[From JohnS, responding to Ira's Posting]
A rebuttal to “Who was Cain’s wife.”
Ira makes the same mistake Atheists, Secular Humanists and Agnostics and their ilk, do when they want to debate Religion vs. Science. He states: “…found what appears to be the official Christian answer. Adam and Eve were the first humans, Adam Created by God and Eve by God from Adam's rib. They bore many children (perhaps 33 sons and 23 daughters) over their 900-plus year lives. So, Cain married one of his sisters (or perhaps a niece).” He assumes that all Christians believe in the literal reading of the bible. Only a small minority of Christians so believe – the fundamentalist, creationists, those that purport intelligent design. The large majority of Christians interpret the bible more loosely. Even the pope has stated that evolution is an acceptable scientific view.
In my view, I believe the Bible consists of three or maybe four sources. A portion is God’s word, such as the ten commandments which I as a Christian must accept, although I don’t necessarily have to believe that God personally handed them to Moses, lore from the pre-history of the Jewish people, lore as the Jewish people moved from a belief in multiple gods to a belief in monotheism and possibly as a vehicle to bring the tribes of Israel together in a single religion.
We must also understand that the Old Testament was written at a time far different than today. That beyond providing the word of God, it provided an explanation for the creation of the universe and man’s place in language understandable to the people of the time, an explanation of the universe similar to that found in all religions. It also provided a basis for uniting the various tribes of Israel. It was not intended as a scientific text that could scientifically stand the test of time.
If we are to discuss the bible, we can do so as a religious text. We can try to determine God’s intent for man. We can also discuss it as a historical document to determine what we can learn of the early days of the Jewish people. We cannot discuss it as a scientific document pertinent today.
We can discuss Science vs. Religion from several aspects. I can say that I believe God created the universe, but can’t prove it. You can say the universe was created through some natural means but can’t prove it however, that doesn’t accomplish a lot. A more interesting discussion might be God’s place in the evolution of the universe. Did he or some natural cause simply start the universe going and then walk away or has he, as God, periodically interceded in the progress of evolution, as we believe that God created man? Is science God’s means for man understanding nature? If so, can we say that science is an expression of God’s design? That raises many interesting questions.
In the later portion of his posting, he discusses the evolution of man from apes. It is true that as a religious person I must try to reconcile God creating man with the evidence of evolution. I might argue that God as the creator of the universe created man through natural evolutionary steps. While this explanation might be acceptable, I find it a stretch rather, I would suggest that from time to time God has interceded in the flow of evolution and that He did so in the evolutionary transition from homo-erectus to homo-sapiens God interceded adding the characteristics that make us uniquely human – a giant evolutionary leap. The stories of Eden, Adam and Eve and their progeny are simply a Biblical attempt to explain the origins of man. As Ira said, most religions have similar stories.
A human secularist might argue that the leap from homo-erectus to homo sapiens even though a giant step was purely a natural event. I can’t accept that, the leap was too great and the time spans too short, a few thousand years. Evolution requires time, often long time spans and requires changing circumstances and stress which benefit a portion of a species allowing them to evolve into a new more advanced species. From my readings, I see no environmental or other natural stress occurring at the time of the transition which would justify the leap from homo-erectus to homo sapiens.