Origins, Africa, Creation Stories, and Scripture

This really neat animated map just came out today, courtesy of National Geographic in conjunction with Business Insider. It’s a map of where we, as human beings, came from, so to speak. Where we started and how we got where we are. And as they say in the article, “It all began in Africa.”

This animated map shows how humans migrated across the globe

A couple years ago at WhiteWater Christian Church, I talked about how more and more fields of science were coming to believe human beings came out of Africa — and how a collection of ancient African creation stories tied into that and spoke to the truth of the Hebrew creation story recorded in Scripture. I think it’s pretty incredible. This is an excerpt from the transcript of that talk:

And the question is — in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and I firmly believe God created the heavens and the earth — and the question is, “How?” And there’s some really cool stuff coming out of a lot of different fields of study in the scientific realm: the fields of genetics, and anthropology, and linguistics, and archeology are all beginning to point to this idea that the first humans came out of the continent of Africa. Which is kind of cool, because for awhile we thought they came out of some sort of Middle Eastern/Asian, you know, the fertile crescent, all that kind of stuff. I’m going to geek out on you guys here for a second, so bear with me. But in the study, the field of genetics, some folks took a look at mitochondrial DNA, which is DNA passed down from a mother to her children, and by looking at this maternal lineage you can actually trace humankind back through history, which is pretty awesome. And they found out that – they came to the conclusion that mankind, all of us, came from a single female on the continent of Africa, about 200 to 250,000 years ago, according to this method of scientific research. They dubbed her “Eve” and this set off, this sparked this controversy within the realm of science because there are other people that believed what’s called the Multi-Regional Continuity Theory, which you don’t have to remember at all. But anyways, there’s this big debate in the scientific community, and the more evidence that came out over the past ten years or so has confirmed that about 200-250,000 years ago we all descended from a single female in Africa.

And linguistics is showing this, too. Some studies, some research papers that were just published in 2011 and 2012 – so this is pretty recent stuff, it’s pretty awesome to me – that all of our languages are related to one another. And if you trace the evolution of linguistics and language back through time you begin to see them converge and come together about 200,000 years ago — on the continent of Africa. Kind of neat. And there’s anthropology – paleoanthropology – who were some of the biggest people were fighting this evidence of humankind coming out of Africa, and they’ve since found more evidence to support the theory. And so everything is pointing to this idea that we came from Africa.

And I say all of that to lead up to some African creation stories that I want to tell you. Stories from the people, ancient people of Africa, and how they believe the world first began. I’m going to read a couple of these to you.

The Gikuyu people of modern-day Kenya tell the story of Gikuyu and Mumbi, the first man and woman, who were created by God and placed under a special tree of life. God then showed them the whole land and said, “This land I hand over to you, O Man and Woman. It is yours to rule and till in peace, sacrificing only to me, your God.”

According to the Yoruba people of Nigeria, God molded the first man and first woman from the ground and breathed life into them.

As the Abaluyia people tell the story, God created man first and then created woman so he would have a companion. The Lugbara people told of man being created first, then woman was created and the two were joined in marriage as husband and wife.

The Shilluk creation story says God created man from clay and took woman from man. The Bambuti Pygmies in their story say that God created man from clay, covered him with skin, and poured blood into his body — but he wasn’t alive until God breathed into him.

And I saved the best for last. This is a western African creation story. And all of these stories, you guys, predate our creation story that’s written in the Bible — I should say, predates when our creation story was written down. It doesn’t necessarily predate our story, it predates when it was written down. Including this one:

At the beginning of Things, when there was nothing, neither man, nor animals, nor plants, nor heaven, nor earth, nothing, nothing, God was and He was called Nzame. The three who are Nzame, we call them Nzame, Mebere and Nkwa. At the beginning Nzame made the heaven and the earth and He reserved the heaven for Himself. Then He blew on the earth and the earth and water were created each on its side.

Nzame made everything: heaven, earth, sun, moon, stars, animals, plants; everythng. When He had finished everything that we see today, He called Mbere and Nkwa and showed them His work. “This is my work. It is good.”

Wow. Do you guys understand what is happening here? If people came – if mankind came out of Africa, and we have these ancient stories that were written down before our story was written down, that all sound a lot like our story, then here’s what I think happened, guys: God creates the first humans in Africa and they begin telling the story. And you know, humans were not born with the capability to write. Writing was something we developed later on, and so they begin telling the story of how they were made. And they begin passing it down orally through the generations. And as people moved out of Africa they took that story with them. They took the story of how God created them and they took it with them to Egypt and Palestine and China and Europe and all these other places. But the stories in Africa are so similar, they all had to have the same beginning. And that lends so much credence, to me, to the story that we have in our Scripture.

You can listen to the rest by clicking here.