Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Creatocrap from James Nienhuis, Article 1, part 2

Link to Part 1

Nearly all cultures surveyed by ethnographers have a creation myth. They have some common features. They delineate a "time" before the creation of humanity when the universe was populated by magical beings, and then some reason these gods decided to create humans. They give some explanation for death, for another example. When the creation took place is either left open (long long ago, etc.), or ignored altogether. The creation story in Genesis is of the latter type actually making no temporal references at all.

Humans need reliable freshwater. Nearly all humans live where there are rivers. Even in tropical regions, rivers and the bays at the mouths of rivers are preferred living places. We see the same thing in archaeological site locations. Nearly all Mesopotamian agricultural societies relied on irrigation following the major drying trend from about 6,000 years before present, to about 3,000 years B.P. There is an interesting geological correlation here, 6K YBP is about when the sea level raise from the end of the last major glaciations stabilized to current average pool levels. The Neolithic origin of agriculture was about 2,000 years before that. It seems obvious that as declining rainfall, and then declining river flow reduced available water for crops, irrigation was developed as a substitute. The oldest recorded creation myth from Sumeria, the Epic of Atrahasis, rationalized the creation of mankind as workers used by the gods to maintain their irrigation canals.

It is a simple, and obvious fact that even during long term droughts, rivers will flood eventually. To a Neolithic farmer the flood that washed away her crops, house, and perhaps most of her community was one that did destroy her whole world. To people who had no idea how large to world really was, the "whole world" was just a little larger than the distance they had walked. It should be obvious to the most naive observer that all cultures will have a flood story about the "big one" that destroyed the world. And if everyone had died there was nobody to tell the tale, so there will always be a hero protected by the gods.

Mr. Nienhuis spins the notion in the last of his first article that all the creation myths, and all the flood myths originated from the biblical account in Genesis 1-11. This isn't original. I suspect that as agricultural populations expanded these myths of floods, and gods, and paradises expanded. The declining nomads, and hunter and gatherer populations under physical and cultural assault, retreated to marginal habitats while replacing their old origin stories with those of the more powerful invaders. But, the Genesis flood stories were themselves derived from the Sumerian, and Babylonian myths we know today as the Epic of Atrahasis, and of Gilgamesh.

Mr. Nienhuis also ventures into the weirdness with unsupportable claims that Einstein's General Relativity, and "the deterioration rates of cosmological entities" are supports for a thousands of years old creation. He then scattered a slew of falsehoods about the "scientific support" for a global flood, lack of transitional fossils, and the "recent dispersion from the Mesopotamian region" of all humanity. We finally reach the end of his sermonette with his pitch to "READ MY BOOK." Always a classic. After all he presents "extremely compelling information" that "science is severely in error regarding earth and cosmological history."

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