Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is the Paleoanthropologists' "Great Leap Forward" the Abrahamic Religions' "Fall?"

Monogenesis, both genetic and linguistic, has been on my mind lately, and thus so have Adam, Original Sin, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tower of Babel, and the Book of Genesis.

As for genetics, the Recent African Origin hypothesis provides the scientific base, while the theological interpretation is given by Dennis Bonnette in his book Origin of the Human Species, in which he notes that "authentic Catholics and many traditional Protestants understand that theological monogenism -- which holds that all mankind is descended from a single pair of ancestors -- must be maintained in order to confirm the reality of Original Sin, and the consequent need for the Redeemer," and attempts to "offer a detailed explanation of how the current theory of human evolution might be fully consistent with sound scriptural interpretation."

The Upper Paleolithic Revolution, a.k.a. "the Great Leap Forward," is one of the hypotheses of Behavioral Modernity, and suggests that it was "around 40,000 years ago that the archaeological record reveals the emergence of technical and social advances which a modern human can understand as fundamentally like our own." (I'm already losing the Young Earth Creationists.) This hypothesis asks us also to look at "symbolism in art and equate that with the symbolic nature of language," and suggests that "[t]he fossil record of artistic symbolism in humans doesn't run further back than 50,000 years ago, so perhaps... language doesn't either." This leads us to the Proto-Human language hypothesis, which posits a "most recent common ancestor of all the world's languages."

Could it be that some four to five hundred centuries ago (not a long time at all, geologically speaking), our first parents were infused with that divine spark of reason that comes with the human spiritual soul and first endowed with the gift of language, bequeathing both reason and language, and all that come with them, to their progeny, even after that first sin?

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OpenID danightman said...

Wouldn't the Proto-human language concept more parallel the Tower of Babel [Gen 11:1-10]?

9:47 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

[A message from reader to whom blogger is giving some trouble posting.]

Just today, we have evidence that the "great leap" may not be as true as we think. This is not unusual in science since its empirical nature makes its conclusions makeshift at best. British papers, however, put out as news what some have mentioned for some time, which is that there are now carvings thought to be writing and art, carved on ostrich eggs, dated to 60,000 years ago, 10000 years earlier than the "Great Leap" was supposed to have been.

Since communications and cultures may have been more stable, being on a tribal and clan basis, this may be evidence of something generations old even then.

Of course, the scientists will simply push back the idea of the "great leap" but never abandon it. In no small part, there is an underlying metaphysical assumption behind this, which is that since there is no evidence of a faculty, it must not have existed before that time. Human, it is thought, gained or "evolved" the ability at some point. This presumption is the idea behind Darwinian evolution, which incorporates the Hegelian dialectic into natural history to create the secular origin story. This, however, is itself not a scientific idea but a metaphysical one, held by occultists and especially the Freemasons known as the doctrine of becoming.

The Christian doctrine of creation implies, however, that mankind always had these abilities. Adam, before being put to sleep so that God could make Eve from his side (a figure of the Church flowing from the wounded side of Christ via the blood and water), was asked to name the creatures he lived with in the garden (perhaps so that the need for a helpmate and a beloved, a role no mere irrational being could fulfill, would be made known to him). Thus, if we had a time machine and went back to any time before the supposed "Great Leap", I strongly believe that we would find men, in their tribes, speaking, praying, pondering, and making art. This would be true even if no record of this fact survived (or is recognized as surviving) to our time.

9:47 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"Wouldn't the Proto-human language concept more parallel the Tower of Babel?"

Indeed. It is assumed that Proto-Human was spoken from the time of Adam until Babel.

12:12 PM  

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