Until yesterday I didn’t realize that there was a serious debate about whether Adam had a navel. But, alas, the debate has been a serious one in the minds of some people.
According to both versions of creation in Genesis (there are two substantially conflicting versions in the Bible), neither Adam nor Eve was ever in a woman’s uterus. So neither Adam nor Eve needed a navel. This doesn’t answer the question of whether they had navels, though.
We don’t have the remains of Adam and Eve. We don’t have their photos. How would one resolve this debate, then? Many believers are undeterred. Here is one analysis that Adam and Eve had no navels. Raptureready.com also weighs in with a “no.” Ditto for Christiananswers.net. It’s not always seen as a serious debate. Here is a tongue in cheek account by posted by a Baptist Church. The terminology can get a bit daunting. For instance, there is mention of the “Post-Umbilisists,” those “learned theologians and scholars believe that Adam’s navel was formed after the Fall.”
This issue occurred to me only because a friend (thanks, Deb!) recently mentioned to me that her friend was a “Navelite.” I’d never heard of this religion. Well, turns out that there is a small offshoot of Christianity that distinguishes itself by its belief that Adam did not have a navel. It was a big enough issue at one point to cause a schism. I have this one word of mouth only; Deb’s friend was a Navelite. But I haven’t yet been able to track down a written account on Google.
But is it possible that people could really get worked up over this debate? Apparently so, based upon the existence of Navelites. Also check out the serious tone of this article, also concluding that “The absence of navels on this first human couple would be a powerful, long-lasting witness to the creation itself, and to the power of our Creator God.”
Even Congress got involved in this debate:
Lest one think this is all rather frivolous and trivial, and that nobody really ever gave this matter much serious thought, and that Al Maxey is getting desperate for topics for his Reflections articles, it should be noted that the question as to whether Adam and Eve ever possessed such a distinguishing mark has not only generated debate in the religious world for centuries, but has even reached into our own United States Congress! In 1944, a subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives Military Committee (chaired by Congressman Durham of the state of North Carolina) refused to authorize a little 30-page booklet titled “Races of Man,” that was to be handed out to our soldiers, sailors and airmen fighting in World War II, because this little booklet had a drawing that depicted Adam and Eve with belly buttons! The members of this subcommittee ruled that showing Adam and Eve with navels “would be misleading to gullible American soldiers.”
How could it be that this issue could become a significant one? For some, it raises the question of whether God would would “deceive” us by placing a navel on Adam and Eve.
It is my firm conviction that to suggest God created Adam and Eve with navels is to suggest He is the creator of a grand deception, and I simply am unwilling to make such an assertion about my God.
This worry about deception intriques me. After all, many new Earthers argue that God intentionally scattered lots of evidence around the universe, objects that really and truly appear to be much much older than the allegedly 6,000 year old Earth, to “test our faith.”
To me, this arcane though sometimes lively dispute about navels suggests that groups of humans are all to willing to break into separate groups. This real-life tension is not simply a matter of belief, it would seem. It would seem that any existing religion would be a big enough tent for both navelites and non-navelites. It would seem that there is a deeper principle at work, then, and that this navel example is merely one excuse to split groups apart.
That a separate religion (the Navelites) actually split off as a result of this trivial dispute (trivial to me, certainly) is what we could expect if humans are naturally prone to splitting into groups. It might have something to do with our limited cognitive capacity and the huge cognitive load of maintaining the social fabric with especially large groups. I’ve addressed this issue previously. In a separate previous post, I’ve suggested that religious dogma can be important without being literally true. This navel dispute could certainly be a case in point.
Whatever, a warning to freethinkers: don’t non-chalently joke about Adam’s navel. There might be Navelites lurking.
About the Author (Author Profile)Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Mending Fences, Part IV - The many things we have in common | Dangerous Intersection | July 15, 2010
- Quora | September 22, 2010