EC for a new "convert"

Hello everyone. I just have discovered this site and it has blown me away. I am thoroughly impressed by Biologos and their excellent work of integrating modern science and faith. I recently have been struggling with my own faith, which has lead me down a road of studying science and the concept of God. I first started as a YEC (that didn’t last long), then OEC, became wrapped up in Intelligent Design and since then have become an EC. I do have a couple questions if anyone could answer them for me. I looked at the FAQ section on the Biologos site and I couldn’t seem to find an answer.

-In interpreting Genesis 1-11, how do we approach the Genealogies of Christ, such as in the Gospels where it says the Jesus is the son of Adam, if Adam was not technically a real person?
-How did Adam’s “sin” happen? When did humans become intelligent or advanced enough to commit sin?
-What is the significance of the Flood if it did not necessarily happen, and does this make Noah and imaginary person? And if the story of the flood is reused from other cultures, does this create a problem for Scripture being divinely inspired?
-Were Abel and Cain real people? And if not, why is it even in Genesis?

I know that those are some pretty heavy questions, but i would appreciate it if someone could help me out.

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Hi Sam,
Welcome to the forum! I’m so glad you’ve found the resources on BioLogos to be helpful – I’ve also benefited a lot as I’ve navigated from YEC to EC. You’re not alone in asking these questions and wrestling with faith and science.

Personally I’m still not 100% sure what position I’d take on Adam and Eve (which I’m okay with after years of believing I had to have a complete “right” answer for every little thing). I tend to see Adam as a real person, but I would think that for those who see him as more symbolic, then his name in a genealogy could be symbolic as well – since Jesus is called “son of man,” and Adam means “man.” But hopefully others will chime in with their takes on that.

I also believe the flood was real, but not global. In 1 Peter 3, the flood is mentioned as a symbol of baptism:

and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ

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Hello @massam and welcome. many people will have different points of views in efforts to try and understand the things of Scripture in terms with modern science. I will try and give my take on what I understand and hopefully others will join in and add their points of view as well.

Some people like me do believe in a historical Adam, we don’t see him as the first human ever made. So for me the genealogy from Christ to Adam is not compromised. I’m sure other’s can explain it more technical then I can as I do mere bare bones apologetics in terms of understanding the historical-cultural and scriptural context of events and not a huge fan of mathematics or science part of apologetics.

The sin was trying to take the place of God’s place and try and establish order outside of God in turn trying to become a god himself. Sin is always a selfish spiritual condition and it leads us away from God and hurts us, the other’s around us and mostly our relationship with God our Father. From my understanding it took place when people where able to know right from wrong and being able to obey vs. disobey.

The Flood was a historical event but local and it was a large event that that effected other cultures that the story got told from their points of view. The Flood happened and there was a historical Noah and the event was local but impactful enough that other people told about it later on in time. The people who would tell the story of the Flood would have told it in the manner of typical story telling in that time and it involved exaggerating things to make a point in the story. The idea of the Flood being so destructive that it seemed as if the whole earth was being destroyed. In terms of divine inspiration, the Holy Spirit worked with people in the evnirometns they were in and they communicated the things that needed to be told to that local audience in order for them to understand. The same goes for the NT as well. The spiritual application is for all but original message is meant for a local group of people in a locked period of time. For more research into this I would suggest John H. Walton’s book “The Lost World of the Flood.” https://www.amazon.com/Lost-World-Flood-Mythology-Theology/dp/083085200X/ref=sr_1_1?gclid=CjwKCAiAob3vBRAUEiwAIbs5TsnMqeRv7f-vCU_3e_Qh8FrbfHgw3TExjE5mW7fuc86Mu_jYoWhK1hoC-VIQAvD_BwE&hvadid=243376311482&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9026521&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=1940141786314228472&hvtargid=aud-835997443427%3Akwd-417920418658&hydadcr=8267_10375070&keywords=the+lost+world+of+the+flood&qid=1576031156&sr=8-1

Yes Cain and Abel were real people, the sons of Adam and Eve. A lot of the events of Genesis 3-11 were historical events with historical people. Such as the Tower of Babel being a real event taking place maybe centuries after the Flood and it was people selfishly trying to get God to come down ( the ziggurats were buildings that were meant to act as portals between heaven and earth so the gods could come down." And in the story it kind of works and God does come down but is upset with their selfish motives behind it and confuses the people’s language and spread them all over the Middle East.
Hope this helps. We are all in a learning path together.

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Laura,

Thank you for your reply. I was thinking about the concept of Adam today and the whole process of evolution and time. It is definitely cool and it has really opened my eyes. I found it very difficult at first to accept the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis because all my life in church, any concept of evolution was frowned upon. Realizing that evolution can be compatible with the teachings of the BIble is a serious breath of fresh air to me.

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Welcome!

Good questions, I hope people can point you in some good directions. Those particular ones may not be addressed in the published common questions, but they come up with some regularity here, so you might try searching past threads too. If you find a past discussion you would like to resurrect, and the thread is locked (we have since changed the settings, but threads used to lock automatically after three days of no activity), PM @moderators and we can unlock it for you. I will try to see if I can remember some good ones.

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You might want to check out this ongoing thread:

There is a difference between saying that Adam wasn’t real and the Genesis narrative is not history. People who say the Genesis narrative isn’t literal history take different positions on whether or not Adam existed as a “real person.” So people like John Walton think he existed in history, but the narrative about him is intended to be read as an archetypal theological narrative about humanity as a whole, not as a “historical” account of facts about his life. Others who see Adam as a figurative literary character see his presence in the genealogy as underlining Jesus’ humanity, not giving a genetic pedigree. Adam is the son of God in one of the NT genealogies, and we don’t take that as a literal genetic/biological/ancestral relationship.

I think one of the hard things for people coming from different perspectives to get is that in the ancient world true did not necessarily equal factual/history/non-fiction. Noah could have been a real person, and the flood narrative could have been based on some actual events, but the point of the story was to tell true things about God and humanity, not true facts about Noah and his experiences. It’s a different concept of why people tell “histories.” So in some ways, how much of the story is factual would not have had much bearing on how much of the story was considered “true” to the ancient audience. It’s hard to wrap our modern minds around that cultural difference and the fact that what went without being said for them is different than what goes without being said for us. I personally think God inspired the message, the communicative intent of the narrative and used it to communicate the truth he wanted to communicate. But it’s likely the communicative intent and the message was theological, not historical. I don’t think you prove the inspiration of Scripture by fact-checking it, because it is a huge modern assumption that the point of telling the story was to relay facts about history.

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Welcome to the forum @massam!

I think my answers to your questions would be basically the same as @Sealkin’s!

The BioLogos website has some great articles on the sorts of topics your questions are about. This short video by Tremper Longman on Genesis 1-11 is really helpful. As for the science, you should definitely read @DennisVenema’s evolution basics series. Additionally, while I don’t agree with all his conclusions on Genesis, this video by John Walton would be helpful to get to grips with the ancient context of Genesis.

Are you mostly interested in the theological implications to do with EC, or are you also wanting to study the science side of things too?

Happy studying!

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Diplodocus,

I am just wanting to make sure that my views of EC match with the theology of the Bible. From what I’ve found it is theologically sound. I want to make sure that my views aren’t necessarily “to good to be true” compared with the Bible if you know what I mean.

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Well, then, you’ve certainly come to the right place! I’ve found BioLogos to be invaluable in my own journey into EC.

For me, accepting the science was the easiest part because the evidence for evolution is so compelling, particularly from genomics. The harder part is trying to put all the pieces of the theological puzzle together, something which I, and everyone on here who accepts EC, is attempting to do.

I suppose the best thing to do would be to think of which particular theological topics (Adam & Eve, image of God, sin etc) you’re most wanting to think about and then search for relevant articles on the BioLogos site.

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I can’t answer all your questions at once, but I’m in the process of answering this one. Check out the three-part series “Adam’s Evolutionary Journey” at becomingadam.com.

Short answer: The evolution of symbolic language allowed for the possibility of true morality. Only after acts became symbolized could they represent abstract classes of action such as “good” or “evil.” Multiple lines of evidence point to the period just before the “Out of Africa” migration as the time when humanity developed a lexicon of abstract words—the sine qua non for mature moral knowledge. Simultaneously, this was the birth of conscience. At that point, the “fall” was not only inevitable, it was historical.

Welcome and nice to meet you, by the way!

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Thank you. So just understanding your point, you mean as soon as God granted consciousness to humanity, that was the fall?

Not consciousness, but conscience. That “little voice” in your head that tells you when you’ve failed to do the right thing. All of us have made that passage from childhood innocence – actually, ignorance – to guilty adolescent. Humanity took the same journey. Just like modern children, early humans lacked the vocabulary, knowledge, and experience to be held morally accountable. As soon as humanity gained those things, they immediately began to violate their own consciences and thus became guilty of actual sin. The same thing happened to you and me and everyone else who has ever lived. As soon as we are capable of conceptualizing an ideal, we realize that we fall short of it.

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@Jay313

This is a credible analogy. But it is not how Paul describes the theology of the problem in Romans 7 (in particular):
.
[Quoted Text from Romans 7]
Unchecked Copy Box Rom 7:4

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Unchecked Copy Box Rom 7:5

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

Unchecked Copy Box Rom 7:6

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Unchecked Copy Box Rom 7:7

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Unchecked Copy Box Rom 7:8

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

Unchecked Copy Box Rom 7:9

For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
[End of Quoted Text]

Jay, don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of Pauline theology. But most of Western Christianity certainly is. And Paul sees a difference between the consciences of individuals … and the unitary system of right and wrong promulgated by The Law.

My personal view is that it was many thousands of years after the formulation of language that God introduced Adam and the beginnings of The Law into the general and evolved population of humanity.

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Let’s start from the beginning. In Romans 1, Paul gives an inspired description of the “fall.” In Romans 2, he places all people under God’s judgment, regardless of whether they are Jews or Gentiles. But … wait. How can God judge those who “never heard” the Mosaic law?

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Ultimately, he reaches his final destination in Romans 3:22-23 …

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Two questions:

  1. Exactly what law did God introduce to Adam? The only one that I see in the text is not to eat the fruit of a tree.
  2. Are you saying that societies prior to (fill in the blank) BC had no morality or codes of behavior?
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@Jay313

Sure… there were unwritten rules… lots of memorized rules… and everyone had some kind of conscience… something nagging at them if they strayed from their parents rules, or from their kings rules.

But until God laid down something from His laws, obviously there could be no sin against God’s laws.

I would suggest starting from the other end, from the “big picture” of the entire Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) and then work inwards towards detailed questions.

The Hebrew Bible took shape over a long period of time. It is about the turbulent history of the Jewish people finding, but often ignoring, their identity in God and in the land God had promised them. Remember that they, at the time, didn’t have their Bible; this only emerged, and gradually so, through their history. (Recall, too, that while the contents of the Hebrew Bible and of our Old Testament are the same, the order of the books is different. Even that can be of significance.)

The latter part of that Jewish history is their catastrophic exile and forced removal away from their land and the thought that God was associated with this “Promised Land”. That land fell desolate; they were in exile in Babylon. Towards the end of the history of the Hebrew Bible, a remnant (but only a remnant) returns to the land and attempts to rebuild (Ezra-Nehemiah, etc;).

(“What has this got to do with Genesis creation; Adam&Eve; Noah?” I hear you asking…!)

In that violent uprooting into Babylon, they have to try to make sense of their history, the promises of God about the land and about their enforced removal from it. That included rethinking all that they thought they knew. It included fiercely maintaining their own sense of identity, within their new captors’ foreign culture, but without becoming assimilated into it.

Now… try reading the opening eleven chapters of Genesis as a strong political identity statement against that Babylonian culture. There are simultaneously, and in creative tension:

  • a framework of that Babylonian culture with its “Enuma Elish” creation account and its Gilgamesh and Atrahasis flood accounts etc;
  • a polemical counter-narrative against that culture.

The Genesis 1-11 accounts have strong resonances with those Babylonian accounts, yet are strongly subversive of it. Details such as Genesis talking about “two great lights” and (in contrast to the Babylonian myths) specifically not naming the sun and moon are important. The Israelite creator God simply speaks and creates, in contrast to the murderous, bloodthirsty regimes within the court of the Babylonian gods. Humankind is created in the supremely lofty position of “image (representative) of God” himself, in contrast to the Babylonian gods creating humans as their lowest-of-the-low slaves. The exalted state, then fall from grace of Adam and Eve, and expulsion from Eden is a foretaste of the history of Israel, fall from grace and expulsion from the promised land of the nation state of Israel.

Does that help?

In summary, we today fall into the trap of unwittingly divorcing the Hebrew Bible from its context. We need to try to recapture what it was like at the time.

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“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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