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Genesis and the Origin of Man

Mythical Origin

The Western religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) have their basis in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It has a mythical story about the origin of man.

Genesis has a story for male and female created on the 'sixth day' of the creation sequence. From Genesis 1:25-27: "And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

These stories imply God simply created all the life on earth, including the first men and women in a moment, rather than the human beings developing from earlier similar primates over the course of evolution.

According to a 2013 poll (with a margin of error of 3%), 33% of Americans believe humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time (% increasing by age: from 27% 18-29 to 36% 65+). I assume those people believe in the simple story from Genesis as related above, as 'the beginning of time.' In that poll, 60% of Americans believe humans have evolved over time (% decreasing by age: from 68% 18-29 to 49% 65+).

In another, older article about similar polls regarding creation, conducted from 1982 through 2008, the number of Americans believing the origin of human life follows the biblical account has remained rather consistent, within the range of 43% to 47% over that span of 26 years. Those same polls found that the number of Americans believing God had no part in the origin of human life has also remained rather consistent, within the range of 9% to 14%.

Those two reports about polls do not reveal the same numbers for similar questions but regardless there is a substantial number of people who believe the Biblical story conveys historical events.

The Biblical sequence in Genesis sounds like a little girl at play. First she sets up the doll house, then adds the furniture and such (in the living room or kitchen or ...) for whatever theme applies on this day, and finally adds the dolls to play within this little manufactured world.

Other ancient religions have their own story of creation and an ancient time of bliss, similar to described as a garden in Eden. Here are some quotes taken from the book: Memories and Visions of Paradise, by Richard Heinberg:

The Mahabharata of India:

    [In the First Age] there was but one religion, and all men were saintly; therefore they were not required to perform religious ceremonies. There were no gods in the First Age, and there were no demons. The First Age was without diseases; there was no lessening with the years; there was no hatred, or vanity, or evil thought whatsoever; no sorrow, no fear.


Chinese sage Chuang Tzu

    In the Age of Perfect Virtue they were upright and correct, without knowing that to be so was righteousness; they loved one another, without knowing that to do so was benevolence; they were honest and leal-hearted without knowing that it was good faith; in their simple movements they employed the services of one another without thinking that they were conferring or receiving any gift.


Hopi elder Dan Katchongva

    Somewhere done in the underworld we were created by the Great Spirit, the Creator. We were created equal, of oneness, living in a spiritual way, where life is everlasting. We were happy and at peace with our fellow men. All things were plentiful, provided by our Mother Earth upone which we were placed. Illness and troubles were unknown.


One might wonder why there are similar stories around the world of an initial time of happiness and peace.

Many different studies using a variety of methodologies have confirmed what is called the Holocene Climatic Optimum when the global temperatures were higher than present, roughly 9000 to 5000 BP. Central Asia was extensively forested due to higher rainfall and warmer temperatures. Africa was in its 'African Humid Period' with its 'Green Sahara' while the Arctic had substantially less ice than at present. For mankind still in a primitive hunt & gather life style, this 'optimum' would have been a garden of plenty, probably removing the need for any conflicts with other tribes over the plentiful natural resources. With the bounty, human communities were able to grow rather easily, as the dawn of civilization (and the most ancient religions). When the world's climate cooled and this time of extreme plenty disappeared, I imagine some might have interpreted that (if God controlled the weather) as being banished from Eden.

Biological Origin

According to archeological evidence, man and chimpanzee parted from a common ancestor more than 4 million years ago. About 1 million years ago, there was a split in the chimpanzee line into two species, the chimpanzee and the bonobo. Recent (2012) analysis of the chimpanzee genome found 99.6% of a human's DNA is shared between the chimpanzee and bonobo (a small difference due to the recent split). Bonobos are found only South of the Congo River and chimpanzees are found only North of the Congo River so currently they do not mix. Surprisingly, about 1.6% of a human DNA is shared with only the bonobo, not the chimpanzee, and about the same with only the chimpanzee, not the bonobo.

Nature appears to have a collection of physical characteristics and behavioral attributes that arise in different animals.

The human, chimpanzee and bonobo have some similarities. All are bipedal, like many primates as well as all birds and a number of dinosaurs (considered an ancestor of birds). All are social creatures showing empathy of others, with the chimpanzees having a community around a dominant male with violence often used to maintain control, a behavior also observed in human organizations (from gangs to wars). The bonobos have a community around a female, often one of the elders, with their conflict resolution often involving mutual stimulation, a behavior also practiced among humans. Some other social animals also are organized around a female, like ants and bees. Humans are different from the other two primate relatives as a monogamous relationship is at the foundation of the human communities of families. Other animals also are monogamous, like 90% of birds but only about 3% of mammals.

The use of a language is also possible among some animals, where a bonobo even learned sign language to enable some communications between species. Work with dolphins has found they also use a sound language, where each is given a unique sound - like a name. Prairie dogs are considered to have a language nearly as complex as that in humans, apparently even including sounds for different colors.

Given the domestic dog can be found nearly everywhere, I am surprised by the number of people still believing in the Biblical story when the concept of genetics is simply demonstrated by the variety of dogs found around the world. The many sizes, colors, and dispositions are from selective breeding, the management of the genetics in the dog.

I have the suspicion those who believe the Biblical story in Genesis is historical (not mythical) also believe they are just 'put' on Earth, as if their personality (or soul) was already set upon birth, discounting all the influences of family, friends, neighborhood, and so on, which should be recognized as being a part of whatever a person is. That perception, of being put on Earth instead of growing from within it, seems so closed minded, an inability to grasp what life is really about.

While I understand some people require the belief in a supernatural God just to have a comfort level with the chaos of daily living, the denial of our fundamental social nature makes it difficult for man to deal with our current global community. We must work together to solve our problems, rather than just submit to the whims of the few in power, and working together can be a little harder when one believes individuality is the foundation of society.

created - Jan. 2014
last change - 01/18/2014
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