Evolutionary Creationism and Atonement Theology, Part 1: Why We Need A Historical Fall | The BioLogos Forum


(system) #1

Note: We are currently running a series featuring different perspectives on how to integrate Christian theology with evolutionary science—particularly in regards to the doctrine of the "atonement." As Jim Stump expressed in the introductory post to the series, we are trying to feature a wide diversity of approaches to evolution and the atonement. Just as Christian tradition reveals a rich dialogue about the meaning of the atonement, BioLogos also wants to foster constructive dialogue about these important matters; especially seen in light of natural revelation. The theological questions stimulated by modern scientific discoveries are complex and difficult, and as we like to say, the Church deserves a robust, diverse debate on how faith and science can together be integrated and understood.

Introduction

In this and a second post, I will be interacting with the previous posts of Joseph Bankard, Celia Deane-Drummond, and George Murphy. All three see biological evolution raising significant questions about various aspects of atonement theology. As Deane-Drummond puts it, “The evolutionary story as we have come to understand it raises important questions about the scope of atonement and redemption.” Murphy asks, “What meaning can concepts of original sin have if, as genetic studies now indicate, present day humanity has not descended from a single male-female couple?” Bankard argues that “macroevolution calls the Fall and the doctrine of original sin into question” and thus “poses a significant challenge to substitutionary atonement.”

I will be offering some responses as an evangelical theologian, taking as my primary and normative source the Scriptures. However, I also accept the natural world as God’s “Second Book”, and affirm with BioLogos the value of seeing “the harmony between science and biblical faith.” For the purposes of these posts, I will respond within the framework of evolutionary creationism. I do so, not as one who affirms evolutionary creationism; I lack the scientific expertise to evaluate the evidence and neither affirm or deny its interpretation of the natural world. But I do believe it possible to affirm at least some understandings of evolutionary creationism and still see harmony between it and biblical teaching, including teaching on the atonement and associated topics.

The limited length of these posts prevents me from interacting with all the issues raised by their insightful, provocative, and stimulating comments. In this first post, I want to deal with some of their questions concerning the Fall and original sin; and then in the second post, I will address issues connected to the atonement, especially its nature and scope.

The Fall and Original Sin

All three of my conversation partners see evolution as raising numerous questions about traditional understandings of a historical fall and original sin. Rather than review their questions and interact with them one by one, in view of the limits of this post, I will offer an alternative understanding of the Fall and original sin, suggesting along the way where it posits a response to some of the questions raised.

First, I do regard the reality of a historical Fall as an essential element of biblical teaching. It is true that the event of the Fall is mentioned explicitly in Scripture relatively few times (Gen. 3, Rom. 5, I Tim. 2), but Henri Blocher argues that there are “echoes throughout Scripture” and “many relevant passages.” Even more impressive to me than the direct biblical support are the questions left unanswered in the absence of a historical Fall. Most would agree that humans today manifest an amazing proclivity to doing things they themselves would say are wrong. Moreover, while it certainly varies in degree, this proclivity does seem to be universal. Such a situation cries out for an explanation. Why are we all this way? Did God create us with such a bent? If so, how can acting out our created nature be wrong or sinful in any meaningful way? Why does Scripture see humans as in need of being made anew (John 3:3; II Cor. 5:17), or the image of God in us in need of renewal (Col. 3:10), or our final state as one in which our spirits are perfected (Heb. 12:23)?

The positing of a historical Fall also seems linked to the evil and suffering in the natural world, noted especially by Celia Deane-Drummond. The cursing of the ground in Genesis 3:17 is connected to the Fall of Adam; the liberation of creation from its subjugation to “frustration” is connected to the redemption of humans (Rom. 8:19-24).

Thus, a historical Fall seems to be the assumption of the whole of Scripture. If we had no account of such an event, we would need to postulate one to make sense of the biblical narrative. But can such a historical Fall be understood in a way that is consistent with evolutionary creationism? I think so.

Answering Objections

First of all, a historical Fall does not require a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3. As Blocher helpfully puts it, “The real issue when we try to interpret Genesis 2-3 is not whether we have a historical account of the Fall, but whether or not we may read it as the account of a historical Fall.” In other words, Genesis 2-3 may not conform to modern western notions of historical writing; it is, after all, an ancient Near Eastern account and may bear the marks of its time and culture. But that does not mean it cannot convey a true account of a historical event. And if, as argued above, there are cogent reasons for seeing the notion of a historical Fall as explicit in numerous other places in Scripture—as implicit in the whole of Scripture—and necessary to make theological sense of numerous questions, it seems unnecessary to disallow a historical Fall because we cannot affirm a literal interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis. The one does not require the other.

Second, does a historical Fall demand that humans originated solely with one male-female couple and that all persons have inherited from them an original sin that is the reason for the atonement? In short, no. This question really is two. The first is that of an original couple; the second is the transmission of their sin to their descendants. As to the idea that humanity originated from one couple, Murphy does seem to express a growing view that studies in genetics indicate that humanity began with a population numbering perhaps in the thousands, rather than a single couple. Murphy also notes some proposals that God could have chosen one couple from that group, “endowing them with souls and original righteousness to make them the ancestors of humanity.” He allows that such a solution “gives the appearance of accepting an evolutionary picture but voids it of any theological significance.” I am not so sure that he is accurate here.

On the one hand, I find the idea of a historical Adam and Eve another essential element of biblical teaching. I understand that some evolutionary creation advocates, such as Denis Lamoureux, disagree with me on this point, but I see nothing in evolutionary creation per se that requires the denial of a historical Adam and Eve and see much in Scripture that demands it. Perhaps the mention of Adam and Eve in Genesis 1-3 does not settle matters; I have allowed above that those chapters may not be historical, as modern Westerners understand it. Some would argue that the Hebrew word adam in Genesis is used in a collective or representative sense. Carl Henry would affirm these two senses, but also an individual sense. But aside from Genesis, we have Adam referenced in genealogies, in both the Old Testament (I Chron. 1:1) and New Testament (Luke 3:38), where anything other than a historical individual seems hard to understand. Further, Paul refers to Adam in ways that some would say require him to be historical (Rom. 5:12-21 and I Cor. 15:45-49); and Paul refers to the sin of Adam and Eve in a way that assumes both their existence and the order of their sinning to be historical (I Tim. 2:13-14).

But a historical Adam and Eve do not require that humanity originate solely from them. Long before geneticists were arguing for an original group, there were suggestions that Adam and Eve may not have been alone. In 1967, Derek Kidner suggested that Adam could have been shaped by the process of evolution, and became “the first true man”: when God breathed human life into him. He would have had “as contemporaries many creatures of comparable intelligence, widely distributed over the world,” and genetically, they would be “of a single stock.” Kidner does affirm the special creation of Eve, but says that afterward, “God may have conferred His image on Adam’s collaterals, to bring them into the same realm of being.” He concludes, “Adam’s ‘federal’ headship of humanity extended . . . outward to his contemporaries as well as onwards to his offspring, and his disobedience disinherited both alike.” More recently, John Collins has affirmed a very similar view, specifically in response to the claims of geneticists.

Still another challenge to such an understanding of the Fall and original sin from evolution could be that we find no evidence in the evolutionary record of an abrupt Fall, with cataclysmic effects on the natural order. George Murphy argues that the idea that “the first humans were without sin or tendencies to sin . . . clashes both with what we can infer theoretically about tendencies resulting from evolution through natural selection and with observations of our closest surviving primate relatives.” But the evolutionary record concerning natural selection and our primate relatives do not relate to sin, as the Bible understands it, for sin is possible only for image-bearers of God, and the creatures prior to and apart from Adam were not human in that sense. As the first ones granted the image of God, Adam and Even lived for a time in innocence, if not actual righteousness. But how long that lasted we are not told. And if Adam and Eve were part of a larger population, they may very well have lived apart from them during that time. It would have been after their sin that the image of God was conferred on Adam and Eve’s contemporaries. But by that time, the sin of Adam and Eve had been imputed to all humanity. Those others would never experience a time as human image bearers of God when they were without sin or tendencies to sin. Thus, I am not sure we should look for evidence of original sin in the evolutionary record.

Finally, Deane-Drummond is troubled by the long record of evil and suffering in the evolutionary record. Animals may not exactly sin, but she sees the depth and extent of suffering in the natural world as raising questions for the traditional view of the Fall and original sin. She says, “The point is that the ‘Fall’ reaches backward into the evolutionary history of the world, as well as pointing forward as a shadow on human history.” But how can this be, if the Fall is identified with the sin of a historical Adam that came relatively late in evolutionary history? William Dembski has suggested what I see as a cogent possibility. He argues that, just as the death of Christ applies forward to all who are to come and backward to all who lived before him, so the effects of the Fall of Adam and Eve extended backward before them as well as forward after them. Thus, all the ‘natural’ suffering and evil in the world, from the beginning, results from the Fall. The question of whether or not the atonement of Christ is intended to heal all the effects of the Fall in the non-human world leads into the question of the scope of the atonement, which is one of the questions I will address in the second post.

Notes


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blog/evolutionary-creationism-and-atonement-theology-part-1-why-we-need-a-histor

(John Samuel Hammett) #3

There were several other fascinating questions raised by the posts of Joseph Bankard, Celia Deane-Drummond, and George Murphy that I could not respond to due to limitations of space, but I welcome dialogue on any of the issues raised.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #4

Life is not a Zero Sum Reality. Life is a Nonzero Sum Reality.

Nonetheless Darwinian evolution is based upon the lie that life is a zero sum reality. Until science corrects this Error, we cannot built a true world view on the premise of evolution.


(Jim Lock) #5

@jshammett Dr. Hammet, First, let me thank you for your contribution. I understand you to say that because…

…therefore we must conclude that all Adam references in Genesis must be to a historical figure. I don’t speak ancient Hebrew so I’m relying on the work of others here. But, don’t the first several references to Adam lack a personal pronoun? The implication being that the historical Adam doesn’t actually appear until Chapter 5 (?) with the birth of Seth.

Very Respectfully,
Jim Lock


(John Samuel Hammett) #6

@jlock Good question. I think the genealogies (and some other passages I didn’t list, like I Tim. 2) support the historicity of Adam, but you are correct, that this still doesn’t answer the question as to whether Adam in Gen. 1-2 refers to that historical person. The Hebrew word adam is also simply the word for man, and is translated that way in Genesis 1 and in many places in Genesis 2. However, if we accept that the historical Adam is in view in Gen. 5:1 with the birth of Seth, it seems hard not to see the same Adam in view in Genesis 2, because the narrative from Gen. 2:15 to 5:1 seems pretty connected. The man is given a task and a command; God provides him with a “suitable helper,” who he names Eve in Gen. 3:20. They have children in Gen.4; Seth is given in place of Abel, who was murdered (4:25). So I would grant that adam is not necessarily always a name; I don’t think it is in Gen. 1; I think that use is generic. But the narrative in Gen. 2 and following seems hard to disconnect from the historical Adam in Gen. 5.


(Albert Leo) #8

(1)“Still another challenge to such an understanding of the Fall and original sin from evolution could be that we find no evidence in the evolutionary record of an abrupt Fall, with cataclysmic effects on the natural order.”
(2) “Second, does a historical Fall demand that humans originated solely with one male-female couple and that all persons have inherited from them an original sin.”…“a growing view that studies in genetics indicate that humanity began with a population numbering perhaps in the thousands, rather than a single couple.”
(3) “I find the idea of a historical Adam and Eve another essential element of biblical teaching.”

Dr. Hammett, it is obvious from your thoughtful blog that you have given the matter of the Fall considerable thought and have expressed your views very clearly. I wonder if you would consider a different paradigm that could eliminate the problems posed in the three quotations from your blog given above; namely: to be Human, for purposes of biology, it is sufficient to possess the genome of a Home sapiens, but for purposes of theology and religion, it is also necessary to have one’s Brain ‘programmed’ to operate as Mind. Simply put, it is the behavior produced by our genes, not the phenotype, that is crucial.

Archeologists are in agreement that human behavior (complex language, art, burials with grave goods, etc,) appeared suddenly amongst Homo sapiens that had been on earth for over 100,000 years. Once the brain of one (or a couple of) Homo sapiens was programmed, that program could be transferred to others via language, not the slow process of sexual transmission. How could such a programming take place? Ian Tattersall in his book, “Masters of the Planet” states: “The only reason we have for believing that such a leap could ever have been made was that it was made.” (Italics his)

Thus the problems posed in quotes (1) & (2) above disappear: There is no bio-genetic “bottleneck” and the entire gene pool of Homo sapiens is available to be passed on to those living today. So, just as with the rest of the animal world, humans were created through evolution to possess genes that strived to be passed to the next generation. This striving often took on the appearance of ‘selfishness’, and, for a responsible being, would be considered ‘sinful’. The action that converted Brain into Mind also conferred a conscience, (Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil) and thus sin entered into the world, not as the Fall but through conferring a Gift–an invitation to become God’s image bearers. When we refuse to rise above our selfish genes (our animal nature) we sin.

As you know, this paradigm, that of Original Blessing, was first proposed by the Jesuit, Teilhard de Chardin, and later by the Dominican, Mathew Fox, both of whom were chastised by the Catholic church and forbidden to teach it. And so it is doubtful that the Evangelical Christian community will find it acceptable. But I believe it should be offered for examination regardless.
Al Leo


#9

Dr. Hammett, I appreciate the quote you made from Blocher at footnote 2. Gen2-3 is not a historical account, but it is an account of a historical event.

It seems to me we have reason to read Gen2-3 other than literally. This doesn’t mean that the events didn’t happen, but that they happened differently from the way they seem to be described and differently from the way they have been interpreted by the majority of evangelical Christians today.

Suppose that some of the events happened in the spiritual realm, so that it is not that God walked on earth with Adam, but that Adam walked in “heaven” with God. They certainly seemed to be in the same location; but since God is spirit, as Jesus tells us, Adam would most likely have been spirit as well in the beginning of the account. The Fall, then, would have happened in the spiritual realm. God may be a jealous God, but it is hard to believe that he is jealous of fruit. The behavior on Adam’s part must have been a great deal more significant than the absent minded eating of a forbidden food. The forbidden fruit stands for that action. There may have been a large number of other spirits in collusion with Adam. God may have placed those spirits into a physical universe that he prepared for that very purpose, making the suffering that is part of the universe a very appropriate feature, worthy of being called good.

This is just a beginning outline of how I think the problem may be solved. Adam is real and historical, but not in the literal way that he has so long been seen.

Do you think this has possibilities?


(John Samuel Hammett) #10

@aleo I think for the purposes of theology, to be human requires not just the genome of homo sapiens, but possession of the image of God. Exactly what that is has been the subject of discussion for close to 2000 years. I think of it as the capacity for relationship with God, which is what I see as the human distinctive. Whether that coincides with your idea of Brain being programmed as Mind, I am not sure. As to the problems in quotes 1 and 2, I think there are other ways to resolve them. I respond to (1) by suggesting that the effects of the fall were applied backwards as well as forward in time, as were the effects of Jesus’ death. As to (2), I see no genetic bottleneck, because God could confer the image of God on Adam’s contemporaries, without the necessity of biological transmission. I enjoy thinking through these things with you.


(John Samuel Hammett) #11

@Marg I’m afraid that, while I can see Genesis 2 as other than what we call historical, I find it hard to see Adam in it as other than physical. If just a spirit, a lot of the story makes no sense. He would not need to eat any food, and could not call Eve bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, and the comment on their nakedness would seem meaningless. I do agree with you that God is not jealous of fruit. I think the sin was not trusting God enough to accept the one limitation he made. Overall, I have some hesitancy about your scenario. I don’t want to separate spiritual and physical as your description seems to, unless I have misunderstood you.


(Albert Leo) #12

@jshammett Although approaching it from different directions, it appears that we both have arrived at a quite similar world view. My thinking has been influenced early on by the writings of Teilhard, but lately more by the archeologist, Ian Tattersall (Becoming Human; & Masters of the Planet). He describes the sudden burst of modern human behavior seen with the Cro-Magnon culture as: “Truly a new being was on this earth.”–this from the evidence that these stone age peoples used symbolic language to express abstract thoughts. And they buried their dead with goods to be used in an afterlife. This is a hard headed scientist describing the first creatures that “had the capacity for relationship with God.”

Even the evangelical atheist, Sir Richard Dawkins of ‘God Delusion’ fame, in the chapter on ‘memes’, sees the human understanding of Selfish Genes as the potential to introduce true altruism into an evolutionary mechanism that heretofore excluded it. To a theologian, that smacks of God’s invitation to become co-creators with Him. Dawkins would indeed be a strange bedfellow.
Al Leo


(John Samuel Hammett) #13

@aleo I think we may be close. I am very open as to when God gave creatures the capacity for relationship with him. Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal or later. I’m too much of a novice in that field, but Richard Dawkins would be a strange bedfellow indeed.


#14

@aleo,
This is fascinating to me because just this weekend I was struggling with the issues of the Fall. I developed an idea similar to the one you articulated.

My tentative theory is that it was with the emergent behaviorally modern homo sapiens that they “jumped the line” between animal and human. Originally, the pre-humans (even non-behaviorally modern humans) acted only out of their instinct (and therefore could not be considered ‘evil’ even if they killed another homo sapiens in their struggle to maintain their life against perceived threats). They had no sense of right and wrong and no real sense of God. To them everything was right. They would not consider doing something for any purpose other than things like self (and family) preservation and a level of pleasure (pleasant foods, sex, etc). But with intellectual capacity expanding, a single individual had an epiphany or ‘spiritual’ experience to where he/she began to consider the possibility of a bigger picture (supernatural) source of right and wrong and the option of choosing wrong. I’m wording it here in a way that would be the more naturalistic way, but it could have been a more dramatic supernatural involvement of God with that individual, quickly followed by a similar experience in their ‘significant other’ It could have happened in somewhat isolation from the other homo s. sapiens, or near, or within a group.

They could now act at a higher level (equivalent to being god-like compared to the animal state that they used to have). Thus the ‘knowledge of good and evil’ began and evil came into being. Through interactions with others (where others could see them acting in fundamentally different ways) and language, this knowledge started spreading like wildfire, until in time all modern humans had the same awareness of evil and good (goodness that went beyond self/family/group preservation), which provided the soil for advancements for the social group (further language development, art, co-operation, technology, etc). The “great leap forward” occurred. Belief in god/gods also proliferated.

It’s possible that for the first time, individuals could have also started to experience the idea of death in a more personal way (tracking with God’s punishment for sin for the spiritually new beings).

My thought was that this would have happened about 50,000 to 75,000 years ago - based on the somewhat limited research I could find about the first major appearances of behavioral modernity. If what you say about complex, language, art, burial appearing 100,000 years ago, is correct, it could have happened then. Technically that would have even put it in the current range of when Mitochondrial Eve appeared, not that that is necessary for this theory.
DougK


(Christy Hemphill) #15

@aleo
@DougK

If you think the Genesis 1 and 2 account is describing a part of human history that actually occurred tens of thousands of years before the account of it that we have was composed or recorded, how do you explain the obvious ancient near east religious context and apologetics that are present in the account? http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/lam_scholarly_essay.pdf

In other words, it’s clear the Genesis account is not describing the appearance of religion in some kind of religiously neutral world; it is told with direct reference to competing religious truth claims.

Do you think God revealed this part of ancient ancient human history to Israel supernaturally and then they contextualized it to their own culture in their retelling of it? Do you think there was actually an unbroken oral tradition that survived tens of thousands of years and that God later inspired the Hebrew version of it? Do you think the account in Genesis is somehow an appropriated and re-fashioned account of the pre-historic “true” history, or do you think it’s myth? I’m just curious how you look at it. It seems to me it’s easier to see it as either as true myth (not history) or history (perhaps mythologized to a certain degree) of more recent events and people. (As opposed to mythologized history of pre-historic people.)


(Albert Leo) #16

@DougK@Christy Doug, for 75 yrs. I have been struggling with reconciling the Faith I learned in 8 grades of parochial school with the science that I was exposed to starting in public high school, and your ‘tentative theory’ is a good expression of the conclusions I’ve reached. If you would like to follow my journey in a little more detail, go to my website: www.albertleo.com and click on “science/religion” on the side panel. (The rest is a promotion of a historical novel on Yosemite I published.) But for an unbiased scientific support for our views, please read two books by Ian Tattersall: “Becoming Human” & “Masters of the Planet”.

Christie I know it sounds unreasonable that an oral tradition could be passed down for 40K yrs., but some myths have their roots pretty far in the past. According to ‘Roots’, African tribes are exceptionally good at this. What gives me pause about any interpretation of Gen. 2 & 3 is that eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil (i.e. acquiring a conscience) was always seen to be contrary to God’s wishes. This is exactly the type of 180 degree deviation that can occur in handing down an oral tradition. (Ever play the old fashioned parlor game?) I don’t know if there is widely held agreement on how long the material in Genesis was in Jewish oral tradition before being written down sometime during or shortly after the Babylonian captivity. Personally, I did not find any efforts to link Genesis with the Epic of Gilgamesh very convincing, except the ‘curse’ of knowing that death was inevitable. (Any other opinions?)

I realize that any suggestion that Original Blessing has been misinterpreted as Original Sin will meet with strong disapproval by the evangelical Christian community who hold fast to ‘solo scriptura’. But it also has been condemned by the Catholic Church who offer an official (manicured) interpretation. So when I maintain that this is the only intellectual position that satisfies both my faith and my scientific training, I risk ending up with no ‘home’ in either Protestant or Catholic Faiths.
Al Leo


(Christy Hemphill) #17

Yeah, it is a problem with the account if sin=acquiring a conscience.

I think Knowledge of Good and Evil is supposed to represent the authority to give moral law. God put Adam and Eve in the Garden, his temple, and told them to rule morally, on his behalf, under his law. It was understood that God gave the law and God decided what was good and evil, and Adam and Eve were his agents, commissioned to execute his law. The temptation was to reject his Lordship and try to become god-like with moral autonomy. The “tasting the fruit” symbolizes rejection of God as the arbiter of objective morality and the attempt to put themselves in that place as the rulers and rule-makers. But that is not exactly a “plain reading of the text” interpretation, is it?


(Albert Leo) #18

At least the concept of Sin makes little sense unless the subject involved is capable of distinguishing right from wrong. Most human minds, with proper care and education, seem capable of making moral decisions in line with God’s wishes, and when they selfishly choose not to, they sin, sometimes with evil results. A few may start out life with faulty brain connections, or acquire them through faulty training, ending up as mass murderers on a huge scale as in Auschwitz or, on a smaller scale, in a movie theater. Surely evil, but sin? Only God knows.

Then there is the question of the Devil. Is he (or it?) a ‘fallen angel’, an actual personalized being? I have had incidences in my life that seem most easily explained by the favorable action of angels. (One was written up in a best seller, “Where Angels Walk” by Joan Wester Anderson.) So if good angels might exist, why not bad angels? Or perhaps all is the direct action of our Creator in ways we don’t yet understand. At any rate, it is a more interesting subject for discussion than what movies deserve to be nominated for an Oscar award.
Al Leo


(Christy Hemphill) #19

:+1: (Evidently a post must be 20 characters, so I can’t just post my agreement emoticon and leave it at that. I’m trying to imagine a use for some of them. Bamboo? Fish Cake?)


#20

@aleo
@christy

That sounds good to me, but I’m not sure why and how Adam and Eve would have to and could “rule morally” and “execute his law.” What if the knowledge of Good and Evil was just an awareness of a “bigger” (spiritual, god-like) picture that is beyond naturalistic tendencies.

This is pretty exciting stuff for me. I have to believe that there are many Christians, even evangelicals, as well as searchers and new generations of far more science-friendly young people, who are looking for how to reconcile science and faith. Certainly it first requires a big step from literal interpretations of Genesis as far as the age of the universe and earth. But this theory (in my previous post) of God bringing one/two individuals to “jumping the line” between advanced animal and modern human may not seem as great of a leap for people who are looking for a middle ground. God is involved in the creation of the “Adam” and “Eve” and in the spiritually significant story of souls, free will, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Fall, the punishment of death (maybe a new soul-awareness of possible spiritual death). The need for Atonement results.

There’s even flexibility in exactly how God was involved in the “creation of this version of Adam and Eve.” He could, through his pre-Big Bang omniscient creation design, have created it so that it would ultimately happen in a pretty naturalistic way. He could have visited (directly or through a ‘vision’) the couple involved - in a setting isolated from others (it could have been an “oasis garden”). Heck, for those who need to claim a new creation “Adam” and “Eve,” it could work for them too, if they assume God made Adam and Eve similar in DNA to existing homo s. sapiens. I know, this is really a stretch, but it might be a first thought-step for people who really need a “new creation” to start to consider a different way of looking at it. I can imagine, in the Christian community, being able to say something to the effect of: “It is not inconsistent with science for there to be a couple, that God created in one way or another. It seems likely that it would have happened in somewhat naturalistic way (the only way science could validate), but it is possible that they were new creations. They could have been in a garden and when ‘cast out’ of the garden they spread modern humanity to the human-like-but-soulless-animal beings because of their new behavior and story about their experience with God. This resulted in deep new insights and awareness in most of their contemporaries, thereby becoming “behaviorally modern human beings” who, while primitive, advance quickly (ultimately “the Great Leap Forward”). Evil also spread quickly. Perhaps other homo s. sapiens who were unable to make the “jump” to this higher level thinking and awareness were killed or died out.”

Ok, maybe I’m dreaming here. I certainly don’t want to have this theory blown out of the water by tying it to such a specific variation of the concept. (I am inclined to believe in a somewhat more naturalistic version.) The important thing is that we don’t know how God did things, but this is among plausible possibilities. And for evolutionary creation believers, it seems to solve serious problems with the very important biblical concepts of souls, sin, death and the need for atonement.

What I am interested in is, is there any fatal flaw in this general theory? I am sure there are some holes that need to be considered. And I’m sure it could be further developed and worded better.
DougK

P.S. Al, I’ve ordered Masters of the Planet and looking forward to reading it.


(Albert Leo) #21

@Doug K, @Christy

[quote=“DougK, post:20, topic:722”]
assume God made Adam and Eve similar in DNA to existing homo s. sapiens.
[/quote]This is why I urge you to read Tattersall, Morris and even Dawkins “The Ancestor’s Tales”–or at least the portions I have quoted from them. As far as genetic science can tell currently, the Sudden Leap Forward that transformed Brain into Mind (and produced Conscience in ‘Adam &* Eve’ in doing so) took place within the existing Homo sapien genome–no change in DNA! As Tattersall put it (Masters of the Planet p.199) “…the only reason we have for believing such a leap could ever have been made, is that it was made. And it seems to have been made well after the acquisition by our species of its distinctive modern biological form.” (emphasis his). While Dawkins insists that evolution in all animal life proceeds in tiny steps with no direction, in Ancestors Tale he subscribes to the Sudden Leap Forward scenario, ascribing it to some sort of ‘brain programming’.

I was not raised in a ‘sola scriptura’ environment, but I would hope that many (or most) evangelical Christians would find this evidence compatible with an enlightened reading of Scripture. What marks us as Human is our behavior not our genes.
Al Leo


(Christy Hemphill) #22

It is a covenental theme that is repeated across the narrative of Scripture. God chooses representatives who rule on his behalf by promoting his justice and shalom.

It’s not really a “fatal flaw,” but the cultural transmission of the history of a prehistoric Adam and Eve across so many generations and cultures and languages to get to the date Genesis was written down is highly, highly improbable. You could say God revealed the story supernaturally to the composers of the oral tradition that eventually became Genesis. But then you’d have to explain why it should be taken as history and not as true myth or allegory.