Letters Feb. 2022
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Was Adam First?
Question: I need clarification please. Traditional Judaism believes that the 1st man and woman—Adam and Eve—were created 5000-6000 years ago based on sources mentioned in the Torah. But science rejects this, based on carbon dating a temple in Turkey, “Gobekli Tepe” built 6,000 years before Adam and Eve. There were found 40,000-year-old human skeletons in a European cave...older than the Adam and Eve narrative. So the Genesis account can’t be accurate. How can anyone successfully refute that? Someone is lying...either God is lying, carbon dating is lying, or people are lying. Someone dropped the ball somewhere. Please explain your perspective for my understanding. Thanks.
Rabbi: God created science and Torah; they cannot conflict. Yes, humans predated Adam by tens of thousands of years. But about 5,500 years ago—Adam’s arrival—these humans underwent a sudden leap in intelligence. Corroboration from a study is found here:
Written languages developed around 5,000–6,000 years ago, and approximately 4,000 years ago astronomy and mathematics appear on the scene. We see the expression of philosophical ideas around 2,500 years ago, invention of the printing press 1,000 years ago, and the modern scientific method about 500 years ago. The past 100 years have yielded a technological explosion that has completely altered the daily routines of humans. (Cornell University; https://arxiv.org/pdf/1308.5034v3.pdf)
Thus, we can explain Torah’s “creation of Adam and Eve,” not as the initial formation of humans, but as the Divine introduction of a soul into man, as Torah says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26) referring to an intellectual soul.
And historical evidence below shows intellectual advancements after Adam and Eve (Credits: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/~cpd/history.html):
6,800 earliest artistic representation of introspection (Hamangia culture, Cernavodă, Romania)
6,200 domestication of corn, earliest extraction of salt
6,000 earliest use of indigo blue, from Indigofera species, for dyeing cotton fabric
6,000 earliest board games (Egypt)
5782 Adam & Eve
5,500 earliest engineering of water delivery and storage
5,500 earliest ploughs for tilling soil (Italy)
5,500 rising human fertility, enabled by earlier weaning of babies fed with milk of domestic ruminants (southern Britain)
5,500 domestication of horses (Central Asian steppes), revolutionizing mobility, economy, warfare → transport, haulage, meat and capital from 59 million horses by CE 2019
5,400 earliest wheeled wagons (Germany, Slovenia, Near East) → breakthrough in haulage and locomotion: mechanical advantage equalling ratio of wheel to axle radii, moderated by friction; nanoscale wheel and axle by CE 2007
5,300 start of the Bronze Age (Near East), bronze replacing copper for weapons, tools, nails, utensils; mixing of Eurasian peoples → rapid westward spread of farming, conversion of forest to dairy pasture
5,300 earliest numeral systems: pictograms of economic units (Uruk, Mesopotamia) → cuneiform sexagesimals in Mesopotamia by c. 3200 BCE, and hieroglyph decimals in Egypt by 3100 BCE
5,200 full writing (cuneiform in Mesopotamia, hieroglyphics in Egypt) using the rebus principle → bookkeeping, instruction, commemoration, scripture, prayer, historical records
5,150 organic medicinal remedies from herbal wines (Egypt)
5,100 development of systems of governance with the rise of Uruk, city of 30,000 residents
5,050 earliest standard weights for balance scales, and cubit length (Mesopotamia and Egypt)
5,000 synthetic glass (Phoenicia) for beads
5,000 earliest metal swords, for combat and prestige (Arslantepe, Turkey)
5,000 earliest use of a solar calendar year of 365 days
4,650 earliest use of a lunar calendar year of 12 months,
4,650 magnetic compass, used to orient chariots
God Doesn’t Lie
Opinion: When God created the world, He created a history in progress, giving all things with the appearance of age.
Rabbi: Creating things in an ancient state is deceptive and misleads man, which violates God's primary principle of presenting man with truth. And if you hold this opinion, you truly cannot know anything, as perhaps God is also misleading man’s measure of dating anything. Furthermore, you can suggest that God misleads man to think he sees something, which in fact is not there. You see, once you introduce the notion that God’s new creations are truly old, that God misrepresents facts, nothing is credible.
Question: I was wondering if you can cite anything which speaks about taking pride in one's appearance, be it for business appearances or otherwise, so as to use that to exude a "good impression”,. The goal is to earn respect and thus to earn business, as opposed to someone looking shoddy and giving off the wrong impression, which would hurt their chances of earning the respect of a business prospect.
Moreover, just in general, aren't we supposed to look/act a certain way, so as to set an example as Jews? I don't assume it’s ok to look disheveled and still wear a kippah, such that other nations of the world "point and laugh.”
Is it ok to take pride in your appearance even outside the scope of work related necessity?
Rabbi: Rashi quotes a Torah verse that we are “God's children” (Deut. 14:1) and therefore we should not be bald. Furthermore the Jewish priests have unique garments for this purpose. And Talmud also says that a Torah student should not go out with a stain on his garment. This is all to give the proper impression of Torah and Judaism to both Jews and gentiles. But in terms of business, it's common sense to have a good appearance.