Two recent books on Adam, evolution, and Christianity that I don’t think help at all

Two books on evolution and Christianity have been sitting on my desk for a few weeks now: Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation and Four Views on the Historical Adam. I haven’t been sure what to do with them.

The first is the product of a 2011 symposium hosted by the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought & Practice. The participants were Dick Averbeck (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Todd Beall (Capital Bible Seminary), C. John Collins (Covenant Theological Seminary), Tremper Longman III (Westmont College), and John Walton (Wheaton College).

The second book also features essays by Collins and Walton along with Denis Lamoureux (St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta) and William Barrick (The Master’s Seminary).

I am always on the lookout for helpful voices in the Christianity/evolution discussion, whether or not I agree with the specifics, and I was hopeful that these two would add to that conversation. But, in my opinion, neither book helps the conversation along.

As I see it, they more perpetuate the problem within evangelicalism–another collection of essays of authors who are on such different pages in terms of basic views of the Bible, how it should be read, and with a sub-current of theological protectionism, that any discussion of second order theological issues (like the historical Adam) never really gets off the ground.

To put it another way, when “voices” approach that conversation with the clear intention of defending biblical literalism and/or a historical first man, those voices have in effect removed themselves from the conversation. When biblical criticism, historical context (whether of Genesis or Paul), and evolutionary science are either held at arm’s length or manipulated to reach desired goals, what we have is not a “conversation” over a pressing issue, but an apologetic driven by dogmatic commitments. The result is simply the repetition of slogans intended not to further conversation but defend “truth.”

I feel we’ve seen enough of this sort of thing.

I get quite frustrated when, for example, John Walton is trying to lay out Genesis in its ancient context, and is told in response that he is spending far too much time in the ancient world, since the Bible, after all, is the authoritative word of God, and Moses, therefore, would have written a text that would be unique in the ancient world (Reading Genesis, see pp. 50-52, Beall’s essay questioning whether Genesis 1 represents an ANE worldview).

Untangling this sort of rhetoric is a discussion over theological starting points. The real issue behind this posture is a basic disagreement about what the Bible even is and what goes into reading it well. That is the true cause for the divide, and unless these sorts of issues are brought to the table, rather than left unstated in the background, no true conversation takes place. We are just spinning our wheels.

Or there is this rather exhausting, passive-aggressive, preamble to Barrick’s response to Lamoureux’s essay in Four Views (p. 80)

Denis Lamoureux tosses aside the traditional view that I and other adherents to a historical Adam hold dear. Let us be perfectly clear, however. One could argue that the historicity of Adam might not indicate anything about a person’s salvation. Perhaps a born-again believer could deny Adam’s historical existence without losing his or her saving relationship to Christ and everlasting forgiveness of sins. However, although it is not a salvation issue, the matter is still a gospel issue, because it touches on matters related to our need for salvation (universal sin) and the ability of Jesus Christ to act as a representative and Savior for mankind (as the “second Adam”) and as a restorer of the fallen creation. Diminishing the identification of the first Adam can have a detrimental effect on one’s view of the second Adam. Questioning the accuracy of one part of Scripture always puts the whole of Scripture into doubt.

Then Barrick counsels that “Biblical evidence should receive the bulk of our attention in this discussion of the historical Adam”–i.e., let the prooftexting begin.

I don’t know where to begin, other than to say that Barrick’s view seems utterly unaware of that fact that conversations over these and others points have been happening for a very long time. To ignore them and make these sorts of naive declarations is irresponsible. What Barrick asserts could really be the substance of a “Four Views” book in its own right. Is The Gospel at Stake and Should Someone’s Relationship to Christ be Openly Questioned because They Do Not Think Adam was the First Person? I’d buy a book like that.

Also pervading a number of the essays is a clear dis-ease with Genesis getting too close to ancient myth. Collins, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, seems to think that Mesoptamian myth actually supports a historical reading of Genesis 1-11 (but, he tells us, “without undue literalism”–Reading Genesis, 77). I remain utterly unconvinced, if not baffled, but such an approach.

Collins notes that Mesopotamian sources (such as the Atrahasis epic and others) give us “prehistory” and “protohistory,” commonly used terms and with which I am in agreement, that establish a worldview for these cultures. Fine. But then Collins makes a puzzling, but familiar for him, move:

…it appears that the Mesopotamians aimed to accomplish their purpose buy founding their stories on what they thought were actual events, albeit told with a great deal of imagery and symbolism. Thus, it is reasonable to take Gen 1-11 as having a similar purpose in Israel, expecting similar attention to history without undue literalism (Reading Genesis, 77)

Collins gives the appearance of engaging Mesopotamian texts, but he is in fact neutering their well-known impact on our reading of Genesis. Yes, Mesopotamians THOUGHT they were writing about events (perhaps, but I’ll leave it for the sake of discussion). But just because they THOUGHT they were historical events doesn’t mean they WERE historical events. They could be WRONG. Am I missing something here? Ancients also thought gods impregnated women on a flat earth. Were they wrong? Yes.

I would submit that no one reading the Atrahasis epic today would come away thinking that just read a depiction, even a highly symbolic one, of what happened (regardless of what ancient people thought about the historicity of what they were writing). They would call it myth.

More importantly to extend consistently Collin’s logic to Genesis, all we are warranted in saying is that, just like the older Mesopotamian sources, the biblical author (whom Collins insists was Moses) THOUGHT he was writing about events. But that doesn’t mean they happened, only that the author believed they did.

Note, however, Collins’s subtle shift to speak of the biblical author’s “similar attention to history.” Collins should have said “similar attention to what the biblical author thought was history,” but as it stands, Collins leaves the impression–clearly intentional–that the Mesopotamian sources support the necessity of reading Genesis 1-11 historically.

They don’t. Not remotely. What we find here is not a solution but an example of the problem that plagues evangelical approaches to the Bible, the ANE, and evolution: theological needs (inerrancy, historicity, a real Adam) drive a reading of Genesis (and Paul). The result is not a better understanding of Genesis, but an example of how Genesis can be used in service of a theological apologetic.

I could pull other quotes from other authors, but (despite appearances) I don’t want to belabor the point. To go essay by essay and examine premises and unexamined assertions would be tedious and voluminous for all concerned. Not surprisingly, I assume, I find the essays by Longman, Walton, and Lamoureux to be well worth reading. This is not to say that I agree at all points. For example, I am not convinced by Walton’s material/functional distinction in Genesis 1, even if I am sympathetic to what I think his motivation is (to ease a conservative readership away from “creation out of nothing” in Genesis). Neither will it help to read Genesis in its cultural context but then not extend the same courtesy to Paul when he talks about Genesis (I think Lamoureux does the best job on this).

All things being said, these books brought me more frustration than illumination. Until the discussion turns to theological prolegomena about theology, the nature of Scripture, and even what kind of God we worship, the conversation over Adam and evolution will never get off the ground in an evangelical context.

 

 

  • Mike Lehmann

    Thanks for your reflections on these books; I’m disappointed the Four Views book didn’t produce a better conversation. Thank you for stressing the necessity of engaging biblical criticism, evolutionary science, and historical context. What about the importance of engaging patristic exegesis of the creation narratives? (One helpful book in this regard, at least for an evangelical like me, is Bouteneff’s Beginnings: Ancient Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives.) I think that it would really help many evangelicals if they learned about ancient Christian readings of these stories, and didn’t wrongly—and ironically—dismiss allegorical interpretations as entirely arbitrary.

  • Eric Flett

    Pete…long time reader, first time commenter!

    It seems to me that there is not only an ideological committment to a certain understanding of the biblical text here, but also real naievete about the nature and function of human culture/s. Both of these issues are causing problems. With regard to the nature and power of human culture, when we find evidence that suggests significant cultural continuity between the world of the Bible the world out of which the Bible came, we introduce a gap to highlight whatever kind of discontinuity we need to preserve our understanding of the Bible. I wonder what a trained cultural anthropologist or sociologist might have to say about some of these conversations and conclusions, and the assumptions about human culture and social dynamics that undergird them.

  • Rick

    Perhaps their goal was to get the initial issues on the table, so then things could move forward. They may think that there is still a lot of convincing to do on just that initial step.
    Let me also say that I doubt any scholar totally can, or even should, remove his/her theological stance from his/her work. There is more at work than just the historical context of a given setting/writing, although that should fully been taken into consideration.

  • Rebecca Trotter

    That quote from Barrick makes me want to vomit. You have a stronger stomach and more gracious heart in dealing with this stuff than I do.

  • http://www.anirenicon.com/ Allen O’Brien

    Exactly! Point me to the Four Views book that gets at the issues behind this sort of conversation.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Than you for the review. I have not read either book, but Four Views is on my purchase list. Though I understand your disappointment, I think there is value in books such these.
    1. I always think evangelical ‘Views’ books come short of genuine conversation, but they can lay out the (brief) views in juxtaposition to each other with responses. The first value to me is that I can determine what the supporters of each view actually says and how they support their arguments. Since I do not interact with creationist scholars on a regular basis, this helps me to confirm that I do not hold a view in opposition to a straw man.
    2. Secondly, I think it is helpful to bring these views together so that common, everyday creationists and inerrantists can see opposing arguments they otherwise might not get by reading only creationist apologetic material. They might be surprised and influenced by what they discover.
    I really do not expect a real conversation among evangelicals in such a brief volume.

  • Tim Bulkeley

    Surely the claim that ANE origin texts were thought by their authors and hearers to be telling historical events is one that needs to be (a) taken seriously (b) refuted. Taken seriously because if true then Gen 1 & 2 should be thought of as teaching “facts”. Refuted because that claim is dangerous.
    But, I see little or no evidence to support the idea that such narratives were believed to tell “facts”. The sheer variety of their facts would seem to mitigate against such a claim, the two versions in Genesis give different facts for example, a similar point could probably be made for those from other ANE cultures…

  • Bev Mitchell

    Thanks for this Pete. At least be comforted that you have lots of brothers and sisters who share your frustration and who greatly appreciate your efforts. Based on his student’s responses, Denis tells me that we are just one generation away from a much better situation. If he is right, I’ll never be happier to be wrong.

    “……disagreement about what the Bible even is.” And therefor, about what questions we should expect the text to even address, let alone answer.

    This is the heart of the matter. A good first-year biology text, for example, has lots of discussion about organic molecules and their roles in living systems. But, if you go to that text with lots of questions about organic chemistry, you will be out of luck. There are probably other comparisons that would make the point even better, but that’s the ball park we are working in.

    A related question to “What is the Bible intended to do and convey?” is “When/how should we incorporate firm evidence/conclusions from outside Scripture, even when doing so will require adjustments to our approach to Scripture?” So far, establishment figures in evangelical leadership are failing to seriously address this issue. “Don’t let any evidence from outside Scripture seriously influence how you approach the Bible!” is not addressing the issue seriously.

    It would be great to have a solution to this dilemma. I used to think that Christians should take more biology, that would enlighten them! But Christian biologists still need to work out an approach to the Bible, just like Christian archaeologists, Christian literary scholars, etc. Evangelical theologians and biblical scholars have, for the most part, let this thing get away from them by spending far too much time thinking (hoping) it would all go away. By also spending so much time blaming scholars and scientists of various stripes for coming up with first class evidence and conclusions unpalatable to their reading of Scripture, they have put themselves embarrassingly far behind. Interestingly, even now, when workable approaches are being put forward by post-conservative scholars, the go-to responses are to condemn, demonize and ignore. As many have concluded, there is more to this story than simply seeking the truth.

  • Paul Bruggink

    One of the best treatments I’ve seen so far on how one can be a Christian without an historical Adam and without Original Sin is Daryl Domning’s book “Original Selfishness: Original Sin and Evil in the Light of Evolution.”

    Dr. Domning argues that sin (in the form of selfishness) is rooted in the farthest depths of evolutionary time and in the mechanics of the evolutionary process itself. Far from undermining the concept of original sin, therefore, the evolutionary perspective supports both the concept and its practical relevance as never before. Inherited evolutionary selfishness is the biological phenomenon that accounts for our theological need of grace and salvation.

    In short, evolution is a better explanation than Augustine’s doctrine of original sin. And I leave it to Peter Enns, Denis Lamoureux, and John Schneider to wrap up the loose ends. :-)

    • Susan_G1

      Paul, I’m fascinated. I’ve been looking for something like this. What is the basic theodicy? Does it subscribe to an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God?

      • Paul Bruggink

        Susan,
        If I understand him correctly (which is by no means certain), Dr, Domning’s view is that it is a mistake to say that God chose to create by means of evolution, when in fact no other choice was available. “God’s willingness to let the world make it’s own mistakes is not weakness, but a pure expression of God’s love . . .” (p. 167)

        In the book’s summary chapter, he states, “When we confront suffering and death, therefore, we can take some comfort in knowing that God is not incompetent or callous, but that there was simply no other way to make the sort of world that God evidently wanted.” (p. 182)

        I hope this helps.

        • Susan_G1

          Thanks, it does. My guess is that the author does not think of God traditionally, as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. That is how the problem of evil is solved. With an omnipotent God, “choice” is dictated by God, not circumstance, because God makes the circumstances as well. He could do whatever He wants, including make an earth with the appearance of age (what some creationists claim).

          Thanks again, Paul. It sounds like it’s still worth a read.

          • Tim Bulkeley

            Susan, one can believe in an omnipotent etc. God who still can only make one choice on such an issue as how to generate a world, if God is constrained by the divine nature. To create by some other, more forceful route would be to deny who God actually is…

          • Susan_G1

            Agreed, but is this God also omnibenevolent, when death, suffering and extinction exist long before the advent of man and sin? So far, I haven’t found (or understood – I’m still learning) a theodicy that doesn’t seek to a) limit God’s character (O/O/O) b) redefine evil to turn it into some ‘good’.

            The theodicy of Augustine and Paul are fairly dependent on the Fall of a literal Adam in time. Death and suffering is a direct consequence of sin. It can be stretched to a representative couple or population, but it is still by man that it is introduced. I have not seen anyone (in print) who holds to Augustinian theodicy while making it retroactive
            from the beginning of creation, but I suppose some could state that based on God’s omniscience.

            Irenaeus is more concerned with “soul making”, being made in the image and then through suffering and moral choices developing a likeness of God. The suffering is a necessary component of this process, thus evil. If there is any moral dimension to evil, it leans to ‘good’. Hume took offense: ‘Could not our world be a little more hospitable and still teach us what we need to know? Could we not learn through pleasure as well as pain?’

            Hume, Mackie, and Leibniz solve the problem by limiting God in some way. He cannot be truly omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. Kushner takes this approach as well, saying that God is fighting evil and his hands are really full. He’s doing the best he can.

            Monists (and Aquinas) would say, evil isn’t evil. I’m looking at it the wrong way. (tell that to the animal being torn up by the tyrannosaur.)

            Others (more today) say that when God created the world and pronounced it “very good”, He was only referring to The Garden, and it is the work of man to extend that goodness to the world around it.

            So, with an O/O/O God, we really have to play with words like ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and ‘agency’ and ‘origin’, and ‘hate the scalpel, love the surgeon’ and ‘God is crying with us’ to make a thorny rose thornless.

            I am, believe me, open to correction or enlightenment.

          • Tim Bulkeley

            I’m a biblical scholar not a theologian or philosopher, but it seems to me that if desire for relationship is core to the divine being (as I’d take the Christian understanding of God as Trinity to suggest) then creation must hold or be capable of producing beings with whom God can relate. But true relationship implies the possibility of rejection. As far as I can see that means such a God must be self-limited, and also the existence of evil before (and after) the evolution of humans is a necessary condition for producing such beings.

    • Daniel Merriman

      Sounds like this would provide a foundation for Girard’s mimetic desire theory?

  • Steve Ranney

    I’ve read a few of those 4 views books and they seem kind of uneven. I think they have been published by more than one publisher. One factor I suppose is whether the publisher is willing to have views they don’t like be aired.

  • http://www.thepoorinspirit.com/ Alvin (ThePoorInSpirit)

    Why aren’t you convinced by Walton’s material/functional distinction in Genesis 1?

  • Brian P.

    The weird paradoxical thing about this is not historical/physical/bodily Adam, but historical/physical/bodily Resurrection. Pete, is this a pot calling the kettle black? Seems to be an doctrinal and dogmatic arbitrariness to application of the methods.

    • Susan_G1

      Brian, I agree with you that Adam one way or the other isn’t necessary to our faith. But within groups of believers, it seems necessary to adhere to the historicity of Adam to dialogue with each other, and belief in science is not a small matter (esp. with taking care of the earth and global warming deniers, etc.)

    • peteenns

      Brian, this is a common response, but no, it is not the pot calling the kettle black. Whether there is a first de novo human leaves footprints that can be discerned through means of historical and scientific investigation–it is testable. One man becoming undead is not open to that type of inquiry.

      • AHH

        That and the difference in genre between the Garden story and the parts of the Bible that tell us about Jesus.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Pete, I truly marvel at your patience in continuing dialogue with these viewpoints after all of these years . . .I personally would not be able to stop from shaking these guys at a conference and shouting “wake up!”

  • Nancy R.

    It looks like the problem might have been that the contributors weren’t asked the right questions. Instead of just, “explain your views and tell us what’s wrong with what the other guys think,” something deeper would have been useful, a thorough examination of why we read scripture as we do. Until we start examining and questioning our assumptions about what we think scripture is and how it should be read, we’re not going to make any progress.

  • Denis O. Lamoureux

    Sorry to say this Pete, but I disagree with your broad generalizations of the Zondervan book. The fact there is someone in this book (me) who was asked to argue a “No Adam” position is a move forward in the dialogue among evangelicals on the historicity of Adam. As you well know, this is not commonly defended in evangelical circles (unless of course, one wants to get fired). I have spent my career being blocked out and knifed in the back by the blessed brethren because of this issue.
    Respectfully,
    Denis

    • ajl

      Right on, Denis. Having reviewed your chapter last summer, I know your intention was to present the “no Adam” view as a plausible option to an evangelical audience. My criticisms of your chapter were probably more like Peters – wanting you to “go for the throat” so to speak. But, you made it clear to me that you had other objectives too, and that was to show that a devout follower of Jesus could hold to these views. You did an excellent job in conveying that in this chapter.

      And I think you are also correct in that this article will hopefully act as a first crack in the dike, allowing evangelicals to see that a literary framework, and non concordist view make a lot of sense. Hopefully next year we will see three more mainstream evangelical articles like this come out. And then after that, the entire dam breaks and our younger evangelical brethren will see this as a way forward and bring the next generation along to smoothing out some of the rough edges.

      Great job, Denis. I commend you for the stand you have taken.

      • Denis O. Lamoureux

        Thanks for your comments. But I did “go for the throat.” Here’s what I wrote:
        “So what exactly am I saying about Adam? Adam’s existence is based ultimately on an ancient conceptualization of human origins—de novo creation. To use technical terminology, Adam is the retrojective conclusion of an ancient taxonomy. And since ancient science does not align with physical reality, it follows that Adam never existed.”

        I don’t think I need to be disrespectful in saying this because I follow this sentence with:
        “Now I am quite aware of how shocking this idea is to nearly
        every evangelical Christian. I am sorry if I have upset you. But consistency argues that if the creation of the heavens in the Bible reflects an ancient astronomy, then we should not be surprised that the Holy Spirit also accommodated in allowing the biblical authors to use the science-of-the-day regarding human origins.”

        Saying “Adam never existed” to an evangelical audience is enough of a jolt, I don’t think I need to rub their noses in it.
        Best,
        Denis

        • Bev Mitchell

          Hi Denis,

          You’ve just sold another copy of this book! This is likely a bigger deal than I thought at first glance.

          Bev

    • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

      I agree Denis. The fact that an evangelical publisher included your view in the book stretches generally accepted evangelicalism. I expect that it will also stretch the thinking of some evangelical readers.
      It can make a difference down the road if we are able to continue this stretching.

      • Denis O. Lamoureux

        Thanks. And I will say that when I was asked knowing this was going to be a Zondervan book, I almost passed out. For over a dozen years I have been trying to get them to publish my work. Maybe this is the start. I have a 500-page draft of an introduction to science & religion ready to go . . .

        • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

          Maybe next year, or the next, I will be able to purchase that Zondervan introduction to science & religion!

  • Nancy R.

    The whole debate about Adam is really still in its infancy. I imagine that most Christians (certainly the majority of my congregation) take it for granted that, of course, Adam and Eve were real people. The notion that one can be a serious Christian while accepting the story of the fall as divinely-inspired myth is a radical one to many people. But perhaps books like these will find an audience among these Christians – after all, they present traditional views of Adam alongside the evolutionary creationist perspectives. A book that presents views that one already accepts might be an easier sell than one that just presents ideas that appear radical or even offensive. Whether or not readers of these books change their views, they will at least become exposed to perspectives that might be new to them – and that’s a start.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    I don’t have any problem reconciling evolution with the existence of a historical Adam.

    It is impossible, however, for me to accept the blasphemous notion that God cursed the whole mankind with a sinful nature because two people ate the wrong fruit, resulting in countless humans eternally torturted in hell. Interestingly enough we found absolutely no mention of such a curse in Genesis 3.

  • Norman

    yes, the ancients surely believed they were writing about historical events. Just like they thought they were detailing the historical event of Jonah being swallowed by a large fish. Or Hosea really thought he married a Harlot in real life. Give me a break!
    These guys were writing propaganda to a large extent and knew it from the get go. It really doesn’t take a historical biblical scholar to see this. Until we quit fixating over simple minded motives and realize the intent of biblical literature had political overtones we will continue to oversimplify on both sides of the ledger.

  • Kedric W.

    I know this wasn’t mentioned in this column, but I’ve theorized that the next doctrine to shift in evangelicalism is the nature of the resurrection. It will come about through the interaction with technology and those who insist singularity is and must be the next step in human evolution. Voices within evangelicalism will call for conversation and dialog and bring up questions such as, “How do we know that this isn’t God’s way of bringing about the resurrection of the dead?” or “How could Christians be so heartless to oppose measures that extend life?” or some other crazy question.
    I know this may be an over exaggeration, but from what has come down the literary pike in science and sci-fi for the past 150 years, this is where things are headed. It’s either conform or be left behind. Those who conform will show themselves more enlightened and will be worthy of entering the brave new world. Those who insist on the dogmatism of a bodily resurrection in some new creation are only holding human society back. It’s simply not scientifically demonstrable.

    • peteenns

      I think that would go nowhere, Kedric. Resurrection leaves no footprints that can be discerned by scientific/historical means. The “but the resurrection is next to go” is a common retort, but it has no teeth in my opinion.

      • Kedric W.

        I will be the first to be greatly relieved if the resurrection and it’s implications continues to breathe life into the church’s life and witness. However, as far as the challenges posed by the use of technology and the insistence of those who would seek to use it as part of their evolutionary worldview, those challenges are already present in society and will increase. The talk borders on religious fanaticism.

      • Kedric W.

        What about eye-witness testimony?

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Hi Kedric,
      That’s a fair concern, but it also reflects a one-size-fits-all hermeneutic to the entire Bible. Gen 1-11 and the New Testament are entirely different literary genres.

      In my No Adam chapter of the Zondervan book, this is what I wrote:
      Real history in the Bible begins roughly around Genesis 12 with Abraham. Like many other evangelical theologians, I view Genesis 1-11 as a unique type of literature (literary genre) that is distinct from the rest of the Bible. So from my perspective, was Abraham a real person? Yes. Was there a King David in the 10th century BC? Yes. Were the Jews deported to Babylon in the 6th century BC? Yes. Was there really a man named Jesus in the 1st century AD? Yes. Are the gospels eyewitness accounts of actual historical events, including the Lord’s teaching and miracles, and especially His physical resurrection from the dead? Absolutely yes! Even though I do not believe that Adam was historical, I thoroughly believe in the historicity of Jesus and the biblical testimonies of His life.

      Best,
      Denis

      • Kedric W.

        Actually, that does answer another question that has been burning in my mind for some time: At what point do we put the dividing line for who is historical and who isn’t? I certainly don’t think Genesis in its final form was written in one sitting. However, whoever included 1-11 in the final form did so for a very good reason. I notice a lot of the interaction God has with humans in the rest of Genesis is also in 1-11 (for example God is shown to speak to Abraham the same way he spoke to Noah). And though Gen 1-11 is a very different literary genre from the New Testament, a lot of theology depends heavily on Gen. 1-11.

        Would your conclusion of real history beginning with Abraham be in any way based on Stephen’s recitation of the Jews’ history in Acts 7?

        • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

          I am not sure of any valid theology that depends on Genesis 1-11. Original sin is the only significant doctrine that occurs to me, and I think it is an unsound concept.
          What others do you have in mind?

          • Kedric W.

            Many themes used through the entire Bible can be derived from Gen. 1-11. May be more specifically chapters 1-3.

            The idea of the garden/temple; the image of God; creation/new creation (both brought about by the Spirit-Breath of God); the goodness of work; judgment and redemption; the promises of God; etc…

          • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

            I think I see what you mean. It is more that NT themes can use Genesis 1-3 rather than that Genesis 1-3 provides support theology supports. I can accept that.

  • Sean Garrigan

    “To put it another way, when ‘voices’ approach that conversation with the
    clear intention of defending …a historical
    first man, those voices have in effect removed themselves from the
    conversation.”

    Ironically, I have used similar words to describe those who offer the consensus of modern science to argue that Adam did not exist. Scientists approach questions involving the emergence of man from a materialists perspective, which means that they rule out appeal to intelligent causation as a precondition for practicing certain types of science, e.g. biology, biochemistry, genetics, etc. If you rule out intelligent causation as a precondition governing your research, then the only conclusions you will be able to infer from the data as a scientists are those which don’t involve intelligent causation. To me this seems to be such an obvious point that it’s striking to find so few discussing it. Science once prided itself for its humble acknowledgement that it’s findings must always be tentative, but it has been raised from such helpful humble status and placed where only the deities once tread.

    I can understand why an atheist or an agnostic might be comfortable ruling out the hand of God as a principle of science, and I can even understand ruling out the supernatural as a principle of science on the basis that it’s not testable. However, I can’t understand why a Christian would accept the absurd notion that the myriad life forms that find their home on our planet which exhibit a patently purposeful arrangement of exquisitely coordinated parts came about by a non-design process. Yes, I’m aware that some people assert that natural selection is not “random”, and assume that it therefore can mimic design, but that clearly seems to involve an equivocation. Neither random variations nor natural selection are “design” processes, and everyone, including Richard Dawkins acknowledges the appearance of design in nature.

    As a Christian, anyone who asserts that those myriad life forms that exhibit a patently purposeful arrangement of exquisitely coordinated parts came about by a non-design processes has removed himself from the conversation.

  • Tim

    I have to agree, Peter. Having just recently read the “Reading Genesis 1-2″ book, I came away as confused as and more frustrated than when I started. I am interested in reading Lamoreaux’s work to see what He has to add.


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