Sunday, October 02, 2011

Evolution - Creationism Series

Reposted from July 2010. Nothing new to see here, but folks might like the review.

Creationism and Politics
There are some interesting practical considerations, however, and that might be fun. (For me, that’s who.) Volokh Conspiracy recently had a thread about a 7D creationist running for political office, and whether that should be an automatic disqualifier. As an evangelical and an evolutionist, the question interests me.

Thought Experiment: Genesis and Science
If the first eleven chapters had somehow gone missing for centuries and were only recently rediscovered, it would be academics telling Christians they should accept them gladly, and the fundamentalists who would resist this most strongly.

Evolution and Young-Earth Creationism
Impressions Versus Science

If you bing, google, or yahoo up “first humans” you get a collection of estimates of upright figures who lived somewhere further than 2 million years ago. Artistic images from the Olduvai and Laetoli discoveries likewise show bipedal creatures, a bit hairier than us, heads a little different, but clearly meant to emphasise their similarity to us. They hold hands. They look off to the horizon. I will call this the National Geographic impression, as that is the popular-culture representative of the textbooks and educational videos which teach that view.

Evolution and Young-Earth Creationism 1A
Journal entries for grad student assigned to watch earth develop.
2,100,000 years. No change to report. This batch got smarter than the other apes and then stopped dead. I think we should drop humans as a study.

2,200,000 years. There might be some hints of progress here, but I'm probably imagining things because I want to see it. Hope springs eternal in the Martian gazorninplat and all that.

Evolution and Young Earth Creationism 2
It was pretty clear what I was driving at with the contrast between the National Geographic 2M+ years impression of the origin of humanity versus the Genesis impression. For 97% of that 2,300,000 years, those creatures didn’t have sophisticated language as we know it.

Rapid Language Development
There are lots of genetic and cultural foundations to language that likely developed in spurts over time. Yet some final genetic piece seems to have been a tipping point that sent communication from primitive to complex very rapidly

Founding Population
We pulled the beginning of behaviorally modern humans from over 2 million years ago down to something like 50,000 - perhaps even 10,000 years ago. But there are other objections to the Genesis account. It narrows the founding population to two people, Adam and Eve, for example

Location, Location, Location
When we compared anatomically modern humans (minimum 2M years ago) to behaviorally modern humans (max 60K years ago), I gave a hint that even stricter definitions of behaviorally modern humans might bring our definition even closer than the important dividing line of the emergence of language. Because Ice Ages forced the widely-spread peoples into now-tropical areas, we seemed to learn to interact more peacefully about 18,000 years ago.

Impossible Things
We change our thinking not because we find one impossible thing in our old beliefs, but because we find too many

To Correct Impressions
As historian Paul Johnson notes, both the Wellhausen (Critical Method, Documentary Hypothesis) followers and the fundamentalists had a comforting simplicity to their ideas: The fundamentalists that the Bible was always literally true word for word, the scholars that it never was.

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