How do you Reconcile Evolution with Genesis?


(Anthony R. Guthry) #1

Hi Everyone. I’d love to hear what others think about the following - feel free to pick any questions you’d like to answer:

If you think that nothing in Genesis should be taken literally:
1)Then Original Sin is just a metaphor - what then did Jesus die on the cross for? A metaphor?
2) It seems like a very poor choice of a metaphor. If god formed humans out of existing animals, why didn’t he just say so in the Bible? Why say he created them from dust and a rib? It sounds strange that he didn’t choose a metaphor that was consistent with Evolution if this was true.
3) If the Bible intended Adam to be a metaphor, why does it give his age at death and details of his lineage? Same with The Garden of Eden - why give it’s general location as in the Middle East, which by the way is not where most scientists think mankind originated?
4) What about the other events described in the Bible that are inconsistent with science such as the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ? Why believe these are real events, but not the others?

If you think that Adam and Eve were real people and that Original Sin actually happened then:
5) It has been shown that modern non-human primates have Theory of Mind, have a concept of fairness and can empathize with others. Since we both share a common ancestor, it is reasonable to assume that our common ancestor also had these traits. This, in turn, means that humans had these traits before The Fall. According to Genesis, humans were also capable of reason and language before The Fall, but they couldn’t tell right from wrong. This seems completely bizarre. Surely the ability to tell right from wrong would evolve much earlier than language?
6) If the determining factor of whether a creature is sinful depends on whether they can distinguish right from wrong, what about people born with severe mental retardation from birth? Some of these people were born without the ability to tell right from wrong, so does that mean they are not capable of sin and therefore do not need Christ’s redemption?
7) If physical death was the consequence of Original Sin, how could Evolution work before Original Sin? Surely natural selection cannot occur without death? Some say death here was spiritual death, but I disagree since Genesis 3:19 describes the consequences of Original Sin: “By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken for dust you are and to dust you will return”. Working and eating food is something one does in the physical world. Returning to the ground is something a human does in the physical world when they die. Similarly, god made Adams physical body from dust. It seems inconsistent here to claim that death here meant spiritual death?

General questions:
8) According to evolution there was no first human just like there was no first English speaking individual. In other words there is no clear distinction between humans and animals, which is in direct opposition to what the bible teaches. I think I have difficulty imagining that there existed a primate in our lineage that had all the physical, intellectual and emotional traits of a modern human (and was therefore also in the image of god), but was without a soul. Imagine explaining to those people that this particular person has a soul and so has the potential to spend eternity in heaven but his father or wife has no soul and so their existence ends when their lives do.
9) Evolution is an undirected process with no goals and the fact that humans exist today is just down to chance and the environment in which life evolved. This seems inconsistent with the bible where humans were the goal of creation?
10) Genesis says that humans were created in God’s image, which implies that we are the pinnacle of evolution. However Evolution will never end and humans will eventually evolve into another (better?) species - again this seems inconsistent with the bible? .


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #2

Hello Anthony,

So many great questions! This should provide good grist for the Forum’s comment mill for several days to come. =) I’m sure some of those comments will be links to other places on the BioLogos web where folks have discussed many of these issues before. Hopefully that’s not frustrating; it should help.

While I’m at it, welcome to the Forum!

There was no first English-speaking individual, it’s true. But today, English is quite distinct from German, right? So clear distinctions eventually emerge. At least no one here is saying that humans are mere animals.

But I hear what you’re asking, about a discrete distinction down through the generations, between one generation that had no soul and another who did. I think (and this is not original to me) that this is sort of like trying to figure out when a child became an adult and was accountable for his actions. Sure, you can say it’s, say, 13. But does anyone really believe in a progression where at age 12 y 364 d Johnny could do whatever he wanted and it not be counted against him and age 13 y 0 d when Johnny should be judged harshly as an adult? I doubt it.

It may help to envision early humanity as a creative process where God was forming ensouled creatures over a course of generations. Just as with adulthood, there was a time when you could say, “this hominin was not fully human and probably had no soul as we conceive of it” and another time when you could say, “this hominin was fully human and certainly had a soul,” but the gradations between the two are probably too fine to judge.

Just my $0.02.


#3

Welcome Anthony. You’ve brought your questions to the right place. There are numerous minds here that have wrestled and grappled with each and every question you pose, with various potential solutions (often a work in progress) to harmonize scripture and science. I’ll let others chime in first.


(Anthony R. Guthry) #4

Hi AMWolfe, thanks for your input. I think I have difficulty imagining that there existed a primate in our lineage that had all the physical, intellectual and emotional traits of a modern human (and was therefore also in the image of god), but was without a soul. Imagine explaining to those people that this particular person has a soul and so has the potential to spend eternity in heaven but his father or wife has no soul and so their existence ends when their lives do.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #5

Hi, Anthony, and welcome.

That is perhaps the key word in your response to AMWolfe. God did not reveal to us in scriptures, nor did he make us responsible to make such determinations. There is only one judge, and that is not any of us. So just as our inability to identify a clear first English speaker or clear first day of accountability for an adolescent does not in any way disprove the existence of distinct English language or clear accountability, so our inability to spell out the details of how God formed us from the dust does not the constitute a denial of the image of God imparted to all of us now.

To pick up on your implied point #0:

You might be surprised to know that a lot of ECs around here do see the creation accounts as literal. Since the 1800s “literal” itself was hijacked to be associated with a certain understanding of Genesis 1. But there were church fathers from prior centuries who took the scriptures as literal in the sense that they (the scriptures) should be studied to find out what they “literally mean”. To suggest that their only meanings should be so shallow as to be immediately available to a young child was not what they had in mind.

So there are those here, who for example, don’t go through contortions to try to prove that “day” needs to equate to this or that age instead, but think that “day” was probably just an ordinary day to the author. The problems come in when we try to impute back to the original writers our own concerns and curiosities today over what a creation account needs to be teaching us. We want to pretend that they would have had exactly the same concerns we do (or that if not, it is our concerns now that really count and should have been addressed.) In short, many want the Bible to be not just “inerrant”, but inerrant on their own dictated, modernist terms. And it is those highly fallible terms that so many of us here reject.


(Randy) #6

Greetings Dr Guthry,

Welcome. Thanks for these excellent questions. May I ask what your background is, and why this interests you? I think that others will give better answers, but I wanted to welcome you.

I’m a family physician who was born and grew up in Africa, the son of medical missionary parents. It’s the difficulty in jiving science (and evolutionary biology) with faith which brought me to this website at the end of last year. I find the moderators and frequenters here to be very kind and thoughtful.

It seems to me that if we were able to define the soul (? responsibility? I’m currently listening to a Youtube by Kenneth Miller on reason, consciousness, and free will–theory of mind, as you say), then we would have more insight on that. Denis Lamoureux, who has PhD’s in evolutionary biology, theology, and a doctorate in dentistry, wrote extensively.Lamoureux’s Evolutionary Creation (scroll down a bit to Post 3)

George Macdonald seemed to say that if God exists, He has relationship with every one of His creatures–therefore, it would be a continuum, and not a stark division in terms of responsibility. I find that intriguing.

Thank you for your thoughts.


(Tom Larkin) #7

Anthony - excellent questions, each one can spur debate and have in the past on this forum, so I hope you find the forum helpful.

I would like to propose my theory (recently presented at the ASA National Conference) that Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of Genesis are sequential which I believe eliminates the conflict with evolution and eliminates many contradictions if the two stories are to be taken as a retelling of the same events. I would ask you to reread Gen 1 & 2 with this in mind. I believe evolution is the mechanism God choose to guide life to its current outcome. Evolved man was created in chapter 1 in God’s image with a mind, soul and the ability to determine right from wrong, and God saw that it was “good”.

The creation of Adam, Eve and the Garden was a creation specific to the garden (there is nothing to indicate otherwise) and through Adam’s sin, sin entered the world. Paul indicates the Jesus is the antithesis of Adam (Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15) which indicates to me that Adam would need to be a historical figure.

I would be interested to hear you feedback on the above prior to tackling other points. The feedback I received in the ASA conference what that it is well accepted that Gen 4 is evidence that others existed at the time of Adam & Eve, where I was using Gen 6.


#8

Tom, by “special creation of Adam,” do you mean ex nihilo as in he didn’t have ancestors? Maybe your point is clear and I’m just slow but wanted clarification. :wink:

This article by Kathryn Applegate best articulates my current position on the historicity of Adam, which I hold non-dogmatically:

It includes this quote by Kenneth Kitchen which I found helpful: “The ancient Near East did not historicize myth (i.e. read it as imaginary “history”.) In fact, exactly the reverse is true—there was, rather, a trend to “mythologize” history, to celebrate actual historical events and people in mythological terms…”.


(Christy Hemphill) #9

Hi Anthony, thanks for your thoughtful questions and willingness to engage on these difficult topics. I’ll take a stab at a few.

Why do you think metaphors are less able to communicate truth than bare assertions? This is not actually how cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychologists tell us the brain works. Metaphors are actually more foundational to our thinking than propositions. (A super interesting book on the intersection of the field of cognitive research and theology is John Sanders Theology in the Flesh.) All of our important Christian concepts are framed in cognitive metaphors (that is where the metaphor itself frames and defines the concept in our mind). Salvation (citizenship in heaven, adoption, regeneration, reconciliation, rescue, healing, vindication, pilgrimage on the right path, a marriage to God, friendship with God) atonement (a ransom, a cleansing, a payment of a dept, a redemption payment to free slaves, a criminal executed in our place, a balancing of moral account books, a battle in which Christ emerges victorious), sin (a sickness, a dangerous beast, a slave owner, trespassing, a path to death, unfaithfulness in a marriage to God, pollution and contamination, being a lost animal, being a criminal, vandalism to God’s creation), and the church (a body, a bride). What are we given to celebrate and proclaim our faith? The practice of baptism and the Lord’s supper, which are foundationally metaphorical rites. Metaphors are much harder to avoid than biblical literalists believe. They are one of the primary ways God communicates truth to us because they are foundational to embodied human thought.

What biblical metaphor is a poor choice and what do you think it is communicating in the first place? No one is claiming Genesis has metaphors for evolution. God was not interested in communicating science. Genesis explains the vocation God gave humans in his creation and the rebellion of humans against that vocation and God’s just and sovereign rule through a story. The metaphor is that we are all Adam and Eve, choosing not to walk with God in the safe space of the Garden. We aren’t content being God’s representatives, we want the throne, and in our pride we rebel and damage everything good.

This isn’t about evolution. It’s a familiar story element to the people of the time. The point isn’t to communicate how females came to exist, it’s to teach Adam that woman is “the other half” of man, a gift created to be his partner and counterpart. A good commentary on Genesis would explain how the creation of Eve would make lots of sense to the ANE audience.

Personally I wouldn’t use the word metaphor to describe the whole creation narrative. Narratives use metaphors, it isn’t a genre of literature. I would call it mythologized history. I think there were actual historical events tied into the Fall of humanity. I just don’t think we have a way to somehow separate “fact from fiction” in the narratives, nor do I think that should be our goal. It should be to get truth about reality out of it. Truth is much bigger and deeper than “historical facts.”

Here is an interesting article on the numbers in Genesis. https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/long-life-spans-in-genesis

There is a difference between saying the creation narratives aren’t about science and that they are inconsistent with science. It is the YEC interpretation of Genesis that is inconsistent with science. Plenty of people who had no concept of evolution or rejected it have analyzed the Genesis narratives and come to the conclusion that they aren’t recording a play by play of literal events. That conclusion comes from analyzing the text, not imposing science on the text. For me it matters that the virgin birth and the resurrection are part of the creeds and Adam and Eve aren’t. Also, you don’t have Christianity without the resurrection, so if that didn’t happen, discussing the literal-ness of Genesis is kind of a moot point because we wouldn’t care much what the Bible says if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. The New Testament accounts can be evaluated using techniques one uses to analyze history in a way that the origin of the world can not.


(Tom Larkin) #10

Yes, I believe Adam was formed “out of the dust of the ground” with no living ancestors, in a similar way to the way God created life in the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37), as there is greater detail in this passage. I also believe all humans have Adam as a common ancestor.

Dr. Swamidass, among others, has shown there is common ancestry of all humans in the not too distant past through studies in genealogies. I reference an article in Nature that shows common ancestry of all humans through genetics, though not quite as recent as Dr. Swamidass presented through genealogy.

Thanks for the reference, I will review it.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #11

I would venture to say this is a bit on the speculative side. Good question, but speculative. Evolution will never end, provided nothing supernatural occurs. But by definition, science cannot predict that. And whether you adopt the view that Jesus will come soon (soon = even on a geological time scale :slight_smile: ) or the view that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event – or some combination of the two! – in any case as a species we are not likely to be around long enough to evolve into something appreciably different than we are.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #12

This is a false equivalence, the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the Christian faith (1 Cor 15:17)

I believe the Biblical story is a mythologised version of the truth. All a Christian is required to believe in is some form of original sin, not the story as a whole.

Salvation is the gift of God, according to Ephesians 2:8, so God can choose for a mentally disabled person to accept salvation.

God made man from the dust of the ground, dust is associated with death, so God intended from the start for humans to die, I interpret Genesis 2:17 and 3:19 as referring to a violent death, since the Hebrew word used for death in 2:17 is also used for sentencing someone to death. It does not mean that they become mortal, it just means they will have a premature death.

I believe God chose for group of humans to become ensouled, and become image bearers, I don’t see the problem.

I believe God created the world to be his dwelling place, multiple scholars such as John Walton and Jon Levenson have noticed the temple imagery in creation in the Bible. In other words, the world is theocentric, not anthropocentric. God simply chose for the most intelligent creatures to evolve to become his caretakers, as they were the most capable for the job.

See this video:


(Marshall Janzen) #13

Hi Anthony, interesting questions! Looks like you already have a great discussion going here. For now, I just wanted to add a response to one question:

It’s worse than that. Genesis speaks about how long Adam is going to live twice. After the mention you’re thinking of, there’s also this one:

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in Adam forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Now, most translations don’t surface the name “Adam” in Genesis 6:3, but not because it isn’t there. In Hebrew, this verse uses the same word 'adam, it’s masculine, it’s singular, and it doesn’t have the definite article (a prefix that, when present, eliminates the possibility that a word functions as a name). Even though this grammatical form is what one would expect if this verse was referring to a man named Adam, most interpreters understand it to be using 'adam to speak about humanity as a whole. And for good reason: that is, after all, what 'adam means.

But since 'adam means humanity, that upends your question. Using 'adam to refer to humanity isn’t metaphorical at all: that’s the literal meaning of the word! Instead, if there are places in Genesis where the word 'adam is used to name an individual person – calling a person “Humanity” – then that is where the word is being flexed beyond its basic meaning. Precisely because this use is unusual, it’s difficult to tell where it occurs in Genesis. Translations vary widely on where they treat 'adam as a man named Adam and where it simply refers to humanity or any particular human.

You can catch some of the ambiguity by looking at the passage you mentioned with Adam’s age at death. Here it is, but with the word 'adam left untranslated:

This is the book of the generations of 'adam. When God created 'adam, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them 'adam when they were created. When 'adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of 'adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that 'adam lived were 930 years, and he died.

Where in this passage is 'adam a name for an individual male, where is it a name for humanity, and where is it simply the word for humanity? Different people would likely draw the line in different places, but the point is that in Hebrew there’s no need to draw a line, no need to choose where to use the name “Adam” and where to use other words. The single word 'adam is present throughout, even as it shifts from humanity including male and female to an individual man who fathers a son. Our translations make Adam look more like a distinct character because they cut him off from all the other places the same word occurs that don’t refer to a distinct character.

In Genesis, maybe the general term for humanity becomes a person, just like Israel is both a nation and one early father of the nation. This is also like how Egypt is, according to Genesis 10:6, not only a nation but also the son of Ham who fathered this nation. But I suspect the truth is more like how Jerusalem is both a city and also a woman (Ezekiel 16). Not a literal woman, but a literary woman who tells all the people of Jerusalem over many generations who they are. In the Eden narrative, the term for humanity is personified as an individual named Humanity, and Humanity’s story tells every human about who they are. That Humanity begets Seth no more invalidates the possibility of a literary Adam than having sisters named Sodom and Samaria invalidates a literary Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:46).


#14

I don’t believe it’s so much of an opinion that Genesis 1-11 (the primeval history) is allegorical, but historically demonstrable. I’m sure many of us are familiar with the work of John Walton. I’ll throw in this lecture here, with the totality of the evidence it’s hard to get around. There are so many elements that give it away, one obvious one being that the name Adam is just the generic Hebrew word for ‘man’, and doesn’t even get used as a proper name in the original Hebrew until Genesis 4.

Anyways, to the questions. Before I continue, I should just note that no one is arguing “nothing in Genesis” happened literally – we’re saying nothing in Genesis 1-11 happened literally. Genesis 12-50 is, according to no one ever, an allegory.

  1. This is a fallacy I see all the time. Even if Adam wasn’t the first human to sin, someone had to be. Unless you postulate that humanity has been sinning since eternity past, a physical impossibility. Original sin (if that is even a biblical doctrine anywhere in the Bible or the Jesus narratives) was simply the first sin committed after God endowed humanity with His image. So someone sinned first, that’s logically inevitable. Who it was is irrelevant.
  2. The metaphor isn’t poor at all. I think you are simply unfamiliar with the wider ancient near eastern context Genesis was written in, and other common literature in the world of Genesis like the Epic of Gilgamesh, Epic of Atrahasis, Enuma Elish, etc. Once you understand the historical context Genesis originates from, Genesis 1-11 becomes pretty clear.
  3. See answer to previous question, this is a common element of other works of ancient near eastern stories written in the time of Genesis. They give ages of birth death, genealogies, etc. In fact, it turns out that even the ages in Genesis serve a literary pattern.
  4. None of this is inconsistent with science, since no one is saying that the virgin birth or resurrection happened naturally. This is a common fallacy online as well, which isn’t made among philosophers.

General questions

  1. It may be difficult if you take seriously the traditional views on Genesis, but there’s no logical/intellectual problems with the position.
  2. No theist need think that humans are the product of chance. One of Darwin’s greatest allies in his day was the great Christian botanist at Harvard, Asa Gray. Gray believed that God endowed creation with a certain freedom of development, but ultimately within His constraints. If you reran the world a thousand times, humans would develop each time. I see @Reggie_O_Donoghue has posted a very good video from InspiringPhilosophy on this topic which was the video that made me accept abiogenesis even if there isn’t any real evidence for it.
  3. Will we stop evolving? No. Will we become something other than humans? Not if the apocalypse comes first. This is not an inconsistency at all until then. Let’s bet on it, eh?

(Randy) #15

If theory of self, responsibility (and the soul) are a continuum, then as most of our ongoing evolution is in intelligence, we are increasing in responsibility and relationship to God. There would be no cutoff at one point in a given pre- homo sapiens, but increasing relationship from the earliest life form to our descendants. If our descendants are more aware, intelligent and responsible (according to their lights), then the continuum would address both #8 and #10 (where did souls come from, and where are we going). It’s a conjecture, but interesting enough to throw out there.


(Randy) #16

I like your response better than mine.

Thanks for posting the video of John Walton at Grand Valley. That’s my alma mater–a smaller state university! Wish we had him there when I was there.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #17

@Anthony,

Your question is very broad, but it is time to look at this question carefully from a broad perspective.

First, you can’t reconcile Genesis with evolution if you accept the bad theology that the Bible is the Absolute Word of God which is the origin of the Fundamentalist position. The Bible is a book of theology, not science.

Evolution is a scientific question, so generally needs to be discussed in a scientific manner. The Bible needs to discussed in a theological manner. Nonetheless the origin of humanity is a boundary issue that effects both disciplines, w3hich is the34 reason why we have a conflict that needs to be addressed.

Second, Genesis is the Book of Origins. This includes in the first three chapters the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of humanity, and the origin of sin. The first three of these are scientific questions as well as spiritual. The origin of sin is not an issue for physics, or biology, for a human science as psychology and psychiatry, which are not usually considered as sciences by non-believers. How life began is still an open question form science.

Third, because Fundamentalists based their attack on evolution on bad theology they overlook the fact that the best argument for YHWH, God the Creator is the Big Bang. This is a serious confusion for everyone.

Fourth, just as serious is treating the origin of sin as a scientific problem when it is not, even though it has some scientific aspects, which need clarification. The story of the Fall reveals to us how and why people sin and the effects Sin has on humans. It is an existential diagnosis.

The story of the Fall tells us about the character and nature of sin, and our acceptance or rejection of this event should be based on this description, not on whether we can pin down this event as to its participants and time. The fact that it includes unnatural elements, a talking serpent and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil indicates that this is not a natural event.

Five, not everything needs to be scientifically true, to be true.


(Albert Leo) #18

Hi Anthony. By lasering-in on certain questions, you have evidently reignited topics that have not been fully covered in past posts. Each of the current responders (in my opinion) has something that thoughtful Christians can profit by, but @Christy (as befits a wordsmith) offers the most concise ‘take-home’ evaluation. What I have to offer will not resonate with so many devout Christians as Christy’'s, but it just possibly might offer another perspective to a Christian who is almost surely sliding into agnosticism. My view results from viewing humankind’s calling as from a God Ahead rather than a God Above, and so it makes the concept of Original Sin more palatable.

Christy gives a much fuller meaning to the word, metaphor., but even so, it seems that Jesus’ death on the cross must have been necessary to redeem humankind from some pretty awful, and real, transgression. Since I believe the evidence that Humankind evolved from animals whose behavior was guided solely by instinct, I must postulate that at some point in that process, instinct was supplanted by conscience. Gen. 1 implies that this may have occurred in one generation, symbolized by Adam & Eve. Modern paleoanthropology supports the transition of early Homo sapiens to modern humans as taking place as a Great Leap Forward (GLF). In accepting this evidence, Richard Dawkins had to admit it went contrary to his treasured dogma: evolution takes place in small steps with No direction.

The GLF is given the strongest support from two lines of evidence: (1) the sudden appearance ~40,000 yrs. ago of magnificent cave art, some of which is richly symbolic; and (2) human burials with ‘grave goods’–valuable ornaments and tools for an after life. It is tempting to associate these with the onset of humans with Spirit, creatures that could distinguish right from wrong (the metaphorical Tree in Genesis).

One would have to discount science completely to maintain that no physical death occurred before humankind (A&E) sinned. As for the hardship of eking out a living under harsh conditions (by the sweat of your brow), there is no scientific evidence to support that this was not always so. But it is interesting to note that modern day hunter gatherer societies have more leisure time available than the primitive agriculturists. That phrase in Genesis might just be a longing for ‘the good old days’.

I see a way that eliminates this problem. Early Homo sapiens (200,000 BC to ~50,000 BC) had essentially the same genome as we moderns do, and the same sized brain. The change that made us what Genesis calls ‘images of God’ is something like a ‘programming’ of that large ‘latent supercomputer’–our cerebral cortex. In my worldview, that enables us to appreciate the marvels of our God (and thus worship him more fully), but also respond to his offer to forego the selfishness of evolutionary instinct and become co-creators with him as the God drawing us Ahead. Refusing that offer is Sin.

Surely humans, as ‘broken’ as they are, cannot be considered as ‘goals’. Our Biological evolution into a superior species may be too slow, but our Noospheric evolution may accomplish it through something like CRIPSR-Cas9.
Just exactly how this fits in with what I learned in parochial school–that after a well-lived life, your soul will abide forever in Heaven–I admit I don’t know. All I can hope for is to know my Creator better and thus love him more than I can in this life. At the age of 93, it should not be long before I find out if my hopes are fulfilled.
Al Leo


Theological reasons for believing in evolution
(Mitchell W McKain) #19

I think the names of those two trees in the Garden of Eden shout symbolism louder than anything else in the Bible, BUT I think all of Genesis is meant to be taken as essentially historical. So…

  1. Original Sin: Yes this is a story about the fall of man and our separation from God. But no, not the beginning of the homo-sapiens species.
  2. God made us from the stuff of earth, but there was no language for atoms and molecules, only the word “dust” and that was sufficient for the story being told. But through most of the Bible the “breath of life” means the word of God, and so instead of magic animating golems, the story I see being told is one of God speaking to those he adopted to raise as His children.
  3. I do not see Adam as a metaphor but as a real person. But while the middle east may be the home of the first civilization, the species migrated from southern Africa.
  4. The virgin birth is not inconsistent with science, we know very well that pregnancy only requires fertilization not sexual intercourse. And as for the resurrection I am with Paul who takes great pains to explain in 1 Cor 15 that this is a bodily resurrection to a SPIRITUAL body and definitely NOT a physical body.
  5. There is really only one substantial difference between man and the animals and it is not in the genetics or the brain but in the use of an abstraction capable language. That could well have come directly from God when He spoke to Adam and Eve.
  6. Sin is a matter of bad habits which are destructive of essential things like our freedom of will and our willingness to learn. But the real problem was the no-win situation we created which made God’s presence in our lives do more harm than good – it is really the only thing which can drive a wedge between a parent and his children. By blaming God for what happened we turned God from our best helper to the perfect scapegoat by which we could avoid all responsibility for our own lives.
  7. Physical death was always a part of life even in the Garden of Eden story where God told them that they would die if they ate the fruit. And I do say that the death which resulted was a spiritual death, for if your spirit is dead then when you die what is left of you but dust? You can suppose there is shadow or a ghost, but without life, how is that really any more than a badly blurred photograph.
  8. Evolution is about the origin of the biological SPECIES. But I do not equate that with humanity. If we only consider biology then we are just one of the animals. It is the mind which makes us human and that comes from very different inheritance than the DNA of biology – it is from all the media of human communication, meme life rather than gene life. As for the human spirit, I am again with Paul in 1 Cor 15 who says the physical body is first and THEN the spiritual body, which can be loosely connected with the existentialist maxim of existence (body) before essence (spirit).
  9. There is no direction inherent in the mechanism of evolution except that of survival, but the environment and its changes does impose some requirements. Obviously the great diversity of the species means this is very far from any kind of unitary direction. But none of this means that God did not have an objective, though that objective was likely very far from any narcisistic/racist anthropomorphic obsession with the homo-sapiens form. His objective was more likely to be simply someone to communicate with so he could share a heritage of love and goodness with them.
  10. I think making this “image of God” stuff into something about our physical form is pathetically anthropomorphic. Personally I believe the real image of God is already there to a great degree (good) in the nature of life itself: our infinite potentiality to His infinite actuality. The reason is, this makes for a perfect relationship of love where we can receive all that he has to give. But then you can say the image only comes into focus (very good) when we are capable of communication so that God can share of Himself with us more directly.

(Jay Johnson) #20

This is an assumption. Also, to say that “nothing in Genesis” should be taken literally is an overstatement. Are we talking Genesis 1, Genesis 1-3, Genesis 1-11, or the entirety of the book?

He did. Genesis 2:7. In the Old Testament, life is manifested in the breath, which comes from the Spirit of God. This is true of both people and animals, since both come from the ground (Gen. 1:24, 2:7) and both owe their lives to the spirit/breath/wind of God (Gen. 7:14-15). Gen. 2:7 essentially teaches that we, like the animals, are made of earth and owe our lives (breath) to God, our Creator (cf. Ecc. 3:18-22).

Because the author was imitating the style of the Sumerian king lists to make a larger point.

Now, a question for you: If Adam was the name of a literal man, why does the author consistently refer to him as ha’adam, “the man,” in the garden story? Why not call him by his God-given name, Adam?

Apples and oranges. I believe in the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ based on the testimony of the witnesses, the testimony of the Hebrew prophets, the testimony of the rest of the Hebrew Bible, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit to my heart and mind.

It depends what you mean by “the ability to tell” such things, and there is a concept known as “co-evolution” that you are missing.

What about a day-old infant who dies suddenly?

Gen. 3:16 says that the consequences of “the woman’s” sin was increased pain in childbirth, yet that has been part of the human condition since we first developed big brains and stood on two feet. (Big heads passing through narrower hips = ouch!) One of the primary functions of an origins myth is to explain “how we got to now.” This should serve as a clue to the genre of Genesis 2-3, but evangelicals have signed an oath not to let the word “myth” pass their lips …

A primate that had all the physical, intellectual, and emotional traits of a modern human would be a modern human, by definition. As for the “without a soul” thing, here is another view from an evangelical OT scholar: