How do theistic evolutionists view the fall of man?


Personally, I disagree with theistic evolution because it seems as a confused mess that tries to fit in between science and religion.

If the fall of man is not a literal event then why can’t we start interpreting everything as we like it?
Theistic evolution is not compatible with a God who knows everything. How would anyone know man would be the end result instead of a frog because evolution is a random process that has no meaning or order.

Evolutionary biologists see morals, values, behaviors all arose simply due to natural selection. Other than invoking some metaphysical woo such as having a soul, why is man is unique anyway?

I have been reading a lot on theistic evolution and I am not convinced it is compatible with a God of infinite wisdom.

(david) #2

Do you take everything in the Bible literally?


No. When it is obvious that an imagery is used, literal understanding is not required.

Why should the fall be observed in a literal manner? First we are told we were created good.

Thestic evolutionists say man arose by evolution with the natural law set forth by their creator. If that’s the case, man also inherited poor/sinful habits during the evolutionary creation. Man can’t be considered good if he already entered the world with “sin”. Someone is wrong here. Man or God ?

(Jim Lock) #4

@cornucopian Your points are challenging and this issue is one that I am by no means settled on. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your point, but why can’t a literal fall exist within an evolutionary framework? We know that sin is judged differently when no law exists (Romans). With that in mind, I generally don’t see a problem with mankind created over time as ‘good’ and then rejects God either corporately or as the byproduct of one couple’s actions. If we are all fallen because of one man and subsequently reconciled through one man then it seems at least plausible that an early couple was given a chance to enter into special relationship with God and instead sought to become like God. I’m not going to claim complete accuracy here. After all, EVERYBODY missed who Jesus was. I fairly positive that when everything is said and done we will all be giving a collective…‘ohhhhh,…of couse.’ :smiley: But, I am currently convinced that that explanation is plausible.

I also find it interesting that Adam and Eve’s exile from Eden sends them directly into farming and herding. Their child then goes on to build cities. Without getting into the age of the earth, I think its safe to say that mankind were hunter/gathers and nomads for a period of time before they began to settle and learn how to cultivate certain plants. This seems like very good evidence that a literal fall could have taken place during that transition period.

To one of your other points, your post go me thinking. Man was created and ‘It was good.’ Several verses later we find that man’s situation (the one that God created and pronounced ‘good’) Is in fact, NOT good and thus God created woman. If God can’t make a mistake then how could he pronounce what was once good to be not good? Perhaps because that was never the point. Perhaps the only theology we should take from that particular language is that God wants to provide for us and that companionship and relationship are vital to the human experience. Both with each other and with God.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Thank your for taking the time to read and consider them.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #5



Very good point. Karl Barth used the story of Adam and the creation of Eve to say that humans are relational. I would say that this pointed out that the situation was not good in the sense that it was not complete, rather than evil. It took the Fall to produce real evil which corrupted the relationships between men and women, humans and God, humans with each other and themselves.

Karl Barth and I disagree as to how God relates to humans.

(Numbers Logos) #6

A quote from John C.L Gibson, author of Genesis, Volume 1, p 126:

“Having made his chief point that ‘man’ must face up to his own guilt and not look for a scapegoat, he [author of Genesis] slips in a reminder that there is a larger force of evil abroad in the world as well, one that is independent of ‘man’ and that has opposed God’s will from the beginning of time. The battle which each man or woman must wage within himself or herself is but a small part of a much greater battle being waged between Heaven and Hell. That battle too must be won before Paradise can come to earth.” [emphasis added]



We have been discussing a theory (in the Forum on Evolutionary Creation and Atonement), that I believe that evolutionary creationists like those at Biologos would not likely reject, since they are open to various theories on how things like the Fall could have happened.

It goes something like this:

  1. God created everything, including the evolution of humans, in a way that he knew would work out the way it did.
  2. All ancestors of behaviorally modern humans were in essence, advanced animals. This includes original homo sapiens (aka archaic homo sapiens), and probably even anatomically modern homo sapiens (homo sapien sapiens). Like all advanced animals homo s. sapiens acted out of self-centered instinct for survival (themselves and their family unit), pleasure (good tasting food, sex, etc), avoidance of pain, and so forth. They did not know of ‘good’ or ‘evil’ nor of God.
  3. There was a point where homo s. sapiens “jumped the line” into behaviorally modern homo sapiens (i.e. humans that we would recognize as humans) who have symbolic thinking, self consciousness, growing ability to communicate, technological abilities, etc. Scientists currently do not really know how all those abilities came about. Some have expressed surprise at a “leap forward” in new behaviors. Certainly, there were some things that happened biologically. But the theory is that there was also something that happened spiritually. It could be that an individual or a ‘couple’ had a “spiritual” encounter (perhaps a ‘vision’ or even a more dramatic physical God encounter), where they began to experience a ‘bigger picture’ of life, free will, awareness of God, knowledge of good and evil, and the possibility of acting like God, including going against God. They did commit that original sin - disobedience with God. Therefore, this couple was the first of a ‘new creation’ who experienced among other things, insight, God, and the Fall, similar to what is told in Genesis.
  4. There were thousands (maybe 10,000 or more) of homo s. sapiens at that time, primarily, if not totally, in Africa. This couple ultimately was involved in groups with other homo s. sapiens and their behavior and language (which was relatively new) was dramatically different to the others. Thus, awareness of the idea of God, free will, good and evil and so forth started spreading rapidly through the group and ultimately to most if not all other homo s. sapiens. Because of greater awareness of their potential, they advanced in language, art, technology, etc. Also, because of that awareness and influences of sin, they ultimately (over thousands of years) wiped out all others of the homo genus (possibly including remaining homo s. sapiens, if there were any, that were not advanced enough to make the ‘jump.’).
  5. Because of sin, there was as scripture says, a need for Atonement, which was met by Jesus Christ.

(George Brooks) #8


You don’t even have to imagine a specific couple.

If Adam & Eve is an allegory… you can exclude as much as it is necessary to preserve the integrity of science.

It could be that the only part of the allegory that matters is Adam. Are we really supposed to accept the history that it was the woman who tempted the man? I think that’s just part of the “back story.”

Let’s just stick to Adam. There is always the FIRST, right? And this FIRST hominid to be considered a man by God, right?

But before he was a MAN… he was a CHILD.

And a child is not considered a moral agent the way an adult is.

So, think of the philosophical territory that this occupies? A young man, who will grow into the first Moral Agent - - in the image of God, if you like.

And all HIS children will be moral agents.

Perhaps, then, all this fuss over Adam & Eve comes from people trying to keep TOO MUCH of the story as literal history.

Becoming the first moral agent of humanity is pretty big stuff… isn’t that ENOUGH to take out of a story like Adam & Eve?

George Brooks



Yes. It wasn’t necessary for the whole story to be completely literal. John Walton an Old Testament expert, says that the people of the day of the original readers of that story would not have thought of it as providing physical/naturalistic facts, but as providing functional/spiritual truth.

It was to my surprise that the theory allows the original individual or couple (depending on ones beliefs) to be partially literal and new creations (existing homo sapiens with a spiritual side ‘born’). They were not literally ‘from dust’ ON THAT DAY, but they were simply a part of the unique beings that God completely designed and built from ‘stardust’ over billions of years. As far as Eve goes, the theory doesn’t have try to address was the original sinner, which doesn’t seem that important anyway. And besides the allowing Adam to be a full grown man, it allows his offspring to mate with other humans without there being incest. It also explains why there was a full blown community near them in later chapters of Genesis.

(Thomas) #10

“The Lord God formed the Man from the dust of the Earth. And breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life” - I am going to suggest here that the singular being named Adam was specially created from the dust of the Earth as a miraculous event after other Humans had already come into being, after they had already evolved. After all the Bible states that God made Humans in Genesis 1 then made Adam in Genesis 2. I also suggest that the purpose of an evolved race of Humans separate from Adam is to provide the genetic diversity required for Adam’s descendants to become "as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore."
Whether this is true or not, one thing is certain… Cain found a wife East of Eden in a land called Nod. This confirms that other Humans existed separately from any literal Adam and Eve.

However where does original sin fit into that? It is possible that before Adam and Eve, Humans simply acted as other creatures do, unable to sin, only acting out of survival, out of necessity, because sin had not entered into the World at that point. There was no way for a Human Being’s actions to be good or evil yet. So sin also introduced the concept of judgement. There was no way to judge a Man for killing another until sin entered the World and created the distinction between right and wrong, between killing and murder. Their descendants however were awoken to the fact that killing could be murder and murder was wrong, and so to continue to perform such an action when it was now known to be wrong became sin. Just as a child can perform a horrible act but not be judged because it does not know better, however when that child learns the difference between right and wrong, it can be judged for continuing to perform those horrible acts. Romans 5:13 would seem to agree when it says: "for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law."
Perhaps sin pre-existed in some form as potential but was only really born when the first, direct and knowing disobedience was committed? The actual act was sin and from then sin was? Like evil existing because good exists BECAUSE there is a distinction between the two? Perhaps even after Adam and Eve caused sin to enter the World, it took some time for it to spread, as there would still have been many Humans still ignorant of good and evil? I would suggest that sin was bred into Humanity through Adam, Eve and their descendants. And the pure, outside Humans remaining continued to live and die as they always had up until they became extinct.

That is my own theory regarding Adam, Eve, evolution and original sin. I believe it fits everything together nicely at this time. Of course, I may learn something else someday and make changes. I believe the Bible is never wrong, only that man’s interpretation of it is often wrong instead.

(George Brooks) #11

I have come to enjoy this position … as long as it is mixed with Old Earth assumptions.


(Thomas) #12

Of course, I would never advocate Young Earth Creationism :slight_smile:

(Henry Stoddard) #13

I believe this is a wise answer as I see it. :grinning:

(Henry Stoddard) #14


It can still be a literal event even in Theistic Evolution. This can be seen in the book called “Origins” by the Drs. Haarsma. I am not trying to advertise this book; however, I must admit that it is good. Wait a moment while I get my copy. I am back from one of my several personal libraries. I quote the good doctors:

In this scenario God created humans around 150,000 years ago, either using evolutionary creation or using miraculous modification. (In either case this scenario includes common ancestry with animals.) Then, about 10,000 years ago, God selected a pair of humans, Adam and Eve, to represent all of humanity. When Adam and Eve, humanity’s representatives, chose to sin, their sinful status was applied to all human beings. The descendants of Adam and Eve mixed with the descendants of other humans alive at the time, and humans today have other ancestors in addition to Adam and Eve.

I would like to again recommend this book to you. Let me know in my personal blog if you get it and how you like it. It is truly a fine book of knowledge.

Your friend,

Henry/ Edward/ Boris/ or whoever I decide to be.

(George Brooks) #15


Here is my latest thread to explain the purpose of the Atonement in an Evolutionary scenario …