Sunday, September 13, 2015

Did Jesus Die for Homo Naledi?

I ask this question with the deepest possible meaning. No flippant answer would work here . . . but maybe after years and years of contemplation you could just start to scratch the surface.

Background:  I will give a brief description of the Homo Naledi find but encourage you to follow the story in detail here.  In summary, ancient human ancestors are found and reproduced from small fragments of bone that date back well over 1 million years, and sometimes more than 2 million. However last year a team of anthologists and archeologists asked a couple of amateur spelunkers in South Africa to explore a tiny tunnel in the back of a well explored cave.  What they eventually found, through three long small passages was astounding. 

 This will probably be the greatest find ever in the search of ancient human ancestors.  They have only examined about 10% of the remote cave chamber and have found 17-18 individuals, many near complete skeletons. It is hard to think of a metaphor to describe the value of this find.  Maybe like a prospector spending his entire life, with his donkey and gold pan, searching for one nugget and then stumbles into the vault at Fort Knox.

Not only is this a new, yet undiscovered species, it raises many intriguing questions. First, it is not an ape. The hands and feet of Homo Naledi are almost identical to humans.  But it is certainly not human and, we don’t have DNA yet so we are not sure, probably could not have interbred with humans like the Neanderthal did. The most remarkable thing is that the remains of these 2 million old ancestors could not have been piled up in this remote cave chamber by natural means. For example, there could not have been some type of ancient wolf that only ate Homo Naledis and carried their bones to this cave. There have been no other animal bones discovered in the cave.  There could not have been some type of flood that washed the bodies into the cave. There is scant evidence of water being in that part of cave and no other outside debris that you would certainly have with a flood.  There is only one rational answer, this was a ritualistic burial.  There are some death observances in the animal kingdom, such as elephants, dolphins and possible apes, this entombment is unique, prior to this point, to humans.

So how does Homo Naledi fit into the Christian story?  In most evangelical churches, you can’t even begin to have this rational conversation.  I started to discuss something like this in my old evangelical church and one of the elders said to me, “That evolution stuff is just a bunch of crap.  They created the Neanderthal from a pig’s tooth and clay. Carbon dating has been proven wrong.” Of course they don't use carbon dating to date these ancient inorganic fossils.

I knew that I was no longer talking to a friend but to a chick tract or a Ken Ham video. My friend’s mouth was moving but Ken’s words were coming out.

A lot of people prefer not to think about these difficult questions.  I love them because of my natural curiosity.  They certainly don’t make my theology simpler. It would be nice if the Genies story was more clear and detailed and fit perfectly with the fossil record. It is confusing when things like Homo Naledi walk into the scene, like a Macbethian character walking onto a stage where a futuristic sci-fi play is being performed.

There are so many questions to be asked.  My sense that there was a long process, guided by God as a creative process, to form humans.  I think the Homo Naledi creature was a pre-human and innocent form . . . pre-fallen in other words. But then it raises other theological questions. If sin had not entered, why was death everywhere?  After all, the cave is full of death.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


As part of my small group, Relevant Christianity, we are going to do a series on doubt.  I'm listening to lectures in preparation for this series.  I listened to one that really was good and wanted to share it.  It is a LAbri lecture and they have asked that we not link directly to their lectures. It is available from their library and is free, however, a donation is suggested.  I will link to their library and then you can search for the title: When Doubts Arise by Jim Paul. You can serach for it by going to the LAbri libarary ( 

I will give my personal perspective (not from the lecture) of how we got to this place. It is western culture in a nutshell.  

The Greeks looked into the night sky 3000 years ago and had wonder.  They looked at events of nature and  needed a script to explain. They created the myths and stories around their gods. Their gods were small, somewhat like our Marvel super heroes.

 Pythagoras was born in 570 BC. He was smart but had a gift. He may have been a savant. He saw mathematical patterns everywhere.  The patterns were larger than the Greek gods . . . suggesting that something was bigger than what we see here. This created a problem.

Aristotle born in 384 BC focused on reason and believed that truth came through collecting information through our senses (empiricism) and then using logic to find pure truth.  He believed that perfect truth could be found this way every time.

Plato, originally a student of Aristotle, born in 428 or 427 BC didn’t like Aristotle’s approach to truth. He travelled and studied in a school set up by the disciples of Pythagoras in Sicily. There Plato expanded Pythagoras’ ideas that there was another, more real, realm than we have here, one in the ether. In the ether all things are real verses here, where everything is a mirage or shadow.

Many of the early church followers, leaders and fathers adopted Plato’s ideas because they seemed so similar to the Christian ideas (but was not). Western civilization lived through the Dark Ages as the result of adopting Platonic-Christian metaphysical perspective.

People became starved for knowledge and reason.  South of the Alps, via the Medici family, a new Platonic philosophy was introduced, where human experience or emotion was the other “ether” not the Christian heavenlies. This was the Renaissance and humanism.

North of the Alps, via the influence of the Moors in Spain, Aristotelian logic was reintroduced and taken to the extreme form with the announcement by Descartes (1596) that "Cogito ergo sum."  Meaning, that if my senses can’t perceive it, then it is not real so the only thing I can know for sure is that I exist.

This type of distorted Aristotelian rason led to an extreme empiricism (if you can’t perceive it via your senses it is not real) that had great hopes of optimism (logical positivism). That optimism was dashed in the blood bath of the American Civil War, trenches of WWI where reason created weapons of horrible suffering.  In WWII reason also created the bomb and more catastrophic destruction.  Nazism was the last great social experiment in a pure scientific, logical society (the weak extinguished for the sake of the race).  The passions and morality of humanity could not be factored because they are unseen and thus not real. 

The despondency after these events didn’t lead to a more healthy rationalism, but rationalism being abandoned totally.

Now we live in an age of emotion.  Truth comes to us by feeling.  Christians have adopted the secular society’s views, as they always do.  Now to know God, you must only know Him through your emotions (re-labeled as “spiritual” to make Christians feel more comfortable and hide the fact that they are speaking in truly secular terms).

This is the age of doubt because no one trust reason anymore.  Emotions are wet tissue paper for the support of truth. All truth is now supported by wet tissue paper and doubt abounds, although emotionally suppressed.