Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Evolution of Man & Religion: Out of Africa, Part 1 of 3

Evolution of Man & Religion: Out of Africa
Part 1 of 3

Good morning. Over the last several days I have spent a little time putting together the following link "Index - Evolution of Man & Religion." In it I've collected articles related to humanity's origins and its civilizations from over the years at Relevancy22. There are other indexes related to the evolution of the cosmos, the earth, and natural theologies in general, but here, I wanted a topical index just on "us".

Over the last twenty articles I've attempted to describe the ancient eras of the Lord before the pages of Genesis had been written down between 750-350 BC; or before their oral legends began to arise around 2400 BC. In the articles ahead I'll show why I am saying this about the bible book of Genesis and especially it's opening chapters before the narratives of Abraham and his descendants had occurred.

All of earth's developmental / evolutionary history - including man's evolutionary history - had occurred eons before the simple Hebrew story of origins. A story in which the Hebrews, and the civilizations before them, could never know. And one which the Lord couldn't possibly explain to pre-scientific peoples of the earth. The histories are simply too long, too complex, which even now we fail to grasp in their ancient cycles of life and death; of processual complexity, maturation, completion, and response to the cosmological and environmental conditions as they occurred and affected the Earth. This is the story of evolution and the origins of man.

Process theology, like the process philosophy of Whitehead, does not discount God but prefigures the reality of God into it's ontological metaphysics essentially, effectively, fundamentally, and centrally. It may not be the classic theology of our fathers - or of our church - but it is the theology that I am most attracted to as the better descriptor of my faith, my God, and the world we live in.

Humanity's Beginnings

Sometimes improperly known as the "Stone Age", the Pleistocene Era began around 2.5 million years ago and concluded around 12,000 BCE when homo sapiens settled down into clans and tribes to till the soil.

The Pleistocene (often referred to colloquially as the Ice Age) is a geological epoch which lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the Earth's most recent period of repeated glaciations.
Before a change was finally confirmed in 2009 by the International Union of Geological Sciences, the cutoff of the Pleistocene and the preceding Pliocene was regarded as being 1.806 million years Before Present (BP). Publications from earlier years may use either definition of the period.
The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period and also with the end of the Paleolithic age used in archaeology.
The name is a combination of Ancient Greek πλεῖστος, pleīstos, 'most', and καινός, kainós (latinized as cænus), 'new'. - Wikipedia

The Pleistocene Era is subdivided into four ages with its corresponding geological layers between glaciation eras (Ice Ages):

  • The Gelasian (2.6 million to 1.8 million years ago) - man transitions from homonid (ape) to homo sapien (man who walks, uses tools and language)
  • The Calabrian (1.8 million to 774,000 years ago) - the genus homo goes through its stages of evolutionary development.
  • The Chibanian (774,000 to 129,000 years ago) - marks modern man's various "near relatives" as they come and go.
  • And Stage 4 (129,000 to 11,700 years ago) - homo sapiens arise to this present age sans civilization, enculturation, and the impudence of kings, magistrates, etc.

click to enlarge

Earth's Geologic TimeLine

Now let's go back a bit farther away from the Pleistocene Era to life's earliest beginnings. As can be seen, the evolution of life has had eons and eons to develop once the planet earth had formed...


Prehistory (or pre-history) is the time before people began to write. The word comes from the Ancient Greek words προ (pre = "before") and ιστορία (historia = "history"). Paul Tournal first used the French word Préhistorique. He found things made by humans more than ten thousand years ago in some caves in France. The word was first used in France around 1830 to talk about the time before writing. Daniel Wilson used it in English in 1851.

The term is mostly used for the period from 4.5 billion BC to 3000 BC, roughly speaking, the Neolithic. Sometimes the term "prehistoric" is used for much older periods, but scientists have more accurate terms for those more ancient times.

Less is known about prehistoric people because there are no written records (historical records) for us to study. Finding out about pre-history is done by archaeology. This means studying things like tools, bones, buildings and cave drawings. Pre-history ends at different times in different places when people began to write.

In the more ancient stone age pre-history, people lived in tribes and lived in caves or tents made from animal skin. They had simple tools made from wood and bones, and cutting tools from stone such as flint, which they used to hunt and to make simple things. They made fire and used it for cooking and to stay warm. They made clothing out of animal skins, and later by weavingSociety started when people began doing specialized jobs. This is called the division of labour. The division of labor made people depend on one another and led to more complex civilizations.

Some important sciences that are used to find out more about pre-history are palaeontologyastronomybiologygeologyanthropology, and archaeology. Archaeologists study things left over from prehistory to try to understand what was happening. Anthropologists study the traces of human behavior to learn what people were doing and why.

After people started to record events, first by drawing symbols (called pictographs) and then by writing, it became much easier to tell what happened, and history started. These records can tell us the names of leaders (such as Kings and Queens), important events like floods and wars, and the things people did in their daily lives. The time when prehistory ended and history started is different in different places, depending on when people began to write and if their records were kept safe or lost so they could be found later on. In places like MesopotamiaChina, and Ancient Egypt, things were recorded from very early times (around 3,200 BC in Ancient Egypt) and these records can be looked at and studied. [Comparatively], in New Guinea, the end of prehistory came much later, around 1900 AD [when coming into contact with modern civilizations].

Timeline of Earth

  • 4.5 billion years ago – Earth formed out of smaller rocks flying around the sun
  • 3,500 million years ago – first very simple and tiny forms of life in the seas
  • 600 million years ago - first animals, also in the seas
  • 500 million years ago - first plants and animals on land
  • 230 million years ago – first dinosaurs appear
  • 65 million years ago – dinosaurs disappear; mammals take their place as dominant animals
  • 30 million years ago - first apes
  • 2.5 million years ago - first humans

Timeline of people

  • 2.5 million years ago – Start of Lower Palaeolithic age, during which a type of early pre-human called Australopithecus lived. These people made tools out of bones and stones and made shelters out of branches.
  • 1 million years ago – A type of early human called Homo erectus lived. People made hand axes and wooden spears.
  • 250,000 years ago – First Homo sapiens (modern people). People make fire. People use bolas. People hunt elephants.
  • 100,000 years agoMiddle Palaeolithic ageNeanderthal people lived. People live in caves and make cave drawings. People begin to bury dead people.
  • 40,000 years ago – Upper Palaeolithic ageCro-Magnon people lived. People make spears from antlers. People make houses from hides (animal skins). People paint cave drawings and make things out of clay. People make needles out of antlers. People make jewellery.
  • 10,000 years ago – The last Ice age ends.
  • 10,000 BC – 4000 BC – Mesolithic age. In North-west Europe people make bows and arrows. People use dogs to hunt and to carry things.
  • 9,000 BC – Neolithic age. People in the Near East start to change from hunting and gathering food to growing crops and using farm animals.
  • 7,000 BC – People in South-west Europe begin using copper to make tools.
  • 6,000 BC – British Isles move away from Europe. [? the flooding of upper Europe's "Land Bridge" which separates England from Europe? - re slater]
  • 2,580 BC – The Egyptians build the Great Pyramids in Giza. People in the Middle East use iron and make plows.
  • 2,400 BC – People make Stonehenge in England.
  • 3,300 BC – 1,200 BC – Bronze Age (in Britain). People make tools out of bronze.
  • 1,200 BC – 400 AD – Iron Age (in Britain). People make tools out of ironRoman Empire rises and falls.

The Last of the Most Recent Ice Ages of the Earth

So much of man's viability depended upon Earth's climatic conditions to live. The last Ice Ages presented a real challenge to early humanity as it migrated in its various pre-homo sapien forms as homo habilis, homo heidelbergenes, the Denisovians, and Neanderthals, and secondly, and much, much later, as homo sapiens from Central Africa.

This is the evolutionary journey of man sometimes described as having two migrations out of Africa. The first, as pre-modern man (or, before today's present speciation of homo sapien). And the second as it's own genus, homo sapien. In between, genetically diverse homo species came-and-went out of Africa (as well as all inhabited lands) not once, or twice, but many times, as it spread across the world. However, the last surviving species is that of homo sapien of today via genetic virility, interbreeding, extermination of competitors, or it's ability to surmount climatic changes. Such is the story of evolutionary man.

The Ice Age began in the Pleistocene epoch, approximately 1.8 million years ago. During the Pleistocene, mountain glaciers formed on all the continents and vast glaciers, in places as much as several thousand feet thick, spread across North America and Eurasia. In the eastern U.S., the ice at one time penetrated as far south as central Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey.

Though we sometimes think of the " last ice age" as one long, cold period, it wasn't. Ice advanced and retreated as the Earth cycled between glacial (colder) and interglacial (warmer) periods. The ice advances and retreats in North America have been given different names (see chart at left). During the warmer, interglacial periods, debris of all sizes was released by the melting ice and was carried forward by melt-water streams or deposited near the ice margin. In many areas of the U.S., these deposits changed the shape of the continent and created the soil structure that exists today.

Archaeological information indicates that hominids evolved rapidly during this time period; our most primitive tools and skeletal remains date back to the Pleistocene. With the end of the Pleistocene, and the retreat of the giant ice sheets, our Bronze and Iron Age cultures developed. The retreat of the ice also had profound effects on the animals that had evolved during the glacial periods. Many of the animals suited to cooler climates became extinct, especially the large megafauna like the wooly mammoth, mastodon and saber-tooth tiger.

What is the difference between Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Megalithic ages?

The Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Megalithic ages are different periods in human history characterized by different technological and cultural developments.

The Paleolithic Age (Wikipedia source: the Upper, Middle, Lower Paleolithic Ages) also known as the "Upper/Old Stone Age", lasted from about 2.5 million years ago to around 10,000 BCE. During this time, humans primarily used stone tools and lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers.

The Palaeolithic (or Paleolithic) was a period of prehistory when humans made stone tools. It was the first and longest part of the Stone Age. It began around 3.3 million years ago and ended around 11,650 years ago. About 99% of human history happened in the Palaeolithic.

The Palaeolithic began when hominids (early humans) started to use stones as tools for bashing, cutting, and scraping. All members of the genus Homo made stone tools, starting with relatively crude tools made by Homo habilis and Homo erectus. In Europe, the large-brained Neanderthal Man (Homo neanderthalensis) made tools of high quality. Our own species, Homo sapiens, made even higher-quality tools. These tools are the first cultural products which have survived to modern times.

The oldest stone tools ever found are about 3.3 million years old. Archaeologists found these tools in the Great Rift Valley of Africa. Australopithecines probably had made them. Archaeologists have found stone tools in continental Europe from about one million years ago, and in Britain from about 700,000 years ago.

During the Palaeolithic Age, humans grouped together in small bands. They lived by gathering plants and hunting wild animals. They made tools out of wood and bone as well as stone. They probably also used leather and vegetable fibers, but these do not last as long as stone and have not survived to modern times.

The Palaeolithic ended around 11,650 years ago, when humans began to make smaller, finer tools. In Western Europe, this was the beginning of the Mesolithic period. In warmer climates like Africa, the Epi-paleolithic period came after the Palaeolithic.

The Pleistocene geological epoch (also called the Ice Age) happened at the same time as the Palaeolithic. In some areas, like Western Europe, this ice age affected the way people lived. In the Middle East, people began to switch from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Both the Palaeolithic and the Pliestocene ended around the same time.

The Mesolithic Age (Britannica source: here) is the transition period between the paleo and neolithic ages occurring from 8000 - 2700 BCE. Also called "Middle Stone Age", is an ancient cultural stage that existed between the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), with its chipped stone tools, and the Neolithic (New Stone Age), with its polished stone tools. Most often used to describe archaeological assemblages from the Eastern Hemisphere, the Mesolithic is broadly analogous to the Archaic culture of the Western Hemisphere. Mesolithic material culture is characterized by greater innovation and diversity than is found in the Paleolithic. Among the new forms of chipped stone tools were microliths, very small stone tools intended for mounting together on a shaft to produce a serrated edge. Polished stone was another innovation that occurred in some Mesolithic assemblages.

Although culturally and technologically continuous with Paleolithic peoples, Mesolithic cultures developed diverse local adaptations to special environments. The Mesolithic hunter achieved a greater efficiency than did the Paleolithic and was able to exploit a wider range of animal and vegetable food sources. Immigrant Neolithic farmers probably absorbed many indigenous Mesolithic hunters and fishers, and some Neolithic communities seem to have been composed entirely of Mesolithic peoples who adopted Neolithic equipment (these are sometimes called Secondary Neolithic).

Because the Mesolithic is characterized by a suite of material culture, its timing varies depending upon location. In northwestern Europe, for instance, the Mesolithic began about 8000 BCE, after the end of the Pleistocene Epoch (i.e., about 2,600,000 to 11,700 years ago), and lasted until about 2700 BCE. Elsewhere the dates of the Mesolithic are somewhat different.

Of note, the Mesopotamian area known as the Fertile Crescent was the first part of the world to move out of the PalaeolithicIn some areas, such as the Near East, agriculture was already underway by the end of the Pleistocene, and there the Mesolithic is short. In areas with limited influence of ice age, the term "Epipaleolithic" is sometimes preferred. (source: here)

Regions that experienced greater environmental effects as the last ice age ended have a much more evident Mesolithic era. This lasted millennia. In Northern Europe, societies were able to live well on rich food supplies from the marshlands. Such conditions produced distinctive human behaviours which are preserved in characteristic finds. These conditions also delayed the coming of the Neolithic until as late as 4000 BC (6,000 before present) in northern Europe.

The Neolithic Age (Smithsonian source: here) also known as the New Stone Age, began around 7,000 BCE and lasted until around 1,700 BCE. During this time, humans developed agriculture and settled in permanent communities. They also used stone tools, but began to make other types of tools and weapons from materials like bone and wood.

The Megalithic Age is a term that refers to the use of large stone structures, such as Stonehenge and the pyramids, during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. These structures were built by human communities and were used for a range of purposes, including religious rituals and burials.

From Hunter-Gatherers to Farming Comparison
McCall@TC   |   Aug 14, 2012
Comparing the lives of hunter-gatherers during the Paleolithic Age with the lives of people during the Neolithic Age (the Mesolithic Age is the transition age between the two).


From the multiple sources cited above we can see that modern man had an evolutionary beginning, was affected by environmental conditions, and had left Africa in two migrations. The first through homo sapien's evolutionary ancestral lines of homo habilis, homo erectus, homo heidelbergenes, the Denisovians, and Neanderthals. And secondly, and much later, as homo sapiens from Central Africa. First to Northeastern, Northwestern, and Southwestern Africa, and then across Egypt, Greater Syria, and into the Fertile Crescent area of what later became known as Mesopotamia.

click to enlarge

map of homo sapien migratory populations

And it is here, in Mesopotamia, where the Semitic language groups arose from its African and Egyptian roots to "reseed" and affect the cultures around it... one of which we later come to know as the Hebrew culture with its legendary lores and traditions, among many others having come before the Hebrews.

Which is why I began by saying a lot of human history (or, human-like history) had occurred before the chronicles of Genesis had been conceived, passed along, and later written down. That it is a tribal account of its perceptions of its legacies; and that it is geographically and temporally located through its own tribal / nationalized experiences of the then known Semitic world at that time in late neolithic human history.

As such, the Genesis stories require a re-contextualization which process theology can ably do when admitting God's design and usage of processual evolution into the universe's processual cosmology. That creation - as well as all things human - are processual, relational, connective, experiential, bursting with creativity, and inhabited by divine reconciliation through ingrained processual processes of redemptive incarnation based upon God's Self and God's atoning work on Calvary's Nob Hill. This later as showing the ever-present reality of God's Self within-and-about creation so that humanity might understand the groundswell below its feet, and all-around itself, in an everywhere symphony of life and death met by the amipresence of divine love, expression, recreation, and renewal. Of which the atoning death of Christ but seals the ever present work of divine love in promise, assurance, essence, reality, and future magnificence - if not sublimity - of the divine presence.

R.E. Slater
March 18, 2023