Why I Think Adam was a Real Person in History

(Jon Garvey) #21

But Phil, is your concept of “being human” a biological definition, a biblical one, or something else? We’ll discount those who exclude those present people lacking cognitive abilities, though medical ethics has a lot to do with that, and we’ll ignore those biologists and anthropologists who argued, on scientific grounds (eg Haeckel), that the “races” were species and that there was a greater gulf between an aborigine and a European than between a man and an ape. Science was wrong on that, and has moved on.

But although we are all Homo sapiens now, that is a taxonomic classification that doesn’t tell us what “human” means. Josh’s work discusses this in detail (as does mine). Since the biblical foundation for the anthropology of our race is Adam, the biblical definition of “human” is “descended from Adam,” rather than vice versa.

(Jon Garvey) #22

My linked article will save you the work, George. The fact remains that the Orthodox church historically accepted Augustine as an authority, though their spin on ancestral sin was more orientated towards the inheritance of mortality than guilt.

(George Brooks) #23


So when do you think the Eastern Orthodox definitively rejected Original Sin as the Roman Catholic Church formulated it?

(Jon Garvey) #24

Wrong question - the history of Orthodoxy and Catholicism is the story of parallel development in two languages (Greek and Latin), leading to eventual mutual alienation, and so further doctrinal evolution. In the millennium the two were in communion, doctrines were accepted, argued over, negotiated, understood differently and every combination of those - and not all the differences were regional or linguistic. Irenaeus was a Greek working in the West, Augustine an African working in the West, Jerome a Latin working in the East, Athanasius a Greek Egyptian working wherever he wasn’t exiled at the time.

But for the purpose of Phil’s query, to those from East and West genealogy from Adam was a major issue that Christ’s work dealt with, and the Reformation (being Western) found the Catholic view of inherited sin in their Bibles.

(Christy Hemphill) #25

When Kathryn brought up sole progenitor, it was not in the context of discussing Josh’s ideas of genealogical Adam and she even had a footnote clarifying that she was referring to the “the traditional idea that Adam and Eve were the only two people from whom all other people descended.” You objecting to a person talking about their take on the “traditional idea” because it does not interact with some other person’s unique definition of the words is really weird to me. How does choosing to use a definition that is different than someone else’s definition misrepresent their views if you aren’t talking about that person’s views? We are all allowed to talk about Adam without referencing Josh’s definitions and idiosyncratic perspective on things. We are allowed to talk about what most Christians we interact with believe, whether or not Josh or you approve of their definitions. Right?

(Phil) #26

In this context, my mind was looking at it in the Biblical sense, in relation to our fallen sinful state and Christ’s redemption. It does get intertwined, though, doesn’t it, when you look at the various interpretive scenarios. The recent hoopla looking at bottlenecks sort of brought that out to me, with the contention that a bottleneck not ruled out further back than 700K years was proposed to be significant, implying that humanity in the Biblical sense was around 700K years back, if one ties it to an interpretation of Adam and Eve.
In any case, it is interesting to look at the various interpretations. Who knows, one of them may actually be close to material beginnings.

(Jay Johnson) #27

This is just silliness. What do we mean when we speak of a child’s “biological parents”? I’m pretty sure that sexual reproduction requires genetic material. You talk as if all one has to do to make a child is draw a line and a little box on a family tree…

(George Brooks) #28


My “take” on the 700k year figure was slightly different.

Chris Stringer’s 2012 chart showing broad lines of human evolution indicates that even Neanderthals were not yet on the Earth by 700,000. So, when the 700k figure was arrived at (based on an uninterrupted chain of hominid regression back to when there was enough noise to hide a 1-pair bottleneck), it pretty much closed the door on a 1 pair bottleneck during the time of either Homo sapiens OR neanderthalensis!

Note: For those readers new to this controversy, the 700k time frame does not mean there was a bottleneck of 1 pair 700,000 years ago - - it means that there is so much “static” in the numbers 700,000 years ago that there could be one and we would not be able to see it.

(Jon Garvey) #29

That may be true, Christy, but Genealogical Adam is referenced in Deb’s article, and is not quite a private opinion of a couple of random posters.

It was introduced to the Christian world in 2010 by David Opderbeck in a BioLogos article. I picked it up then and discussed it quite a lot in comments over the following years - at BioLogos (before continuing on my own blog). Joshua Swamidass, whilst a “BioLogos voice,” introduced it again in a thorough treatment - at BioLogos, and it has been a major point of discussion at BioLogos for a couple of years - ending in his changing from being a “BioLogos voice” to being banned from the forum. Finally, it is due for a major presentation at the forthcoming Dabar conference - sponsored by BioLogos.

Genealogical Adam, in short, was born and raised at BioLogos over the last 8 years, and so in a presentation on the very eve of the Dabar conference, it is surprising that its treatment was not a greater part of the context.

That said, I started my initial comment with gratitude for the overall content of Deb’s article.

(George Brooks) #30

Quite right, @Jon_Garvey! They believed the inheritance from Adam was “the disease of death”… not “Adam’s sin and its repercussions of evil”. Each person was inevitably to sin in his own way, paying the wage of his own destruction, without any recourse to Adam’s specific sin required.

Here’s my latest research on the matter:

(George Brooks) #31

@Swamidass has been quite specific and emphatic on this matter. After 20 generations, there is virtually not even a spec left from an individual progenitor. And so, @Jay313, the whole trend to calculate and estimate mitochondrial Eve and Y-Adam has been a wild-goose chase!

Genealogically speaking, ones ancestry goes back … back … back all the way… as far back as you want to take the tree of life!

Charlemagne could theoretically have fathered offspring numbering in the billions… more than there are people in all of Europe… but his genetic material would never have made it that far!

Following what we mean by this @Jay313?

(George Brooks) #32


In the midst of evolved humanity, God makes a special pair of humans with the same basic genetics… maybe there eyes were a little more blue? Their hair a little more blonde? Oh … wait… these aren’t Aryans, are they!?

But Eden is plunked down in the midst of all this raw “2001: Space Odyssey” scenery … and the drama is played out … and when the couple are evicted… they merge with their fellow genetic humans… who even have the same Image of God stamped on their “being”!

(Jay Johnson) #33

Does that mean “BioLogos types” won’t be part of your vocabulary over at The Hump anymore? Always found that language disappointing and unnecessary …

Following it? No, I make it a practice not to follow dead-end roads. Genealogical Adam is a perfect example of an ad hoc auxiliary hypothesis. I may address it more fully one of these days, but today is not that day. It’s mostly irrelevant to me.

I have to stop you right there. The whole concept is rationally incoherent. The special creation of Adam is just another example of the omphalos hypothesis (creation with apparent age), which in this case would be knowledge planted in the minds of Adam & Eve by God. I reject that hypothesis.

Likewise, dropping Adam & Eve into Mesopotamia between 4000-6000 B.C. makes a mockery of history. Eden is not “plunked down in the midst” of 2001: A Space Odyssey; in this scenario, it is plunked down in the midst of the most populous place on Earth at the time, where people had been living and farming up and down the Fertile Crescent for thousands of years already. A “secret garden” planted on a river(s) that served as the de facto freeway for several million people. Now that is a fairy tale I’m sure everyone can believe.

(George Brooks) #34


Firstly, I wanted to make sure you understood the logic of genealogical supremacy over genetics.

Secondly, I can only assume your extreme antipathy to a scenario that simply allows de novo Adam/Eve (in addition to evolution) comes from it conflicting with the scenario that your future book chooses to champion.

If there is too much evolutionary evidence to ignore…AND too much b
BIBLICAL investment in Adam for YECs to ignore, then it is now obvious to me that elements from both scenarios must be brought together.

I don’t expect you to LOVE all ideas equally… but I think the exaggerated antagonism for “just another scenario” is WAYYYYYY over the top.

I’ve never ever heard you say anything this extreme about I.D. So I know your reaction has more to do with your circumstances than it has to do with the intrinsic nature of the @Swamidass Model.

(Jay Johnson) #35

It is not supremacy. Geez. There is no genealogy without genes. Trying to picture genealogy as “king of the hill” is just a word game. It’s silly.

No, that’s not the source, and if my antipathy were extreme, I would be hanging out on Peaceful Science and The Hump and filling the internet with rants opposed to the idea. I’m much closer to apathy than antipathy, but nice try …

George, all due respect, but you don’t know squat about my circumstances, and my reaction is far more muted than you depict. I’m not your audience, anyway. Go forth and win converts. The proof is in the pudding, not in winning my agreement.

(George Brooks) #36

I just don’t get your reflex to dismiss this part of the analysis.

We are not saying that genealogy is magical… we are saying that for the purpose of Adam’s role…tracing genealogy is more crucial than tracing genetic markers.

Adams role in Pauline theology has more to do with genealogy than genetics… which makes perfect sense when realizing Paul knew nothing about Chromosomes.

@Jay313… does THIS MUCH sound acceptable to you?

(GJDS) #37

I cannot help but think that so much effort is expended on this subject for so small a return. Gen 1 and 2 are biblical narratives that are part and parcel of Christian doctrine. I also cannot help but admire the writer(s) of Genesis who can convey the faith based message and yet leave many scratching their heads and running in almost any direction that fires their imagination. Kind of reminds me of some parts of the Gospels.

(Jay Johnson) #38

I’m dismissing the over-the-top language and personal attacks against anyone who disagrees with the idea. Those things tend to trigger my “disgust” reflex.

(Christy Hemphill) #39

I understand. I just find it weirdly ego-centric (or something) that interacting with a belief that lots and lots of people have is considered inaccurate somehow because it fails to interact at that moment with the opinion of a small minority, no matter how vocal that small minority has been. Referencing genealogical Adam to be fair and inclusive of a range of views is not the same thing as writing a whole article in response to that perspective. And it was Kathryn’s article, not Deb’s. :slight_smile:

(GJDS) #40

I take the “genealogical Adam” as a way of avoiding mixing genetics with the biblical message, and not a doctrinal issue. Can you elaborate on the belief of lots and lots of people?