Is It Possible To Believe In The Historical Adam And Eve And Theistic Evolution

(James Hiddle) #1

Or does TE exclude a historical A&E?

(Brad Kramer) #2

In short, yes, it is possible. Here’s a link to get you started:

Here’s another one:

(we have literally hundreds of articles on this subject at BioLogos. Go to and filter by topic “Adam and Eve”)

(Patrick ) #3

I agree with Brad, that yes it is possible. But if they were historical, you need to place them in both physical place on Earth AND a time period.

So where and when do you place your historical A&E? Note that we know the planet’s history quite well so whatever you chose, we can tell you what was going on at that place and time, and what other humans were doing at the time.


Good question. TE (typically called evolutionary creationism here or EC) does not take a firm stand on that issue. You will see BioLogos articles on both sides although less on the side of a literal Adam and Eve. To be sure, even for those who lean to the literal side, EC people do not believe that they were a “de novo” (creation from scratch) and they do not believe that they were the parents of all humankind. Denis Alexander, a BioLogos writer, believes that while they were not the parents of humankind, they could have come as later in the more recent Neolithic history. (See: A few people mull over a similar approach but where Adam is the beginning for Israel, not for humankind.

I personally have a ‘plausible scenario’ where Adam & Eve, were two individuals that God appeared to (among 1,000 to 15,000 living at that time), around 50,000 to 100,000+ years ago. The story would be a mix of figurative and literal (within a range between more figurative and more literal). At any rate, because of this appearance of God (it could have been a dream in the more figurative approach), he or they, essential crossed the line to ‘souls’ and experienced a new dimension of life, an awareness of morality (good and evil), ability to rebel against God (sin) and possibly ultimately spiritual death. In the more literal version, their experience caused them some level of advancement of language, abstract thinking, different behavior, and excitement. All of this, along with their telling the story the best they could, lead to the rest of the homo s. sapiens around them experiencing similar things, including also ‘crossing the line’ to souls, and the other spiritual aspects, plus religious behavior (which Wikipedia “Paleolithic Religion” says began about 50,000 years ago) and probably a growth in behavioral modernity, which leading secular anthropologist Ian Tattersall’s “Masters of the Planet” said was “almost unimaginable” during this time period. This spread to all lines of homo s. sapiens (it could have happened at a time during or after the “population bottleneck” where the population was lower and they were in more confined areas due to climate change), and all other hominds ultimately died out. In this way, they became the father and mother of all soul based homo sapiens.

Of course, there is no scientific evidence of the spiritual things that happened, but the abundance of behavioral aspects resulted in what science calls “behaviorally modern homo sapiens,” in the “Great Leap Forward,” and quite possibly to the “Out of Africa” migration.

As I said, this is just a ‘plausible scenario’ which happens to be compatible with the scientific evidence and with the theology surrounding souls, the “Fall”, sin, and the need for a savior.

(Patrick ) #5

Thanks for putting a stake in the ground. Ok, 50,000 to 100,000 years there was up to eight species of humans including Neanderthals, Denosivans, Flores, Erectus, Sapians, Pre-Neandertal/denosivan, Pre-sapian, and post-Erectus. And possibly many more. Total population over 1 million spread over Africa, Asia, Europe and getting really close to Austrailia 45,000 years ago. They all made stone tools, adored themselves, hunted large animals, cooked by fire.

So how does this fit with your A&E?


I think that part of the issue has to do with your sources of the science and mine. The leading Out of Africa theory says that the likely only successfully lasting migration didn’t happen until roughly 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. It and other science says that there was a ‘population bottleneck’ in the 70,000 to 50,000 time range, leaving as few as 1000 (some sources even have a much lower figure) to 15,000 or 20,000 homo sapiens. The bottleneck wiped out all but the homo sapiens, a limited number of Neanderthals, possibly some Denosivans, and some “archaic homo sapiens”. Regardless of who was left, by around 40,000 years ago or a little later, only the behaviorally modern homo sapiens survived.

The stone tools appeared as early as 3.4 million years ago - even before hominds, but they were very rudimentary and stayed relatively rudimentary over millions of years. They were a sign that there was some advancement beyond what we know of animals did but not an indication of consciousness, or abstract thinking. Similarly, fire appeared about 500,000, but is not considered seriously modern behavior.

So I agree that there was limited use of stone tools, fire, some rudimentary wall scratchings, possible use of shells for rings and such. Tattersall describes all of this in “Masters of the Planet”. There were some gradual small steps starting about 100,000 years ago, but it was very slow with long periods where some the archaeological evidence even dwindled. There was no consistent use of more modern aspects or further development until 60,000 to 50,000 years ago - when things started happening quite fast. At any rate, my ‘plausible scenario’ is not saying that all modern behavior began with soul-based humans. But there is evidence for both ‘behaviorally modern humans’ and a ‘Great Leap Forward’ around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. Soul based humans could have come when humans were in the very early stages of that trend or the late stages of that trend. It seems reasonable that they could have contributed in ways to that trend, but it could be that they were more beneficiaries of it than contributors.

(Christy Hemphill) #7

Why? Believing they are historical and proving they are historical are two different things. I can believe the Robin Hood narratives are based on the real experiences of a historical individual. That doesn’t mean I have to take everything in a Robin Hood story as literal history or know exactly when and where the real Robin Hood lived. No one has successfully proven Robin Hood existed at a specific time and place. You don’t have to know any of that to learn about good guys and bad guys from the story of Robin Hood, which is the whole point of telling the story in the first place.


Science would indicate that homo s. sapiens after the population bottleneck were likely in East Africa, but science is not uniform on that. Some say it was a small group at the tip of south Africa.

(Patrick ) #9

I am not asking for proof, just spacial and temporal context. If you claim they were real, then you need to check the location and time period with what we know about the region at the time. Robin Hood is a perfect example, if you say he was historical figure that has bow and arrow skills, putting him in South America at the time of the Aztecs would make your historical claims very weak. But if Robin Hood was just a literary figure, well then you are free to do anything with him as we know that he is fictional.

The story of A&E makes some very audacious claims. If it was a story with meaning to be taught, I can accept the story as an ancient way to describe that a single God created everything. The details of the story would be unimportant. It was the message that was important to accept -God created everything, mankind screwed it up, God punished mankind with death, disease. That’s about it. Simple story with meaning.

However, if someone to going to make the claim that any of it was real, well then those claims must be tested. First test when and where did this historical event supposedly take place. I don’t know is an acceptable answers but it discredits claim of historical.

(Patrick ) #10

In your model, does Neanderthals have souls?


I said it was a ‘plausible scenario’. I certainly would never claim it was more than that. But my feeling is that ‘plausible scenario’s’ can be important. Because if there is absolutely no scenario that works for you (and I’m thinking of Christians who attach great significance to the beginning of souls, sin, death, and need for atonement via Paul’s “Adam”), you may reject the whole evolutionary creation approach. They have some valid reasons for the importance of those things. I see that and feel that they may be right. Also this scenario expects that there is not measurable science that can be directly connected to it, even if there are some possible interesting correlations. And since it is a plausible scenario, it purposely tries to avoid being too specific since that just makes it less flexible.

I know you are concerned about the Neanderthals. I think a lot of people would debate whether they had as much awareness, as humans have, of the significance of the end of this mortal life. At any rate, if you think God lets animals into heaven OR IF you believe that Neanderthals had souls, God could provide heaven to those who don’t know about His plan. In those scenarios, they may have had a free ticket where humankind didn’t get a free pass.

(Christy Hemphill) #12

I like Walton’s hypothesis that they were real people in the ancestry of Abraham and they lived in the ancient near east in some sacred space. But since their main purpose is to serve as archetypal representatives of humanity in covenant with God, it doesn’t really matter exactly when and where they lived.

(Patrick ) #13

I like Walton’s hypothesis too. I know that I had a great great great great grandmother. I don’t know much about her but I know she once lived and she had children who eventually lead to me. I can have my genome sequenced to know roughly where and when she lived. I can even know statistically how long she lived and what diseases she was at risk for. We can say the same for A&E. They were the ancestors of Abraham. One set (of 2^n) of his great great great great great great grandparents. But one thing we can say with certainty, if A&E were real people, they had parents too. And grandparents and great grandparents and go back far enough A&E’s ancestors were not homo sapians.

So I agree with you that it doesn’t really matter exactly when and where that they lived. It was their actions that mattered.


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(Patrick ) #15

Well how do you explain these teeth in Asia?


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(GJDS) #17

I just love reading this sort of stuff - just for the fun of it (before anyone decides to start screaming out labels) :laughing: . I am also reminded of heated arguments in the literature some 10-20 years ago about how it all started in China (no, no, it is Africa!!??).

We start of with "“A trove of fossilized human teeth found in a cave in southern China indicates that our ancestors traveled to Asia long before modern people ever set foot in Europe.”

and somehow we go to:

“However, the teeth found in the Fuyan Cave site are more similar to modern human teeth than those found in Israel”

Spruikers and ad-men, turn green with envy, as you learn of the clever way you can say things and still sound ‘scientific’ :smiling_imp: .

(Patrick ) #18

Putting the supernatural aside, the statement “If X was a real person, then X had real parents, real grandparents and X also had a real genome.”

So if A&E were placed here magically or (divinely) by God, their genome would have to have been magically (divinely) created to be exactly like the humans of that place and time or when we look at our genome, it won’t look like we couldn’t be decedent from them.

(Patrick ) #19

Before you laugh at the hyped press release, here is the actual scientific paper in Nature.

(GJDS) #20

The actual paper clearly shows controversy and scepticism regarding migration patterns and dates - if you read the entire article carefully, you will see that their assignment is based on similarities and differences with various other excavated teeth. We are in the familiar territory of one researcher trying to support one theory and another insisting they have it right.

For the nth time, debates and changes in outlook are ALL due to the facts being insufficient to establish a theory - in this case who came where and when. This is normal for areas in the sciences which are controversial. It is not bad science - it is speculation in science - if you take it further, it is a matter of belief.

If you were to read serious papers, you will find some scientists at times describe themselves as aggressively agnostic regarding some areas, including origins of life, the cosmological theories, and the farcical ‘brute fact of science’ regarding Neo-Darwinism.