If you are an evolutionist, ask yourself what evolutionary purpose or benefit is there to music? It doesn’t seem to be something that would have a positive impact on our survival, or ability to reproduce. I seriously doubt if music helped evolution’s primitive man put meat on the fire or do anything to extend their lives.
So what would be an evolutionary explanation for the origin of music?
A team of researchers from the University of Amsterdam have been studying the evolution of music and believe that they have identified two characteristics that would be involved in its evolution. Those two traits are relative pitch (the ability to distinguish a melody independent of the pitch), and beat induction (the ability to detect a regular beat when the rhythm is constantly changing).
The researchers tried to differentiate between music and musicality. They defined musicality as:
A natural, spontaneously developing trait based on and constrained by our cognitive system.
And they defined music as:
A social and cultural construct based on that very musicality.
Next the researchers set out to collect as much evidence based on genetic, cross-cultural, psychological, physiological and phylogenetic traits. From there, they looked at relative pitch and beat induction and their relationships to cognitive traits and musical skills. From there, they hope to be able to trace the evolution of music.
The researchers could have saved hours of fruitless research had they first opened their Bibles to Genesis 4:21 where we read that Jubal, a descendent of Cain, was the father of all those who played the lyre and pipe. In verse 25, we read that Adam and Eve were still alive and that they bore a son named Seth, who was the ancestor of Noah and all of us.
In Genesis 5:3, we read that Adam was only 130 years old when he fathered Seth. This means that man had the knowledge of music and how to make musical instruments relatively soon after God created us, and in fact may have given Adam that knowledge from the very beginning.
When it comes to the origin of music, the Bible wins hands down.
What Makes Us Musical Animals, Science Daily, July 6, 2012.
by Jeremy Begbie
From the iPod to the car radio, from movie soundtracks to Muzak at the shopping mall, from singing in the shower to the concert arena, music is an unavoidable part of our lives. Not only is music ubiquitous, it is powerful: creating moods, evoking memories and images, uniting people, and providing an outlet of expression for even the most tone deaf among us. Besides its prominent position in culture, music has obviously had a key role in the worship of God’s people. Under Christ’s lordship, such a pervasive and universal influence deserves informed theological reflection.
Resounding Truth is the next installment in the well-received Engaging Culture series. The author is both a respected theologian and a professionally trained musician. In this well-rounded study, he examines the connections between music and theology by engaging Scripture, musical history, and contemporary culture. He explores how God’s truth sounds and how it might “re-sound” in the realm of music. Appropriate for classes in music, theology and the arts, and Christian cultural engagement, Resounding Truth will help the reader develop discernment and wisdom, both for thinking about music in the church and Christian life and for engaging with one of culture’s most influential touchstones.
Paperback; 415 pages