Let’s pretend for just a moment that the Creation Myth as described in ancient Abrahamic texts is true. There was an Adam and Eve, and they were created by a god and put in the Garden of Eden. The woman did something her god didn’t like, and she tricked her man into doing it, and god cast them out of the garden and into what you and i know of as the planet Earth. By the way, a guy named Archbishop Ussher believed Adam was born on October 23, 4004 BC at 9:00 am and lived until 3074 BC. Young Earth Creationists may not come out and say this, but they believe that too.
Adam and Eve then had three sons; Abel, Cain, and Seth. Cain slew Abel cuz god liked him more, so Abel never had any kids. Later on the Judeo-Christian bible explains that Adam had many other sons and daughters before his death but the bible doesn’t name them. Now, there’s three possible directions one can go here, to explain how these few people multiplied and populated the Earth with humanity. Either Eve had sex with Cain and Seth until she got a daughter who could pick up where she left off, or Eve didn’t have sex with her children but gave birth to a daughter who did, or god continued making more people out of ribs and clay until he got enough of a sample of variety where they could populate the Earth on their own. There’s an apocryphal text called The Book of Jubilee which explains Cain and Seth married their sisters, and even gave them names. By the Victorian period, most religions don’t seem to take that book seriously. Apocryphal basically means the Catholic church leadership dismissed it and didn’t canonize it, but their criteria for what was acceptable is kinda murky and questionable. These are the same guys who tried to convince people that The Book According to Matthew was actually written by Matthew the Apostle, even though historical evidence points away from Matthew and to anyone who lived about a century after Jesus’ death.
We assume God can just make people out of clay or by taking part of one person and fashioning another out of it. No one bothers to wonder how a god would need clay to make Adam, but only needed a little bit of Adam to make Eve, and yet somehow she comes out to be almost the same size as he is. Ribs don’t have as much mass as an entire human, but this is a belief structure that challenges the law of the conservation of energy all the time. Like with loaves and fishes for example. Perhaps god made human beings to be self-replenishing, as he made all living creatures, but he seems to always have to start with something. Clay. A rib. Claude Rains. Something. Even though to make the entire universe, all he needed was nothing.
So why not make Adam so he can clone himself? Why was Eve necessary for reproduction in the first place? Especially when a god can churn out as many as he pleases on his own? There isn’t an answer to that question. This whole concept is silly. I’m just being rhetorical, but you can entertain yourself on lazy Sunday afternoons while drinking a corona and eating enchiladas with these questions. They’re very relaxing. Especially the more coronas you drink.
If Cain and Seth were able to populate the Earth by having incestuous relationships with their sisters, why doesn’t this still work? Come to think of it, how does that work at all? I mean I love my sisters but I don’t find them remotely physically attractive. How do people do that? That’s gross.
Science has studied how DNA works from one generation of any species to the next and what it’s found is that when the parents of a child are related, this increases the odds of birth defects; anything from missing limbs to Down syndrome. It doesn’t always happen, but it does happen more often the more alike the parents are. Siblings are less likely to have healthy offspring than cousins and cousins are less likely to have healthy offspring than distant cousins and distant cousins are less likely than total strangers. In fact there’s a blood test you can take before getting married which presumably helps to insure good offspring, and I’m no doctor but as I understand it, too many ‘matches’ in the blood test and you’re both better off marrying someone else.
There’s even places later in the Abrahamic texts that admonish incestuous behavior, even though, if you believe the whole Bible, you have to accept that some incest was used to populate the Earth with people. So why did it work back then and was totally acceptable, but it doesn’t work anymore and people scoff at the idea?
It’s not the only factor that causes these conditions to happen, but it is a big one. This is not to say that the more unrelated the parents are, the less a chance of birth defects. A horse and a donkey can give birth to a mule, but then the mule is often born impotent. There appears to be a happy medium; an optimum point between your kid sister and a chimpanzee. Many belief systems involve an ‘us vs them’ approach to social interactions that leads to wars, but history proves that its when societies merge that they thrive. It’s how the roman republic became the roman empire and then the roman church. It’s how the Great American Melting Pot became the greatest world power mankind has ever known (well, unless you’re Chinese maybe). Again, not the only factor, but a big one. United we stand, but diversity makes us hardier.
Of course, I’m talking about observations of actual reality, and not creation myths that can’t possibly be true, but at the top of this blog post I suggested we try to pretend for just a moment that any of this is plausible. This is essentially why the entire idea of royalty fell apart after several generations. Some can argue it was other factors, but the truth is being related to The First King somehow doesn’t mean squat. Having the ability to prove you are descended from great leaders of the distant past does not give you the right to claim dominion over other people. It doesn’t mean you have a right by birth to even get a free coffee now and then much less command entire countries. However, for thousands of years Europe was ruled with this general assumption. In fact, royalty and nobility didn’t like to breed with anyone outside of their own inner circles. So there was a lot of cousins marrying cousins going on. Then the descendants would often come out with various defects or they’d die young after long illnesses, and you had King Henry chopping off the heads of his wives cuz they couldn’t father him a decent son. Again, I’m not saying blue blood is the only factor, but I am admitting it is a factor. You can’t populate the Earth with incest, and we see no evidence a god is going around to this day magically making people out of clay and bones.
Anyway. So there’s a lot of problems with regards to any known Creation Myth but particularly the Judeo-Christian one. By the way the Muslims do believe in Adam, but are kinda dismissive of the details. In fact when put in a corner, most Believers will shrug and admit their Creation Myth is “allegorical” meaning that even tho they believe in the essence of the story, they realize the details don’t hold water and so will not defend any one particular trivial detail you prove impossible, but they contend that it’s still true in general, even if you can disprove every detail.
We don’t know. It happened before people were smart enough to think to write stuff down. The creation myths are based on oral traditions that ancestors passed on to their descendants by word of mouth. We are to believe they were passed on word for word and no changes were made, but anyone who’s played that party game where one person whispers something to another and by the end of the party what started as “blue oysters are quick to consume if followed by a good red wine” turns out to be “i dunno something about clams” knows that’s bull. Adam’s name probably wasn’t even Adam. The first man may not have even had a name. I doubt he even bothered to name all the other animals, and even if he did, what we call them is probably not what he called them. Ever tried to get a baby to say hippopotamus or velociraptor or chrysanthemum? It’s maddening.
So here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine that all of the Creation Myths mankind has told itself over the past ten or twenty thousand years are ludicrous. They’re just bed time stories we told one another while huddled around the camp fire to keep our minds off the fact that the saber toothed tigers might come back and we’re fresh out of spears and torches. Imagine that this universe and everything in it existed for millions if not billions of years before we arrived. Imagine that the atoms which comprise your body were thousands of years ago something else entirely. And before that they were something else entirely. Imagine that some of the molecules in your left arm came from one star that exploded billions of years ago, and some of the molecules in your right arm came from an entirely different star that exploded in an entirely different part of the galaxy. Imagine that thousands, millions, billions of years after you die, atoms and molecules that are currently in you will be in other things. Oh i don’t know what. Trees. Fruits. People. Buildings. Mountains. Oceans. Air. The sky may not even be the limit. Who knows?
…much easier to just pretend we all came from Adam isn’t it? Less dizzying. Personally, I prefer the Creation Myths we’re telling ourselves now, based on science. They may not be any more believable than ancient texts written by goat herders, but at least they describe this observable universe. I can relate to that.
It’s not that we can disprove the Creation Myths. We can’t. They’re stories. They are by definition not provable. They are not meant to be proved any more than Santa Claus was ever intended to hold up to close scrutiny. It was an answer to a why by someone who didn’t know the answer either, but wanted to placate his family to stave off the boredom and fear and dizzying confusion that is a side effect of spending a night in a cold dark cave in a cold dark godless universe. I think it was Voltaire who said “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him,” but I wasn’t there. Someone told me that. I have no way to prove it. Perhaps we had to invent Voltaire, too.
Some ancient texts talk about Adam’s first wife Lilith. She was dismissed because she refused to be subservient to Adam. Sounds like my kinda lady. Some Believers accept her as part of the story, and some don’t. Who is to say which version of the story is true? If you must believe, which one do you believe? Can you believe both? Maybe believe there was a Lilith but her name was really Steve? I dunno.
Maybe Cain didn’t slay Abel. Maybe God smoted Abel and then told Adam and Eve that Cain did it. Reading the rest of the bible, that would be more in keeping with God being a ripe ass all the time, especially in the Old Testament. Who is to say which story is more canonical or apocryphal than any other? They’re just stories. We can’t prove or disprove them. We can only retell them to each other and entertain one another but to assume without any evidence that any of this is true is just as ludicrous as reading any work of fiction and believing that somewhere somehow, it’s all true. Of course, given some speculative and apocryphal interpretations of quantum physics, an infinite number of alternate universes is vaguely plausible. So maybe ALL of it is true. Just not here.