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Incestuous Creationists part 3

In my last post I looked at creationists' hypothesis that incest was the primary means of populating the earth in the early days. Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International offers a particularly detailed defense. After going through the reasons we shouldn't be revolted by this idea, Sarfati concludes with his understanding of why siblings nevertheless should not attempt to procreate with each other today.

CMI also provides a logical explanation for why God waited till Moses to outlaw this practice, when he didn’t with Abraham. Originally, there would have been no risk of this causing harmful deformities in the offspring. There is a problem today, because all of us have inherited copying mistakes in our genes, called mutations, which are usually harmful. Mutations are one effect of God’s curse on the entire creation because of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:19, Romans 8:20–22).

Fortunately, we carry two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent (called alleles). Usually we inherit mutations in different places, so usually the mutated gene’s effect is fully or partly masked by the ‘good’ gene. But if close relatives marry, then there is a one-in-four chance of a child inheriting mutant alleles in the same place (locus) from both parents. This one-in-four chance applies to each mutation, of which there are thousands, so the chance of some deformity is great.

He's not alone among creationists holding this view. Bryan Osborne of Answers in Genesis concurs.

But why was marrying a close relative originally okay and later forbidden by God? One reason people don’t marry close relatives today is that humans have accumulated mutations (damaged genetic information) within their DNA for thousands of years. Close relatives are likely to have mutations in common, which if passed on by both parties often result in genetic disease. If a person marries a more distant relation, they are less likely to have the same mutations, so they are less likely to pass genetic disease on to their children.

Incest, according to creationist theology, is not immoral. It is, as Sarfati tells MJ, "on the same level as the food laws". It might still be OK for a brother and sister to marry each other today, if it weren't for that pesky genetic drift.

To extend Sarfati's food analogy, marrying your sibling is like eating raw bacon. It's not wrong, per se, but it's not safe.

Creationists seem to have backed themselves into a corner, an indefensible position from which they cannot escape. Yet it need not be so. Another of Sarfati's readers, Nicholas J, suggests a couple of alternatives.

Question: Where did Cain’s wife come from?

Answer: It is very likely that God formed a wife for Cain from his own body in the same way that God formed a wife for Adam. It is also possible that God could have formed her from the ground.

While these ideas are no more rational than marrying siblings, they do have the advantage of not being incest.

Nicholas J also picks up on the same discrepancy I noted in my previous post.

For the ‘sister argument’ (if I may call it that) to work, incest must be considered ceremonial or civil law, but it is clear from the context of Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 27 that we are to consider incest to be moral law.

Sarfati, in his reply, appears oblivious to the distinction he himself had made.

Another problem is this artificial separation of moral and ceremonial laws. Surely every law God gives is a ‘moral law’, in that it would be immoral to disobey.

Sarfati then turns around and reiterates the same time limitation he expressed earlier.

When it comes to the law at hand, there is simply no evidence from practice or logical deduction from Scripture that brother-sister intermarriage was God’s command until it was given.

Sarfati then tries to claim there's no inconsistency; it's all a matter of protecting the kids. That is God's unchanging standard, protecting the kids; the laws are merely an implementation of this standard. But he realizes this cuts against his claim that some laws were in force before they were officially given, and he attempts to exlain the difference.

Finally, why was Cain guilty of murder although the Mosaic Commandment had not been given (and why were the Sodomites guilty of sexual sin before the Mosaic commands against homosexual behaviour)? Answer: before Moses, God had written the moral law on people’s hearts. This is not directly stated in Genesis, but is logically deducible from Romans 2:14–15:

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

God’s writing the Law on the hearts of the early biblical characters makes far more biblical sense than a special creation of their wives.

This contradicts Sarfati's previous justification for these laws, when he said they could be derived from Genesis. At the same time, he seems to be appealing to the same gut reaction he had criticized as "emotion" in describing his readers' revulsion to incest. And he appears to be unaware of his hypocrisy.

When it comes to where Cain got his wife, it doesn't matter what reasoning they use or how they get there. In the end, Sarfati and other creationist leaders always turn out to be defenders of incest.


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