Adam and the Genome– Part One


D.R. Venema and Scot McKnight, Adam and the Genome, (Brazos, 2017).

On first blush the title of this book suggests an Indie rock band. But seriously, this is a very well researched book on genetics, and Biblical interpretation vis a vis the origins of human life, and whether or not Adam (and Eve) were historical persons. The genetics part of the book by D.R. Venema is a difficult read for those not familiar with genetics, even at the lay person’s level, whereas, Scot McKnight’s half of the book (beginning at p. 93) is quite clear, but in some ways more problematic, from my point of view. Nonetheless, it is written with the sort of style and grace and honesty that we have come to expect in Scot’s books.

If we ask what prompted the book, all is made clearer by statements late in the study on pp. 172-73. The concern is about people losing their faith due to an encounter with science, particularly evolutionary theory, especially perhaps those who have come from more fundamentalist Protestant backgrounds. Scot deals regularly with such students and frames the matter this way: “Here is what is vital for this book: [a] person’s faith was challenged by his realization about evolution and he was forced to make a choice about whether the Bible or evolution was the truest description and understanding of the world. He chose science because the understanding of the Bible was in his view demonstrably wrong. Dennis and I are proposing another alternative: accepting the reality of genetic evidence supporting a theory of evolution along with an understanding of Adam and Eve that is more in turn with the historical context of Genesis.”

In other words, the interpretation of the Word should be adjusted on the basis of the assumed fait accompli of science to demonstrate it has the facts on its side. Neither side of these assumptions, the science or the Biblical interpretation assumptions are without their problems. But I absolutely agree that we need to have a good discussion about this because science is one thing and pseudo-science that denies the geological and genetic evidence for an old earth and ancient human race needs to countered.