I would be more inclined to take these objections seriously when we can actually identify a group of theologians that take these objections seriously. I not found any; have you?
It also appears this has nothing to do with genealogical transmission, but with a historical Adam. Because in all historical Adam models, Adam has a special theological status that is somehow conferred on everyone else.
I do understand that my request is not being honored. I do understand that it is important to many people at BioLogos to argue against genealogical science on theological grounds, even though this precise objection has been dealt with several times. I was just requesting to move past it, as no theologian has sustained it and it is being inconsistently and unfairly being applied to me alone.
As I have written several times:
Recognizing ambiguity in “human” raises premature concerns about naming others as “sub-humans.” Here, John Walton’s model, based on a textual analysis5 of Genesis 1 – 3, is helpful. Without reliance on extra-Scriptural sources, he argues that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are sequential. God first makes “mankind” in His Image, and then later identifies, or perhaps specially creates, a single man Adam and a woman Eve, who together become important because of his Fall. Walton calls Adam and Eve the first “true” humans, who are both God Imaged and Fallen. In contrast, those “outside the garden” are God Imaged, but not yet Fallen. They are not sub-human, to be clear, but they are also different than humans as we understand them today; C.S. Lewis might say they were better than us. A related two-creation interpretation of Genesis, also, is found in The Book of Enoch (from before 200 BC) and elsewhere, so this solution may carry both traditional and textual support. The two-creation model of mankind is just one theological approach; many more are possible. Nonetheless, I personally refrain from endorsing any specific solution at this time, and offer this primarily to abet premature concerns.
Moreover, because of the necessary entailments of the science, proposals within this framework cannot be construed as polygenesis, a false theory of origins sometimes marshalled in support of racism. Instead, this framework continues to affirm monophylogeny, which is the way modern science came to reject polygenesis as a falsified theory. All humans alive today are the same kind, and all would share ancestry with Adam and Eve if they existed. Adam and Eve, if they existed, were not important for bringing advanced biological abilities to those “outside the garden,” but for a unique theological role they played.
I did not ever say non-theological humans. I said theological humans as we understand human in theology today, and emphasize then that there are other types of humans possible that are no less human than us.
@DennisVenema’s problem seems to be one of making theological distinctions between people. As @Jon_Garvey writes…
On the other hand, what the Bible does record as occurring under the wise counsel of God are distinctions. Evolutionary theory actually implies that there are no real or ultimate distinctions between living things, but that the whole tree of life is a continuum. That is why modern genetics, whilst it may falsify racism, cannot actually affirm “humanity” as a moral category, because the universal called “human” has no distinct meaning under Darwinian assumptions. In the Bible, though, man is classed as different from the animals, for all his animal characteristics. If, as Venema says, we should not call hominids “subhuman animals” if they are not in genealogical relationship to Adam (which only he has – societies have long used other, more nuanced, categories), then does he contend that human ancesters were never “subhuman”? If, in evolutionary terms, they were however, there was necessarily a gradual and irregular transition to “humanness” over time and geography, if you discount a supernatural creative act.
But theologically, as well as biologically, the biblical story is also founded on distinctions between people. Leaving aside the possibly arguable distinction between Cain’s line and the “holy” line of Seth, there is no doubt at all that, for the entire Old Testament period, God saw fit to relate to mankind covenantally exclusively in his chosen people Israel, with the exception of those few who, like Naaman the Syrian, might have converted to Yahwism. As Paul says to his gentile readers, before Christ came “you were without God and without hope in the world”.
There are so many reasons why this objection fails. The scholars (other than @DennisVenema) who have engaged this find the sub-human objection has no coherence or validity. This is why Jeff Hardin wrote in his article affirming the science and also retracted (now it seems inaccurately) @DennisVenema’s objections.
Josh’s main goal was to make a scientific point; he left open the theological implications raised. When Dennis was asked to respond to Josh’s Sapientia piece, however, he commented on those potential theological implications. Dennis’ questions arose from particular ways of construing important theological ideas, such as the Imago Dei (image of God), the transmission of original sin, and other fundamental theological categories. Dennis has told me recently he has apologized to Josh for his blunt and forceful response and is sorry that he didn’t use more measured language. With Josh’s recent blog post, Dennis now recognizes that Josh was not advocating for a particular theological construal. All of this was unfortunate, because Josh’s genealogical insights are scientific. Just as in so many other areas at BioLogos, there are multiple ways that science, including genealogical science, and theology can be brought into dialogue. We look forward to continued thinking about these things together.
Looks like that may have to be revised.