Book Reviews: The Genealogical Adam and Eve

@Klax

Why does engaging in literary criticism have to be disinterested?

I dont accept Original Sin as a valid theology… but I certainly encourage KEEPING original sin if (!) - - in the process - - Evolution is easier to embrace!

I sincerely believe the six days of Creation should not be interpreted literally… and any analysis that helps with that is worth discussing.

Hi Marshall,
Thank you for sharing your interpretations, which must be helpful to many people.

It seems it might also be helpful to share some of my background with this group, because @Klax seems to be harshly judging my motivations.

I was raised without religion, always loved science and didn’t become a Christian until after I had decided to get my PhD (~20 years ago now). Perhaps because I was a biologist before I was a Christian, the first time I heard about the idea of theistic evolution [at an American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) conference], I really liked it. Of course God could use evolution to achieve his purposes: Why wouldn’t that be possible? I wrote some more about my thinking and motivations in this BioLogos blogpost from last summer: https://biologos.org/post/what-in-the-world-distrusting-science

It is only more recently that I have found time to read and think about this more. Last year I was able to attend the 2019 BioLogos conference in Baltimore. While there, I attended a session on Adam and Eve, which is where my eyes were first really opened to the depth of the Biblical interpretation challenge that people can have in accepting evolution if scientists say that evolutionary science would mean that there cannot be a literal Adam and Eve. Since then, I have been trying to read and understand more about this challenge. What has become clear to me now is that it was an oversimplification for me to think that it would be easy to just believe that Adam and Eve were symbolic figures. Because I’m a scientist, I am comfortable with evolution, but I’m starting to see that there really might need to be a historical Adam and Eve for the theology in the context of evolution to make sense. That idea is also affirmed when speaking to and reading opinions from pastors and theologians, such as the essay I posted by Tim Keller above (post # 6; BTW: I like the federal headship model presented there). Also in conversations with laypeople in my church, I hear that their strongest aversion to accepting evolutionary science is the idea of human evolution. They seem to think that human evolution would conflict with scripture and would somehow detract from the specialness of humans or take away from the image of God in them. When I heard Jeff Schloss speak at the 2018 ASA conference about humanity evolving to a point where they have complex language, recursive thinking, moral sensibility and second-order theory of mind, I could see how God might have endowed those characteristics into an evolving population, or how God could have directed evolution to humanity to that point. However, there is still the Biblical interpretation problem of how Paul and Jesus speak about Adam as a historical person. So, @Jay313, the reason why I like GAE is because it opens up more options for solutions. I am okay with not knowing for sure which option is true, but I do like the idea that there could be options for how a literal couple could fit with evolution. I also enjoy the conversation and like that there are different possibilities for solutions to discuss with my friends who currently reject evolution. @Klax, the motivation is the dialogue.

We are all on our own personal journeys. Let’s be respectful of each other while on our paths. These are all topics that are worthy of discussion. So let’s do our best not to judge motives, but rather to understand each other.

Also, as I stated up in post #6, and which Tim Keller nicely says in his essay. We all agree that what makes a Christian is our faith in Jesus:

I would like everyone here at BioLogos to know how much I appreciate your ministry. I think that you have set a wonderful example of dialogue through your website, your Podcast and your books, such as “The Fool and the Heretic,” “How I Changed my Mind on Evolution” and "Four Views On Creation, Evolution, And Intelligent Design." I aspire to follow the good example that you have given us.

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Nice George. Sorry if this is obvious (and sorry if I was at all flesh tearing - sarcastic, to you and Michelle), but by disinterested I mean not have an agenda beyond open, rational, and yes, faithful inquiry. Where the faith is true faith. Faith in the face of nihilist, absolutely meaningless, purposeless existence. Where history is a series of disconnected events. Where there are no becauses. Faith in God who sustains the material as if He didn’t. As if He weren’t.

And I agree. We MUST keep original sin as a metaphor for the innocent human condition. Of course we must. It was more than metaphor to Jesus from beginning to end. I’m genuinely, openly intrigued at how keeping the ancient literary trope helps us fully embrace evolution from the ground of being, for you. It does for me because it evolved. Original sin is a brilliant concept, a brilliant meme and must be treated with respect. It was so powerful for maybe a thousand years and more that it compelled Jesus to see His Father’s will for Himself in it. Jesus is the excluded middle. He divinely AND humanly faithfully, and humanly ignorantly, fully embraced it, clothed Himself with Second Temple Messianism and more. How old is the protevangelium? One has to be conservative I realise and go with the consensus that it is highly refined by the C6th BCE. But the mesorah - the whole chain of Jewish tradition - must go back centuries earlier, to Solomon and beyond, Samuel, Judges and more.

I want … in tears now … I want God to be real. But reality is so uncaringly purposeless. And yes I occupy the excluded middle too. The void between nihilism and faith. I expect you and Michelle to fight your corner hard, unfairly, with every trick in the book. Without mercy. THAT analytically! No quarter. You’ll get none from me : ) but yes, ‘in love’. Hold me to that. It’s the only rule in the fight.

@Klax

So you think Jesus believed in what we now refer to as the Augustinian interpretation of sin?

I do not. But the reason I help promote the value of G.A.E. is because it makes it less important to dispute Original Sin as many Evangelicals envision that idea.

In my view, it is obvious that God used Evolution. So any modifications in the understanding of Adam and Eve that allows greater acceptance of the fossil evidence of Evolution is a worthy endeavor.

@Klax

There have been millions of conscientious and devout Christians who have lived and died without once embracing Original Sin as a sensible theology: they were the Eastern Orthodox Christians for about the last 10 centuries.

If you, yourself, say you embrace the Excluded Middle, I don’t understand your objections.

A person’s state of Faith should not depend on a literal interpretation of the 6 days of creation.

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Aye George. Jesus obviously, explicitly took on the mantle of PSA to me. The West went with that to this day.

GAE is only valid if it’s properly understood as fiction. I have no idea what it could be and how it could help if it weren’t. Apart from bizarre scenarios like it being true in confluence with full or theistic evolution.

God uses evolution the same way he uses quantum mechanics, by grounding being.

I’m too much of a self righteous Puritan to allow blurred approximations involving A&E I guess.

Aye George, I’m perfectly aware that Orthodox Catholics don’t do original sin. But Jesus did. Which is what the West sees. I’m intrigued how the Big O doesn’t. But more intrigued how we progress from Jesus’ own excluded middle. My embrace is of Him there without embracing His epistemology.

Hi Martin,
I do not see people here on this forum (and especially not myself) as “fighting” and especially not “unfairly, with every trick in the book.” That is an unfair characterization.

As you can see from my previous posts, I see myself as on a journey, asking questions and hoping to engage in dialogue. I know that I do not have all the answers, which is why I like to hear other people’s opinions.

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You misunderstand Michelle. I say that rarely. I’m not characterizing anyone that way. It’s metaphoric. There is nothing actually negative in what I said there. Nothing at all. But we all come loaded, predisposed I realise. What a minefield eh?

Thank you, Martin

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@Klax

So Jesus taught original sin? And millions of Orthodox Christians ignore his teachings?

It is only because of the GAE scenarios that I feel comfortable about not trying to refute your conclusions.

So try to understand the value of GAE to open up less hostile discussions.

@Klax

I guess I shouldnt be surprised that a strict Young Earth Creationist would reject GAE.

Sorry? I’m a full blown non-theistic evolutionist, physicalist and nihilist. With an nth of faith.

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Jesus knowingly died as a sacrifice, a propitiation, the fulfilment of the Passover and the Atonement, for original, and subsequent fallen sin, for the sin in conception of His ancestor of a thousand years. PSA permeates Messianism. That the East ignored that is interesting. Greco-Roman culture’s wings brought their varied epistemologies to Jewish Christianity.

If a weird, halfway… untruth (that I espoused until 10 years ago until confronted with H. sapiens sapiens ancientness in the superb museum of Angouleme, that no confluence or seamless emergence from Eden, with all the fossil DNA fraudulently included by God, was necessary or possible) has to be the way, but my saying that is hostile, what are we to do?

@Klax

I stand corrected.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a non-theist would reject a THEIST scenario like G.A.E.

@Klax

As I said before … the GAE scenarios are designed as an INTRA-FAITH conversation.

It is certainly not designed to convince non-Theists … nor is it going to be fully convincing to a broad range of Young Earth Creationists.

I’m theist with regard to Jesus and the ineffable workings of the Spirit. That’s because I’m a creedal Christian.

So, is it a let’s pretend conversation? On one (patronizing?) side? A conversation in which only the emperor’s clothes can be discussed in the otherwise rationally excluded middle? You’re going along with GAE as a kind of psychotherapy? You know, where instead of chemically coshing the voices you encourage the hearer to converse with them? Because it’s therapeutically dangerous to real faith to say that the emperor is naked? Better a millstone and all that?

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@Klax

I thought I did a pretty good job explaining my motivation. I think the reality of Evolutionary forces is evident in the geological record, and so I have no problem embracing the idea that God can, in addition to a few one-off miracles, ALSO used Evolution to create the millions of life-forms on Earth.

With this as my foundation, any metaphysical principle (combined with a reasonable understanding of the limits of science) that helps a Christian to embrace the reality of Evolutionary forces is a legitimate effort.

After 3 years of volunteering here at BioLogos, it is quite clear to me that you cannot convince a YEC to embrace Evolution by espousing figurative interpretations or Atheist interpretations.

Good luck George. It doesn’t look like we can have a full and open, vulnerable conversation here unless you say we can.

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