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I openly admit that I find very few topics to be as interesting as the origins of the human race. To think: at one point in history, the first human beings existed in a fantastically large and mysterious home. I cannot begin to imagine what must have gone through their minds. What is this place? What are those creatures above us in the air, below us in the sea, and around us on the dry land? What are those giant orbs in the sky? Heck, they probably thought the world was ending every time it got dark outside. At least the first few times, right? I’m sure I would have.
They must have asked a thousand questions as they slowly began to search out their home and the reasons why they existed. But there is a fundamental issue that I have been wrestling with as of late. How in the world did human beings end up scattered around the globe to begin with, and why does it appear to have happened rather quickly?
Both mainstream science and most of the world’s religions agree that there was a first human being who existed alongside of a second, and that we can all trace our lineage back to these people. In Judeo-Christian thought, we know the world’s first couple as Adam and Eve. In the scientific world, this religious terminology has been copied in the terms “Y-chromosomal Adam” and “Mitochondrial Eve.” It’s scarcely possible to find a belief system that does not affirm the existence of a first man and a first woman. But this ought to be expected. How could there not have been a first man and a first woman, at some point in time? It’s an undeniable, logical necessity.
But the thing that bothers me is what happened afterwards. Subsequent to the arrival of the first human beings on planet Earth, something incredible happened. You see, we don’t have an historical record of just one group of people who lived in some isolated location for some thousands of years. Rather, we have an historical record of scattered groups of people who existed around the globe at a very early time: perhaps at the earliest of times. In fact, many archaeological anthropologists now believe that the most ancient civilizations in human history arose independent of (and perhaps even parallel to) one another.
Of course, this realization is leagues apart from what most of us have heard throughout our lifetimes.
We all know that it was the ancient aboriginal peoples (the earliest Australians) that first existed as a civilization of Homo sapiens, some 50,000 years ago. Well, that’s what some authorities tell us, anyway. In reality, it was actually the ancient Chinese that first existed as a certified civilization, perhaps as early as 80,000 years ago. But that’s not the consensus opinion, of course. Everyone who studies anthropology and archaeology can tell you that human civilization first arose somewhere in Africa . . . or was it the Middle East? Yes, the ancient Mesopotamians came first, right? No, no, no: human civilization arose “out of Asia.” Well, it originated somewhere for Pete’s sakes!
At least we agree on that much.
Like the issues surrounding abiogenesis (first life) and the plethora of evolutionary theories out there today, the rise of human civilization is still utterly shrouded in mystery. Say what you want, but it’s all about as clear as smoke.
But the professionals who study such matters are actually converging on one other point of agreement: human civilizations appear to have arisen all over the globe, from a very early time. For so many years, we were fed the idea that modern human beings descended from some ape-like ancestor in the jungles of Africa, and that they ever-so-slowly disseminated across the world. But if it all started with a pair of human beings who came to exist at a particular place in the world, how is there an historical record of human beings who existed all around the globe at such an early time? Clearly, the earliest civilizations did not have any type of advanced transportation vessels, and they most certainly did not have access to maps of the ancient world. Not on their own, at least.
Without an intrinsic geographical knowledge of the planet and no way of travelling great distances with any real speed (or at all?), shouldn’t they have remained at least somewhat centrally located? I mean, it took European settlers nearly one thousand years to send someone to the “new world.” Of course, what Christopher Columbus found in 1492 was that people already existed there: and they had for a very long time. Did the ancient Native Americans develop a Santa Maria long before the Europeans did, or were they there by some other means? Even if the earliest people had developed a great many ships that were sea-worthy enough to traverse vast oceans—and developed them exceedingly early in their histories—did they really relocate their entire cultures in such a way? I can imagine how that dialogue must have played out. “Hey, you take your group thousands of miles that way. And you: go take your people thousands of miles that way. We’ll stay here. Good luck!”
Man, does that ever strain credibility. Of course, maybe the ancient peoples simply walked along giant land bridges that supposedly existed all over the world some tens of thousands of years ago. Not that we have any concrete evidence that ever happened.
So regardless of when and where civilization first arose, it is more and more the belief that the most primitive cultures developed independent of one another. If true, how in the world might that have happened? I mean, we have the first human beings (as we established earlier), and then a host of civilizations existing apart from one another on just about every major continent. How on God’s green earth did they all get dispersed so quickly? Well I’m glad I asked. When you think about it, there are really only two reasonable explanations for this phenomenon. Both of these explanations fly in the face of nearly every evolutionary theory out there, and both also lead to the conclusion that beings of higher power and intelligence were responsible for how human civilizations spread and developed.
The first possibility is that Homo sapiens came about on numerous (and separate) occasions in diverse places in the world. Rather than having one common origin—as is normally assumed—the human race would actually have multiple origins. Now, that on its face destroys any notion of universal common ancestry, which is proposed within nearly all evolutionary views (most notably, within Darwinism). If we don’t all share some common lineage in an unbroken tree of diverse species, going back to first life itself, then most theories of evolution fall flat on their faces. There are scores of hardcore materialists—of all people—who have their doubts that human beings could ever have been the product of an unguided process. So the idea that we could have arisen on multiple occasions is utterly out of the question. As Vizzini said on The Princess Bride: inconceivable!! I know of no one (yet) who would dare to argue that such a thing could happen. Needless to say, the only way this could have occurred is if a “creator,” a “designer,” or some type of extraterrestrial intelligence created human beings and placed them on different land masses. Yes, there would still technically be a “first” human being in this scenario (or in any scenario), but there would be others who were specifically created in much the same way elsewhere.
Then there is the second realistic possibility: human beings arose in one specific place on Earth, but were physically scattered in a holy-hurry through what can only be explained as, well, an unexplainable event. It comes as no surprise to some of us that this is actually the most ancient explanation of all. To some, the biblical story of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9) is a complete laughingstock: a cute little story created by people who could scarcely tell the sun apart from the moon or the stars apart from the angels. To others, the story happened in a completely literal way; having watched all of the world’s inhabitants create a tower for themselves (and not their God), the Creator came “down” from heaven to confuse their common language and send them all packing. While there may well be some metaphor found within the story, the general concept that a variety of civilizations ended up emerging independent of one another is undeniably close to what modern disciplines are affirming. It’s also not a belief affirmed only within the Bible.
Even the esteemed Jewish-Roman historian, Josephus, often recounted history based on the Old Testament. In his Antiquities of the Jews, he stated that the people of the world—led by a corrupt leader named Nimrod—built a tower in an act of rebellion against God. God, knowing that the Great Flood had not taught the peoples of the world to live righteously, administered justice on them by confusing their languages and preventing them from understanding one another. But just as it is with Josephus’ statements about the existence of Jesus and his affirmation of many of the Bible’s claims, Josephus is often considered to be a treasured ancient witness when discussing secular events (like emperors), but is seen as a deceitful historian with an agenda when “religious” matters are on the table. The selective nature of affirming someone’s credibility never ceases to amaze me.
What these ancient sources tell us is fairly straightforward: before modern archaeology, biology, genetics or anthropology, many of the “primitive” and “unlearned” peoples of the world believed that human beings were physically scattered around the globe in astonishing fashion. As I continue to discover, modern science—when pursued in an open and honest way—typically ends up affirming what human beings have believed from the beginning. The more we discover, the closer we return to our beliefs of old.
Of course, none of this prevents the eternal skeptics and naysayers from regurgitating the same stale company-lines. Since we “know” that evolution is true (whatever we mean by “evolution” at this point), we also “know” that all human beings must have slowly descended from primitive, ape-like ancestors, where they proceeded to ever-so-gradually disperse around the globe. They did so by meandering out of Africa in order to cross ancient land bridges that apparently existed all of over the place some time ago. Despite the fact that every single step in this scenario has never been more debated than it is now, many of us will still tow this line without asking any questions. I communicate with these types of materialistic die-hards on a weekly basis.
But we have to look at the evidence we have in hand, and try to make sense of it. We can feel reasonably confident about the following things:
- Human beings appeared at various places around the world at roughly the same time period.
- The question—who came from where, and when?—is hotly debated within the scientific community, and is very far from settled.
- The overall consensus is that the earliest civilizations developed in isolation from one another.
But one more thing needs to be added to this. You see, it isn’t just that these civilizations seemed to have appeared in different areas rather abruptly, or that they developed independently. The really mysterious part of all of this is that these civilizations also shared astonishing similarities with one another. I have written about this elsewhere, so I refer you there for further details. But it is undeniable that the scattered cultures of the ancient world display an uncanny resemblance in their architecture, religious beliefs, creation accounts, and even their emphasis on particular numbers and themes (like describing “air beings” in identical ways).
To bring this to a close, let’s consider which theory makes the best sense of these points. How did human beings get dispersed all over the world at a very early time in our history, and what can account for the undeniable connections between these well-circulated peoples?
It could well be that Homo sapiens came about in a remote place in Africa via some extraordinarily speculative evolutionary process, that they aimlessly wandered the planet via lost land masses and fortunately came across new dwelling places, and that our most primitive cultures just happened to develop—in isolation—nearly identical creation accounts, building methods, and overall worldviews.
Or . . . perhaps human beings were specifically created at a particular place in the world, where they learned about their creator/s, learned to build structures in a particular fashion, were given advanced understanding of astronomy and mathematics, and came to understand reality in very similar ways. By the judgment of the One/s who had made them, they were then rapidly scattered around the globe. The ancient civilizations shared so many commonalities and appeared at similar times because they were all once connected, and their ancestors once experienced the same events.
In the end, it is really up to each of us to evaluate the information we have and to adopt whichever position makes the most sense of this information. Which explanation for the formation of the earliest civilizations makes sense to you?
Personally, I believe that a being of a higher power and intelligence was responsible. I think this conclusion is where the evidence—not wishful thinking—leads us. I call that being “God”.
As for the alternative, naturalistic theories? Well, I personally find them to be (you guessed it): inconceivable.
“Cradle of Civilization.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cradle_of_civilization
Kluger, Jeffrey. “Here’s Proof That the First Modern Humans Were Chinese.” Time. Oct 14, 2015. http://time.com/4071342/earliest-humans-china/
Klein, Christopher, “DNA Study Finds Aboriginal Australians World’s Oldest Civilization.” History In the Headlines. September, 2016. http://www.history.com/news/dna-study-finds-aboriginal-australians-worlds-oldest-civilization
Lovgren, Stefan. “Who Were the First Americans?” National Geographic News. Sept 3, 2003. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/09/0903_030903_bajaskull.html
Mann, Charles C. New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Vintage Books. New York City, NY. 2006, print.
Von Däniken, Erich. Evidence of the Gods: A Visual Tour of Alien Influence in the Ancient World. New Page Books. Pompton Plains, NJ. 2013, print.