Thursday, December 31, 2009

Was Adam an Evolutionary Figure?

In my previous post, I argued for the historical reality of a literal Adam. I don’t see how one can affirm inerrancy and at the same time allow a non-historical figure in the many genealogies found in Scripture. I also, per Paul’s argument in Romans 5, don’t see how God could justly condemn all mankind for a sin nature inherited from a figurative, symbolic, or mythological person. In support of my position, I quoted from Bruce Waltke’s An Old Testament Theology where he also affirms a literal, historical Adam.

Unfortunately, in that same book, just a few pagers earlier, Waltke states that the best way to harmonize Scripture with science is to believe in theistic evolution. So, while Waltke believes in a literal Adam, he nevertheless also believes that Adam evolved from “the process of natural selection and of cataclysmic interventions – such as the meteor that extinguished the dinosaurs…” Evidently, within the race of humanoid creatures that evolved, God chose one of those creatures and “by direct creation made [him] a spiritual being.” (Waltke, 202-203, throughout the section, Waltke uses the transliteration of the Hebrew, adam, which can mean the man Adam or mankind in general – I perceive an intentional ambiguity on Waltke’s part).

While Waltke’s evolutionary proposal answers the objections to a non-historical Adam, it nevertheless introduces new theological objections. My hunch is that he is simply choosing the better of two evils, given his commitment to reconcile the truth claims of science with the truth claims of Scripture. From where I stand, however, the theological problems with an evolved Adam are just as significant and objectionable as those for a non-historical Adam.

An evolved Adam is not consistent with the Biblical assumption that all mankind descended from Adam. The Bible refers to Adam as the first man (1 Cor 15:45) and so does Waltke but if Adam is simply just selected from the pool of human-like creatures living at the time, then at least two very important problems present themselves very quickly (see the next two points). Evolution works within populations, not individuals, meaning that a selected person within that population will NOT see his descendants mate only among his descendants. There will be intermingling outside his descendants because the whole population is so similar. Evolutionary change takes place slowly within groups of beings. Presumably, Adam would not be the only human to emerge from the population of human-like creatures. Consequently, the people alive in the world after Adam would be descendants from Adam, descendants from those outside Adam, and descendants from a mixture of the two. Where Cain got his wife is actually a very important question.

An evolved Adam does not explain why all humans are sinners and are condemned to death. If mankind is a mixture of descendants and non-descendants of Adam, then from the logic of Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, only those strict descendants from Adam would be subject to the condemnation of sin and death. Romans 5:12, however, says that death has passed upon all men, because all men are sinners, and thus (Rom 5:18) all men are condemned. Thus all men must have descended only from Adam.

An evolved Adam does not explain how death entered the world before his sin. Romans 5:12 clearly states that death entered the world due to Adam’s sin. This has to include physical death, not just Spiritual death, because (1) the death Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin was a physical death; (2) while our souls have been made alive in Christ, we still wait for the redemption of our sinful bodies (Rom 12:23) which Paul refers to a as a “body of this death” (7:24); and (3) the fact of the matter is that all men do die physically. The “and he died” refrain that occurs over and over again in Genesis 5 is a repeated reminder that physical death was indeed part of the judgment on Adam and all his descendants. Physical death is an enemy, not part of God’s creation that he said was very good.

Romans 5:12 says more than that physical death passed to all men because of Adam’s sin. It says that, through that one sin, death itself entered the world. Thus before Adam’s sin, physical death did not exist among men or animals. I am excluding plant and cell life because the Bible highlights men and animals as those who have the breath of life in them. For example, God says in Gen 6:17 that He will “destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.”(ESV) He then says in Gen 6:19 to bring into the ark two “of every living thing of all flesh.” Those living things are distinguished from the food that they are also to bring aboard the ark (Gen 6:21). Finally, after every living thing on earth with the breath of life had died from the flood (Gen 7:22), Noah sent out a dove that eventually comes back with an olive leaf, indicating that plants were now growing on the earth again. Plants and vegetation were not destroy, even though all living things were. Plant life, then, is not the same as animal or human life and in the very, very rare circumstances when the Bible says that plants die, it is clear that plants don’t die in the same sense that animals or humans die (e.g., Job 14:7-12). The death that entered the world refers to the death of animals and people, and of course, an animal died right away as a result of man’s sin (Gen 3:21).

An evolutionary process of biological evolution is not consistent with (1) the truth that death entered the world only after the one sin of Adam in the garden; or (2) the Biblical truth that all men descended from Adam and thus sin, death, and condemnation passed upon all men due to Adam's one sin. So, as I said at the beginning of this post, while Waltke avoids serious theological error in maintaining the historical reality of Adam, he nevertheless runs into just as serious error by advocating an evolving Adam.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Was Adam an Historical Figure?

Does it matter if Adam was a literal, historical person, or would it be OK theologically to say that Adam was only a mythological or symbolic figure? What doctrines, if any, would be harmed if Adam was not the actual first human and father of the entire human race? I suggest that both the doctrine of inerrancy and the truth of the gospel are at stake.


Adam plays an important role within many genealogies. In Genesis 5, Adam is listed as the first human and then genealogically linked with several important historical persons, Enoch, and Noah. Through Noah in Genesis 10 and 11, Adam is then linked to Shem, Ham, and Japheth and the entire table of nation, ending most significantly with Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. 1 Chronicles begins with Adam as the origination point for the history of the Jewish remnant, connected with all the patriarchs, David, the twelve tribes of Israel, and the returning exiles. Luke also includes Adam as the first historical figure in the line of Christ. All these figures are important historical persons, whose literal human existence is not in question. It would be unthinkable to suggest that these chroniclers thought that some individual in their carefully constructed genealogies where not real historical persons. If Adam was not real, then these passages are either intentionally deceptive or written by someone duped into mythological error. As an aside, in case one were to claim that gaps in genealogies are also evidence of error, it should be noted that the language used does not demand that the begetting father is the immediately preceding father, just that he is a preceding father from whom the named son descended.

In addition to the genealogies, OT writers, NT apostles, and Christ refer to Adam as a real historical figure. Hosea 6:7 says that God’s people violated God’s covenant with them, just like Adam did. Paul says (1 Timothy 2:13-14) that Adam was formed first, then Eve. Eve was deceived, not Adam. Paul used this historical event as the basis for explaining the different roles that men and women have in the NT church. It makes no sense to base roles of real people on the actions of those in a mythological story. Paul obviously believed Adam and Eve and the events in the Garden were real, historical events. Jesus does the same thing in explaining his position on divorce and marriage. He bases what marriage should be today (leaving and cleaving) on the historical creation account of Adam and Eve (Matt 19:4-8; Mark 10:6-8). Jesus specifically says this was how things worked in the beginning. The beginning of marriage and the one-flesh relationship began with Adam and Eve, not their theoretical non-human ancestors. Again, this argument does not work if the basis is only a fictional story or if it was not really the historical, actual beginning.

The Gospel

Most importantly, as Bruce Waltke says on page 250 of his Theology of the Old Testament, “the historicity of both figures [Adam and Jesus Christ] is foundational to Paul’s’ doctrine of human redemption through Christ Jesus.” In other words, the truths of the gospel depend on a literal, historic Adam. This may be seen in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. Paul entire argument is based on the corresponding and complementary positions that all men have in either Adam or Christ. Paul is clear that sin and death entered the world because of one real man’s historical sin. Paul is just as clear that righteousness and life are available because of one real man’s historical righteousness. Romans 5:18-19 says, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness lead to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” It is not good enough, as some suggest, to observe that all men sin. Paul says much more than that. He is saying that all mankind is condemned from birth, before they do any actual sinning, because they were imputed with the sin of Adam and thus declared condemned sinners. Thus explains the passing of death upon all men, even those who as infants or mentally challenged do not make rebellious sin choices like Adam did (Rom 5:14, “even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam”). Over and over again, in addition to what he says in verse 18-19, Paul refers to the actual sin of the man Adam:

*** Sin came into the world through one man and death spread to all men because of that first sin (Rom 5:12).

*** Death reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom 5:12, is one historical and the other not?).

*** Many died through one man’s trespass (Rom 5:15).

*** Death reigned because of one man’s trespass but abundant grace, righteousness, and life through one man Jesus Christ (Rom 5:17, are we to assume that one of these men is real but the other not?).

These verses teach the federal headship of both Adam and Christ. We are condemned to death because Adam sinned. He represented all mankind in the garden and when he fell, he took the entire human race with him. We cannot help but sin because we are all sinners due to Adam. We are sinners by nature and by choice. Likewise, we are granted life because of Christ’s righteousness. God imputes the righteousness of Christ to our account when who we were in Adam (condemned sinners) were crucified with Christ on the cross (Rom 6:1-6; cf., Rom 7:1-6; Gal 2:20). Paul puts it this way in 1 Cor 15:21-22, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” In 1 Cor 15:45, Paul quotes Gen 2:7 as historical fact and then gives the gospel implication of Christ’s role as the second Adam: “the first man became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

How does one inherit a sin nature from a mythological figure? How are we justly condemned and how do we justly die if those things are not based on historical reality. Our salvation depends on the historical reality of Jesus’ perfect life and his literal obedience unto death on the cross. If Adam is figurative, why not Christ? If these men are not real, is God’s plan of redemption even necessary? Are we really condemned? Perhaps death is not the result of a real historical sin? Perhaps we are not really totally depraved and therefore worthy of eternal death in hell. Perhaps we do have some good in us and our good can out-weigh the bad at the judgment, if there is a literal judgment at all. No, none of that will do. God is just and would not condemn men to death and hell on the basis of a myth. If Christ is real then Adam is real. If Adam is not real, then there is no reason to insist that Christ is real. If Adam is not historical, then Paul’s whole argument crumbles and with it the whole mechanics of the gospel.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

If you are going to get the answer wrong anyway...

You might as well have fun while you are at it!

The post, How to Fail a Test with Dignity, at Ivman's Blague is too funny. I highly recommend that you refrain from consuming any beverages while perusing this post. Here is an example of what you will find:

The student in this class is supposed to state a premise, create an equation that represents his premise, and then sovle the equation.

HT: Bethany Lovegrove