October 18, 2017

Difficult Scriptures: Romans 5:12-17

illustrationwrestling12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 13 Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14 Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. 15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:12-17, NLT)

For someone who lived 3,000,000 years ago, or 6,000 years ago, or never, Adam sure is stirring up a lot of dust. Of course, that’s what he was made of, if he was made at all.

Scott Lencke, faithful iMonk and pastor in Brussels, Belgium, brought to my attention a recent article dealing with the importance of a “real” Adam. J.R. Daniel Kirk, a professor at Fuller Theologial Seminary, recently wrote with this thesis in mind: To what extent do we need to affirm a historical Adam in order also to affirm the saving dynamics of Paul’s Adam Christology?  It is well worth reading the whole thing here. Kirk writes,

One of the first questions worth confronting is whether this passage allows for various understandings of how Adam might represent humanity. Thus, for example, might there be room here, not for a physical, natural progenitor of all subsequent human beings, but for a person who was chosen by God from a developing or, at any rate, numerically numerous, human race to play the role of representative in obedience and disobedience?

But the question that will clamor for the attention of many is whether such a moment in which sin’s guilt and power are unleashed as the lords of humanity is required at all. There seems to have been death in this world millions of years before human beings came on the scene. Is it possible to affirm the point Paul wishes to make—that God’s grace, righteousness, and life abound to the many because of Christ—without simultaneously affirming the assumptions with which he illustrated these things to be true?

Lencke wrote his own follow-up to Kirk on his blog, and I encourage you to read that as well. Lencke points us past the argument of a historial Adam to the redemptive work of Christ as the focal point of Paul’s Romans passage above.

The other things [Paul] says, especially about sin, the Law, and eschatology, are reinterpretations that grow from the fundamental reality of the Christ event.Recognizing this relieves the pressure that sometimes builds up around a historical Adam……we can now recognize that Adam is not the foundation on which the system of Christian faith and life is built, such that removing him means that the whole edifice comes crashing down. Instead, the Adam of the past is one spire in a large edifice whose foundation is Christ. The gospel need not be compromised if we find ourselves having to part ways with Paul’s assumption that there is a historical Adam, because we share Paul’s fundamental conviction that the crucified Messiah is the resurrected Lord over all.

Yet Steven Wedgeworth at The Calvinist International says belief in a real, historical Adam is essential for our faith.

We return to our main question, and we offer this unreserved thesis: The historicity of Adam determines the public nature of our religion. If Adam was a historical individual, then the Bible makes authoritative claims about all of humanity and indeed all of the cosmos. It can, at least in theory, be falsified, and it is thus a legitimate topic of dialectical discourse. It is rational and not a retreat to commitment. If Adam was not a historical individual, and if instead the Genesis account is a sort of mythical story which was employed in order to make a uniquely religious point, then Christianity is necessarily rendered merely metaphorical, expressing truths of the human condition through symbols. The Bible in this case is no longer an authoritative account of human origins, history, and final destiny. It no longer addresses all men in all places and times, but rather expresses one faith-narrative that seeks to convey a meaningful but wholly internal truth.

Put more simply: if Adam is mythical, then so is redemption. While it does not follow that if Adam is mythical, then the historicity of Jesus must also be denied, it doesfollow that if Adam is mythical, then the historicity of Jesus as Second Adam must be denied. And Christianity is founded on Jesus as Second Adam.

So, we have Paul writing that Adam is a symbol of Christ who was yet to come. Does this symbol have to have been real? Does our faith hang in the balance as to whether or not we believe in a historical Adam?

I normally don’t answer my own Difficult Scriptures question, but today I will, and then stand aside to hear your thoughts. To give my answer, I will have to lean heavily on what I learned from Michael Spencer about reading the Bible.

The Scriptures were given us for one reason, and one reason alone: To point us to Jesus. When we try to use the Scriptures to prove other points, we are going outside of the scope of its purpose. The story and symbol of Adam show us “little Adams” to be sinners in need of redemption. Redemption comes in Christ’s death and resurrection. If I focus on whether or not Adam is/was real, I take my eyes away from what God intends me to look at: Jesus. So I guess I’m saying it does not matter to me whether or not Adam was really real. The story of Adam points me to a very real Jesus.

Now, your thoughts?

Comments

  1. dumb ox says:

    “Put more simply: if Adam is mythical, then so is redemption.”

    “Simple” may the key word in that statement.

    If Adam is a historical figure…If Adam is not a historical figure: It’s time for evangelicalism’s most popular game show: Name That Fallacy!

  2. Another well thought out piece by Scott Lencke. I was going to draw your attention to this piece as well Jeff, as I thought it very well written.

    If anyone is interested in reading more on the topic, I recommend “The evolution of Adam”, by Peter Enns.

    By the way, Scott is joining me over the next few months to help compile Michael Spencer’s commentary on Mark.

    • Good to hear the Mark project is still going strong! And apologies for not being able to contribute more to it…

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    This posting has some bearing on Creation Wars as well. Historical Adam usually comes as part of a package deal with Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles.

  4. Thanks for the interaction & links, Jeff.

    Let me also point readers to an interesting article (at 29-pages long) by John Schneider called The Fall of ‘Augustinian Adam’: Original Fragility and Supralapsarianism Purpose. The article compares the Adam of Ireneaus’s and Augustine’s writings, all the while trying to answer the question of whether Adam is compatible with evolution in any sense. Schneider also believes there is compatibility.

  5. Ali Griffiths says:

    If you read an ancient text in the way it was not intended you come up with some weird results unintended by the original author eg read the Psalms as historical fact or a list of laws….and oops….clearly it doesn’t work!
    Genesis is an explanation of the beginning of creation and the origins of humanity written for pre scientific people. It is not a scientific text book because that would have not been understood by the people who needed to know who they were and who God was. They required a story of truths they could understand on their level.
    On that basis Adam could be representative of humanity or an actual figure. Either way Christianity is not diminished or rendered futile nor is the Bible any less authoritative – more complicated and nuanced certainly but not any the less true and to say failing to believe in a historical Adam means redemption is a myth is simply illogical.
    Even if you take the view that Adam is a mythical figure, the Genesis narrative states clearly is that at some point humanity, represented by ‘Adam’ (man), deliberately chose to disobey God thus setting in chain the need for the second Adam who represents all humanity. Even if the story is representative of the truth/facts and not scientific fact then theology remains unchanged as does the need for redemption.
    As for my view – I don’t know if Adam was an actual person (as in the first human created) or a particular human or group of humans (Adam and Eve thus representing a group) at the point when humanity had reached a certain stage in development. I don’t find that I need a definitive answer on that – either way the theology remains the same.
    I like the idea of an historical Adam because I have grown up with this idea of a historical person but as I am not convinced that Genesis ch 1 – 11 can or should be read as straightforward facts – it is poetical rather than scientific – then the historicity of an actual individual called Adam has to be questioned. I know there is a lot more to be said and I am no expert on this but, for what it is worth, this is the basis of how I read and interpret Genesis.
    (Btw if anyone comes back to me on this, as I still haven’t worked out how to get alerts on the comment thread it’ll be a while before I come back to you.)

    • Don’t get hung up on the words, read it for the story. The Bible is not a newspaper but an explantation of what we see around us without the benefit of “Science”

      Remember that this story has been translated many times into many languages. I believe it is the inspired word of God . In the end, no matter what others say, it is what these words mean to ME.

  6. JoanieD says:

    Jeff writes, “So I guess I’m saying it does not matter to me whether or not Adam was really real. The story of Adam points me to a very real Jesus.”

    Yup, that is what I think too. I just finished reading The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream by C. Baxter Kruger and it was great reading. Though it was mostly about the Trinity, the book is worth reading just for the 10 or so pages that he writes about Adam.

  7. “Recognizing this [the fundamental reality of the Christ] relieves the pressure that sometimes builds up around a historical Adam……we can now recognize that Adam is not the foundation on which the system of Christian faith and life is built, such that removing him means that the whole edifice comes crashing down. Instead, the Adam of the past is one spire in a large edifice whose foundation is Christ.”

    Lencke’s point is more universal than the topic at hand. Name a theological issue, and Christocentric thinking necessarily “moves the goalposts.” Was Jesus the Messiah? Yes, but not because He fit then-current notions of Messiahship to a T, but because the idea is subsumed into the infinitely greater fact of the Incarnation. Will God restore the Kingdom unto Israel? Yes, but not in the narrow hope of understandably distraught first-century Jews, but rather by transcending it via the Great Commission. Et cetera.

    Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross tells me everything I need to know about human fallenness and God’s infinite love for His Creation. His Resurrection tells me everything I need to know about God’s omnipotence.

    The Jews and Greeks in our heads demand signs and wisdom, respectively. Preaching Christ crucified suffices instead.

    • @ Trevis

      Right on, man!!!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The Jews and Greeks in our heads demand signs and wisdom, respectively. Preaching Christ crucified suffices instead.

      Which can go sour in its own way, into the Blind Faith of Pietism — “Don’t Think, Just BEE-LEEEEEVE!!!!” To where faith ceases to become “the substance of things hoped for” to become denial of observable reality. And opens the believer up to all kinds of cultic manipulation.

  8. I know Enns has touched on it, but I am specifically interested in how Sailhamer’s view ties into this. He holds to a historic Adam, yet his thesis is that the early chapters of Genesis are a lead up to the story of Israel. So is Adam more about Israel than all of humanity?

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      So is Adam more about Israel than all of humanity?

      Perhaps. After all, the initial audience for the narrative in Genesis was not the 21st century church.

      However, I think that if we understand the story of Adam, we understand the story of Israel, and by understanding the story of Israel, we understand the story of all humanity.

  9. This topic was something I’ve tried to avoid since becoming OK with the whole evolution idea. However, our youngest is majoring in Archaeology. Last spring I went with him on a dig and watched as he held a pot fragment that was older than I used the think the earth was. Nothing like a good slap and lots of helping prep for tests. (Although the really surreal moment was the discussion I had with one of the grad students who found a point older than he STILL thought the Earth was.)

    I find that YECs ignore anthropology in total. In high school we skipped from dinosaur bones to the Bronze Age in one photo of a dinosaur foot print with a human’s in a compromised dig site in Texas.

  10. I tend to believe in a historical Adam. What I don’t tend to believe in is bad (or non-existent) logic. Which is why statements like

    Put more simply: if Adam is mythical, then so is redemption. While it does not follow that if Adam is mythical, then the historicity of Jesus must also be denied, it doesfollow that if Adam is mythical, then the historicity of Jesus as Second Adam must be denied.

    drive me mad. No, it doesn’t follow. I sincerely hope the historical Adam position does not require faulty logic to defend it.

    • They are referring to the unraveling of sin and the Fall. If Adam and Eve (A&E) are not the first parents of all humans – where does sin enter in?

      • kerokline says:

        I really don’t think this argument has legs.

        Jesus was one man among many, but he was capable of being a representative sacrifice for mankind. This is the conceit of the penal-substitution theory that underlies much of protestant theology. That Jesus, in a legal sense, either through his sinlessness or through his God-ness, could be a sacrifice big enough to allow God to forgive all of mankind. (Please, forgive the non-theological language I’m using here)

        If one man could save all of mankind, even as all of mankind sinned around him, why couldn’t one man condemn all of mankind, even as all of mankind still lived in child/newborn like sinlessness? If God is the kind of God to rest all of salvation on one man’s shoulders once, I don’t see why He wouldn’t have done it before.

        • Because there is a difference between law and grace.

          Christ’s righteousness can be imputed to us by grace – unmerited favor. That is not just, but it is good. It is God sparing us what we deserve.

          On the flip side, Adam’s unrighteousness cannot be imputed to us unless we are truly in Adam (he is truly our father). Imputing the righteousness of a stranger to us would be unjust. And not the sort of injustice which reveals God goodness (as the imputation of our unrighteousness onto Christ does).

        • kerokline says:

          I’m simply not following, I’m afraid. Adam is a stranger to me, as he has been to every human for a very long time. Whether I carry his blood or not seems petty.

          My point was, the whole reason we speak of Adam as being necessary is because we think of Adam in a legalistic sense. Most of us here (I believe, no offence to Martha, Mule, and the like) are protestant, and our churches teach us that Christ died to legally atone for Sin. There is no grace found in the act of dying, that was just a transaction. The grace is found in His willingness to do so. His love was so great that he would buy us out of our sin-debt. My pastor used those exact words – “purchase” of “sin-debt”.

          Such an approach doesn’t need a biological father in Adam, just as it doesn’t need a biological sacrifice in Christ.

          • But what is sin? Is our nature good or evil? Did God create evil, or is man responsible for it?

            Without a literal Adam, you will find you have a hard problem answering these questions.

          • Phil M. says:

            But what is sin? Is our nature good or evil? Did God create evil, or is man responsible for it?

            Without a literal Adam, you will find you have a hard problem answering these questions.

            Why? Even a surface reading of the Genesis narrative seems to imply that evil existed before Eve chose to partake of the forbidden fruit. The serpent was there enticing Adam and Eve. This is actually something I remember being confused about regarding the Creation story even as a little kid. Why was the responsibility for the Fall and the introduction of evil into the world placed entirely on Adam and Eve when clearly Satan was there to tempt them into sinning in the first place? Shouldn’t he be the one who’s to blame?

          • I’m not entirely sure. But it says death and sin entered through Adam, not Satan.

          • “But it says death and sin entered through Adam”

            And I think one of the questions on hand is: What does that exactly mean? What was meant by it in Genesis, by Paul, and in the overall narrative of Scripture?

          • The meaning of “death” in this context is very interesting, but off topic, I think.

            Sin, however, is entirely relevant.

            If we acknowledge that we are sinners by nature – then where did this sin nature come from? This nature is in our genes, where did those genes come from? From God, or from Adam?

          • Phil M. says:

            I don’t necessarily acknowledge that we are sinners by nature. By that I mean, I don’t believe there is something like a genetic defect within the human genome that causes us to sin. We sin because we are separated from God. We are separated from God because of Adam’s sin in the sense that Adam was the was who started steering the human race off course.

            I look at like this. Imagine a ship starts out on a voyage to sea, but in his inexperience the navigator ends getting lost, and the ship become shipwrecked on an uncharted island. Imagine the people on that ship remain on the island for long enough that they start having children. The children are shipwrecked, in a sense, but it was something that was no fault of their own. It wasn’t because of a genetic defect or a sinful nature. It was because of the actions of the original unwise navigator. So that’s the sense that the human race is separated from God. We set off on a course that steered us away from God in the very beginning, and we have been wandering around in that state of “lostness” ever since.

          • Well, for example, chimpanzees will covet their neighbor’s lands, and conspire to murder them and steal that land.

            That is behavior that arises from what they are, just as our behavior arises from what we are.

            Now, do we lie cheat and steal because we share a common ancestor with chimps? Or is nature “bent” or broken now because of what A&E did?

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Nedbrek – well Chimps go out to war, and strategically assess battles (They generally don’t engage unless the ratio is 3:1 – two to hold the enemy down, one to beat him to death – I kid you not). But their very, very close cousins, the Bonobo’s, don’t. Why? Environmental factors – the Chimps, north of the Zaire river share their territory with gorilla’s, and thus have a smaller range of food supplies. Bonobos do not share territory with gorillas. Thus – no need for warfare. By now they are recognized as a separate species.

            Thus – environment determined behavior, and eventually, split a species into 2 separate ones.

            Just for interest.

            However, I think you require a real Adam because you hold to Augustinianism a little too close, too literally. You might find this paper interesting: http://www.academia.edu/3524758/The_Fall_of_Augustinian_Adam_Problems_of_Original_Fragility_and_Supralapsarian_Purpose

          • If environment determines behavior, then isn’t our sin due to the environment?

          • Well, nature vs. nurture always kinda ends up in a “chicken or the egg” quandary. I don’ think it’s really an either/or.

          • There is no grace found in the act of dying

            I really hope you change your mind on that one before your time comes. You must cross the Jordan to enter the promised land.

            I’ve never heard it argued that penal sub doesn’t require a literal Christ. However, your Pastor’s words actually counter that claim. If Christ made a “purchase,” what was it that he paid? Answer: his own life, his flesh and blood. If dying is just a “part of the transaction,” how is the biological Christ supposed to be unnecessary?

            It’s hard to read the OT and come away without a picture of Penal Sub. But it’s not the only picture we are given to understand our redemption in Christ. I understand my own tradition gives it a fairly strong place of prominence in the hierarchy of atonement theories, but I believe the picture is incomplete with penal sub alone.

      • Nedbrek, I’m not sure if you read my comment, but it was about logic. A person cannot assert “X does not follow Y” without giving a robust proof – which the author completely failed to do in his article. In philosophy, this is what we would call a “missing major premise” argument (its actually more complex than that, as the only major premise sufficient to support the conclusion would be the exclusion of the alternative, which would be viciously circular).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This thread is now officially part of the Creation Wars.

      Nedbrek’s rung in to Defend the Faith and YEC.

    • Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

      Jesus quoted scripture and believed that in the beginning…. God can do whatever he wants in creation.
      Jesus is stating that there was a beginning man (whom we call Adam) . If Jesus believed therefore I will believe it.

      Jesus also spoke about the flood. Matthew 24:37-39. I do not believe the bible was written to prove Scientific points but I do believe Jesus who is our Savior and LORD took the Genesis account seriously. He never taught that it was a book of moral symbols. We have to have Faith that God in his Glory will show us incredible. things.

      When Jesus made the Fish and Bread multiply were they not adult fish…. That seemed to contain age.
      The God of all creation can do anything. I have no problem believing in a Real Adam as I believe Jesus did who was present when Adam was formed.

      • Have you not heard that the tortoise defeated the hare, thus teaching us that “Slow and steady wins the race”?

        Citing a text as “truth” does not equate with recognizing it as historical fact.

  11. Phil M. says:

    Put more simply: if Adam is mythical, then so is redemption. While it does not follow that if Adam is mythical, then the historicity of Jesus must also be denied, it doesfollow that if Adam is mythical, then the historicity of Jesus as Second Adam must be denied. And Christianity is founded on Jesus as Second Adam.

    This is the same line of reasoning that Ken Ham uses when you boil it down. I don’t know if Wedgeworth is as narrow in his view as Ham is in his when it comes to YEC, but essentially, the thinking seems to be the same to me. If this is true, then the critical question of Christianity is no longer about Christ – “Who do you say I am?”. But, rather, the critical question becomes, “do you believe in a historical Adam?”. That seems patently ridiculous to me.

    • Phil M and Dr. F:

      Your responses to Wedgeworth’s “logic”were much more concise and effective than mine could have been.

      A story does not have to be factual to be true. Wedgeworth’s proposition is not supportable, is far too limiting to the power of truth, and distorts the human story. Insisting on accepting Adam as fact absolves us of our responsibilities of participating in God’s intended ongoing story. Plus, we miss the truth of seeing Adam’s story in our own behavior in our core selves and thereby miss seeing the fullness of our need for redemption. Blaming Adam for all sin misses the point.

  12. Phil M. says:

    Getting back to question of the passage itself, I would say this about Romans. The point that Paul is describing in Romans isn’t necessarily the universal sinfulness of humanity. We could say that is something he asserts as a supporting argument, but the main thrust of the argument has to do with God’s covenant faithfulness and the unfaithfulness of those he covenants with. So if Adam is a proto-Israel type figure, we can see what happened to Adam as a symbol (per the bolded words above) as what happened with Israel. God chose Adam to be a blessing to all Creation. But Adam was not up to the task, and he failed miserably. So he was unable to fulfill his role. This is the same thing that happened to Israel. Those chosen to bring redemption end up needing to be redeemed themselves.The problem is how can this viscous cycle be broken? The solution – Christ!

    It is somewhat similar to the argument the author of Hebrews regarding the high priest. The high priest was chosen to represent the people of God, and he would enter the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of the people. But because the high priest himself was sinful, this was a process that had to be continually repeated. Because Jesus was sinless, though, He was able to perform the duties of the High Priest once and for all, and He ended the cycle. So the central question isn’t really how the cycle got started, even though there is some value in that question. The question is how do we get rescued from it.

  13. ‘Myth’ and ‘history’ are not airtight categories. I don’t see how anybody can read the ‘historical’ accounts of Cortez in Mexico, Rasputin in Russia, the Albigensian Crusade, or the rescue at Dunkirk in World War II and fail to see the mythical element woven in and through the narratives.

    “Long since on Mars, and more strongly since he came to Perelandra, Ransom had been perceiving that the triple distinction of truth from myth and of both from fact was purely terrestrial – was part and parcel of that unhappy division between soul and body which resulted from the Fall.”
    CS Lewis – Perelandra

    “Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?’

    A man may do both,’ said Aragorn. ‘For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!”
    JRR Tolkien – The Two Towers

  14. If an historical Adam did not exist, then what would be the point of the geneologies of Adam’s descendants in Gen. 5, 1Chronicles 1, and Luke 3:23? To give actual names to people who descended from a myth isn’t reasonable, is it?

    • Phil M. says:

      Well, if you believe that the Pentateuch was recorded during the Babylonian captivity, which seems to be the general consensus among OT scholars, the genealogies serve the purpose of locating the Jewish people in history. It is a way to tell the people that they are more than simply an oppressed minority. They are in the situation they are in for a greater purpose, and they can be assured that God hasn’t forgotten about them. A similar thing could be said about the NT genealogies of Christ. They serve the purpose of illustrating God’s faithfulness to His people.

      • Well, I don’t believe the Pentateuch was recorded during the Babylonian captivity, and neither did the majority of the Church in the last 1900+ years. To say that it is the general consensus among OT scholars is not accurate, either. If you want to qualify that by saying it is the opinion of the cadre of OT scholars who subscribe to a Higher Criticism hermeneutic, then I’ll grant you that.

        The NT genealogies do not serve the purpose of illustrating God’s faithfulness to His people if they are not real people with real names, who descended from a real Adam. It is nonsensical to fabricate a list of named individuals who descended from a mythical person.

        • Phil M. says:

          I don’t believe that the only options to choose from are Adam as mythical or Adam as historic and the very first human being. There also is a possibility that Adam existed as an ancient ancestor to the Jewish people. The interesting thing about the Jewish race is that they are a people without origins in an actual nation-state. They were gathered as a people before they had a land that they could call their own.

          But back to your original question – you asked what the purpose of the genealogies was in Scripture, and I gave what I believe is a perfectly reasonable answer. You just don’t accept it. But this is part of the issue with discussing these issues. It seems that some Christians see all these potential problems as deal-breakers. I just don’t see that they have to be viewed that way. Certainly they lead to some messiness, but I’ve just learned that messiness is part of life. I can’t tie up all my theology in a nice little package with a bow the way I could before.

          • What, in the text, indicates the possibility that Adam “existed as an ancient ancestor”?

            I don’t accept your answer to the question of the purpose of genealogies precisely because I do not see it as a reasonable one. It is not reasonable that God would concoct a fictional story to satisfy His people’s need for reassurance of God’s presence and plan for them when the truth would serve just as well.

          • Who said it was fictional? And who said myth equals made up?

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          I understand the concern with Phil M. is suggesting; after all, if we have been living under the assumption that Adam was a real historic figure, then his explanation might feel like he’s pulling the ground out from under you. It’s the messiness that comes with interpreting Scripture.

          However, we cannot ignore the legitimacy of the anomalies that challenge this traditional understanding of these passages. His explanation might be a little migraine-inducing, but that is bound to happen when we start testing what things mean.

          • I have not been living under the “assumption” that Adam was a real, historic person. I believe it to be true because the Apostle Paul believed it to be true, and I do not have the authority to pick and choose which of Paul’s revelations are to be taken as truth and which are not.

            Please share. What anomalies?

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            Um, the past 150+ years of research that resulted in a progressive set of theories based on physical evidence that challenges the claim of young earth creation (without which it would be impossible to read Genesis as a straight historical narrative)?

            The continuing exploration of how our cultural lenses influence how we read Scripture, challenging us to acknowledge that we tend to read text as though it was created in the 21st century, rather than in 1st century Asia Minor, Rome, and Judea?

            It would help to distinguish fact from truth; you seem to be using the two interchangeably, and they are two very different concepts.

        • The pertinent question is not when the original text of the Pentateuch was written, but when the OT canon was edited and put together. And without doubt, that took place during and after the Exile. The entire OT was edited and shaped as an answer to that experience, and the Adam and Eve story is the first one that tells the story of Israel — creation, land, blessing, covenant, and exile.

        • Laura –

          It will do us well to remember that the ancients had different ‘rules’ for communicating the truth of God/the gods. It’s like today we have certain ‘rules’ about how to write a story – the climax of the story usually comes at the end. But the ancients, many times, would put the climax in the middle. Or we think poetry needs to include rhyme. They were not so worried about rhyme, but rather parallelism.

          So, with their accounts of historical narrative, there were no doubt elements of history. But it was never straightforward history as we desire today. As a pastor-theologian friend of mine says: the biblical historical narrative would be best defined as a theological re-telling of history in the form of a narrative with the purpose of speaking into the present. There is always an element of retelling and shaping the narrative to teach, to teach God’s people about the nature and ways of the one true God.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Exactly. Reading ancient documents as modern ones do both the author and the reader a serious disservice.

  15. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

    I’m not sure I like the NLT’s translation of the Greek tupos as “symbol.” KJV translates it as “figure.” ESV translates it as “type,” which is my preferred, especially as the English word “type” comes directly from the Greek tupos. In Acts 7:43, this word is used to describe the relationship between the physical idol and the god that it’s supposed to represent. The tupos/antitupos (type/anti-type) method of approaching the OT is very important when taking a Christo-centric approach to the Scriptures, and was a major way that the Fathers treated things. In fact, a lot of the way that the Gospel writers approach allusions in the OT as “prophecy” is a lot closer to the type/anti-type approach than a direct 1:1 prophetic correlation.

    Does “symbol” convey the same kind of theology? Not to me. Indeed, latching onto that rendering of the translation as a suggestion that Adam wasn’t an actual person seems to be missing the point. That is, Rom. 5:14 isn’t really talking about Adam’s existence as much as it’s saying something important about Christ. Perhaps that rendering conveys things better in everyday “non-theological” language. But it seems to not be saying all that it could be saying. That is, it’s not that I see it as an inaccurate rendering of the word as much as I see it as an imprecise rendering.

  16. David Cornwell says:

    “Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come.”

    Here is the the central significance of the Adam story. It is symbolic of the sin, corruption, and death into which humankind has fallen. His story is the story of each one of us. Read it and we read our own lives. He is symbolic of the chaos into which the world has fallen.

    But then there is another, the Christ. And now He becomes our story.

    • JoanieD says:

      I agree, David. I also like Phil M’s analogy of the shipwreck way up above in the comments. I know it does seem weird to read those genealogies beginning with Adam’s name, but I think Phil explains that well too.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Joanie, I think genealogies are interestng things. During the winter I did more research into my own genealogy. The results are not always pleasant, but they are real. All genealogies, if honest, bring us face to face with the reality of disorder and sin in the human condition. In my own I found a very interesting story of one ancestor during the period of the American Revolution. When he was 15 he witnessed part of his family killed by Native Americans. When he was about 17 he got retaliation and killed some of them. Then he was wanted for murder because of a treaty in affect. A friend then turned against him because of a romantic triangle. He fled. The story goes on and on, and in the end he was pardoned because of service in the Revolution, and he became a hero.

        All our genealogies point out sin in our blood, so to speak. This is true whether we are American, Irish, English, German, Russian, etc. Sometimes for generations it is repeated with precision and predictability.

        Reversal comes only through Christ and the coming of a new kind of Kingdom.

        • JoanieD says:

          That’s neat, David, that you found out so much about one of your ancestors.

  17. Is anyone familiar with the website Just Genesis? It’s focus is primarily through the lens of anthropology. Anyhow here’s an interesting read on Adam & Eve:

    http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2009/02/in-what-sense-are-adam-and-eve-real.html

  18. I think Wedgeworth is correct. The fact that science has demonstrated conclusively (at least to me) that the Genesis creation narrative is mythical is a big reason why I am no longer a Christian. The greater problem that a mythical Adam introduces (aside from the fact that there is no longer an origin for sin) is that Biblical innerrancy falls apart. This, in my opinion, is the danger that the Neo-Reformed crowd really fears. If the Bible cannot be trusted here, why should it be trusted there? Everyone is now on their own to determine what parts of the Bible can be taken literally and what parts are to be taken figuratively. What parts are just suggestions and what parts are non-negotiables. Of course, this is the logical end to which Protestantism leads. The Bible is a confusing mess of stories and teachings written by multiple authors (most of whom are unknown). If there is not one person who can speak for all what the Bible teaches, chaos ensues.

    I say all this as an ardent Evangelical Southern Baptist of over three decades who was never Catholic.

    • Ali Griffiths says:

      The Bible is made up of a number of different literary genres. If your hermeneutic dictates that you have to read it all in the same way as scientific or historical fact then you will come up with some daft ideas – read any poetry of any era as if it is fact or history then you will have a problem. Trouble with people who take the Bible literally is that they run into nonsensical interpretations – as you have observed. It is not the only way in which to read scripture though and still take it to be authoritative.
      There are plenty of evangelical theologians who would agree with you about creation and the importance of biblical authority – I suggest you check them out before completely dismissing Christianity as the Southern Baptist don’t have a monopoly on what is Christianity. I’ll probably get it into problems if I publish the link so I recommend you look up Bethinking.org or The Zacharias Trust – they have a very different outlook on this issue and you might enjoy some of their articles.
      As an Anabaptist I would say that there is one person who can interpret correctly all the Bible teaches and that’s the Holy Spirit … but that’s another conversation altogether!

    • If there is not one person who can speak for all what the Bible teaches, chaos ensues.

      What about solidarity of tradition? What about confessional subscription? I’d say that, though not as powerful an catalyst for doctrinal uniformity as a supreme pontiff, denominations who still own and appropriate their doctrinal tradition enshrined in their orignal Reformation confessions maintain a significantly elevated level of unity and consensus. Not perfect, but significantly stronger. You might even say that for confessional Lutherans, the Book of Concord is an unofficial “paper Pope” (though I’m tempted to look at the LCMS and conclude “chaos” is indeed an appropriate word).

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      If there is not one person who can speak for all what the Bible teaches, chaos ensues.

      And what’s so bad about chaos?

      Granted, if you have a horribly disfigured smile that you overlay with white face paint, then don a purple overcoat, and live in Gotham City, you probably shouldn’t embrace chaos. But if a particular interpretation of Scripture is wrong or short-sighted, even if that interpretation comes from one universally accepted source, there must be some discourse that invites dissent. Vesting all interpretation within one person or body deprives other people of the spiritual journey that comes when we explore the Bible for ourselves.

    • Nobody takes all of the Bible literally, common sense dictates that you can’t.

      Unfortunately ‘common’ sense changes with time…

  19. Adam is from ha-dam, meaning “the blood.” In the original Nilotic and Proto-Saharan context of Abraham’s ancestors “the Blood” simply meant Human. This is why Adam sometimes mean the human/man.

    Also Adam is used in parallelism with Enoch/Enosh in Psalm 8:4 – “What is man [enosh] that you are mindful of him, the son of man [ben adam] that you care for him?”

    The parallelism makes it clear that the historical Enosh is regarded as progenitor (Gen. 4 and 5) just as the archetypal Adam is regarded as progenitor. Among the ancients the historical and the type were both seen as real. Only empirical moderns have trouble with this.

    IF you wish to understand Genesis, learn what it meant to Abraham’s ancestors from whom we receive this material.

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      Hmmm… Well, “Adam” ??? doesn’t have the article in front like “ha-dam” ??? would. Other words with the same spelling as “Adam” ??? typically refer to being flush or red or ruddy, and I think that’s related to the blood dam ?? root. “Edom” comes from the same process as well, and Scripture is clear that that was due to his red hairiness. The Rabbis, however, always saw the subtext as indicating that Edom/Esau was a “bloody” man (i.e. a murderer). Another very similar word to all this is adamah ???? , earth, which I believe is due to the redness of clay in fertile soil in the area. All of that makes me wonder whether “blood” comes first in all that or the “redness” comes first. I’m a Hebrew dabbler, not scholar, so I don’t know for sure.

      That said, let’s be sure we’re not committing the “root fallacy” of interpretation, where we assume the roots and etymology of words indicates something significant about interpreting the word. A good English example of this is “butterfly.” It certainly flies, but has no relation to butter!

      • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

        Meh… it edited out all of my Hebrew characters and replaced them with question marks. Oh, well.

  20. Michael Z says:

    There are many Biblical, traditional understandings of salvation that are not in any way threatened by the lack of a historical Adam. For example, if you view salvation as theosis – human beings being made participants in God’s nature through the Incarnation of God as a human being – it doesn’t matter whether or not Adam existed, or even whether or not Adam sinned. As one of the early church fathers (I think Athanasius) said, what we have now become through the incarnation of Jesus is so much greater than just not being “fallen,” that even if humanity had never “fallen,” Jesus would still have come simply to draw us up into the union with God that we now enjoy as a result of him.

    Or for that matter, in terms of the “Christus Victor” understanding of salvation, that Jesus died and rose again to conquer sin, death, and the Devil, the question of whether those forces entered the world literally through one person or in some other way is irrelevant – the point is that they exist, and Jesus triumphed over them when he rose from the dead.

    Also, Biblically speaking, anyone who argues that we inherit from Adam the guilt from Adam’s sin is on really shaky ground. That we are born with a brokenness inside us that only God can heal – that is, with a sinful nature – is pretty clear both from Scripture and from experience. That’s what the Adam story is communicating. And that is what Jesus died to free us from – not just from sins we’ve committed, but from that underlying brokenness that causes us to sin and that must die so that we can live new lives. (If all that was happening on the cross was that Jesus was being punished for our sins, we would still be stuck with that sinful nature and the cross would be pointless! But if, because we are united with Christ through faith, the cross is the place where we, too, died, then we can be free from all the brokenness within us that needs to die – and that’s very good news!)

    My point is: a lack of a historical Adam is really only a problem for the particular brand of substitutionary atonement theology taught by evangelicals within the last hundred years or so – with a broader understanding of Scripture and Christian tradition, it ceases to be an issue. Any theology that is threatened by science is flimsy theology – if our theology is flexible enough, understanding God’s creation better should lead us to deeper faith and wonder, not to loss of faith.

  21. The age of the earth and the date of the first humans have no direct bearing on the Fall and redemption. Whether the earth is 6000 years or millions of years, God has created and redeems through Christ. Christ is there from the beginning. Whether Adam and Eve are historical or metahistorcial, the fact remains that every human, save Christ, needs redemption as we cannot save ourselves. When we go deep into the Word we find rich mysteries of Christ’s Presence and Identity as the “Seed” of God (Gen. 3:15). Jesus identified Himself as that Seed in John 12:24 when he told his disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

    • The Fall implies some change in nature. What changed, and when?

    • Whether Adam and Eve are historical or metahistorcial, the fact remains that every human, save Christ, needs redemption as we cannot save ourselves.

      If Adam and Eve did not exist, from whence comes sin?

      • Phil M. says:

        I don’t see why it particularly matters where it came from. Yes, it’s an interesting metaphysical and philosophical discussion, but at the end of the day, it’s self-evident that evil exists.

        • Exactly. Proof of origin isn’t a prerequisite for proof of existence. There is something wrong in the heart of man, which is revealed in how we treat one another.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If Adam and Eve did not exist, from whence comes sin?

        A year or two ago here at Internet Monk, there was a series of postings on a concept called “Surd Evil” that attempted to tackle that. Run a search on the archives.

  22. Just one thought, please read EVOLVING OUT OF EDEN

    http://www.amazon.com/Evolving-out-of-Eden-ebook/dp/B00BX3AJ8Q

  23. I didn’t say they didn’t exist.

    Is sin something like a substance that we can taste, touch, hear or smell? It is something we discuss as metaphysical. So why can we not discuss the first doers of sin as metaphysical?

  24. Duncan Vann says:

    OK so I am a Young Earth Creationist.

    But of course you can follow Romans 5 without believing in a literal Adam. Lots of Christians rejoice that God is pulling them out of their miserable sin and death into an eternal life; and hardly ever worry about whether the early chapters of Genesis are literal or not. Good for them: they can get along just fine, because they don’t let the debate around Genesis spoil their faith. After all, Naaman took is mud back to a pagan temple.

    The problem comes, I think, when you start following through on your logic. Normally it’s us creationists that get accused of doing this by barging our six days happily oblivious to any kind of scientific consensus and evidence. Six days, thirteen billion years, what’s the difference? I don’t know why you’re all so hung up about it? Even if I’m somehow wrong and all those scientists are right (difficult to contemplate, I know), why is this the main problem? It’s a bit embarrassing, I admit (though not, I suspect, quite so embarrassing as actually being a Christian in the first place) but not exactly critical is it?

    What I have by taking Genesis fairly literally is a really coherent bible story. Everything just fits so very well. God makes the world good: free from sin, hatred, competition, violence and death. This environmentally collapsing, degenerating world reflects that. It make sense that forgiving sin lets you get up and walk. Or climb out of a tomb. We’re part of a people who’ve been trusting in God since the beginning, participating in his plan to transform the world into something better even than it was before. Those people are not abstract illustrations about some kind of substitution, they actually lived, just like you and me. And so on …

    These points of mine are not just a literal reading of the first chapters of Genesis, they draw upon key points of there, which flow throughout the whole of the scriptural narrative. A literal Adam fits with all of that. But when I hear people following through on the science, or Ancient Near East genres, it doesn’t in my opinion give the same fit; and something gets changed around. (Of course, everyone follows through logically in their own way, so what’s a problem for one person is not a problem for another; and as I’ve already said, you can do pretty fine by not bothering to follow through logically at all)

    I wonder if those of you who trust Jesus but don’t buy our six-day creation idea could stop worrying about the time-span so terribly much; and focus on the bible story – not just in a little bit of Genesis, but as a whole (because Moses or whoever wrote Genesis did not do so in isolation). Not so critical as trusting Jesus for salvation (why give that up for mere logic?), but more important, I claim, than the thirteen billion years you all seem so fussed on keeping until the next time the scientists give you an update.

    Thanks for following my rant

    Duncan

    • Only I think you are missing a big part of the story, Duncan. The Gospel is more than creation-fall-redemption-glory.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And turning it into nothing more than creation-fall-redemption-glory turns the Grand and Wonderful Old Stories of Life, the Universe, and Everything (“Forty-Two!!!!”) into nothing more than a cold checklist of Fact, Fact, Fact.

        Like trying to reduce St Thomas Aquinas’ vision of God (after which he said all the theology he had written was “nothing but straw”) to a couple single-verse Altar Call sound bites. You’re going to lose a LOT in the condensation.

      • I’m yes and no on that. The entirety of the Gospel can fit within those categories, but it is only a one-sided glimpse of the Gospel. I like the creation – incarnation – recreation paradigm of the Orthodox. But either way, I think creation – fall – redemption – glory is a far better paradigm than the fundagelical “me and my personal relationship with an imaginary friend named Jesus” approach to the Gospel.

        …and HUG, remember that while facts can be cold, a certain number of them are absolutely essential to the Gospel, and they are anything but cold. But you’re absolutely right: much is lost in condensation. There is always deeper to go into understanding the Gospel, and our catechetical summaries will always be short of perfect.

    • Duncan –

      Good to hear from you. I, and many others, are not so worried about the time span. I think there is an attempt to think about this theologically while aware of some points of biology, archaeology, etc. There is an engagement in our world today with what is available today as we look to remain faithful to Christ & Scripture. The church has looked to do that for millenia. So you’ve got Copernicus & Galileo coming along and confirming that the world is not flat and that the sun is at the centre of our solar system, etc. Was it really a big deal? Not to us, but to them. In time, this won’t be such a big deal. But it is for us because we’ve had to consider rethinking some aspects of our theology. Semper reformanda, right?

      Also, it’s very important to note that the linear narrative development of creation-fall-redemption-renewal was not always seen as THE definitive narrative of Scripture. It might be worth taking a look at Peter Bouteneff’s book, Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives. It lays out some of the thinking and engagement with Genesis from early church fathers.

      • Duncan Vann says:

        Well, yes, Mike and Unicorn, the gospel is more than creation-fall-redemption-glory; I did miss out a big part of the story. My post looked long enough already without putting all the other bits in. Although if you look at my post you’ll see I did also seed it with a reference the community of God’s people throughout the ages; and the intrusion of the future age into our current age through healing and resurrection. The full story is massive.

        And a literal interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis fits just great with all of that other stuff, in my view. I haven’t heard another viewpoint that does such a good job; although of course I haven’t forked out $15 for Scott’s book yet.

        The point of that simplification was not really to condense scripture to a set of simple doctrinal facts, but to allow that lots of people truly follow Jesus without agreeing on all of their doctrines. (If you want something less conventionally evangelical from me on that, check out the parable of the sheep and the goats.)

  25. Adam is that relative you don’t really want in your life, but his blood courses deep in all our lives.

  26. Ok, my two cents:
    I hold somewhat loosely to YEC (convinced it’s a peripheral issue, willing to negotiate and open to change). However, I get uneasy when I hear YEC proponents hang their hat on Romans 5. Sure, their interpretation provides consistency and makes sense, but I just don’t see form the text that it is the only possible way to understand it rightly.

    I’m all up for “various understandings of how Adam might represent all humanity.” However, drifting from a historical Adam raises more harmitological and anthropological issues than it answers. The dogma all seems to fits together easier with a young earth and a literal Adam, but I do not think it really depends on it.

    As I find my way through the nuances of moderation on this issue, there are two positions I reject:

    1. YEC can be objectively, scientifically, rationally, or historically proven. IMO, that would be like proving the incarnation or resurrection. You can argue strongly for its plausibility, but lack of belief in these things isn’t the product of a shortage of intellectual rigor. The creation of the world, especially if you go with ex nihilo, would be a supernatural event, and therefore not demonstrable through the study of the natural world.

    2. Anything that can be demonstrated as true by science is unquestionably true. Science is not inerrant, and has changed its mind on critical issues far more often than the LDS church. The one thing it consistently shows us is how much more we have left to learn. I have moderate, pragmatic faith in its findings, but I take them with a grain of salt and prefer to led new ideas vet for a while before hanging my hat on it (such as the current consensus on the approximate age of the earth).

    I’d like to remind y’all of this post:
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/five-things-science-cannot-prove-but-are-necessary-for-science-to-work

    Science goes through periodic paradigm shifts. Darwin may have instigated a major one, but his may pale in comparison to what quantum physicists are playing with these days. The fundamental nature of the material world may not be exactly as consistent and reliable as we’ve been led to believe. So I don’t question scientists when they say they have evidence of a 13 billion year old earth. I’m sure they are very convinced of what they are observing and quite trained and qualified to make these kind of evaluations. I just take it with a grain of salt.

    I’m also a bit cynical of our ability to “prove” things so vastly removed from us. I am convinced that George Bush, George Washington, and Plato all existed. But I am most convinced of that first one. I have more room to be skeptical of Plato, though I generally accept his factuality. And that’s just 2000 years. When scientists pontificate so authoritatively on the specifics of vastly removed eras, I just can’t help but think they’re getting a bit big for their britches. Is the earth 13 billions years old? Maybe. We’ll see what they’re saying in a few years. We’ll see how the methods of study vary and how the playing field shifts as time goes by.

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      Well, said, Miguel!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Miguel. Your feelings on the matter are very similar to my own, but you articulated them much better than I could have.

    • At the risk of being pedanic the earth is believed to be around 4.5 billion years old (mostly through dating other objects in the solar system all of which it is believed were formed at the same time.) The universe is believed to be about 13.72 billion years old because that’s as far as we can see before the universe becomes so hot that it is opaque to our radio telescopes.

  27. Traditional Creation narrative:

    1) God created a good world – but not one that was foolproof.
    2) God also created a fool called Adam, who…
    3) Proceeded to screw up the world.

    Theistic Evolution narrative:

    1) God created a good world – but not one that was foolproof – using 13.72 billion years of time to do so,
    2) The world evolved to be one in which there was a fool called humanity, who…
    3) Proceeded to screw up the world.

    The only difference I can see between the two narratives is that the first somehow puts some space between the manifest fallenness of the world and the goodness of God by shouting “mankind’s free will” or something like that. It’s not God’s fault, you see. Or maybe it is, but don’t say it out loud. In any case, it’s many believers’ idea of a clear narrative.

    By contrast, in the latter view, it seems like God is directly responsible for the way things have turned out, evolutionary vagaries notwithstanding. It’s like He’s the Creator or something.

    Maybe we just need someone to blame other than our Redeemer, and Adam fits the bill. Still, it’s a bit strange to insist that I’m a guilty sinner just because…someone else sinned 6,000 years ago. How is this really any more coherent than just saying that mankind is (and has always been?) so collectively estranged from God that He sent His son to die for us?

    • Interesting thoughts, but I think the problem comes with that comes in justifying the creator. If God makes a good world and populates it with destructive fools, what does that say about Him? With the first narrative, God is off the hook, because the world, including Adam, were created good.

      • Funny about Adam being created ‘good’. Because God did look and see that everything was good at the end of his days of creation, but then warned about the “knowing good and evil” if they ate of the fruit. I wonder what the difference was. Was pre-fall Adam ‘amoral/neutral’ rather than ‘good’?

        • Duncan Vann says:

          I’d say that Adam started out perfect in innocence, whereas Jesus became perfectly mature too.

          There’s a difference between being unfinished, being corrupted and being complete.

          I find this follows quite naturally from a literal reading of Genesis; but there’s a bit difficulty from a literal reading of the science. Or am I wrong about that? Still as Trevis says there is still quite a bit in common and all the more so when you view the future rather than the past.

          • Robert F says:

            Genesis places a serpent in the garden, so evil is present there already; in addition, there is at least death in the form of plant death, since Adam and Eve are vegetarian, and vegetation is after all alive. Perhaps the problem comes from thinking that the Genesis account is saying that God was finished with creation when he rested; perhaps after the rest, there was more creating to be done. Declaring the creation “good” is not the same as declaring it “finished.” Maybe symbolically or factually Adam and Eve are meant to finish the creation by following the path God sets before them; but Adam and Eve, or humanity, when they disobey not only don’t complete creation but extend the reign of death that was meant to end in the garden. After that, we have the extension of physical death into the realm of spiritual death, and the evil of the fallen angels in the heavenly realms is paralleled and overlapped by evil running rampant in the material world. This view can accommodate either a literal reading of Genesis or a figurative one.

            • I think the word “good” in Genesis 1 should be understood in the context of the Torah: the “good land” that God provided for his people. It does not have to do with our theological paradigms of sinlessness or perfection or the absence of evil. Rather, it is an abundant land, a land where God’s blessing rest, made for human flourishing.

          • Robert F says:

            CM,
            I don’t read the Genesis accounts of creation as history, or prehistory, for that matter. And I have heard your interpretation of the word “good” before. But the beginning of Genesis has a creation account(s), and although I don’t read it as a factual account or recording, I’ve continued to accept the idea that the Bible is divinely inspired, so when it offers an account of creation, despite being unable to accept it as factual, I still look to it for revelation of something important about the predicament of creation and of humanity beyond perhaps what even the authors or redactors may have intended. In my mind, the predicament of creation and humanity is that the world is human beings are shot through with violence, suffering and death; if some form of evolution is true (though I can in no way believe in a purely naturalistic evolution since I believe in a God who lives and works both within and beyond the laws of nature), then I personally feel a need to understand why God would have created a world in which the agonistic process of evolution is so central to the emergence of life, a process which is amoral, preferring the fit over the unfit, the strong over the weak, and ruthlessly crushing unfit life in the most horrible ways. I still look to the Bible for some way to understand these things, even though I can’t accept it as history.

          • Duncan Vann says:

            I like your second response, Robert, because I feel you’re sharing some of my emotional response against the ‘agonistic process of evolution’, even though you cannot accept that part of the bible as historical. I love it that you’re willing to put some of your challenges out where I can see them instead of just tidying up your side’s argument.

            It makes, I think, quite a big difference today in our attitude to sickness and suffering: God hates them, he works miracles to destroy them and they are not in any way good (though before I get too carried away I must also point to the argument shattering contradiction that is good Friday).

            I got a similar feeling when I read NT Wright on Romans 5. He knows that it is nonsense to accept that death etc. are part of God’s good plan. So he feels (to me) pretty much like a creationist when he writes on Romans 5 even though I’m pretty sure he’s not a YEC on Gen (which he studiously avoids in that book).

            In fact I’d recommend Wright’s commentary (Paul for Everyone) to theistic evolutionists or whatever you are called, because he explains many of the key creationist points on Romans 5 without the stigma of actually being a creationist himself.

  28. Phil M. says:

    I just posted a comment above that went into moderation. I’m sure the fact that I accidentally pasted the link twice did not help. If possible, please delete that comment. Here’s the version with the link only once:

    I saw this article today regarding the famous (or perhaps infamous) YEC “science” test.

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/religion/christianity/christian-schools-anti-science-test-brings-financial-donations

    I would like to say I’m surprised, but sadly I’m not anymore. Somehow, YEC adherents have made themselves out to be victims now, and they are of course cashing in on it.

    That’s the thing that gets me in all of this. There’s a few of the comments above where YEC-adherents are saying, “why can’t you just leave us be?!” I can understand that sentiment to a degree, but the problem is we’re not dealing with things that are matters of pure opinion – like whether the works of Mozart are more inspiring than those of Beethoven. We’re dealing with things that actually affect people’s faith. And from what I can see with the people I interact with, YEC dogma is acting more like a roadblock to the Gospel for many people than any good it might be doing. It seems to essentially be telling people that they have to choose between science and God. And if choosing God means going down a road that is paved in pure nonsense, people will not choose God.

    • Duncan Vann says:

      It’s not necessarily an anti-science test, is it?

      Just because I disagree with most scientists about some science that doesn’t mean that I am anti-science and don’t value science at all. You might consider my scientific judgment to be flaky, though, unless you knew better.

      Likewise just because someone disagrees with me, or even the bible, about some doctrine, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are anti-Christ and don’t value scripture.

      That said, I don’t particularly think the simplistic true / false nature of the test is either helpful or scientific. Though oddly enough a lot of evolutionists teach their science in just the same fashion, instead of engaging people in scientific thinking, which would be a better way of teaching it if you were going to do so.

  29. Alice C. Linsley says:

    It might be helpful to consider the Eastern Orthodox view of the Fall also. It is not Augustinian.

    Regarding the literal reading of the Genesis, remember that St. Augustine did not believe that the days of creation were 24-hour days.

  30. Alexander S. Anderson says:

    The science fiction writer Michael Flynn grappled with this on his blog a few years ago:

    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html?m=1

    It’s definitely an interesting treatment, and includes an interesting philosophical discussion of the transition between man and beast.

  31. james jordan says:

    I think Adam is historical; its the “fall” that’s the myth. The talking snake and the magical trees are mythology; Adam was real.