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“Neanderthals, Modernity, and Faith”


I recently did one of those DNA tests. One fun fact I learned is that a large percentage of people have a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA mixed with their Homosapien DNA. I found out that I have more Neanderthal in me than 93% of all submissions. I told Vachelle (my wife) this, and she mentioned something like, “Great, I married a Neanderthal.” 😊 The blessings (or curses) of Modernity!


The sheer capability of accessing this information separates us from all previous generations before us. Some philosophers I enjoy (see source below) once wrote that the people who were alive just 200 years ago have more in common with Abraham (4200 years ago) than they do with us in 2021. DNA sequencing, internet, international flights, space travel, and more make the way that we live starkly different than the way people lived even 50 and 100 years ago.


To be sure, I don’t want to go back to the time of the Neanderthals or even to the time of Abraham. I am a child of the modern world. I am grateful for its blessings and always think over its difficulties. Because of the change we all must adapt to through life, we would do well to remember our heritage. The Jewish and Christian worlds have clear evidence of preserving or layering their identity (according to God’s will). Truly, one of the most remarkable things about Israel’s heritage is their ability to cope and re-think themselves through the centuries. Examples abound!


Under patriarch’s Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we find a nomadic tribalism that was clan centered. Joseph brings Israel under the care (and eventual slavery) of Egypt. Moses introduces a thickly developed law-based system that had previously never been seen before. Under the various judges, Israel was at the whim of whomever was willing to rise and challenge the foreign oppressors around them. Under Saul and David, Israel made the transition to monarchy. Under Josiah, after generations of leaving aside God’s law, the Israelites took it up again with a serious nature. Under Jesus, we learn of the centrality of God’s nature. Plenty of Jews followed, but plenty did not. After the temple was destroyed in 70A.D. even fewer Jewish groups survived significantly to pass on a heritage. There would forever be no sacrificial system after this. Under the early Apostles, they realized the full vision of God’s will was to include the Gentiles and the whole world in salvation. We could continue. Adaptation takes times, and there were many regressions in Israel’s history as well.


Still, has God not foreseen every circumstance we find ourselves in? Did not God know the cultural and technological changes that would take place? He surely has. We would do well to keep following him faithfully through the ever-changing world.


Source: William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland’s “Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview” is the book I referred to above from “Some Philosophers.”

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