Subscribe to Christianity Today
Adam's Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins (Medicine, Science, and Religion in Historical Context)
David N. Livingstone
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008
320 pp., $37.00
by Michael Ruse
In the Land of Nod
And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
—Gen. 4:16-17 (KJV)
Aye, there's the rub! What about this land of Nod? Who are the Noddites—or should they be called Noddians? And what about Mrs. Cain? Where did she come from? And who was it living in the city named after Enoch? We have just had Adam and Eve, kicked out of Eden, with two sons, Cain and Abel—more to come shortly, it is true, but hardly populating the earth. And certainly not supplying wives to the sons—if they did, would this not be incest? It was questions like this that kick-started discussions of Adam and the possibility that he was not the only man around at the beginning—that indeed he might not have been the man at all around at the beginning and that there might have been pre-adamites—Adam's Ancestors, as historian David Livingstone calls his fascinating and important new book on the topic.
The mark of the true scholar, the really inventive one, is that he or she shows us that there are problems and issues worth discussing that we simply did not know about or even speculate about. I confess that in over thirty years of researching and writing about evolution and science and religion and that sort of thing, I just had not thought about Adam and Eve and the problem of early humans—as were increasingly revealed in the fossil record, as are pressed upon us as we survey the different races of humans around us today, and above all as we try to fit this with the sacred text. Livingstone shows how much I was missing and goes a long way, in what will surely be the definitive treatment, to fill the gaps in my knowledge.
Basically his story runs from about the time of the Scientific Revolution in the 16th century down to the present, with the real climax coming at the end ...