Thursday, May 31, 2012

Women Are the Key to Male Choices

This simply doesn't come as much of a surprise. Sergey Gavrilets, just down the road at the University of Tennessee, has researched the role of female choice in evolution and how it led to the modern family structure. Science Daily writes:
The "sexual revolution" entailed males first competing with other males for dominance, as a way to get matings. However, low-ranked males—and eventually all males except those with the highest societal stature—began supplying females with provisions in what is called "food-for-mating" to get a leg up on the competition. Females showed preference for the "provisioning" males, leading males' energy to be spent on providing for females and females becoming increasingly faithful. This spurred self-domestication and the modern family as we know it today.
One cannot help but wonder if this change coincided with the expansion of the braincase that began to take off around 1.5 million years ago, the time in which we first encounter stone tools and the first inferences of some form of rudimentary culture. With the increase in the strong pair-bond, you have the basis for providing the offspring with the stability of a strong nuclear family. This, then appears to be the natural order of things. It is ironic that this nuclear family structure has, for many aspects of western society, broken down in recent years in the face of “free thinking” and lack of personal responsibility.

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  1. Let me preface my question by assuring you that it is sincere, and not in any way argumentative or a setup for debate. I know you are a fellow Christian. I am curious as to how and/or where the Genesis narrative regarding Adam fits in to this evolutionary model.

  2. Laurie, That, there, is the 64 thousand dollar question. I am not sure I can hang with the Dennis Venema's of the world and say that Adam is completely metaphorical and yet the genetic evidence is pretty conclusive that there was never only one modern human couple alive at any time in our history but that, at its worst, there was a population bottleneck subsequent to which there may have been only 50,000 modern humans alive.

    And then you have the added problem that this likely occurred around 50 to 70 thousand years ago. It is becoming increasingly clear that, if Adam was a real person, he was one of many that were around. If you add to that the fact that there are gaps in the Adam narrative, it gets murky.

    I am not saying that Adam didn't exist. I am saying that the Genesis account is extraordinarily stylized and symbolic.

  3. Yes, stylized is exactly the term I use to describe the Genesis creation narrative. There are a couple of options I bat around, one of which is that Adam was a specially created man in a world that had others (Neanderthals, lets say - I'm not a scientist, so bear with me.) This would likely account for the sense one gets in reading Genesis that the creation of Adam is a sub-creation, a story within the story, if you will.

    Adam was created out of the ground not within the garden, placed in the garden, and sent back out of it when he sinned. He would then have to till that ground and return to it upon death. I get a sense that there was a rough world outside of that place, not a protected and verdant garden, which is what God planted for him. Also, Adam and Eve seemed to have some notion of what death was - that is, if the fact that we have no record of God explaining the concept to them is any indicator.

    Also, the special creation of Adam within a creation of already developing creatures would account for Cain's wife, the city he built, the Nephalim in the land with whom cross-breeding seems to have created giants, etc. All odd bits that leave everyone scratching their heads.

    Some of this same could be said for the idea that Adam was a man set apart by God from whatever humanoid (or human) species (or race) was going on in those days, and into whom God placed His own spirit and life, thus forming a being in His image, a morally intelligent being, God-focused, suited for fellowship and relationship with God, and also morally accountable to God, etc.

    I am not comfortable with any interpretation that excludes the existence of a literal Adam and Eve. Too much of the rest of Scripture and doctrine assumes their reality and depends on it.

    All that said, if on my arrival in heaven I learn that God had done it all in 6 literal days, I would in no way be stunned or disappointed, though I would have a few questions for the Creator.

  4. So the evolutionary kernel of the nuclear family is...prostitution. Interesting.

  5. Only if they charged money for the protection...