Monday, April 10, 2017

Adam, Pt. 4, Sin

Man is a recent arrival. That is what the Bible declares and what anthropology indicates. Now, I suppose some consider that a bold if not erroneous statement. Hasn't man been around for - what? - at least 150,000 years if not close to a million years? Isn't that what anthropologist have been telling us?

   Yes. That is what we find in our text books and on the pages of National Geographic. But anthropologist define man differently than the Bible. If we use the Bible's definition, most anthropologists, I think, would agree that the evidence for modern man, that is man who is fully Homo sapiens sapiens and God-aware, points to a time between 12,000 and 14,000 years ago when such men show up in the archaeological record.

   The earliest evidence for such God-aware men is the astounding recent find of Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey.  (Incidentally Gobekli Tepe is within a very few miles from the place the biblical origin-of-man story of Adam and Eve was located.) Gobekli Tepe is a temple, and though we cannot decipher all the clues to what God or gods were worshiped there, it seems clear that it was designed for spiritual purposes.

   The complex, which is about 20 acres in extent was built by Neolithic men thousands of years before agriculture was developed or animals domesticated - which also incidentally occurred in the same region - and before pottery was made or metal tools created. Gobekli Tepe is the first footprint of modern God-aware men in history. With the massive effort that was required to construct this site and the cooperation required among it builders, it marks the beginning of civilization. The surprise? It was, contrary to what all the text books and experts have said up to the find of Gobekli Tepe, religion that sparked the beginning of civilization not agriculture. Smithsonian

   Man as defined by his DNA, of course, has been around a bit longer. The current theory based on DNA and archaeological finds is that man originated in Africa and began migrating from there 60,000 years ago.The map here displays the migration routes according to National Geographic.

   Several different Homo species have been identified as scientists probed those migrations including Homo neanderthalensis who was identified as living in Europe between 200,000 and 30,000 years ago, and Homo floresiensis in Indonesia. By approximately 30,000 years ago, only early modern man remained.

   What evidence do we have of our early ancestors? One astounding discovery in recent years has been the art  produced by those ancestors in France and Spain. In one region alone, the Lascaux Cave, 2000 painting were discovered. Art experts were amazed by the vividness, realism and liveliness of the images. But the paintings were almost entirely of animals. Where were the humans?

   There were no human figures, yet there were depictions of humans. They were the hand stencils seen here. These stencils have been dated to about 32,000 years ago.

   Since these were discovered, hand stencils have been discovered in  Indonesia, along with images of animals as in France and Spain. These have been recently dated to about 35,000 years ago. As the author, Jo Marchant, writes, "They smash our most common ideas about the origins of art and force us to embrace a far richer picture of how and where our species first awoke."
  Smithsonian Were the hands stencils evidence that man was becoming conscious?

   Notable by their absence, however, in any of the many location where paleolithic cave art has been found are any clear indications of a sense of the spiritual or of religion - until Gobekli Tepe. 

   These vignettes of the lives of our ancestors on the walls of the caves and on the monuments of Gobekli Tepe provide a picture of the development of art and of self-awareness but also provide bookends for the period of time in which modern man as a God-aware man appeared. The period of time between the cave art and Gobekli Tepe is, of course, immense. But these finds in the caves of France and the hills of Turkey provides a range.

   The scientists studying Gobekli Tepe give us a little more help. They guess that the technologies required to build Gobekli Tepe might have taken several thousand years to develop. (Remember, the builders were nomadic Stone Age hunter-gatherers.) With that estimate, we can push back the time of man's appearance to the end of the last ice age in about 14,000 B.C. There and at that time something happened that changed everything for man. There man became fully man as we know him today. He was self-aware and God-aware, body, soul, and spirit.

   That date is very close to the date most Bible scholars would give for creation of Adam. At this point in time and at that location, biblical history and anthropology converge.

   But the cave art and the rock art found in distant places like Africa tell us that something else happened to man. The cave art tells us that man was at home in his world in the paleolithic. The images are almost all of animals, and the images are light and fresh and full of life. Even the animals that might be threatening, such as bulls and bears, are not drawn that way. The horses that dominate the images of the French caves run wild and free. Even the hand stencils give the impression of hands in celebration. They are pictures of Eden.

   That is not the impression we get from the images at Gobekli Tepe. Put the cave art and the sculptures of Gobekli Tepe side by side and the contrast is stark. Nature and the men who made these images are in disharmony. The images of Gobekli Tepe are threatening, even demonic.

   What happened? In the years between the cave art of France and Gobeklit Tepe, what happened? It is here where can turn to the Bible's story of the origin of man. What happened was sin.

   The story in the Bible is as vivid as the art. Man originated in Eden. There nature was in harmony with man and man with nature. There were plants for food and an environment that was pleasing.
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. (Genesis 2:8,9)
   A page later, man is cast out of the garden and nature is unfriendly and uncooperative.
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
   It is what happened in between that tells the story: Adam and Eve made a choice.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.(Genesis 3:6,7)
   Man chose not to avail himself of the life that was offered in the Tree of Life but rather to turn away from God's offer. He chose to make it on his own. The result was Gobekli Tepe. That is our story.

    As fascinating as Gobekli Tepe is and as impressive as it is from the point of view of technology (that technology is described in the Bible in Genesis 4) it is an ugly and oppressive place. Perhaps that is why it was intentionally buried several thousands of years after it was first erected. 

   Gobekli Tepe is our story. It is the history of man and is seen in the religion of Gobekli Tepe, in the civilizations that followed and the religions that they created, and in the world today.

   It is Adam's story. Adam did not fall from perfection or from grace. Grace was what God offered, yes. But Adam did not take what was offered. He made a choice. Like the two roads Jesus spoke of many millennia later, Adam chose what seemed like the best way. He chose to find knowledge and what was good and evil apart from God. But it led to destruction, not only for Adam, for us all. 

   How so? Even if there was a literal, historical Adam, he was but one man.  There were Homo sapiens running all over the place not only in the upper fringes of the Fertile Crescent but everywhere, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia. How can we even think that there was a first man or that his choice became ours?

(If there was not an Adam and if this story is purely made up, it qualifies as the most probing and perceptive story ever told by man. But it is very hard for anyone familiar with the literature of the ancient world to believe it fiction, allegory, yes, fiction, no.) 

    The answer is found in Romans chapter five.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12)
   It is a simple statement with no explanation. None is needed. The truth is self-evident: we all miss the mark. We sin. And because of sin, death reigned or continued to reign - for eternal life was a promise but not a possession of man.  If he was to enjoy life, Adam would have had to have eaten from the Tree of Life, and he had not. (Romans 5:14)

(We can understand that the trees are allegorical. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents the choice to do life on our own without God, in fact, in contrast to the Tree of Life which represents dependence on God, it represents the rejection of God.)  

  This moment in  Eden was the moment when man, a specific man Adam, had the opportunity to decide. But Adam was still only one man. What of all the others?

   Romans tells us that "the many died by the trespass of the one man" (Romans 5:15). That means that every man who had come to God-awareness and was fully man was included in the one literal Adam's sin. Neither sin nor the guilt for sin are passed on via DNA; it was not by bloodline. It became the debt of every man in the same way that every citizen assumes the debt of his nation, even if they did not personally incur the debt.

   That is the same way that grace is passed on to us through Jesus Christ. We did not earn that grace; he did by taking our place and dying for us. But we benefit from that grace when we are joined to him by faith:

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!  Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:17-19)
   The result of Adam's sin was condemnation for all, BUT THE RESULT OF OBEDIENCE OF THE ONE MAN JESUS benefits all people everywhere through all time. The condition was that each man avail himself of the gift of grace by assuming the gift of righteousness by identifying himself as a member of Jesus' kingdom by making him  king and by trusting in him in faith.

   There is one more question. That is how is it that man is also universally a sinner by nature? The answer is found in the origin of man and his three-part nature. Homo sapiens were, before the infusion of spirit by God, flesh and psyche (soul.) His default choices were the appetites and drives of flesh and psyche. Those are naturally opposed to the rule of God or to moral responsibility to God and to others above self.

   It is not that man became by nature sinful. It is that man (Adam) chose his appetites above his duty to God. The result was separation between man and God, and that is exactly what the Adam and Eve story graphically depicts. And that resulted in death.

   This death was not, as we often assume too quickly, physical death. Physical death is the natural condition of all living things. The death spoken of in Genesis 2 was  separation from God and eternal life that was offered by God, depicted in the Tree of Life. And Adam and Eve experienced that death in the very day that they made the choice to reject God in favor of their appetites, just as they were warned.  Physical death was not the result of sin; spiritual death was.

   The physical death that is described in Genesis 3 is the condition of the natural man:
By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.

   The sin of Adam affected mankind deeply but not hopelessly. Adam had a second chance. We see that in God's clothing Adam and Eve in skins of animals symbolic of forgiveness. All men everywhere and throughout all time have a second chance. Each one of us may turn to God in dependence upon his grace.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Adam, Pt. 3, Genesis

One of the most significant developments in human history was agriculture. It was so significant that it is called the Neolithic Revolution. sensagent   But there is a puzzle that remains unsolved by archaeologists and anthropologists: how is it that agriculture appears across the globe in widely separated and isolated people groups at approximately the same time.

   Wikipedia lists eleven separate regions where agriculture appears in the archaeological  record. Those include both the most well-known, Mesopotamia, as well as the Americas. And the  domestication of plants and animals appears at approximately the same period of time: 12,000 to 10,000 B.C.  Agriculture and National Geographic

   Is the answer to the puzzle the mutation of switching genes allowing for the expression of the genetic traits of modern  man? If so how did the same mutation occur in populations that were long separated by 12,000 B.C.? The current model of human migration from Africa puts those migrations as early as 60,000 years ago using DNA as the means of determining the dates. National Geographic That is almost 40,000 years before agriculture appeared in any of those populations, including the original population in Africa. Yet it did appear in those populations, with the exception of the Australian Aborigines. 

   The other marker of the presence of modern man is religion. It is one of the universals of the human experience and is evident in every culture from as early as man has been man.  Like agriculture, religion appears almost suddenly in widely separated populations from the Middle East to the Americas. It might be detected in the burial practices of early modern man, but it is clearly visible in buildings dedicated to worship, such as those at Gobekli Tepe.
Vulture stone from Gobekli tepe

   The mysteries of Gobekli tepe are yet to be deciphered, but several things seem obvious. 1) Gobekli tepe will turn on it head much of our knowledge about man at the margin between the Stone Age and the period in which civilizations developed. 2) The temple (?) complex is large, 22 acres, and very old, perhaps as old as 12,000 years. 3) It required a technology that no scientist imagined possible that long ago. 4) It reveals a well developed symbolic language and a level of art unexpected by archaeologists among what had been assumed to be nomadic Stone Age people. 5) And it is certainly a marker that man had arrived.

   Both of these markers, agriculture and religion, converge on a particular region, Eden or the Fertile Crescent. This land is described in Genesis 2 as:

the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.  The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.  The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

 The geographical detail is specific and remarkably accurate. The story in which it is found is even more so.

   The story of man begins in Genesis 2:5 with the time, before agriculture when no plants were being cultivated:

Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground,
   It is at that time God created man. But consider what the text says:
"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" (verse 7).

   The word man is the word in Hebrew adam, and it means here, as it means in most places, mankind. The word shares its root with the word for ground or earth. Mankind is of the earth, first of all. But here in addition to the dust of the earth mankind, according to the narrative, is composed of the spirit (neshamah), and a soul (nephesh) which is translated here in the NIV as "living being." Of those three, animals share at least two. All animals according to the narrative are composed of the dust of the earth, the basic elements coming from the earth. And some animals also have a soul (nephesh).

   Man and all living things originated just as evolution describes; he is an animal. But a body alone is not yet man. A man is a person not merely a body. Here in this origin-of man-narrative, personhood is described as nephesh. The characteristics pf personhood are shared to some degree with some of the higher animals, but in man  Dr.  David L. Anderson of the Mind Project at Illinois State University, describes personhood as  intelligence, free will, self-determination, the ability to make moral judgements, creativity, self-awareness, and consciousness. Illinois State Nepshesh is the thinking, emoting and relational part of man that makes him a person. That is what we can see in the earliest Homo sapiens. It is what defines man as man in most peoples' minds. Man is more than DNA.

   But that is not all. It is only as God gave the homind Homo sapiens  neshamah that he becomes fully man.  What that combination of body, soul, and spirit is able to do that chimps cannot is revealed in the narrative.

   The first thing we see is that man is able to transform his world. "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (verse 15). He is capable of growing crops. That implies the intelligence to see the connections between the land and water and the plants.  He understands seeds and cultivation and irrigation. He can plan. And he can make decisions for himself and others about what is good and productive and what is not. No chimp can do that.

   Secondly, man is a God-aware creature. No chimp could make sense out of a command from God. No chimp worships or builds temples or creates religious artifacts. But man does - everywhere. 

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (verses 16,17)
   Third, man is a moral creature. He knows about right and wrong.   

   The capacity to make moral judgment requires the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and the ability to choose. Here in this narrative, Adam and Eve are given a command that implies a choice between a right and a wrong and implies the ability to choose.  Chimps may distinguish between choices that are good or bad for them. But a moral choice is more than that. It is a choice between two things that are abstract concepts. Moral choices go beyond what is immediately and practically good or bad for the individual. They are choices about things that are always right or wrong and right or wrong for everyone. They are about choices that may not be immediately and practically good for he individual.

   The passage suggests two more thing; man is existentially aware of his own mortality. Do chimps know?  And man is aware of his uniqueness. He knows he is not an animal.
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.(verses 19,20)
   So far the Adam and Eve narrative is quite perceptive and accurate about what distinguishes man as man. The passage that follows about woman being made from the rib of Adam and the snake should be read allegorically, as should the two trees. The first is symbolic of the fact that male and female humans are both human. The second identifies the source of temptation as spiritual. The trees are symbolic of the choices before man.

   The point of the narrative so far is that man is a three part being: body, soul and spirit. Body is directly the product of our DNA. Soul, personality, personhood is indirectly an expression of our DNA. But spirit is derived directly from God. It was not inherited nor did it develop gradually.

   Only as all three come together is man truly man.

   And when did that happen? The evidence, both biblical and archaeological, points to a rather recent event.

   But was there in fact, then, a first man? If true human beings are found throughout the world and those populations separated as much as 60,000 years ago, could there be a first true man?   The answer awaits Part 4. 




Thursday, April 6, 2017

Adam, Pt. 2, What Makes Man Man?

What makes man man? That seems like it would be an easy question. Each one of us can identify a human being when we see one and easily differentiate between a human and our nearest biological relative the chimp. The easy answer to what seems like an easy question - and the most frequent answer - would be the answer a recent contributor to posted: "I accept the biological definition for Homo Sapiens." By that I suppose he meant it is in the DNA.
   However, biologically there is only about a 1% difference between chimps and humans. That does not seem sufficient to account for what we all see as rather extreme differences, differences that allow humans to build space ships while chimps use only very simple tools, differences that allow humans to write poetry and operas and create temples dedicated to what they conceive of as God while chimps are still chattering about food sources and who's the alpha male of the group.

   That has led researchers to look for additional processes that determine the expression of characteristics that may have lain hidden in the genome of our common ancestor. Ursula Goodenough, Ph.D. and professor of biology at Washington University, where she teaches cell biology and molecular evolution, believes that the secret of extreme differences between humans and chimps is found in the genetic switches.
If the chimp and human protein-encoding genes are virtually all the same, then are there any interesting differences in their switch regions? Given the bottom-up nature of development, mutant switches could have large-scale consequences. NPR

   In other words, a mutation in a gene that operates as a switch could change the development of the organism and a species in a big way. It could switch on and cause the expression of genes that had evolved over time but had lain latent and unexpressed in the genome. Is that what made man man? Hard-core biologist types would say yes. But there are other voices.

  David Livingstone Smith, Ph.D.,  associate professor of philosophy at the University of New England and director of The Human Nature Project, says, "Answering this question is not as straightforward as it might appear."
Can’t we turn to science for an answer? Not really. Some paleoanthropologists identify the category of the human with the species Homo sapiens, others equate it with the whole genus Homo, some restrict it to the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, and a few take it to encompass the entire hominin lineage. These differences of opinion are not due to a scarcity of evidence. They are due to the complete absence of evidence − or, to put the point with greater clarity, the absence of any conception of what sort of evidence can settle the question of which group or groups of primates should be counted as human. Biologists aren’t equipped to tell us whether an organism is a human organism because “human” is a folk-category rather a scientific one. ...  In deciding that all and only Homo sapiens are humans, one is expressing a preference about where the boundary separating humans from non-humans should be drawn, rather than discovering where such a boundary lays.    Psychology Today
   After a lot more words, Smith's comments boil down to this: we don't really know what makes man man. But it isn't as simple as DNA.

   Maybe common sense is the way to go. Common sense says we are different from other animals in our ability to create and appreciate art, our ability to think abstractly, our ability to think about ourselves (consciousness), our ability to imagine, and our sense of right and wrong. There are other traits that might be added, but these are basic. Those traits can be seen in all humans and through history back to the time when we can detect humanness in our distant ancestors. They are, in fact, how we detect humanness. They are seen in the artifacts humans have created and in the occupations of the human mind as humans have told stories and pondered philosophical questions.

   What chimp asks the existential questions of "who am I; what am I here for; where is it all going?" But every human does at one level or another. What chimp creates art for the sake of art.  No chimp engages in philosophy or art ... or religion.

   Literary aside: It is something of an amusing irony that if human beings are totally the product of their DNA, as some who are resistant to religion and fully committed to a naturalistic universe claim, religion is coded into the human DNA. We may as well try to eliminate the writing of novels as eliminate religion; religion like story telling is hardwired. If humans are totally the product of our DNA.

  It is difficult to see how those things might have evolved naturally, even given Goodenough's switches. There is something else. What is it?

   It is at this point that religion, specifically the Bible, might be consulted. The Bible in a very old and very intriguing story tells about the origin of man. And for those who listen to the story carefully, it is remarkable, especially when we consider how long ago the story began to be told. The story is the narrative of Adam and Eve.

   The narrative, as many have noted, has elements of allegory, the talking snake, for example, and perhaps the two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Anyone acquainted with literature can recognize that. But it is also tied to a specific, identifiable place, Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It has the feel of real history, despite the allegorical elements. And it makes the claim that this is where man began.

   Pure science types will, of course, object. In their narrative, man began very long ago in Africa as our pre-human Hominid ancestors climbed down out of the trees and began to roam the savanna. And that is that. But listen to the Bible's story.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Adam, Pt.1

"Ken Ham agrees with the Atheists on Literal Adam and Eve?" Christian Post That headline in the Christian Post caught my eye. I had been researching the topic of Adam and Eve and found it intriguing that Ham and atheists would agree on anything much less that Adam and Eve were literal historical people. But it should not have been surprising. Both see a literal, historical Adam as crucial to their arguments.

   Ken Ham argues that the pre-history narratives of Creation through the Tower of Babel - which include the Adam and Eve story - are entirely literal. Atheists argue that the Bible requires that those stories be understood literally. Thus the agreement.

   Many Christian scholars do not agree, however. Some see Adam and Eve as an allegory in which the details of the story refer to realities in the real world or theological truths. Others read the story as a parable meant to explain a truth about the human condition. Neither think the story should be read literally.

  In the allegorical interpretation, each detail is significant and symbolic. In the parable, the importance is in the meaning of the lesson taught. Neither of these options require a literal, historical Adam. In  fact, these options are proposed because a literal Adam seems to be scientifically indefensible. In the modern world the idea that man slowly evolved from pre-human species and that there was no actual "first man" is almost universally assumed. The evidence is just too great.

   Well respected Christian scholars have, therefore, considered what science is telling about man and what the Adam and Eve story tells us and have concluded there is no necessary conflict. These scholars include names such as Francis Collins, the former atheist-turned-Christian who is the scientist known for his ground-breaking work in mapping the human genome and an evolutionist. They also includes Old Testament scholar  Bruce Waltke formerly of Dallas Theological Seminary now at Knox Theological Seminary. Christianity Today

   On the other hand, there is Ken Ham. He - along with atheists - and other theologically conservative biblical scholars see the entire theological premise of the Bible collapsing if Adam was not a literal, historical person and the first man, thus the head of the human race. They see the doctrine of original sin, the need for the cross and atonement, as well as the doctrine of man created in the image of God, as a house of cards in a hurricane if Adam is not literal. And they are right. Not only so but the dispute among Christians has the potential of seriously dividing Christians and perhaps even bringing Christianity down.

   That is, of course, why atheists are making such a big deal of the debate.

   I don't see this debate as fracturing Christianity, however, not only because God has invested his plan for humanity in the church and Christianity but because there is another alternative in the literal Adam vs. allegorical Adam debate. What? I will come to that in Part 2. First, I want to review the data and the ideas that are brought to the debate.

   The following list is not in any particular order, and it does not represent facts or ideas that are agreed to by all. It is simply what I observe.

   1) The moral and spiritual brokenness of human beings is both obvious and universal to all humans. This brokenness is pictured and explained in the Adam and Eve narrative.

   2) Man is a three-part being of spirit, soul (psyche), and body. That is also obvious and universal to all humans.

   3) Physically man is like the animals, and man probably evolved, as all living things, gradually to his present physical state. The last common ancestor of modern humans is sometimes traced to Mitochondrial Eve about 150,000 years ago.

   4) Man is also soul (psyche) and shares the the ability with some animals to relate, emote, and make decisions. That is obvious and a universal characteristic of all human beings.

   5) Unlike the animals man is also conscious of himself and his thoughts, conscious of his mortality, moral right and wrong and of God. Man is able to think abstractly, to appreciate beauty, and create art. That is spirit, and it is obvious and universal to all human beings.

   6) Science can describe the physical man and the psyche but cannot describe or explain the spirit.

   7) The Adam and Eve narrative is both similar to other Ancient Near East (ANE) attempts to explain man's origin and unique among them.

   8) By genre it has allegorical elements and has a similarity to parable. That is, it is highly symbolic and didactic. It is brilliant from a literary point of view with plot, well drawn characters, conflict, resolution, and denouement.

   9) By literary style it is sparse and unembellished compared to ANE myths. Every detail is important to the message. Myths are elaborately embellished with unnecessary detail and have no message or thesis.

   10) The A & E narrative is set in the the literal Middle East with specific geographical details describing the rivers and the lands beyond the plain of the Euphrates valley. It is more realistic than any of the ANE myths.

   11) The word adam often refers to mankind rather than the specific name of an individual. In this story when viewed as an allegory, that is how it would be read.

12) The word Adam is also a specific name, and it is used that way in the narrative as well as later in the New Testament.

13) When the New Testament uses Adam, we should understand it as reference to the specific person.

   Given what we observe both from the Bible and from science the third alternative is that both are right. Adam was the first true man and was anatomically the product of a long evolutionary development from pre-human hominids to modern Homo sapiens sapiens. How can both be true? It turns on what makes man man.