When did homo sapiens and Neanderthal first live? How does this relate to Cain and farming? Could Cain be symbolic, not a real person?

1. Cro-Magnon lived up to 100,000 and Neanderthal up to 300,000 years
ago. What was the most recent dates for those species and when were they
extinct? What year was Homo-Sapien on the scene – 45,000 years ago? Cain
was the first agricultural farmer as far as evidence in the Bible, were
the Homo-Sapiens the first also to show agricultural advancements and
intelligence? If so, does this help us to date Adam?

2. Could the characters “Cain and Able” and “Jacob and Esau?” be perhaps
symbolic or representative of a species, not actual individuals? Or be
real individuals that have symbolic meaning for different species that
have existed in the past?

3. Q-Source, Do you believe that there was a Q? If so, then was God’s
inspired word lost?

4. Miracle of Science or Perspective of the observer; Did the sun stand
still? God is a God of order, yet he performs miracles outside of the
natural laws that govern our world.

Answers:

1. According to anthropologists, we are Cro-Magnon. Cro-Magnon
are modern humans–homo sapiens. Therefore, obviously, Cro-Magnon never
went extinct! You will see a wide variety of opinions on Neanderthal
among anthropologists. Some see them as a sub-species of modern humans,
and even believe that there was interbreeding and that the two species did
not have a definite dividing line. Others (the more popular opinion, if I
understand it correctly) believe that they were always very separate
species. If opinion #1 is correct, it is not possible to state when
Neanderthal disappeared, but rather Neanderthal gradually were subsumed in
the modern human population. By the second opinion, Neanderthal
disappeared somewhere around 30,000-25,000 years ago. There is zero
evidence that Neanderthal farmed in the traditional sense, although they
did have fairly simple tools, and there is some evidence of primitive
art-like activity and so forth. If you relate the first true human in the
biblical sense to agricultural activity, such as that of Cain, then you
would tend to conclude that the first humans were Cro-Magnon, ie modern
humans. If that is true, then Neanderthals were not human in the biblical
sense. I personally believe that it will not be possible to reach an
absolutely definitive answer to such questions, and suggest that believers
not be too dogmatic about these issues.

2. Personally, I would hold out that Cain and Able (and Adam and
Eve for that matter) were real people who actually lived. That is
certainly the implied tone of the text of Genesis and the New Testament
writers seem to imply that they accepted them to be real people (ex.
Romans 5 1f). Having said that I would concede that one could take them
to be symbolic representatives of the first humans without doing
irreparable damage to the text. My opinion is that they were real people
who actually lived, but I would not reject as a non-Christian someone who
felt they are representative of the first humans.

As for Jacob and Esau (and therefore Abraham and Sarah), I am
convinced that they were real people who did the things described in the
Old Testament. I believe this for both biblical and archaeological
reasons. I do not see any conceivable way to argue that the Bible is
inspired by God in its totality if Abraham did not live. The entire
argument in Romans chapter two would fall apart if Abraham is a fiction.
The entire concept of the Jews as a nation is based on Abraham and his
descendents. Besides, if you read my book, Reasons for Belief: A
Handbook of Christian Evidence (www.ipibooks.com) you will find a chapter
describing a significant amount of archaeological evidence which makes
belief that Abraham was a real person very believable. Also, see an
article on the subject at this web-site, History, Archaeology and the
Bible. I definitely believe that Jacob and Esau were real people.

3. The Q-Source is a hypothesis contrived to explain both the
similarities and the differences between Matthew, Mark and Luke. Was
there a written source of sayings and acts of Jesus available before Mark
or Matthew wrote their gospels? I would assume almost certainly there
were. Did Mark draw upon those written sources? I cannot prove so, but
logic and common sense would lead one to assume that such documents
existed and that the gospel writers may very well have used such sources
to recall and organize their information. More specifically, did the
Q-source exist? I would take some of the arguments and conclusions of the
theologians, and especially the liberal theologians with a big grain of
salt, but I do believe that some written sources were most likely
available. Was there one identifiable source which we now call the
Q-source? I have no idea, and I believe scholars do not either. There is
a huge amount of speculation and argument among scholars about the
Q-source.

I do not see how the issue of whether there was or was not
some sort of written source material of genuine information about Jesus
available when the gospel writers wrote would affect one’s view of whether
these gospels are inspired. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all have strong
marks of being inspired to me, and I do not see how the existence or lack
of existence of a hypothetical pre-existing documentation of the acts of
Jesus would affect that conclusion.

4. From a scientific perspective, even a miracle would not allow
the sun to suddenly simply stop in the sky. That would mean that the
earth suddenly stopped spinning. Objects now moving at one thousand miles
per hour (because the earth spins that fast, at least at the equator)
would become 1000 mile per hour projectiles if the earth screeched to a
hault. I will be honest with you that I am not sure exactly what the
account in Joshua is a reference to. Perhaps God miraculously allowed
time to seem to stretch way beyond the normal. Perhaps God did indeed
gradually slow the spin of the earth, and later gradually speed it back
up. Either way, what one has in Joshua chapter 10 is a miraculous victory
won by God’s people through the miraculous intervention of God by throwing
the enemies into confusion, causing a huge hail storm to happen and by
somehow (but I am not exactly how to interpret the somewhat vague,
non-technical working of Joshua) slowing down the day so that God’s people
could win the victory.

John Oakes, PhD

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