venus figurines, statues of a female, are found among modern human sites almost everywhere. See for examples.

Figures of nude women were made by anatomically modern man, both in the Paleolithic as well as in the Neolithic through the early historical period. Venus figurines were used in religious worship. They represent the mother goddess.21 In 1986 a Venus figurine was found at Berekhat Ram, Israel and dates to 280,000 to 330,0000 years ago. I need to make a comment about the date. The figurine was found beneath a volcanic ash layer that dated to 233,000 years old and above one that dated around 470,000 years old (range 290,000 to 780,000). There was sediment between the Berekhat Ram figurine and the upper volcanic ash layer that took anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 years to be deposited. Thus 250,000 is considered the minimum age while 330 is probably the maximum age.

 Depending upon which date the author wanted to use you will see dates in the range of 250,000 to 330,000 years old in the literature. While it was controversial for a long time, within the past 4 years even its critics have now accepted it as having been made by Homo erectus and as representing a piece of art possibly of religious significance.

Tim Appenzellar wrote:

"After years of doubt, most archaeologists accept that the so-called Berekhat Ram object from the Golan Heights is the work of human hands, although there is no consensus about what if anything, it means.”22

The figurine is crude, but it looks almost identical to a female figurine made by modern man in Russia which is undoubtedly a piece of art.23 Marshack, the world's leading authority on paleolithic art studied the figurine microscopically and concluded:

"The earliest evidence of human image-making so far known occurs in the Levant within a late Acheulian context containing a Levalloisian technique. This evidence, dated at c. 250,000 BP, is 100,000 to 150,000 years earlier than the proposed mtDNA dates (c. 100,000-200,000 BP) for the appearance of an African 'Eve', the supposed genetic 'mother' of anatomically modern humans."24

 Because of this, this Venus figurine, which is just like those used by modern  people in religious rituals, represents a very tantalizing indication of mankind's spiritual interest almost 300,000 years ago. H.sapiens had nothing to do with its manufacture!

But this isn’t the only figurine found from that time. The Tan-Tan figurine found in Morocco, dated 400,000 years ago, actually shows evidence of having been painted red—symbolic of blood in many primitive societies.

The earliest palaeoart evidence from Africa includes the proto-figurine from Tan-Tan, southern Morocco, a modified manuport from a Middle Acheulian layer. Its recent discovery confirms the authenticity of the similar Berekhat Ram specimen, also a proto-sculpture of this period. Importantly, the Tan-Tan figurine bears microscopic traces of a bright-red pigment, which is currently the earliest evidence of applied colouring material.”25

I think the above proves religion among the erectines. What is below is consistent with religion among the erectines and so should be viewed in light of the above.

Defleshing or Cannibalism: Both are religious 

Early Christians collected the bones of the saints and stored them in ossuaries such as the Catacombs.

"The use of ossuaries is a longstanding tradition in the Orthodox Church. The remains of an Orthodox Christian are treated with special reverence, in conformity with the biblical teaching that the body of a believer is a "temple of the Holy Spirit",[1] having been sanctified and transfigured by Baptism, Holy Communion and the participation in the mystical life of the Church.[2] In Orthodox monasteries, when one of the brethren dies, his remains are buried (for details, see Christian burial) for one to three years, and then disinterred, cleaned and gathered into the monastery's charnel house." 26

Cleaning the bones would often involve sharp objects to separate the remaining flesh from the bones and that would leave marks on the bones. This was done for religious reasons. Using knives to take meat off of bones leaves the same kind of marks when it is done for the purpose of cannibalism. But either way, spirituality is involved.

There are some funeral rituals among the Homo erectus which are also consistent with spiritual beliefs. They occasionally treated human remains as did medieval monks and early Christians. Bone were defleshed and that leaves characteristic cut marks on the bones. Some say this is cannibalism, but cannibalism is a highly symbolic activity for humans. Consider the Lord’s Supper, “Take eat; This is my body…” We Christians engage in symbolic cannibalism, and it is not too different from what the Ainu do with the bear's flesh and blood. So, even if it is cannibalism, it probably represents a spiritual dimension. Human sacrifice, as appears to have happened at Bilzingsleben also is part and parcel of spirituality (especially for a Christian who believes that Jesus’ sacrifice saves us from our sins).

"Although the reader may flinch at the suggestion that cannibalism indicates higher cognitive abilities, historical records indicate that cannibalism practiced by Homo sapiens in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries served ceremonial more than nutritive purposes."27

I might note that the Fore people of New Guinea also ate the brains of their kinsmen, and they got Kuru, this has left a mark on the human genome. I edited this to make it more understandable to the average reader:

Kuru is an acquired prion disease largely restricted to the Fore linguistic group of the Papua New Guinea Highlands, which was transmitted during endocannibalistic feasts. Heterozygosity for a common polymorphism ... confers relative resistance to prion diseases. [grm-Elderly survivors of multiple cannibalistic feasts have this heterozygosity but most young people don't. The elder's contemporaries,who had homozygotes died off.] Kuru imposed strong balancing selection on the Fore, essentially eliminating PRNP 129 homozygotes. Worldwide PRNP haplotype diversity and coding allele frequencies suggest that strong balancing selection at this locus occurred during the evolution of modern humans.28

Jared Diamond relates this:
"The difficulties of proving the occurrence of cannibalism are illustrated by an experience of mine in New Guinea. On 18 August 1965, while a dozen New Guinea men and I were collecting birds at a remote camp, a man unfamiliar to me arrived and began talking in the Tudawhe language to one of my workers, named Hinobe. The next morning Hinobe departed, claiming that the visitor brought news that his daughter was sick. My other New Guinea friends who heard the conversation later told me the real reason: Hinobe's prospective son-in-law had just died, and Hinobe was expected to join in eating the body.'

"My friends' detailed account of the eating ceremony matched accounts by Australian patrol officers who arrived unexpectedly in villages when a body was being prepared for consumption. I was not invited to the ceremony, so my experience does not provide first-hand evidence for cannibalism. But archaeologists working in the southwestern United States have now provided compelling evidence." Jared M. Diamond, Talk of Cannibalism," Nature Sept 7, 2000.

These authors say that actual cannibalism of this nature was widespread in human history and it affected our genes—there was a widespread belief that one got part of the spirit of the dead eating them. There is a family story passed down by my great great grandfather that a group of Native Americans who had killed my 5th great grandfather, ate his heart because he had fought so bravely. Whether true or not, the claim was, that this man's father had heard it from one of the individual's involved. The data above says cannibalism was widespread in our past.

" Although the prion gene could have been subject to other unknown forms of selection, available evidence appears consistent with the explanation that repeated episodes of endocannibalism-related prion disease epidemics in ancient human populations made coding heterozygosity at PRNP a significant selective advantage leading to the signature of balancing selection observed today.”29 

Symbolic and ritual behavior is evident among the erectines prior to 100 kyr ago. Thus to claim that religion is only found among the anatomically modern humans is false in the face of the anthropological data. Unfortunately, too many Christian apologists selectively cite data that supports their position and ignores data that doesn't. In the case of ancient religion, this is a very widespread practice.

How old is the evidence for cannibalism? Quite old, possibly 2 million years old and it is among the H. erectus's. This was either defleshing as a ritual mortuary practice or cannibalism.

"Microscopic analysis of a 1.4-million-to-2.4-million-year-old Homo upper jaw has yielded the earliest evidence of human ancestors cutting one another apart with stone implements much as they butchered animals." 
“The fossil jaw, previously found in South Africa’s Sterkfontein Cave, bears several incisions made by sharpened stone tools, reports Travis R. Pickering of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The position and arrangement of the cuts suggest that a facial muscle was sliced off in order to remove the lower jaw from the rest of the skull, Pickering says. A wide range of butchered animals display comparable incisions on their jaws, he and his coworkers assert." 
Until now, the oldest evidence of stone-tool cuts on a member of the human evolutionary family came from a 600,000- year-old skull found in Ethiopia.
“Pickering’s group examined a specimen that consists of nine pieces of cranium and jaw. They studied casts of these fossils with a scanning electron microscope. “Trampling by hoofed animals and gnawing or chewing by meat-eating creatures cannot account for the ancient incisions, Pickering holds. The cuts retain the same color and appearance as surrounding bone, indicating that they were not produced after the jaw'’ burial. “No stone-tool marks appear on the more than 700 animal fossils found in the same Sterkfontein sediment layer as the Homo specimen, Pickering notes. “It’s not known why someone sliced off the Sterkfontein individual’s lower jaw. Possibilities include cannibalism or ritual dismemberment following death.30

Of course we can't know what was in the mind of a hominid 2 million years ago any more than we can know what was in the mind of a medieval monk defleshing his fellow monk. We accept that he was doing it for religion but somehow deny that it might apply to earlier hominids. Dean Falk says that it appears H. erectus seems to have opened up skulls with regularity and maybe because of their spiritual views:

"We, of course, have no way of knowing what Homo erectus thought about death or a possible afterlife. We do know, however, that there are a large number of Homo erectus skullcaps that look as though they have been deliberately opened. Too many, I think, to be mere coincidence. If Homo erectus did practice cannibalism, it could have been for any number of reasons documented in historical times. These include intertribal warfare, personal revenge, punishment, or rituals associated with rites of passage, such as birth, formal entrance into manhood, marriage, or death. Or perhaps Homo erectus simply ate the brains of his victims to assimilate their powers. We'll never know for sure. But one thing is certain. Unless the numerous faceless, bottomless skullcaps from Java and China occurred coincidentally by pure, dumb luck, Homo erectus did have a concept of death. And that's not bad information processing for 1,000 cm3 of brains."31

Falk believes that the widespread and common occurrence of only skullcaps is a sign of post-mortem body processing. A parallel with this skull cap processing took place 13 to 15 thousand years ago among anatomically modern H. sapiens at Gough's Cave in Somerset England, where human skull caps were turned into drinking cups.32 We accept the spirituality of humans engaged in this behavior, but want to deny it for the erectines when they do the very same thing.


What are Christians to do with this evidence? The most widespread view today is that Adam lived within the past 10,000 years. The second most wide spread view is that Adam was an early modern Homo sapiens. If Adam was given the image of God within the past 10,000 years, long after erectines, Neanderthals, and other modern humans were engaging in religion, what exactly does the image of God entail? If it didn't make Adam and Eve aware that there was a God and that thus they needed to worship Him, what did it give us, an appetite for peanuts? If Adam lived in the past 10,000 years, then, the image of God could not have imparted rationality or even language, as we shall see in future posts, because rationality and language predate the last 10,000 years. Such a late Adam turns the image of God into something meaningless; something that doesn't have any effect on humanity.

So some try to say the image arose earlier in time, say 75,000 years ago, or even earlier in the archaic human line, excluding the Neanderthals. So, if Neanderthals, who interbred with us, didn't have the image of God, why then do they do a fine imitation of engaging in religion? It is their site at Bruniquel which is the best evidence for religion among early humans. Further the fact that Neanderthals interbred with us, says they were biologically the same species as we are. How can we claim that we have the image without at the same time saying Neanderthals have the image of God? Nuclear DNA says we and the Neanderthals split around 800,000 years ago, dental data says it was a million years ago, but in either case, if both of us carry the image of God, then it seems likely that those from whom we descended 800kyr-1 myr ago also carried the image of God. Voila, this road leads to a relatively old Adam, but not as old as I believe him to be.

My views of the antiquity of Adam were first published in the 1990s and were generally panned, But few writers have begun to tiptoe in my direction as evidenced by George Murphy's statement:

 "It is important to recognize, however, that the creatures described by the biblical term ’adham, “human being,” cannot automatically be equated with the species Homo sapiens or with “anatomically modern humans.” The first humans in a theological sense were hominids in whom reason, self-awareness, and communication had developed to an extent that it was somehow possible for them to be aware of God’s address to them." 33

When we discuss brain size in the next post, we will see precisely how small a brain can carry the image of God, and you will be amazed at how small that brain is. As we shall see, all the data points towards a very old Adam.

Next post in this series When Did Adam Live pt 2 brainsize

1. Klaus Schmidt, Göbekli Tepe – the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs" Documenta Praehistorica XXXVII (2010), p. 239-256.
2.Graham Lawton, "Most Atheists Believe in the Supernatural," New Scientist, June 8, 2019, p. 14
3.Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko, Ainu Sociality Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People, (ed. By William W. Fitzhugh and Chisato O. Dubreuil, (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1999), p. 241-242
4. Ivar Lissner, 1961, Man, God and Magic, (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons), figure 87 between pp 224-225
5.Barnouw,Victor, An Introduction to Anthropology: Physical Anthropology and Archaeology, Vol. 1, (Homewood, Illinois: The Dorsey Press, 1982) p. 156-157
6 Smirnov, Yuri, "Intentional Human Burial: Middle Paleolithic (Last Glaciation) Beginnings," Journal of World Prehistory, 3:2(1989), pp 199-233, p. 220)
7.Shreeve, James, The Neandertal Enigma (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1995), p. 52
8.Campbell, Bernard G. and James D. Loy, 1996 Humankind Emerging, (New York: HarperCollins), , p. 441)
9.Ivar Lissner, 1961, Man, God and Magic, (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons),p. 189-191
10.Ibid., p. 161
11.Ibid., p. 191-192
12. Balter, Michael, 1996, "Cave Structure Boosts Neandertal Image", Science, 271, p. 449
13. Jacques Jaubert, et al, "Early Neanderthal Constructions Deep in Bruniquel Cave in Southwestern France", Nature volume 534, pages 111-114. p111.
14 Is this Christianity's FIRST church? " Daily Mail,
15.Bruce Bower, "Sacred Secrets of the Caves," Science News, 153(January 24, 1998):56-58, p. 56
17.Alexander Marshack, , 1990 "Early Hominid Symbol and Evolution of the Human Capacity," in Paul Mellars, The Emergence of Modern Humans, (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1990), pp 457-498 p. 481
18.Mania D., and U. Mania and E. Vlcek, 1994. "Latest Finds of Skull Remains of Homo erectus from Bilzingsleben (Thuringia)", Naturwissenschaften, 81,,1994, p. 124; See also Mania, Dietrich and Ursula Mania, 1988. "Deliberate Engravings on Bone Artefacts of Homo Erectus," Rock Art Research 5:2: 91-107, p. 92. 
19. Gore, Rick 1997. "The First Europeans," National Geographic, July, p. 96-113, p. 110.
20. Johanson, Donald and James Shreeve, Lucy's Child, (New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1989), p. 221
21. See Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, HarperSanFrancisco, 1989). 22. Appenzeller, Tim, “Art: Evolution or Revolution?”, Science 282(Nov 20, 1998),, p. 1451-1452
23. see M. D. Gvozdover, "The Typology of Female Figurines of the Kostenki Paleolithic Culture," Soviet Anthropology and Archeology, Spring 1989, p. 57, Voprosy antropologii, 75:1985, pp 27-66, 24. Marshack, Alexander, "The Berekhat Ram Figurine: A Late Acheulian Carving from the Middle East," Antiquity 71(1997), p. 328
25. Bednarik, Robert G., “The Earliest Evidence of Palaeolart,” Rock Art Research, 20(2003):2:89-135, p. 96
27. Dean Falk, Braindance,(New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1992)p. 181-182
28..Mead, Simon, et al, “Balancing Selection at the Prion Protein Gene Consistent with Prehistoric Kurulike Epidemics,” Science, 300(2003):640-643,, p. 640 
29. Ibid., p. 643
30. Bruce Bowen, “Ancestral Cut-ups,” Science News, 155(1999):315
31. Dean Falk, Braindance,(New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1992), p. 183
32 Silvia M. Bello , Simon A. Parfitt, and Chris B. Stringer, "Earliest Directly-Dated Human Skull-Cups" PLOS One, February 16, 2011, 
33. George L Murphy, Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ, Evolution, and Original Sin, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, June 2006, p. 114


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  2. Dear Glenn,

    This is truly fascinating stuff! I have recently written a study that deals with - alongside other things - the possibility of the ultimately Neanderthal origin of the Siberian bear cult, and BioLogos directed me to this blog. I'm a fellow believer from Eastern Europe who has formerly done some projects among the Finno-Ugric ethnic groups in Siberia so I'm quite familiar with their folklore. There's a very interesting theme widespread in circumpolar Eurasian folklore, that before the mankind we are part of today (or before the storyteller's ancestors) had appeared on the scene, the world was inhabited by a short-statured, strong people who were connected to the depths of the earth (in many stories, they live in caves) and later met and interbred with the ancestors, then mysteriously disappeared. Some of the stories contain details about this mythical folk that are surprisingly similar to the latest discoveries about Neanderthals (eg, the Samoyed nation in Siberia describes the cave-dwellers as stocky, light-haired people who made huts from mammoth bones and were more active in the evenings), so in my opinion it's not entirely impossible that some hazy memories of our ancient cousins were preserved in folklore, possibly mixed up with the memory of much later nations. If interested, the study is up on Amazon, and is called People of the Earth Deer:
    I would love to see some feedback on my work! ~ Blessings, Viki