Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reprise: Limitations on the Discussion


James Ussher made the remarkable statement that the world began sometime in 4004 BC.

This has been the butt of centuries worth of mocking, maybe even justified mocking. But let us turn this idea on it's head just for the sake of argument. Let us take the step of saying that that perhaps mankind came into being around 4004 BC.   There can be not proof for this, just a different way of looking at the problem.   As this is a matter of faith, proof in the empirical sense in not strictly necessary.

I am not going to argue that the universe came into being in 4004 BC. I am not stupid. The evidence for the age of the the universe at approximately 13.7 billion years is too solid to ignore.

I will not argue that the earth came into being in 4004 BC either. I feel comfortable with the age of the earth at around 4.5 billion years.

Nor will I be caught into the trap that the bodily form that man inhabits came into being in 4004 BC. The bodily form that we use has been around quite some time, thank you very much.

What I will propose is that to be a member of mankind is to:

  1. Possess a soul.
  2. Have the same basic set of genes as >99% of the current human population
So what I posit as a working hypothesis is that the first ensoulment of mankind took place in a couple of folks in the middle east around 4000 BC.   The physical bodies (which we share >99% sequence homology with) prior to that time were for all intents and purposes, animals as they did not possess a soul.  From a straight biological point of view, we are of a common species with these "pre-men" and it would be impossible to differentiate them from ourselves morphologically, but as the lack of a soul exist, this (from the definition above), precludes them from being a member of mankind.

This cannot ever be proven. Perhaps it is merely a facile argument to rationalize my personal faith. That being said I will work on this idea over time and add supporting evidence if I can find it and if I think of anything to refute it, hopefully I will be intellectually honest enough to include that as well.

(Note)  There is no way to prove or disprove this.  It actually has a bunch of nasty implications when you sit down to think of it.   I am not all that fond of the idea, but there may be some merit.  Who knows, just woolgathering.


Mayberry said...

Personally, I find both sides of such arguments to be pretty much pointless. We are here, and that is that. "Science" is in it's infancy, and being in the scientific community, I regard much "science" as mere speculation. There are some hard and fast scientific laws, which can be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, but everything else is just theory, subject to the personal bias of the researchers, or worse: those who are funding said research. Two different studies on the same subject, funded by two different entities, with differing ideologies, will produce two different results. Slanted toward the ideology of those who funded said study..... Take "science" with a grain of salt.....

Anonymous said...

What happened 6000 years ago (roughly) is recorded history started. Now, humans are basicly children, we think that what we don´t know, hasn´t happened. Hence the ridiculous idea that time extends only as far back as we have a collective memory.

Ps. My word verification is "Crosess": Coincidence? Ds

Gather ye marbles said...

Thought provoking!

I wonder what model of faith your proposal could serve to rationalize.

You propse Biblical literalism/"Young Earth creationism" is an implausible account of events, which seems most reasonable to me; HOWEVER you take one subtype of said literalism (Ussher's chronology) and extract from it one element (the year circa 4000 BC) and use it in a very different context ("ensoulment" in a 13.7 billion-year-old universe, versus "creation" of Usher's 6000-year-old one). You've thrown out 99% of the literalist bathwater, is there a baby there in the few drops remaining (4000BC) and if so, so why hold on to them? If you're looking for a momemt of ensoulment, why not turn to other evidence to locate it?

Regarding the ensouled couple in the middle east six thousand years ago: do they pass on the condition of ensoulment through their progeny (if not "genetically") and if so, don't we have the odd situation of an ensouled population slowly expanding over time in the midst of an soul-less (or "un-ensouled") population of "pre-men"? And wouldn't that mean a lot of the folks walkin' around NOW are un-ensouled pre-men? Or did the condition of ensoulment spread around to everyone right away, like a cold...?

I'm just askin!

(ps. Personaly I'm inclined to think of ensoulment (sentience?) as an emergent property; so perhaps dogs and dolphins and elephants are ensouled in their ways; and we humans are ensouled in our various ways; and the ancient, super-intelligent fungoid creatures on the planet Krt!thpt! are ensouled in ways we can't begin to imagine... Which is putting it pretty sketchily but then I think of it sketchily....)

Ken said... 'theology' thoughts,man evolved from primates...just not on this planet,on this planet,we 'de-volved',we crashed here,or were 'seeded' here...the human brain is powerful enuff to do diety like things,but we can only use 10% or less of it...were primitive,when we learn to use our brains,we will in fact be god-like...I still believe in an all powerful God,my creator,but closer to the "ensoulment" thing marbles mentioned...i like that term...ensoulment...thanx marbles