Special Creation of Humans After Millions of Years of Non-Human Evo?

(George Brooks) #1


There has been some recent discussion of the idea of Special Creation of humanity … relatively recently … after millions of years of non-human evolution.

Doesn’t such a proposition collide with the frequently mentioned question:

“Did God make it look like human evolution?”

Why do we have evidence of common descent, like the broken Vitamin C gene?
Why do a very few humans have functioning tails at birth?
Why do humans have a whole raft of genetic simllarities that are normally attributed to our common descent out of the Mammalian family of life?

Hasn’t “special creation” been dismissed - - for good reason - - long ago?

(Christy Hemphill) #2

I think the argument goes that there is no way to prove scientifically that a single couple was not specially created and then their descendants went on to mix with the existing non-specially created human population, hence all the signs of evolution.


It is a question that people have been asking for more than 100 years.

"If we reject the natural explanation of hereditary descent from a common ancestry, we can only suppose that the Deity, in creating man, took the most scrupulous pains to make him in the image of the ape. This, I say, is a matter of undeniable fact – supposing the creation theory true – and as a matter of fact, therefore, it calls for explanation. Why should God have thus conditioned man as an elaborate copy of the ape, when we know from the rest of creation how endless are His resources in the invention of types?"​
George J. Romanes, 1882

Added in edit:

I tracked down that quote, and found this reference which has turned out to be a really interesting read, if anyone is interested. It is really strange to read the same arguments against special creation in a paper from 1882 as we see in threads here on this forum. Here is another excerpt (any transcription errors are mine):

“Consequently, special creationists must fall back upon another position and say, “Well, but it may have pleased the Deity to form a special number of ideal types, and never to allow the structures occurring in the type to appear in any of the others.” I answer, Undoubtedly it may have done so; but if it did, it is a most unfortunate thing for your theory; for the fact implies that the Deity has planned His types in such a way as to suggest the counter-theory of descent. For instance, it would seem to me a most capricious thing in the Deity to make the eyes of an innumerable number of fishes on exactly the same ideal type, and then to make the eye of the octopus so exactly like those other eyes in superficial appearance as to deceive so accomplished a naturalist as Mr. Mivart, and yet to take scrupulous care that in no one ideal particular should this solitary eye resemble all the host of other eyes.”

(Jay Johnson) #4

So, Adam and Eve were not the first humans, and they were not the product of evolution, like the rest of humanity. I have to ask, then, for what purpose? Simply for the purpose of the test of obedience in the garden? If so, and if you combine that idea with the idea that sin is only disobedience to a revealed command of God, then you have a situation in which sin did not exist prior to Adam’s special creation. In effect, then, God created the “sin problem” when he created Adam and gave him a command to break, since sin could not exist in the absence of a command, so Christ therefore becomes the solution to a problem that didn’t exist until God introduced it.

A specially created, recent Adam dropped into the flow of history, whether 10,000 years ago or 6,000 years ago, creates far more problems than it solves. As far as I can tell, the only benefit to the approach is that it is non-falsifiable. Other than that, its lack of parsimony makes it hard for me to take seriously, but your mileage may vary.

(George Brooks) #5

@Christy (and @BradKramer )

But isn’t that still a spurious kind of logic?

Why would God spend millions of years grooming non-human primates … and then when they were human enough … he uses Special Creation to add a couple into the mix?

That’s like saying that he couldn’t create Jesus naturally! He would have to engage in “special creation” of Jesus.
Wouldn’t Mary have been disappointed!?!?!

The idea that Adam & Eve require special creation … but not Jesus … doesn’t that pretty much end the speculation right there?

@Swamidass, your thoughts please?

(Peaceful Science) #6

Just briefly, and to provide clarification, not to stir up any additional controversy.

That is almost exactly right. Notice, this is not an argument that Adam and Eve were specially created, rather just that there is no evidence against this. I one change to make is swap out “human” with “Homo sapien”…

No. That is how science works.

It all depends what we mean by “human”. In John Walton’s model, the Homo sapiens outside the garden were not true theological humans as we understand human today (e.g. they were not Fallen). They bore the Image of God, but were not humans like us. So in this sense, Adam and Eve were the first “humans.”

Great question~! Expect many interesting answers over the coming year. Or, if you care to, join @Bilbo in coming up with some answers of you own.

Problems or puzzles of fun? There are many questions here that theologians are taking up. Come join the fun. For the questions you have raised here there are already really interesting answers too.

Some might consider the Virgin Birth a type of special “creation,” though creation is not quite the right word. Orthodox theology insists he was not “created” nor was he born “naturally.”

So that pretty much endorses speculation right there!

It has been a long time since something genuinely new and significant has been put in the conversation. It will take a few years for the theological dust to settle. Till then, it is too early to reject anything a ‘problem’ or “illogical”. We just do not know yet.

This finding, however, is promising for many in the Church. In the end, it has nothing to do with our objections and concerns. It is their concerns that will drive this.

Latest Critique of Venema's Claims About Past Human Population Sizes
(Brad Kramer) #7

George, I think you are misunderstanding the perspective of those who hold this position. For them, the starting point is not what is most or least “logical” for God to do, but rather what they take to be the revealed, inerrant Word of God. And for them, it is absolutely non-negotiable that Adam and Eve were special creations and founders of the whole human race. So the key goal in conversation with people like this is not to point out logical or scientific issues but to reframe their understanding of what the Adam and Eve story is trying to communicate.

Also, I don’t think any of them would say that Jesus could not have been supernaturally created. But God chose Mary as an earthly vessel.

Entry of Sin (Any answer will be of help thanks)
(George Brooks) #8


This counter-proposal is not science. Certainly, from a Christian viewpoint it is possible, and I grant you that much. But this is not how “science” works. This is how “religious speculation” works. It can’t be how “science works” because there is no way for Science to demonstrate which human couple was “poofed” into existence, versus a really gorgeous couple with the St. Tropez tans!

I will also grant you that this scenario does find itself a unique place in the spectrum of various ideas.

but the reason we are suddenly “surprised” by this, is because it was dismissed a long time ago, for two different reasons:

Reason A, in the aggregate, why would God create all this Evolutionary evidence for evolving humanity, and then “sneak in” a miracle by using Special Creation for two very special humans? Why wouldn’t God have included a “target couple” in his Evolutionary scenario?

Reason B, in the micro-cosm (and to repeat what I posted on earlier today), there seems to be no advantage or explanation for God to “special create” Adam and Eve … while making “God” and the “Son of God” the old fashioned way through breeding.

I just realized that I left out of my earlier posting a mention of the usual idea that Jesus had to be a literal offspring of a human (Mary) in order to work his redemption for all Humanity.

But if something this important can be done through a Bred Human, can you honestly say “poofing” 2 humans into the midst of thousands of evolved humans is something God would have needed to do?

[Important Note!: I have just now read @BradKramer’s posting … and I’m going to need to process that message! So … don’t bother answering this one yet… I’m still pondering the ramifications!]

(George Brooks) #9


Thank you for your focusing comments! I was just about to say "But, but, but … " … but then I closed my mouth and pulled my hands away from the keyboard. Hmmmmmmm…

I think we are going to see a lot of upset Atheists for years to come …

@beaglelady, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts…

(Jay Johnson) #10

So, if we’re putting dates to things, when is Walton inserting Adam into history? 4000 B.C.? 8000 B.C.? This means that all H. sapiens prior to 4000 B.C. (or 8000 B.C.) were “not Fallen” human beings, and thus not “sold as slaves to sin,” to borrow Paul’s phrase. Really? Am I to believe that human culture prior to 4000 B.C. was not as sinful as human culture post-Adam? I’m pretty certain that deception and manipulation and social advancement were part of human culture from the beginning, since they are the very building blocks of chimp society.

In any case, Walton’s concept doesn’t solve the problem that I pointed out. If humanity existed for several hundred thousand years in this “unFallen” state, then why was Adam necessary, if not to introduce the condition of “Fallenness” to mankind? Christ then becomes the solution to a problem that God himself caused. This makes no sense.

(George Brooks) #11


There are 2 pre-conditions for the fallen state:

  1. A sufficiently enlightened mind that can grasp the nuances of moral dilemmas.
  2. An imperfect will that unavoidably allows you to morally transgress into areas you would have otherwise avoided.

Writers have been fooling around with the idea that pre-Troy humanity was not fully “awake” or fully “funcdtional” in one way or another. I always avoided the general topic.

But now we have a reason to consider something like this … at least when it comes to Moral Agency!

(GJDS) #12

I think you are extrapolating this in a number of diverse and unnecessary directions. [quote=“Jay313, post:10, topic:36985”]
since they are the very building blocks of chimp society.

I am at a loss as to how you can judge a chimp’s behaviour - what we have is an interpretation of observations by a human observer, who judges them according to human cultural notions. Only when a chimp tells us directly that it is sinning, would we be in a position to make such a judgement.

This also seems arbitrary - I cannot find a dating method in Genesis that can be used to arrive at an accurate age or time frame (although the Genesis narrative makes the evolutionary outlook uninteresting).

Nature, of all of the creation, was as God created it - Adam and Eve were in a special place, with unhindered communion with God - it is this that is central, and, following this biblical teaching, external modelling can fit the available data on the current human population to a time frame of about 10,000 years for a common genealogical ancestor (Adam and Eve).

I think that trying to make Genesis appear at odds with anthropological inferences is unnecessary.

(Casper Hesp) #13

Theologically speaking, the attractive part of a literal Adam is that it allows for a more tenable connection between the First Adam and the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, as described by Paul.

However, the claim of a specially created Adam nullifies that advantage of a literal Adam. I do not think a maturely created person, who did not experience any childhood whatsoever, can ever be a literal representative of mankind. One of the special things about Jesus is that He was born of a woman and went through the vagaries of childhood like every one of us. If the Second Adam had to go through all of that, I think it is most plausible or even necessary that the same holds for the First Adam.

For me, that consideration is pretty devastating for the view of a specially created Adam. It nullifies the main theological advantage of a literal Adam. That is why I prefer the view of the “ordinarily born and raised” Adam as a respresentative of mankind before God, just as Moses represented the Jews.

(Jay Johnson) #14

Of course, a chimp can’t sin.

Someone better inform Jane Goodall! There seems to be an entire “scientific” discipline devoted to it, called “primatology.”

In regard to inserting a recent Adam into the flow of history, yes, the chosen dates seem rather arbitrary. They aren’t my dates. But, if someone wants to postulate a literal man named Adam placed in a garden around 4000 B.C. (6,000 years ago), then there are a lot of questions to be answered. The Fertile Crescent was the most populous place on earth at that time, with an estimated population of over a million people living along the Tigris/Euphrates rivers. God planted a garden astride those rivers, and no one noticed? No one tried to investigate and enter the garden? Did God hide it from their sight, even though the rivers were the highways of the day?

I’m sorry, but I couldn’t believe it even if I tried. The whole explanation is convoluted and contrived and illogical. It feels like a TV series I’ve been watching for years suddenly “jumped the shark.”

So, our dating of “Adam” conveniently fits the genealogical model? And are we talking about 10,000 years before today, or 10,000 years before Christ? Is it possible that when Jesus walked the earth in the 1st century, some human groups were not yet “theological humans”? Were some South American Homo sapiens still “not Fallen” at that time? Did Jesus not die for them, too, or was his sacrificial death of no benefit to them until they were infected by Fallen humans and made part of the family of Adam?

Anyway, I’ll leave it behind for now, but I’m not trying to make Genesis appear at odds with history or anthropology. Just the opposite, actually …[quote=“Casper_Hesp, post:13, topic:36985”]
If the Second Adam had to go through all of that, I think it is most plausible or even necessary that the same holds for the First Adam. … That is why I prefer the view of the “ordinarily born and raised” Adam as a respresentative of mankind before God, just as Moses represented the Jews.
Agree. Kierkegaard said the same in The Concept of Angst 15 years before Darwin set pen to paper. As I’ve put it elsewhere:

If Christ, the second Adam, “had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect” to represent us before God (Heb. 2:17), shouldn’t the first Adam bear at least some resemblance to us in order to represent us before God? The answer, of course, must be “yes.”

(GJDS) #15

My point is to highlight the unnecessary extrapolation from the narrative in Genesis to peripheral areas (even if they are interesting). My reading is that Adam was created from the earth, and he and Eve were in communion with God - the garden is also spoken as a special place for communion with God. I think that if we toss out these central points, the rest of our narrative will not make sense.

I grant you that it is tempting to provide a narrative that appears coherent and may accommodate evolutionary aspects of current thinking, but in my view, that takes the focus away from the teaching in Genesis. Yes Adam would have to have been typical of all of us as human beings; yes we move from the first Adam to Christ, and this is a powerful way of focussing our attention on salvation in Christ, and the new man that this entails. These teachings of the Christian faith are not modified or changed, whatever narrative people seem to need in terms of evolution.

My point on dating is that this too is external, and not derived from the teachings in Genesis - as far as the paper that deals with this model, the time frame is derived from the data.

(George Brooks) #16


I think you know that these were exactly my objections as well!

But then… pushed on with a prick of a goad from Brad … I suddenly came to this conclusion:

If the YEC “world view” was amenable to logic such as yours and mine, Casper, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in right now.

So… is it fair-play to endorse a solution that I personally don’t hold to? Well, I think it is!

For more than a year, I have been able to sincerely support those BioLogos folks who prefer to see (who even insist on seeing) lots of “miraculous action” by God. But personally, I prefer a God (and a universe) where God has arranged almost everything to be produced and supported by natural law and processes.

If someone was an Old Earth Evolutionist… but occasionally God would make flagella here or there … wasn’t really a problem for me. So now @Swamidass (aka: The Swami) has formulated only a slightly different scenario from one I have already endorsed:

Millions of Years of Old Earth Evolution … with God’s miraculous production - - not of a flagellum, but - - of a special human couple… who merge into the rather large population of humans on the cusp of Moral Agency!

That’s a dramatic scenario for sure. And while you, @Casper_Hesp, and I shake our heads over the idea that there would be humans with no childhood experiences and so forth … this was obviously never a concern of YECs, right?

In my view, this is the missing piece… the piece that connects the YEC world to the world of Science. I don’t believe Science proves the creation of Adam and Eve, but I do think that there is nothing in Science and that prevents the scenario from happening.

If you believe in Miracles at all… you are already participating in this intersection of two worlds:

lawful order (with fossils and an Earth that is billions of years old)

+ + + 

God’s divine and miraculous order (with Jesus as God, making wine, and Adam & Eve created out of dust).

I can live with this solution… as part of the BioLogos “Big Tent”!

@Marty, I think we have lift off!

(Stephen Matheson) #17

When I was a Christian, I always found the notion of “special creation” to be problematic. I never saw—and have still never seen—evidence that required “special creation” as an explanation. (Fine tuning of cosmological constants is a slight possibility.) The only use for “special creation” was to create or defend some strange “supernatural” narrative, and the circularity of this maneuver is dizzying. “Special creation,” in other words, is only useful when trying to justify… special creation stories.

There is one partial solution for believers who want to retain intellectual integrity: evolution and development and cell biology and biochemistry provide explanations that can all be called “special creation.” I know that’s not what anyone means when they start a thread about “special creation,” but it provides some nice benefits.

  1. No more need to concoct ridiculous “explanations” such as the bizarre 2-person founding of a human population as described in this thread, or ID in all its nonsensical glory.
  2. No more risk of defining non-supernatural explanation as unspecial or even not from god. This kind of thing, which I called blasphemy back when I thought that word was an appropriate one to use, is rampant in discussions of “creation” by Christians.
  3. Freedom to marvel at the real world of biology (and physics and chemistry etc) and even to be moved to awe and worship by it.

“Special creation” is ridiculous.


It would seem to me that the null hypothesis is supported in this study. What you have proposed is that a population with Adam and Even would be identical to a population without Adam and Eve. That would mean you have no signal that sticks out above the noise which supports the null hypothesis.

While this may be a legitimate theological position to take, it doesn’t seem to be a scientific one.

(Jay Johnson) #19

I’m still a Christian and will always be one, but I always found it a problem, too. I apologize for riffing on this again right after I said I was leaving it behind, but besides all the usual problems of how specially-created Adam and Eve learned to speak or to follow a rule, I want to think for a minute about what happened after they were kicked out of the garden. Whether 10,000 years ago or 6,000 years ago, how did this man and woman simply re-integrate back into society? Without parents or the experience of growing up in human society, how would they fare? Adam wouldn’t even know how to greet a stranger. Eve wouldn’t know how or when to wean a baby. They would have zero understanding of what we consider “basic” social knowledge, unless God implanted it in their heads. Hmmmm.

Okay, I’ll leave it behind for real, now. But here’s a final thought:

Just as a species or a language cannot arise from a single individual, “sin” could not be invented by a single individual, either. If “sinfulness” is truly a universal condition of mankind, it arose in the human population, not a single scapegoat named “Adam.”

(Peaceful Science) #20

You are right, somewhat, but that also misreads what I am saying. Affirmation of the de novo creation of Adam not a scientific position in the sense that science does not ever make claims about God’s action (methodological naturalism). So in that sense you are right.

However, I am not, nor have I ever, claimed that the de novo creation of Adam is a scientific finding.

Rather, I have demonstrated that science is silent on this matter, much as it is silent on the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth. It gives us no evidence for or against these things, including de novo creation of Adam. For this reason, it is a scientific error to say that the de novo creation of Adam is in conflict with the scientific evidence. If no evidence can be produced against a claim, it is not in conflict with the evidence. Those who disagree are welcome to present evidence against the de novo creation of Adam if they care to try. Other than arguments from theology and hermeneutics, which may or may not be valid, there is no evidence against it.

So science is silent on the de novo creation of Adam, and those who care to are welcome to speculate as much as they want about this option. Perhaps they are wrong, but their error has nothing to do with the scientific evidence.