Why I Think Adam was a Real Person in History

(George Brooks) #41

As yours did mine, @Jay313.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #42

I get this perspective, but it feels a little hollow to me personally. Not that I disagree with any of them per se, but with the form of this kind of argument. Certainly with Christianity, if you can find a large number of church fathers or theological heaviweights throughout the ages who agree with you, most people use this to their advantage. I personally see this in YEC literature making claims of what x, y or z said; also in OEC literature. The problem I feel can exist with this line of argument though is that all of those people had no knowledge of many things that we know today. Of course there are scientific things, like genetics, and there is also our knowledge of the ancient near east, a goldmine neglected and undiscovered until long after most of these people (if not all?). It seems quite bizarre then to come in and reject all of the facts that we have today in light of someone who was evaluating and making origins positions without any of the same facts as us.

(Jon Garvey) #43

Think about it Matthew - I suggested that the broad traditional consensus on the importance of genealogy from Adam needed to be dealt with before criticising those who present a scientific view that is consistent with it. In other words, one must understand why the doctrine was developed in order to replace it - a question for theologians, not biologists like Swamidass.

The claim that we know more about genetics and the ANE is of no significance to the question unless we also know what those who formed the doctrine knew (but mostly we have forgotten it, and simply talk about what they didn’t know). It’s astonishing the blindspots you discover in modern knowledge when you trouble to read old books - a point strongly made by C S Lewis, for example, in his (now) old and forgotten introduction to a much older and important book by Athanasius.

The Bible writers, too, did not study genetics or ANE texts - but they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they considered genealogical inhertance important enough for to fill chapters with it, and for two of the four gospel writers to include Jesus’s genealogy, linking him to the royal Davidic line, to Abraham, and to Adam. And the reason wasn’t inherited genetic traits.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #44

I did and came to the conclusions that I did just above. But I appreciate the advice to think more!

I get that, but at the same time we ought to be more careful with how we read theologians who are speaking on matters that overlap with the natural world. Certainly, (and not that this is necessarily similar), we have strong opinions against heliocentrism from some of the same theologians.

Okay. The Holy Spirit can inspire a lot of people to speak to them on levels they can understand- I think anyone who argues for a personal relationship with God must accept this-- even if our understanding of things is incomplete or lacking, that would not stop such a God from communicating. A simple example is of course the mustard seed example-was Jesus mistaken when it records in one version that it is the smallest seed in all the ‘world?’ Well, to read even a slightly more modern reading into that makes Jesus mistaken, but in context it is perfectly reasonable for such Spirit inspired words to be spoken and recorded. So it is certainly possible that the Spirit inspired the New Testament writers to speak in a way consistent with how the audience saw the world, but not in a scientifically accurate way.

(Jay Johnson) #45

Hmmm. And where have I made a personal attack against someone who disagreed with me? Certainly not in any public statements. What I say to someone in private conversation might be a different story, but rest assured, you won’t have to worry about being disgusted by me anymore. :zipper_mouth_face:

(Jon Garvey) #46

Do you have references for that, apart from private opinions like Luther (before Copernicus published) in a Table Talk remark? I’m unaware that there was ever a church doctrine on geocentrism, but I have read Fathers discussing their current science as interesting, but indifferent to doctrine.

And the scientific inaccuracy in relation to biblical genealogy - Jesus’s link to the Davidic Covenant, affirming his kingship and confirming the prophets, the levitical priests as descendants of Aaron, the need for the gospel, in Jesus’s words, to go first to the children of Israel and only then to the Gentiles, his insistence to a Samaritamn that “salvation is of the Jews”, Hebrews teaching on the eternal priesthood of Christ being different because he was not descended from Levi, etc - is what, exactly?

(Christy Hemphill) #47

I was referring to the idea that Adam and Eve were the first couple from whom all humans biologically descend. The traditional understanding of “sole progenitor.”

(George Brooks) #48


I see that I unintentionally over-generalized by making my response so brief.
It was not my intention to suggest you made any personal attacks in your responses.

I was referring to the first part of your sentence: “’I’m dismissing the over-the-top language…”,
which is about as far as I could get in your reply.

In fact, I didn’t actually notice that you were accusing me of personal attacks (I guess comments
attacking you?). There certainly wasn’t any personal attack in the post you responded to, and the
posts prior to that one register shock (certainly) and offer theories for why you are reacting the way
you are. I think it would be pretty bold of me to “attack” a moderator, don’t you?

If you can find somewhere where I cross the line, please advise immediately. And if you are correct
in your interpretation, I will apologize immediately. If your interpretation was based on an incorrect
assumption, I will sincerely explain what my thinking was at the time and why it was not intended as
an attack.


(Jay Johnson) #49

Your theories come down to jealousy and rivalry, and you think that attributing these motives to me isn’t personal? In any case, I was taking note of a pattern, not just responding to your posts. As usual, when someone disagrees with the idea, the discussion becomes an attack, and the attack becomes personal. Don’t worry. I’m not insulted. Just tired of tired of tired of hearing and talking about it.

On the moderator thing, someone gave me the title yesterday, and they can take it away tomorrow. I don’t speak for BioLogos, and I have no more “power” than a teacher’s aide on the playground with a whistle. Less than that, actually.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #50

Do you recognize the Roman Catholic Church in any of this? Or perhaps Calvin preaching on 1 Cor 10-11:

"We will see some who are so deranged, not only in religion but who in all things reveal their monstrous nature, that they will say that the sun does not move, and that it is the earth which shifts and turns. When we see such minds we must indeed confess the devil posses them, and that God sets them before us as mirrors, in order to keep us in his fear. So it is with all who argue out of pure malice, and who happily make a show of their imprudence. When they are told: “That is hot,” they reply: “No, it is plainly cold.” When they are shown an object that is black, they will say it is white, or vice versa. Just like the man who said that snow is black; for although it is perceived and known by all to be white, yet he clearly wished to contradict the fact. And so it is that there are madmen who try to change the natural order, and even to dazzle men’s eyes and benumb their senses”-John Calvin, “Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:19-24”, Calvini Opera Selecta, Corpus Refomatorum,Vol 49, 677, trans. by Robert White in “Calvin and Copernicus: the Problem Reconsidered”, Calvin Theological Journal 15 (1980), p233-243, at 236-237

Perhaps we also have Alexander Ross in England in the mid 1600s, described as ‘the vigilant watchdog of conservatism and orthodoxy’ who once likened Copernicanism to other heresies and their threat to the truth of the Scriptures:

It is but a conceit of yours to say, that the Scripture accommodates itself to the vulgar conceits, in saying,
the Sun riseth and falleth. I warrant you, if the vulgar should conceive that the heavens were made of water, as the Gnostics held; or that the Sun and Moon were two ships, with the Manichees, or that the world was made of the sweat of the Aeons, with the Valentinians; or whatever absurd opinions they should hold, you make the Scripture say so, and to accommodate itself to their conceits. as recorded in Dellenberger, Protestant Thought and Natural Science

Also John Edwards in the later part of the 1600s in England who wrote as the Archbishop of Canterbury who wrote A Demonstration of the Existence and Providence of God From the Contemplation of the Visible Structure of the Greater and Lesser World spending a decent amount of ink outlining why Copernicanism was not Scriptural.

I’m not an expert in this area though by any means but at the very least it is more than Luther’s ideas from one Table Talk that he may or may not have even said.

(George Brooks) #51

@pevaquark (and @Jon_Garvey )

The one thing that can be said about the confrontation between Creationist and Evolutionist is that they each have something they aren’t willing to let go of:

Pro-Evolution Christians see too much evidence for Evolution to be willing to let go of it.
And Creationists see too much Biblical Investment in the figure of Adam to be willing to let go of him.

As we’ve seen over and over again on these boards, this “collision of worlds” is matched muscle for muscle, apologia for apologia.

The classic seminar on negotiations and deal-making is to never, ever say:
“We’ve solved all our differences, except one!”
Now, you are doomed. If there is only ONE difference… there is no opportunity for trade off … for give and take… it becomes brute force against brute force! And frequently the only solution is to take one of your prior agreements and throw it back into the mix… but now everything is tainted… because each side knows where the comfort zone really is… and things drag on.

What does this have to do with the “@Swamidass Model” ?
We are in a similar situation: the YECs say - - you HAVE to accept Adam & Eve’s special creation! You have no choice… while the Evolutionists say, you HAVE to accept Evolution… the fossils are all around us… the thousands of years of ice cores and ocean sediments… you have to accept them.

But with the Swamidass Model, all of a sudden, the insistence has been replaced with “Why can’t these models happen together?”

Christian Evolutionists have already taken the miracles of Jesus seriously. They may even insist on more than a million people crossing the Red Sea. Christian Evolutionists are not opposed to miracles… they are just opposed to miracles that make them ignore all the evolutionary evidence.

On the flip side, there are Creationists who are already convinced of the geology of Earth … that the Earth is millions and billions of years old. But that’s irrelevant to their theological question of Adam’s role! YECs are very much a tougher nut to crack. They question just about everything … but even amongst the YECs we have significant investment in the idea that “kinds” of animals released from the Ark, “radiated and speciated” to help fill the earth with life. Other Creationists have shrugged off the idea of a Global Flood, and they find a regional flood more credible. And lastly, all those YECs who do believe God specifically created each and every species… well, the @Swamidass Model (which is a theological construct much more than a science presentation) allows for that as well! YECs frequently say Evolution is impossible … but if God “makes it so” - - how can they question the feasibility of God specifically controlling evolution to make all the creatures of the Earth a little more slowly than we have considered - - and with the exception of Adam & Eve and the animals they were charged to care for?

Scientists that are Christians know first hand that science does not describe the Virgin Birth, or the Raising of Jesus from his tomb… but they are devoted to these ideas, while science continues to explore the non-miraculous in the world around us.

So who can rightly and definitively say: God could not have used special creation to make Adam & Eve? As long as Evolution is being acknowledged for the creation of a stock of humans at the time that Adam & Eve are specially created (with identical genetics) … the two episodes of creation suddenly start to answer questions that nobody has really been able to answer before!

Cain? Why does he receive a mark to protect him from those who would kill him? Who would these people be? Well now we have the answer! Who does Cain marry? His sister? Really? But now we have a whole population of humans he can join … to fill that city he built… which YECs have to argue is a city “just for him … oh, and his sister!”

And on the other side, all the strange things about Earth’s creatures … that don’t make much sense without millions of years of development … now we have answers for that too… AND special creation for Adam & Eve.

(GJDS) #52

This “stand by” approach to criticising biblical based discussion for scientific inaccuracies is surely well past its use by date.

Everyone that I know acknowledges that beliefs on the physical world have changed, just as everyone knows (or should) that most comments on the earth and sun were based more on Greco-Roman science of the day, and the eagerness of public figures to accommodate that science with their outlook on the bible.

One may perhaps be tempted to draw parallels with the current enthusiasm to accommodate Adam and Eve to pop-genetics - Christian doctrine was debated for lengthy periods with numerous views, and ultimately orthodoxy was established by the Church. At no point can I find such a doctrine regarding the sun, moon and earth, in spite of the arguments by many figures.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #53

When might you argue something is ‘well past its use by date?’

If you say so. I provided a few nice examples I think of the contrary that you casually dismiss as ‘well past its use by date.’

I see. What exactly qualifies something as ‘official church doctrine’ to you?

(GJDS) #54

For a start, that the genealogy of Christ is traced back to Adam.

(George Brooks) #55

@GJDS ( & @pevaquark ):

Our enthusiastic colleague, @Reggie_O_Donoghue, actually has done one of the best jobs of pulling out obscure passages that can ONLY be interpreted from a Geocentrist perspective… and not just geocentrism, but FLAT EARTH Geocentrism! I was tremendously impressed with his resourceful interpretations! And I told him so!

I will see if I can track them down again.

But maybe Reggie can pull them out of the internet ether more quickly than I can (I am actually still at work in the office at the moment).

(Matthew Pevarnik) #56

I’m not quite sure how this is an example of ‘models coming together’ as you still kind of have 4 billion years worth of evolution lingering over the YEC position. There is not really much to add to the Christian Evolutionist position as you put it as it just throws on a supernatural event that happened one time. There is A LOT to add on to the YEC position!

Nobody can say that as it is not falsifiable in a scientific sense. I think some might reject the position for theological reasons but certainly not for a scientific reason.

Where have you been for the past two thousand years? I’m still a big fan of Thomas Ridgley’s 1731 page turner ‘Body of Divinity’ where he argued for Adam and Eve having a child every 2 years for over 800 years!

(Matthew Pevarnik) #57

I mean what kind of documentation or… official published statement? Covenant? Treatise? Novella?

(GJDS) #58

Try Patristic writings, (from memory a document on “true human” published by the previous Pope) as a beginning. You can also find doctrinal documents from, for example, the Orthodox Church.

(Reggie O'Donoghue) #59

yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #60

Like any patristic letter? Are all the letters official church doctrine for all time? But then what was taught by the church in a widespread way later was not church doctrine (i.e. some of the strong anti-Copernicanism)?

Can I include Lacantius who was a contemporary of Augustine?

“How is it with those who imagine that there are antipodes opposite to our footsteps? Do they say anything to the purpose? Or is there any one so senseless as to believe that there are men whose footsteps are higher than their heads? or that the things which with us are in a recumbent position, with them hang in an inverted direction? that the crops and trees grow downwards? that the rains, and snow, and hail fall upwards to the earth?” (Lactantius. The Divine Institutes 3.24)

Augustine was a little more hesitant, but in the City of God he had a nice section on antipodes. He partially rejects that people could be living on the other side of the Earth for Scriptural reasons. Ultimately he has some good arguments and they are popular for centuries to come on this topic.

How about St. John Chrysostom where the Earth floats on some waters?

“When therefore thou beholdest not a small pebble, but the whole earth borne upon the waters, and not submerged, admire the power of Him who wrought these marvellous things in a supernatural manner! And whence does this appear, that the earth is borne upon the waters? The prophet declares this when he says, 'He hath founded it upon the seas, and prepared it upon the floods.'1416 And again: 'To him who hath founded the earth upon the waters.'1417 What sayest thou? The water is not able to support a small pebble on its surface, and yet bears up the earth, great as it is; and mountains, and hills, and cities, and plants, and men, and brutes; and it is not submerged!”–St. John Chrysostom, Homilies Concerning the Statues, Homily IX, paras. 7–8, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series I, Vol IX, ed. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., American reprint of the Edinburgh edition (1978), W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 403–04.

But all in all, the most popular thing was simply to be geocentrists as this somewhat bizarre website demonstrates very well. That has A LOT of quotes from early church fathers that spoke in a geocentric way. Does that make geocentrism official church doctrine?