Neanderthals, Interbreeding, and Nephilim

Yes I did – thanks for this discussion. I’ve wondered for a while now if anyone had made any connection between Neanderthal/human interbreeding and the Nephilim of Genesis 6? Your description of the latest version of the RTB model sounds strikingly similar to that passage:

This, however, is not the current RTB model. In 2015, they published the second edition of Who Was Adam?, with several updates to the model. To their credit, they acknowledged and accepted the growing evidence for interbreeding between Neanderthals and Sapiens. They adapt their model, in light of this evidence, to acknowledge “bestiality” that arises in our lineage as a consequence of the fall. We might call of this an “Out of Africa and Hybridization” model of origins, where the hybridization is deemed against God’s wishes.

Compare Genesis 6:1-6:

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lᴏʀᴅ said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The Lᴏʀᴅ saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lᴏʀᴅ regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

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This is what we know about interbreeding from the sequencing of the whole genomes of over 3 million people alive today from all over the world as well as 4000 genomes of ancient fossils.

  1. There was a lot of Sapian/Neanderthal interbreeding about 40,000 years ago in the Hungary/Russia area.
  2. There was a lot of Sapian/Denosivan interbreeding about 45,000 years ago in the East Asia region toward the Oceania region.
  3. There was a lot of Sapian/Archaic Human interbreeding going way back to Africa 200,000 - 300,000 years ago
  4. There were many species of humans with culture and language going back to Homo Erectus about 2 million years ago.

Most of this knowledge is less than 10 years old and new information is coming in almost monthly. How is it relevant to compare ancient stories from a small pre-scientific culture in the Middle East who had no knowledge of what science was going to find thousands of years after the oral tradition stories were written down?

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What wickedness? Humans lived on the Earth for millions of years pretty much scraping by making stone tools, hunting animals, having families. Life was short, tough, and hard. It is really insensitive that a group of well feed “inspired” thinkers and writers who lived in ancient middle eastern cities 2500 years and were supported by agriculture and domestication of animals, culture, families, and tribes, would say without any knowledge that the people of the past 2 million years were wicked?

If this Lord was really watching the progress humanity was making for the past 2 million years in culture, language, and technology, I doubt that he would be disappointed with humanity as the best of humanity was yet to come.

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Yes, others have made that connection. Greg @Davidson wrote an article on this.

He works with @Joel_Duff at Solid Rock, and they are savey about how YECs think about these things. Most people are just interested in kicking YECs when they are down, but I appreciate how these two take the time to listen.

The possibility of interbreeding with other lines is a live option among YECs. It is even included in Ken Ham’s Ark.

An important thread at BioLogos from last year covered this in depth here:

As long as we are here, this is an important thread from BioLogos too that delves into this too:

Well you are an atheist, so the answer is “no.” Christians however think that God does care about good and evil, justice and injustice in our world.

Well of course you are not going to see intrinsic value on those stories. The real reason to care is far more pragmatic:

I think that is why you are here too, to serve the common good. You only need to care about Adam insofar as it gives us away to build bridges in the Creation War. It is just one way that a friendly atheist like you can serve the creation war. And you have already been doing it. My personal favorite is when you declared your Adam (and Eve)…

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@Jammycakes, thought I do no think this verse can plausibly refer to Neanderthals in original intent:

I do think, however, that it theologically opens the door for interbreeding with other lines. Once we are there, we are exactly at a Genealogical Adam.

He may be referring to the potential “hybrid” nature such a pairing might result in.
If physically-stouter and stronger neanderthals are bred with those, who either from the “imago Dei humanity” pool, and /or also subsequently from Adam’s lineage, whose gracile body types have a greatly-enhanced neocortex and the concomitant enhanced ability to think evilly or brutally, these verses would be describing that or something similar. Stout body frames and the mind for combat, all in one package.
It’s not as far-fetched as one might think, although there may be very little overlap in time between the two morphological types.
It’s a scenario whose timing might be a bit stretched, or reported as a vague memory, but there may be such a basis for it.

Neanderthals and Humans overlap for over 100,000 years. That is not the problem.

The real challenge is that this would be so ancient in memory, that is is not plausible that this was carried through oral history to this day. If they were Homo sapiens outside the garden in the last 10,000 years, might have been remembered.

That is essentially the RTB model. Though I am not sure, I think Genesis 6:1-4 gives them some comfort in going this direction. It is not my first choice. Though if they want it, we’ll see if it can work.

Atheists and Christians both care about good and evil, justice and injustice in our world.

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Yes, that is why I am so interested in reading that paper on the DNA of the first generation product of a Neanderthal and a Sapian. Couldn’t the parents of this child be my GA and GE?

@Patrick , I ought to be clear, just in case you’re maybe thinking something I don’t intend, as an implication.
As Christians, the first admission in our faith is that we are “sinners,” by nature. We make no claim to intrinsic moral perfection.
So, it may seem startling to hear me imply that coming from Adam’s lineage would lead to increasingly greater moral failures, and that interbreeding with Neanderthals would effectively corrupt them, rather than the other way round.
There is no racist conception implied here via lines of physical descent; we are all Adam’s descendants, whether atheist, agnostic or friendly towards God. There are no permanent lines of demarkation being drawn, here.
Forgive me if I read too much into your statement; just thought I’d be sure the air was clear.
As for the lasting impressions made by the transmission of accounts in oral cultures, we ought to start a new thread on that topic. Author Kenneth Bailey started us down a road that’s got a lot of important things to hear on that subject.

In any case, the text actually says nothing about the evil of ancient people, but only of the agricultural and pastoral cultures, families and tribes associated with the inspired thinkers and writers themselves. Patrick has already said that he believes there was no memory of the people before that era.

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I think this is very important. Humanity went through a hunter-gatherer phase where culture, language, tool making, and cognitive complexity progressed slowly while many human species migrated throughout the world. That period lasted for roughly two million years. Agricultural and pastoral cultures, families, and tribes come about (again slowly) the past 11,000 years. Then we get the written stories (the old testament) over a few decades 2500 years ago of just one tiny culture living between Assyrian and Egyptian empires who know absolutely nothing about human or the 4 billion year history of life on Earth.

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@Patrick

That’s why my interpretation aims at understanding that period - right back to 12+ billion years - as worthwhile in its own created right, and in its own terms. It’s because something new was introduced that the Bible was written, and because it’s about the new thing that it has so little to say about the old.

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As much as we look at the evolutionary history of man, focusing on the evolutionary history of culture, cultivation, religion and how multi-cultural mingling and creativity from Zoroastrianism to Assyrian, Canaanite, Greek, Roman and Babylonian religions shaped the Abrahamic religions as we know them today. Looking head long into the myths, moral stories and heroes for the Mesopotamian culture, the first writing and communication of cuneiform to more complex alphabetic languages of Assyria, Hebrew, Hieroglyphics of Egypt, Aramaic and Far Eastern languages we can see how Kingdoms and Religious differences were formed from Northern Judaic practices to Northern and Southern Judaic practices with influences from the Sadducees, Pharacces and cultic groups like the Essenes. The Hellenization of the regions spreading Greek polytheism and culture from West to East and the spread of the Roman empire and the continuous strain of power and corruption of the Synagogues thus causing rebellions from the people. All this is the foreground for the building of a Christianity that we today think we know but follow the words of a self proclaimed apostle Paul who spread his christianity and bastardized the Brand of what was taught by Jesus in the Gospels, this all according to a bible that has little significant historical value due to the satire in which it was written. If you want to understand true christianity from the ground up, truly and dare I say with a critical eye, if you are a believer it will not turn you, but it will open your eyes to many flaws in the practices of some religious institutions that started around the 1st century and many that have expanded from those in practice today.

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