So I found this post by whyevolutionistrue attacking attempts by biologos to reconcile religion and science. It is troubling for many reasons.
Peter Enns was the Senior Fellow in Biblical Studies at BioLogos, the Templeton-funded and Francis-Collins-founded organization devoted to reconciling evangelical Christianity and evolution. Enns has good academic credentials, including a Ph.D. from Harvard in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. And he left BioLogos about the same time as Karl Giberson (the Vice President), and I suspect it was because both of these guys couldn’t abide BioLogos‘s weaselly stand on Adam and Eve: a refusal to take a stand on whether they existed or not despite the clear results of populations genetics that they could not have existed.
It should go without saying that his speculation is almost certainly false. It is clearly based on a straw-manning of the position taken by those ECs (including your’s truly) who do advocate for a historical Adam such as John Walton in his book The Lost World of Adam and Eve, where he argues that Adam, though a real person, was not literally formed from dust or the ancestor of all human beings. The Adam of Biologos then, is a figure with absolutely nothing to do with population genetics. We have no more or less evidence for the historical Adam than anyone else from the prehistoric era.
Why does Biologos refuse to take a position? Most likely because they see the issue as theologically irrelevant.
The articles are telling, for while being far more accepting of science and dismissive of Adam and Eve than were Enns’s former compadres at BioLogos, I find Coyne’s assumptions to be ridiculously ignorant.
Yet more straw-manning of Biologos’ position, and accepting his assumption (likely based on a presupposition that all Christians are scientifically naive dingbats who cannot hope to reconcile science and faith).
These two reasons are connected, of course, because Evangelicals are perfectly aware of the slippery slope: if Adam and Eve were just metaphors, then Jesus could be too.
Um, no, for this is a false equivalence, for the evidence does suggest that Jesus was a real person, and not a metaphor. This is held by Jewish and Atheist scholars such as Geza Vermes and Bart Ehrman respectively, not just fundamentalist Christians.
Furthermore, it is well known, and accepted even by fundamentalists that good parts of the Bible were intended to be figurative and poetic, such as the psalms and wisdom literature, and other parts literal. Jerry cannot act like his ignorance of the Bible is an argument, it isn’t.
Enns begins with a stark claim, and one that BioLogos would die rather than admit: science and the Biblical literalism of evangelicals are incompatible:
Biologos does not deny this. Biologos rather clearly claims the opposite, and writes many articles on the Bible’s prescientific cosmology.
I have a strong suspicion that the last sentence refers to BioLogos and its dumping of Enns and Giberson over the Adam-and-Eve business.
Please stop. You are taking your personal idea, based on a naive misunderstanding on evolutionary creationism as fact, it isn’t.
Although Enns is an Old Testament scholar, this is bizarre. It implies that the stories were “designed” as kind-of-metaphorical tales to explain human origins, and that the Adam and Eve story wasn’t really about human origins. It was a “warm-up” to explain human nature, and therefore shouldn’t be taken seriously.
But that’s bogus. Two millennia of Christians thought these stories were real, and saw them as literal. Of course those folks weren’t capable of giving a scientific account of humanity’s origins, but they didn’t know that! The Adam and Eve story, an amalgam of two earlier myths, was an honest attempt to describe human origins, and is still seen as such by millions of Christians who believe the Bible is either the direct word of God or is divinely inspired.
But it’s more important than that: the Adam and Eve saga plays a pivotal role in the message of Christianity: their sins brought God’s opprobrium on humanity, an opprobrium that could be expiated only with the death of Jesus. If you discard Adam and Eve, the whole rationale for Jesus’s appearance and crucifixion, and the Christian view of humans as innately sinful, dissolves completely. That’s why BioLogos is in such a frenzy about Adam and Eve. Science says they’re fictional; Evangelical Christians require that they existed. There’s no resolution except to concoct dubious stories that the Primal Pair sort-of-existed, that is, there were two real people among many that God designated as “honorary” ancestors of modern humans.
Now this is where the pigeon-chess ends. For it does seem to be a valid concern that Christians throughout the ages have taken these stories as literal. I am having trouble with this. How would you respond?