Saturday, August 20, 2011

Creation: the cooking, clothing, and crops of Eden

The Creation Myth.  Adam and Eve in the garden- there is no death, and Adam and Eve are naked.  Then, the First Family introduces sin.  In comes the Atoning One.  Foreshadowing his own sacrificial death, Jesus introduces death into the world, slaying animals to make coats of skins for Adam and Eve.  Never before had the Garden of Eden (or indeed the earth) seen death.  Sacrificial death makes possible the skin that covers sin, that covered Adam and Eve's nakedness- only it would be the Sacrificial Lamb, not the the sacrificial Eden animal, who would cover mankind spiritually.  As the skin of the animal Jehovah slew covered Adam and Eve physically after they discovered their nakedness, so Christ's "skin," made possible by his death, covers Adam and Eve's posterity after we discover our sin. 

The Creation Myth is rich with symbolic reference to much of what makes our species remarkably unique. What are some of these "hallmarks of human evolution" that make us unique?  May I suggest:

- Clothes.  Other creatures create "clothes" by eating: we are about the only species to do so without ingestion.
- Cooking. Heribert Watzke presented a compelling case that humans are the one species that evolved to cook their food.  He proposes, as have others, that we be categorized as coctivores (eat what is cooked) rather than omnivores (eats both plant and animal tissue).  Our teeth aren't strong/sharp enough to eat raw meat (not to mention our guts), and our molars aren't strong and broad enough for large quantities of rough plant matter.  Our weak-sauce guts and dentition needs mushy food- and cooking is what has enabled Homo sapiens (and related hominids) to move beyond fruit-filled jungles to get it. 
- Writing.  Though I'm a little fuzzy on the timing of Homo sapien speciation (e.g. some symbols were used by hominins before sapiens, but full-blown writing succeeded their emergence?), I bet that complex language and written communication are associated with our species's radiation. 
- Agriculture.  With the exception of ants and some other established gardening species, the breadth and reliance of humans on agriculture is a fourth hallmark.

Connections to the Creation Myth:
- Clothes: Adam and Eve had a coat of skins to start them out when they parted company with the Garden.  Adam and Eve were naked previously.
- Cooking: You can't convert seed grains into bread without cooking.  Presumably Adam and Eve subsisted on fruit before leaving the Garden.
- Writing: Adam and Eve had a Book of Remembrance.  There is no evidence of their writing before leaving, (though there was language).
- Agriculture: The First Family tilled the earth and ate bread by the sweat of their brows.  There's no evidence of crops before their exodus.

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