Zeroing on the Issue

From Internet Monk, where a series starts on Adam and the Genome, but this is a short clip from a good beginning sketch of the book:

Did I mention that this is an important book?  The foreword is by Tremper Longman.  He serves as a Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.  Tremper Longman, III is an Old Testament scholar, theologian, professor and author of several books, including 2009 ECPA Christian Book Award winner Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings.  Many of us at Imonk are familiar with Longman, who also blogs frequently at Biologos.

2009 was the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species”, and the evolution controversy has never raged harder within evangelical Protestant circles.  The mapping of the human genome was completed in 2003 under the leadership of Francis Collins, who is not only a leading biologist, but a devout evangelical Christian.  As Longman writes in the foreword, the evidence provided by the genome, added to the mounting evidence of hominid fossils, testifies to the persuasiveness of the theory presented by Darwin in the mid-nineteenth century.

Of course, the genomic evidence points to another conclusion that disturbs many evangelical Christians- namely, that humanity begins not with a single couple but rather with an original population of some thousands of people.

As Longman says:

“This evidence leads to the now-much-discussed question of the historical Adam.  If Adam and Eve were not historical individuals, is the Bible true?  Were humans originally innocent?  Was there a fall?  Is there such a thing as original sin?  If, so how does original sin affect us today?  These are crucial questions that aren’t easily answered.  They are also questions that cannot be ignored by refusing to address them or by vilifying those who hold opinions that are different from the ones we are used to…

I can’t imagine a better combination of thinkers to help us navigate the difficult and controversial waters of questions surrounding evolution and the historical Adam.   Dennis and Scot deserve our attention, and their arguments demand our careful consideration.  I, for one, thank them for their lifelong work in elucidating God’s “two books”, Scripture and nature, for us.”

I couldn’t agree more with that Longman quote.  He is absolutely right, this issue in NOT going away.  We evangelical Christians have no choice but to deal with it.  We can stick our heads in the sand and deal with it disingenuously, or we can hitch up our big girl panties and deal with it forthrightly. We can stick our fingers in our ears and yell, “BIBLE, BIBLE, BIBLE…” or we can engage honestly with the science and try to figure out what that means for our interpretation of the scriptural writings.

He continues with why this book was written and why I wrote what I did:

Scot, for his part, took the time to read Dennis’ articles, and try to understand them.  He became convinced that Dennis was right about the genetics and realized that someone with the theological chops needed to put the context of the science in the context of the scriptures.  He decided, with Dennis’ urging to participate in a Biologos grant project, that it might as well be him.  To quote Scot:

“What follows in Adam and the Genome, then, is a basic introduction to the science of evolution and genetics and how it impinges on the basic claim of many Christians: that you and I, and the rest of humans for all time, come from two solitary individuals, Adam and Eve.  Genetics makes that claim impossible—as I understand it.  But instead of leading me to hide behind the Bible or insult scientists, genetics sent me into the stacks of books in the library to investigate science with freedom and to ask yet again what Genesis 1-3 was all about in its original context and then how Jews and the earliest Christians understood “Adam” when they said that name.”

Did I mention this is an important book?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.