Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog
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  • If We Witness a Miracle, Will We Believe?

    Posted By on October 29, 2014

    blue sea parting If We Witness a Miracle, Will We Believe?Some skeptics claim that if they only see a miracle, they will believe in God. If God would write something in the clouds, or appear in a burning bush and speak directly to them, they would believe.

    Let’s test this theory out. What we find when we read the Book of Exodus is that God performed one miracle after another for months, even years. First, there were the 10 plagues that God brought on the Egyptians. Then there was the crossing of the Red Sea. There was the cloud pillar by day and pillar of fire at night.

    In Exodus 16 we see even more miracles. God provides food (manna) for the Israelites every morning. On every 6th day, he provides a double portion of manna. He also miraculously preserved the manna for 2 days so that it wouldn’t rot.

    The miracle parade goes on and on for the Israelites. So, according to our skeptic, the Israelites who witnessed all of these miracles day after day should have all trusted and believed in God, right? Those of you who have read the rest of Exodus and the following books of the Old Testament know that the Israelites time and again did not trust God. In fact, their lack of faith in God is a central theme of the entire Old Testament!

    Even though miracles may help many people to believe in God, they clearly do not convince everyone. A person who simply does not want to believe in God can shove aside any and all evidence that might convince them. Their problem is not with the evidence, but with their heart.

    Commentary on Exodus (Manna and Quail)

    Posted By on October 27, 2014

    quail Commentary on Exodus (Manna and Quail)Following the crossing of the Red Sea, the Israelites continued to travel south in the desert of the Arabian peninsula. As they moved further away from Egypt, they simultaneously moved further away from civilization. They became more and more hungry because there were few plants and animals for them to eat. This is the situation when Exodus 16 picks up.

    In verses 1-3, we discover that the Israelites have been in the wilderness for over a month, and they are grumbling about their situation. They complain to Aaron and Moses that they were better off in Egypt than they are now. At least in Egypt, they were eating. Douglas Stuart notes in his Exodus: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (New American Commentary) Commentary on Exodus (Manna and Quail), “This was the first time the Israelites made the ‘if only we had died in Egypt argument,’ but it would not be the last (see Num 11:4, 18; 14:2; cf. 20:3; Josh 7:7).”

    God decides to test the faith of the Israelites by offering them a very unconventional food source, “bread from heaven.” The test is simple. The people of Israel are to gather food provided by God each morning, but only enough for that day. On Friday, the sixth day, they are to gather enough food for two days.

    Stuart explains: “Moreover, God was teaching them a concept: that he was their ultimate provider, the one who from heaven gave them not necessarily what they expected but what they really needed. Thus his satisfying them with the bread of heaven becomes a theme of Scripture that not only refers to the manna described in this account (cf. Ps 105:40; Neh 9:15) but to the ultimate provision of eternal sustenance, Christ himself (John 6:31–58).”

    In verses 6-11, Moses and Aaron remind the people that it is actually God they are grumbling against, not Moses and Aaron. But, they assure the people that God has heard their complaints and is going to provide meat in the evening and bread in the morning. Once they gather around the pillar of cloud, which is God’s presence among them, God reiterates what Moses and Aaron told them. What is the purpose of God miraculously providing this food? “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”

    Douglas Stuart elaborates on God’s plans for the Israelites: “God was testing his people throughout the exodus events: leading them in odd directions without fully explaining why (14:1–4), surprising them with potentially destructive enemy attacks even after they had left Egypt (14:10ff.; cf. 17:8ff.), requiring them to walk into and through deep ocean water (14:15ff.), and taking them to locations that lacked the necessities of life (as in 15:23ff. and 16:2ff.). All of these challenges were part of a plan to develop a people’s willingness to trust him. Explaining everything in advance would have run counter to that plan. It was necessary for Israel to learn faith while confused, while afraid, while desperate—not just in theory but under pressure of actual conditions where survival was uncertain and faith was tested to the limit.”

    The meat appears that very evening in the form of quail, and in the morning a bread-like substance appears which the Israelites have never seen before. They actually name the substance “What is it?” This translates into English as manna. Once the manna appeared, the Israelites gathered it as instructed, only gathering one omer per person. An omer is equal to about 2 quarts.

    Moses gave an additional command, however. Nobody was to save the manna overnight. It must be eaten the same day it was collected. Why would God command this? To force the Israelites to rely on him daily for their food. Some Israelites, thinking they could hoard the manna, saved it overnight, but the next morning it was “full of maggots and began to smell.”

    Recall that on the 6th day, each person was to gather 2 omers, or twice as much as the other days. Why is this? God explains in verse 23. “‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.” Every seventh day was to be a day of rest, so God did not want the people of Israel gathering food and cooking it on the day of rest, the Sabbath.

    The daily giving of the manna was so important to God and the Israelites that God commanded them to set aside a single omer of manna and keep it as a reminder of God’s daily provision of food for the 40 years they spent in the wilderness. It wasn’t until they entered the Promised Land that the manna ceased to appear each morning.

    What Role Does Polygamy Play in Islam? Part 2

    Posted By on October 24, 2014

    Islam What Role Does Polygamy Play in Islam? Part 2William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, traces the links between Islam, polygamy, and violence. In part 2, we look at how polygamy coupled with Islam has continued to breed violence up to this very day.

    Tucker describes the Islamic Turks:

    Like Mohammed , the invading Turks, who founded the Ottoman Empire in the thirteenth century, ignored the Koranic limitation of four wives and collected palaces full of concubines. Indeed, the emblem of Ottoman rule for the European imagination was always the sultan and his harem. In order to avoid dynastic wars among the numerous potential heirs, the Sultan chose a successor, then locked all the others in a special prison on the fifth floor of the Topkapi Palace where, when the heir reached maturity, they were all strangled.

    Tucker moves from the Turks to the Wahhabi Movement.

    The Ottomans, of course, were not the only Islamic power practicing and promoting polygamy and its attendant customs. The Wahhabi Movement, born at the time of George Washington, rallied Sunni tribesmen of the Arabian desert to the banner that, once again, the Islam being practiced in Mecca was not the “true Islam.”

    They crashed into the Holy City, smashing works of art, and destroying some of Islam’s most sacred shrines, including Mohammed’s tomb. Then they established the version of Islam that still dominates life in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have spent millions of their oil wealth in spreading Wahhabism throughout the Muslim world via madrasas— schools that teach young boys the version of Islam that we see in al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Taliban.

    While the Wahhabis are strict Islamists, they are, like so many Muslims before them, liberals when it comes to the number of wives a Muslim man may take. Mohammed bin Laden, one of Arabia’s most successful businessmen and father of Osama, had fifty-four children by twenty-two wives.

    So what is it like in modern-day polygamous, Islamic countries?

    In such societies, the frustrations of lower-caste Arab-Muslim men fester. Since conquest is no longer really an option, only martyrdom remains. If they cannot practice polygamy in this life, they trust that they will enjoy the fruits of the afterlife with seventy-two virgins.

    “But,” it is often objected, “many Islamist terrorists we’ve read about were already married and even had children. What could be motivating them?” This is to judge Muslim men by Western standards. In monogamous, Western society, marriage for a man means settling down, supporting a wife and children, and taking part in family life. But in polygamous societies wives are a sign of wealth. Having only one wife can be a sign of inferiority. There is no Nash Equilibrium in Islamic or any other polygamous society. The demand for women always exceeds the supply and no one ever has enough. For men of modest means, women can seem almost unattainable.

    Tucker reports several recent stories out of the Islamic world:

    In a 2004 New York Times Magazine article, a graduate student in his twenties described what it was like growing up in Saudi Arabia. He said that he had never been alone in the company of a young woman. He and his friends refer to women as “BMOs— black moving objects,” gliding past in full burkas. Brideprices are steep and men cannot think of getting married until they are well established in a profession. All marriages are arranged and it is not uncommon for the bride and groom to meet at their wedding. Those without money are out of luck.

    During the last few years of the Hosni Mubarak administration, the Egyptian government became so worried about couples having to put off marriage that it began subsidizing bride-wealth payments and sponsored mass marriages. In reporting on the early days of the Arab Spring, the New York Times found “the long wait for marriage” to be the second most pressing grievance in Egyptian society, behind only general poverty.

    So what happens because of this shortage of women?

    Yet because of the shortage of women, young girls have value and families refuse to lower the price of their assets. For this reason, an enormous number of marriages are contracted between cousins so that wealth is kept in the family. The only other avenue, of course, is bringing younger and younger women into the marriage pool.

    Muslim countries are the world champions of child marriage. In Yemen, 52 percent of girls are married before age eighteen and 14 percent before age fifteen. Some are betrothed as young as eight. In 2008, a ten-year-old Yemenite girl named Nujood Ali made headlines when she threw herself upon the mercy of a court, asking to be released from a three-month-old marriage to her thirty-two-year-old cousin who had repeatedly beaten her since their wedding.

    Obviously there are more and more Muslims living in western countries where polygamy is illegal. We can only pray that monogamy takes hold in this, the second largest religion in the world.

    What Role Does Polygamy Play in Islam? Part 1

    Posted By on October 22, 2014

    Islam What Role Does Polygamy Play in Islam? Part 1We’ve already seen, from William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, how polygamy breeds violence. The largest religion in the world that endorses polygamy is Islam. Tucker takes a look at how polygamy and Islam have interacted.

    Through the Koran and the Hadith (thousands of pages of commentary by people who knew Mohammed), Islam regulates the daily life of the believer as few religions have ever done. Among these rules are rules governing polygamy. Mohammed sanctioned the practice, but tried to limit it by prescribing that a man could take only four wives and had to support all equally.

    He did not, however, abide by this rule himself. All told, Mohammed had an estimated thirteen wives, with perhaps eleven at one time. His inner circle also took numerous wives.

    Tucker then asks the key question: “What happens in a society, like Islamic society, where men at the top can accumulate multiple wives and men at the bottom are left with nothing?”

    The answer:

    Well, holy war, jihad, was part of Islam from the beginning. After conquering the Middle East and North Africa, Muslim armies pushed into sub-Saharan Africa and the Caucasus in search of slaves. In the West, slavery was about work. When Western merchants shipped slaves to the New World, male slaves outnumbered females two to one. In Islamic countries, female slaves outnumbered male slaves by the same ratio. These “slaves” were in fact extra wives and concubines.

    Even the steady supply of women slaves from conquered lands did not solve the problem. Tucker continues:

    Despite the supply of women from conquered provinces, there was always a shortage, and the most common reaction of lower-caste Islamic men deprived of women became the desert retreat where dissident sects plotted the overthrow of the regime.

    Of these perhaps the most extraordinary was the “Assassins,” a Shia sect founded in Egypt in the eleventh century that became the scourge of rulers all over the Islamic world. The Assassins established themselves in the Castle of Alamut, a mountain redoubt in northern Persia that is still difficult to reach today. There they set up an early version of al Qaeda, training young recruits to plant “sleeper cells” around the Middle East and insinuate themselves into the circles of the prominent officials they wanted to assassinate.

    The famous traveler and explorer, Marco Polo, in 1273, described what he saw when he passed through this same area:

    The Old Man kept at his court such boys of twelve years old as seemed to him destined to become courageous men. When the Old Man sent them into the garden in groups of four, ten or twenty, he gave them hashish to drink. They slept for three days, then they were carried sleeping into the garden where he had them awakened.

    When these young men woke, and found themselves in the garden with all these marvelous things, they truly believed themselves to be in paradise. And these damsels were always with them in songs and great entertainments; they received everything they asked for, so that they would never have left that garden of their own will.

    And when the Old Man wished to kill someone, he would take him and say: “Go and do this thing. I do this because I want to make you return to paradise.” And the assassins go and perform the deed willingly.

    Tucker puts this into perspective:

    So began the familiar Islamic pattern: young men with very little hope of rising in society are offered enlistment in a dissident sect that sanctifies violence, promises revolution, and offers martyrs a prize of seventy-two virgins. This is how polygamous societies end up at war with their neighbors.

    A shortage of women means a volatile male population. Lower-status males are either turned into eunuchs or formed into slave armies (the Mamluks of Egyptian history) or molded into assassins and terrorists and sent off to holy war. Seventy-two virgins await in heaven— a reward it should be noted, that does not have any particular appeal to the female half of the population.

    More on Islam and polygamy in part 2 of this post.

    How Do Palestinian Names Lend Credence to the Gospels?

    Posted By on October 20, 2014

     How Do Palestinian Names Lend Credence to the Gospels?Are the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s life rooted in first century Palestine or are they legendary accounts written more than a hundred years later? What of the so-called apocryphal gospels (e.g., Gospels of Thomas, Mary, Judas) that also claim to be true accounts of Jesus’s life? A few biblical scholars claim that the apocryphal gospels deserve as much attention as the four canonical gospels.

    Biblical scholar Craig Hazen, in a blog post, brings to our attention new archaeological evidence that bolsters the authenticity of the canonical gospels and undermines the authenticity of the apocryphal gospels. What is this new evidence that roots the canonical gospels firmly in the first century?

    Over the last decade, a new area of research has confirmed that the writers of the Gospels did indeed have the kind of intimate and detailed knowledge of life in that time and place. And this new research comes from an in-depth study of personal names.

    In 2002 an Israeli scholar by the name of Tal Ilan did some seemingly boring work that has yielded some important dividends for New Testament authentication. She sorted through documents, engravings, scraps of papyrus, ossuaries and the like from the time period surrounding Jesus and the apostles in order to make a list of over 3,000 personal names — along with whatever bits of information she could find about those names. It was as if she were compiling a phone book from ancient trash heaps.

    So what? How could this list of ancient names have anything to do with the historical authenticity of the Gospel accounts?

    Because of her work, it became possible for the first time to find out what personal names were the most popular during the time of Jesus and how those names were used. Why is this important? Well, if the Gospel writers really had no solid contact with the characters in the stories, if they were writing decades later and had never visited the lands about which they were writing, getting the names right would be unlikely to the point of impossible.

    Hazen offers this example to drive the point home:

    It would be as if a person who had never set foot out of California were attempting to write a story about people living in Portugal 60 years ago and the writer perfectly captured all the details of the personal names of the day without traveling, without the Internet, without encyclopedias or libraries. Clearly, guesses and intuitions about Portuguese names from over a half-century earlier are exceedingly unlikely to match the real situation on the ground.

    So how does Ilan’s list match the names used in the four New Testament Gospels?

    But this new research shows that the Gospel writers were “spot on” in regard to the popularity, frequency, proportion and usage of personal names in the text of Scripture, indicating very deep familiarity with life in the exact area and timeframe of Jesus and his earliest followers. British New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham did some exhaustive work correlating New Testament names . . .  with the list of 3,000 names compiled by Ilan and concluded the following:

    • The Gospels were nearly perfect in how they captured the frequency of names among Palestinian Jews of the time. For instance, Ilan’s list of the 10 most popular names matched rank for rank the list of the most frequent names in the Gospels and Acts. This is an extraordinary confirmatory correlation.
    • By contrast, if you examine the most popular Jewish names in a different region (such as Egypt) at the time, the list is dramatically different. The pattern of names does not match what we know the pattern to be in Palestine.
    • Also by contrast, if you examine the names that appear in the Apocryphal Gospels (such as the Gospels of Thomas, Mary, Judas), you discover that the frequency and proportion of names in these writings do not match what we know to be true of names from the land and time of Jesus. Hence the Apocryphal Gospels do not have the ring of authenticity with regard to personal names and are rightly called into question.

    Fascinating results! If you want to learn more about these names, I would recommend reading Richard Bauckham’s book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, How Do Palestinian Names Lend Credence to the Gospels? where he provides a lot more detail.

    What Are the Advantages of Monogamy?

    Posted By on October 10, 2014

     What Are the Advantages of Monogamy?William Tucker, the author of Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human What Are the Advantages of Monogamy?, quotes extensively from Joseph Henrich of the University of British Columbia, Robert Boyd of UCLA , and Peter Richerson of UC Davis, from a published article entitled “The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage.” The article first notes the following paradox:

    The anthropological record indicates that approximately 85 per cent of human societies have permitted men to have more than one wife (polygynous marriage), and both empirical and evolutionary considerations suggest that large absolute differences in wealth should favour more polygynous marriages. Yet, monogamous marriage has spread across Europe, and more recently across the globe, even as absolute wealth differences have expanded.

    The authors contend that

    norms and institutions that compose the modern package of monogamous marriage have been favoured by cultural evolution because of their group-beneficial effects—promoting success in inter-group competition. In suppressing intrasexual competition and reducing the size of the pool of unmarried men, normative monogamy reduces crime rates, including rape, murder, assault, robbery and fraud, as well as decreasing personal abuses.

    By assuaging the competition for younger brides, normative monogamy decreases (i) the spousal age gap, (ii) fertility, and (iii) gender inequality. By shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, normative monogamy increases savings, child investment and economic productivity. . . . Polygynous societies engage in more warfare.

    According to the authors,

    The 15 per cent or so of societies in the anthropological record with monogamous marriage fall into two disparate categories: (i) small-scale societies inhabiting marginal environments with little status distinctions among males [i.e. hunter-gatherers] and (ii) some of history’s largest and most successful ancient societies.

    Tucker explains what this means:

    In other words , Western European, American, and East Asian societies live in relative peace and prosperity because they honor and enforce monogamous marriage, as did the earliest human societies . Meanwhile, the reason other societies remain relatively poor and plagued by internal violence is because they have reverted to polygamy and continue to practice it.

    Henrich, Boyd, and Richerson go on to summarize the civilizing benefits of monogamy:

    1. The pool of unattached men is reduced so that they do not form a potentially disruptive residue in society.

    2. Crime is reduced since most crimes are committed by unmarried males. (In addition, longitudinal studies show that fewer crimes are committed by the same men when they marry.)

    3. Political coups and factional fighting become less common because there are fewer single men willing to enlist in rebel armies.

    4. Society becomes more productive because men work more when they are married.

    5. Children do better because men invest in them instead of using their resources to obtain more wives.

    6. Spousal relations improve because men and women are more dedicated to each other instead of merely entering an economic/ reproductive relationship.

    7. Child marriages disappear and the age gap between husbands and wives narrows. There is reduced inequality between men and women and spousal abuse declines.

    8. Young women are no longer hoarded and sequestered by their families in order to protect the value of the brideprice. Marriages become elective and more stable.

    Will Gay Marriage Weaken Monogamy?

    Posted By on October 8, 2014

    Post Author: Bill Pratt 

    how is my marriage affecting you Will Gay Marriage Weaken Monogamy?William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human Will Gay Marriage Weaken Monogamy?, argues that the weakening of monogamy in modern America is cause for great concern. He goes to great lengths to show that monogamy is what makes us human, and is what has allowed western civilization to flourish.

    Tucker explains:

    From an evolutionary standpoint, gay marriage is a non-starter. It is only a few decades old and has played no part in evolutionary or human history. Whether it emerges as a symbol of a society’s respect for marriage or a symbol of its undoing remains to be seen.

    Tucker is unsure of whether gay marriage will support or undo monogamy, but he asks gay marriage proponents to consider the following:

    The important thing for supporters of same-sex marriage is to draw a stark line between acceptance of gay marriage and acceptance of an “anything-goes” attitude toward marriage, which says that it makes no difference whether people tie the knot or live in sin, whether they marry a man and a woman or marry two wives or three wives (because polygamy is always lurking at the edge of these discussions), or whether they marry their dog or their cat or a favorite lampshade.

    Far more fundamental than the issue of same-sex marriage is that we arrive at a biological, anthropological, and historic understanding of the role that monogamy has played in the evolution of human society.

    This is a real problem for gay marriage supporters. Most of them cannot articulate principled reasons why people should not live in sin, marry multiple spouses, or marry their dog or cat. In other words, they have been so busy arguing for gay marriage that they have made no effort to guard traditional marriage.

    Tucker believes that this is a colossal mistake. His view, supported by plenty of evidence throughout his book, is that the loss of traditional monogamous marriages will be a catastrophe for human civilization. Without monogamy, violence and warfare become far more common. That is not a condition any of us want to live in.

    How Are Polygamy and Warfare Related?

    Posted By on October 6, 2014

    Post Author: Bill Pratt 

    41X2ysLCTbL. SY344 BO1,204,203,200  How Are Polygamy and Warfare Related?William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human How Are Polygamy and Warfare Related?, makes the case that polygamy and warfare are inextricably linked. Tucker writes:

    The hallmark of a polygamous society is that there is always a shortage of women. The Nash Equilibrium is upset and men compete more aggressively for women, since there are never enough to go around.

    What is the Nash Equilibrium?

    Nash’s thesis, still the mainstay of all game theory, says that a system can reach an equilibrium without maximizing the interest of every individual player. This occurs when the system reaches a point where each player has achieved the best outcome they can under the existing rules. For a large heterosexual group with the same number of males and females, monogamy satisfies Nash Equilibrium. Each player has optimized his or her outcome under the rules of the existing system. More to the point, the only way any individual can improve his or her outcome is by breaking the rules. But this causes other kinds of disruption and works to the disadvantage of the entire group. It can be prevented by other members constantly enforcing the rules.

    So how do polygamous societies deal with the deficit of women available for marriage?

    In organized polygamous societies the problem is resolved by having men buy their wives. The “brideprice” is the hallmark of a polygamous society, whereas the dowry— an extra incentive attached to an older or unattractive daughter— is the hallmark of a monogamous society. There are no “old maids” in a polygamous society, since women can become second or third or fourth wives of powerful men.

    In his 1981 book, A Treatise on the Family, Nobel Prize– winning economist Gary Becker argued that families of young women become the biggest supporters of polygamy because they possess an inherently scarce resource. Love matches and independent liaisons are frowned upon because they risk reducing the brideprice. In order to preserve their market value, young women must be veiled or sequestered and kept out of contact with young men. Because of the difficulties in finding brides, older men with lesser means are forced to look among younger and younger cohorts. Child marriages become common. Given the degree of sexual inequality and the great age differences that result, the personal bond between husbands and wives is not strong and there is very little companionate marriage.

    So where does warfare enter the picture?

    For primitive tribes, however, there is always one way of resolving this dilemma— raiding neighboring villages for their women. Academic anthropologists often have great difficulty dealing with this. In Marriage, Family, and Kinship, a book published in 1983 by the Human Area Relations Files at Yale University, for instance, Melvin and Carol R. Ember conducted a study that looked for correlations between polygamy and male-female imbalances. “[I]t appears that the cross-cultural evidence is consistent with the old notion that polygyny may generally be a response to an imbalanced sex ratio in favor of females,” they wrote.

    What creates the imbalance? “It appears that an imbalanced sex ratio in favor of females may be produced by warfare that results in a high mortality rate for males.” They parsed the data looking for correlations between high rates of warfare and polygyny and sure enough, there it was. “[W]e find that a high male mortality rate in warfare is fairly strongly associated with polygyny. . . . In sum, it seems that the cross-cultural evidence presented here is consistent with the theory that societies with a high male mortality in warfare are generally likely to have an imbalanced sex ratio in favor of females and, presumably for that reason, are likely to practice polygamy.”

    The Embers argue that “warfare kills a lot of men and leaves a surplus of women. The only way to make sure everyone is married is to allow polygamy.” Tucker believes the causal relationship posited by the Embers is exactly backwards.

    Societies that are polygamous to begin with go to war precisely because they have created an imbalance by letting each man take more than one wife. This creates a demand for more women that can only be resolved by stealing women from other tribes. Thus warfare and polygamy become mutually reinforcing.

    Which Came First, Polygamy or Monogamy? Part 2

    Posted By on October 3, 2014

    Post Author: Bill Pratt

    polygamy Which Came First, Polygamy or Monogamy? Part 2In part 1, we saw that monogamy was the original marital practice of ancient humans. Monogamy, however, came under attack when the hunter-gatherers came under attack.

    What led to the demise of hunter-gatherers?

    The problem that led to the near-extinction of hunting-and-gathering cultures was their inability to support large population densities. The “carrying capacity” of any given landscape for a hunting culture is about one person per square mile. A settled agricultural society can support anywhere up to one hundred times that. As a result, since the Neolithic Revolution of ten thousand years ago, hunting-and-gathering groups have been constantly crowded off the land by even the most primitive agriculturalists.

    The concept of primitive hunter-gatherers exhibiting “cave man” like behavior toward women is actually backwards. Tucker explains that

    despite the popular conception of “the Cave Man” as a fierce and uncouth barbarian who practiced “marriage by capture,” hitting women over the head and dragging them back to his lair, in fact the hunting-and-gathering lifestyle seems to be relatively peaceful and equitable. Rather it was early agriculturalists who became fierce and warlike, constantly raiding neighboring villages, engaging in headhunting, torture of enemies, and even cannibalism. . . .

    And herein lies the great paradox at the beginning of visible human history. It is the earliest settled agricultural people that have become warlike while the earlier hunter-gatherers seemed much more content to pursue their hunting and live at relative peace with their neighbors. Why? Because the earliest agricultural societies reverted to polygamy after almost 5 million years in which monogamy seems to have prevailed.

    What are the consequences of the Neolithic Revolution that begun in the eastern Mediterranean region about ten thousand years ago?

    Nomadic hunter- gatherers began settling down in permanent encampments and gradually gave up hunting for agriculture. The hybrid grains— wheat, millet, rye— were invented and soon enough food could be grown to support larger and larger populations. This agricultural revolution also appears to have occurred in the Indus Valley and in China as well, radiating outward in each case. It still continues today as the last remaining hunting-and-gathering tribes are gathered into the folds of sedentary civilization.

    What were the results as far as marriage customs and the relations between the sexes are concerned? There were two major trends, which will be the subject of most of the rest of this book:

    1) As the accumulation of greater wealth became possible, inequalities became more pronounced. One obvious and readily available inequality was that a man could take more than one wife. Some societies— the vast majority of cultures, according to the anthropologists— succumbed to this pattern. Others, however, eventually legislated against it, creating the very artificial situation where, even though there may be vast differences in wealth between individuals, a man can still take no more than one wife. This distinction ended up drawing a bright red line between primitive tribes and advanced civilizations.

    2) The relationship between the sexes changed. With hunting-and-gathering, there was a very even division of labor between the sexes. As another conclave summoned in 1980 called “Woman the Gatherer” would establish, 60 to 70 percent of the food intake in hunting-and-gathering societies actually comes from women’s activities. Meat is only the preferred food . This creates a balance between the sexes that makes monogamy a very productive enterprise.

    With the adoption of agriculture, however, things changed. In some cultures, men eventually took it up and became productive. In others, however, they have disdained farming as “women’s work” and contribute only occasional labor such as clearing land. . . . [T]he economic balance between the sexes that fosters monogamy was upset.

    The parallels to the biblical Book of Genesis are striking. In Genesis, the first humans are monogamous. It is only after sin has entered the world that polygamy starts to become widespread. The Bible portrays polygamy as the cause of numerous instances of violence, conflict and strife among the Patriarchs and the kings of Israel.

    Which Came First, Polygamy or Monogamy? Part 1

    Posted By on October 1, 2014

    Post Author: Bill Pratt 

    polygamy Which Came First, Polygamy or Monogamy? Part 1According to William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human Which Came First, Polygamy or Monogamy? Part 1, human beings were hunter-gatherers for thousands of years before settling down in larger population groups and becoming agricultural societies around 10,000 years ago.

    Over the last couple hundred years, as anthropologists have discovered and studied ancient hunter-gatherer people-groups that still exist today, the evidence is over-whelming: they are monogamous. Tucker writes:

    As explorers pushed farther into the forgotten corners of the world, however, they discovered a few remaining tribes that were still practicing hunting-and-gathering— the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, the Pygmies of Central Africa, the Aborigines of Australia. This led to an astonishing revelation. All turned out to be monogamous!

    The monogamy of hunter-gatherers leads to an amazing egalitarian ethic among their groups. Tucker quotes Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson:

    In general , hunter-gatherer people evince some of the most delightful and admirable ethics found anywhere. They may possess only a few rough and worn objects and little food beyond what is about to be eaten, but whatever one individual has is usually shared. People cooperate, and they promote cooperation. When one man tries to make himself better than his fellows, he is scorned, so that no one can become the “big man” or a petty tyrant over others. Hunter-gatherer societies are capable, anthropologists agree, of an “extreme political and sexual egalitarianism.”

    So how did polygamy arise among human populations?

    Apparently, it was the invention of agriculture and the accumulation of property and permanent wealth that had caused primitive agriculturalists to take up polygamy, as wealthier men began to acquire more women. By the 1930s, European anthropologists such as A. R. Radcliffe-Brown were arguing that polygamy was in fact a backsliding, arriving only after hunter-gatherer norms had broken down. With the loss of communal hunting, male members could now be excluded from the tribe without great consequence.

    When wealthier men no longer needed to collaborate and cooperate with less wealthy men, they started taking more women. Polygamy was the result.

    In part 2, we will take a more in-depth look at what caused the demise of the hunter-gatherers and why the practice of monogamy came under attack.

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