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Do old earth Christians believe that there were cavemen in early times? This is not to say people who lived in caves but more as what is pictured in early evolution.

I hope I'm wording this correctly and somewhat intelligently. If not, please feel free to ask for details etc.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by curiousdannii, fredsbend, Matt Gutting, Flimzy, JustinY Jan 23 '15 at 17:09

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

When you say "old earth Christians" are you referring specifically to those who believe in old-earth creationism? Or do you also include the view known as theistic evolution – Bruce Alderman Dec 30 '11 at 1:19
" This is not to say people who lived in caves " - Actually, most understanding is that the majority of "cavemen" didn't actually live in caves... Some did, not most. The term suffices as a short way of referring to the early hunter-gatherer, primitive tool-working tribes, though. – Marc Gravell Dec 30 '11 at 8:17
Yes, and His name is Jesus ;-) – Peter Turner Dec 30 '11 at 14:06
Maybe the correct term should be Paleolithic man, or pre-neolithic man. – aceinthehole Dec 30 '11 at 18:00
The question summary in the title is distinctly different in meaning from the body of the question. – DJClayworth Jan 2 '12 at 18:46
up vote 7 down vote accepted

There's going to be some confusion in any answer, because the strictness of interpretation of Genesis (especially 5) is precisely what divides a young earth creationist from an old earth creationist.

By definition, the old earth creationist appeals to extra-biblical "evidence," and hence there cannot be a "biblical" old earth creationist stance. The YEC Creationist believes in the young earth because the genealogies of Genesis 5 point to only about 2000 years. This combined with other references fixes the earth at about 6000 years. The OEC Creationist looks at the geological record and the apparent "age" of things, and uses that to contradict this literal reading of Genesis 5. The YEC counters (like William Paley) say God created things with age. The OEC says, no - Genesis 5 is either incomplete or figurative.

(Please note - I am not saying one is right or wrong - just that the rules of interpretation are such that an OEC isn't going to have the 'biblical' basis of a YEC.)

So, how would you make a case for Cavemen in Scripture?

First off, because Adam had language (he was naming the animals after all), we can rule out a non-intelligible caveman grunting society stereotype. So, Neanderthals they weren't. That said, there is some interesting evidence from Genesis 4 that may pertain to the "caveman" question. Specifically, Genesis 4:19 -22 says:

19 Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. 22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of[g] bronze and iron

The implications are as follows:

  1. If Tubal-Cain was the first forger of bronze and iron tools, then all characters mentioned prior (i.e. Lamech and those before him), were by definition stone age societies. Bronze and metalwork is the technological divide. (Interestingly, the big gap between the Israelites and the Philistines was that the Israelites were a Bronze Age society that didn't have the stronger Iron Age tools of the Philistines.)

    To the point of the "caveman," however, a stone age society could construct stone and adobe shelters, or use caves, but certain types of shelter would have eluded them.

  2. Jabal, if taken to be the first bedoiun, would imply that societies had a different arrangement than that of the bedoiun.

    Because Cain was a farmer, we can't necessarily conclude that had to be a hunter-gatherer society, but we also can't rule that out. Who knows, maybe Cain was just a gatherer rather than a cultivator.

So, is this a flimsy case for cavemen in the bible? Yes, it is flimsy. I don't think you really can make the case - but if you were going to, these would be the points I'd go with.

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there cannot be a "biblical" old earth creationist stance. This is simply untrue. There is plenty of Biblical evidence (according to OECs, and TEs) that Genesis (specifically chapter 1) are not intended to be taken literally. Furthermore, calling a literal reading of Genesis 1 the "plain reading" is, I believe, doing it a huge disservice. This "plain reading" wasn't even considered as a possible interpretation (at least not by any serious Bible scholars or theologians) until the last 150 years. If this was the "plain" reading, surely it would have a longer history than this. – Flimzy Dec 30 '11 at 7:30
@Flimzy - I am NOT trying to be argumentative, but I'm curious about something you just said here... To my mind, "Biblical evidence" means that the evidence is found in the Bible, as opposed to Extra-Biblical, which is found outside the Bible (and may be true nonetheless). Now I'm wondering, what is the Biblical evidence that Genesis isn't meant to be taken literally? In other words, where in the Bible is it said or implied that the Genesis account (in part or full) is meant to be taken as anything but a literal account? – David Dec 30 '11 at 7:38
You can see a (very superficial) summary of a few in this answer of mine. – Flimzy Dec 30 '11 at 7:41
Thank you! I'm glad I asked! – David Dec 30 '11 at 7:50
"Stronger Iron Age tools" is a common misunderstanding. Iron is actually weaker than bronze, and corrodes more easily; it's a step backwards. (Steel is a step forwards, but a process to readily create large amounts of steel wasn't invented until the Industrial Revolution.) The Iron Age came about because a scarcity of materials made bronze more difficult to obtain than metallic iron. – Mason Wheeler Dec 31 '11 at 13:12

I think that "is there Biblical evidence" is a completely different question than "do old earth Christians believe".

The Bible gives no mention of human ancestors, and specifically states in the Genesis account that God created Adam and Eve rather than that they evolved from a proto-human ancestor, so the answer to "Is there Biblical Evidence" is "no".

To answer the other question, there are a whole range of beliefs that Christians hold - from Young-Earth Creationism to Old-Earth Creationism, theistic evolution, and full belief in evolution. Some Christians really just see the Biblical account as allegorical - just a story, but believe in the less "outlandish" things in the Bible.

Given that not all Christians agree on what is to be taken literally, or on the inerrancy of Scripture, there is a wide variety of views on the entire origins debate. Certainly, some Christians believe in proto-humans.

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