Adam and the Genome: Some Thoughts from Pete Enns

Any discussion of the “historical Adam” cannot proceed without taking into account the story of Adam in its ancient context.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Pete: If you are serious in banning all future discussions of “archetype,” does this mean that if John Walton were to take a trip out of the country, you would meet him at the airport, on his way back, and tell him he can not come back in???

I think enhanced vetting is limited to authors from fundamentalist countries…

Seriously, thanks for an informative review. I look forward to reading the book. and reviews like this help us in our reading.

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Thanks for this informative review which provides yet another great Pete Enns link I can refer forum users to when they ask the ever popular “but what about Adam and Romans 5” question.

It is a problem we have that we can’t write everything at a fourth grade level like Ken can.

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True, that. One of my goals for the book was to make the evidence for common ancestry and population genetics as accessible as possible, but there is only so much one can do. It’s never going to get to the “were you there?” level of simplicity.


I hear ya.

I’ve once sat in a church listening to a Young Earth Creationist ministry speaker tell the audience that “If a scientist can’t manage to understand something well enough than to be able to explain it in simple words that a 12-year-old can understand it, then he should remain silent until he can!” A series of amens erupted from the audience. Arghhhhh. It reminded me of Kent Hovind telling people that scientists just use big words in order to intimidate the public.

Then he said that there was no reason why laypeople within the Church should not step up and oppose atheist scientists. “The scientists want you to think that all of this way over your head!” After building to a crescendo on this theme, he got a big ovation right in the middle of his sermon.

I’m used to Kruger-Dunning within the Church. But that speaker was actually teaching it as some sort of goal for the virtuous.


Dennis, you’ve made major contributions to the effort to make evolutionary science more accessible to people like me. I suspect that as this effort continues to unfold—by you and others—it will become more and more accessible. You’ve written your materials based on years of trial and error with actual students, seeing what makes sense to them. The world could use more Dennis Venemas.


That’s what I said, but the research ethics board nixed the cloning project… :slight_smile:


Good thing, because it likely would’ve produced Ennis Venema, Dennis’s evil twin…

Tru dat! I spent years explaining higher-level concepts to special education students, and finding the right words to help them understand on their level was rarely easy. Still, I’m pretty sure I could’ve explained it to the 12-year-olds in @Socratic.Fanatic’s congregation, even if it still might have remained above the visiting minister’s head.


12 year olds can ask some pretty deep questions. We teach a fifth grade class, and the last lesson was on “asking questions” so threw it open for discussion. One question was “How can be 100% sure this God stuff is real?” and another was, “Does God have a beard?” At least on the last one it led to a discussion of the nature and humanity of Christ, and discussion of God as portrayed on the Sistine Chapel.

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My youngest sister once asked me whether Christ already existed before the beginning of Creation. She was six years old back then :astonished:.


I was hoping for a mini-me, actually. :slight_smile:

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Crank up the axlotl tanks. Speaking of such, sort of surprised no one has posted on the pig- human chimera recently in the news. Not an evolution issue strictly speaking, but certainly goes to what makes us human and ethics etc.

If you can get Dennis near a collider and have him make a few measurements, you can make several more Dennis Venemas without IRB approval. At least that’s what I read in some book by an atheist somewhere.


actually a bit disappointed that no one has grasped the nettle to consider that God breathing life into humans describes the introduction of passing on his will by non-genetic information to subsequent populations and therefore to look for sin as a genetic manifestation is a waste of time. It looks like this is a debate of outsiders to the concept if metaphysics, e.g. the non material element of reality. Has anyone considered that human to be made in the image of God to mean not that it is his shape of the earlobe, the crooked nose or toes or the absence or presence of a womb is what makes us the image of God but the ability to materialise thought and to inherit the thoughts of our ancestors and not only their genes? If we look at Adam purely from a genetic point of view we fail not only the bible but our own worldview that there is something more to reality than material genetics?

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Marvin, if you have read any of my posts, you would not say “no one has grasped the nettle”. Or, more likely, I have just not made my position clear. In pointing out that there is “something more to reality than material genetics” I think you are restating Teilhard de Chardin’s postulate that the appearance of modern humans issued in a completely new era in the Universe–the Noosphere, which followed upon the Biosphere, which followed on the original Cosmosphere. Current evidence supports the contention that this new Sphere began when, with a Great Leap Forward, Homo sapiens suddenly became a conscious creature that could communicate subtile and complex concepts through language and symbolic ideas (Noogenes), and these are now the dominant elements in the evolution of Humankind.
Al Leo

And how did you answer her? Was it pre-ordained that the first conscious creature on the not-yet-created Earth was going to sin and therefore need a Messiah/Savior? I might have been a little older than six when I first asked that question, but in all the years since, no one has given me an answer that satisfies me.
Al Leo

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:1-3‬

When the disciples pray in Acts 4, they say, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:27-28‬

“He [Christ] was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:20-21‬

So, yes. God the Son has existed since eternity past as evidenced by John, and the disciples in Acts and Peter recognize that it was God’s plan from before the creation of the world that Christ would die for the sins of his people, implying that God was very well aware of what humanity would do even before they had ever been created.


Well, maybe the Incarnation was God’s plan from eternity past, but not necessarily because sin was predestined. Couldn’t the Incarnation have been predestined even before Creation had a need for a Messiah? That is a question I think is fun to ponder. Was it God’s eternal plan to unite himself with his creation independent of humanity’s need for redemption and reconciliation. I like to think yes. Because the Second Person of the Trinity stayed human. The Incarnation is a permanent situation, even though the redemption and reconciliation work that the Incarnation enabled has already been accomplished.


If you look closely at what the disciples are saying, though, you’ll note that the action of Christ’s sacrifice was what was predestined. Why kill your only Son for sinless people? Why would we need reconciling if sin didn’t exist? Indeed, Paul explains in Romans 5 that one would scarcely die for a righteous man (though for a good man one might dare even to die), but instead that while we were sinners Christ died for us. Without the separation of sin, Christ’s sacrifice makes no sense. That’s why Pelagius was roundly condemned by Augustine and others.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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