The Big Tent ... and Genealogical Adam!

Perhaps so. I think part of what makes the passage ( and the rest of the Bible) great is it can have layers of meaning , relating to different aspects of God’s revelation at different times. We do have to be careful though not to just read into it whatever we want, which is why I have to listen to both you guys and church tradition to keep on track. It is interesting to read of traditional Jewish interpretation as well, which is definitely filled with metaphor and symbolism.



I didn’t realize you had responded to my prior post. My apologies for the delay.

In the past several weeks, sometimes someone asks about what kind of genome would God give Adam and Eve? There are lots of options to consider, right? First, does Eve get a unique genome? Or does she just get Adam’s without the “Y” chromosome? Don’t know. Does it matter?

If Adam and Eve have identical genomes, what is the basis for their genetic inventory? Do they somehow represent perfect humans, despite all the junk genetic sites included too? I would think that would be a plausible option. I don’t know. Does it matter?

Now this I hadn’t heard about before … an ERV was responsible for the emergence of placental mammals? Very impressive! That needs its own thread I would think. But let me ask you this: is it still considered an ERV if it gets modified and activated as an important genetic switch fundamental to a whole phenotypical lineage? I would think we would categorize it as “originating from an ERV” … but it isn’t STILL an ERV is it?


In response to this particular statement … I don’t think I suggested that Adam’s or Eve’s ERV’s would go away… I was discussing what if God didn’t include them. The more I think about it, the less plausible that seems … if Adam and Eve had all the junk removed, that would be an awful lot of genetic material missing, yes?

In any case, the original point was no matter WHAT genetic material Adam & Eve were given, it would be a simple matter to have all the lineages that received these odd-ball genetic pieces lead to genealogical dead-ends. The “Genealogical” part of Genealogical Adam (GA) is that the actual genetic content of the Ancestral Couple is not expected to survive all the way to 2018. There are plenty of branches of the A&E family tree that just extinguish naturally (or, with God’s modulations, extinguish super-naturally).


The most important question is this one!:

Do you know of any significant Biblical commentator who attributes Original Sin to Adam’s genetics? The most common and/or plausible explanations, in my view, are:

  1. the concept of Federal headship… which is, in essence, a Genealogical concept. There are hundreds of genealogical societies in America and around the world which are built on birth and marriage records … without a single shred of genetic testing available (which is probably a good thing, right?). I have belonged to several:
    o Sons of the American Revolution,
    o Sons of the Revolution (which still owns the Fraunces Tavern in NYC where Washington said good bye to his sword bearing officers).
    o John Alden Kindred (which owns the 2nd house that John & Priscilla Alden built in Ducksberry (now spelled Duxbury, Mass.).
    o Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants.

John & Priscilla Alden are nearly revered in various corners of New England … and it is because of their genealogical status, rather than the continued existence of any of their genetic material.

  1. the other mechanism for transmission of Original Sin is one few people are willing to discuss: because God,
    the maker of Souls, started producing souls with Original Sin IN them!

But let me offer one other thought … pursuant to the question of what made Adam and Eve special (regardless of how Original Sin would be transmitted).

I think what made them special is preserved very nicely in the Genealogical Adam scenario(s): they were the first humans God engaged on the issue of moral agency. Some say God knew they would fail. Some say he didn’t know for sure. But pretty clearly, God knew what he was going to do either way. This special emotional or cognitive capacity to engage in moral thinking is sometimes described as a trait that can be communicated just by living amongst the innocents.

Either way, if God hadn’t intended for Adam and Eve to communicate Moral Agency throughout the human race, all he would have had to do is sterilize the couple (or just one of them), and keep them in Eden for the rest of their lives. He could have started over again … and he could have done so with multiple Edens. Maybe he did.

The actual genetic component of Adam and Eve does seem to be an interesting topic… but I wouldn’t consider it to be an impossibly difficult one. It really depends on your denominational and/or personal preferences.

Mr Brooks, have you directly asked any YEC brothers and sisters about their thoughts? I would be grateful for their insight. Thanks.

And–it really doesn’t matter which way we come down. God looks at the heart, and “knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” So, if we disagree, it’s OK.

What started this conversation was the simple observation that a special creation of A&E could also lead to the problem of a false history. In this case their genetics.


It does if they are going to marry and have children with other homo sapiens. The genomes do have to match to a fairly close degree.

It was mentioned fairly recently somewhere around here if my memory is correct.

To this layperson that would be yes.

The original point was no matter what genetic material was given to A&E it should have to include evidence of their common descent from earlier hominins. It would be the same as creating a 100 year old tree with tree rings. Except the tree could be created without the rings but A&E couldn’t be created without the junk.

Not necessarily his genetics but it was certainly preached it happened to his kids.

I have never been a big fan of Federal Headship. Even if Adam is a great-great-…grandfather of everyone how many other great-great-…grandfathers are there? Why would only Adam count for more than all of the others.

And how was this supposed to be spread across the entire world?

Third option, God created people with the capacity to sin.


We have several YECs engaging with @Swamidass as we speak… at .

He uses the discourse system like BioLogos.Org does. Lots of ID folks there, including the
sometimes regular appearance of @agauger. It is interesting to see how much those ID folks really, really
want to equate the open acceptance of Adam & Eve’s special creation with “the ability of Science to detect
God’s operations”.

But Dr. J doesn’t budget an inch (and rightly so). The point I frequently have to make in that set of boards is if a YEC is not just trying to get his bibles into public schools, there should be no real need to push on the specific topic of science being able to “Detect God’s Teleology” at PeacefulScience.

We aren’t an atheist board; we don’t need to prove teleology to accept the reality of God. But old ID habits are hard to let down I suppose!

@Randy, we should have less to dispute! As I mentioned in another posting, I’m even okay with Original Sin in a scenario nowadays. The only thing that seems to rile me over there nowadays is when an Old Earther comes in insisting that God spread his Special Creations of kinds over millions of years … just making it LOOK like animals were evolving.

That just gets me every time!


I know–I thought you were curious as to what YEC brothers and sisters would think about the discussion you made with regard to Grudem’s 12 points, as it appears that that is the quintessential presentation. I just wanted to see what you found out. It was a good, point by point discussion. I believe you said that the genealogical A&E would be more acceptable to them, but I have never seen anyone from YEC engage with this. There are several on our discourse as well, and it would be interesting to see what they think (on either discourse; my church and family are essentially all YEC, and it would be helpful for them). Clarification is always helpful, but it really doesn’t matter at base. “iron sharpens iron,” and all that.

I don’t agree with the genealogical Adam personally because of the idea of attributing retributive attitudes to God --Jesus was a better manifestation, and I think the OT ANE culture transferred their vengefulness on Him (as in Noah’s curse of Canaan–for Ham’s sin; and Isaac’s of some of his children and their kids, etc). There are 2 branches of reasoning–the logical, scientific way, and also the legal way; I have WLC’s book on the atonement and beginning it, but it doesn’t make sense for me yet. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get along.

Anyway–have a good night. It’s fun to read your sharp brain think.


You know… that’s a sentence I haven’t heard yet! What exactly does it mean? What are its implications?

I confess I haven’t focused enough to post those 12 answers back at Peaceful Science… I guess I should do that tonight or tomorrow if I can just stop jumping from one half-finished project to another …

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I agree, but I would add that we need to always accept the text as an aspect of the teaching (and tradition) of the faith, and a central tenant is that God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a setting where they communed with God. From this we may contemplate on the immature choice they made, and the childish notion that a talking snake convinced them that God was keeping some pleasure from them.


Sounds like you started a thread to advocate for a position that you don’t believe yourself. This may be how you feel, but you probably shouldn’t say it out loud. There might be some Creationists in the room!


Creationists are already amazed that more people don’t find Special Creation logically more reasonable.

While my public stance (advocating a theoretical framework that I don’t think is the best one) is unusual, it doesn’t really create much of an impact. Maybe it’s a lot like the “come to the altar” reflex? When someone goes down to the altar, not many people seem to care exactly why … as long as he went!


Ironically, it is usually the “Evolvution or DIE” zealots who are most troubled by it. Maybe you can ponder that irony…

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Randy said: “I don’t agree with the genealogical Adam personally because of the idea of attributing retributive attitudes to God”

I’m not Randy, but I have similar reservations about the idea that all of humanity was punished because of one person’s sin. I’m not sure that is what Josh believes, but it is the theology held by many people who need their specially created original couple. It is the difference between the concept of original sin and original guilt. Original sin says humans sinned and since all humans inherit a nature prone to sin. Original guilt says that all humans are born guilty for Adam’s sin because somehow in Adam, everyone sinned. It’s based on a mistranslation of Romans 5:12, expounded by Augustine.


Absolutely… Agreed!

But now let’s tick off the complexities:

  1. Frankly, I don’t know where Joshua belongs on the spectrum. I can ask him and get the word back here… though Joshua tells me he would love to be able to answer his own questions here at BioLogos.

  2. I myself completely reject Original Sin … but I’m a “heretical” Unitarian Universalist… so who would expect less of me?

  3. But while I personally reject Original Sin, I am now able to tolerate all those millions of Protestant Evangelicals who insist on it. It’s their mind and heart… Since Original Sin’s impact here on these boards was pretty much always about how to justify Original Sin without an historical Adam and Eve … and since the
    Genealogical Adam scenarios ALLOW for an Historical Adam and Eve …
    I can support the scenario and leave the theological ramifications to the conscience of each person who embraces the scenario.

[ Maybe that’s a partial answer to @Jay313 question and concern! ]

  1. It is certainly possible to have an Historical Adam and Eve and still not endorse Original Sin!

But why would you want them if you don’t need them for original sin? That is the whole reason as far as I can tell–Because of Paul and the doctrine of original sin derived from Romans 5.


Again, Agreed. The principle draw to this concept is the usual Evangelical zeal for Paul’s purported characterization of Adam and Eve.

But I think the WHY is the part I don’t have to teach or impart. My mission is simply to point out that Genealogical Adam provides for an Historical Adam and Eve.

This is what I was trying to explain (badly) in my prior post.

Carry on, then.


[See the thread in which Joshua answers questions (below) ]


I think it’s an admirable attempt to make a historical Adam and Eve approach for those who need that (Edited). @Swamidass. :slight_smile: But Mr Brooks, did you get any feed back from that group yet? It sounds like that is your target, no? I have been thinking of a draft to Dr Grudem. It would be nice to get a bridge to talk to them. Not that science needs to be a barrier among Christians anyway. Big tents are cool, and anyone can have a division inside if they want to discuss their interpretation (a la C S Lewis’ big house of Mere Christianity)

The above is edited to avoid the term “concordist.” I realized that it can be a confusing implication.

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You have my permission to “harvest” my answers and send them in … I’m just too wrapped up in “the struggle” of life right now. I don’t even see how I could get myself into that frame of mind over the weekend…

So, I am sincerely interested… but I am sincerely distracted from doing anything about it at the moment…

If you send it in, at least I will have the satisfaction of knowing that nobody is going to think i’m being too zealous about it …

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Thanks. JP Moreland is the other one I was thinking of. Best wishes.

The doctrine deals with human nature, which includes the universal fact that all of us have sinned. A&E show us that this nature is due to wrong choices before God, and the capacity to believe deceit regarding what God told them (and us). A&E commended on this path, and all of us followed them. Pauls shows us this, and how Christ changes it all.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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