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God and Primordial People


How did God communicate with early humans? We now know a little more – and this affects how we understand scripture, writes author Paul Poulton, introducing his new book 

 


God and Primordial PeopleI was eleven years old when I spoke to an older Christian who ignited a spark within me by talking about the work of God in ages past. He was not talking about recent history, but the primeval stages of humankind.

"God was at work," he told me, "but we don't know all the fine points. In fact we only have a few details from the archaeological record, but we can see enough to understand that God worked with men, or some type of man, from long long ago."

The spark ignited a desire within me to investigate how God worked and spoke in those early days, and to explore and examine what God's plans were for primal human beings, or for that matter Neanderthal man. After all, there was no Bible for people to turn to in those days, so what exactly happened regarding God speaking to the people, and how did they respond? The archaeological documentation is now greater than it was, and many facts have emerged that reveal how humans used to live millennia ago; and for the Bible student, how these facts affect the way we understand scripture.

I have always thought that the early chapters of Genesis sit well with science and archaeology. Genesis chapter 1 informs us about humans in the Palaeolithic period and Genesis chapter 2 teaches us about the Neolithic period, when men began to cultivate crops. My friend Karl, who studied science at Cambridge and is now a scientist, once apologised to me for mentioning the formation of the earth 4.6 billion years ago and quickly said, "Oh I'm sorry, you don't believe that do you?"

I was happy to inform Karl that "Yes, I do believe that and the Bible makes provision for it too." I was then able to explain to Karl how the Bible enlightens us on several important matters. I think that Karl had picked up the notion that there is a disconnect between what some quarters of the church teach and reality. Thankfully the church seems to be learning lessons from the past when we held on to unfounded denominational doctrine in the face of scientific facts, and Christians now seem happy to look again at what the Bible actually says.

So I wrote the book God and Primordial People because I wanted to know how God related to early Homo sapiens. We know quite a lot about earth's premier people: they have bequeathed their artwork to us on cave walls around the world, and we have found musical items. We also find figurines, utensils and a host of other artefacts from antiquity.

And because archaeology, palaeontology and genetics have made such great strides in the last few decades, we have enough information to see how God may have worked with primordial people. We find that rather than throw any sort of spanner in the theological works, the information yielded by science helps us to realise how wide and wonderful God's reach is.

Life, of course, was not all plain sailing for the earth's first people who were made in God's image. Solomon informs us that "God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes." (Eccl 7:29) Hence the subtitle of the book is "The Rise and Fall of Man and Our Rescue through Christ." God mounted a rescue plan to save us from the blemish and spot of sin that we carry. That plan goes a long way back, further than we may first appreciate.

God's dealings with early humankind has much to reveal, but some people may be reticent to study the subject because they are worried it doesn't tie-in with their traditional teaching. However, Paul said, "Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. In the Law it is written..." (1 Cor 14:20) We ought not to shy away from difficult issues when some area of our dogma is threatened by scientific verifiable facts. God's dealings with primordial people has much to teach us and ultimately bless us with.

The seed that was planted in my heart about this subject when I was eleven has finally sprouted. In the book I follow the outline of humankind's relationship with God from its earliest beginnings to the present day world we live in. I hope it's useful to anyone wishing to investigate the subject. 


Paul Poulton is a writer, speaker and singer-songwriter. He talks about life, human idiosyncrasies, his Christian faith and philosophy, sometimes seasoning his discourses with humour. Paul is a member of his local Baptist church in Staffordshire. 

God and Primordial People: The Rise and Fall of Man and Our Rescue through Christ by Paul Poulton is published by Wipf and Stock

 

Baptist Times, 26/06/2018
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