Down the Trunk of the Jub Jub Tree

This morning, I read this little snippet at the Bayly Blog, and thought I needed to add my two cents.

Here is my first penny. Note that a “first couple” is not required by the text of Scripture, but that it is required by the theologians. Well, then . . . all rise! If the theologians need a first couple, then who are we to say anything to the contrary? We are not strictly bound by what the Bible says, but we are bound by what the theologians need. And what theologians need most, as everybody knows, is a donor base that won’t cut off their seminary. And this means that the words must be parsed very carefully, like a donkey eating a thistle.

My second farthing is that this quote quite obviously leaves room for the first couple to be the first couple that God decided to make a covenant with, themselves descended from a long line of critters. This means that just as God called Abram out of Ur, so also He called Adam and Eve down from the trees. This is because God looked far into the future and saw that the theologians had nothing to work with, and so in His great mercy He looked over the vast canopy of trees in the jungles of Africa, and there saw one of the primates who was particularly adept at throwing poo at the passing antelope down below. And the Lord remembered Adam, along with his lovely bride Eve, the best picker of nits in that entire region.

You don’t see that? Ah, but faith is the assurance of things not seen, is it not? If the text doesn’t require that Adam was made from the dust of the ground, then surely it leaves room for Adam to descend ceremoniously and with great dignity down the trunk of his jub jub tree — a subject worthy of a Milton! — going oo oo oo as he came.

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19 thoughts on “Down the Trunk of the Jub Jub Tree

  1. I agree but I have a question which I very rarely never hear addressed.  We are not apes and we didn’t evolve from them; I’m more than grateful and give God the glory.  But why are we made similar to apes, even just in terms of more similar relative to other creatures?  And what is the significance of it, including for theologians who apparently need such things more than the rest of us? 

  2. Chris — maybe it’s just a design that the Creator likes, implemented in a variety of models?
    Or think of it this way — if we weren’t more relatively similar to apes, we’d be relatively more similar to something else, unless the Creator decided to design every type of creature entirely uniquely. But there’s no logical reason He needed to do that, if He didn’t want to. There is as much glory in variety within in a theme as in absolute variety. So the relative similarity doesn’t actually have to “mean” anything. It could, but it doesn’t have to.

  3. Chris – could it be to keep us humble?  We’re clearly different from the animals (Genesis 1-2 and simple observation tells you that) but we’re also creatures like the animals.  Genesis 1 affirms that and, my guess at least, is that God deliberately making us like some of the animals is intended to humble us and remind us of our createdness.
     
    Why he made us more like Apes than like e.g. Sheep may well simply reflect the fact that had he made us more like sheep than like apes we’d be wondering why he hadn’t made us more like apes.

  4. 1. Accusing Horton & others of taking such positions only from fear of man, and not from textually educated conviction, is slanderous. Wilson & others have constituencies which would fire them if they abandoned their party line. Log, meet speck. “Oh, but there’s more of those guys than there are of me”. Congratulations, that must somehow negate the slander.
    2. The same ridicule which Wilson dishes out here is every bit as deserved for the “appearance of age” party. Such people present a picture of God which is totally at odds with every text of scripture which speaks to his character–yet they represent themselves as the textual faithful. Instead, they are arrogant theologians fitting God into their Procrustean bed of hermeneutics.
    3. No doubt Wilson & others would say such cunning jabs effectively shepherd the elect sheep and effectively piss off the reprobate wolves. Echo chamber. I’m content in the company of such ravening wolves as Lewis, Warfield, etc. Everybody knows how much THOSE buffoons devoured millions of sheep.

  5. Jane 
    - It’s not just physical similarity but also apes are the most intelligent of other mammals and therefore the most similar to man, although I think this is exaggerated.  There’s obviously still a vast difference.
    Josh
    - Why would we need to be kept humble prior to sin making us proud?  Also, ‘made in the image of God but looks a bit like an ape’ is an interesting juxtaposition of (justified) exaltation and humility worth pondering!  But quite amusing as well!

  6. actually – a case can be made for Lewis and Warfield devouring millions… been into a later day saint bookstore lately?  Lewis is all over the place.  granted Lewis would have hated this.  and a proper reading of him wouldn’t permit it – but he was unfortunately vague and soft enough in some areas to be a hot seller in many an lds bookstore.
    as to warfield…  he stands and falls like the rest of men.  yes, he was a godly man… etc… but his sympathy or engagement with evolution wasn’t his only flaw… his take on the eternal procession of the Son was noteworthily un-creedal.
    my concern is why does anyone even take Horton et all seriously anymore… they’ve proven who they are… its sad… really sad… but let’s move on.
    as to firing people… the seminary… any seminary should be under the church… not free from it.  that’s part of the problem with WW.  Horton should at least be censored or disciplined for his silliness… but then WW let’s R.Scott Clark run free with gay abandon – vomiting his hate all over the web, so Horton making a low key comment about the historical Adam (while  that is hugely important) shouldn’t really matter.  triage.  take care of the elephant in the room… them the other vermin can be dealt with.  

  7. Sorry to take over the blog, but I think I have a suggestion that may answer my own question!  Actually two suggestions.  Firstly, I don’t know why there are superficial similarities to apes but God does and it’s up to Him!  But that’s an answer to every question.  
    However, is it possible that the significance of the apparent similarities is to show us (contrary to the emphasis of evolution) how great the difference actually is between man and the rest of the animals?  There may be a superficial, passing similarity but who we are and what we will become as made in (and being changed into) the image of God is literally worlds apart.

  8. Chris — I wasn’t merely referring to physical similarity, but similarity any way you might find it. Since our cognitive function is just as designed as our anatomy, my answer is exactly the same for both.

  9. Or, to put it another way — everything God does means something. But there’s nothing that says everything has to mean something we can, or need to grasp. Most of the thing He does mean something only to Him because we never even know about it. Just because it is something done before our eyes still does not mean that it has to “mean” something in particular to us, simply because it is in fact meaningful.

  10. If I were to make a list of problems in Genesis, this one would be way, way down on the list.  Just because lines aren’t always bright doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  For example, astronomers debated for ten years whether Pluto was a planet before concluding that it isn’t, and there’s no obvious reason (othat than that the line had to be drawn somewhere) for why Australia qualifies as a continent but Greenland does not.  So, OK, it’s not crystal clear precisely when our simian ancestors became human but that doesn’t mean the line wasn’t crossed at some point.  If I did believe in Genesis, I’d be far more concerned with recent fossil finds in Indonesia showing that multiple human species co-existed at the same time.

  11. And while I wouldn’t have phrased it quite the same way Object of Ridicule did, I think he (she?) has a point that it is unfair to impugn the reputations of scholars who may well have honestly arrived at their conclusions, regardless of how much you may disagree with them.  In point of fact the available evidence overwhelmingly favors evolution, and they’re simply trying to interpret the text in such a way as to harmonize it with the available evidence.  Kind of like Katecho did a few threads ago when we were discussing Biblical flat earth cosmology.

  12. Chris, your second suggestion is good.

     

    Consider, what would be the alternative? Genesis makes much of the fact that man, and man alone, was created in God’s image. Suppose God had created man as radically different, in terms of appearance, from all the animals, and physically equidistant from all of them. Then, we would have probably thought the image of God has everything to do with our bodies, our unique genome, the way we look like. That, in turn, would mean the image of God is something we may conceivably be able to cook up or replicate in a lab one day. What would that do to the Creator/creature distinction? You know, theologians need that concept. (Just kidding here.)

     

    But what we observe instead is that no matter how poorly or closely animals happen to physically resemble human beings, there’s still about the same huge gap between them and us.

     

    So if nothing else, the similarity between man and ape should tell you something about what the image of God is, or rather about what it’s not. It’s a hint that there’s more to reality than just atoms. A reminder of the Creator/creature distinction. It’s a sketch of what divine transcendence means.
     

  13. ——For starters, let’s all recognize that the ape that to date has shown the most aptitude with abstract thought and language is facing stiff competition from parrots and ravens with brains the size of pecans. That is not to even mention sheepdogs, elephants, dolphins, or most terrifying of all, octopi.
    ——Most of the insistence by the biology establishment that apes are very similar to humans and very intelligent is carryover from the era of evolutionary progressivist snobbery, which existed from the early nineteenth century to the invention of the electron microscope.
    ——Why would God make humans, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans with the same basic body plan? BECAUSE IT’S HILARIOUS, that’s why. Almighty God is a lot like a small child- or a chimpanzee, if you will- He keeps having fun with a good idea long after supercilious grown-ups have dismissed it as tacky, repetitive, and stale.
    ——-The natural world reveals all sorts of wondrous things about God- most of which are terrifyingly inhuman. We err when we reject nature’s Creator on the basis of His otherness, in preference for a comfortable and predictable deity of our own invention. Studying the natural world is always unsettling- not because it challenges our faith in God (that is challenged by folly and sin,) but because it challenges the comfy imaginings of what He is really like that we prefer to the truth.

  14. Chris – I like your suggestion more!  It’s very hard to compare two very different things: Like Cheese and obscurity, but much easier to compare things when they have common traits: which simply reinforces how different we are from the animals.  That said, we are creatures so it seems reasonable that God would build in to the system an obvious reminder of that point.

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