Reviewing Adam and the Genome

This online symposium discussing Adam and the Genome will be of high interest to the forum.

It includes weekly articles dealing with issues in the book from a wide range of views, and a final response from our very own @DennisVenema and Scot McKnight. The first article is up, and I’m curious everyone’s thoughts…

Thanks for sharing. I pretty much assumed everything was 100% correct when reading the book and went on with it after being blown away by the first half of the book. I’ll be sure to tune back once the science guys start posting like yourself!

But initial thoughts on the first article 'What God Has Joined Together…'
I’m no theologian, but it was basically “I’ll ignore the first half of the book and declare that God supernaturally still poofed Adam into existence since I believe cross of Christ is null and void without a literal Adam, Eve and the exact events in the Garden.” Not impressed to say the least.

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To be fair, it’s not as though this is some small theological matter; according to the traditional reading of Romans, no Adam means a worthless Christ. The Fall as a historical event is inextricably linked to the cross in the overall scheme of things (think “metanarrative”).

I’m no YEC, but I don’t think we can just dismiss a time-worn theological construct out of hand like you seem to have done here. If that wasn’t your intention, forgive me, but Scripture trumps science every time. Only one is described as God-breathed, and it isn’t science. :slight_smile:


My position on such matters as what Paul thought was historically true and not true is that Paul also believed - - is there any doubt of this?!?! - - that stars could fall to Earth without doing Terrifying damage at all to Jupiter and Mars - - let alone Earth.

And yet, we know such is preposterous. Paul, and even Jesus, were trapped by their mortal minds into sharing many of the non-scientific views of their families, teachers and everyone else in the Ancient world.

Should we not conclude that Paul’s interest in Adam’s historicity is ultimately what God intended? - - that it be an interest ultimately based on allegory?

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Perhaps a good way of understanding this conflict is to look back at the Galileo Affair. If you plant your theological flag on the hill of a specific scientific finding then you run the risk of falsifying a religion. I suspect that Christians in the future will look at the Adam and Eve debate like Christians currently view the Geocentrism debate.

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No question that traditional Christianity requires a Fall and Jesus death on the cross as as sacrifice to make amends for that Fall. By seeing Jesus’ role as Christ in a somewhat different light, I (and many others) can more easily envision our Creator as a Loving Father–loving his wayward children even when they spurn his offer to become co-creaors with him. Even as a minority, we non-traditioalists like to consider ourselves Christian. We hope you and other evangelicals can do so, too.[quote=“AdCaelumEo, post:3, topic:35961”]
Scripture trumps science every time. Only one is described as God-breathed, and it isn’t science. :slight_smile:
One advantage of our outlook: We do NOT see science competing with religion in some ‘card game’ where one must trump the other to WIN; rather, they constitute two pathways to the Truth that complement each other.
God Bless
Al Leo


“Worthless Christ” is a huge overstatement, but I agree with the gist of what you are saying. But I don’t find Bock’s discussion of McKnight satisfying, even though I tend to agree that it matters that Paul saw Adam as historical in some sense. Exactly what part of McKnight’s construct of “historical” was Bock rejecting as unnecessary? What does Bock think “historical” does mean? In light of the science that says Adam and Eve are not literally the first and sole parents of every human being, how do we understand a “historical Adam,” if it really is so important?

I didn’t get the sense that McKnight was arguing that “literary Adam” necessarily implied “ahistorical Adam” just that historicity in the sense he defined, the construct that has been imposed on “historical Adam” in our modern discussions, was not the focus in Paul’s. He even conceded that “genealogical Adam” was part of Paul’s concept. It didn’t seem like Bock addressed that contention at all. In fact, I didn’t really understand what Bock was claiming, other than McKnight’s assessment of literary Adam was not theologically satisfying. Fine, but where’s the better offer?


Bock falls down badly on a couple of points. First, there is this:

The fact that we have genealogical listings in Genesis and 1 Chronicles suggests we are in the same kind of reality and genre whether we are discussing Israel or the period before. These listings go back to Adam.

To say that the presence of a genealogy in two pieces of literature mean that those two pieces are therefore the same genre is just wishful thinking, as well as dead wrong. Compare the genealogies of Gen. 5 and 1 Chronicles and tell me what they have in common stylistically.

Next, there is this:

The archetypes in these chapters are firsts, not fictions. This is often how archetypes work. The cross has the archetype in the Passover. Redemption has an archetype in the Exodus and in the original Creation as it moves into new creation. Archetypes come with historical prototypes.

Notice the subtle shift from the qualified statement “This is often how archetypes work” to the unqualified assertion “Archetypes come with historical prototypes.” In any case, Bock seems to be completely unaware that there is such a thing as a literary archetype – a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology. The only literary interpreters with a “rule” that archetypes must have historical prototypes are NT scholars committed to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy.

A post was split to a new topic: Is theology ALWAYS reworked to fit science?

A post was split to a new topic: How human was Jesus? Was he omniscient?

Gotta go with Jay here with his suggestion that we are wandering too far afield. Back to the subject. I’ve noticed the the book has gotten a lot of attention on our favorite YEG site, must mean they think it is significant also. The last article there was complaining the the book and Biologos did not address YEG issues, which I found amusing since their site did not allow a mechanism for any comments ! Oh, well.

In any case, I look forward to the future contributions of the reviewers here. I have to admit I did not follow McKnights chapters well, and the comments and review has helped me understand his position, which now makes more sense , especially what it means to be a literary Adam.


Just curious? Has anyone on this thread read the linked article? Let’s make some effort to stick to the topic raised. If you must discuss totally unrelated bits of theology and history, start a new thread or start a PM. Thanks.


Hmmm. I believe I read it, and replied to it.


The next post is up, and it is from a person who appears to be a theistic evolutionist with somewhat of an ID bend. I am not sure exactly.

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Theologically, geocentrism and historical Adam are similar. Scientifically, they are very different. Evolution has not falsified a historical Adam.

Thanks for your comments.

I think a better summary of his position is that:

  1. He is remarkably kind to McKnight, calling him his “friend”.
  2. He does not agree with McKnight’s definition of “historical”, preferring “real” to McKnight’s several point list.

This is an important point. Part of gracious dialogue is to let people define their beliefs on their own terms. This is one area we have made a mistake in this dialogue. I know of no one that affirms McKnight’s version of a historical Adam. Most that do, find his definition a straw man, and prefer the term “real.” With this definition (historical = real), John Walton affirms Adam, as do I.

Given that mistake we made here, the tone of that article was very kind.

Can someone explain what this means? Isn’t biological evolution logically entailed in any discussion of human evolution?

I think this is well-put. It seems like McKnight was more interested in deconstructing his proposed eight facet idea of modern historical Adam and showing it wasn’t required by Scripture than in offering an alternative construct. Maybe for good reason in that alternative constructs have their own messy issues. It is helpful to remember that for much of his discussion, what he means by historical Adam does not mean simply “Adam was a historical figure” and other people may use the concept “historical Adam” differently.

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Umm… It’s what about a quarter of my church means when they say historical Adam. It’s a good summary of what I was taught all growing up. Are you talking about scholars who write about this or people in the pews?

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Hmm, I’m trying to understand his first point but it is currently over my head though I might challenge is completely contrary to how science is done.

I am not sure what he is getting at with methodologically independent vs. casually independent. Evolution is general is very impressively methodologically independent as the classic talk origins FAQ documents 29 converging lines of evidence. Can anyone explain to me how these Hawaiian fruit flies supposedly are a more impressive piece of evidence for evolution? Is his point that we have an example of how one environment influenced the evolution of fruit flies? Certainly there are thousands of such explanations in nature already (blind fish in caves, etc.).

The Insulin point is also a bit odd, as he suggests it is that nature will only allow one solution given the challenge of insulin control. This definitely isn’t true as nature solved the vision challenge many different ways (and the similarity of the solution shows common ancestry). So he instead does posit perhaps a hint of the common design argument (not common descent), challenging that this is not a good example of evolution. Yet in the book, it is pretty plain that Venema highlights how the more closely related we are, the closer the insulin gene match- I don’t see the problem.

It was kind of him to try and make the probability argument stronger. I’ll have to look at the book myself tomorrow at some point unless someone beats me to it.

I think I’ve given up personally trying to discuss and argue for Scripture. Given the relationship with the Israelites and how they regarded facts of history in the modern sense (like the entire book of Joshua amongst others), it just doesn’t make sense to me to read Adam into a group of humans as their representatives.

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I too thought the fruit fly example a bit overdone, with a big chuck of the review talking about it, rather than the book. Also, the discussion on the insulin gene was almost as long as the space allotted in the book ( page 29-30, which i re-read, after much searching , as insulin was not mentioned in the index, but we can blame that on the editors). In short while the review was generally positive, I thought it focused too much on too little.
If you looked to this current to discussion to give you an idea of what is in the book, you would be pleasantly surprised to see how much more is covered, even though Venema’s 4 chapters are brief. They are sort of like a cruise ship vacation: you visit each port just long enough to get a taste of the subject, but will have to go back for more if you want to be satisfied.

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