Searching for Eve

7 Jun

There are few stories in the Bible that I find more noxious than that of Adam and Eve. The central message of the tale can be paraphrased as ‘women, it’s all your fault. It’s vile misogyny and we allow our Children to be taught it as if it’s some nice moral tale. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong, so I went in search of a different Eve.

This piece was originally written as part of a research group into the Female Goddess. Is it speculative in parts? Yes. Still beats biblical Eve hands down in my opinion. Hope you enjoy.

All About Eve

 

I would dearly like to try and save the image of Eve, mother of humanity and to do this I’m going to take a fairly sizeable leap away from tired, misguided religious dogma and its associated misogyny and into the field of early human evolution and present a much more wholesome case for the Eve of genetic memory.

Enter right Mitochondrial Eve a figure from our biological evolution who, perhaps most importantly is real and allowed to exist without Adam’s rib with not even the merest hint of a pointlessly-placed tree bearing forbidden fruit or a serpent in sight. So who was Mitochondrial Eve? She is nothing more nor less than the most recent common ancestor for all humans living today and can be traced back to roughly 200, 000 years ago. Mitochondrial Eve has her counterpart in Y-Chromosomal Adam who can be dated back 90,000 – 60, 000 years ago. So how does this relate to the story of Eve?

To begin with, it doesn’t really, the Homo Sapian genus spread onwards, expanding exponentially until about 70, 000 years ago when it hits a rather alarming genetic bottleneck that reduced a large population of humans down to possibly as few as 500 breeding pairs but certainly no more than 10, 000 breeding pairs. Humanity was going through the roughest patch of its entire evolution. As for the cause of this bottleneck? Well that’s a tricky one as we don’t really know, but the best theory that science seems to have come up with is that of the Toba Extinction Event.

The Eruption of Lake Toba, in Sumatra, Indonesia is one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever to take place on the planet with estimates that after the initial destruction, floods and a variety of other nastiness the entire planet was plunged into a 6-10 year volcanic winter event with almost all sunlight being blocked out by huge clouds of ash. Although the Toba event carries the title theory, there are corresponding genetic bottlenecks in other species dating to exactly the same time, it is fair to say the very survival of genus Homo Sapian after this event is statistically improbable, yet survive they did! But what does this have to do with Eve?

Imagine the survivors of this event, don’t forget they didn’t all survive in one place. Here we have a population of only 10, 000 breeding pairs at most spread across the entire planet, small pockets of life seeking survival in conditions humans have not experienced since (though will likely experience again before the end of our history). It seems likely that the female of the species played a role more important than ever before? This Researcher wonders if the fact that early cultures revered the female goddess so much more than later cultures is a direct result of Genetic or cultural memory that comes from the centuries after Toba.

Here we have a very different Eve, not living in the Garden of Eden, but living in hell-on-earth revered amongst early societies for the ability to bring new life, to rebuild what was lost. Admittedly this last part is speculation on my part (though I’m confident I am not straying into Dolphin-riding Atlanteans territory), but if I have to believe one view on Eve or another then I’ll pick the mother of humanity revered for bringing life after great catastrophe rather than a 1-dimensional construct produced by men to control women.

Bibliography and Further Reading

 

Chesner, C.A.; Westgate, J.A.; Rose, W.I.; Drake, R.; Deino, A. Eruptive History of Earth’s Largest Quarternary caldera (Toba, Indonesia) Clarified (March 1991); Geology 19: 200–203.http://www.geo.mtu.edu/~raman/papers/ChesnerGeology.pdf. Retrieved 03/10/2010

Dawkins, Richard; The Ancestor’s Tale, A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life. (2004) (“The Grasshopper’s Tale”); Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 416.

Gibbons, Ann; Human Ancestors Were an Endangered Species. (19 January 2010). ScienceNow. http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2010/119/2.

Would Love to hear any feedback, good or bad.

You know the drill, if you don’t like these Thoughts, stick around, I’ve got plenty of others. x

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