Nathan Lents is a Professor of Biology and author (and an atheist) who is deeply interested in the success of Joshua @Swamidass’s work on the Genealogical Adam and Eve. Dr. Lents is invested in seeing the general populace free to accept the scientific evidence of evolution without unnecessarily worrying about the impact of this acceptance on their religious beliefs. As many of you are aware, Swamidass’s book will be available soon and Lents has written an Op-Ed on the book for USA Today that will appear tomorrow (October 4). It will be interesting to see how this plays out since Lents is taking a serious risk in associating himself with Swamidass and the book. As TV announcers used to say, “Stay tuned!” as I should have a link to the Op-Ed tomorrow.
Thanks for the heads up. Keep us posted.
Here is a link to the Op-Ed:
Excellent article, thanks for sharing. While I do not hold to Joshua’s proposal, I accept it as possible, and if others find that it brings them resolution and peace to the cognitive dissonance that evolution and an old earth brings to a literalistic reading of Genesis, that is a good thing.
Lents did a good job justifying why he’s involved, and I think he worked “myth” into the first paragraphs enough times to escape any flak from those dang “atheistic scientists.” But, to borrow a bit of Lents’ phrasing, “This will not tempt someone like me to believe in the genealogical Adam story.”
Yes, fascinating article. I can see why a nontheist would still advocate for a way for more religious people to not feel compelled to fight mainstream science. Lents argues his case well.
On the central claim of people outside the garden, I’m intrigued by how he states that “the Bible itself hints at the existence of these people when it speaks of the ‘Nephilim.’ ” Usually people just go to Cain’s wife or how he built a city as evidence there were more people around. Using the Nephilim is a bold move, especially since the Bible seems pretty harsh towards them.
Michael Heiser suggests that the extreme violence towards Canaan can be explained because the Nephilim were in the land (Numbers 13:32–33) and God had determined to wipe them out. To associate this group with the other humans alongside Adam and Eve isn’t naturally going to fit with both groups of humans being equal. Even though the genealogical Adam proposal ends with everyone descended from Adam by 1 AD, before then it would seem to describe two genetically compatible human races, one that receives God’s favour and the other that God uproots like a stubborn weed. I’m curious how the book will deal with this.
Me too, but I guess we’re not the target audience. Maybe the genealogical Adam will become this generation’s gap theory (the idea that Satan’s fall, earth’s corruption and a huge chunk of time reside between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2). Both are ways for more literal-minded Christians to accept more science without making serious changes to how they read Scripture. Since I held to gap theory for a while on my way from YEC to EC, I don’t mean that as a slam. It was helpful to have an intermediate position to let me catch my breath, even if I suspected it wouldn’t hold up to a close look at Genesis. And for many the genealogical Adam need not be an intermediate position on the way to something else, especially if they see Adam as the only challenge to reading Genesis literalistically.
Did he say that? I hope not. Sounds ridiculous to me.
He has mentioned that he is taking a risk. The risk is serious. I don’t think he ever used the exact phrase, but I doubt he would disagree with my statement.
As I see it this type of combining science and the Bible threatens to overlook the true meaning of this story/event, which is the question of the Image of God and the problem of Sin/Evil.
Humans are unique, very different from other creatures. The Bible calls this being created in the Image of God, but there is disagreement as to what this means. It is also important to non-believers and needs to be discussed.
Evil is a fact of life, but there are many theories as to the nature and source of evil. People cannot really have the basic agreement we need until we understand the nature of evil.
We do not need to paper over our differences. We need to understand and explore them.
Hi everyone and thanks for the (mostly) kind words. Peace.
Good article. While clear he’s not swayed by it, I appreciate the way @NHLents commends the book/hypothesis.
Welcome to BioLogos, Nathan. Glad you have joined this conversation.
To the others: Nathan Lents is a major evolutionary biologist/geneticist who doesn’t believe in God, but doesn’t look down on those of us who do. I spoke with him at an event in St Louis last winter. The world needs more people who share his genuinely generous attitude!
I could say it even more strongly. Plenty of the people I most look up to are or were believers!