Tuesday, June 07, 2011

You wouldn't Adam and Eve it

Disclaimer: I was not a great Science student and happily gave up going to class in Fourth Form [aka Year Ten] in 1968.

However, I do like to ponder these matters.

In my opinion, if the Bible is reliable, it is there that we must start.

It seems to me that many Christians begin with current scientific thinking, and then attempt to get the Bible to conform itself to Science.

Other Christians, while aiming to affirm the Bible, adopt a particular understanding of the world's origins, which they think is in harmony with the Bible, but which actually goes way beyond the biblical data.

Christianity Today has several recent interesting articles on the issue of the historicity of Adam and Eve.

The current issue has an editorial provocatively entitled No Adam, no Eve, No Gospel.

The article begins with
Science as we know it grew from pagan, occult, and biblical roots.

Christianity Today likes to emphasize the biblical sources. The story of creation, told in Genesis and elaborated in the New Testament, pictures a rational intelligence creating an orderly and predictable cosmos.

Without that predictability in the natural world, neither Newton nor Einstein would have been possible. There are times, however, when a careful reading of the natural world seems to conflict with our reading of Scripture.

Sometimes, Christian ways of thinking must adjust.

It continues, by outlining the new challenge to theology made by Francis Collins, a Christian who was involved in describing the human genome:
Now we come to another great moment of tension between Christian readings of Scripture and science. This issue's cover story, "The Search for the Historical Adam," reports the claims of recent genetic research that the human race did not emerge from pre-human animals as a single pair, as an "Adam" and an "Eve." The complexity of the human genome, we are told, requires an original population of around 10,000.

The article comes down on the side of a conservative understanding of the biblical data by stating that
there must be an original pair of humans endowed with souls—that is, the spiritual capacity to relate to God in the special way Genesis describes.

Does it matter?
What is at stake?

First, the entire story of what is wrong with the world hinges on the disobedient exercise of the will by the first humans. The problem with the human race is not its dearth of insight but its misshapen will.

Second, the entire story of salvation hinges on the obedience of the Second Adam. The apostle Paul, the earliest Christian writer to interpret Jesus' work, called Adam "a type of the one who was to come" (Rom. 5:14, ESV), and wrote that "[j]ust as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus]" (1 Cor. 15:49, ESV). He elaborated an "Adam Christology" that described a fallen humanity, headed by Adam, and a new, redeemed humanity with Christ as its head.

This understanding, that Christ's obedience undoes Adam's disobedience, is not some late development, but is integrated with the earliest interpretations of what God did and is doing in Christ. This conceptual framework is almost impossible without a first human couple.

The article finally allows for the possibility that there may have been an original population of which Adam and Eve were the leaders, but this seems to me to conflict with what Genesis 1-3 tell us.

See also Richard Ostling's The Search for the Historical Adam, Justin Taylor's discussion of Jack Collins' new book Did Adam and Eve Really exist? and Tim Keller's Sinned in a Literal Adam, Raised in a Literal Christ.

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