The Logic of Adam and Eve


(system) #1
Adam and Eve are “sufficient” for bringing about Christ’s work, but not “necessary”.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/the-logic-of-adam-and-eve

(James Stump) #2

OK, so I’ve claimed “Adam and Eve sinning in the Garden of Eden” is a sufficient condition for Christ’s work. You might claim instead (or in addition) that it is a necessary condition. Such a claim would be: If Christ died on the cross, then Adam and Eve must have sinned in the garden. Then, if you deny the second half (what logicians call the consequent), then the denial of the first half (the antecedent) does logically follow. The logical form is:

If A then B
Not B
Therefore not A

And this is a perfectly valid form of arguing (modus tollens). But the difficulty here is that you have to give an argument for why Christ’s work entails Adam and Eve.

I’m open to hearing reasons for this.


(GJDS) #3

In my view, this is not a correct position or statement. The logic, as you put it, implies that sin itself was either ‘brought into existence’ by Adam and Eve, or is an ethereal thing and we simply regard the matter as something Adam and Eve ‘got into their head’ and ‘bingo’ sin entered the world.

The central arguments need to deal with: (1) sin is not intrinsic to Adam and Eve, nor humanity, as this would logically lead us to the conclusion that humanity is intrinsically evil, and redemption is nonsense, and (2) the question, “what is sin, and how did it become part of the human condition?”

The work that Christ, set from before the creation, was to defeat sin, and in this way offer salvation to those who accepted the offer.


(James Stump) #4

Thanks GJDS. I agree with you that the big question is “what is sin and how did it come to be part of the human condition?” In pre-evolutionary theory days, there was not much reason to question the traditional interpretation that stems from Augustine. Now there is. You and I have hashed that out before.

All this post is trying to show is that one of the common theological criticisms against evolution (If there was no Adam, then Christ didn’t need to die for sins) is invalidly derived from the claim: If Adam and Eve sinned (and perhaps we could add, “and passed a sinful nature on to all humanity”), then Christ would need to die for sins. (Obviously these phrases need refining depending on one’s particular theological tradition, but I think you get the picture.)


(GJDS) #5

I agree there is a big question James - but I think we may differ on your suggestion that biological evolution is subject to theological criticisms regarding this question. I suggest that irrespective of what biology says, we either think Adam and Eve created another nature (intrinsically evil or sinful), or they did not. I cannot see how biology can deal with this, nor am I aware of any ‘pre-evolutionary’ (or post evolutionary) theory days, when this question differed.

BioLogos has made it clear they do not support an ideological view derived from biological evolutionary theory (or theories). So I hope you understand the reason for my comments.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #6

@jstump

The argument that if Adam and Eve has never lived and thus has never eaten the Fruit, there would be no sin and that Jesus would not have has to die for our sins is absurd.

The real problem is that many people are unwilling to try to understand the meaning behind the story, to understand the reality and power of sin.


(James Stump) #7

I think I would understand your position better, if you’d say a bit about how you see the study of theology related to other disciplines. We use the term “dialogue” around here a lot, and there are some concerns with that. But you seem to suggest that theology ought to proceed in isolation from what we learn through other disciplines. I doubt that is really what you mean, though.


(Doug Ummel) #8

Hey Jim,

I trust that you and your family are well. Give my love to them.

So let me first see if I understand what you are saying and not saying here. Its my understanding that you are not arguing for or against a historical Adam, correct? Nor are you arguing that Christ’s penal atonement was unnecessary given the sin of Adam. Correct?

So, I think that all I hear you saying here is that Christ’s work may still have occurred without Adam? Is that right?


(James Stump) #9

Hi Doug, nice to see you here!

This post is arguing that one of the (common) arguments made for the necessity of a historical Adam and Eve is fallacious. There may be other successful arguments to that end, so yes, this post is not ultimately arguing for or against historical Adam and Eve.

And yes, I believe (though I haven’t really argued for it here) that even if there is no historical Adam and Eve, we’re still all sinners and in need of a savior, whom I take to be Jesus Christ.


(GJDS) #10

This is an extremely good question - I will try and be succinct in my response. This question became relevant when I had decided to expand a poem into a work that addressed the central tenet of Christianity, namely that of Salvation. My question as I saw it was, could I write based on what I can glean from theology, philosophy and science? I decided that all of these areas were activities by us as reasoning humans, and in a poem one should understand ones own feelings and thoughts, reasoning, and understanding. The rest becomes a matter of language and how one expresses oneself. Thus the only direct reference I used consisted at various points in the work, various lines from the Bible, and I chose them based on the impact they had on me.

In practical terms, I read works in all areas and reflected on what they initially meant to me, and then how they may impact on my understanding. This approach is very time consuming and writing poetry can be both useful and also difficult. One upshot was to perhaps, rediscover Patristic writings which caused me to have enormous respect for the insights they provided, and also, I think, a better grasp of the history of that period. I am still trying to get into major Protestant writings, but these seem so fragmented and scattered that perhaps I may never succeed. I also became less and less impressed with many current theological works, and felt some philosophers concocted stuff that was beyond them (eg process theology). Recently I became interested in the liturgical aspects of churches and may appreciate the content therein (esp the Orthodox and Catholic - Calvin has much to say about sacraments).

To be brief - the answer to your question is this: I considered my own outlook in isolation and found poetry to be useful in reflecting on what I understood from the Bible, and I looked at all works that I could (with obvious constraints), be they theological, philosophical or scientific, as part of his reflection.


(Henry Stoddard) #11

@GJDS, @Eddie @Roger @JohnZ @jstump

My friends! I think this blog looks interesting; therefore, I believe I shall come back for a wee big. The Northern Irish is coming out in me. I will need to read these conversations before I make a statement. I hope you will enjoy any contribution I shall make. I hope you will welcome me as before. God bless. Henry


(system) #12

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