Why it is important to accept that Adam was a historical person


i’m not a YEC, but an OEC.

Here is why it’s important to accept that Adam was a real, historical person:

  1. The genealogies described in Genesis and Luke go right back to Adam. If Adam was not a real person, then this means these genealogies are not merely false, they are fabricated lies. What effect do you think the presence of fabricated lies would have on the credibility of the Bible? And if the Bible contains at least two instances of fabricated lies, what other lies might it contain? Why trust any of it? The whole book might be a bunch of lies.

  2. There are several references to Adam in the New Testament. If Adam was a mythical character, the people in the NT who referred to Adam are talking nonsense - they are ignorant know-nothings who thought he actually existed.
    If the NT is full of ignoramuses who couldn’t tell fact from myth, why take any of notice of them? Jesus himself made reference to Adam, so it would seem that Jesus believes in fairy tales as well!

So, it seems to me that your "slack’ approach to some of the details in the Bible is a recipe for theological disaster. Is it any wonder young people today reject the Bible - and therefore the faith - when evolutionist Christian elders tell them that Adam and Eve weren’t real people?

Does biology need the theory that all life shares a common ancestor?
(Curtis Henderson) #2

I understand the difficulties posed by accepting the science of evolution - believe me, I’ve lived through them! The issue of Adam and Eve is still one debated in the BioLogos community. I am reasonably confident there are quite a few frequent posters that believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and a good majority of the rest accept Adam and Eve as an archtype that would still validate references by Jesus as well as others in the New Testament.

I can discuss Biology much more knowledgeably than Theology, so let me refer you to a link on Biblical genealogy rather than try to do it myself:


Thanks for the link, Curtis. I’ll check it out.

On the front page of several Jewsih publications, the year 5778 appears, which to us Westerners is the year 2017. According to certain Jewish scholars, it is 5778 years since Adam and Eve were created. This chronology is based in part on the genealogies in the OT. Evidently, these Jewish scholars take said genealogies literally and serioiusly.

(Curtis Henderson) #4

If it reasonable to assume that professional scientists can be wrong, is it not also possible that professional theologians can be wrong?

(Wayne Dawson) #5

I would argue it this way. You say that you are an OEC, but then it seems that you still want to have some 6 24h day creation, though maybe i am confused or wrong there.

At any rate, let’s pose the case of YEC.

Presently, I have no reason to accept any of that proposition of YEC – other than the fact that God created the heavens and the earth (which I think we all agree on). More importantly, I have spent the larger part of my life from age 22 confronting this question. At 22, I was confronted with the issue of science and faith. I had taken on a faith. So I changed my focus from the arts to the sciences and tried to find out about these things. I went through a lot of geology coursework, I went through chemistry, I finished with physics, and now i work in the biotechnology area. What I say of the matter is “I accept evolution”, because we should not just “believe in” things when we do science, The meaning of “accept” is that I could not find anything that was definitely wrong with it. That could be because I am not clever enough to think of an alternative, but it certainly isn’t the case that I haven’t tried. Moreover, if I thought I had a good idea, I would investigate the matter thoroughly – at least God willing. If I understand your OEC, then just as you, I never had a problem with the age of the universe. … and there are a multitude of problems with the 6000 year old universe.

That said
Suppose that I arrive at those pearly gates and Peter is standing there. He says to me, “Wayne, you thought the earth was old, the universe even older, maybe no single Adam and Eve, the flood was not global, and that living things on earth came about by evolution. Well, it turns out YEC is the right answer.” … well, quite frankly, I would be stunned, if that is what it can be called for someone from the grave, but I suppose that there would be a perfectly acceptable explanation (after all, I can only see through the glass dimly).

I would feel that it would be very much the same for your objection – particularly if it is the case that there was no single Adam and Eve and life came about by macro evolution. God would have a perfectly good and acceptable explanation.

The thing that I maybe have problems with on arguing these issues, is that we start to forget about God’s sovereignty. Whereas the contents of the Bible and the message that provides is very important to our faith, spiritual growth and guidance, we should not make the bible an idol. We have fellowship with other believers, we have prayer to help us conform to God’s ways, we have teaching and we have scripture. But finally, it is that relationship with God (not merely following rules) that matters far more. We cannot earn our salvation, though periodically, we find ourselves trying. Yet, God is sovereign and what God did, said, or whatever simply is – whether we like it or not. So it is important to accept whatever is graciously, and not put too many of our special requirement on it. We want to follow Jesus, and follow the way of the light; everything else pales to that.

I am not 100% happy with the no Adam proposition either, but this is the difference between science and faith. We should not constrain science with theology, and we should not constrain theology with science. The solution always seems tortured. If we agree that God created the heavens and the earth, and the Jesus died for our sins, etc. these are the things we should put our hopes on, and our models are simply toys to be played with and put back in the box when the journey across the Jordan comes time.

by Grace we proceed,

(Daryl Anderson) #7

We’ve all been told what the Bible says about Adam and Eve, and that makes it difficult to read the actual account as if we were reading it the first time without any preconceptions, but I think it is a very helpful thing to do. Here is what I think I see:

  1. There are two creation accounts in Genesis 1-3. They are clearly separated in many ways (name for God, etc.), but most clearly by the insertion of the first “This is the account of” statement (2:4) that partitions the rest of Genesis. Those two creation accounts do not agree with one another (creation of plants and animals after man in second account). The same author placed them side by side so it seems he was not trying to present a literal account of creation, but was making theological points that were unique in the ancient world.
  2. That the stories are not meant to be taken literally is reinforced by their content: There are evenings and mornings before the creation of the sun; God needs to rest; God fails in his first attempt to make a suitable helper for man, God is heard walking in the garden, he can’t find the man and doesn’t know what the man has done, etc., etc. These are not literal descriptions of our world or our God.
  3. Adam and Eve do not appear in either story! The first says “God created man… male and female” and the second speaks of “the man” and “the woman.” Various translations differ on how they handle “adam” (Hebrew for man) when not preceded by the definite article (“the man”), but the first clear appearance of Adam as a name does not occur until Genesis 4:25! (see NRSV)
  4. Apparently Moses had a genealogy that traced Jewish ancestry way back to a man named “Adam,” that is, a man named “Man” (Genesis 5:1).
  5. The Bible refers to Adam as both a real person (Genesis 4:1 and following) and as representative of all humanity. It is common for the Bible to refer to large groups of people by the name of an individual (Israel for all his descendants, Esau for Edom, Ephraim for Northern Israel, etc.). It shouldn’t seem strange that the Bible refers to all mankind by the Hebrew word for all mankind! It seems to me that the Genesis 5 genealogy clearly refers to Adam as both a real person and as the representative of all humanity…

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

Remember, if you were reading this in Hebrew, you would not see separate words for “Adam” and “man.” It would look like this…

This is the book of the generations of Man. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
When Man had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

In any case, no matter how you read it, this short passage refers to “adam” as “male and female” and as a single individual who fathered a son named Seth.

That the historical Adam and Eve lived during a time when there were many other people on the earth is clear from the story of Cain in Genesis 4. Please read Leviticus 18 (the whole chapter) if you think it was alright for Cain to marry his sister.

In short, I think the biblical author was not trying to present literal history (in Gen 1-3), but theological truths about God and man. Those truths are just as true today as when they were written.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #8

And how much less yet ought we to make one particular approach to it our idol? --especially when that approach may arguably be of our own modern making.


[quote=“daryl, post:7, topic:35794, full:true”] There are evenings and mornings before the creation of the sun.[/quote] My approach has always been to accept the Genesis creation account as true, but also as deeply mysterious.

But on the other hand, perhaps the “evening” and the “morning” are not literal, but simply a means of describing a short period of time to people in ancient times (after all, a day was the smallest known unit of time way back then).
There is no getting around the fact that the words, “there was an evening and there was morning” is an obvious allusion to a short period of time - allegory or no allegory.

Similarly, in Exodus 20:8, Yahweh instructs the Iraelites to work six days and rest on the seventh - the Sabbath. No one doubts He is talking about days of 24 hours duration. Yahweh then directly compares these six literal days of work to the six days of His work of creation (first mentioned in Genesis 1).
This is another obvious suggestion that the six days of creation was a short period of time.

If millions of years of evolution is the truth, why does Yahweh go out of his way to, at least twice (Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:8), make patently obvious comparisons between the six days of creation and a very short period of time?

(George Brooks) #10


If there isn’t a Sun for three days… how would we know evening from morning?

You take figurative terms too literally, while you feel perfectly free to ignore other places (as in Job) where God describes the mechanics of weather (snow & hail) that are impossible to defend… if we are supposed to take them literally.

But how can we reject these verses? That would mean they are LIES?! Right?

(Lynn Munter) #11

Say what? Usually, as I feel sure I addressed before, their alternative meanings are more like ‘beginning’ and ‘ending,’ not ‘a short period of time.’

For example: the eve of WWI, the dawn of the Space Age, the dawn of time, in the twilight of his life, in the morning of the Roman Empire, etc, so on, and so forth. None of these necessarily imply a short part of a 24-hour day.

I bet if someone looked, they could find Biblical examples of the words being used figuratively, too.

(George Brooks) #12

ooooohhhh, @Lynn_Munter, very nice! I wish I had thought of that objection-to-the-objection!

(Daryl Anderson) #13

Dredge, I think we would agree that the Bible is God’s revelation to mankind: his revelation of himself and his will, including his will for humans. Very frequently the Bible uses figurative language to convey what God wants us to understand. Isaiah says “all the trees of the field will clap their hands;” Jesus said “I am the gate for the sheep,” etc. No one takes these passages literally. There are thousands of examples of figurative language throughout the Bible. To interpret the Bible correctly we need to discern when the Bible is using figurative language. My point, in my post above, is that I think there is a great deal of evidence within the first 3 chapters of Genesis that the author (ultimately God himself) did not intend for us to take those stories as literal accounts, but as figurative expressions of theological truth. To cite just one example; you mentioned the seventh day of creation. Here is what Genesis says…
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
A literal interpretation is that God “rested from all His work,” but do you literally believe that God needs to rest? Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that this is a figurative expression designed to impart a theological truth, that is, that God commands humans to have a day of rest. If the creation account goes back to Moses, it goes back to when Moses also gave the people the 10 Commandments, including the command to rest (as you noted). It is interesting that the second record of the 10 Commandments (also given by Moses in Deut 5) does not mention God resting on the seventh day, it says “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day” (Deut 5:15). It seems that what God is trying to convey is that mankind should observe a day of rest, not that God literally needed to rest. As Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."

(Lynn Munter) #14

When you take a step back and think about it, Genesis really got a surprising amount right!

Except (arguably) for “billions of years,” it’s spot-on!

(George Brooks) #15


You are awesome. Hey … would I be out of line if I proposed to you right here and now? The good news is my divorce is almost final. The bad news? I’m proposing to a wonderful woman online, in front of a bunch of strangers … what could possibly give you the idea there is any bad news? …

Loved this cartoon I found at your link … Now there was some good news and bad news … the customer just didn’t know how to distinguish between the two. Lynn, don’t be like that person … :smiley:

… Be sure to click on the image … it’s much easier to read … and I think you’ll laugh more!

(Lynn Munter) #16


I’m flattered, sir! But sadly, must decline the honor—long-distance relationships are far too chancy!

I love the xkcd comics, there are so many absolute gems!


Why take any of it literally? Is “light” literal light? Is the “earth” a literal earth? If so, why are you taking some parts literally and others as allegory?

(George Brooks) #18


Because when God gave us all minds, he expected us to use them.

One, I don’t think God really cares what we think about Genesis. It’s the preachers who care … to the point of falling on their swords.

Two, do you think God wants you to blindly say “I don’t care what I’m seeing in the microscope… it can’t be true… so I reject it.” Is this the kind of God you think he is? He would want you to Deny Your Eyes … for the sake of the 6 lousy days?

For goodness sake…


Interpreting the “six days” literally is so small-minded that for thousands of years almost every Christian (and Jew) interpreted it that way until Darwin and his whacko theory came along.

(George Brooks) #20

So… in one thread you apologize for how you characterize scientists… and only 4 hours ago you say that Evolution is a “whacko theory”… despite the fact that Young Earth Creationists are increasingly prone to accept that after the ark landed, there not only had to be Evolution to produce the sheer volume of distinct species and kinds that we see in the world today

- - but Evolution happening even faster than Evolutionists usually propose, because instead of millions of years available, Creationists have less than 6,000 years to produce millions more additional terrestrial species!

Ironic, yes?

(Curtis Henderson) #21

It is true that the most straightforward reading of the text suggests 6 24-hour days of creation. However, it is also true that until Galileo and Copernicus, every Christian (and Jew) believe in a geocentric universe in which the earth did not move. Scientific evidence shifted Biblical interpretation.

There was also more debate than one would guess among the early church leaders regarding interpretation of the beginning of Genesis. Here is a nice, little overview:


By the way, if a theory is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence, it may not be quite as “whacko” as you believe…