Thursday, September 20, 2007

Unbiased Reporting of the Facts, You Say?

So here's a random little thing that I found. It's an advertising link that goes to, where they ask the all important questions "Is the story of Adam and Eve true?" and "Did Adam and Eve really exist?" Leave aside for a moment the fact that you could probably manage to accomplish the asking of those questions using only one of them. Let's, instead, explore their answers. The answer starts with a paragraph that includes the lines, "There is good evidence to believe the story of Adam and Eve--that they were historical and, therefore, the first persons on the earth." I'll state this categorically right now: there is a burden of proof that someone who claims "good evidence" and a "historical" nature puts upon him or herself. The answer has to hold up to the burden or the entire venture is going to collapse under its own weight. So what is their "good evidence?" "First, Genesis 1-2 presents them as actual persons and even narrates the important events in their lives." Homer's Illiad presents Achillies as an actual half-god and even narrates the important events in his life. F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby does the same with Jay Gatsby. One is mythology and one is fiction and neither one offers any intrinsic proof that the life being narrated actually happened. The main difference, here, is that we can empirically know that Fitzgerald didn't actually believe in a real, flesh and blood Jay Gatsby and didn't want us to, either. We can't be so sure about Homer or the writers of the Bible, however. "Third, the phrase 'this is the account of' that Moses used to record later history in Genesis (e.g., Gen. 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19) appears in the creation account (2:4) and of Adam, Eve, and their descendants." Yep, because nobody has ever claimed to be offering a factual account of things that never happened before. It's not an often-used literary flourish or anything. I remember when I was a kid they used to have "Star Trek: The Next Generation" commercials with the tagline "The History of the Future." I totally almost bought it, too. Of course I was in grade school. And I really wanted Star Trek to be real... "Fourth, later Old Testament chronologies place Adam at the beginning of the list (Gen. 5:1; 1 Chron. 1:1). Fifth, the New Testament places Adam at the beginning of Jesus' literal ancestors (Luke 2:38)." "Ninth, Paul's declaration that 'it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve' (1 Tim. 2:13-14) reveals that he speaks of real persons." We're talking here of tradition. Of course the Bible is going to keep using Adam and Eve as the starting point. Of course Paul is going to refer to them as such. He was Jewish, after all, and his words were recorded in a book that was then combined with the Jewish text and claimed to be the continuation of the Jewish tradition. I didn't use all of the points from the webpage, as it's all a bit redundant. However, all nine of the points, and you can read them yourself, use the Bible as a source to prove the Bible's account. It's bad history, through and through. Sources, when discussing historical fact, are all-important. We don't have any sources for the existence of Adam & Eve beyond the pages of the Bible, so it's really for the best to not pretend otherwise. We can, in fact, throw out all of the premises offered by this website save one: "Tenth, logically there had to be a first real set of human beings, male and female, or else the race would have had no way to get going." Logic. That thing which causes us to look at the universe and see that there are things, so then we assume that those things came from other things. I can buy this argument. I just can't take the following sentence on the same level. "The Bible calls this literal couple 'Adam and Eve,' and there is no reason to doubt their real existence." Yeah... About that... There exist in this world many, many accounts of creation. Most of them are far more interesting than that handed to us by Jewish tradition, but that could just be a matter of preference. I happen to like frost giants, anthropomorphic animals, and stories about gods knitting the world together out of the bodies of their slain enemies. They're fun. Somewhere in the average account of creation there is the story of the first people. Those people usually have names. Those names, meanwhile, are generally rife with meaning to that culture, just as Adam and Eve are to the Jewish culture. What's the point of this? Am I just picking on to get my jollies? Nope. It's a good jumping-off point for my next bit. History, mythology and religion are my three favorite topics of conversation (especially since the White Sox suck this year). I'm going to start taking a look at the intersections of the three, perhaps with special guest commentary by such luminaries as Joseph Campbell, Lawrence Weschler, Josephus, Herodotus and, well, whoever I dig up...

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