Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Did They Really Exist? A Biblical and Scientific Defence of Adam and Eve

The historicity of Adam and Eve is a question which strikes at the heart of the Christian faith. If the primordial pair did not exist, then the historical and Biblical doctrine of the fall becomes extremely difficult to maintain. The apostle Paul clearly linked God's redemptive plan and Christ's atonement for sin with the fall described in Genesis (e.g. see Romans 5:12-21). We read in Romans 5:12-14,
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

In 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, we similarly read,

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Further evidence that Paul took Adam as a literal historical figure can be found in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 where he appeals to this doctrine in order to make an argument concerning the role of women in the church with respect to men. Paul writes,

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

Indeed, Jesus Himself clearly understood Adam and Eve to have been historical figures. In response to questioning from the Pharisees about marriage and divorce, Jesus declared (Matthew 19:4-6),

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 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’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

As if that wasn't enough, the genealogies recorded in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as an historical figure. The literature associated with second temple Judaism also recognised Adam as an historical individual. The context and genre of the book of Genesis does not give any indication whatsoever that it is intended to be non-literal or ahistorical in the sense that much of apocalyptic literature (e.g. the book of Revelation) is. If we read the book of Genesis as metaphorical, at which point do we stop? The life of Abraham (to whom we are first introduced in Genesis 12) is clearly connected to the history that came before him, going all the way back to Adam. Those who discard Genesis 1-11 as metaphorical but understand Genesis 12 onwards to be historical are being inconsistent. The narrative simply does not allow for this interpretation.

Christians may have disagreements about peripheral matters such as the age of the earth. As I have discussed before, I don't think that Genesis commits one to accepting a young earth position. However, the historical existence of Adam and Eve is another matter -- it is a Gospel issue. Without an historical Adam and Eve, and without an historical fall, the doctrine of the atonement and redemption makes very little sense.

Having presented some Biblical reasons for thinking that Adam and Eve were literal historical individuals, I want to turn my attention to some of the common scientific arguments which are advanced against the notion of an historical Adam and Eve.

Minimum Effective Population Size

It is argued by many that coalescence theory and analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms/linkage disequilibrium (SNP/LD) show that the mean effective population size for the hominid lineage is 100,000 individuals over the course of the last 30 million years. According to some theories, a genetic bottleneck occurred in the hominid lineage during the Middle Pleistocene with, according to one recent study, a mean effective population size of only 14,000 individuals. A range of values for the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) is given as "450,000-2,400,000 years for the autosomes, and 380,000-2,000,000 for the X chromosome," (Blum and Jakobsson, 2011).

The trouble with such attempts to estimate the effective population size and times of most recent common ancestors is the number of simplifying assumptions which are involved in the calculation. These include:

  • Fixed population size.
  • No migration.
  • Random mating.
  • Non-overlapping generations.
  • Constant mutation rates.
  • No selection.

The problem is that human populations change in size, migration in and out of the population does occur, humans selectively mate, mutation rates are often not constant and selection does occur. Indeed, rates of recombination are also known to differ with respect to location on the chromosome. Attempts at estimating effective population sizes and coalescent times, therefore, are rendered difficult by their high dependency on the assumptions made and the constancy of the pertinent variables. This makes it extremely hard to make dogmatic claims in this regard.

Let's take an example to illustrate this point. One research paper examined 377 short tandem repeat (STR) loci pertinent to 1,056 individuals from 52 different populations (Zhivotovsky et al., 2003). The study inferred that modern humanity arose from a common ancestral population living between 71 and 142 thousand years ago from a relatively small population size (less than 2000 individuals). A previous study estimated this ancestral population size to be comprised roughly of 500 individuals (Zhivotovsky et al., 2000). This non-congruity was apparently resultant from use of varying number of loci by the two studies as well as use of different sample sizes.

The Y-Chromosomal Adam Paradox

It is widely known that molecular dating based on the male-specific Y-chromosomal DNA tends to give somewhat more recent dates for the most recent common ancestosr of modern humans than does molecular dating based on the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA. This has been argued by some to show that Adam and Eve lived tends of thousands of years apart from one another. Though there are obviously alternative explanations for this phenomenon, one interesting hypothesis relates to the genetic bottleneck pertinent to the great flood described in Genesis. In that case, the most recent male common ancestor would be Noah (Noah's three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth boarded the ark along with their respective wives). The most recent female common ancestor, however, would be Eve. This would quite readily account for the discrepancy between the data yielded from the Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA sequences.

Where Did Cain Get His Wife?

The first thing to take notice of is that Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters besides Cain, Abel and Seth. According to Genesis 5:4, "After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters." It is also noteworthy that Genesis 5 records very long life spans, with people living up to an age of 900 years. Given this, Dr. Hugh Ross argues that "the possibility existed for a veritable population explosion. In fact, the world's population could have approached a few billion by the time of Adam's death at the age of 930." There is some Biblical support for thinking that there was a reasonable population size following Cain's murder of Abel. According to Genesis 4, Cain is given a mark "so that no one who found him would kill him." This presupposes that there was a population size sufficient such that (a) there were people who might find Cain in the wilderness; and (b) Cain might be mistaken for someone else.

The possibility that Cain may have married his sister raises the old question of incest. It is not until the book of Leviticus, however, that laws are given against marriage between siblings. Adam and Eve were probably created genetically pure. It is, therefore, likely that the genetic defects resulting from marriage between siblings would not present an issue for the first couple of dozen generations.

Summary and Conclusion

In conclusion, attempts to estimate coalescent times and effective population sizes are fraught with problems, and require that we make a number of unrealistic assumptions. Perhaps it is possible that some of these estimates pertain to the human population sometime after the creation of Adam and Eve. The question of Cain's wife is effectively resolved if we suppose that genetic defects resulting from marriage between siblings was a later development. The existence of an historical Adam and Eve, however, is foundational to a full and proper understanding of the Gospel and Christ's role as the "second Adam". "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive," (1 Corinthians 15:22).


  1. There's a big difference between what is possible and what is plausible. It is possible that Adam and Eve were historical persons, that aliens visited the ancient Egyptians, that 2012 is the year of the predicted Mayan Apocalypse, that gravity will quit working, that Elvis is still alive, etc. because I can think about these things without collapsing into contradictions. (Of course some things like 5-sided triangles are impossible to conceive.) Of course, none of these beliefs are plausible, since none of these examples can be sustained by rational evidence.

    Unfortunately, trying to establish that Adam and Eve are historical persons is implausibe, since the "evidence" you present is utterly unconvincing to anyone who does not share your belief. What's especially incredible (i.e., not credible) about your argument is that you rely on genetics, yet ignore the entire theory of evolution and the evidence from the fossil record (e.g., Ardi and Lucy). The field of genetics presupposes the fact of evolution.

    I suppose your "argument" could get other like-minded people to think that they aren't really crazy for thinking Adam and Eve were historical persons, but I'm afraid it is utterly unconvincing to anybody else who is aware of 21st century scientific theories.

    On the other hand, if your intent is to marginalize Christian belief, so it only appeals to people willing to set aside their knowledge of how the world works outside of the Bible, then well done!

    1. I presume you similarly consider implausible any supernatural event described in the Bible, such as the parting of the Red Sea, the feeding of the 5,000, or the resurrection of Christ. Yet what does this prove? Implausibility is practically a sine qua non of a miracle. To say that it is implausible is therefore to be redundant. It is enough to say that it is possible. Then it's just a matter of whether or not you believe the biblical account.

    2. The theory of evolution is just that - a "theory". Darwin himself admitted that the fossil record would have to deliver sufficient (large quantities) of fossil evidence for his theory to hold. Guess what? 130 years later, despite great advancements in anthropological and fossil has not. Lucy and Ardi are not evidence that man evolved from ape-like creatures. They prove only that they were skeletal remains of monkeys.

      Using your very own argument and logic I suggest that the "evidence you present (Ardi and Lucy) is utterly unconvincing to anyone who does not share your belief".

    3. The problem here is treating the Bible (which is a theological record of a community of faith who share common experiences with God) as if it were making scientific or factual claims. As a matter of scientific fact, a historical Adam is not only implausible but almost certainly false, especially given the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. It's not possible to be an informed, thinking person in the 21st century and accept the story of Adam in Genesis as a chronological description of the origin of human beings. Listening to the strained "scientific" argument in this blog about population size and Y-chromosomes is not only painful but risible for anyone with the most basic scientific background.

      It makes far more sense to read a theological document like the Bible in a theological way and not in a scientific way. If we don't, then we make the same mistakes that Christians made before Galileo, when Christians erroneously believed that Copernicus and Galileo were mistaken because the Bible clearly taught that the earth “shall never be moved (Ps. 93:1, 104:5), but “The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises” (Eccl. 1:5; cf. Ps. 19:4-6), not to mention the "historical" event in Josh. 10:12-13 when “the sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.” Of course sane, reasonable believers recognize these passages to be poetic or not literally true (although I would bet that some followers of this blog would still believe that the earth stopped its rotation "for a whole day" in Joshua... which is absurd, since there is absolutely no credible evidence that the earth has ever or could ever just stop rotating on its axis for a day... but I digress.)

      So it's a bit of a straw man to criticize my position as not believing the biblical account. As a Christian, the Bible is the source and inspiration for my religious experience. So I'm not rejecting the biblical account, but I am rejecting what I judge to be a defective way of reading the Bible. I'm afraid that the appeal of rationalizing to an historical Adam is too narrow for my understanding of the gospel. I don't think you have to ignore 21st century science to be a Christian.

    4. Scot,

      I am not a scientist. I don't know a chromosome from an isotope. In saying this, I suspect I am representative of a sizable portion of the world's current 7 billion inhabitants. When you say that an actual Adam and Eve are "almost certainly false" because of "the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary," how am I to evaluate such a claim when I lack the knowledge to do so?

    5. Mike, I'm not a scientist either, but I have a basic understanding of how science works, the kind of evidence they use, the peer review, the revision based on better evidence, etc., so when the broad community of scientists agrees that evolution has more explanatory power than alternative explanations, it's reasonable to believe them. Go to any reputable museum (I'm thinking of the British Museum, the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History (NYC), Boston's Museum of Science, etc.), and you'll find very clear accounts of evolution which would exclude the possibility that Homo Sapiens are a uniquely created species wholly unrelated to other species, and that current Homo Sapiens can be traced to one historical person (Noah? Adam?).

      Of course, science is not like mathematics, where answers can be absolutely true or false. Science is a matter of probabilities and evidence and generalizations which could conceivably be overturned by other evidence. But people are mistaken when they confuse possibility with probability, explanatory power, and scientific consensus. The fact that a "creation science" museum exists is no evidence that creationism or "intelligent design" is a serious scientific alternative to evolutionary theory. For scientists and others who don't already presuppose a particular way of reading Genesis, creation science and intelligent design are implausible possibilities.

    6. Scot Miller writes,

      //"As a matter of scientific fact, a historical Adam is not only implausible but almost certainly false, especially given the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. It's not possible to be an informed, thinking person in the 21st century and accept the story of Adam in Genesis as a chronological description of the origin of human beings. Listening to the strained "scientific" argument in this blog about population size and Y-chromosomes is not only painful but risible for anyone with the most basic scientific background."//

      That is a claim which requires some justification, Scot. My field is biology -- specifically evolutionary biology. It seems a bit presumptious of you to assert to someone with a scientific background (in my case, in biology), without being a scientist yourself, that my argument offered in the above article "is not only painful but risible for anyone with the most basic scientific background."

    7. Jonathan--

      Are you telling me that consensus of the scientific community is that Adam is a unique special creation of God unrelated to all other species (i.e., no evolution), and that we can successfully trace all human beings to this historical figure? Or are you stating a minority position that other scientists would probably reject? Unless there has been some huge and unreported shift in the scientific community, I'm pretty sure most scientists would agree that "a historical Adams is not only implausible but almost certainly false." But please correct me if I'm wrong.

      While you'd like to shift the burden of proof to me, I'm afraid I've already met the burden of proof, since I'm not making an extraordinary claim but merely reporting what is widely accepted. You seem to have the burden of proof that your dubious claim is really scientifically accepted.

    8. Scot, it was *you* who made the claim that the argument offered in my article "is not only painful but risible for anyone with the most basic scientific background."

      Please explain where, in your judgement, I have erred.



    9. Scot,

      I appreciate your response but it does not answer the question I asked. By your own logic, the existence of a museum exhibit which outlines a theoretical view of human origins does not prove said theory. Therefore, to send me to an "evolutionist" museum instead of a "creationist" museum merely avoids the question.

      I want to know how I, a non-scientist, can be expected to embrace an explanation of human origins which runs counter to a source I am currently trusting - a source that allows me to come to a conclusion based on my own logic with the facts provided to me.

      Although I am not a scientist, I have taken some science courses while in school. I do understand the scientific method, observation, experimentation, hypotheses, testing, and so on. What I don't understand is how any of these methods can be used to say definitively that we are descended from evolutionary processes which exclude the existence of Adam and Eve as portrayed in the Bible. It's not as though you can submit creation to a controlled experiment. The origin occurred long ago. No journalists or historians were there to record the events. Any understanding we have of it must be taken on faith - either by believing the prophets of ancient Israel or believing the scientists who espouse evolution as a better explanation.

      I do recognize that there are a large number of scientists who are quite confident of the evolutionary explanation. Supremely confident, for that matter. But what does that do for me as a layman? You and they are simply saying to the rest of us, "Trust us; we know what we're talking about." Yet, as others on this blog post have pointed out to you, the scientific community is not unanimous on this point. But even if it were, I'd still be in the same place of uncertainty.

      The sum is this, I am actually willing to believe with you that an actual Adam and Eve are "almost certainly false" because of "the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary," But that evidence must be overwhelming to me. And I should be able to examine and understand it without having to become a scientist. Otherwise, you're simply asking me to exchange my faith in prophets for faith in scientists. At that point, I recall that the prophets shed their blood in testifying to the truths they wrote while scientists actually get promoted today for believing evolution and demotion for not believing it. This does not make scientists bad, but it does make the prophets more worthy to heed.

      You may be tempted to think that I am simply being polemic, but I assure you that I am open-minded on the subject. Open-minded and simultaneously befuddled that people like you insist with the utmost confidence that it's silly to believe the Bible instead of science - and yet can't or won't submit a straightforward explanation of how science proves there couldn't have been an Adam and Eve.

    10. Jonathan, I thought you were wanting me to defend the factual claim that "most scientists would agree that 'a historical Adam is not only implausible but almost certainly false.'" I guess you agree with that claim.

      I'm not sure that the authors of any of the scientific studies you cite (from "Molecular Biology and Evolution" and "The American Journal of Human Genetics") would recognize their work on human origins as having anything whatsoever to do with the biblical Adam... unless you think Adam was really a sub-Saharan African hominid who lived some 100,000-200,000 years ago. So I think it's misleading for you to cite these articles in an attempt to give your minority position scientific credibility. They don't.

      Moreover, the reference to "Dr. Hugh Ross" from "Reasons to Believe" lacks any apparent scientific credibility. I'm not sure his work would pass a peer review.

      It is painful (to me) to see a misuse of scientific jargon to support a conclusion unsupported by the evidence you cite. I'm sure it sounds very impressive to the ears of biblical literalists who want to believe that they have scientific support for their beliefs, but I seriously doubt that it would convince a biologist who did not share your conviction that Adam must be a historical person (and I would guess the vast majority of biologists would not believe that Adam is a historical person).

      Perhaps it was unfair of me to call your argument "risible," since scientists may be more charitable to minority positions. But I think you could be open to some ridicule for insisting that Adam is a historical person when almost nobody today educated in Western thought would find that plausible.

      I think you are disrespecting the theological message of scripture when you make it literal and try to defend it "scientifically."

    11. Mike, of course museums don't prove that evolution is true. Museums reflect the best evidence and the most widely supported conclusions of the wider scientific community. The "creation science" museums reflect the beliefs a relatively small sub-group of the Christian community. These "creation science" museums don't reflect the kinds of evidence and rigorous care typically demanded by the scientific community, but they do reinforce the preconceptions of a small sub-group of Christians.

      I've tried not to overstate the confidence in my conclusions. I think I tried to emphasize that science is more about probabilities than certainties, and for the time being, it is more reasonable to accept the scientific consensus than not. Also I think I've explained why I'm not convinced that a literal reading of scripture is the best reading, that it's a hermeneutical mistake to read the biblical narrative as if it were some scientific account.

      Of course I could be mistaken and you and Jonathan correct. But unless you can convince other reasonable people to believe what you do, using evidence and arguments that are subject to rigorous examination and criticism, I'm afraid you'll only be preaching to the choir. And I'm afraid that the gospel will become increasingly irrelevant and marginalized as long as the main argument is circular (i.e., "I assume the Bible is literally true, and I can pick and choose scientific 'evidence' to support what I already believe to be true, therefore, even if I have to disregard what I know about the world apart from the Bible, I can believe what I thought was true in the first place.")

    12. Scot,

      Let us assume for discussion's sake that your view is true, and that we relinquish any belief in an historical Adam and Eve, or that the sun stood still for Joshua, or any other biblical account that does not square with 21st-century "knowledge of how the world works outside of the Bible," as you earlier put it.

      1) Where does this process stop? Are there any supernatural events left in the Bible to believe? (I can hardly see how, since none of them comport with "how the world works outside of the Bible.")

      2) Specifically, we shall eventually hear from someone in that crowd we've not been wanting to write off, "I can't believe that the Christ you want me to believe in is raised from the dead as it violates my scientific understanding no less than the other supernatural accounts you've already agreed with me are so implausible as to almost certainly be false." What shall you and I say to such a person? (Since you've said you accept the Bible theologically I infer that you believe Christ is true and want others to have the benefit of being in relationship with Him.)

    13. Mike,

      I think I answered your questions in a different exchange, but let me reply again:

      1) I'm not so hung up with miracles. My hunch is that God is constantly at work in the universe, but most of us aren't aware of what God is doing. Something becomes a miracle when we recognize that God is already working. So it's not important to me that biblical miracles actually happened as described in the Bible. My faith isn't about accepting the fact that some violation of nature took place at some time; my faith is in developing a growing awareness of the presence of God in my life.

      2) As for the Resurrection, I don't think it's as important for someone to hold the cognitive belief that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day, but that the narrative of the resurrection can become our narrative (Rom. 6:4).

    14. 1. For what it's worth, miracles are not an important issue for me either. I don't think I would feel any less attracted to the truths of Scripture if there were no miracle accounts therein. Our quotidian existence - residing on the side of a sphere, which appears to the human eye as flat, spinning 1,000 mph, revolving around another sphere at 66,000 mph, together flying 432,000 mph...without flying off or even getting chapped lips - is wondrous enough for me. To me, a miracle would only be a momentary wondrous departure from a constant wondrous routine. However, I have to acknowledge that the resurrection of Christ seems a crucial event in the mind of God, impossible to airbrush out of His view of things. And, I think, one of the reasons for the other miracles in the Bible is to prepare us mentally for that most consequential one. Therefore, even though I have no need for miracles, their seamless inclusion in the biblical narrative demands my regard. I should also add that I enthusiastically endorse your emphasis on a growing awareness of the presence of God in daily life. Brother Lawrence had it right.

      2. I am as puzzled by your statement here as I was when you made a similar one elsewhere in this thread. I asked you about it there so I'll wait for the answer there rather than ask again here.

  2. I think it is probably much more likely that we simply haven't had sufficient theological reflection on the matter; that is why some think that the whole of the Gospel actually hinges on the historicity of Adam and Eve. Once Christendom gets over its unbalanced fixation on a literal creation account and unfounded antievolutionism, I expect that we will have theologians who are more than capable of showing how the Gospel does not hinge on Adam's historicity so much as it depends on the theological meaning of the Creation account. This may take hundreds of years, so we should not expect that careful study to be available to us now (since many Christians think that Evolution = atheism).

    There were those who originally thought that a heliocentric planetary system was a threat to man being the special creation of God. Yet, with time, we were able to assimilate the truth of a heliocentric planetary system into our theology without losing anything. I think the same will be true one day for evolution.

    As for questions like "if the beginning of Genesis is mythology, then when do we stop seeing the Bible as mythology?", it is erroneous to present them as if they somehow prove that the view is false. A literal interpretation has its own difficult questions as well: does God have physical lungs? Why are there days before a sun and moon? Etc. So you cannot simply wave a trouble question around as if that somehow proves false the view that produced it. The proper response is to seek out the matter in faith that all truth is God's truth--not recoil in fear from the difficult question. Slippery-slope arguments are, in my opinion, usually a poor substitute for applying wisdom on a case-by-case basis.

    (Allow me to state most clearly that the NT accounts of Christ are not in danger of being re-interpreted as mythology on this view. C.S. Lewis studied mythology all his life and was adamant that the NT was nothing of the sort. 1 Cor 15 clearly demands a literal resurrection.)

    It is a good question to ask "when does the OT become history." It is not a question that should instil fear in us, but rather one that should spur us on to careful reflection.

    When we try to bend science to reflect our own presuppositions, we subtly make ourselves the enemies of truth. It is no different, in principle, than bending Scripture to conform to our presuppositions. Unless of course, one is prepared to believe in a God who would intentionally falsify physical evidence so that scientists would draw false conclusions.

    1. Science can, at most, theorize about human origins. It there is an apparent contradiction between biblical accounts of creation and scientific theories, there is no need to bend either. As for what to believe about the OT, we have the answer in Christ. That is, we can feel comfortable believing about the OT what He believed about it.

  3. Ardel Caneday has an excellent article on this issue. It is especially relevant for those who think that we can deny the historicity of Adam but still retain the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. His article is entitled "The Language of God and Adam’s Genesis & Historicity in Paul’s Gospel"

  4. Scot, do you believe that God is all powerful? Couldn't He do whatever He wants, however He wants? You seem to put human limits on Him. Just because you can't imagine something doesn't make it false. That's just my unscientific opinion. :)

    1. I'm only addressing what I see as the problems with the "scientific" part of Jonathan's argument; I'm not addressing the issue of divine omnipotence. But I would guess that you would recognize some limits to omnipotence: Does God have to power to cease to exist? Can God act in ways that contradict God's nature? Well, I don't think that God would lie to us about the evidence about the age of the earth, the fossil record, the fact that species come into existence and pass out of existence at different times through history, etc., and require us to believe that Adam is a historical person when almost all the other evidence speaks against that belief.

      Galileo famously said that God is revealed in two books: the Bible and the "book of nature." The Bible is a theological document, and should be treated as a theological document. Nature is investigated by science. By studying nature, it's easier to see when we have faulty interpretations of the Bible.... just think of Galileo and the Copernican revolution in science. It was a mistake to treat the biblical claims about the sun moving around the earth as scientific claims. It's also a mistake to defend a historical Adam.

  5. Scot,

    You said to Jonathan, "But I think you could be open to some ridicule for insisting that Adam is a historical person when almost nobody today educated in Western thought would find that plausible," as if that proves something.

    Since you seem to respect the Bible, at least in your own way, consider how well your statement would have fit in the mouths of the Areopagites of Acts 17 as they ridiculed Paul. Just substitute "Jesus is resurrected" for "Adam is a historical person" and "Greek" for "Western." Actually, you could probably insert the sentence as is, too. The point being that on the logic of your sentence you would have to disallow every supernatural occurrence recorded in the Bible, including the resurrection of Christ which Paul says, theologically speaking mind you, that if it didn't really happen we who believe in Christ are of all men most to be pitied.

    1. I guess miracles as you think about them just aren't important to my understanding of faith. I assume that God is constantly at work in the world, and we sometimes recognize it but mostly don't. As for the Resurrection, what is truly "miraculous" about the Resurrection of Christ isn't that it was an event in the past that took place at point X at time A, but that the power of the Resurrection is the same power that saves us today. The miracle of the Resurrection is that the risen Jesus Christ can transform lives today. If I don't encounter the lived experience of the Resurrection and merely treat it as an objective "fact," I would be of all people most to be pitied.

    2. I wouldn't use Paul's superlative, but I can agree that this would definitely be pitiable. However, what is there to encounter in lived experience if there is no underlying objective fact?

    3. The resurrection isn't an objective fact the way other events in history are facts. History is done by analogy (this event was like that event), but the Resurrection is a singular event without analogy: what other event could compare to the Resurrection? So I think the "underlying objective fact" of the Resurrection is inaccessible to our understanding. Something happened, but that something can't be described scientifically. The truth of the Resurrection isn't that there is an empty tomb, but that Christ is risen and lives in the followers of Christ.

    4. Scot,

      I presume you believe that Jesus' birth was an objective fact (as was yours and mine) and that His death was an objective fact. If not, please correct me. Assuming so, however, what then do you mean that "Christ is risen" if it does not mean that the dead Jesus of Nazareth began living again, this time eternally, on the third day after His death? In other words, if His birth happened, and His death happened, how could His resurrection from the dead not have happened, given that you believe He "is risen."

      (You obviously believe that Christ is risen in some sense unfamiliar to me, and I'm trying to understand what that sense is.)

    5. Mike,

      Whatever happened in the Resurrection is a mystery to me, but I don't think it amounts to the reanimation of the physical body of Jesus. I'm happy saying "something happened" that transformed the lives of his followers. This "something" can be understood theologically in many different ways, and it's the same "something" to which Christians respond when they say they are saved by grace through faith.

      To be honest, I'm not sure it's as important to have the Resurrection figured out intellectually as it is to live a life faithful to the resurrection. Or as Paul says in 1 Cor. 13, "If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." Later in the chapter he says, " For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." I'm pretty sure you will not be satisfied with my answer, but I still think that it's more important to live a Christlike life than to affirm a particular interpretation of the "objective reality" of the Resurrection.

    6. To a point, I can agree with the notion that intellectual grasp is less important than faithful reach. I also recognize that you probably don't want to be pressed too much harder for explanation. However, if you can indulge me just a little longer, I'd like to know just what it is you think about Christ.

      If for discussion's sake, I accept your view that "something" "mysterious" happened in the resurrection, needing no further definition, but that it did not include "the reanimation of the physical body of Jesus," did it include the reanimation of the person (i.e. the spirit) of Jesus of Nazareth? In other words, do you believe that the Jesus we read about in the gospels was raised (whatever that means) and is currently and eternally ruling the universe? In yet other words, is the "resurrected Christ" to whom you seek to be faithful the same Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified in Jerusalem?

    7. Mike--

      For what it's worth (and I don't think it's worth very much), I tend to believe that Christ is the name Christians use to name that eternal aspect of God that eternally works to redeem to the word So you can ask, "Was there a time before Jesus existed?" or "Was there a time after Jesus existed?" and the answer would be an unequivocal "Yes." Moses lived before Jesus, and St. Augustine lived after Jesus. But if you ask, "Was there a time before Christ existed?" my answer would be, "No, Christ exists eternally, outside time." As a Christian I believe that Christ (the eternally redeeming aspect of God) became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, so that if we want to know what God is like, we need only look to Jesus. The virgin birth and the resurrection are theological or poetic ways to describe what is otherwise inexplicable, namely that the Word became flesh and continues to invite us to be reconciled to God. The incarnation tells me that God's power is persuasive rather than coercive and that God suffers with us.

      Like I said, for the time being I'm pretty happy thinking of Christ in this way, but I don't really have it worked out very well. I'm also pretty sure that whatever I say or think probably conceals more than it reveals.

      Hope this helps.

    8. Scot,

      You're like the guy who ignores most of the directions but somehow ends up near the destination anyway. Godspeed.


  6. Science and Faith are two different belief systems.
    Logic, however, is useful to resolve debates where there is a conflicting view between those systems. (The foundation of Apologetics, no?)

    I think most of the arguments for A&E having historically existed would be pretty poor requiring leaps of faith.

    My point is this:
    I don't think historic existence is all that important.
    God introduced the narrative of his creation - including A&E as the archetype for all humans.
    They purely existed to advance the narrative that
    1. Mankind is created by God
    2. Mankind sinned when they abandoned the humility and obedience for pride
    3. The consequential suffering of living in a sinful world is now explicable for all time.

    Whether they are real or not does not matter (to me)and Jesus can be the second Adam in the same way - without a first Adam having actually existed.


    PS: The commenting system used here is really limiting - OI am sure more people will comment if it was easier.

  7. "The resurrection isn't an objective fact the way other events in history are facts. History is done by analogy (this event was like that event), but the Resurrection is a singular event without analogy: what other event could compare to the Resurrection? So I think the "underlying objective fact" of the Resurrection is inaccessible to our understanding. Something happened, but that something can't be described scientifically. The truth of the Resurrection isn't that there is an empty tomb, but that Christ is risen and lives in the followers of Christ."

    Now apply that to origins. The problem with modern historiography is that it does rely upon analogy, and if truth is stranger than fiction that means we essentially know very little about history. That means our historical reconstructions are largely more modern and postmodern impositions upon historical events than they are actually capable of reconstructing an event as it existed in time. Ergo, to say that Adam and Eve existed or did not exist, beyond believing or disbelieving any historical report that relays the information, by some sort of "scientific" method is nonsensical.

  8. Hello!

    I'm a YEC --> OEC, only a few steps away from putting my faith in an interpretation of the Scriptures that embraces an Old Earth. I do, however, have a final couple of questions. I tried to track down an email address for you, but alas, no luck! I'm praying you'll see this and have time to answer!

    Question 1: I agree that theologically, the first humans had to be Adam and Eve. But doesn't the fact that there are hominids obscure our "uniqueness" in God's image? If our image and ability to reason have been shared by some other creature at some point in time (albeit at a lesser degree), then how are humans unique? How are humans "bara'd" into existence?

    Question 2: Posit that the reason that the information of the formation of the earth, etc, was due to Moses - almost an Ancient Egyptian - not understanding or being able to adequately describe what he saw. (Aka: "[waters of] the face of the deep" = deep space, "tannin" /monsters = dinosaurs). When he gets to day 3, he quite eagerly and clearly describes things he knows - fruit, trees, grass. However, it wasn't until day 4 that the cloudcover went from translucent --> transparent, an event which is most strongly linked to the Great O2 Event. However, the only photosynthetic organisms at that point were algae - something which I think ancient Egyptians would have viewed as more of a scum than a plant, seeing as though it corrupted precious water.

    Please let me know your thoughts! These are the last two questions to a very long scientific Investigation, and I'm eager for a solid end.

    Chanah Ambuter

  9. I have published extensively on these questions. If anyone wants to see how authentic revelation comports with evidence based science, here are some sources that should be helpful:

    First, a November 2015 peer-reviewed article in the Spanish philosophical journal, Espiritu. It is entitled "The Rational Credibility of a Literal Adam and Eve." Here is the web address:

    Second, a more popularized version of the above argument, found in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, and entitled "Time to Abandon the Genesis Story?" See here:

    Third, my book, Origin of the Human Species (third edition) (Sapientia Press, 2014), available on Amazon Books and described on my web site at

    Christian revelation absolutely requires a literal Adam and Eve, and it can be proven that belief in our first parents is entirely rationally credible -- and without recourse to the very questionable scientific claims of young earth creationism.

    My email address is given at the end of the Espiritu article.


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