As the last part of our trilogy on early humanity, we will be discussing the Tower Of Babel incident of Genesis 11, the Hominids (Other members of the Homo genus besides modern humans, like Neanderthals), and the chronology of Genesis in earth's history.
The Tower Of Babel:
Here is what Genesis says regarding the Tower Of Babel:
Genesis 11:1-9 "Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth."
So, after the flood, Noah and his descendants migrated westward from the ark's landing place (As we discussed in Early Humanity II, the ark landed on the eastern edge of the mesopotamian plain). It's notable that the water from the flood would have flowed southward, towards the lower lands of the Persian gulf oasis, meaning the ark probably landed in the southern mesopotamian plain, so that would be a good place to excavate for the Tower Of Babel.
The people built a "city" there, and began to build a tower intended to stretch into the sky. It's important to note the statement "nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them". It seems to be the case that God knew that people would once again become depraved and sinful if they remained in one place. As we have seen in modern times, when large amounts of people get together, they advance extremely rapidly, often greatly outstripping their advancement in moral values, and causing massive damage to not just themselves, but plant and animal life as well.
According to the text of Genesis 10, the son of Ham, Canaan, was living after or during the time of the Tower Of Babel. It says that he founded the Canaanite people, which implies the division of people had already occurred. Also, Shem's accounts point to post flood people living a maximum of 500 years. This leads me to say the Tower Of Babel took place no more than 900 years after the flood, probably significantly less.
So, what exactly happened at the Tower Of Babel? The people were split up and scattered all over the world, and apparently were forced to abandon the "city" of Babel. It says they "began" to build the tower, which implies it was never completed because of what happened at Babel.
Modern people have a tendency to read a supernatural confusion of languages into the text here, but we must remember, when people are split up, their languages naturally diverge. As we saw with the flood of Noah (and many other places in the bible), God often uses natural processes to accomplish his goals, and given that Babel was abandoned, is it not possible that there was an earthquake, volcano, meteor strike, or wildfire that disrupted humanity and scattered them? A catastrophe of some sort would seem to explain what the Bible says about Babel. A supernatural alteration of languages is not necessary.
It's just a hypothesis, and regardless of what happened at Babel, the end result is the same. Humanity was scattered all over the surface of the earth, and the original language broke up into many.
What About The Hominids?:
The question of the Hominids has been a great one ever since the advent of modern science. The creatures that resemble humans but with more primitive traits, like Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, Homo Habilis, Denisovans, or the recently discovered "Hobbits" scientifically known as Homo Floresiensis. Or the australopithecines like "Lucy" which resemble bipedal chimpanzees.
Young-earth creationists propose that these creatures are either fakes (which is frankly absurd), or other descendants of Adam and Eve. I have heard some say these hominids are the product of microevolution after Adam and Eve. Similar to the different races of modern humanity. I have also heard others say they are mutant humans, the result of increased radiation levels after the flood.
This notion can be answered without much difficulty, Mitochondrial DNA analysis has indicated that Neanderthals differ from us by ~202 base pairs, whereas modern humans differ from each other (across continents) by ~8-10 base pairs. For comparison, humans differ from chimpanzees by ~1000 base pairs (Mitochondrial DNA, not all DNA). So although Neanderthals are more similar to us than chimpanzees, they are certainly not within the bounds of variation within humans. It seems more likely to me that neanderthals are a separate, unique creation of God. A separate species.
So, I argue that these hominid species and australopithecines are all unique and fundamentally separate creations of God, and none of them have the image of God as humans do.
The behavior of these creatures, inferred from the archaeological record, supports this idea. The popular press will often exaggerate the behavior of these animals by saying they "buried their dead, made art, used body paint, made fire, wore clothing, had language, made tools, took medicine, etc."
Some of the claims regarding the intelligence of these creatures are outright wrong. No art by any hominid species has ever been found. The idea came from a re-dating of a cave painting in Europe to ~40,000 years ago, *after* humans had already entered Europe and began to replace neanderthals. Both human and neanderthal remains have been found in the cave. Approximately 40,000 years ago is just around the time humans took over the cave. Is it really logical to assume that Neanderthals started making art *just* before humans took over Europe, or is it better to assume that humans made the paintings as they took over the cave?
Yes, Neanderthals (and quite possibly other hominids) bury their dead, but that is no indication whatsoever of humanity. These "burials" have no elements of spirituality or ritual whatsoever. They are just bodies in holes buried in dirt. Many animals mourn for their dead and "bury" them. Elephant graveyards are a major example of this. Most primates do this, lions sometimes bury dead members of their pack. Most/all mammals have emotional capacity but it does not indicate humanity.
What about tool use? Well, many primates have been observed making tools, even birds have been observed working with simple tools. Bonobos have been observed making multi-part stone tools. Chimpanzees have been observed making "beds" for themselves in trees. Even more animals build things, beavers build dams, birds and even some reptiles build nests. In fact, some primates have been observed spear-hunting, like hominids.
The claim that neanderthals used body paint is based on the red ochre found at many neanderthal sites, the problem is that red ochre has practical applications for tool-making, which has been shown in their tools. There is no evidence they used red-ochre as dye.
As for clothing, no needles have been found at *any* hominid site, they have found hide scrapers, which *may* indicate they used animal hides as blankets, But nothing more. Clothing is a clear indicator of humanity given in Genesis 3.
Evidence for language is entirely unclear, some studies indicate the higher larynx in Neanderthals would prevent them from utilizing language, while others indicate the hyoid bone is indistinguishable from modern humans. But I will point out, even if Neanderthals do turn out to have crude language, that is no indicator of their humanity, gorillas have been taught to utilize sign language, which is intellectually equivalent to vocal language as far as I know.
They did use certain plants for medicinal purposes according to certain studies, but similar to burying their dead, this is not a solely human trait, chimpanzees, birds, and even some insects do this.
The one thing hominids do have going for them is fire use, which is a remarkable behavior I'll admit, but it does not indicate humanity. Even then, only the later hominids do this, like Neanderthal and Homo Erectus. Early hominids and australopithecines do not exhibit evidence of fire use. So, therefore, they exhibit no more intelligence than chimpanzees. Even the higher hominids have behavior much closer to apes than humans.
You may have noticed my focus on neanderthals. This is because of all the hominids, neanderthals exhibit the highest intelligence. So, if even they are not human, none of the hominids are human (except for modern humans of course). In my view, hominids are animals, and among the "beasts of the earth" created on genesis day/age 6.
What about other "subspecies" of homo sapiens like "homo sapiens idaltu" which lived ~160,000 years ago and "archaic homo sapiens" which lived from ~200,000 years ago to ~60,000 years ago? My answer would be that these, like neanderthals, are unique and separate creations of God. They similarly do not possess human behavioral characteristics. They show no evidence of behavior greater than that of Neanderthals. In fact, homo sapiens idaltu demonstrates behavior equivalent to that of the early hominids.
It's also notable that some will refer to "archaic homo sapiens" as "anatomically modern", which is not entirely true. We do not have any complete fossils of archaic homo sapiens. They are only anatomically modern from what we can tell of the fragments we have found and they certainly do not possess modern human behavior. Again their behavior appears to be indistinguishable from neanderthals. As archaic homo sapiens appear to have gone extinct prior to the creation of Adam and Eve, even if they were anatomically modern, that would not hurt my model whatsoever.
We notice from the fossil record that archaic homo sapiens disappear from the fossil record in most sites ~73,000 years ago, when the Toba supervolcano erupted. The exception to this are sites in South Africa, which continued until ~60,000 years ago. Around ~45,000 years ago anatomically *and* behaviorally modern humans appear on the scene explosively and in many places at once. From Indonesia and Australia to Europe and North-eastern Africa.
The general hypothesis to explain this among secular scientists is that during the Toba supervolcano eruption, archaic homo sapiens bottle-necked to an extremely small population (so small they didn't leave any artifacts for us to find). Meanwhile, they evolved into fully modern humans and their population explosively bounced back ~45,000 years ago.
I propose that archaic homo sapiens went completely extinct ~60,000 years ago in South Africa, and shortly afterwards, God instantly created Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden in what is now the northern Persian gulf region. Their descendants populated the northern Persian gulf region and southern mesopotamian plain.
Afterwards, the flood of Noah swept through the region, wiping out all those early humans except for the eight people on the ark. Then, a generation or two later, they built a city and began to build a large tower in the southern mesopotamian plain, which God then destroyed and intervened to scatter humanity all over the earth.
After being scattered, Humanity began to "multiply and fill the earth" producing the many archaeological artifacts we find today from ~45,000 years ago in Europe, northeastern Africa, Indonesia, and Australia. Humanity then populated the rest of Africa, North America (~11,500 years ago), and South America (~11,000 years ago) when the last ice age ended, warming up the pass between Alaska and Russia before it was flooded a short while later.
It is important to note just how explosive the appearance of behavioral modernity is. The art found in Europe and Indonesia is equivalent to modern art in skill. There is no gradual advancement. There is just explosive appearance.
Behaviorally modern sites from ~40,000-45,000 years ago include Art, Dance, Music, Jewelry, Spirituality, Religion, Fishing, Personal Ornamentation, Games, Clothing, Building, Trading, Ritualistic Burial, Seasoning Food, Symbolic Thought, Use Of Currency, Etc.
The appearance of modern humans also coincides with a massive increase in tool-making skills. The tools made by modern humans include needles, torches, harpoons, bows, knives, shovels, and hammers.
Below you will see three pictures. The first is a picture of the crude tools made by neanderthals. The second and third are tools made by modern humans:
Finally, I will point out another feature that distinguishes humans from other hominids...advancement. Neanderthals, and other hominids, show no advancement from their creation to their extinction, much like other animals. They (as a species) lived for hundreds of thousands of years, with no change in their behavior from beginning to end. Yet humans have gone from scattered hunter-gatherer tribes to industrial cities and space travel in just ~45,000 years. Proving what the bible says, humans are unique among all earthly creation.
The Chronology Of Early Humanity:
So, we now have a model for *how* it happened, but not *when* it happened. Let's take a look at the evidence.
Now it is generally accepted by biblical scholars that the genealogies of Genesis contain gaps, so those alone cannot used to establish a reliable date for the first humans. This is what young-earth creationists try to do and claim a 6,000 year old date for humanity.
We established previously that the appearance of modern human artifacts in Europe, Indonesia, Australia and north-eastern Africa ~45,000 years ago roughly corresponds to the Tower of Babel. If you assume that is the consistent rate of gaps in the genealogies, you get a date for Adam and Eve of very roughly 60,000 years ago. However, that does assume that the rate of gaps is constant, which very well may not be a correct assumption. But we can get a minimum date of around 47,000 years ago from this method.
We can also get a concrete maximum date by studying the fossil record. Genesis says that after God created Eve, he entered his day of rest and ceased creating new species. Thus, the latest species to appear in the fossil record can give us a maximum date for Adam and Eve.
The most recent undisputed new species of animal to appear in the fossil record I have seen is homo floresiensis, which appeared ~90,000 years ago. They presumably existed a while prior to their appearance in the fossil record. Nevertheless, this can give us a maximum date of ~100,000 years ago for Adam and Eve (As it is unlikely they existed more than 20,000 years before they appear in the fossil record, though not impossible). As a side note, new plant and bacteria "species" have appeared in modern times, but this is not an example of God creating new species. It is an example of adaptation and hybridization of pre-existing species God created. This is micro-evolution, not macro. What would be a species/subspecies for an animal is more like a genus for a plant or family for bacteria.
So far we have a date of ~47,000 - ~100,000 years ago for Adam and Eve. Can we narrow it down any further?
Perhaps... If you look at ancient sea-levels, you'll find that sea levels only remain low enough for the garden and its river to be exposed after ~80,000 years ago.
I would also caution against putting more than 15,000 years between Noah and Adam and Eve. Given the lifespans at the time, humans would overpopulate very quickly. Even 15,000 is pushing it a bit. Also taking into account the fact that it would take some time for humans to migrate and produce large amounts of artifacts, I would put a few thousand years between the explosive appearance of modern humans ~45,000 years ago and the Tower of Babel. I believe the probable date for Adam and Eve is 55,000-80,000 years ago taking everything into account.
So, lets examine the chronology here:
55,000 - 80,000 BC: Adam and Eve, shortly afterward Cain kills Abel
50,000 - 75,000 BC: The flood of Noah, shortly afterward the Tower of Babel incident
45,000 BC: Wide-Scale proliferation of humans in Europe, South Asia, Indonesia, Australia, and North Eastern Africa
9,500 BC: Spread of humans into North America
9,000 BC: Spread of humans into South America
8,000 BC: Neolithic revolution
~ 1,900 BC: Abraham
~ 1,500 BC: Moses and the Exodus from egypt
33 AD: Jesus Crucifixion
2??? AD: Armageddon
3??? AD: Judgement day/ New Heavens And Earth
1. Doesn't the bible say the four rivers of Eden flowed from the main river, not that they joined in the south to form the main river as you say?
No, the biblical passage speaks only of geography, not geology. The source of the rivers is not mentioned. Most translations will simply (and correctly) say the river of Eden split and became four branches, not that it became four "heads" or "headwaters" as certain popular translations will put it. From the text alone, the main river of Eden can either be the source or the confluence. I say because the Tigris and Euphrates are spoken of, it must be the confluence in what is now the northern Persian gulf.
It's also notable that the northern split of the Tigris and Euphrates is at far too high elevation to support a tropical oasis like the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve didn't even need to wear clothes. This indicates that it must be a confluence, not a headwater.
2. Doesn't the bible say the ark landed on Mount Ararat?
No, the bible says the ark landed in the "Mountains Of Ararat" region, which includes the entire Zagros mountain range east of Iraq. The ark probably landed in the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. Also, it's funny to note that Mount Ararat itself wasn't even named until a few hundred years ago.
3. What about the last genetic common ancestors of modern humans dated to over 100,000 years ago? Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam?
Although I believe Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam do represent biblical figures, I highly doubt the dates are accurate. Molecular clock dates are notoriously shaky, constantly being realigned. Y-Chromosomal Adam was once dated to 40,000 years ago, then switched to 90,000 years ago, then switched to over 200,000 years ago. Similarly, Mitochondrial Eve has been redated from being around 300,000 years ago to 90,000 years ago to 120,000 years ago. These dates are simply unreliable.
Genetic dates have often been shown to contradict fossil data as well. With genetic dates for the origin of certain species consistently dating back much earlier than the fossil dates. While radiometric dating of fossils has shown time and time again to extremely reliable within relatively small error bars.
There are also many variables, such as radiation caused by supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, or even solar flares from the sun! All said things can alter mutation rates and thus, tamper with genetic dates. I have also failed to find a study which has taken into account the interbreeding between humans and neanderthals, and humans and denisovans. Which I presume would give you a later date.
It's also notable that Y-chromosomal Adam would not correspond to the biblical Adam, he would correspond to Noah, as the four men on the Ark were Noah and his three sons, thus Noah is the last male common genetic ancestor. It is unknown whether the wives of Noah's three sons were daughters of Noah's wife or not, so Mitochondrial Eve could correspond to the biblical Eve or Noah's unnamed wife.
4. What about the South African sites (such as Blombos Cave) from ~65,000 years ago showing evidence of partial behavioral modernity among "archaic" homo sapiens?
I will preface this by saying that said sites were dated using thermoluminescence, which is nowhere near as reliable as radiometric techniques (though not as bad as genetic dating), so these dates are not set in stone. Nevertheless, since so many South African sites give the same date with different thermoluminescence methods I will assume (for now) the dates are correct.
However, I do not believe these sites show evidence of behavior greater than that of neanderthals. Respected PHD Richard G. Klein has done some excellent work on the subject. If you want more information, look at his work. Bear in mind he is not a Christian, and believes in naturalistic evolution, yet agrees with my conclusion that behavioral modernity emerged explosively ~45,000 years ago.
5. Aren't Neanderthal skeletons consistent with modern humans with arthritis (Or some other disease)?
Not at all, this is a myth started by young-earth creationists by quoting scientists that were speculating only shortly after neanderthals were discovered. This is a common trick among young-earthers. Quoting from scientists who were speculating just shortly after a subject was discovered. Ignoring all the more recent science that has developed since. They only quote from those who didn't know anything at the time to boost their case! It's just blatant deception.
Today, no scientist besides a few young-earth creation "scientists" believe that neanderthals are just diseased modern humans. Young-earth creationists also fail to explain why radiometric dates consistently give earlier dates for neanderthals than humans. I guess the arthritis affected the radioactive decay rate in their skeletons!
6. Weren't agriculture, masonry, and metalworking invented after 10,000 BC? Doesn't the bible say Cain and Abel worked the fields, Tubal-Cain made Iron and Copper tools, and the Tower Of Babel was made with bricks? How could all this have happened before 45,000 BC?
There are a few reasons for this. One being that the bronze-age, iron-age, neolithic, etc. only indicate the widespread use of agriculture and metalworking, not the first time those practices were ever performed. There is evidence of smaller scale animal herding, agriculture, masonry, and metalworking prior to those respective periods. And they probably date back much further, as small-scale practices rarely leave behind enough evidence for us to come across.
Another reason is that the text of the tower of Babel passage (nothing will be impossible for them) seems to imply the Pre-Babel people were slightly more advanced then Post-Babel people.
7. Why is there no archeological evidence of the pre-flood people in southern mesopotamian plain?
Well for one, the area was extremely humid at the time, and had horrible conditions for preserving artifacts, and even worse for preserving bones. Another problem is that even under relatively good conditions for preserving remains, only a small percentage of them are preserved. Of those, only a small percentage of preserved remains are accessible. And of those, only a small percentage of accessible preserved remains are actually discovered by us.
I'm sure there have been many civilizations and animal species that we simply haven't found evidence of yet. Archeologists are constantly uncovering new remains. They once thought there was no historical Hittite civilization like the bible records, yet eventually they uncovered it. Just a few days ago (as of the time of writing this) scientists uncovered a new species of ichthyosaur. Archeology is one of those fields where absence of evidence simply is not evidence of absence.
However, there might actually be some indirect evidence of humans inhabiting the region at the time I propose. A neanderthal was found speared to death by a harpoon dating back 50,000 - 75,000 years ago. What is significant about this is that neanderthals did not make harpoons, only modern humans did. In fact, studies on neanderthal grip show they might not even be capable of harpooning things. Especially not well enough to have a fatal impact. It seems possible to me that this harpoon incident could have occurred during pre-flood times, *or* very shortly after the Tower Of Babel.
1. Early Humanity Part One: http://objectivechristianworldview.weebly.com/blog-posts/early-humanity-i-the-location-of-the-garden-of-eden
2. Early Humanity Part Two: http://objectivechristianworldview.weebly.com/blog-posts/early-humanity-ii-noahs-flood
3. Read The Bible In Hebrew And English: http://biblehub.com/
4. Neanderthal Speared By Human In Iraq 50,000 Years Ago: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090720163729.htm
5. Hominids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo
6. Homo Sapiens Idaltu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_sapiens_idaltu
7. Behavioral Modernity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_modernity
8. Failure Of Molecular Clock Analysis: http://www.reasons.org/articles/failure-of-molecular-clocks-important-implications-for-the-christian-faith
9. Richard G. Klein On The Explosive Origin Of Behavioral Modernity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUp_6n8x3D0&ab_channel=theforumatpoly
10. Thermoluminescence Dating: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoluminescence_dating
11. Y-Chromosomal Adam: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Adam
12. Mitochondrial Eve: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve