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A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part XI-B): The Garden of Eden as an account of the formation of the human brain

When I first realized that the story of the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve, was an account of the formation and functioning of the human brain, the rest of the Scriptures made a whole lot more sense – everything from the creation and revelation, to the Kingdom of God.

The apparent inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in current Christian theology evaporated, especially the problem of the eschatological notion of the Kingdom of God (Schweitzer 1914).

This article shows how the allegorical explanation of the human brain in the story of the Garden of Eden conforms perfectly with the neuroscientific understanding of the functioning of the human brain outlined in the previous article (Part XI-A).

Genesis 1 as a reductionist account of the origins of the universe and life

Parts II to IX of these articles demonstrated how the interpretations of the creation story, primarily from two Jewish scholars, Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD) and Philo Judaeus of Alexandria (who lived at about the time of Jesus), accurately reflected the current scientific understanding of the origin of the universe and life.

In respect of Genesis chapter 1, Parts II to VII adopted the reductionist interpretation advanced by Nahmanides, best exemplified by his description of the creation of man:

The correct simple meaning of the word, ‘let us make,’ is that which you have already been shown, to know (above, verse 1) that God created something from nothing on the first day alone, and afterwards He formed and made [everything] from the fundamental elements.” (Nahmanides 2015, on 1:26).

However, we departed from Nahmanides’ interpretation with regard to what actually existed after the six ‘days’ of creation. In that respect, Part VIII adopted Philo’s explanation that Genesis 2:4-5 should be interpreted to mean that nothing existed in the form we would recognize as life, such as plants, trees, animals or humans, after the six ‘days’ (Philo 2015, XLIV (129 – 130)). The methodology of Genesis 1 precludes it.

Applying the strict methodology of the first chapter of Genesis, we adopted an interpretation of the account of the ‘creation’ of “man” (Genesis 1:26-30) as a physicalist and reductive explanation of the three principal faculties of the human brain.

  • The “image of God” symbolizes the ‘programming’ of primitive human DNA with a neurological moral network.
  • The ‘programming’ of primitive human DNA with a capacity to reason is symbolized by God ‘speaking’ to the male and female He had just created.
  • ‘Programming’ primitive human DNA with instincts is symbolized by what God says to the newly created human beings. “Be fruitful and multiply” represents the instinct to reproduce; “replenish the earth” symbolizes the instinct for survival and security, and the instinct to nurture and protect our offspring in order to perpetuate the species; “subdue the earth and have dominion” symbolizes the human instinct to subdue and control our environment, but regrettably, not excluding others of the species, which translates into an instinct to conquer; God explaining what He had given to the human beings for their survival and benefit, and what He had given to the “beasts of the earth,” symbolizes primitive human DNA being ‘programmed’ with a knowledge of how the physical world functions, and an instinct to pursue that knowledge.

This ‘programming’ of human DNA with instinct is central to the question of good and evil. Since ‘evil’ is reason in the service of primitive human instinct, yet primitive instinct is a necessary requirement for survival, and not in itself ‘evil’, God does not create ‘evil’.

The previous articles demonstrated that these various faculties of the human brain are a product of the physical laws that created and sustain the universe (both the quantum and Classical (Newtonian) laws), but also an “image” of those laws. In that respect, we adopted Philo’s interpretation of the “image of God”:

The mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe as its primitive model” (Philo 2015, XXIII (69)).

But as we saw in Part VIII, if the human mind, as an ‘image’ of the “mind of the universe,” is conscious, then the “mind of the universe” must also be conscious. That would resolve the scientific dilemma of how the “fundamental laws of quantum physics morph into the Classical (Newtonian) laws” (see Greene 2005,199, and Weinberg 1994,84). The observation necessary to effect the transformation is made by a conscious universe. The words “And God saw” at each crucial stage of the creation of the universe refer to the conscious universe effecting the observation. However, as mentioned in the previous article, that does not mean that God is redundant. The question remains as to how the initial matter in the universe, from which everything else was to be created, was itself transformed from being subject to quantum laws to being governed by the Classical laws that give the universe consciousness. It seems that the “spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2) moving across the waters must symbolize an initial observation, or action, by God, which created and ‘programmed’ the original matter and space (subject to quantum laws) with the laws that created the conscious “mind of the universe.”

However, the evidence suggests that all the faculties of the human brain constitute an ‘image’ of the laws that govern the universe, whereas the “image of God” specifically symbolizes the neurological moral network only.

The previous articles cited the scientific evidence that supports this reductive explanation of the ‘creation ’of primitive DNA, which has the necessary properties to transform into the various life-forms we see all around us, including the primitive DNA that created the human brain with these three distinct faculties. Part A adduced the neurological evidence of those neurological faculties.

The evidence thus supports Philo’s version of Genesis, which argues that nothing existed after the six ‘days’ in the form that we would recognize as life. All that existed was the primitive DNA that was ‘programmed’ to develop into the various life-forms that would inhabit the Earth. Research showing that what geneticists previously thought of as “junk DNA” actually consists of genetic “switches” that activate dormant genes, or ‘program’ spare genes, lends further support for Philo’s interpretation (Zimmer 2014).

Philo described Genesis 2:4-5 as follows:

Does [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses. For before the earth was green, he says that this same thing, verdure, existed in the nature of things, and before the grass sprang up in the field, there was grass though it was not visible. And we must understand in the case of everything else which is decided on by the external senses, there were elder forms and motions previously existing, according to which the things which were created were fashioned and measured out” (Philo 2015, XLIV (129-130)).

One, or Two, Creation stories?

Previous articles thus adopted the position that Genesis 2 and 3 are a continuation of Genesis 1.

Genesis 1 is an account of the creation of the physical laws that determined how the universe and life would function in order to achieve the intended purpose, while Genesis 2 and 3 are an anthropological account of the development of man from the initial primitive DNA into modern human beings.

In Genesis 1, God’s actions (the words “And God said/saw”) refer to the conscious “mind of the universe” implementing the laws that would govern and sustain the universe and life by way of observation, while references to God taking actions in Genesis 2 and 3 refer to the laws that had been established by the conscious “mind of the universe” beginning to operate in order to give effect to the intended purpose and destiny of the creation.

On that basis, at the end of the six ‘days’ (or seven if we count the ‘resting day’), the Earth existed only in a pre-liquid water form, although all the primitive DNA necessary to create a large variety of life was present but dormant. That is confirmed by the words that follow the statement that grass etc had been created, but was not present – “for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth” (Genesis 2:5).

Then, when the Earth had cooled sufficiently, water appeared: “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Genesis 2:6).

Liquid water provided the right environment for the dormant DNA to begin to develop. Over time, the DNA that was ‘programmed’ to become human began to form, going through various stages. The symbolism of God breathing life into man to make him a “living soul” suggests that the soul is a function of the physical brain (see below).

The Garden of Eden as the formation of the human brain

In Part VIII, we saw that the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-14) symbolizes the formation of the human brain.

The “trees” that are “made to grow” perfectly correspond to the various neurological faculties. Those that are “pleasant to the sight, and good for food” refer to the network of instincts in the brain. Referring to these trees as being “pleasant” and “good for food” relate to the way these instincts are activated – the prospect of pleasure or the fear of pain.

The “tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the neurological moral network.

The “tree of life” refers to the reason network, which is the network that creates the mind and soul. The “man” was not prohibited from eating of this tree because, while the neurological moral network is only subconsciously activated, the mind is automatically structured for survival; the “man” automatically ‘obeys’ the impulses received from it. Only once the neurological moral network is consciously activated does a positive and conscious effort become necessary to structure the reason network in such a way as to ensure the survival of the mind as a conscious ‘living’ soul after physical death.

The river that flows out of Eden “to water the garden” (Genesis 2:10) clearly refers to the nervous system which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to function. In A River out of Eden, obviously a ridicule of this verse, Richard Dawkins charts a “river of DNA” that eventually resulted in human DNA through a series of mutations (Dawkins 2014). Dawkins’ “river of DNA” is an account of the development of human DNA from the initial primitive DNA to modern man, whereas The Garden of Eden is actually describing the initial primitive DNA after it had formed into human DNA but which, at this point, was still dormant. That is symbolized by God putting the man into the garden the first time (Genesis 2:8).

The second time the man is put into the Garden, he is put there to “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The first time he was just put there. The reason is that the first time symbolizes human DNA having appeared in the first of what would become the human species, but which was still dormant. These human beings would have had fully formed brains that would be recognizable as human, but would still have acted entirely on their primitive instincts, much as their primate ‘relatives’ would have done.

The second time man is put into the Garden symbolizes the first human being in whom the neurological moral network became subconsciously active. That is symbolized by the verse which immediately follows “man” having been put into the Garden the second time: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

In the original Hebrew, the words translated as “thou mayest freely eat,” and “thou shalt surely die,” are actually “eating thou shalt eat,” and “dying thou shalt die,” respectively. And that is important in respect of the symbolism in Genesis 2 and 3.

The symbolism of God commanding the man relates to the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network in the first human being/s who experienced it, and the effect it had on them. The recent discovery of Naledi man in South Africa may well be the remains of these first human beings with fully functioning neurological moral networks (Barras 2015). As Lee Berger, the head of the team that discovered Naledi man said, the fact that they buried their dead indicates “that naledi individuals recognised their own mortality and the other self that comes with death.” If that is the case, it would support the argument that the activation of the neurological moral network, even subconsciously, has the effect of causing a consciousness of mortality, and thus a consciousness of existing.

The original wording in Genesis 2:16-17 symbolizes that neurological event. Until that moment, human beings with still dormant neurological moral networks would have hunted, gathered and consumed on a day to day basis for survival. They would not have had the capacity or inclination to do otherwise. But once the neurological moral network was subconsciously activated, along with the other peculiarly human instincts (to conquer and seek knowledge), it also caused an enhanced capacity to reason in order to service those instincts. That means that these first human beings would have been tempted to cater to the demands from their instincts, for example, to seek greater security by appropriating to themselves more than they required for day to day survival. Their enhanced capacity for reason would also have been susceptible to the temptation to indulge their primitive instincts in excess, solely for the purpose of enjoying the pleasure of doing so.

However, the neurological moral network would have subconsciously caused them to refrain from doing so because they knew it was wrong. The words “eating thou shalt eat” symbolizes the moral imperative, dictated by the neurological moral network, that they should not appropriate to themselves in excess of what they could consume, especially not to the detriment of other life, or their environment. Neither should they kill other life unless it was absolutely necessary for their survival, and never in excess, or for the purpose of indulging their appetite for pleasure beyond the requirements of survival, or to allay their fear of pain.

The command that the man should not eat of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” or in “dying [he would] die,” symbolizes the effect caused by the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network. These first human beings became aware that certain actions were wrong even though no other human being had declared such actions to be wrong, and there was no authority to impose a consequence for committing such acts. Moreover, with this newly acquired knowledge, they would have noted that many of the actions of the very species from which they had emerged were wrong, yet there were no consequences to them for indulging in such behavior.

The effect of the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network was to compel them to recognize that the consequences would be imposed at some time other than during their lifetime, and the only other time could be after death. That would have caused an awareness of their own mortality, thus also causing a consciousness of being alive.

Genesis 2:18 to 25 records how the newly activated neurological moral network began to direct human behavior, and ultimately, human destiny.

Verses 18-20 imply that the activation of the neurological moral network occurred in one, or a number of individuals, who were isolated from one another, hence the reference to “the man” being alone. But this does not mean that each of them was physically alone. They would have been the offspring of members of the group or tribe from which they emerged. As Philo says, “all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus” (Philo 2015, XXIV (76)). This first “man” was thus the first to assume the “distinctive [human] form.”

These first human beings would have recognized that they were different to the species from which they had emerged.

The reason that it was “not good that the man should be alone” is that his instinct was to reproduce, but there wouldn’t have been a female of the species with fully ‘matured’ human DNA to reproduce with. Genesis suggests that this search for a mate activated other elements of his brain. The words “I will make him an help meet for him” symbolizes the activation of the ability to reason at a higher level, compelling this first human to examine the life around him in the hope of finding another living thing like him with whom he could reproduce. However, by examining the various different species around him, this first human activated another latent characteristic of the brain – the language module. Adam started ascribing names to the animals.

But Adam’s search for a mate proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:20). So it seems that this first of the human species must have settled for a mate from one of the more primitive species from which he had emerged, even though she would have been a different ‘species’ in some major respects. As a consequence, his fully ‘programmed’ human DNA must have again become dormant: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof” (Genesis 2:21).

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep suggests that the fully formed human DNA he was carrying around probably passed through several generations while remaining dormant. So a number of the pre-human species may well have had this dormant DNA. Then the dormant DNA must have been activated in both a male and female at the same time, and in close physical proximity. And immediately they recognized each other as being different to the species around them, and virtual mirror-images of each other, except one was male and the other female. As Philo may have said, they would have “beheld” each other “as in a mirror” (Philo 2015, XXIV (76)).

However, at this stage, these early humans had not consciously activated the neurological moral network, so there would have been an innocence about them. They would have lived harmoniously with nature, and others like them. They would not have fenced-off portions of the Earth to claim as their own. They would not have sought to quell their insecurities and fears by building walls around themselves. They would not have sought security in subjugating others to their control and power. They did not even need clothes to display their vanity or to prevent lusting after each other’s bodies – they did not lust, because they knew it was wrong: “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

They would not have been in need of laws, because they knew the law. They would have known that making their own laws would simply be a ruse to violate the universal law which applied to everything and everybody.

That, suggests Genesis, was the state of the human race before primitive human instincts got the better of some.

The San people of Southern Africa, also known as Bushmen, who are the direct descendants of these first human beings who never consciously activated their neurological moral network, are living testimony to this interpretation of Genesis 2.

Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these peoples as the ancestors of all human beings, although perhaps the rest of us are the descendants of that part of the species that went astray, and they are the descendants of those who did not. A recent extensive study supports that position (Choi 2012). Other research into the San people’s culture and beliefs provides evidence that they respond automatically to the impulses of the neurological moral network, so they don’t need courts of law and systems of justice (See Brody 2000 and Lewis-Williams 2004 & 2015). Reason is not in the service of their primitive instincts, so their minds, and thus their souls, are automatically structured on the neurological moral network (Lewis-Williams 2010).

The San should be contrasted with that branch of the species that did activate their neurological moral networks. That is addressed in Genesis 3.

Activation of the neurological moral network – ‘original sin’

As we saw in Part IX, the reason it was wrong to acquire “the knowledge of good and evil” is that to awaken the neurological moral network, some action had to be taken which offended against it. According to Genesis, that action related to pleasure – “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise …” (Genesis 3:6). All the emphasized words relate to pleasure, and pleasure relates to instinct (Philo 2015, LVI (160)).

The story of “the woman’s” temptation clearly refers to the interaction between the morality, instinct and reason networks. The serpent represents the instinct for reproduction. The symbolism of the serpent ‘speaking’ relates to the allure of pleasure to be had by indulging the instinct for reproduction. And “the woman” seeing the attractions of the tree symbolizes the application of reason to justify taking actions that she ‘knew’ were wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree symbolizes the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of our actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it.

When the first humans succumbed to the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instinct for reproduction, the neurological moral network was fully activated. This is symbolized by the words “and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Genesis then tells us that once the neurological moral network had been consciously activated, it gave rise to a sense of guilt. Adam and “the woman” are then said to have done what people do to this day in order to justify their actions; they “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden” (Genesis 3:8). They attempted to escape the guilt aroused by their actions by seeking justification in their primitive instincts; in “the trees of the garden.” They ‘reason’ their way to a justification by attempting to convince themselves that they should not feel guilty because what they did was perfectly natural – just like the animals around them.

But the guilt could not be easily assuaged, so reason seeks to divert the blame – Adam blamed “the woman,” and “the woman” blamed the serpent. In ‘excusing’ her behavior by claiming that “the serpent beguiled” her, “the woman” defends her actions by ‘reasoning’ that the attractions of the pleasures she imagined could be had by indulging her primitive instincts were simply a ‘natural’ response to a ‘natural’ desire. But attempting to excuse their actions failed to silence their consciences.

Once they had crossed the moral threshold, no longer did they simply respond to an intuitive restraint to their actions from the neurological moral network. They had acquired an ability to identify specific actions as right or wrong. Yet, they were seduced by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instincts, and could apply reason to justify doing so.

The ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage to their primitive instincts. From then on, human beings would be driven to provide for their survival and security by relentless toil. The instincts for survival and security generate a fear of being unable to provide for themselves, and a fear of anything and anyone perceived to be a threat.

The previous mental tranquility of intuitively refraining from actions because they knew they were wrong, was replaced with an obsessive preoccupation with the pleasures and fears aroused by those instincts.

The expulsion from the Garden of Eden to prevent “man” from eating of the “tree of life” symbolizes the effect of the neurological moral network being consciously activated. No longer is the faculty of reason, and thus the mind, automatically structured as an ‘image’ of the neurological moral network. In order to structure the mind to reflect the structure of the neurological moral network, we have to actively and consciously seek to do so.

Re-connecting to the neurological moral network – seeking the Kingdom of God

Other parts of the Scriptures perfectly support this interpretation, as does the way in which the Scriptures advocate providing for the ‘survival’ of the soul.

Many passages in the Scriptures lend support to the argument that the neurological moral network is the ‘vehicle’ through which human beings come to know God, and can provide for the survival of the mind as a conscious, ‘living’ soul after physical death.

Jesus said that “the Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17: 20 & 21).

Deuteronomy says a similar thing regarding the Law: For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deuteronomy 30: 11 – 14).

The parable of the mustard seed likens the Kingdom of God (or heaven) to a tree, which closely resembles neurological networks: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (see Mat 13: 31, 32; Mark 4: 30; Luke 13: 18).

That verse, and others (Mat 13: 33; Luke 13: 20), portray the Kingdom of God as something that starts out tiny and has to be nurtured in order to grow into a vehicle to survive physical death. But we need to seek it to find it:  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to thee” (Mat 6: 33; Luke 12: 31). Furthermore, Kingdom of God is something we discover during our lifetimes (Mat 7:13 & 14; 13: 39), and if we ask for it and seek it, we can find it (Mat 7: 7; Luke 11: 9), but we should be aware of the dangers of servicing our primitive human instincts: “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Mat 13:22).

The references to being “born again” at John 3:3-13 relate to the activation of the neurological moral network, especially verses 6 and 8. The description at verse 8 refers to the “voice” of the demands of the morality network. These verses suggest that even if reason is in ‘bondage’ to the demands of human instincts (the instinct networks), it can still be activated (“born again”) in order to ensure that the mind is structured so as to survive physical death (to “enter into the kingdom of God”).

Jesus warns of the consequences of servicing our instincts, even if it is ‘profitable.’ He asks, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mat 16: 26). Proverbs issues the same warning: “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Proverbs 8: 35 & 36).

The Bible closes with the same theme of providing for the survival of soul following physical death: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelations 22: 14). We “do his commandments” when reason is in service of the neurological moral network, which has the effect of structuring the mind to survive physical death as a ‘living’ soul.

However, although servicing the neurological moral network has implications for each person in respect to the soul, if there is a God, then it is also likely to be the mechanism through which God chose to reveal to us His purpose for the universe and humanity. Servicing the neurological moral network is how human beings can collectively realize that purpose. That is the objective of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Mat 6: 10).

Conclusion

The story of the Garden of Eden only makes any sense when it is understood to relate to the formation of the human brain. But more compelling is that such an understanding of the story conforms in every respect to the current neuroscientific understanding of the functioning of the brain.

However, this does present some problems for current Christian theology. Current theology will find it increasingly difficult to find accommodation with science if it insists on holding to current doctrines. Unless it can bring itself to re-asses those doctrines, it will render itself increasingly irrelevant.

Unfortunately, there are many vested interests at stake. But that cannot stand in the way of each person deciding for him or herself what the Scriptures mean. Such ‘rebellion’ against the institutionalization of God was in fact the initial cause for the Scriptures, going back to Abraham. The prophets condemned the rituals of their times (see Isaiah 1:10-15 and Jeremiah 2:8-13). And Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mat 15:9).

Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we may just be doing the same?

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Joseph BH McMillan     http://josephbhmcmillan.com

This article is based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan

Bibliography

Barras, Colin. 2015. “New species of extinct human found in cave may rewrite history.” New Scientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730383-700-new-species-extinct-human-found-in-cave-may-rewrite-history/.

Brody, H. 2000. The Other Side of Eden: Hunter-gatherers, farmers and the shaping of the world. London: Faber and Faber.

Choi, Charles Q. 2012. “African Hunter-Gatherers Are Offshoots of Earliest Human Split.” Live Science. September 12. http://www.livescience.com/23378-african-hunter-gatherers-human-origins.html.

Dawkins, Richard. 2014. A River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (SCIENCE MASTERS). Weidenfeld & Nicolson; Reissued 2001 edition .

Greene, Brian. 2005. The fabric of the cosmos. Penguin.

Lewis-Williams, David and Sam Challis. 2011. Deciphering Ancient Minds: The Mystery of San Bushman Rock Art. Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Lewis-Williams, David. 2010. Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion. Thames & Hudson.

—. 2004. San Spirituality: Roots, Expression, and Social Consequences. AltaMira Press.

Lewis-Williams, JD. 2015. Myth and Meaning: San-Bushman Folklore in Global Context. Left Coast Press.

Nahmanides. 2015. “Ramban on Genesis.” Seferia.org. http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.26?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all.

Philo. 2015. “On the Creation.” EarlyJewishWritings.com. http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/philo/book1.html.

Schweitzer, Albert. 1914. The Mystery of the Kingdom of God. New York: prometheus Books (1985).

Weinberg, Steven. 1994. Dreams of a Final Theory. 1. New York: Vintage Books.

Zimmer, Carl. 2014. “The Case for Junk DNA.” National Geographic. September 5. http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/09/the-case-for-junk-dna/.

 

 

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Chapter 2 – The Garden of Eden: the Manifestation of the Laws of Physics as the Human Brain

The first thing we have to address in Chapter 2 of Genesis is whether, at the end of the sixth day, anything actually existed in a form we would recognize today as ‘reality’.

We should recall what Philo said: “Does [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses.[1]

Philo was talking about verses 4 and 5 of Genesis 2.

We should just remind ourselves of those verses:

These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground.

The physicist Max Tegmark claims something very similar in his new book Our Mathematical Universe.

Tegmark claims that “reality isn’t just described by mathematics – it is mathematics …”[2] And that includes human beings. In Tegmark’s Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH), “mathematical structure is our external reality, rather than being merely a description of it. This equivalence between physical and mathematical existence means that if a mathematical structure contains a self-aware substructure, it will perceive itself as existing in a physically real universe, just as you and I do.[3] And that, says Tegmark, means that “Through us humans … our universe has gained an awareness of itself, and we humans have created the concept of meaning. So in this sense, our universe doesn’t give life meaning, but life gives our universe meaning.[4]

And finally, on a note not dissimilar to the one made in respect of Day Six regarding morality and physics, Tegmark says this about mathematical structures: “we don’t invent mathematical structures – we discover them, and invent only the notation for describing them.”[5] Which would mean that if there is in fact a “morality module” embedded in the brain, it is likewise a “mathematical structure” for which we have invented words to describe, but one which, according to Tegmark, could be equally well described in mathematical equations. And as we shall see in the next article on Chapter 3, Genesis does suggest how this self-awareness, or consciousness, arises; and morality is central to it.

But there is a crucial difference between Tegmark and Philo. And that relates to how the “mathematical structures”, or “incorporeal ideas”, came about.

Tegmark claims that “there’s no making required” for a mathematical structure, “it simply exists.”[6] He thus gets round the problem of any sort of outside observer by claiming that “mathematical structures” are not made, they just exist, and humans, being “self-aware mathematical substructures”, give the “universe meaning” by virtue of having self-awareness. In short, humans do the observing, thus giving the universe meaning.

So Tegmark doesn’t really get round the problem we encountered in Day One, when we looked at the words “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” As we noted, there are only really three explanations of how the initial ‘material’ from which the universe and life were constructed arose: either we don’t know; or we simply claim that it has always been there; or we accept that someone or something put it there. And there seems to be no reason to suggest that if we describe the initial ‘material’ as a “mathematical structure” the mystery somehow goes away.

The second issue relates to the necessity for an observation. Tegmark cannot get round the issue by claiming that a “mathematical substructure” within the overall “mathematical structure” that is the universe, or multiverse, creates the “self-awareness” that gives the “universe meaning.” It is just another way of saying that humans do the observing.

Philo, on the other hand, sees the ‘mind’ of God behind the numbers: “And he [Moses] says that the world was made in six days, not because the Creator stood in need of a length of time…; but because the things created required arrangement; and number is akin to arrangement.”[7]

And this arrangement of numbers must have been the “incorporeal model” which formed the basis of what we see around us: “when [God] had determined to create this visible world, [He] previously formed that one which is perceptible only by the intellect, in order that so using an incorporeal model formed as far as possible on the image of God, he might then make this corporeal world, a younger likeness of the elder creation, which should embrace as many different genera perceptible to the external senses, as the other world contains of those which are visible only to the intellect.”[8]

The problem with Philo’s interpretation of Genesis is that it only works if we discount the possibility that the words “And God saw …” refer to the quantum phenomenon of an observation. But that would mean that the words “And God said …” and the words “And God saw …” are simply a duplication, or repetition, of the same phenomenon. But Genesis seems to have been written far too carefully for such a careless or superfluous duplication. The inclusion of the words “And God saw …” must have been deliberate, and significant.

So the most likely explanation is that Genesis is telling us that at the end of the six days, the ‘macro-world’ of galaxies, solar systems, stars and planets had all been “fully settled” as a consequence of the “irreversible effect” of an observation; an observation from a conscious outside observer – God.

That created the deterministic universe that is predictable, calculable, and explainable by the Classical laws of physics. As Rees says about his six numbers, “if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life.[9] So it is clear that the universe and life is dependent on the quantum phenomena of the micro-world transforming into the deterministic workings of the macro-world. Each step in the process was dependent on the previous step being “fully settled” – otherwise everything could be undone at some point in the future, just as happens in the delayed-choice experiments when an eraser device is inserted in front of the detector which should carry out the measurement, or observation.

And only Genesis provides such a model.

At this stage, the basic DNA structures, ‘modified’ or ‘programmed’ to transform into their intended life-forms, had also been created, but were still ‘dormant’. They needed the right kind of environment in order to be activated, and that included the need for water.

And that is what Genesis tells us they got: “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”[10] That is what science asserts is the only way that primitive life could have ‘evolved’ into the higher life-forms we see today – liquid water appearing on earth.

However, before we move on to consider the rest of Chapters 2, we should also recall that  Genesis explains why it is that animals have a limited ability to ‘reason’ and communicate’, whereas humans have an advanced ability. And most important of all, we should recall that Genesis also explains how human beings acquired their moral capacity. History records humanity’s relentless quest to give expression to its moral purpose in the search for that thing which we call justice.

Chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis go back to the time of the ‘awakening’ of the ‘morality module’ in the first human beings who experienced it, and the dilemma that ‘awakening’ created for reason when it was confronted with the competing demands of the faculties of instinct and morality. The stories of The Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve, are the story of that ‘awakening’.

But again, we should take each of the verses in turn in order to fully comprehend their significance, and symbolism.

First we see that God is said to form man from the ground: “And 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.”[11]

Starting with an account of human beings, Genesis is clearly telling us that the account which follows concerns the highest of the species, and how it came to be what it became. But as we shall see, this does not mean that other life did not exist.

Furthermore, this verse does not suggest that the human it is referring to was a human in its final form, in the “image of God”. It clearly refers to the physical form of the first human being, or human beings – a form that has life, but not much different at this stage to animal life that would have existed simultaneously.

In other words, this verse is telling us that the DNA which was to form the human species as we know it had not yet been fully activated. This early species would certainly have had the primitive DNA with which “every living creature that moveth[12] had been ‘programmed’, and it would most certainly have had the primitive physical characteristics that would have made it recognizable as an early form of the species. But only a very select few of this early species had the latent DNA which had been ‘programmed’ with the additional elements referred to in Chapter 1 – that is, morality, reason, an ability to communicate, and the innate ‘knowledge and understanding’ of how the universe and life functions.

The next seven verses then focus in on the first of the species that had the latent DNA that was to become human beings as we know them.

Now before we look at the account of the Garden of Eden, let me first say this. In addressing the symbolic account, I do not discount the possibility that a literal place existed which formed the basis for the story. In fact, there must have been such a literal place where literal members of the early human species lived who would eventually become the ‘ancestors’ of the modern species. The Bible as a whole often takes literal events to convey deeper symbolic messages. Proverbs tells us that.[13] Not only can a historical event be used to convey a moral message, often the event is a result of the workings of the human brain which reveal which aspects of the human character have been the motivation for the event. Actual events can reveal whether those events were motivated by reason in the service of instinct, or reason in the service of morality.

However, we shall leave the search for such literal places and events to the archeologists and historians – but with the caveat that just because ‘evidence’ of such literal places and events have not yet been discovered does not mean that they don’t exist. Discoveries are constantly being made of things previously regarded as myth, fable or speculation, like our examples of life coming from space, and life existing without sunlight.

But before we move on, we should clarify one further aspect of the events recorded in Genesis 2. We should remember that at the end of the six days all the laws which would determine how the universe and life would unfold had been put in place. And according to Genesis, the unfolding, or implementation, of those laws reveals God’s will, because the laws are God’s laws. So when Genesis 2 refers to God doing something, or saying something, we should read that not as God Himself doing again what He had already done in the first six days, but as His law being implemented, thus revealing His will. In that sense, references to God saying or doing something in these Chapters are in fact God doing those things, but through the agency of the law He created which reveals His will. This is an important point to note in order to understand the verses which follow.

So let’s return to the symbolic message conveyed by the Garden of Eden.

First we have these two verses: “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[14]

Philo says this about these verses: “And these statements appear to me to be dictated by a philosophy which is symbolical rather than strictly accurate. For no trees of life or of knowledge have ever at any previous time appeared upon the earth, nor is it likely that any will appear hereafter. But I rather conceive that Moses was speaking in an allegorical spirit, intending by his paradise to intimate the dominant character of the soul, which is full of innumerable opinions as this figurative paradise was of trees.[15]

However, when Philo refers to the “soul” having “innumerable opinions,” he would have better referred to the Garden of Eden as being the human brain, or at least the DNA which had been ‘programmed’ to produce a brain with the ability to conjure up such “opinions”.

The reference to God having “planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed”, far better symbolizes that DNA which had been ‘programmed’ with those elements described in Genesis Chapter 1, which would have been latent in some of the early species. And those of the early species with this latent human DNA must have been physically present in some place on the Earth. So God putting man into the garden must symbolize the first of the primitive human species in which the latent elements of the more advanced DNA which was to form the species “in the image of God” began to be activated. And that activation, which would have been gradual, is symbolized by the words “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

The important words in this verse which point to the Garden being the human brain are “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …” Those words reflect the words used relating to the forming of man – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground ….” So when the trees are made to “grow” out of “the ground”, it clearly implies the “the ground” that had been made “man”.

That wording wonderfully conjures up the image of those latent elements of human DNA developing the brains of the first human beings in whom it was found. And the “trees” perfectly correspond to those elements of that DNA which we discussed in Day Six – “pleasant to the sight” refers to instincts; “good for food” refers to the innate ‘knowledge’ of how the universe and life functions; “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the “morality module”; and the “tree of life” refers to the ability of the human spirit to survive physical death. It should also be noted that the word “pleasant” is associated with the “trees”, symbolizing instinct: because, as we have seen, it is the allure of pleasure, or fear of pain, that fires our instincts into action.

However, all these elements of the human brain need some way to interact with the world of the external senses for them to have any significance. The human instinct for reproduction, for example, can only be activated when it perceives something that it recognizes as another of the species which causes an arousal of that instinct. The instinct needs to be ‘fed’ by sight. Likewise, the instinct for survival can only kick-in when the senses perceive some danger to survival – an unfamiliar sound, an unusual sight, another of the species perceived as a threat. The physical senses are what ‘feed’ the brain – only Genesis calls it ‘watering’ the brain: “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.”[16]

This verse very obviously refers to the nervous system of the human body which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to act. And the reason it is so obvious is that the river didn’t go INTO the garden to water the trees, it “WENT OUT of Eden to water the garden.” It would be rather pointless for the water which should be ‘watering’ the trees in the garden to flow in the wrong direction. And as we have seen, the author/s of Genesis did not make careless errors.

So when we conceive of the Garden of Eden as referring to the human brain, and the river which flows fromEden to water the garden” as the human nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain by supplying it with the necessary information it requires in order to function, then the verse makes sense.

So what we have in these verses is an explanation of the first human beings in which the DNA developing the brain, which was ‘programmed’ with latent human characteristics, would give expression to those characteristics, and a description of the human nervous system which would feed the brain with the necessary information to allow it to develop those characteristics. And the information would be provided through the senses on the extremities of the body – the “four heads” of the river.

Verses 11 to 14 describe where these four heads of the river end up, and the references to what may have been physical places at the time would have been understood by the people at that time to make the connection between the places and the senses referred to. But for our purposes, the physical places are not important once we recognize that they refer to the senses and the nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain.

The next verse is curious, because we see God putting man into the garden for a second time: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.[17] The crucial difference, of course, is that this time the man is put in the garden “to dress it and to keep it.” On the previous occasion, he was just put in it.

This suggests that the human brain had now fully developed with all the necessary characteristics with which it had been ‘programmed’. The latent ‘genes’ had been activated, or as the Encode Project would say, had been ‘switched on’. But, as we shall see, not all were fully functioning. It was now the task of those human beings to develop those characteristics within the brain – “to dress it and keep it.

The next verse is also crucial to understand why the “man” is put into the garden a second time: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[18]

Now, before we get into the meaning of these verses, we should note that the original Hebrew did not say “thou shalt surely die”, but “in dying thou shalt die”. This distinction is crucial, as we shall soon see.

So here we see the next difference with the second time God puts “man” into the garden. God is said to speak to him, or more properly, “commanded” him. And the word used to express the commanding of the “man” is that which was previously used in Genesis 1: 22 – “SAYING”. “God commanded the man, SAYING”. That is almost identical to the words in Genesis 1: 22, except that there God “blessed” the animals. And we should remember that the word “saying” symbolizes a lack of comprehension on the part of those ‘hearing’ the words, or at least a limited comprehension of the significance of the words being spoken.

The symbolism of God commanding the “man”, in conjunction with the word “saying”, tells us that the “morality module,” which the “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” represents, was still dormant, or latent. Although it was physically present in the brain, it had not yet been activated. However, the words indicate that when the first humans would be ‘tempted’ to take some action that would offend against the moral precepts (principles) of the “morality module”, they would ‘know’ that what they were doing was wrong, and that there would be a consequence. So this first human, or these first humans, would have simply recognized certain things as wrong, without ‘rationalizing’ their actions as right or wrong. They would have intuitively found certain behavior of the species from whom they had emerged ‘wrong’, but as yet not be able to identify why. That is how they would have known themselves to be different. So whereas the species from whom they had emerged may have regarded killing, raping and pillaging of members of other tribes as something to admire and celebrate, these first humans would have felt not just unease at such actions, but revulsion. The same would apply to casual sexual practices and violence between members of even the same tribe or community.

The remarkable thing about the innocence that clearly defined these human beings before they succumbed to the temptations of their primitive instincts is that there are just such people alive today. They are the San people of Southern Africa, also known as the Bushmen. Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these tribes as the ancestors of all human beings.

The next verses in Genesis explain the further development of these the first of the human species.

So we see God speaking again, but not to “man” directly: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

Before we look at the meaning of these words, we should deal with another little bit of ‘housekeeping’ on translation. The original Hebrew for the word translated as “meet” was actually “as before him”. So the first verse in which the word is used should read “I will make him an help as before him.”

Now the first thing we should note is that God is said to have seen that the “man” was alone, and that it was “not good” that he should be alone. This suggests that of those of the species that had the fully ‘programmed’ human DNA, only a very few, or even just one, appeared to have survived. The rest must have died out.

And because of what follows, it is certain that Genesis is here focusing in on the first male, or males, of the species in whom the fully ‘programmed’ human DNA was present. But when Genesis refers to this first “man” being “alone”, it does not necessarily mean that he was physically alone. He must have been the offspring of a mother and father. And no doubt he would have been part of a group or tribe of people. But, as we have seen, the reason he would have been “alone” is that he would have recognized that he was in some fundamental respects very different to those around him. He was the first of the species with fully ‘programmed’ human DNA. Philo noted this when he said, in relation to the creation of man in the image of God, that “all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus.”[19] This first “man” was thus the first to assume the “distinctive [human] form.”

The reason that it was “not good that the man should be alone” is that his instinct was to reproduce, but there was no female of the species who would have shared the fully ‘matured’ human DNA. To this first “man”, reproducing with what ostensibly would have been another ‘species’, would have seemed like bestiality.

This would have caused a great dilemma for him; and that dilemma would have caused frustration. But in doing so, it appears to have activated additional elements of the human characteristics with which his brain had been imprinted by the fully human DNA. Accordingly, the fact that the words follow the words “And the LORD God said …” must symbolize the law of God responding to the unnatural condition the first of the human species encountered – being “alone”, without another of the species with whom he could reproduce. Since that was contrary to the will of God as expressed in His law, those elements of the human organism were activated which would seek to rectify this unnatural condition. The symbolism of God speaking is the expression of God’s will through the law responding to the situation.

So the words “I will make him an help as before him” can only symbolize the activation of the ability to reason to a higher level, compelling this first human to examine the life around him in the hope of finding another living thing like him. The words “as before him” then make sense. He was seeking another like him so that together they could be as the species before him – that is, joining together with the opposite gender to create new life, and so perpetuate the new species.

However, by looking differently at all the life about him, this first human appeared to activate another latent characteristic of the brain ‘programmed’ with human DNA – the language module. These verses clearly refer to the activation of the innate human ability to communicate – Adam started naming the animals. And that would also have led to a limited activation of the innate ‘knowledge and understanding’ programmed into the human brain by human DNA. That is symbolized by Genesis saying that God formed out of the ground the animals that were brought to Adam. This all suggests that as Adam realized he was different, he began a search for a companion so that this new species could be as the species was before – a community. And in his search he began to ascribe sounds to represent the different species he encountered. But it also suggests that in doing so he began to question where they all came from, and indeed where he came from. And all of this is the result of God’s law reacting to the situation through the vehicle of the human brain in order to give expression to God’s will. It is this expression of God’s will that is symbolized by God ‘speaking’ – He is speaking through His law in order to express His will: the creation of an organism in His “image”.

But Adams’s search proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” Or, with the correct translation, “there was not found an help as before him.” This first of the species found that he was alone, the first of a kind, different to everything around him. It is also these closing words that give confirmation to the fact that these verses in which the animals are ‘made’ and brought to Adam to be named, symbolize the activation of certain elements ‘programmed’ into the human brain by human DNA – the words show that what preceded was a quest for something which did not come to fruition, at least not fully – a help for Adam as was before him.

So it seems that this first of the human species must have settled for one of those around him, even though they would have been a different ‘species’ in some major respects. And so this fully ‘programmed’ human DNA must have again become dormant: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.”[20]

There then follow these verses:

“ And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”[21]

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep means that the fully formed human DNA he was carrying around would have been passed through several generations while remaining dormant. So a number of the pre-human species may well have had this dormant DNA, or at least dormant genes within that DNA, as part of their genetic make-up, but it did not manifest itself as a human species for some time. Then, by a coincidence of probabilities, the dormant DNA was activated in both a male and female of the species at the same time, and those two would have been in close physical proximity, perhaps even within the same tribe or community.

And immediately they recognized each other as being different from the species around them, and virtual mirror-images of each other, except one was male and the other female. As Philo said, “although all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus, and are beheld, as in a mirror, by those who are able to discern acutely.”[22]

The human species was finally to begin propagating. And the effect of this mutual recognition was that some element of the “morality module” was activated: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”[23]

These two of the emerging new species, human beings, were aware that the new life they would create by joining together in a physical relationship would be unique, exclusive and special; in their image and likeness. And that, they understood, imposed on them fundamental obligations towards each other, and the life they would create. That is symbolized by the words “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” They recognized that this new relationship between members of the new species was different to what went before. They recognized the importance of monogamy. The joining together of a male and a female to create new life makes them “one flesh” in the new life they create. And the obligations which attach to that, both before and after they “cleave unto” each other to become one flesh, require that they forsake any and all other relationships. Like the new life they create, their relationship should also be unique, exclusive and special – for the benefit of the new life they create.

But clearly, there is also another meaning to the words “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother.” These first two of the early human species would have been aware that they were different even to their own parents, and that required that they leave the community from which they came, including their own ancestors.

However, at this stage, there would still have been an innocence about them. Only a small element of the “morality module” had been activated – that element which compelled them to recognize the fundamental nature of their relationship to the exclusion of others, and the obligations which would attach to them by virtue of creating new life – becoming “one flesh.”

That is the message in the next verse: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” The reason that “they were not ashamed” was that they did not look upon the physical body, and the act of procreation as something to be exploited for the primary purpose of generating physical pleasure.

And the San people mentioned above have precisely the kind of innocence we are talking about here. For the most part, the San people resisted the impulse to activate the “morality module”. They were content to listen to the “voice” of the “moral law”, whereas another branch of the species chose to challenge that “voice”.

It is this branch of the species that Genesis addresses in Chapter 3, represented by Adam and Eve.

And that will be the focus of the next and final abridged extract of A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

By Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

 

[1] Philo, On the Creation, XLIV (129).

[2] Tegmark, Max. Our Mathematical Universe, page 254 – Tegmark’s emphasis.

[3] Tegmark, page 323.

[4] Tegmatk, page 391 – Tegmark’s emphasis.

[5] Tegmark, page 259.

[6] Tegmark, page 323.

[7] Philo, On the Creation, III (13).

[8] Philo, On the Creation, IV (16).

[9] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, page 4.

[10] Genesis 2: 6.

[11] Genesis 2: 7.

[12] Genesis 1: 21.

[13] Proverbs 1: 1 – 7.

[14] Genesis 2: 8 – 9.

[15] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (154).

[16] Genesis 2: 10.

[17] Genesis 2: 15.

[18] Genesis 2: 16 – 17.

[19] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[20] Genesis 2: 21.

[21] Genesis 2: 22 – 24.

[22] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[23] Genesis 2: 24.