Continuing the discussion from Who best reconciles the Bible and Evolution?:
Thanks for the question @jpm.
Drawing on a conversation with @LorenHaarsma, we can think of three theological/historical eras in a scenario where Adam and Eve are couple in a larger population.
- Era 1 is before Adam and Eve are created, but there are still pre-Adamic beings around.
- Era 2 is after Adam and Eve are created, but they have not become universal ancestors of all living people, so there are non-Adamic beings alive.
- Era 3 is after Adam and Eve have become universal ancestors of all living people.
You are asking about the status of non-Adamic beings in Era 2.
FIrst, let me make a few points on the science. I assert that we are living in Era 3 at this time, because the length of Era 2 is most likely just 3,000 years. The more distant in our past Adam and Eve are situated, the faster Era 2 passes. It might have only been 1,000 years long if it happened when the population was smaller and if Adam’s descendents were travelers. All the same, genealogical ancestors are unobservable in genetic and archaeological data. We cannot be sure from evidence about exactly when each era begins or when it ends.
Second, let me make some theological points.
- We do not know from Scripture how non-Adamic beings are received by God, but we might point to passages in Romans about the law on our hearts or the age of accountability. Ultimately, however, this is a mystery.
- The Bible appears to teach a single origin to sin (“through one man sin entered the world”), but it does not teach a single origin to “Image of God.”
- Historically, there is a strong sentiment of racism underlying some contemplation of non-Adamic lines, but this is misguided for several reasons. As just two reasons, why would we think the Fallen line of Adam is better than not-Fallen non-Adamic lines? Moreover, we live in Era 3, unless Adam and Eve were less than 3,000 years ago, so we do not currently face non-Adamic lines.
- Mystery should invite us to imagine possibilities with the worship of creative curiosity. So I will indulge, not because I know the answer, but because imagination is the flourishing of the human spirit.
From that starting point, I draw heavily from CS Lewis, one of the foremost thinkers on non-Adamic beings, and his approach to theologize fiction. In the Chronicles of Narnia, we see unfallen non-Adamic lines everywhere, without a hint of racism. Likewise, in the Space trilogy, we see fallen non-Adamic lines and the true evil of which all are capable.
Adding to these musing, we can imagine an Adamic fall that reshapes the entire world of men by bringing God-Imaged Fallenness to all across the globe in a single instant. Perhaps it comes in the form a cataclysmic dream as @tremperlongman suggests for the Flood. In this case, all in Era 2 would have the same status.
Maybe the genealogy of Adam also includes adoption, as it does in the genealogy of Jesus. And Adam’s line grown not just by biology but also by the willful choice of non-Adamites to enter and join the world that Adam creates.
In this last scenario, I think we get a better account of the Fall, which hinges on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I think this is Knowledge of Good and Evil (as in moral capacity that brings responsibility) and Knowledge for Good and Evil (as world-shaping power that than can be used for good and evil). Adam and Eve choose to take world-shaping power for themselves, even though it brings them into accountability for the world they will create. This is how taking the fruit “brings death” to them.
We can understand God’s participation in bringing them knowledge (i.e. leather and farming) as respecting the decision to claim this world-shaping knowledge, and affirming consistent with the rest of Scripture that the knowledge itself is not evil. The end of their immortality and God’s physical absence from this world after the Fall can be understood as God’s response to knowing that Adam will use this knowledge to create a world of evil. He chooses not be complicit in the world of injustice that they will create, and that is why God no longer walks with us the same as He did in the Garden. He will not participate in our injustice. He will not remain present in the same way as in the Garden.
This, I would say, is the original sin of Adam and how if affects us all. From him, we inherit a man-made world of great injustice, in which we are all complicit. As reflectors of God by nature, we are crippled by God’s absence, and are bound instead to an idolatry that grows our injustice. We are shaped by his sin in an irrevocable way, except for Jesus. This, I would say, is how Adam’s sin “brings death to all mankind.”
The solution to this problem is for God somehow to find a way to walk with us again without destroying us, in a clear representation of Himself, so that we might have hope of reflecting Him again even though we are still bound to Adam’s world. This account cries out for the Incarnation and our basic need for forgiveness. It points to Jesus, as only He is the return of God to the world, to walk among us again and grant us forgiveness for our participation in a world of injustice.
In this account, the Fall gives understanding to the Incarnation.
I know @JRM is thinking about this some, and I look forward to hearing his thoughts on the genealogical Adam.
This, I feel, is a better account than most. I cannot call it true, because we have only just begun to dream of Adam. There is not just one option but hundreds. Facing the mystery, our generation needs the fearless imagination of creative curiosity.