The Bible says life started in Mesopotamia, while evolution says humans came from Africa. Is there a way for both views to exist, or is it one or the another?
The Bible says Adam and Eve lived in Mesopotamia, so the key is what you think about Adam and Eve.
Some Christians think Adam and Eve were directly created by God as the very first, totally unique, homo sapiens on the planet and that their children had children who had children and so on until we get the human population we have today. That view is not compatible with the scientific view of where homo sapiens share common ancestors with other animals and evolved first in Africa and then spread around the globe.
Some Christians think Adam and Eve refer to the first humans and have different theories about how God made them truly human (like specially creating them out of dust and a rib, or miraculously giving them a soul, or putting the “image of God” in them), and when and where this might have happened, and that can sometimes be put together with the idea that other homo sapiens were around who had evolved and Adam and Eve’s children married and had babies with the evolved homo sapiens and eventually all homo sapiens became human.
Some Christians don’t think the account in Genesis is meant to be read as a historical account. They think it is telling a spiritual story that teaches what is true about all humanity. Adam and Eve are representative of all humans everywhere. If it’s not meant to be taken literally, then there is no conflict with science.
I tend to fall somewhat between two and three.
Yes, I guess I didn’t include the view that thinks the Adam and Eve account is mythologized history that goes back to some historical individuals, but has been retooled to tell a larger story that isn’t all that concerned with being accurate about historical details.
I find Ethiopians to be exceptionally good-looking people as a rule. My (completely unscientific) hypothesis on this is that they’re the prototype. All the rest of us are just mutants.
Hi! I totally understand where you are coming from, however, Genesis specifically mentions the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Is this not accurate, or?
Thank you so much for your explanations! So for the first interpretation, are you saying that homosapiens were not considered humans, and just a part of other animals or?
You are asking excellent questions, and while we here may speculate, we have to remember that it is speculation and in all humility we have no definite answers. However, even in speculation, we can gain insights into the message God has for us in the scripture, and I find that studying scripture is often like peeling an onion, with multiple layers of meaning.though rather than reaching a core, perhaps it its the reverse, where we start with a central idea, and find that the truth really is larger and wider than we had imagined at first.
The podcast series recently completed goes into what it means to be human, and may be worth a listen.
I am in this category, but my explanation is that our humanity is found not in the organic chemistry (DNA) of our species but the ideas of the mind which we have from God through Adam and Eve. We are brethren of all life on this planet with regards to body and it is an inheritance of the mind which makes us literally the children of God.
This view is NOT incompatible with the scientific view and tells us that we become snake fascinated (excessively obsessed) with science and the physicality of our existence, so much so that our identity and being has been reduced to nothing more than chemistry. The absurdity of this is a big part of the reason I believe.
I personally don’t think “accurate” is the best standard to be applying because that starts with the assumption that the point of the narrative was to correctly record historical details, and I’m not convinced that was the point. The story is set in the Middle East. Whether it tells the historical details of the very first humans is another thing.
The first one is the “traditional” literal understanding of Genesis where Adam and Eve are specially created by God and evolution isn’t part of humanity’s backstory. There is a lot of scientific evidence that paints a conflicting picture, which is why many people familiar with science reject this interpretation.
If I may, I’ll piggyback a bit on @Christy ‘s comments above. However, I should offer up this obvious disclaimer: I’m no expert on what I’m about to comment on, so you guys should take it all with an appropriately sized grain of salt. I’m a physician, not an OT Hebrew scholar, so I’ll welcome being corrected on anything I’ve gotten wrong here…especially if your name is John Walton.
One aspect of the whole Adam & Eve discussion that often gets overlooked is the original Hebrew context for even their names in the text. “Adam” is originally introduced to us in Genesis 2 as simply “the man.” The Hebrew here is “ha-adam,” where the “ha-“ is something like our participle “the,” and the word “adam” is (I think) the same word translated (in the NIV) as “mankind” in Genesis 1:26-27. It’s also quite similar to the Hebrew word translated as “dust” in Genesis 2:7 — and it’s my understanding that some OT scholars think that there’s a bit of a play on words going on in the text here, drawing a linguistic parallel between the “man” and the “dust” from which God formed him.
Adam is never formally given that name by God, however; he just becomes “Adam” in Genesis 2:20 — “for Adam no suitable helper was found.” Apparently the original Hebrew here drops the “ha-“ from “ha-adam” for somewhat unclear reasons. Apparently, European translators thus just capitalized “adam” and ran with it, and he continues on as “Adam” in chapters 3-5, and up to the present day.
By contrast, “Eve” is given her name by Adam, but interestingly this doesn’t happen until after The Fall, in Genesis 3:20 — “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.” The Hebrew here is (I think) the word “evve” or “ewwe,” often translated into English as “life,” or one of its derivatives. Thus, her name is “Life” because she’s “the mother of all living.”
So my point here is ultimately that we like to grapple with the question of whether or not Adam & Eve were historical people, and built into that question is the assumption that if they were, then they of course had those names. But those names in the original Hebrew are — intentionally — highly symbolic, and I’d submit that our Jewish friends have been reading and grappling with this text in an entirely different fashion for the last 3,000 years. Imagine that for your whole life, ever since you were a kid just learning this story, that it had been the story of “Mankind and Life” (though some would argue that the better translation is something more like “Dusty and Life”). That would be important, wouldn’t it?
We English speakers just don’t see the symbolism and therefore miss the boat here, and it’s a pretty big boat. “Adam & Eve” couldn’t have just as easily been named “Westley & Buttercup” or “Homer & Marge.” There’s a very important context as to why they’re named “Adam & Eve” in the original Hebrew, and I’d submit that it’s beyond just that “God wanted it that way.”
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