The Big Tent ... and Genealogical Adam!

I have always eagerly described BioLogos as a Big Tent regarding Christian interpretation of pro-Evolution ideas.

But now i find myself hard-put to explain the BioLogos view (if there is one) regarding Swamidass’ scenarios for Evolution of a Pre-Adamite population WITH Special Creation of Adam & Eve. I say this because I’m not sure if BioLogos takes a position.

Joshua @Swamidass refers to these various scenarios as “Genealogical Adam & Eve” - - - while I tend to call it “Dual Creation” (when informally communicating to some correspondent). The reason for the term “Genealogical” is to explain how a founder couple can become the Genealogical ancestor relatively quickly and over millions of people. Some computer simulations consistently produce this outcome in less than 2000 years.

Technically speaking, I am assuming that Genealogical Adam is already a part of the BioLogos Big-Tent . . . because the idea was “birthed” here in the give-and-take of theological discussion of BioLogos. But I suffer the impression that it is not particularly popular amongst most any of the writers or thinkers here. I wonder what aspect of Genealogical Adam poses the biggest concern for participants here at BioLogos?

I persevere with the general idea because it seems to be almost mathematically the “midpoint” between the Theistic Evolutionists of BioLogos and the Creationists who are most sympathetic to the rigors of Science and what it means to Christians.

In my view, the hard part has always been to encourage Creationists to become “more flexible” on matters of Evolution. If the topic of “Genealogical Adam” became a more active area under the BioLogos umbrella … would it help move more Creationists more towards a point midway between “All Evolution” and “All Creationism”? - - namely my now favorite position: “Sometimes Both!”?

Opposing views are welcome… Even “Congruent but Different Views” would be awesome!


Oh… this will probably help the curious!


I see it as fundamentally concordist and highly speculative because of those concordist concerns. Those just aren’t my concerns so genealogical Adam doesn’t buy me anything theologically and it opens up a whole other set of unresolved of questions. I agree with Josh that many Christians want concordism, but I would say we should try to talk them out of wanting that instead of providing a “scientifically palatable” option. Concordist approaches aren’t all that popular with lots of BioLogos people.


The approach is sort of a “have your cake and eat it too” idea, which is attractive. However, that also is of concern as we find those deals are often too good to be true. I think the greatest strength of Joshua’s approach is that it opens the door for discussion, and allows the concordists to engage without giving ground on a deeply held belief.
Now if only we could agree that these pesky little details are not foundational to Christian faith.


Mr Brooks, greetings!

I think that many here are new, and never heard of genealogical Adam. I joined after the main discussion, and only recently learned about it. You may need to discuss that more.

Have you been able to get a poll of the YEC views on Genealogical Adam? I’d really like to know what they think; I know that Wayne Grudem’s assessment of the 12 objections 12 Ideas You Must Embrace to Affirm Theistic Evolution | Crossway Articles is not the only group, though it’s the one my church embraces. I have even been thinking about writing him a letter to ask how he thinks about the genealogical Adam. I don’t see how they fit the genealogical Adam any better than another form. However, I’m willing to learn. I know that Dr Swamidass said that Dr Grudem’s secretary didn’t respond encouragingly to his email, but I wondered if Dr Grudem would respond to a hard copy letter. It would be interesting and helpful to promote discussion.

Kathryn Applegate voiced some ideas in favor of this, I think…

Michael Heiser does not believe in the transmission of guilt from Adam and is an orthodox writer Dr. Michael Heiser on Original Sin - YouTube.

I personally feel if YEC or other types accept this, that’s fine. I can talk to them about this in brotherly (or sisterly) love, as with my own parents. who were in this camp as well. I personally don’t agree that God holds us responsible for Adam’s sin; and I am not a concordist; but the point here is not to argue that, but to discuss how science fits into our various understandings of Genesis. You’re right; this is a big tent. The more views, the better. However, it’s great to remember that God sees our hearts; and that it’s not an attempt to diminish His work at all if we disagree on the understanding of a historical Adam.

I am attending a discussion between Dr Richard Mouw and Dr Praveen Sethupathy @praveens on 9/24 in Grand Rapids. I will try to bring a report on this sometime.

God bless.

1 Like

I think that it can be challenging to demand that the Old Testament give us a spontaneous creation of Adam and Eve. While that is how Christians have historically understood such, and Paul’s use of Adam in a few verses for many still demands such- is that how the early chapters of Genesis were ever meant to be understood? It’s not that many people just want to keep one of the more common readings of the text because they like it, but are asking whether or not that reading is even the best one in the first place!

You also have some overlap with this idea and the idea that God created a false history (at least a genetic one) in Adam and Eve (where they only appear to share common descent with all other hominids but really do not-i.e. the deceiver God). That idea appears to be generally rejected by most Christians, at least with regards to the disciplines of cosmology/astronomy/astrophysics/geology/stratiagraphy/etc.

I know I have more learning to do, but I think some of the ideas above are some things to flesh out more.



Thanks for the link to the 12 objections. I’ve heard about this list, but I have never taken the time to really read them. So I’ll treat myself to a religious retreat (mini-retreat) and do it right now. My responses will be in bold.

[1] Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, and perhaps Adam and Eve never even existed.
This is half an issue. Adam & Eve become unquestionable historical persons.
But Adam & Eve would not be the first humans. The first humans, bearing the image of God as described in Genesis 1, were humans produced - - by God Himself - - via Evolutionary forces that he controlled directly and specifically. God was in charge of each step of Evolution, and produced a population of anywhere from 1000 to 100,000 humans, depending on denominational preferences. But these humans did not yet have moral agency. They were ignorant of God’s future instructions to Adam & Eve.
So, as to “half the issue”, Genealogical Adam would hold to the view that being the first humans is not nearly as important as being the first humans fitted with moral agency!

[2] Adam and Eve were born from human parents.
Genealogical Adam allows for the Special Creation of Adam and Eve. No problem here.

[3] God didn’t act directly or specially to create Adam out of dust from the ground.
Genealogical Adam allows for Adam to be specially made out of dust from the ground. Bingo.

[4] God didn’t act directly to create Eve from a rib taken from Adam’s side.
Genealogical Adam (or Genealogical Adam & Eve) allows for God to act directly to create Eve from a rib taken from Adam’s side. Bingo again!

[5] Adam and Eve were never sinless human beings.
The moral status of the Pre-Adamite population becomes moot; the historical Adam & Eve are created and placed in Eden as the moral laboratory of the Lord.

[6] Adam and Eve did not commit the first human sins because human beings were doing morally evil things long before Adam and Eve existed.
Genealogical Adam proposes a Pre-Adamite population of humans who would be, essentially, amoral or non-moral. They were without moral instruction or moral guidance. Evil enters the world via Adam & Eve.

[7] Human death did not begin as a result of Adam’s sin because human beings existed long before Adam and Eve and they were always subject to death.
I think this question borders on ignorance. The Tree of Life, by the Lord’s own testimony, is what gave Adam & Eve their lease on immortality. And by the Lord’s own words, he admits that even with Sin, Adam and Eve could still eat of the Tree of Life. So the premise of [7] is just wrong: Adam & eve were always vulnerable to death, with or without sin.

[8] Not all human beings have descended from Adam and Eve for there were thousands of other human beings on the earth at the time that God chose two of them and called them Adam and Eve.
This is the specific attribute of Genealogical God that catches most people by surprise. Using relatively restrained assumptions regarding Human migration from continent to continent, most Genealogical simulations provide for a given mated pair to co-opt all the humans of Earth within about 2000 years … and this is with random migration. If God took a specific interest, and made sure some boats got driven by storms to specific destinations (which was exactly the early Celtic Church view of God-guided migrations by boat), every human living would be descended from Adam & Eve by the time of the birth of Jesus!

[9] God did not directly act in the natural world to create different kinds of fish, birds, and land animals.
AHHH… easy one… God directed acted in the natural world to create different kinds of animals… but not by Special Creation. He used mutations and natural factors of natural selection to produce each kind of creature, thus providing consistency with God-produced evidence for Evolution. This is analogous to God choosing to create Rain through Miraculous Means vs. through Evaporation and Condensation. If Creationists can rely on the idea that God planned for every Genome of all these Kinds by quick Special Creation, Christian Evolutionists can rely on the idea that God used non-miraculous means to produce these very same kinds. The key difference between this approach and Old Earth Creationism is that the latter typically believes God periodically created new kinds (by Special Creation) and allowed the new kind to experience micro-evolution as adaptations to the environment God placed them.

[10] God did not rest from his work of creation or stop any special creative activity after plants, animals, and human beings appeared on the earth.
I think the interpretation of [10] is rather arguable. says this about this question: “On the sixth day, Adam tends the garden, names all the animals, undergoes divine surgery and marries Eve. These events seem too significant and long to happen in one ordinary day. The seventh day, in contrast to the first six, never closes with an evening and morning. In fact, Psalm 95 and Hebrews 4 indicate that we still live in the seventh day.”

[11] God never created an originally very good natural world—a safe environment, free of thorns, thistles, and other harmful things.
Genealogical Adam allows for Eden and all these features. Even Genesis must admit there are things living outside of Eden, like whales for example.

[12] After Adam and Eve sinned, God did not place any curse on the world that changed the workings of the natural world, making it more hostile to mankind.
Genealogical Adam allows for the curses and the rest … the only difference being the Pre-Adamite population is there for Cain to marry into… and to build a city for … and to offer consistency with God-provided fossil evidence of substantial primate evolution.

Comments and rebuttals encouraged!

[[ P.S. I should point out that Joshua Swamidass no doubt has much better or at least different answers than what I think makes sense to me at this time. ]]

Thanks for your hard work, Mr Brooks. Can you send this to Dr Grudem? I am totally serious.

Dr. Wayne Grudem
Phoenix Seminary
7901 East Shea Boulevard
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

To make an appointment with Dr. Grudem during his office hours at Phoenix Seminary, contact:
Administrative Assistant: Jennifer Gosh

Et de plus–je vais me coucher–bonne nuit/ da yanzu, zan kwana; und jetzt werde ich nach Bett gehen. Schlafen Sie gut!
good night! God bless.



This is one of the advantages of Genealogical Adam… I used to contend against Original Sin and The Fall of Mankind at every opportunity. I would point out that Eastern Orthodox communions were uninterested in Original Sin as an important principle for centuries …

But once I encountered this scenario for a Dual-kind of Creation, Original Sin no longer became a problem for me. Sure… you aren’t a fan. And I, as a Unitarian Universalist, am also not a fan. But I don’t have to be. I don’t even have to contend over exactly when Adam & Eve were created.

6000 years ago? Fine with me. 10,000 years ago… sure, I can go there. After 100,000 years, I start to wonder what’s going on in the other person’s head, but it really doesn’t matter to me, as long as they realize that the Pre-Adamite population is included in the scenario in order to dove-tail with the actual evidence of primate evolution.


Are you misunderstanding the central thrust of the title Genealogical Adam?

While the scenario clearly doesn’t make Adam and Eve the SOLE ancestral couple… by the time of Jesus, every human on Earth would come under the federal headship of Adam & Eve… as authentic descendants of Adam & Eve by virtue of one of their offspring marrying into some nearby (or distant) population sometime in the intervening period. While other human couples could also claim the status of Universal Ancestral Couple … they would not have the status or the authority of the one couple that was formed by Special Creation and who actually walked with God in Eden.

If we move to other areas of Genesis, story arcs like the Global Flood (which eliminates all humanity except for Noah and his son’s families), would make even shorter work of the whole process. But it also works for those who see the flood as merely a regional development… though it would take longer to accomplish I suppose.

If this weren’t the case, @Swamidass probably would have come up with a completely different terminology.


I respect the views you are offering. In fact, I am even attracted to them. But they really don’t resolve the problems many Creationists have with the New Testament investment in Adam & Eve (i.e., Paul’s assertions). Now you and I can easily craft an understanding that accommodates these things. Gosh… the Eastern Orthodox didn’t find Paul’s words to be much of a problem at all.

Unfortunately, the people trying to bring primitive Biblicism to American public schools are not the Greek Orthodox! They are people entrenched in the magical notions of Augustine’s Original Sin! And these erudite considerations you bring to the thread are not solutions for such people.

So while you may in fact be correct… i cannot advocate your positions. I have to advocate what I think will make a difference in the future generations of the Evangelical movement! Why would a possibly ambivalent Creationist come all the way to your position … when he can move into the middle and have BOTH?!

He gets to keep the preponderance of natural evidence for Evolution … while still having a reasonably plausible discussion for why Adam & Eve were exceptional and formed by God via Special Creation?

Genealogical Adam is the “mid-ground” … that requires the least sacrifice by Creationists … or by the next generation of Creationists!

Yes I know. But they would share the same genetic signatures as the rest of the hominids of common descent. Unless one could clearly identify in their genome how they in no way shape or form share common descent with any other hominids. I think at the very least they could share the ERV signature that led to the development of the placenta in mammals, I.e. a false genetic history.

1 Like


I’m not getting your point here. As you know, the genetic evidence of Adam & Eve quickly dissipates… mostly vanishing (on a chromosome by chromosome basis within 7 generations). In fact, it is this fact which allows Adam & Eve’s special creation to be included in the scenario without any threat to overthrowing established science. There is virtually no way anyone could track or identify Adam & Eve’s DNA, even if we knew what it was.

ERV’s would enter the genomes of all human descendants via the normal process… because the pre-Adamites can be 10,000 or 100,000 or 500,000.

The “phantom” of Y-DNA or Mitochondrial DNA are more rhetorical illusions once a chain of Male-to-Male descent is broken by even a single female generation (and the same for Female-to-Female descent broken by even a single male generation).

Maybe you could explain a little bit more what you think Genealogical Adam doesn’t do - - that you want it to be doing? And I’ll try to figure out what you mean…

It isn’t a false history if the Pre-Adamite humans really are the product of multiple generations of primate evolution! That’s the point of the Pre-Adamite humans… they are there because the evidence says they exist. And Adam and Eve are added to the mix, just a single special couple, because the Bible says THEY existed.

Are you talking about the false history of 6000 years? Well, that’s a problem that Genealogical Adam solves, right? It explains why Genesis tells this story of Adam and his closest relatives… even though Humanity has been around for a lot more than 6000 years…

This subject has been discussed ad nauseam, and I cannot help but think that it is underpinned by a desire to turn it into the “bible vs evolution”. If this is the case, it would be a mistake.

Genesis has never been understood as an alternative to any branch of science. Adam and Eve are clearly stated as events undertaken by God. After this, any treatment of genealogical modelling conforms to an understanding that Adam and Eve are our ancestors. Everything beyond this theologically deals with our understanding of Christ, and has little relevance to any biological theory.


You must be responding to someone other than me. My goal is to “turn the Bible into God’s creation by Special Creation AND God’s use of Evolution”.

The point is if A&E were a special creation they would still require a genome that includes traces of a false history. The thousands of ERV’s for example.


I have to confess… this seems like a nutty objection.

If you submerge even the most perfect genome of two humans into a population of 10k or 50k or 100k individuals… by the time you get to 1950 … nobody is going to be able to find those perfect genomes. They will be LONG GONE… but the Genealogical Status of the couple will be unfettered and far more potent than the microscopic traces of minced genome scattered from here to oblivion.

This is the difference between a Genetic Adam & Eve … and a Genealogical Adam & Eve. It doesn’t matter what the genetics of the original couple are … because nobody is going to have posssession of any significant amount… assuming any of it is actually extent.

If it were to actually be an important issue… God could easily arrange for the 10th generation possessors of Adam and Eve’s genetics to be complete dead-ends. In 2000 years, there will be hundreds of dead-end couples who have nothing to do with a single living human - - either at the time of Jesus … or at the time of the Atomic Age.

1 Like

Every human contains the same set of ERV insertions. They don’t go away no matter how many generations.

You are correct. But the original couple have to have genomes that would look like they came from other humans. You can’t say their genome was just created without the ERV’s because it was a ERV that resulted in placental mammals so A&E would need to retain that one at least if not more. So a special creation of A&E would have to look like a normal human birth if you examine their genomes. Now the question is “What exactly was special about A&E, if not their genetics?”

1 Like

Interesting stuff, but have to admit that the more I study it, the more it seems that the story of Adam and Eve is closer to the long held idea that the story is a metaphor for life, with the Eden portion being innocence of childhood, the sexual and moral awakening of maturity, the inevitable rebellion (teenagers anyone?) and the expulsion into the adult world of work and and conflict and pain.



And all we Unitarian Universalists were wondering when all you zealous types would finally see this!

Next on the agenda is Samson… the story is a Canaanite story about a Sun God (his hair is a classic reference to the Sun’s rays)… when the Sun’s rays are shorn… it is powerless… when Samson is blind, the sun is again, powerless. It is a Judaized version of a pagan story for children.

Herodotus tells the story of the Magophonia … which is the Greek term for “Slaughter of the Magi”. Esther is the JUDAIZED version of this story … with climactic day of long knives being a reference to the actual day-long persecution of the Magian sect that had hoped to take over the Empire. Each year thereafter, Magi stayed in-doors while the rest of Persia re-enacted their bold suppression of their religious guild!

Interestingly, Esther is the one book they don’t find in the Dead Sea scrolls… with never much of an explanation. But the Essenes shared a close affinity with Magian sect… the references to covered toilet ritual… not offending the Sun… this comes right out of the Zoroastrian playbook. So Esther was almost certainly frowned upon by the Essenes as taking too much glee out of the violent oppression of the Essene counterparts in Persia.

What’s my point? These viewpoints are as real to me as a BioLogos writer proposing that there was no literal Adam & Eve. But what is most logical is not really the point, is it?

The question is: what sounds closest to Creationist views in a way that will allow a new generation of Creationists to accept the reality of Evolutionary science? We have already established that Creationists have a different sense of priorities and a different perception of what is Real. This really has nothing to do with what is True and Provable.

So… we already know that Christian Evolutionists tolerate miracles … that’s why Christmas is still a smashing holiday! So the miraculous creation of 2 humans fits in with that sensibility perfectly.

The challenge is getting Creationists to let go of the 6 literal days - - but this is already demonstrated as a possibility by the Old Earther groups.

So, @JPM, imagine how frivolous it sounds to some of us - - while we delicately shape theological folds of the Bible to simultaneously embrace both God’s use of Special Creation and God’s use of Evolution all at the same time - - when we hear the stodgy throat clearings of Theistic Evolutionists commenting that Adam & Eve seem more mythical and more about word play with the word “dust” than anything else?!

Gosh… say it aint so! You mean you don’t think there was an Adam, and if you did, you wouldn’t believe he lived to the age of 900+ years!!!

I am completely shocked.

But I am not shocked by the conclusion. I am shocked that when someone thinks the Truth, as we understand it, has anything to do with Creationist Truth as they understand it.

1 Like

I feel compelled to ask, doesn’t this mean that God becomes an odd “add-on” to this somewhat unique metaphor - perhaps an irrelevant portion the Hebrews for some reason added to this metaphor?

I am inclined to think that a far better version may be along your suggestion, without talking snakes etc., if this was what the writers wanted to say.

1 Like