Deconstructing “Adam and Eve”: Homosexuality and Creation Mythology

March 6, 2017 in General

While I criticised creationism’s implicit homophobia in the Politics and Religion section of the main Gaynz.Com pages several years ago, I’ve never criticised any other facet of biblical literalism beyond the spurious mythological cities of “Sodom and Gomorrah”, and the non-existent seismic, geological or volcanic disasters which show no such provenance on such a scale in the aforementioned area of modern Israel, leaving one to conclude that its imaginary incineration in fact never happened.

As Stephen Greenblatt, the noted US cultural historian of early modernity, has a forthcoming book entitled The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, I thought I’d write a preliminary piece on the subject of this hoary heterosexual creation myth. In the Book of Genesis, Yahweh creates most forms of life and then Adam, the first male human. From his ribs, given his loneliness, he then creates Eve, the first female human. Unfortunately for this myth, however, along came nineteenth-century palaeontology and archaeology, and after Darwin wrote the Origin of Species, it was obvious that macroevolution had caused the emergence of all life on Earth, including an evolutionary line of hominid anthropoids who were the ancestors of homo sapiens and our closest evolutionary relatives, the higher primates. There’s therefore no room for Adam and Eve in this context, and the principle of Occam’s Razor renders the interpellation of a divine ‘designer’ spurious, so heterosexuality is not the result of ‘design and purpose,’ as fundamentalist apologists for intelligent design creationism would have us accept.

Unfortunately, no-one has ever tried to ‘queer’ palaeontology or archaeology, so we know comparatively little about the sexual culture of early hominids. Given that homosexuality exists in other species and in the higher primates, however, it’s probable that same-sex sexual pleasure was not unknown to early hominids, except that there seems to be no material traces of this pleasure. We haven’t found fossilised remains of intertwined same-sex early hominids who might be engaged in familiar acts of same-sex coitus, for instance. Yet, these early hominids didn’t construct a subculture around it, or remark on its existence in cave paintings, or construct artefacts to facilitate it. The preserved bodies of several male shamans with female cultural artefacts, and female warriors with corresponding male artefacts, have been found. However, this may only suggest that gender liminality is ancient as a phenomenon. We have found no traces of any same-sex mates of these individuals- or if we have, then such remains have been wrongly interpreted. This may explain the appearance of heterosexual creation myths, to assert some “normative” or “natural” status for heterosexuality as a retrospectively inferred “natural” condition of human sexuality against the ubiquity of formerly unstigmatised same-sex relationships. In actual fact, it’s probably easy to explain why lesbian or gay sex was unstigmatised in early modern human societies. Given rudimentary early hominid agriculture, it therefore seems logical that excessive birth rates would have overloaded the cave or forest dwellings of our paleolithic counterparts, so recreational homosexuality and heterosexuality were cultivated to maintain the carrying capacity of the local dwelt environment. Post-scarcity environments might have led to greater social differentiation, demarcation and stigmatisation of same-sex variant individuals, especially marginal agricultural environments.

Therefore, when fundamentalists state “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” they are merely referring to the function of this mythological item within their worldview. Adam and Eve are the primordial and original human couple, and they are heterosexual, because heterosexuality is ‘natural’ and ‘normative, compared to the marginalisation of homosexuality that his discursive task accomplishes. However, neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory renders the unsubstantiated creation myth gossamer and superfluous, which does raise some interesting questions about how a ‘queer’ palaeontology and archaeology might go around investigating the existence and material circumstances of same-sex early hominid sexuality and relationships. At the moment, mitochondrial DNA evidence suggests that the earliest identifiable early hominid was an African woman named “Lucy” after the Beatles song. One looks forward to the emergence and consolidation of this discipline.

Recommended:

Bruce Bagemihl: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity: St Martins Press: New York: 1999.

Stephen Greenblatt: The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve: New York: WW Norton and Company: 2017.

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