Memes are a modern phenomenon that we associate with social media. But in a way, memes are as old as human culture. In this post, I want to think about the idea of “temple” as a meme in the ancient Near East that served as a way for people to understand their place in creation, especially their place in relation to God. We’ll see how the idea of temple, like a meme, was transferrable to different contexts. Then we’ll be ready for the next post, when we’ll see how Genesis 1 uses the temple meme to communicate theological truths about creation.
The Power of the Meme
Before we look in detail at the inclusio that Gen 1:1 and Gen 2:1–3 form around the six days of creation (Gen 1:2–31), it will be helpful to get a good grasp of what a meme is and how it works. To start off, take a look at this clip from the 2004 German film Downfall. The film is German so you’ll probably want to make sure that the subtitles are turned on by clicking on the CC in the bottom right corner of the player.
Even if you don’t know German and have never seen this film, you can probably guess this clip shows Hitler getting bad news about the war and that his fate is likely sealed. This is his last outburst of anger at those close to him in leadership as he finally succumbs to his fate.
Now watch this clip, where everything is the same but someone has changed the subtitles (there is some mildly offensive language–it was hard to find a completely clean version).
A meme starts with something as simple as a sentence, or a clip from a film or an image that we all have in our cultural banks. We’re not just familiar with it; it evokes a whole set of shared experiences and emotions. When I take that one sentence or image and transfer it to a new context, I take all those shared experiences and emotions to the new context as well.
In the example here we have a clip from a film that depicts the moment when Hitler receives the news that causes him to realize he has lost the war. This is a widely known historical event that is deeply rooted in our cultural history. This event, for Hitler, is the ultimate moment of disappointment and loss. In the clip he goes from rage to despair—par excellence. Shortly after this he will commit suicide, the German Nazis will be defeated and the war in Europe will be over, so defining the course of history unto this day.
The second clip takes all the rage and disappointment of this moment and transfers it to another event in history or in someone’s personal life. So in the second clip we have “Hitler finds out about black Friday strikes.” Another variation is “Hitler finds out Trump was impeached” or, “Hitler finds out there is no Santa.” Again, all of Hitler’s rage is transferred into these new contexts.
That is the power of the meme.
The Bible is Full of “Memes“
Now I want to use this idea of memes loosely and apply it to Scripture because Scripture is full of “memes” or things like memes.
In John 1:1–5, John the apostle is using the creation account in Gen 1 as a meme. In Revelation 12 he’s using Gen 3:15 as a meme. When Matthew starts his Gospel with “This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ,” he’s using the genealogy headings of Genesis and Chronicles as a meme. And it’s not just Genesis or Chronicles, and it’s not just Matthew or John—it’s all over the New Testament AND the Old Testament.
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, ... She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon... And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. Rev 12:1–4
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring... Gen 3:15
In fact, the Bible doesn’t just use memes from other parts of the Bible, it uses memes from the culture of the ancient Near East. In Genesis 1:21 it says God created “the great sea creatures” and uses a word that means serpent (Ex 7:9) or sea dragon (Is 27:1). This is a meme from the ANE where the creator god had to defeat the goddess of the sea, a great sea dragon, in order to bring order, or cosmos, out of chaos (the sea). In Gen 1:21, this sea monster does not need to be defeated, it is instead just another creature of God’s creation. In this way, Moses uses a cultural meme and turns it on its head. There is no dragon to be defeated, whatever dragons exist are God’s creation just like everything else.
He does the same thing with the temple meme in Gen 1. The question is, how does he do it?
The Temple as an Ancient Near Eastern Meme
Just like we first need to understand the historical situation that Hitler found himself in, we need to begin with an understanding of what temples meant to people in the ancient Near East (ANE).
When I talk about the temple as a meme, I mean the temple building, since temples were to be found all over the ANE, but also the temple as a basic way of understanding one’s place in the world. Temples, it turns out, show up in different ways in different genres of ANE literature.
For us, a temple (aka, a church) is a place we go to worship God. Churches have pews where we can sit and gather together in the presence of God. They’re also full of art, architectural features and furnishings like altars or organs for worship activities meant to help the worshiping community interact with God. There were no pews or organs in the temples of the ancient Near East, nor artwork meant to communicate directly to worshipers. That should alert us to the fact that ANE temples played a different role in ANE society than they do in ours.
In the ANE, the temple was the dwelling place of the god who was transcendent and holy. People, who are mortal and sinful, cannot go into the presence of a holy god. Hence, ANE temples had no worship accoutrements (stained glass windows, organ, prayer candles) because they were not to be entered by worshipers, they were strictly for the god himself. In that sense, the temple was like a bridge joining heaven and earth.
Actually, our temples and church cathedrals are also bridges between heaven and earth, but in a different way.
Imagine yourself in Europe on summer vacation in a crowded square in Vienna or Rome with tourists roaming around, talking and taking pictures of the sights. There on the square is a great cathedral and you decide to go in and explore. As you open the door to the cathedral and step across the threshold, you have a sense of entering another world. At first you’re hit by a darkness that your eyes only slowly adjust to, and then a coolness from the stone interior. As you step further in, the gaiety of the square outside transforms to the solemnity inside. Some people cross themselves as they approach the altar, all walk slowly and reverently.
For us, these are mere cultural norms, perhaps just bygones of a more superstitious age. But this effect was intentional, designed to communicate the idea that you are crossing a threshold of every day life and into the presence of God.
ANE temples were fundamentally different because they did not serve as a place for us to enter into the god’s presence. Instead God came down to us. He dwelt in the temple but we did not enter into his presence. Think of it as Sinai in a box. In Exodus, when God’s presence was atop mount Sinai, no one but Moses could go up into the presence of God. God even instructed them to set up a boundary that no one could cross. If they crossed it, they would come into contact with the Holy and die (Ex 19:12).
Even the pagans knew that their god would not dwell in temples built by human hands. And even a king could not presume to build a house for the god. The building of the god’s dwelling place had to be the initiative of the god, who appeared to the king in a dream and gave very specific instructions as to how the temple should be built.
Since gods don’t live in houses, the temple was full of imagery indicating that this dwelling place was a microcosm of creation or even a microcosm of heaven—the true dwelling place of the gods.
The temple itself, and texts describing temples, are rich in symbolism. Symbols point to the fact that the physical building reflects a deeper reality. So all the materials, their colors, the temple furnishings and ornaments, and even the sacrificial system, all these point to a reality that goes beyond what the eye sees. The temple is supposed to communicate a reality that is real even if not immediately and physically present.
One symbol often used in association with the temple is the mountain. Just like a mountain reaches up from earth, almost like a bridge to the heavens, the temple is a bridge between heaven and earth. Sometimes temples themselves are described as being as high as mountains or sometimes they are built on high places. Either way, temples are described as buildings here in our midst that connect us to the heavenly realm.
The number seven is another symbol often used in association with temples, perhaps as a number of completeness. So, for example, it often took seven years, or a multiple of seven years to build the temple. Once built, a ceremony that lasted seven days (or a multiple of seven) was performed to prepare the temple for the god. Also, texts like the Gudea cylinders shown above can be divided into seven parts. The Enuma Elish story of how the god Marduk becomes the chief god of Babylon is written on seven tablets.
Along with being the dwelling place for the god, the temple is also the god’s throne, or the place from which the god rules over his or her realm. In fact, the Gudea cylinders above seem to indicate that the temple is built once king Gudea has successfully established his kingdom. Now that Ningursu has brought victory to Gudea, a temple can be built where the god Ningursu can come sit on his throne and rule over his people and so bring blessing and peace and rest. Similarly, in the Enuma Elish document, once Marduk has successfully defeated his enemy and established the creation order and rest, then the other gods build him a temple from where he will rule over all the gods and all creation and where he can be celebrated.
The Temple as Meme
In the text above I mentioned the Gudea cylinders and the Babylonian Enuma Elish. These are texts full of temple imagery. But they’re two very different texts.
The Gudea Cylinders describe how Ningursu reveals himself to king Gudea and gives him instructions on how to build Ningursu’s dwelling place in Lagash, the city where Gudea’s rule is centered. This is a temple building text.
The Enuma Elish, on the other hand, is a narrative that tells the myth of Marduk and how he became the chief god in the Babylonian pantheon. He alone was able to defeat Tiamat, the goddess of the sea, or chaos. In doing so, he brought about the creation order that brings rest to creation. In the end, the gods build him a temple to celebrate his rule.
These two texts are different kinds of texts with different, though similar purposes. Both of them work in different ways to bring legitimacy to the king or the nation above other kings or nations because the earthly king or nation is actually reflecting a reality that is rooted in the heavenly realm.
These two texts, are not just different kinds of texts, they use the temple “meme” in different ways.
In the Gudea cylinders, king Gudea actually builds this temple and places these cylinders in deposit in the temple (perhaps like the ark of the covenant in the biblical temple). This text might be loosely compared to the instructions for building the tabernacle and then the actual building of the tabernacle in the book of Exodus.
We have quite a few other temple building texts comparable to Gudea’s cylinders. This temple building meme is a lot like the Hitler clip above where the temple building text is applied once to Sumeria, another time to Babylon and another time to Assyria or Egypt or Israel.
The temple in the Enuma Elish is more abstract. This temple is described as a part of the narrative or myth of Marduk defeating Tiamat and then the gods celebrate him by building him a temple. All of this happens in the heavenly realm, even though it’s supposed to legitimize an earthly reality.
This seems to indicate there’s a lot of flexibility in the application of the temple “meme.” In fact, in Enuma Elish, the temple is a theme used in connection to other themes or symbols like “rest,” “seven,” “cosmic battle with chaos,” or “creation.” It looks like these ancient thinkers from all over the ANE and from just about every time period, shared a vocabulary of memes that they applied in a variety of ways to communicate different worldviews.
The goal of this post was simply to introduce the ancient Near Eastern temple “meme.” The temple was more than just a special building, it provided people a way of understanding their place in the world, especially in relation to their god(s). God is holy, we are not and we cannot go into his presence just like that. In that sense, the temple is a bridge between us and the gods.
There is a lot of symbolism associated with the temple. The number seven is common and temples and creation almost always show up together since the temple is the culmination of creation. As such, temples are places where the gods rest and they are the throne room from which they rule over their creation. Temples are also thought of as sources of blessing or life, and then also as mountains or bridges that connect heaven and earth.
In the next post, I’ll bring together the last two posts. That means we’ll look at the inclusio of Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 2:1–3 and see how it serves as a lens that makes us read the six days of creation as a temple.
The Evangelical’s Creation Conundrum: Navigating the Scylla and the Charybdis
- The Evangelical’s Creation Conundrum: Navigating the Scylla and the Charybdis
- Designed for Order: The ANE Wisdom Worldview
- The Fear of Yahweh is the Beginning of Wisdom: The Israelite Wisdom Worldview
- Consilience: The Unity of Science and Scripture in the Matrix of Wisdom
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, How I Wonder When You Are
- The Structural Symmetry of the Six Days of Creation
- Creation is a Temple: Reading Creation through the Proper Interpretive Lens
- Creation is a Temple: The Temple as a Meme in the Ancient Near East and Genesis 1
- Creation is a Temple: Moses’ Brilliant Literary and Theological Move in Genesis 1
- When a Day Might not be a Day
- Reading Genesis 1 as Literature and the Three Problems it Creates for Evangelicals
- How Can the Creation Account in Genesis 1 be Both History and Literature?
- Has Anyone Ever Read Genesis 1 Like this Before?
- The Paradox of Perspicuity: How Would a Regular Person Ever Understand Genesis 1 This Way?
Helmut Welke says
Sorry Todd, but I have to comment and provide the alternate viewpoints to your post. Your “Temple Meme” appears to be a re-hash of the “Cosmic Temple” idea promoted by John Walton in his book “The Lost World of Genesis One”. And perhaps by others such as BioLogos – which are committed to the idea of Darwinian Evolution.
While I know you mean well, your readers need to know that many scholars disagree with your Genesis presentations here because you are mistaken both Scripturally and Scientifically. Let me provide a couple of links for those interested to see what others who have researched this topic say. These are by Thomas Purifoy of Compass Cinema. He is the producer of the movie series “IS GENESIS HISTORY?”. He worked with Del Tackett and many PhD scientists as well as theologians on his movies and extensive back up materials.
Here is the first link to consider: https://isgenesishistory.com/should-genesis-1-2-be-taken-literally/
Concerning the use of the Word YOM: “There is nothing in the Bible to obviate the idea that the days in Genesis were 24 hour type days.” – Dr. Robert Cole (Ph.D. Semitic Languages), in “A PhD looks at the Genesis Days”.
“Probably so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who dares not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that creation took place in a series of six days which are the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience…” – Professor James Barr, Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford.
Dr. Steve Boyd, is a specialist in biblical Hebrew, Semitic languages, and Old Testament studies. He has a BS and MS in Physics from Drexel University, a ThM in Old Testament and Semitics from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a PhD in Hebraic and Cognate Studies from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. You can see his enlightening interviews with Dr. Del Tackett here: https://isgenesishistory.com/steve-boyd/
The only way to change the straightforward reading of Genesis is to add to it with modern secular beliefs and then an appeal to Ancient Near East Poetry. Its like God purposely hid the meaning of HIS words for 1000’s of years from his church until the truth was discovered by you and John Walton. I doubt it.
Concerning John Walton and his version of the “Cosmic Temple” here is a well-documented response to Walton. It is a longer read (1/2 hour?), but well done and worth the time as people research this topic of appealing to Ancient Near East Poetry.
I do not know if you are a follower of John Walton, or just use similar ideas, but here is another critique of John Walton’s Cosmic Temple, written by a geneticist who is an expert on the science. https://www.icr.org/article/walton-cosmic-temple-is-a-house-of-cards
Todd, you have told me you are not impressed with Creation Science concepts and facts. Of course, you have not kept up on science and you turned a deaf hear to me when I wanted to discuss modern developments with you – face to face. World class geneticist Dr. John Sanford (who I know personally, as well as other US and European geneticists) have shown that evolution is impossible due to mutations and that the human genome is deteriorating rather rapidly. It makes Darwin‘s old fashioned idea impossible as well as confirming that the human Genome is less than 10,000 years old.
Then there is the old story that human and chimp DNA are 98.8% the same. That was an old idea that even secular geneticists have given up on. It was misleading because they only compared 97 genes (that they cherry picked because they were known to be similar) and then ignored inserted pieces of DNA as well as 10’s of thousands of other genes. Two geneticists (one secular) have said that at most, human and chimp DNA are 85% ‘similar’. When you consider there are 3 billion base pairs in our Genome, this minimum 15% difference represents a massive amount of changed code. A recent Article appeared in a secular science journal on the simulation of how much time it would take to mutate Chimp-like DNA to Human DNA. It was clear that even a few ‘positive’ changes in DNA code would need billions of years to be established in a ‘apeman’ population. The results clearly show that the idea of ape to human evolution is impossible. This article appeared in a secular science journal and not refuted. Both the fossils and DNA show there is no chance we came from Apes. We are created uniquely from all the animals “in the image of God.”
Why This is important.
Because it is difficult or time consuming for most people to always answer the claims of secular scientists, (but it can be done); too many young people are walking away from the church. Polls show over 2/3’s of young people who grow up in good evangelical churches, are walking away from the Faith, because of the drum beat of billions of years and evolution. And yet when they hear the good scientific facts that refute both evolution and billions of years, those discouraging statistics can be and are being reversed.
A Creationist well versed in the debate said, “Church leaders who compromise the Word of God can be far more effective at destroying faith than an atheist professor railing against God- someone like Dawkins. This is because one can easily recognize the wiles of the enemy when it comes from self-professed opposition. It is not as obvious when the deception comes from within. Veterinarian Dr. Jean Lightner shared how destructive this was to her:
“When I was having doubts, one of the most damaging things for my faith was when I read a respected Christian teacher who basically said that the Bible does not really mean what it says, particularly the creation account. That was probably more detrimental to me than the evolutionary teachers insisting that they were right. It was devastating to hear a Christian leader basically say, ‘God doesn’t mean that; you don’t have to believe that’.” (Dr. Lightner is now a committed young earth scientist researching the modern equivalent of the word “Kinds” in Genesis.)
Todd – it does not matter that you see yourself as doing “the Lord’s work”. You are not correct on this topic and in the end you are twisting Scripture. I know you as a fine Christian family man and that you think you are helping the Church by pushing this bad framework and Temple hypothesis, but you are not helping. Instead you are hurting the church by continuing to make his push for adding Ancient Near East Poetry to the Words of God Himself. If its over 4000 years later, and suddenly you need to mix an ancient pagan belief system with what God says on how He Created – then you have given away II Timothy 3:16. Sorry, but if I have to add pagan writings from cultures antagonistic to the One Creator God, than I would walk away from the Christianity altogether, too. But I don’t have to, because I know too much of the real science and what God Himself says.
Todd – you presented yourself to me as a professor of the Old testament. It would be so good and refreshing, if you instead spend your time studying and preaching on what happens when the people of God compromise themselves with the surrounding secular and pagan cultures. The Old Testament is full of those stories – from the bad kings of Israel to all the minor prophets. There are very important lessons on this. Why not take some time and see what God says about that?
I’m afraid your “scientific facts” are not scientific. The 1-2% DNA similarity between chimps and humans has been confirmed. Your 85% figure is obsolete and outdated. Not only that but chromosomal studies and endogenous retroviruses matches in chimps and humans provide strong evidence of common ancestry (that cannot be explained by “common design”). Your “arguments” about the impossiblility of evolution indicate you’re among the YECs still jousting the neo-Darwinian strawman when modern biology has moved on and the evidence for evolution has never been stronger (the origin of life remains unanswered).
Sadly, it is the YEC movement that has caused damage to the cause of Christ by poor exegesis riddled with anachronistic thinking, sloppy “science,” judgmentalism with no righteous foundation, and most damaging: losing sight of the actual gospel and erecting walls and stumbling blocks that hinder the gospel by elevating YEC agendas that are not issues of salvation to a level near commensurate with the gospel itself; effectively adding requirements to the gospel in contradiction of what the Bible teaches.
Thanks again for the interaction. I do appreciate it. My articles here are really about what Scripture does and does not say about creation. That’s my field of expertise. But of course, the articles can’t help but attract the attention of people who want to discuss science and that’s fine. Since I’m not a scientist, though, I’m not gong to react to the claims posted by Helmut.
In addition to your comments, it might also be helpful if you could suggest some in-depth, but lay level reading that responds to some of the claims made here. For example, is there a good source that talks about the confirmation of DNA similarity?
YEC advocates often say that their main interest is in preventing the exodus of young believers who are persuaded by science. Helmut has reprimanded me for contributing to that exodus. But I can’t agree more, YEC is “losing sight of the actual gospel and erecting walls and stumbling blocks that hinder the gospel.”
Regarding recommendations, there are of course, many resources available on the “creation-evolution” topic. Here are two off the top of my head that I think your readers will find useful:
(1) Letters to Creationists (“Your Intelligent Designer is too Small”):
This is a blog maintained by a committed evangelical Christian with degrees in Near Eastern Studies and Chemical Engineering who also was a former YEC. The link above will take you to his main page where you can find links to critiques of virtually all the main YEC arguments, including:
Critiques of young earth arguments; evidence of old earth; Grand Canyon geology; transitional fossils; soft tissue in dinosaur fossils; the Cambrian explosion (Review of book “Darwin’s Doubt”); human-ape common ancestry; natural selection, mutations, micro-/macroevolution, etc.; Review of Behe’s book “Edge of Evolution”; Review of John Sanford’s book “Genetic Entropy”; historical roots of YEC; Bible and theology; and much, much more.
Founded by evangelical Christian and internationally renowned biologist Francis Collins who led the Human Genome Project and is the director of the National Institutes of Health, and the author of the best-selling book, The Language of God (One of the most brilliant–and humble–individuals I have ever met). Biologos includes contributions from pastors, theologians, and scientists on a wide range of topics. In their own words:
“Are science and religion at war? Many people today believe they are in conflict. BioLogos exists to show that you don’t have to choose between modern science and biblical faith.”
Mission: “Biologos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith.”
Core Commitments: “We embrace the historical Christian faith, upholding the authority and inspiration of the Bible. We affirm evolutionary creation, recognizing God as Creator of all life over billions of years. We seek truth, ever learning as we study the natural world and the Bible. We strive for humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views. We aim for excellence in all areas, from science to education to business practices.”
Thank, TMal, I took a brief look at the letterstocreationists web site and found that to be very helpful–a lot of good information with actual data and arguments.
Helmut Welke says
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21
In order to examine everything carefully, one needs to read both sides and get updated information. Especially in the field of genetics which is very fluid. You should also examine Creation.com.
Click on the search button on the upper right at https://creation.com/qa
They have an excellent search engine for their site where you can type in most any topic and get good articles with references.
ICR.org also has 1000’s of articles and stays on top of new developments. You can search their archive at https://www.icr.org/home/search
The DVD “Dismantled” is new and worth watching to get both sides. I will send you a copy, just write me at [email protected]
The review on Sanford’s book primarily goes to positive mutations and does not address the very real genetic load that is well documented in the literature. This is not examined very well on that site. Note that no secular geneticist has written a refutation of Sanford’s main thesis.
Helmut Welke says
Tmal (who are you? Please come out of the shadows).
You wrote: > I’m afraid your “scientific facts” are not scientific. The 1-2% DNA similarity between chimps and humans has been confirmed.< I’m afraid Tmal’s claim just simply isn’t true. Not even remotely true and shows an ignorance of modern genetics. If I am wrong, please find for me a paper that still affirms this number from a Genetics related peer-reviewed Journal that is less than 5 years old. I would like to see that.
The truth is that the fossils never confirmed the connection of humans and modern apes to a common ape-like ancestor. Heidelberg-man, Cro-magnum, Neanderthals all have been shown to be fully human. Lucy and the 300+ cousins in the australopithecines have all been shown to be fully chimps or apes of some type, that could not walk upright. There were apes, and there were humans – nothing in between. The journals in this area now talk about a confusing “tangled bush” of human “ancestry”. The latest stylized drawings of this “bush” do not even show a connection from A. Aferensis (Lucy) to any of the above human fossils.
Leslie Aiello, paleoanthropologist of the University College London, even said, ““No doubt about it, Australopithecines are like apes, and the Homo group are like humans.”
The evolution exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago even has a red line over the old drawing of apes slowly standing up into human form. A Nature magazine article said “The once-popular fresco showing a single file of marching hominids becoming ever more vertical, tall, and hairless now appears to be fiction.” – Jean-Jacques Hublin; ‘An evolutionary odyssey’, Nature 403:363, 2000. (Professor, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany)
“There is a popular image of human evolution that you’ll find all over the place … On the left of the picture there’s an ape … On the right, a man … Between the two is a succession of figures that become ever more like humans … Our progress from ape to human looks so smooth, so tidy. It’s such a beguiling image that even the experts are loath to let it go. But it is an illusion.” –Wood B., “Who are we?”, New Scientist 2366:44, 2002.
So the fossils showed NO factual connection to the idea that humans evolved from an ape-like creature. Evolutionists then hoped that DNA would provide the needed evidence. The oft quoted 98.8% number for similarity between human and chimp DNA came from a review of an initial study that appeared in Nature magazine in 2005. (Waterson, R., Lander, E. & Wilson, R. Initial sequence of the chimpanzee genome and comparison with the human genome. Nature 437, 69–87 (2005).)
But that was only the headline. Reading the article, and other related ones at the time, it becomes clear this was a preliminary number based on a limited study. But the media and other scientists took it as absolute truth. But it was based on less than 100 genes, that were already known to be similar. They cherry-picked their area of study. There are over 20,000 coding genes in our genome and at least another 20,000 genes that are controlling genes and are active. These studies also ignored “INDELS”. These are inserted or deleted nucleotides that adjacent to similar runs of nucleotides.
Scientists should have known this was an issue because in a paper as part of the Proceedings Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 100(13):7708–7713, 2003, the authors said, “However, and importantly, this 98.6% sequence identity drops to only 86.7% taking into account the multiple insertions/deletions (indels) ”. Note that while some inserts/deletes small, some are up to 300 base pairs or more.
In 2012, Todd Preuss a leading primate evolutionist at Emory University wrote, “It is now clear that the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees are far more extensive than previously thought; their genomes are not 98% or 99% identical.”
In 2018, another leading genetic evolutionist; Richard Buggs – Professor of Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary, University of London. Wrote, ““The percentage of nucleotides in the human genome that had one-to-one exact matches in the chimpanzee genome was 84.38%”.
Dr. Jeffrey Tomkins, PhD. Genetics, (Clemson) was on the faculty in the Dept of Genetics and Biochemistry at Clemson University for a decade. He published 57 secular research papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and 7 chapters in scientific books in the areas of genetics, genomics, and proteomics. He was also the director for the Clemson Environmental Genomics Laboratory for 3 years. He is a young and brilliant genetics researcher. He is also a Christian and is a staff scientists at ICR.org.
Also in 2018, Dr. Tomkins published the results from his own study. “the align-able regions of the chimpanzee sequencing contigs were only 84.4% identical to their respective matches in the human genome.” He further explained that “In addition, on average, only about one-third of each contig could be aligned using liberal gap extension parameters. Thus, the 84.4% nucleotide identity of the alignments is not an indicator of overall genome similarity because it does not include the regions of the contigs that are so different that they are non-alignable.”
PLUS – we know that Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes while all apes, chimps and gorillas have 24 pairs of chromosomes. This is very different. So evolutionists speculated that 2 Chimp Chromosomes must have fused together into One human chromosome at some point in our evolutionary history. This was speculation but they did identify 2 shorter Chimp chromosomes and called them 2A and 2B. It was said that they fused together to form human chromosome number 2.
But this idea has been studied further in the last few years and been shown to be a non-starter. The supposed fusion site has been shown to be a functioning gene, making it impossible to be a fusion site between telomeres (the ends of chromosomes). There is also no sign of a non-functioning Centromere on human chromosome 2. Every pair od chromosomes have centromere sights that helps align the pairs when they split for reproduction. Human Chromosome 2 has only one functioning centromere and no sign of a second. The 2 chimp Chromosome pairs 2A and 2B, would each have had a functioning centromere. So the “fusion story’ has been totally debunked.
Another issue is the “Wait Time” problem. There is the question: How long would it take (“wait time”) for mutations and natural selection to evolve Chimp DNA to Human DNA?” Modern genetic computer simulations have been done to answer this question. The results of a very sophisticated appeared in the secular science journal, ‘Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling’ in late 2015. To keep it simple they simulated how long would it take for favorable mutations to become established or fixed in a population of hominids – of only 2 or 5 nucleotides in length. Remember, its not just the case of a favorable mutation suddenly popping up. It has to have some function and become established in the population and not just die out again until it pops up again by chance.
The results were, “To establish a string of 2 nucleotides required on average 84 million years. To establish a string of 5 nucleotides required on average 2 billion years. Using the most generous feasible parameters settings, the waiting time … was consistently prohibitive.” Even though evolutionists are adamant in their belief, they have no evidence, and this wait time issue to establish favorable mutations in significant numbers is now shown to be scientifically impossible. (* vs Evolutionary guess of 3- 3 ½ Million years to go from Lucy type to Human.) NO- we did not evolve from apes. Modern genetics makes it impossible. That should be good news for Christians, right Todd?
To get more information, get the book “Contested Bones”. It is an excellent resource. The Authors (Chris Rupe and Dr. John Sanford) spent 4+ years going through the secular literature and discuss all of the significant finds purported to be human ancestors. They also discuss the genetics between humans and chimps. An online summary of the book (12 page PDF) is freely available at: https://www.logosra.org/topics Look for the last item (New Book) under the Paleontology section.
Human and chimps are very far from 98% genetically similar. The most recent genomic analyses show less than 85% genetic similarity — far from the alleged 98.8% that has been widely publicized for years. And there are still parts of the genome that cannot be aligned for comparison. Besides trying to compare 23 pairs (human) of chromosomes with 24 pairs (chimps) there are genes and sections of DNA that are very different in structure and are ignored when the similarity numbers are calculated.
The Bible tells us clearly that humans were created separately from the animals and are considered unique among all creation because they were made in God’s image. You can trust your own direct reading of the BIBLE, without needing pagan beliefs, either ancient ones or modern ones.
I see you’re a “try-to-win-the-argument-by-overwhelming-and-burying-with-an-excess-of-words” guy. There are so many errors in what you say it would take a small book to document them all. You use old, outdated, recycled arguments about the fossil record of humans and other primates (Heidelberg-man, seriously?). You seem to be completely unaware of all the discoveries in paleoanthropology, and advances in cladistics (you’re still attacking anagenesis).
You employ the common YEC tactic of cherry-picking select data (along with misinformation) while ignoring the whole data set that overwhelmingly supports common ancestry. Show me a serious YEC research study (or studies) that can account for the sum total genomic data (including the endogenous retrovirus record in vertebrates) better than common ancestry, and then you’ll have my attention. Instead of making claims about how “it’s been shown” (by YECs) that there is a functioning gene at the chromosome 2 fusion site (when there’s actually isn’t, and the claimed gene is over 1,000 nucleotide bases away from the fusion site) show me the peer-reviewed publication in a reputable science journal that supports your claim. Instead of making broad-sweeping sensational claims that you can’t back up like how the chromosome 2 “fusion story” has “been totally debunked,” show me the evidence that the consensus scientific position on this has changed.
With regard to the primary research you do cite (which I appreciate), in short, it’s irrelevant and does nothing to invalidate the evidence for common ancestry or evolution in general. For example, you cite the 2015 “Wait Time” problem—a simulation spearheaded by YEC John Sanford, which you failed to mention—which, yes, did show difficulties for “classical Neo-Darwinism” based on the parameters they used. But you seem completely unaware that such simulations are irrelevant today, because modern biology has advanced beyond Neo-Darwinian step-wise, gradual mutation-selection theory. You seem completely unaware of the breakthrough discoveries in genomics, microbiology, and molecular genetics that have revolutionized our understanding of evolution; including the plethora of genetic mechanisms under biologic control that we’ve now discovered in cells that allow for rapid-restructuring of genomes from small to large-scale changes up to whole genome duplication events that we’ve observed in real time. Instead of evolution as a series of “accidental” mutation events in static genomes, we now know that genomes are dynamic, “read-write” information processing systems under biologic control and that genome evolution is largely an active biological process of self-modification.
That said, there have been some promising signs among YECs/IDs who are doing more of the real work of scientists by getting their research published. I’m telling you that this is the way to go. We need more YECs/IDs to regularly publish reputable peer-reviewed research. This is the only way to earn respect and be heard (unfortunately, too, often this is short-circuited). I will fully support the work of YECs/IDs who do this (and in fact I already do).
You might protest or counter that the peer-review process is biased against YECs/IDs, or claim that “evolutionists” assume evolution (and old ages) and therefore don’t really have any evidence because they’re just seeing what they want to and have to force the data to fit. I used to believe the same thing and for years I kept checking and cross-checking and checking again until I got to the bottom of things; taking every YEC argument back to the primary sources (if they existed). It was a sad, sobering day when I discovered that all the YEC arguments I’d been vigorously defending were based on cherry-picking, proof texts, distortions, misinformation, out of context quotes, omissions of the whole story, and on, and on, and on. More than anything right now, if you want to convince people of the YEC position, then I will tell you right now that all these arguments are not the way to go. Far better is honesty and integrity in reporting and published peer-reviewed research. You see, I discovered that the actual reality is reversed and that it’s actually the scientists who are far more willing to adjust their views, admit their mistakes and change their conclusions.
Case in point, not only has the chromosome 2 fusion event not been debunked but additional study has found evidence of three separate fusion events in the genomes of humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas. These fusion events have involved complex changes and rearrangements and leave evidence of their occurrence in genomes. Now here’s the difference between scientists and what YECs do. Scientists won’t simply assume or presuppose evolution, but require evidence to make such an inference. Thus, we have evidence of three fusion events that support common ancestry, but these same studies also report similar structures and genetic sequences in chromosome 2 that the evidence shows is NOT the result of evolution/common ancestry. Now tell me this, if these scientists don’t really have evidence and are simply assuming evolution, then why would they report similarities that are not the result of common ancestry, and how (if they don’t have an evidentiary basis for it) would they even be able to distinguish between which genetic changes are the result of common ancestry and which aren’t?
By contrast, YECs MUST be right and cannot ever be wrong. It is amazing how every single YEC “finding” just happens to support young ages and a global flood, etc., etc., etc. and there is absolutely no inconsistency whatsoever or any counter evidence to the contrary. Based on what YECs claim, you would think they have an ironclad, perfect case with no holes or anomalous data whatsoever. The reality is there are thousands of holes, but YECs hand-wave away all the problems with ad hoc solutions that they then present as “proof” or ignore the problems altogether. Why? Because they HAVE to. They MUST. They cannot be wrong. Because of this, they will always be “right”—regardless of how much data they have to twist, distort, omit or ignore altogether in order to claim such a “right” standing.
There are a number of YECs who are the real deal, who have my full and total respect, who are professional scientists who regularly publish peer-reviewed research; and who actively participate and build relationships in the scientific community. These YECs are the honest ones who have the Christian integrity to acknowledge where their case is strong and where it isn’t. These YECs are firmly committed to the young earth creation position and believe that science will one day vindicate them, but they have the Christian integrity to acknowledge the current state of things, including the lack of evidence for a global flood, and acknowledge that the weight of evidence supports an old earth. I challenge you to do the same: to honestly assess your position and tell us both the strengths and weaknesses of your position. Where does the evidence support the YEC position? Where does it not? If you can provide such an honest, accurate assessment, then you will be the first YEC I’ve encountered to do so, and will have my full respect. If we are honest people of integrity we should be able to note the strengths and weaknesses not only in an opposing position, but also in our own.
I will start. Pro: the evidence for evolution has never been stronger as a result of the breakthrough discoveries we’ve made in microbiology, and genomics that reveal numerous genetic mechanisms under biologic control that allow cells to rapidly restructure their genomes. Con: On the flip side, all of these discoveries have made the initial origin of such mechanisms all the more difficult to explain. There is no naturalistic mechanism to explain the origin of life. Science has no explanation for the origin of life, and the discovery of the information processing nature of life has made the gulf between life and non-life wider than ever before, and more difficult to bridge, and, indeed, difficult to even devise a conceptual solution even in theory. As Paul Davies said [paraphrased]: Trying to originate like from chemicals is like trying to create Windows OS from soldering wires and switches together. It won’t work because it doesn’t address the problem at the right conceptual level. The origin of life is a software problem, not a hardware problem; and the question of how to make the jump from physical matter-energy interactions to inherently non-physical, abstract formalisms with symbol codes and complex information processing seems insurmountable from the position of metaphysical naturalism.
For your part, and in terms of empirical evidence, what are the strengths of evolution and the weaknesses of the YEC position?