Thank you, Brett; What a fascinating subject. I don't think Adam, as representing the first man on earth, and Adam, as the first Manifestation in the Adamic cycle, are the same person.
Yes, and I believe the quotations support this. My only point was that it could still be possible from a Baha'i point of view (and maybe even likely given that 'Abdu'l-Baha does compare Christ and Adam in this regard, and we do accept Christ's lack of a physical father), that Adam, the Manifestation of God 6000 years ago, was not created by father and mother. This wouldn't mean He was literally the first man on earth, as quotations like this fly strongly in the face of that:
This stupendous laboratory and workshop has not been limited in its production to six thousand revolutions of the earth about the sun. With the slightest reflection man can be assured that this calculation and announcement is childish, especially in view of the fact that it is scientifically proved the terrestrial globe has been the habitation of man long prior to such a limited estimate.
(Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 219)
Notice the above does not only say the world has been around more than 6,000 years, it also says it has been man's habitation longer than that period--i.e., man was around before 6,000 years.
The latter lived a short time ago (roughly 6,000 years), relative to the span of time in which life evolved on earth. The former must have emerged a few million years ago, at least in physical form if not in the capacity for abstract thought. The first to manifest abstract thought must have lived sometime between 100,000 years and perhaps a million years ago.
Yes. The date seems to keep getting pushed back with new discoveries, but yes.
I used to think that man evolved in parallel to other animal forms with no actual lineage going back to the animals. Now, I believe that our physical forms have always been related to the earth, its microscopic life, and its ever-unfolding abilities, such as those imprinted in the genes of all living things.
This does not mean that evolution fully explains our origins. We are, I believe, an expression of a timeless principle from which the light of reason, imagination, abstraction, curiousity, vision, thought and comprehension shines forth.
We represent the 'general reality'*, which I think of as a mirror able to reflect the full spectrum. Other living things are each able to reflect a fraction of that same spectrum. So, it is not in the substances, molecules and genes that man is distinct but rather in his God-given capacity to mirror forth all of the colours of that bright light called 'the general reality'*. in this sense, we are a distinct kind (species, but not in the taxonomical sense of that word in this context).
"The world, indeed each existing being, proclaims to us one of the names of God, but the reality of man is the collective reality, the general reality, and is the center where the glory of all the perfections of God shine forth—that is to say, for each name, each attribute, each perfection which we affirm of God there exists a sign in man."
-'Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions p 195
"If man did not exist, the universe would be without result, for the object of existence is the appearance of the perfections of God.
Therefore, it cannot be said there was a time when man was not."
-'Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions p 196 http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-50.html
Yes, again, well said, I think.
Here's another quote, which when examined carefully, I think actually contradicts the idea of parallel evolution.
We cannot prove man was always man for this is a fundamental doctrine, but it is based on the assertion that nothing can exceed its own potentialities, that everything, a stone, a tree, an animal and a human being existed in plan, potentially, from the very "beginning" of creation. We don't believe man has always had the form of man, but rather that from the outset he was going to evolve into the human form and species and not be a haphazard branch of the ape family.
(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Antipodes, June 7, 1946
Note it says that we believe man would "evolve into the human...species"--i.e., that he was not always part of the human species, even though he was destined to become so.
Note also the apparent support from this line, "it is based on the assertion that nothing can exceed its own potentialities, that everything, a stone, a tree, an animal and a human being existed in plan, potentially, from the very "beginning" of creation". By saying man "existed in plan, potentially", it rather implies that he didn't always exist in actuality.
'Abdu'l-Baha, too, in Promulgation of Universal Peace, is to have said, "In the world of existence man has traversed successive degrees until he has attained the human kingdom....Throughout this journey of progression he has ever and always been potentially man." Again, note the key word "potentially" and the phrase "until he has attained the human kingdom". Seems to me to be clear He is saying it was not always that way.
So, despite all of the above, there is one passage I'm having some trouble with, as I mentioned in an earlier post at viewtopic.php?p=14404
, I am still looking for a way to resolve this issue:
"Between man and the ape, however, there is one link missing, and to the present time scientists have not been able to discover it....The lost link of Darwinian theory is itself a proof that man is not an animal. How is it possible to have all the links present and that important link absent? Its absence is an indication that man has never been an animal. It will never be found." (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 358, 359 passim)
Assuming this is an accurate statement of 'Abdu'l-Baha (since Promulgation of Universal Peace is not necessarily accurate--e.g., see http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file= ... uardian#s4
which indicates that one mention about the Pentateuch supposedly prescribing the cutting off of the hand is not even in the Persian original), even if this allows for a common ancestor, it still seems to me to contradict what "Darwinian theory" taught (which did not, as far as I have read, make any such assumptions that there would be a direct connection to apes).
One might argue that He is arguing with the ideas mistakenly associated with Darwinian theory, and is simplifying the prevalent idea of the time (if it was prevalent) by calling it "Darwinian theory"--that is the best I can come up with on this one now, though I'm really tempted to ask the House if this is even accurate at all (or find a Persian willing to check "Khitábát, Talks of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" which seems it may contain the originals, as it was used in this footnote: http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file= ... ardian#fn2
Off topic somewhat, I recall thinking a while back that the Writings seemed to present some support for the idea of pan spermia, as is also getting more support nowadays, though I can't remember which quotations made me take that interpretation.