Adam, Eve and Population Genetics: A Reply to Dr. Richard Buggs (Part 2)

(Dennis Venema) #21

moot? :slight_smile: /pedant

(Vincent Torley) #22

Hi Phil,

I’ll just cite one passage, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22: “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

Now try reading it with Adam as Everyman. “For since death came through Everyman, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Everyman all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” There’s no parallel. Doesn’t make sense.

Whatever the sense in which Jesus is the second Adam, he was clearly an individual who undid the damage done by the first. If there was no first Adam, then why should we need a single individual to undo the damage done by Everyman?

(Phil) #23

Sorry, my proofreader was on coffee break. Or maybe I meant it is an argument from silence.

(Phil) #24

Well if you are going to change scripture, why is it not equally valid to say:
“For since death is a common experience to flesh, the resurrection of the dead also comes through flesh (God incarnate). For as in the flesh all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

I simply think you are reading too much into the metaphor, and all metaphors break down if you press them to extremes as that is their nature, even Biblical ones.

(George Brooks) #25


@jpm was correct to begin with.

This is a metaphysically contrived argument.

We could say: spirit is spirit and matter is matter, and so a ghost cannot influence matter.
But who made up that rule?

Is the body of Jesus a magic box? He can only atone for people who descend from a real Adam & Eve?

That is completely up to the Lord of the Universe and how he constructed the Soul-needs-Atonement machine.

If Jesus refers to a symbol of humanity, and says he is dying for the symbol, are you saying that only works if Jesus says he is dying for all humanity - - he can’t speak symbolically?

If you want to go around to various sites and make up rules for what God and Jesus can do, by all means, proceed. But to do it here, you need to explain how the machinery of atonement works in such a way as to show why atonement can only work if you don’t use symbols.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #26

The modern literalist reading of this makes less sense than a figurative one. We aren’t “in Christ” literally … as in all of us physically being inside some other giant human body. We are spiritually in Christ, and spiritual children of God; just as we are also spiritual children of the free Sarah rather than the slave Hagar, as Paul writes elsewhere, obviously not caring a whit about biological ancestry as he wrote it. So why do YECs turn this around and inconsistently make only the Adamic side about biology?

(Vincent Torley) #27

Hi Phil, George and Mervin,

The point I’m making with my citation of 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 has nothing to do with biological ancestry. I agree that the passage in question doesn’t prove Adam was the father of us all, and if YECs want to use it for that purpose, then they’re over-egging it. Rather, my argument was that the metaphor of Christ as the second Adam makes no sense unless there was some individual who was the first Adam. That’s all. Whether you want to identify this first Adam with the father of us all or with some particular individual who lied in the Neolithic era and was the first person to whom God revealed Himself doesn’t matter at all for my purposes, here. That’s a secondary issue.

George makes the entirely valid point that Jesus can redeem anyone He wants, regardless of whether they spring from a common father or not. Quite so. But He cannot be the second Adam unless there was a first.

Phil suggests a reading along the lines of: “For since death is a common experience to flesh, the resurrection of the dead also comes through flesh (God incarnate).” That might be a defensible reading if Adam had been named “flesh” in Genesis. But he wasn’t. Adam means “man.” And anyway, it sounds funny calling Jesus the second flesh.

Finally, the Everyman interpretation falls afoul of St. Paul’s assertion in Romans 5:12 that “sin entered the world through one man.” I submit that a fair-minded individual, reading these passages in St. Paul, would conclude that at the very least, this “Adam” figure was believed by St. Paul to have been a concrete individual, whoever he may have been. That was all I wanted to say. Cheers.

(Jon) #28

I’m not affected by this issue either way the science goes; it won’t affect my personal position. But I am concerned about the issue being misrepresented to other people as something it is not. I would not like Dr Buggs’ theory to be represented as evidence for a historical Adam and Eve who had no ancestors at all (neither human nor pre-human), as the universal progenitors of every human who has ever lived, with no humans descending from any parallel humans or pre-humans, approximately 6,000 years ago, if the data doesn’t actually agree with that, and if that is not what he is arguing for.

(George Brooks) #29


So, if I decide to make a luxury island resort, with all the expensive and dazzling amenities anyone could want … and I name it “New Atlantis” … are you saying:

  1. My resort island cannot exist unless the first Atlantis existed?

  2. Or, that my customers just won’t be able to enjoy my resort, until someone shows them the original Atlantis existed?

  3. Or, better yet, that for some mysterious reasons, all those people who think the original story of Atlantis is real are the ones who most enjoy New Atlantis !!!

All these 3 of these statements are "boundary conditions’ … “rules of engagement” for how people can interpret my new spa. And they are completely arbitrary and without any compelling foundation, or philosophical entailment.

(Marshall Janzen) #30

I think the metaphor works without. Similarly, the metaphor of Jesus’ bride doesn’t require some individual named Mrs. Church. :wink:

For Christ to be the second Adam, a name that in Hebrew means “humanity”, all that is required is some way that Jesus transcends humanity as represented by Adam. In 1 Cor. 15, Jesus transcends the mortal Adam by being a life-giving Adam. The metaphor requires humanity to be mortal, not Adam to be an individual.

(Albert Leo) #31

Perhaps the word ‘atonement’ has connotations that confuse the true meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross. Perhaps Jesus came into this world carrying the same Homo sapiens genome as you and I, with an evolved instinctual nature that was essentially animal-like–as were all our forebears. HOWEVER, God provided him with a spirit, a soul, that was a perfect Image of what He intended all humans to have eventually. Then, as the Universal Messiah, Jesus’ death is meant to show us that, symbolically at least, we should die to our animal natures (i.e., to sin) and take up the life God has intended for us since the beginning of time.

This world view seems to suit my needs very well. Does it not have an appeal to anyone else?
Still searching,
Al Leo

(Chris Falter) #32

Hi @vjtorley -

You have contributed several good posts to this thread, so thanks!

The exercise of analyzing Paul’s epistles, whether in Greek or English, is bound to go off the rails if we ignore their cultural context. And the cultural contect for Paul was the rabbinic tradition and their fantastic, wonderful midrashes. These were often extended metaphors that seemed perfectly sensible to the first-century crowd, even if they seem outrageous to us grammatical-historical moderns.

Rather than elucidate the implications in this thread, I refer you to Pete Enns’ wonderful book, The Evolution of Adam.


(Doug B) #33

Thank you Dennis for the extended dialogue on this topic–very helpful in further understanding things. I would caution against assigning a hypothesis to Richard Buggs’’ comments. It seems he specifically avoided expressing a hypothesis–or a concise criticism of your work–in his inquisitor-esque interactions. That was confirmed by multiple readers of varying professional genetics background. Although maybe I missed a summary of his conclusions somewhere along the way.


I believe one of Buggs’ main hypotheses is that a 2-person bottleneck in human evolution has not been sufficiently addressed by papers in the fields of genomics and population genetics. What others show is that this has been addressed although not explicitly. But then also not addressed explicitly is a three or four person bottleneck. It appears the analyses suggest a lower population limit of thousands, and not tens of individuals.

To be sure it’s hard to demonstrate a negative. What we have is a lot of results which point in the direction of thousands of individuals. What could make a case for Buggs is a positive demonstration that the genetics point to two individuals.

(Neal Heires) #35

I have been personally struggling with Genesis 2 to 6 as an historical narrative, rather than perhaps being a parable or allegory on the human condition.

It tells the story of how the original sin of pursuing knowledge of good and evil was such a big huge sin that lead to all other sins of mankind, and indeed required a savior.

The name Adam means “man” further hints to it as an allegory or parable. Why not call him a name that is not synonymous with man??

With this new (to me anyway) evidence indicating that our genetic pool had to go back 500,000 years, it would seem that the parable or allegory view has validity.

Furthermore, the flood narrative now has to be a parable or allegory as well, because it essentially proves that the historical narrative of Noah taking mankind down to a family of 8 has to be false! It would seem that if there were a flood, it had to be only in the Mesopotamian region but not in the rest of the world where others of mankind also lived. If so, God punished mankind in this area of evil so as to lead to Abraham and finally to Jesus.

However, an Adam of 6000 years ago could have been the first of all mankind to be given an immortal soul and co-existed with others of mankind not deemed “sons of God”. And then back to Paul who refers to Adam as the first man could still be true if viewed as a spiritual creature. Finally Jesus then saved not just those of the Adam lineage but all mankind.

I apologize for the rambling flow of thought here as I explore this line of thinking. So even though the thread is 3 days old, I hope that someone will comment.

(Marshall Janzen) #36

Hi Neal,

Yes, especially since it means “man” in its general and slightly archaic sense: humanity. It can also sometimes refer to any person, such as when it’s used in the law to refer to anyone who contracts a skin disease (Leviticus 13:2, 9). Unfortunately, our Bibles usually only transliterate the sound of the Hebrew word into Adam in places where it seems to be a name. Elsewhere it’s translated as a variety of other words (“people”, “person”, “mankind”, “man”, “everyone”, “one”, “mortals”, “mortal”). Even worse, in the one place where Adam is explicitly given as a name – by God to all the first humans, male and female, in Genesis 5:2 – modern translations typically use a different name instead. This makes it very easy for readers to not notice that Adam means humanity.

So yes, since Adam means humanity, the Eden accounts seems a bit like Ezekiel 16 where we have a woman named Jerusalem. The name suggests the character tells the story of more than an individual. (Where it gets tricky, of course, is that we don’t have Jerusalem’s genealogy! But I’m wary of making genealogies the linchpin for how to understand Adam.)

While I’m open to a local flood, I lean towards a parabolic reading due to one feature of the text. A key reason God sends the flood is because “The LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Later, we get the reason there will never be another similar destruction of the earth: “the LORD said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done” (Genesis 8:21).

It appears God had the same reason for sending the flood and never sending another one! The account reads as if God thinks the flood is going to fix the problem, but when it doesn’t, God gives up. Now, I can accept that as a parable for why God is merciful with us in spite of our evil – how even if God started over with the best of us, they’d still cause things to go south – but it doesn’t work to me as an accurate portrayal of how God found out how messed up we are. I think God knew that all along. I don’t think God ever thought that wiping out all humans save eight would fix that problem.

Yes, though I’d put it more as God giving humanity an undeserved promotion and special role as in Psalm 8 (“what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour”) rather than tying it to an immortal soul. That concept seems quite foreign to Genesis, especially due to the purpose of the tree of life and the expulsion from the garden so humans don’t become immortal.

Anyway, just some of my thoughts. I appreciate the chance to dialogue!

(Neal Heires) #37

While I see your point, the Old Testament is quite full of situations where God instructs Joshua to conquer and wipe out entire peoples, which seems unbelievably cruel, yet had to be per God’s purpose, so as not to allow the culture of the conquered to lead the Jews to pagan worship. So I suggest it was perhaps God’s purpose to wind down on the evil of mankind so as to lead to the eventual birth of Abraham and the ability to foster a Jewish culture and eventually a Christian one??

(Neal Heires) #38

An interesting point, but I think that the tree of life was to signify spiritual life as Adam did not die right away but lives 900+years, but was separated from God by his sin. Granted that in the Old Testament different sects of Jews did debate the existence of the after life, but it soon becomes clearer or fulfilled so to speak by Jesus explanation of eternal life. The issue was not so much of humans becoming immortal, but being immortal and sinful as false judges of good and evil which is the domain of God. God wanted man to be immortal with Him for eternity, but not possible until man learns through Jesus to not judge but trust in the will of God.

(George Brooks) #39


How did this (Part 2) thread get left high and dry since December … while Part 1 keeps on going?

(Arnold J. Bur) #41

There is no need to prove mutations. We did not mutate or evolve. Adam and Eve were not the first humans. If they were, why was Cain not at the beginning of the pure blood line genealogies? Genesis 5 states that Seth is the beginning from Adam but Cain was born first. The misinterpretation of Genesis is the problem. Man and woman were made on day six and God rested. God did not stop. Chapter 2 states that there were no shrubs or plants in the Garden because there was no man to til the soil. Plants and shrubs were made in era three. Adam and Eve were kicked out of this Garden to Eden. Now, they are West of Eden. Cain married a wife from Nod. She could not be a daughter from Eve or she would have pure blood. Pure from pure produces pure. We cannot say that out of anger God prevented Cain from being in the lineage because he killed his brother Abel. David was a murderer and adulterer and he is one of God’s favorites. Another problem is getting “Christians” to let go of old traditions and learn something new.