A Rejoiner to the Refutation of Adam and Eve

Time to deconstruct the social legacy of the myth

By Corey Gilkes, www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes
November 24, 2006

AfricansMy comrade Tyehimba’s essay on Refuting the Myth of Adam and Eve raised very important points that in my view are not discussed nearly enough as we set about the business of hammering out a Caribbean civilisation and reconstructing the Africa as we knew it to be. I wish to further add to his contribution by calling into question something I think he himself should have paid more attention to: the psychological, social and political impact of the historicising of the Adam and Eve story, indeed the entire Old Testament as well as the New Testament and its central figure.

Today as the debate rages on over the issue of Intelligent Design vs Evolution – a truly nonsensical debate if there ever was one – I find very few people understand something that should have been quite obvious, glaringly obvious. The Christian argument has no place in any scientific discussion because it is simply not scientific and likewise, the scientific argument has no place in theology because it is not theological. This is one of the proverbial elephants in the room that no one (especially those on the religious side) seems to have picked up on. But then the Christian worldview and Christian teachings has such a deep hold on people’s psyche that even though many in the Evolutionist camp dismiss the Creationists, they themselves make very little attempt to analyse and deconstruct the Creationist’s foundational arguments. It’s almost as if there is a quiet deference to certain articles of faith and the obvious is now anything but that.

We are seeing a disturbing resurgence in religious fundamentalism in politics by Christians, Hindus and Muslims; notwithstanding the recent defeat of the Republicans in the United States and their cozy Religious Right comrades, much of the gains made against religiously-influenced laws in the US are being systematically attacked and reversed. As economist and Humanist, Denis Solomon, has so rightly pointed out, this ID/Evolution debate is not so much an issue of the scientists versus religious teaching in a scientific debate, it is once again, the religious types versus everyone else’s. The end result is as it has always been: universal conformity to one specific worldview and the authority of those who created that worldview.

If we are to continue to reverse the militarising of the world, the encroachment of neo-colonialism in the form of globalisation and its many manifestations and the destruction of the delicate eco-systems in the name of progress and “sustainable development”, then one of the tasks we simply have to perform is the unpleasant task (for some) of deconstructing the idea that many events of the bible were actual, historic events, starting with that very Adam and Eve myth (which in another context is one of the most misogynist myths ever constructed).

Let me hasten to point out that we should not view such calls with a simplistic Cartesian binary-oppositional mindset. To do so may cause an instinctive resistance to dealing with the issue. To state that the Creation story and the Jesus story are myths does not necessarily dismiss them. The Adam and Eve myth is just that, a poetic myth (tradition) but as a myth it is a gateway to even deeper meanings and ideas. What is being called into question is the way in which that myth and others was woven into a complex tapestry that became historicised for certain political agendas.

As Tyehimba correctly pointed out there are many creation myths in other, much older cultures. What makes the Christian version of the Creation/Adam and Eve story so unique? It is believed to have actually happened along with the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Not even the Jews, from whom the Christian version was taken, argued that the Creation myth – and many others found in the Old Testament – was historical. The very names of ‘Adam’, ‘Eve’ are often written in lowercase letters because the names are actually symbolic and generic terms. A decoding of those names was attempted by such scholars as Gerald Massey, Cheikh Anta Diop and Charles Finch and if they are correct, the myth has very close ties with the Wisdom Teachings of Egyptian sacred science. It does lead one to ponder deeply the parallels between the biblical ‘Adam’ who was fashioned out of clay (the word ‘adu-mah’ in Hebrew means red/claylike) and a very ancient Kemetic/Egyptian deity Khnum who is shown sitting at a potter’s wheel fashioning man out of clay. Even the name for the Garden ‘Eden’ is said to be traceable back to the Egyptian ‘den’ which even today, means ‘enclosure’ (which also is a faint reference to the symbolic representation of the Great Mother Goddess as a python that encircles her offspring as she nurtured them. Thus, when viewed from the standpoint of gender relations and the perception of women and the female principle, this is a poetic attack against the concept of the Divine Mother by the merging patriarchy of Eurasian cultures).

Be that as it may, what is of particular interest here is that crucial formative period of the first three hundred years of the Christian era. I strongly believe that anyone attempting to make sense of Western hegemony on world politics and economics, the hold Christianity has over a great many cultures, societies and people, even those who do not call themselves Christian, must pay very special attention to the turbulent years from the 1st the 4th C. This was a time when there were a number of ‘Christian’, Jewish and Gnostic sects all vying for primacy. The Romans had long since conquered and occupied Palestine and there was an extended period of armed and passive resistance by the conquered Jews. None of this, by the way, is reflected in the canonical New Testament and for good reason. By 70 CE the cataclysmic destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem had taken place and the Jews were scattered across the Roman provinces. The unbending and uncompromising stance by extremist groups like the Zealots meant that there would most likely never be peace as long as the Jewish faith could not remain autonomous. There were other sects, however, that were prepared to find some sort of accommodation and this caused a serious rift among the Jewish community. As the years advanced the radical view became less and less popular as certain Jewish leaders sought acceptance among the dominating Roman administration. The canonical stories that make up the New Testament have more to do with a careful and systematic shifting of blame for the destruction of the Jewish homeland and Temple away from the Romans and on to those radical Jewish elements who refused to compromise their principles. To add insult to injury, some of the other sects espoused selective aspects of Jewish teachings but were now revolving around the character of Jesus who was being recast as an historical figure and as a divinity in his own right and were becoming the dominant force. This historicising was very advantageous to the designs of Emperor Constantine who was seeking to unify the Roman Empire (see essay “Orthodox” Christianity and the Birth of European Nationalism).

The point is that what with the profound influence religion and the supernatural held, by arguing that one particular avatar and the stories leading up to that avatar’s coming was factual, immense political mileage could be achieved. This is exactly what happened with Europe from the time when Constantine unified the Roman Empire using among other things univocal Church doctrine – even though Christianity was not the state religion of Rome – through the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, the age of mercantilism and the expansionist ventures into the Americas, Asia and Africa. The European right to rule was spurred in no small way by the fraudulent ideology of an historical death, resurrection and ascension of the Jesus character and the subsequent apostolic succession which passed on to the papacy. Protestants too, although they dismiss the primacy of the Vatican, supplanting the supremacy of the bible for supremacy of the papacy, retain the historicity of the New Testament with the more extreme adherents citing the historicity of the Creation story, the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve.

This has to be brought out into the open and painstakingly discussed and soon. The intolerance and violence that always accompanies religious differences of opinion become even more violent with each cycle of history. We cannot sit back and allow the destiny of the world to be left up to chance or solely to accidents of history. The destruction of the environment has always been spurred on by a deep-seated Eurocentric mindset that took firm hold in religion that the destruction of wild nature is in keeping with divine instructions to Adam that he was to have dominion over the animals in the Garden of Eden. Further, the militarising of the so-called Middle East as well as Latin America is, by no coincidence, occurring along with a millenarian belief in the End of Times. As ridiculous and laughable as it sounds (and is), there is a precedent for this in the form of the burning of Ancient Rome by Christian fanatics who, like their 20th and 21st C descendents, believed in a literal Second Coming. They set about burning ‘pagan’ temples and buildings in the hope that, by speeding up the process, the saviour would hasten his return. All well and good if one considers that at least they did not have access to nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.


6 thoughts on “A Rejoiner to the Refutation of Adam and Eve”

  1. A vexing question: If Adam and Eve had only two sons, Cain and Abel, and these were the first people on earth, then who did the sons marry in order to perpetuate the tribe? their mother? Was this what the quarrel between the sons was about?

    Asking this question as I do of the “fundamentalists” sets the theology on its ear, because a rational answer becomes “Well, Adam had another wife named Lilith.” “Oh, so she was Cain’s wife too, or Abel’s? Or did they mate with their half sisters?” Usually this line of argument ends in a fit of expostulations; and charges of heathenism.

    Now the Quiche Maya people have a creation myth, recorded in the Popul Vuh, of man being created of clay, and being destroyed- the first models- because they had neither lymph nor emotions. Then a revised version(new and improved) was created.

    Modern children in some progressive schools are exposed to the creation myths of all peoples, including first American and Australian Aboriginal people, as well as the myth told by the Dogon people, that they came from the dog star, Cirius.(They observe certain ceremonies every sixty years, coinciding with the star Cirius being closest to earth. Most people participate in the ceremony only once in their lifetime)

    It surprises me, in a way, that dogmatic teachings have remained unchanged in former European colonies, when the former colonial masters do not teach such things to their children. One must ask therefore, if the purpose is to stifle cretivity, to control in a disciplined way, or simply to perpetuate blind acceptance of previous teachings.

    With the internet, and chldren’s ability to read material for themselves, the problem should be disappearing, but do our children use the inernet to investigate far galaxies? Do they have an interest in the creating myths of other cultures? I suspect not. They use the internet to access material deemed inappropriate for younger audiences, to window shop for fancy stuff for which there is very little need, and the opportunity for education passes them by. In this, alas, they are like childen everywhere.

    Young adult learners can also use the “opencourseware” line at MIT to access courses there, so poor teaching could be overcome, but do they do this? I think not, but European and JApanese students do.

    How do we begin the process of re-educating our children, and would we be ready for the awesome products of such re-education?

  2. Time To Move On?

    Why are you waiting for Christians to validate your rejection of the Adam and Eve story and other Biblical myths?

    Would you protest that children believed in Santa Clause? Why then protest the silly things that some Christians choose to believe?

    Accept that these Biblical myths are just myths, and also accept that many Christians believe them to be “the truth.” Then ask yourself, what is the next step?

    Do we need any spiritual beliefs, or are material beliefs sufficient?

    Note that materialism is just a hypothesis that is being tested. This hypothesis cannot account for some of the things we experience as it has to reject everything that is not material. One of the things it cannot explain is consciousness. On that basis it should be rejected as it fails to explain a common phenomena. If we reject materialism are we then back to some spiritual explanation of consciousness?

    Perhaps we should move on and explore the unknown, rather than reiterate arguments about the Bible which will never be accepted by emotional Christians.

    Time to move on?

  3. If materialism was the answer, those who own ipods, blue tooth additions to their cel phones and flat screen televisions as well as flat screen computers, as well as the three car garage, would be the happiest people on earth. They do not seem to be, if one judges by the suicide rate among their ranks, as well as time spent in psychiatric care, recovering from drug addiction and other forms of dementia. So, materialism is not it, in any form.

    What Caribbean people, especially our children, have been given to hold is a lot of nonsensical notions about the nature of God. The Most Rev. Desmond Tutu put it this way, “When the white man came to Africa, we had the land, and he had the Bible. He said “let us pray” We bowed our heads. When we opened our eyes, the white man had our land and we were holding the Bible” (Interview with Desmond Tutu, Hall of Justice Auditorium, Trinidad , 1987)

    What may be needed is to take away spiritual beliefs from the corruption added to it by Europeans in order to subjugate the world.
    Fundamentalist Christianity is not the same as Christianity. Many of these sects do not consider CAtholics to be Christians. Fundamentalist Christian sects, particularly in the US raise and send money to the secular state of Israel to help drive the Palestinians from their ancestral lands. Christians, true people of the book, know that the Muslims are our brothers and Judiasm was the first religion to promote monotheismm, which they seem to have adopted from Egypt.

    The Talmud, the Bible and the Koran have almost identical passages, and really tell the same story. Where that story became corrupted was where Atlantic slave traders used it to justify enslaving Africans, and even promised New World slaves that they would go to heaven, if they were good slaves, and there they would have good masters. Many then decided that if slavery existed in heaven, hell, they were NOT going there.

    The story of a Messiah is a beautiful one, if only for the commandment that we must love one another, as we are loved. The Bible, the Talmud and the Koran are good guides to daily living, and are the foundations of secular law all over the West. They are not literally the words of God, neither are the Gospels.

    What is wrong is the hijacking of the story for political purposes, for example the attempt by the male followers of Jesus to sideline Mary Magdalene, who was called a whore for many centuries.(We still call activist women by unsavory names, and say things like ‘that’s why she ent have a man’.We still fail to acknowledge that women, too ,can find a cause fulfilling.)

    We need to educate our children to know that there is a force greater than man, singly or collectively. That one is accountable for one’s actions. That one must be charitable in thought, word and deed to all people. That when one reecognizes that a wrong has been committed, one must do all in one’s power to put it right.

    I believe that those are good values to live by, and all true religious people live by these tenets. Many however, who pretend to live by them, their actions scream to all that they lie. When our children get caught between the theory and the lie, they become confused and rebellious, and feel that materialism has to be the end in itself. Later, only later, they realize that that was a mistake.
    So the pressure on our children to get all the material things could be directly linked to many forms of antisocial behaviour, including crime, but are our materialisticmedia houses and advertisers aware of this, or do they care?

    These are not answers, just thoughts. I am still working on the solutions myself, and may never find them. This is Advent Sunday, the beginning for Christians, of the spiritual preparations for Christmas, which to millions still mean more than rum and rum cake and “a piece a pork”.
    Meanwhile, I still wish that the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls could be made public, so that ordinary people could read what they actually contain.

  4. Dear Corey Gilkes
    I am amazed that that you have chosen to Dismiss the Bible without first examinig it’s contents scientifically.
    The origin of the Bible is God. It is a historical book that is backed by archeology, and a prophetic book that has lived up to all of its claims thus far. The Bible is God’s letter to humanity collected into 66 books written by 40 divinely inspired writers over a period of over 1,600 years. The claim of divine inspiration may seem dramatic (or unrealistic to some), but a careful and honest study of the biblical scriptures will show them to be true. Powerfully, the Bible validates its divine authorship through fulfilled prophecies.GOD decided to use prophecy as His primary test of divine authorship, and an honest study of biblical prophecy will compellingly show the supernatural origin of the Bible. Skeptics must ask themselves, “Would the gambling industry even exist if people could really tell the future?” Again, no other holy book comes even close to the Bible in the amount of evidence supporting its credibility, authenticity and divine authorship.

    David Nelson

  5. Biological evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time. That this happens is a fact. Biological evolution also refers to the common descent of living organisms from shared ancestors. The evidence for historical evolution — genetic, fossil, anatomical, etc. — is so overwhelming that it is also considered a fact. The theory of evolution describes the mechanisms that cause evolution. So evolution is both a fact and a theory.

    Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution

    29 Evidences for Macroevolution
    The Scientific Case for Common Descent


  6. It is possible to believe in Evolution, and also believe in a Divine Source. Some theorists get into their corner, and ignore all other evidence that does not fit into their theory. Others, usually older , more experienced folk, can see that “all things move together towards a common purpose”. Cannot recall who I am quoting here, but I acknowledge it is not mine. The simplest analogy of Devine Purpose is that no scientist can use the DNA of a mouse and produce a rose. They add pig’s DNA to corn to help it resist disease, and corn eaters now look as fat as pigs are; but they have not created a rose from a hibiscus, a pig from a rose, or wheat from animal skin. Only The Devine force which I call God, can do that. Plants too, can produce their own food from disparate elements, air, soil and water. Man raids plants for their food and medicine sources, because we are limited to “higher thoughts” and cannot take some manure, and some water and expose them to air and produce any edible food for humans. That is how I explain to children that there is something there , bigger than us, bigger than science, that we are still trying to understand.

    I would like to hear comments from people who take a problem to bed, pray about it, and awaken with the solution clear in their heads as if they were being instructed by unseen voices. I know it happens- to both scientists and religious thinkers. I hope readers will not treat this as a side issue. I think it lies close to the core of what makes us human.

Comments are closed.