Guest Post: Paul Bruggink

I am writing this as a Christian layman who would prefer to believe that Adam and Eve were historical. But with the rapidly mounting scientific evidence indicating that they might not have been historical people, I then would like to find a way to reconcile a metaphorical Adam and Eve with my Christian faith and beliefs. I would like to present the current status of my efforts.

Given that the Bible does not specify and age for the Earth or an age for the universe, does not specify the total interval of time required for the creative times (yom), does not specify the means and steps by which God’s creative actions were brought to completion, does not teach that God’s creation was perfect, only that it was very good for God’s purposes, and does not teach that there was no death of plants and animals before the Fall, I believe that an evangelical Christian can accept the Big Bang and biological evolution without giving up anything in the Bible.

It gets somewhat more difficult to reconcile the Bible and the evidence of science when it comes to the references to Adam & Eve and the Fall in the New Testament. The best that I have seen so far are:

1)  Robin Collins, “Evolution and Original Sin,” in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, Keith Miller, Editor, William B. Eerdsman Publishing Company, 2003, pp. 475-479],

2)  Denis Lamoureux, Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution, Wipf & Stock, 2008, p. 324-328)

3)  R. J. Berry, “Did DarwinDethrone Humankind?,” in R. J. Berry and T. A. Noble (Eds.), Darwin, Creation and the Fall: Theological Challenges, (Nottingham: Apollos, 2009), pp. 63-65.

They all essentially say that Paul is not trying to inform his hearers that Adam and Eve are literal individuals; but that Paul’s real interest in this passage is about Christ, and that Paul’s theological point in Romans 5 does not depend on Adam being a historical individual or on his disobedience being an historical event as such. Such an implication does not necessarily follow from the fact that a parallel is drawn from Christ’s single act: an act in mythic history can be paralleled to an act in living history without the point of the comparison being lost.

On the other hand, there are a number of ways that an historical Adam and Eve could be fit into biological evolution:

1)  God could have specially created a pair of humans named Adam and Eve from dust but made their bodies and their genes consistent with hominids alive at the time.

2)  God could have selected a pair of existing homo sapiens to represent all of humanity.

3)  God could have revealed himself in a single event to a large group of humans.

These options and others are discussed in Denis Alexander’s Creation or Evolution: Do we have to Choose? (Monarch Books, 2008), pp. 234-243 and in Deborah B. Haarsma and Loren D. Haarsma’s Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, & Evolution (Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2007), pp.215-230.

We have to keep in mind that God gave us both Scripture and nature, which therefore cannot be in conflict. Man’s interpretations of Scripture and nature can of course be in conflict, but only because they are both man’s interpretations. And I am not claiming that nature (science) is greater than Scripture, only that it can sometimes be helpful in interpreting Scripture. I still accept the creation, the incarnation, the resurrection, and the ascension as miracles of God; hence, no slippery slope for me.