Lesson 10

The History of Man

In our previous lessons, we saw that it is not possible to determine the exact time that the creation occurred or the exact time when man was placed on this planet. It is possible to reconstruct a history of man from a scientific perspective that is compatible with the biblical account. Because the scientific evidence changes daily, one has to do this in a pretty general way but it can be done. Our purpose in this exercise is to attempt to impress the student with the degree of agreement that does exist in spite of the incompleteness of the record both scientifically and biblically.

The name Adam means man. The name Eve means the mother of all living. Even to a casual observer of science it is obvious that all humans on this planet came from a recent immediate ancestor. Man is a singular species. There are not different species of man on Earth who are incapable of producing fertile offspring with one another. A blonde Swede can produce fertile offspring when married to an aborigine, even though their physical appearances are quite different. This oneness of man is quite different than the various monkeys and apes who have become so varied in their genetic material that they no longer can produce fertile offspring. Most monkeys vary from one another by about 5% genetically while man varies less than 0.1%. Recent genetic studies have supported the idea of a single female ancestor for all humans on the earth.

We start out then with the realization that, as the Bible says, we all came from a single human source. The spiritual nature of man was present in this ancestor of ours. From a biblical standpoint, God had created man in His image and man was unique. What man’s physical body looked like is not explained to us in the Bible. Anthropologists like to argue and conjecture on what early man really looked like, and artists, because of the lack of information, have a field day with imaginative sketches of what the mysterious ancestor looked like. The odds are that they were small in stature, had dark skin, black eyes and hair, and did not look much different than people in Iraq today. They possessed all of the genetic characteristics needed to produce every physical characteristic seen in the world’s people today.

The Bible tells us that man was placed in a place called the Garden of Eden. According to Genesis 3 this area was bounded by the Tigris, Euphrates, and Pison rivers. Today those rivers are visible in the modern nation of Iraq. This area is also known as the Fertile Crescent and is sometimes called The Birthplace of Civilization. Africa is frequently quoted as the cradle of man, but remember that most of the specimens found in Africa are australeopithecines and not humans. Some will argue for ancient hominoids in Africa, and certainly the discussion remains open. There will never be a bone found with a label that says, “This is the oldest man that will ever be found,” so this question will always be an open one scientifically.

What was the nature of these first men? Genesis tells us that they ate from the trees and bushes in the Garden. They were gatherers — picking their food from the abundance of the land in which they lived. Most scientists agree that this method of obtaining food was the dominant method of early man. When man was removed from the Garden, he no longer was in a utopian environment. While anthropologists do not concern themselves with the role of sin and why man was no longer in Paradise, they do recognize that conditions changed upon the earth. No longer could man survive by gathering, and in recognition of that fact man was consigned to eat by the sweat of his brow. The Bible does not describe the various ways that man ate after his removal from the garden, but we do know that Esau was a hunter, Cain was a grower and domesticator of plants, and Abel had domesticated animals. At least these three methods were used.

From a scientific standpoint the evidence is somewhat blurred. Piles of oyster shells are found in caves all over the world. Evidence of very early hunting is found in many places. Nearly every month someone finds evidence of incredible complex agriculture in all kinds of areas of the world. It is important to realize that the accomplishments of our ancestors were remarkable. Ancient man was very intelligent! He was ignorant and had much to learn, but he did incredible things. His art work inspires us today with the skill and technical knowledge he possessed, and the edifices and structures which have endured to our time are frequently incredibly complex.

The great weakness of man during his early history was very much like his weakness today - a terrible tendency to live selfishly and violently. The Bible tells us that man’s drift away from God was so rapid and so total that catastrophe resulted over and over again. In the biblical record we read of disobedience, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, substance abuse, and family turmoil, and destruction. From a historical, archaeological, and scientific standpoint this history is incontrovertible. Not only can we verify man’s horrendous moral compromises, but also the catastrophic result of these acts. The white death (syphilis) of ancient days and the AIDS of our day speak eloquently of the consequences that man reaps when he compromises himself and refuses to follow the moral standards given him by God.

We have emphasized in this brief summary the positive correlations between the biblical history of man and the records of science and history. What about the conflicts? The conflicts are few and far between as long as we stick to the facts. Attempting to put a date on man biblically produces a man-made conflict which need not exist since the Bible is silent on the age of the Earth. Another conflict is generated when atheists and skeptics attempt to define man as no more than an animal. A good example of this is Julian Huxley’s statement:

"We are as much a product of blind forces as is the falling of a stone to Earth or the ebb and flow of the tides. We have just happened, and man was made flesh by a long series of singularly beneficial accidents."

This perspective is in opposition to the biblical record, but it is a personal philosophical viewpoint and has no scientific support as we have seen. Accepting such a view of man relegates man to biological determinism and denies man’s spiritual or moral qualities. The efforts of scientists to trace the physical changes that have taken place in the human species is also not a threat to the Bible since this kind of change is contained within the biblical record.

If the Bible was inspired by the same God who did the creating, it is impossible for there to be a contradiction between the biblical record and the fossil record. The evidence available to man today strongly supports this agreement. If there is an apparent conflict, there are three sources of error—bad science, bad theology, or both. It is our contention that there has been a lot of both.

Once man reached a certain level of cultural development, rapid change set in. The Bible gives only a thumbnail sketch of the things that happened. There is no way of knowing how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. It is even possible or perhaps even likely that they had many children and grandchildren during that time. God had told them to be fruitful and multiply (the one command of God man seems to have obeyed) and Eve was told, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing” indicating she had borne children before.

Once man left the Garden his gathering life style had to change. This meant the development of new tools and weapons. Man migrated throughout the earth, and while we have no provable dates for the antiquity of this activity, it seems to have been a long time ago. It is not until well into man’s spread through the world that written records of any kind began to appear. The intelligence and ingenuity of ancient man is remarkable when you realize the limited communication and education tools that were available at the time.

The Bible is a great source of ancient history. When artifacts which recorded history and various kinds of written materials could be produced, a checkable history could be studied. Modem archaeologists continue to find support for the biblical record and the unique development of modem man. One fact that appears in all of these records is the fact that man has consistently failed to live successfully on Earth. Not only has mandkind been totally irresponsible in the way in which Earth has been managed, but mankind has also been totally reckless and inhumane in the way one human has treated another. In our next lesson, we want to look at man’s needs and how those needs can be and should be met. Does the Bible make any sense at all in its plan for successful living, or is Christianity just a way of legislating morality to please the whims of a chosen few?

John N. Clayton

Lesson 10 Questions

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