This Week's Comment from Network 7 News 

Edition 384 – November 6, 2004.  

 This weeks  was written by AWR's English Language Service Director, Victor Hulbert.  The full programme can be heard in Real Audio on our web-site.

Hobbits and Creation

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I’m kind of into Hobbits, so when a newspaper headline told me one had been found on a remote Indonesian Island I started to wonder if fiction had turned into fact.  Did J.R. Tolkiens mythical creatures really exist some 18,000 years ago in a middle earth that has now become rain forest?  

Of course not, but the discovery of “Homo Floresiensis”, or LB1 as it is called, has raised the whole debate of myth and mystery again.  World famous anthropologist Desmond Morris states that this one metre high human “hobbit” must force many religions to examine their basic beliefs.  In fact, he is quoted as saying that “The existence of ‘mini-man’ should destroy religion.

New Scientist Magazine puts it more gently.  In an article published October 27 they state that “the discovery has been heralded as the most important palaeoanthropological find for 50 years, and has radically altered the accepted picture of human evolution.”

LB1 stood just about a meter tall and had a brain about the size of a grapefruit.  The radical rethink in evolutionary theory is that LB1 was not a progression in the human evolutionary chain, but was existent at the same time as other human forms.

Chris Stringer at the Natural History Museum in London states, “"It raises the whole issue of what it is to be human, or a member of the genus Homo, and shows how little we really know about human evolution."

There may be more truth in his statement then he thinks!  I remember walking around an evolution exhibition in his museum a few years back.  It was very well produced and extremely educational.  Except for one thing.  They kept mentioning gaps in evolutionary history for which they currently had no explanation.  What we might call the “missing link”.  There was lots of microevolution explained there – development within species – but no macro-evolution – no solid evidence of a jump between species.  

That is hard for the proponents of the evolutionary theory – yet easier to explain for folk like me, who see relevance, beauty and purpose in the account of creation we find in the Book of Genesis.   Despite people like Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist, who fails to understand why religion in any form has managed to survive Darwin, I’ve found in the beginning of the Bible an account that lets me know that I have a purpose for existence in the Universe, and that I have a God who still has a determined interest in me.  

David Wilkinson lectures in theology and science at the University of Durham in the north of England.  He finds no incompatibility between the discovery of LB1 and his belief in the Christian faith – but poses what he considers the crucial question in the whole issue: What does it mean to be human?  

He writes that “LB1 becomes part of this contemporary question alongside developments in science such as human cloning and the growth of artificial intelligence where what it means to be human is seen in Star Trek's Mr Data and Kubrick's AI.”

He then refers back to Genesis for his definition of what it means to be human:

“The overwhelming view which can be found in the early chapters of Genesis,” he states, “is that human beings are defined in terms of relationship, and in particular their relationship to God. Being made in the image of God is about being given the gift of intimate relationship with God, and a certain kind of responsibility in the natural world.”

That kind of responsibility seems to be what the rest of news this week seems to be talking about.  Making wise and moral choices in elections – whether in a major economy like the US , or a small island like Palau.  Dealing with green issues like Global warming, the use of fossil fuels, providing appropriate food resources.  Tackling those tricky issues of what we might call our “lack of humanity” in the way we sometimes deal with each other – with hostage crisis, war, and crime.

At the end of Genesis 1 it tells us that God blessed our first parents and told them to "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! And take charge!” (Genesis 1:28 MESSAGE)

God told them to “be responsible” (vs28) for all of creation and to care for the earth so it can provide a good healthy diet – indeed one similar to that recommended by modern nutritionists with their five portions of fruit and veg each day (Vs 29-30).

Then he climaxes it with relationship.  In the beginning of chapter two – a special relationship with God emphasized in a weekly worship cycle, and in the rest of the chapter, a relationship, a companionship with each other.  To me, that’s what it means to be human.

 

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