By: Jim Virkler
Wondrous progress occurred in human culture approximately 10,000 BC. These changes are associated with what has been termed “The Rise of Civilization” especially in the area of Mesopotamia. A significant segment of the human population began to assume an increasingly urban, agriculture-based, sedentary society. This marked the transition from the Old Stone Age to the New Stone Age. The term Neolithic is another term for the New Stone Age. Before discussing the changes of The Rise of Civilization, we briefly survey the human experience in the several tens of thousands of years prior to 10,000 BC.
In the time interval from approximately 50,000 BC to 10,000 BC humanity experienced a substantially superior technological advance compared with the primitive stone tool technology in the many previous eons of humanoid life going back over two million years. A Wikipedia article entitled “Paleolithic” states, “About 50,000 years ago there was a marked increase in the diversity of artifacts. For the first time in Africa bone artifacts and the first art appear in the archeological record. The first evidence of human fishing is also noted, from artifacts in places such as Blombos Cave in South Africa. Firstly among artifacts of Africa, archaeologists found they could differentiate and classify those of less than 50,000 years into many different categories, such as projectile points, engraving tools, knife blades, and drilling and piercing tools. The new technology generated a population explosion of modern humans…..” Many additional sources tell us of increasingly sophisticated art production and the appearance of musical instruments. Sometimes this dramatic advance is termed The Cultural Explosion. This explosion is likely the result of an act of a supernatural intervention. The “Image of God” became evident in many ways.
Upper Paleolithic societies before 10,000 BC were primarily hunter/gatherer societies. Domestication of plants and animals was not generally part of their life styles but one exception may have been the domestication of wolves. Assuming that Adam and Eve were created and lived during this time, we are aware that preliminary agriculture, proto-farming, existed with Cain and Abel according to the Genesis scripture account. Widespread proliferation of agriculture would wait until the Neolithic period.
The Rise of Civilization corresponded with the onset of domestication of plants and animals. Domestication signifies a substantial degree of human influence over the care of the plants and animals surrounding us. Were we to observe plant and animal life twenty or thirty thousand years ago, we would be startled. Without the startling changes brought about by plant and animal domestication, our contemporary culture would be very different. Humanity’s nutritional welfare would be severely limited by lack of food resources owing to significant reductions in human-managed agricultural diversity and productivity.
Modern manifestations of hunter/gatherer societies are currently restricted to primitive or indigenous tribes, some of which have resisted contact with the outside world. It is interesting to note that people of modern uncivilized primitive cultures possess full humanity. Likewise, the people of the Upper Paleolithic were fully human. Evolutionary theory posits a slow acquisition of human traits. The so-called “Cultural Explosion” manifests rapid advances counter to the evolutionary paradigm.
In future posts we will offer additional commentary on the phenomenon of domestication. The changes in living things as a result of domestication are a result of permanent genetic modification short of transition to a novel species. Agricultural scientists are unable to produce a new species. However, they have discovered ways to modify current species of both plants and animals to make them serve humanity in diverse ways, primarily with increased and diverse food production. We propose that the Creator of All Things has provided living things with the ability to modify their genetic traits without producing a new species. The Creator has also gifted humanity with the ability to accomplish this modification.
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.