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Spinoza's Critique of Religion

3 Ratings: 2.0
Leo Strauss's bizarre tale of a pre-Adam society
1 review about Spinoza's Critique of Religion

This is a bizarre tale

  • Jun 30, 2010

One of the bizarre tales told by Leo Strauss in his interesting book is about the Frenchman Isaac de la Peyrère (1596–1676). He is the formulator of the rather strange “Adamite theory,” which he and others used to explain the origin of humanity. Sadly, people also used it in a racist manner to disparage many cultures and people, such as African Americans, who they considered “pre-Adamites.”


La Peyrère’s Adamite theory contends that a race of people existed before Adam. He supported his notion by referring to the two creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2. The first states that God created man and woman simultaneously. The second has the woman being drawn from Adam’s side. He explained that Genesis 1 is speaking of the creation of a pre-Adam race, which was far inferior to Adam. Genesis 2, he insisted, depicts the origin of Adam and his descendants, a perfect race containing the seed of all that is truly human.


He was also convinced that Paul’s Epistle to the Romans proved his theory. In the Epistle, Paul wrote that Adam sinned. If Adam sinned, there must have been a law that existed before Adam that he violated. This was the law of the pre-Adamites. He felt that his theory explained how Cain was able to find a wife (among the pre-Adam civilization), why Cain built a city (to house his family and people from the pre-Adam race), and why some people are inferior to others.


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