Historical Adam: Yes, Maybe, or No?

Over the past several years, I have focused on whether or not there was an historical Adam. To aid my study, I conducted a very unscientific survey limited to Christian theologians, biblical scholars, pastors, and scientists/engineers who have published their view on an historical Adam in a book, essay, blog, or .blog comment since 1859. I developed a Word table listing their name, occupation, and year of birth, along with a short quotation giving their view, and my assessment of their view and the primary reason for their view.

The current score on views, as nearly as I can discern it, is: Yes (61), Yes but not the first human (20), Maybe (9), and No (48).

The current score on reasons for their view, as nearly as I could discern it, is: Literal Genesis (26), Non-literal Genesis (34), NT references to Adam (10), Doctrinal necessity (19), Adan not doctrinally required (12), Evolution with an historical Adam (15), and Evolution without an historical Adam (22).

Theologians, biblical scholars, and scientists/engineers were split fairly evenly between Yes and No. Pastors and philosophers tended more toward Yes. The age of the writer made no noticeable difference.

The primary reasons for the Yeses were: Literal Genesis (26), NT references to Adam (9), and the doctrinal necessity of Adam (17). The primary reasons for the Nos were: Genesis not literal (21), Adam not doctrinally required (10), and evolution without an historical Adam (17).

So what have I learned: that there is no consensus on an historical Adam, that knowledgeable people have different reasons for their views, and that the age of the writer doesn’t matter (which surprised me a bit).

If anyone is interested in the “data” in either Word or PDF format, you can email me at paul.bruggink1 at gmail.com. If you do, I would appreciate any additions or corrections.


What does it add?
The reason of our existence, our purpose, is to honor God. That is my considered opinion.
Primarily, we are the result of evolution, so there is no Adam.
If you look at evolution, there is an “Adam”. Our Earth has a built-in problem: the crust shifts. (The crust of our Earth is floating on gas. Ionized gas, that causes the magnetic field of Earth. Geologists have two opinions, the older opinion is that the crust floats on liquid magma, the newer opinion is that the interior is almost solid. They don’t know why, how and where liquid lava and the magnetic field are formed. I have an answer to both questions and to the matter of the moving magnetic poles.) Each crust shift provokes a Flood. Each Flood kills land and sea life. A moderate Flood leaves one of each million alive, a severe Flood leaves one in a billion alive. The last flood was moderate and left 33 small surviving groups alive, one of them was the crew of the Ark. The previous Flood happened some 60 millennia ago and was a severe Flood, survived by only a single group of people. All people living now on Earth are descending from a single male or his sons, who survived that Flood. Read “The Seven Daughters of Eve” by Bryan Sykes for the details.
Another approach is as follows: the temple was built during a time span of many years, but became “The Temple” on the day God started living there. In a similar way one of the males living on Earth became “Adam” on the day God selected him.
Then there is the story in Genesis, told to Stone Age people and undoubtedly adapted to their limited knowledge, containing copy errors due to countless copying during the millennia, deformed by the evolution of the language. (Compare medieval Dutch with present European Dutch and South African Dutch) and translating errors to ancient Greek and later Latin.
And again I ask: what does it add?

Greetings; Jan

Could you provide a link or citation for the idea that the Earth’s crust floats on a layer of gas?


This sounds like a very interesting list. I wonder if you included references covering the possible implications of research into mitochondrial Eve and Y chromosome Adam? It would also be interesting to discuss some of the scientific arguments for/against this if you wouldn’t mind posting the dominant views according to your references.

Not a layer of gas but a layer of liquid (like molasses) of iron and nickel. Churning and circulating.


Although mitochondrial Eve and Y chromosome Adam are obviously a very important part of the historical Adam discussion, I tried to focus my selection of excerpts on the theological side of the issue, which for some writers is obviously influenced by mitochondrial Eve and Y chromosome Adam.

The scientific arguments around mitochondrial Eve and Y chromosome Adam have been discussed briefly in a number of the books I have read, e.g., John H. Walton’s “The Lost World of Adam and Eve,” Matthew R. McClure’s "Creation and the Origin of Species, and Daryl P.Domning’s “Original Selfishness,” and numerous blogs, including Dennis Venema here: http://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/understanding-evolution-mitochondrial-eve-y-chromosome-adam.

As near as I can tell, the dominant view is that mitochondrial Eve and Y chromosome Adam could not be the Adam and Eve of the Bible.


Thank you for the references. I agree with Dennis that these common ancestors a) are not the unique ancestors and b) do not change our scientific understanding of human evolution from non-human ancestors. Unfortunately the article says that theological implications will be addressed later but provides no link to the follow up article. My question is more of a theological nature in the sense that in views like the one espoused by Tim Keller (http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/creation-evolution-and-christian-laypeople-part-6) it seems sufficient to have two elements of the population that eventually become ancestors of the whole population on earth. Is this view known to have serious theological problems?

It would seem from Jim Stump’s recent post below that this is “not straightforward” but not necessarily unreasonable?


I am not aware of any serious theological problems with Tim Keller’s view of historical Adam and Eve. I get the impression that he has latched on to what seems to him to be a viable scenario because of his belief in the doctrinal necessity of an historical Adam and Eve.

In the March 2015 issue of the American Scientific Affiliation’s journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Gregg Davidson offers a model for “how Adam and Eve could have existed as real individuals within the context of both human evolution and a particular reading of the biblical narrative.” It is available at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2015/PSCF3-15Davidson.pdf.

Personally, I tend to prefer the views of Denis Lamoureux and Peter Enns in that God’s purpose in inspiring the book of Genesis was to teach theology, not history or science, and that an historical Adam is not necessary for Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 because Paul was teaching about Christ, not Adam.

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Thanks Paul! I already had this article on my reading list but your pointer brought it to the front of the line and I’m glad it did. This is roughly the model I had in mind so I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it develops and, in particular, whether serious issues are eventually raised with this model. Thank you again for sharing your extensive knowledge on this subject.

With whole genome sequencing of human fossils over 100,000 years old including Neanderthals and Denosivans, the importance of mitochrondrial Eve and Y chromosome Adam have greatly demised. There is now catalogs of whole genome sequencing of hundreds of ancient humans now available for use to study migrations, evolution of diseases, etc.

Do you mean scientificaly or theologically or both?

I guess both. Scientifically, mitochrondrail eve and Y chromosome Adam are nothing special. Especially now with a large database of whole genome sequencing of people all over the globe and in the past to hundreds of thousands of years ago.


Scientifically I might agree - it’s not yet completely determined how this bottleneck might affect phenotypes based on the genes encoded on these stretches of DNA. Theologically I’m not sure @Patrick is giving it much thought - from your perspective, what theological issues were under consideration and why is this ancestry not relevant?


I think mitochrondrial Eve and Y chromosome Adam will remain important theologically for at least a while because many theologians, biblical scholars, and pastors believe that a historical Adam and Eve are doctrinally necessary and are therefore looking for ways to maintain a belief in a historical Adam and Eve, and this is one way to do so.

really? mt Eve and Y-chromosome Adam are widely separated in time and geographically. mt Eve might be from a tribe in Africa that lived tens of thousands of years later than Y-Adam who lived tens of thousands of years earlier and thousands of miles from where mt-Eve was born. And realize that as more people are fully sequenced, mt-Eve and Y-Adam move independently in time and location.

I don’t see any connection between mt-Eve/Y-Adam and the Adam & Eve from Genesis. Please explain your thoughts on perceived connections.

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I’m not aware of anyone who suggests that they were husband and wife, just that they represent a possible route to common ancestors, which plays a role in Augustine’s doctrine of original sin.

Please tell me about the route or role mt-Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam can have in Augustine’s doctrine of original sin. Sounds intriguing.

@gbrooks9 @Patrick
Hi George and Patrick.
The crust is 60 – 70 km thick. The temperature gradient measured in the first 12 km depth is 30°C/km. The heat transfer coefficients of ceramic materials are all in the same range. So the temperature at the underside of the crust is some 2,000°C plus or minus a few hundreds degrees.
All active volcanoes eject large quantities of gases. An average active volcano ejects some 500 tons CO2 per hour, Add to that the emission of steam, nitrogen, sulpher and whatever, and consider that this has been going on for billions years. Geologists have the opinion that there is more water under the crust than above the crust. The temperature under the crust is more than 5 tines the critical temperature of water, so it is vapor. The specific weight of the mixture there is 3,000 kg/m3. So it has to be gas! If it was solid or liquid material, then the specific weight would be lower.
Thank you Patrick for adding that picture.
They invent an impressive name, “asthenosphere”, write it with a capital to make it more impressive and you fall for it! Why do you fall for it? The whole picture is a hoax.
It is a mixture of gases compressed to 20,000 bar, 8,000 times the pressure in the tires of my car. It cannot be solid or liquid, then the specific weight would be some 2,500 kg/m3. And if it would be solid, like they suggest, then the heat transport would still be by conducting, which would result in a temperature rise of another 2,000°C in the next 60 km. And within some 200 – 300 km depth the temperature would be well above the critical temperature of any known material and it would be gas anyway!
Think scientifically, and never let you be cheated or intimidated or overruled by self-appointed so-called experts!
And once you have gas, then the gas law rules: P x V = R x T.
In words: Pressure times Volume is equal to a constant times absolute Temperature
It means that if the specific weight remains unchanged and the pressure doubles, then the absolute temperature also doubles.
And that means that the whole interior of the Earth, from underside of the crust until the solid central core is gas and that the temperature at the central core is in the range of one million degrees Celsius.
It also implies that the solid central core consists of an unknown material. I call it Material-X.

And I invite anyone to proof that I am wrong!
I would like to hear the opinion of Mr Stephen Hawking about this. Do you know a way to ask him?
A question to Patrick: Why iron and nickel down there and what makes them churnung and circulating?

Greetings, Jan

Jan, Not interested in this theory. It is too far from what Geologists tell us about the Earth.


Why nickel and iron? well that has to do with abundance of nickel and iron produced in nucleo-genesis of elements in previous generation stars. The proto solar system contained mostly hydrogen gas with traces of iron and nickel. The 99.9% of the gas and mass of the solar system compressed and formed the sun and when ignited sent a shock wave across the solar system. Pepples, then rocks of ice, iron and nickle formed the inner planets. It is churning and circulating because it is a liquid giving off heat. Heat rise to the top cools and flows downward. All while the continents float on top. Amazing as India is still crashing into Asia and causing the Himalayas to raise in height each year.