Last updated on February 17, 2021
NOTE: This was moved over from a previous “moved over” from a different platform. In the previous format, it had to be broken into smaller chunks, so the longer format here is a translation. I’m checking for flow, but I’m not perfect.
Many years ago, I read this article by Oberon Zell entitled “We Are the Other People”. There were other articles and theories that I have read since then, but it was a very interesting brain-turner for me, and along with many of the other bits and bobs of wisdom and truth that have come along, I developed a theory about our evolution as humans. (I also admit, right up front, that Heinlein and Sagan both had a lot to do with this.)
Here’s my disclaimer: I do not “believe” this as fact, truth or otherwise. It’s an interesting theory, based in historical and apocryphal evidence, and it both posits and answers a number of questions (theoretically). It is not a hypothesis because I do not have the means to experiment, prove or disprove it – although maybe someone else with more resources may one day accomplish that. (I do have some ideas on how to go about that experimentation, but that’s another story.) (Also, forgive me for not using more references to other theories and articles, I’m not willing to spend my whole day utilizing my mad leet Google-fu. Trust me, it’s out there.)
In order to follow along, there are certain assumptions that must be accepted as “true”. First is that the story of Genesis is, at least in part, historically accurate. The second assumption is that our archaeological records are also accurate. The third part is that we are not alone in the universe. Ready, set, go!
So, here’s the story of Genesis, told from a different point of view:
Here’s this small blue-green planet, and roughly 150,000 to 175,000 years ago, bipeds evolved and started developing their brain meat. They plodded along the natural path of progression, adapting to their environment, building clans, then tribes, then communities, and always learning about their environment. They developed ideas and thoughts and beliefs about their environment, they witnessed certain events that inspired them to create god-images and accept the presence of spirits in all things (animism), but for the most part, their lives were self-contained and properly taken up with the very important task of survival. They farmed, they raised flocks of animals for food, they lived. The average life span according to archaeological data for around 6,000 years ago was between 40 and 70 years old, depending on various factors such as climate, diet and political relationships with other tribes and communities.
About 5,700 years ago or so (as the time-crow flies), along comes this group of beings that these ancient people recognized as “gods”. (I use the word “recognized” here to mean “this is what they identified them as”, not as “this is what their true nature was”.) They were various genders (the word Elohim is a masculine-feminine-plural), and they were checking out the locals. They find these little homo sapiens fascinating, and for whatever reason, they decide to intervene.
They take a DNA sample from a burial mound, let’s say (so some other “earth” source), and they realize that there is a huge amount of mixed up genes in there. The recessives are impressive, but the dominants are strong, too. They have the ability (technology?) to clean up the genetic code and create a genetically perfect homo sapien – Adam – without any kind of genetic recessive at all. There is no preference in the genes for illness, cancer, mental deficiency: it’s all as clear as it could possibly be.
From Adam, they clone Eve. Why? Why not go along with all the other creation mythologies and start with woman, the natural symbol of life-giving? Because you can’t clone a man from a woman. A male carries both the X and the Y chromosome necessary for determining gender while females only carry a pair of X chromosomes. You can’t get blood from a turnip, and you can’t clone a man from a woman. Adam has to come first, and he does, and these celestial tinkerers create a copy of him so that this new cleaned-up H. sapien can breed with someone that has everything in common genetically.
Yahweh – a moniker that translates into “I am that I am” – is charged with the day-to-day maintenance of these two little petri-dish results. He teaches them how to eat, and they have no need for things like clothes or shelter because they are kept in a controlled environment. However, after a period of time, Yahweh actually fulfills his actual purpose, to live up to his name by teaching and assisting Adam and Eve in accomplishing self-awareness.
This is not the self-awareness that children have when they discover that they have fingers and toes and all kinds of other fascinating things that can be shoved into their mouths. Rather, this is the self-awareness that comes from understanding not only that actions have consequences (existence of “good” and “evil”, if you will, though I am not prone to use such judgment terms myself) but also that they have a choice in determining those consequences by choosing their actions.
(There is the possibility here that the original story may also tell about a little inter-laboratory politics, that maybe Yahweh wasn’t living up to his tasks, and so one of his counterparts, referred to as the Serpent, the symbol of wisdom in other cultures, took it upon himself to provide a forced upgrade on the two H. sapiens through the symbol of the Mac apple.)
The time is ripe, and they are released back into the wild.
So, Adam and Eve have reached their prime state of maturation as genetically-perfect specimens of an indigenous species and are released back into the native element. They are charged with providing for their own food, but because they have been raised exclusively in a tightly controlled environment, their bodies have not been conditioned to survive in a natural environment. They need clothes to protect them from the cold and the heat, and they need shelter from this weird moisture that falls from the ceiling… but, hey, they’re designed to handle it and adapt. That is, after all, part of what makes humans unique: using external tools and resources to adapt to changing environments.
Adam and Eve get down to the serious business of doing the business, and the business results in two sets of fraternal twins – a boy and girl each time – which is reputed to be a natural occurrence for genetically clean individuals, possibly a result of healthy multiple ovulation by females and beefy-strong sperm created by males. Their instructions are that Cain is supposed to marry Abel’s sister, and Abel is supposed to marry Cain’s sister. It doesn’t really work out that way, because Abel’s sister falls in love with Abel instead, and that’s part of the three offenses that led Cain to take out his legitimate aggressions on Abel.
An agent (angel?) of Elohim comes ’round and says, “Hey, man, we get it, you were mad, and that’s cool, we understand, but you’re kinda making people uncomfortable. Let’s just book out of here and find some other place to sow your seeds.” (You know, because Cain was a farmer, huh-huh-huh…)
So, Cain takes off, ends up in Nod – okay, let’s stop right there a second.
See, here’s where the theory started developing: The story of Genesis is supposed to be the story of the very first people on the planet Earth. Then that unpleasantness happens, Cain gets the boot, and he shows up in a town. How is there a town if his parents were the first people on Earth? That just doesn’t make any sense, does it? Obviously, the original scribers (we can’t say “authors” because it was first an oral history) might have had a few proof-reading issues, or maybe they just went along and wrote it down faithfully… but I have to wonder if they ever looked at that and went, “Huh. Well, that’s weird.”
So, Cain takes off, ends up in Nod, and he marries a nice lady with a good practice, makes a nice living. (What good Jewish mother doesn’t want their kid marrying a doctor?) He has one son at least, maybe several (Biblical scribes tended to truncate the lineages of some people after a while because, let’s face it, that’s just silly to keep track of how many cousins and nephews and nieces and uncles and sister’s fourth cousin on the second father’s side), but he outlives them all. Cain lives to be over 900 years old, if the track record of his parents and other siblings is any indication. He and his son Enoch build a town called… Enoch… (I guess genetic perfection is no guarantee of creativity) and they live out their very numerous days there.
Back at the ranch, after all the big nasty went down, Adam and Eve got back to the procreation and had Seth, who (the poor thing) took up the charge of marrying both of the sisters. They had kids together, and in the meantime, Adam and Eve were still working towards their own baseball team, but none of that plays into history, so no one knows what happened to any of them.
Now, Adam and Eve each live to be over 900 years old – and in Adams case, it’s given as exactly 930 years old. There was one suggestion from a magazine I read years ago that said that the original translation from one language into the next was bad and that Adam did not live to be 930 years old but rather 930 seasons old. Dude, that’s still over 230 years! Still an accomplishment!
In either case, what kind of genetic code could we have that creates a circumstance of near-perfect cellular regeneration so that we could live without illness for 230 or even 930 years? How much did diet have to do with that? We know that the Original Couple ate meat, veggies and grains, but what else? It’s reasonable to assume that they didn’t get sick – at the end, it doesn’t say, “Adam lived nine hundred thirty years and then got sick and died.” I just says, “he died.”
And it keeps on like that. Enoch and his progeny through the generations experience shorter and shorter life spans. Adam and Eve and all of their brood enjoy those same long lives, right up until they start breeding with other tribes in the area, and then the lifespans of their descendants take these long, languid diminutions in span until someone from the original lab gets a little miffed at having to wait so long between data samples that they limit the life spans of all future generations to 125 years.
Okay, that’s all very interesting and everything, but what does it mean?
Let’s speculate a bit
So, the theory goes that Adam and Eve were a genetic engineering experiment, and that their perfect genes were passed along through their children and down the generations, etc. The main point in the first place is to speculate on the true nature of the universe, sure, but it’s also to attempt to answer some fundamental questions about the nature of our individual lives.
If we assume that the original Adam and Eve were truly in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley of Mesopotamia, then it stands to reason that somewhere in those indigenous peoples would be some kind of shared genetic marker to a mitochondrial Eve that would only go back about 6,000 years, give or take. (To understand more about the topic of mitochondrial Eves, check out The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry. It’s surprisingly readable by lay-folk.)
The practical implication is that we have within us the capacity to live for extremely long periods of time without illness. Our DNA may or may not be prone to that – after all, it’s been a few thousand years since the last of Adam’s brood started pushing up the daisies – and there have been thousands if not millions of opportunities for world-wide genetic drift from the influence of environmental changes, toxins, pollution, cosmic radiation, etc. The statement of “not prone to” a genetically perfect state, however, does not negate the possibility of improving on what we’ve got and having a benchmark by which we can measure our success.
My time has not allowed me to investigate the possibilities of other similar “experiments” in other parts of the world, but I suspect that I will find them here and there, couched in the same cloud of mythology and parable.
Now, back to Oberon Zell’s opinion that “we are the other people“, I have always appreciated his point of view that as a quality of not being directly of Middle Eastern descent, he is not “like” those other folks and therefore is not required to follow the same moralistic nonsense of social taboos and which half of a lamb to sacrifice to TheOneTrueGod. At the same time, by entertaining the Laws and Edicts given to these Middle Eastern peoples, we’re noticing that there’s a great deal of pretty practical health advice in there.
Could it be that some of the Mosaic laws (passed down from Jehovah, yet another incarnation of this Elohim character) were really more of a slightly delayed “care and feeding of your genetic condition”? Kosher food – assuming that it’s done by the books – is really a lot healthier, has less fat, and… okay, I admit, not necessarily as tasty as the stuff peddled off the grocery shelves like so much crack-cocaine, but it’s better for you, and without the additional Mosaic neuroses, it can be made to be pretty satisfying, taste-wise.
I mean, there is some scientific wisdom demonstrated in various aspects of the mitzvot (loosely translated as “commandments”). For instance, there is a mitzvot that says that newborn boys are to be circumcised only on the eighth day after birth – and that is the time when Vitamin K is at the highest level it will ever be in the body. Vitamin K is the substance that your body requires to clot the blood and thus heal wounds. Another mitzvot is to “not tear the skin in mourning”, which I could see as a medical admonition since the body has a harder time healing from injury when it is under stress or depresses, and in that same state, you’re far more likely to cause more serious damage to yourself.
And then there’s the bit about taking a day of rest every week. Frankly, for people like yours truly, that’s really, really good advice, because if I didn’t consciously think about it, I really would work seven days a week. There’s the periodic fasting – sometimes for a day, sometimes for a week – and that’s a really good thing for maintaining your metabolism and practicing a little self-control. There’s the whole cooking meat and milk together, and not eating new grain before Passover, and making sure that the first three years of fruit from orchard trees aren’t eaten…
(Frankly, I also dig the whole automatic prenuptial agreement thing, too. That’s just downright clever.)
I am only discussing the Judaic principles here because that is the original story. Sure, Christianity and later Islam are based roughly on the same mythology, but that’s not the story of the descendants of Adam and Ever (or Abraham, who we should reasonably assume was also descended from them directly). Their story was a family history that was passed along through generations of the clan before getting passed along through generations of the tribe, and then the town, etc. This is what makes this story more important for the theory than any other.
Fare and Ceeding
The mitzvot (also known as the 613 Commandments) could be this cool user manual for humans, sure. There are plenty of admonitions and rules and regulations in the mitzvot that I don’t abide and are not valid to the theory because they do fall into that moralistic realm. Part of the whole upshot is that morals should not exclusively be dictated by stuffy old men with long beards and small penises: sometimes they have a purpose. (And that’s not to say that some morals aren’t the prejudices of these same men, but let’s be a little intelligent about it and use the brain the aliens gave us.)
Let’s just pretend for a minute that this theory of Adam and Eve is valid. For you, a human and distant descendant of the Original Couple – because we really are ALL related, without reservation – you have a genetic inheritance somewhere deep in your code that could enable you to live to 125 years old, at least. This genetic inheritance does not make you a morally better person or somehow the master of your emotions and spiritual self. If that were the case, Cain wouldn’t have committed his little faux pas.
Okay, so the morals were designed to be extraordinarily specific to keep people from abusing a pretty remarkable existence and to protect the gift of longevity that they were given. I can see that. The sexual restrictions may have been necessary both to be able to keep track of progeny as well as to reduce STDs – which were very much alive and well back then, I promise. The idol worshiping thing… well, that’s a little over-flogging the deceased golden calf (I tried to count them and lost focus), but maybe if those idol-worshipers were eating bad food that was counter to the new genetics’ programming…
Part of this is fascinating to me because it completely validates the conduct elements of proscribed religious activity without the actual religion. This is important because it takes away the necessity of religious prejudice, I’d think. Judaic folks want to do it this way, and they are following these laws for the purpose of protecting this genetic inheritance, and that’s just fine. It’s not just because “God said so”. And if someone else wants to do it a different way, that’s fine – that’s another part of our wacky humanity, that “free will” thing – they can do it because it feels right to them, not just because “God said so”! And if you choose to not go on any of those paths at all but do something completely different, that’s okay because it’s your choice – God doesn’t have to say so!
So, these celestial beings give us a huge leg-up in our evolution, and now thousands of years later, we may almost be mature enough to handle it. What does one do with one’s time when you have the potential to live twice as long as you originally thought you would? How does one go about restoring and then protecting that genetic potential?
Here’s what I find particularly beautiful about it: IF one were so inclined, one could take this story the way I’ve presented it and find a better foundation for a belief in a higher power than through all the other religious implications from all the “holy” books in the world. Plus, IF one were so inclined, they’d have a great foundation for an excellent diet and enjoy incredible health and well-being for a reeeeeeeally long time.
Yes, it’s a fascinating theory. MAJOR caveat, again, I’m not taking this to the bank; it’s just a fascinating thought experiment.
And now, for your part: What would you do if you knew you were going to live for around 900 healthy years? Caveat: Your “child-bearing years” are only the ones that we currently have, between, say, 20 and 45.