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.


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