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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Science of God Schroeder Part 4

Schroeder, forgive me if  I am wrong, but my impression is Schroeder accepts the scientifically based theory of the sequence of humanity. Paraphrasing Schroeder around  7 million years ago an early tree dwelling primate led to a common ancestor of chimps and Cro-Magnon. About 1-2 million years ago a creature that walks upright appears. Cro-Magnon look alike appeared 50-100 thousand years ago; Neanderthal appeared  about 150,000 years ago and disappeared 40,000 years ago.  Schroeder then believes about 6,000 years ago God infuses a soul into a Cro-Magnon type being turning him into Adam. (I have used Schroeder’s time line and description which may not be currently accurate, but suffices for this post).

Before getting to the main topic of this post consider this:

"Homo sapiens originated in Africa, where it reached anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago and began to exhibit full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago. McHenry, H.M (2009). "Human Evolution". In Michael Ruse & Joseph Travis. Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-674-03175-3." cited from Wikipedia - Homo Sapians

In other words, 200,000 years ago our ancestors are essentially no different than us. So why does Schroeder say god infuses a soul into a Cro Magnon type creature about 6000 years ago to make Adam ? For all practical purposes including behavioral modernity  “Adam” was extant about  200,000 years ago.

Schroeder does not provide any logistics. For example: Was it one Cro-Magnon type male or many that got a soul ? How does Schroeder provide for Eve ? How would his Eve theory reconcile the making of Eve as per the Bible genesis 2:22 where Eve is formed out a body part taken from Adam ?  

My prior posts Part 1Part 2  and  Part 3, have discussed Schroeder specious use of Jewish texts.

This post will discuss the last of the  remaining Jewish texts cited by Schroeder,  Ramban (Nahmanides born. 1194) commentary on Genesis 2:7 and 6:4. My copy of Ramban is (Ramban translated by Rabbi Chavel 1971-1976).

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Before doing that lets see what Ramban says about Genesis 1:26: [And God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.] [The word  “us”  implies some other being is around and therefore problematic in strict monotheism].  Ramban provides an explanation.  It is referring to the earth, to bring forth the body from it’s elements as it did with cattle and beasts.

In other words, it seems according to Ramban there is a separate making of Adam (by God and with the earth),  and Adam did not evolve from prior beasts nor was he ever such a beast (i.e a Cro-Magnon type). Rather, Adam was a separate making from the earth. Where can  Schroeder’s Pre Adam Soul-less humans enter this scenario ?

Perhaps God made Cro-Magnon 50,000-150,000 years ago from the earth. But this would have to a plurality of Cro-Magnons since many existed, and thus it would not be consistent with the Torah, that a single man Adam was made. Also, it would not be consistent with evolution that says Cro-Magnon was derived from prior primates.

Perhaps God guided earlier primates to evolve into Cro-Magnons. But that would not be consistent with Ramban saying God makes Adam from the earth and also Adam as a separate making.

So neither of those two possibilities seem to be internally consistent with the Torah, Ramban commentary on Genesis 1:26, evolution  and Schroeder’s own theory.

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We now pursue one of the  texts Schroeder does cite, Genesis 6:4 [The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown]. Schroeder implies  on page 142 the Nephilim are Cro - Magnon and since Cro-Magnon  lacked a soul,  Adam would find them inferior in spirit if not in body. His support  is reference #15 which  is  Ramban’s commentary  on Genesis 6:4. Lets see what Ramban actually says.

Ramban summarizes Rashi that the Nephilim fell and caused the downfall of men.  Others say the heart of man fell from fear of them. However,  Ramban provides a different explanation. Since God was the father of Adam and his wife, they are God’s  direct handiwork and therefore had great perfection in height and strength.  They begot sons and daughters and these men were also of great perfection of  height and strength. But then Idol worship began and this weakened men. Meanwhile, the great perfection men begot by force with the beautiful tall and healthy women. Later on these great perfection men begot with inferior women and this resulted in shorter weaker people - the Nephilim. Moreover,  Ramban also cites Midrash Rabbah Genesis (which cites Talmud Yoma 67b)  that angles fell from their place of holiness in heaven and Ramban explains this fits the Genesis verse best.

So according to Ramban the best explanation is the Nephilim are fallen angels. Even Ramban’s other explanation would have the Nephilim coming after Adam as opposed to Schroeder’s claim they are Cro-Magnon type and thus predate Adam. It seems Schroeder has misread Ramban.  

{ETA 2/1/2014 Nephilim refer to some sort of male creatures from the divine realm, a common myth of mixed divine-human breeding producing bigger and stronger than humans.  (Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation 2001 by Richard E, Friedman Page 33)}

{ETA 2/26/2014 "...in Numbers the Nephilim are thought of as giants who are offspring of miscegenation between gods and women - again touches on common ground with Greek and other mythologies." Page 27 Genesis - Translation by Robert Alter 1996}

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On page 140 reference #10 Schroeder also cites Ramban’s commentary on Genesis 2:7 [Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.]   This is to support Schroeder's  notion that before the soul there was something like a man that was not quite human, i.e Schroeder’s Soul-less Humans (Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal types).

Before discussing this Ramban commentary I remind the reader what has been said above regarding Ramban’s commentary on Genesis 1:26 which refutes Schroeder’s’s interpretation of Ramban commentary of Genesis 2:7.

Lets see what Ramban actually says on Genesis 2:7. 

Ramban says the plain meaning of Gen 2:7 is God formed man of  dust and man lay like a stone. Then God breathed life into him, [nothing about pre-Adam soul-less humans]. Ramban also discusses the nature of souls and how many a person has. 

Some say there are 3 souls. First the souls of growth that even a plant may have -a force of growth. Second the soul of movement as animals may have. Third the rational soul.

He cites Ibn Ezra that the soul is of 3 parts. 

(The notes say according to Rambam in Shmunah Prakim Chapt 1  there is only one soul in man). [Presumably Rambam would not agree with the following 2 soul theory which is  the basis of Schroeder’s comment].

The Ramban then discusses a 2 soul theory. First the Nesahma - the moving spirit. Second the Nefesh - the rational soul, the speaking soul.  After God forms man as a creature capable of movement and perception [presumably with the moving spirit soul], he breathed into him a living soul from God. This living soul provides speech and understanding. [But it is virtually certain  mankind had speech and understanding over 6000 years ago and so Schroeder’s hypothesis falls apart again here]. Ramban goes on to say : “Or, it may be that the verse is stating that man wholly became a living soul and was transformed into another man, as all his formations were from now on, directed towards this soul”.

First note that when Schroeder quotes (on his page 125 and 140) Ramban he leaves out the important  theological portion “.... , as all his formations were from now on, directed towards this soul.” In this latter paragraph Ramban has been speculating on a possible interpretation of  the making of Adam. First Adam is made capable of movement and perception through one soul. Then another soul is provided for speech and understanding. Ramban’s last sentence “Or, it may mean...” seems to be providing a theological lesson that the second soul was to direct Adam’s existence towards speech and understanding. Ramban does not say there was a man like creature that was transformed. He says man himself had one soul and was then provided with a second soul that redirects him. Seems more like theology than biology.

Schroeder’s Hypothesis  would have you believe that Ramban is speculating that God brought forth Cro-Magnon/Neanderthal from beasts (or perhaps Schroeder believes they were a separate making by God ?)  150,000 - 50,000 years ago, waited 150,000-50,000  years and then gave one (or perhaps many ?) a second soul making the Adam of Genesis.

Besides all the logistical questions, some of which have been alluded to in this and prior posts on this topic, Schroeder’s  hypothesis itself seems quite inconsistent with Ramban’s commentary and the Torah. However, Ramban’s actual commentary on Genesis 2:7 does seem consistent with the Torah and with Ramban’s interpretation of Genesis 1:26.

Continued here Part 5

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