As an aside from my juxtaposition of C. John Collins’ Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care and Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins I want to mention a couple of blog posts that I have read with interest. Also, I want to draw attention to some of the concerns raised in our recent discussions.
First, someone left me a link to Michael Flynn’s “Adam and Eve and Ted and Alice” that seeks to explain how Adam may remain connected to the entire human race even if the genetic data cannot trace humanity back to a single couple. He comes from a Roman Catholic perspective, so his interest isn’t biblicism, per se, but rather the traditional view of Rome. Yet it is worth reading for the rest of us Christians.
On the other side of the spectrum is the non-denominational Michael Heiser. In his post “The Evolution of Adam: Additional Thoughts” he explores the possible problems with the current evolutionary paradigm as well as the possible consequences of reading Romans 5.12 with a dehistoricized Adam.
Both posts made me think, but my brain is much too small to process these ideas alone. Thoughts anyone?
Second, Bobby Grow raised some interesting questions about Christian theistic evolution (or even the BioLogos approach which gives more attention to God’s active role in the process of evolution):
(1) What does this paradigm do to Christology: i.e., the idea of Jesus as the image of God and the “recreation” of humanity in Christ (see his comment here).
(2) What does this paradigm do to Eschatology: if recreation is the restoration, renewal, and advancement of “the beginning” how can we understand the Christian eschatological vision of a redeemed cosmos if we can’t trust the creational vision of a earth made “good?”
Thank heaven’s all the discussion this blog has generated has been about ‘Adam’ rather than ‘Eve’. I suppose it isn’t surprising since Science and the Bible agree on ‘Eve’ (Google: mitochondrial Eve). It’s curious then, if Science and the Bible agree on ‘Eve’, what’s so special about ‘Adam’ that we need to cultivate consensus on him?
Do you mean “Eve” as a generic representative, not a literal, single woman or did I miss something?
(I forgot to mention that Science also ‘mostly’ agrees about ‘Adam’ (Google: Y-chromosomal Adam) except that Y-chromosomal Adam didn’t live the same time as mitochondrial Eve; so, scientifically, there was an ‘Adam’ and an ‘Eve’ except they weren’t contemporaries … (scientifically))
Brian, I’d say yes to your question, but also point out that in genetics .. there is never really a ‘representative’. Ancestors who contribute DNA (especially mitochondrial DNA) tend to be real. We get our genes from somewhere – so I’d don’t take mitochondrial Eve to be a statistical model as some are apt to do.
Oh and I think this question is the more interesting of the two “What does this paradigm do to Christology”.
I suspect you’re asking how questioning the historicity of ‘Adam’ affects Paul’s theology (i.e. the comparison of Christ to Adam) but there’s another way that questioning the historicity of ‘Adam’ affects theology, and I’m not only talking Paul, but also Solomon (and perhaps Thomas Boston).
We tend to think that when we exhibit sinful nature, this nature is our ‘animal nature’ while when we resist sin that is our ‘spiritual nature’ created in the image of God, yet [Ecclesiastes 7:29] says that God has made man upright, but man fell due to the devices of his heart (“sought out many inventions”).
If evolution is true, than does this not imply God did not make man upright (created in His own image) but already fallen (and animalistic)?
As ‘believers’ wrestling with ‘evolution’ we have to answer the question “What does it mean ‘God created man upright’?”.
Very true, this seems to run into problems when we contrast it with an evolutionary model where humans didn’t come into existence free of sinful, death-causing traits.
I take that back “(2) What does this paradigm do to Eschatology:” is fairly interesting too!
If evolution is true, and it implies man was not created ‘innocent’, here too are there eschatological implications since this implication influences how we see God’s restoration of creation.
If Adam stood in the presence of God (before he sinned) [Gen 2:16] and Christ created all things [Col 1:16], and creation reflected the handiwork [Psa 19:1-6] and nature [Psa 104] of it’s righteous creator, (which was pleasing to God) [Gen 1:31] than a ‘fallen world’ is not the ‘default’ but the ‘exception’; a temporary state not reflective of God’s intent. Likewise, if man indeed fell – that means man’s nature now, also not the norm, is not representative of how it was when it was created (or intended).
If this is true, than the eschaton will be restoration of what WAS before, and NOT the creation of something NEW, since man previously stood in the presence of our righteous God without shame or blemish, and creation WAS found pleasing to God.
The purpose of bodily resurrection (in the eschaton) is to allow us to do this AGAIN, so to restore to use our righteous state, so that we can again reflect the nature of Christ our creator (and now redeemer) that man may standing again in the presence of our Holy God.
But WHAT IF creation (as in ‘evolutionary creation’) was not perfect, man not righteous? What does that say about the eschaton?
Indeed, it seems like the image of the eschaton is shaped by imagery from creation. I don’t know if this has been addressed by biblical scholars/theologians who adopt a macro-evolutionary paradigm.
Heiser thinks we’ve also misunderstood what “the image of God” means. It’s a status only from his perspective, so evolution wouldn’t be a problem there . Assuming we emanated out from a precursor, at the point of Adam becoming “functional” to use Walton’s view, Adam is the first of creation in God’s image, so that doesn’t imply Adam was “created” less than righteous.
Enns seems to ignore Walton’s work or else he has some reasons for feeling evolution is more “destructive” to past theology than I can understand. I don’t see it’s negative import since Walton’s view shows Gen 1&2 lend themselves to evolution of some sort.
Andrew T. Your 3rd and 4th paragraphs immediately above are exactly how I understand the narrative except to say I believe in the restoration He will do it up better than the original work pre evil. For a few reasons, one of which is in Romans it says God created the earth with some entropy built in.
Good point, he does have a different view of the image of God in Genesis 1. I think Bobby’s point has more to do with Christ in Colossians, Ephesians, etc. But I do think you provide an interesting proposal when it comes to applying Walton’s hermeneutic to making Adam the first “functional” homosapian. I will have to think on that more.
As far as I know Enns doesn’t interact with Walton, but that could change, I am early in the book.
I thought Walton’s work ended where Enns work began (no pun intended). In fact when I heard Walton at Western recently he seemed to want to avoid the subject of “historical Adam” while Longman jumped right in. Being as Walton teaches at Wheaton I can see why he might not want to go there.
I get the same impression that Walton wants to go so far before stepping away from the subject. I think he affirms a literal, historic Adam, but he does seem cautious about discussing it. Longman is much more creative with his affirmation of inerrancy (being part of ETS) and his acceptance of a metaphorical Adam that I imagined to be possible.
Patrick, I use to think so too, that ‘restoration’ would exceed original creation, but then (to my surprise) found it logically necessary to abandon that idea. It’s a nice thought (and somewhat appealing) that ‘forever after’ will be much better than ‘once upon a time’.
[James 1:17] says that with God there is no variation or shadow due to change. I can’t tell you how profoundly that impacted my sense of God’s character. If there is no variation with God, not even a hint of change, it means God has exactly one standard of ‘good’, and it isn’t even ‘good’ – it is unimaginably ‘excellent’, eternally set, and also without variation or hint of change.
As Christ created creation, it reflected His character, and met that standard, for “God saw that it was ‘good'”.
What does it mean that (post resurrection) God will make things ‘better’ (or more good) then they were at first? How can God make anything ‘more good’ than God’s own standard of ‘good’ which is unimaginably perfect? Did not God not make things ‘as good’ as He could have in the first place? (See the dilemma?)
No, I think you likely have a right sense of how things will be once restored (post resurrection) , but I think you need a higher sense (or a better appreciation) of how perfect things were in the first place when Adam could walk naked and without shame in the presence of a Holy God (reflecting that same Holiness). Such a sense will (of course) force us to see the fall in a much more tragic light, how horrid our sin.
(Logic necessity forces me to see the ‘before’ and the ‘ever after’ in the same light, without shade or variation due to change; Our God is truly a rock eternal!)
Yes, my point is as Brian understands it; it has everything to do with Christ as the ‘image of God’, thus he is the mirror of God, and we are mirrors of the mirror as we participate in him. It’s interesting to see how the few respondents seem to be privileging modern science and natural history as a more accurate revelatory source of things than they do of Christ. In other words it seems that natural history and its modern interpretation are to be taken more seriously than the intertextual witness of Scripture and Jesus Christ as its revelation. In other words, I still don’t see anyone attempting to speak about the first humans from a purely theological angle here. And it’s fine for Heiser to have his view about the image of God, but when scripture offers a clear teaching about the “personal” nature, in the Son, in Christ, of the image of God; then Heiser is trumped. Are we more interested in trying to assuage our angst about the apparent contradictory relationship between science and scripture; or are we going to be willing to let the integrity of scripture’s witness stand on its own. If so, then we must interpret scripture (including the imago Dei) the way Jesus did. And if we do, humanity’s ‘purpose’ has always been eschatological, in Christ. And if Jesus’ humanity in the recreation/resurrection cannot be circumscribed by a macro-evolutionary lens; then why should I believe that humanities’ original creation was/is? Scripture is very clear, we aren’t going back to ‘paradise lost’ we are moving forward to a relationship with God through and in Christ that far exceeds what Adam and Eve originally new—yet for which they were originally created; to enter into the Holy of holies of God’s life by participation in his life through Christ. So I am certainly not suggesting that the “original state” or ‘pure nature’ (which I take as a myth) is something that we were intended to return to; but instead, that the original state (before the Fall, which is a definite theological category that must be dealt with) has always already been intended to move beyond its original state into beatific vision in Christ (that’s what I see Colossians 1 arguing).
In short; my Christic thinking or lineaments towards an argument is asserting that since Christ’s humanity in the resurrection cannot be understood through a macro-evolutionary process (as the ‘recreated humanity’)—and his humanity is archetypical and the ground of what it means to be really human—then why should I or anyone entertain the idea, from the a biblical and/or theological vantage point, that the original creation of humanity was by another means other than what we find in the analogy of the resurrection of Jesus; that is, by Divine fiat, and by the viva vox Dei (the living voice of God)?
When people like Heiser have to invent creative ways to construe the ‘image of God’, then I know he is more interested (as genuine as he might be) in making his theory work instead of bowing to the theo-logic of Scripture’s witness, and working from there.
Thank you for your helpful contribution to this discussion. Maybe you could qualify a couple things so others get a better understanding of what your arguing. First, you reject the idea of human evolution because it is not compatible with humans being created in the image of God who is Christ himself. I imagine that some may say, “Well, the Genesis story has Adam being made from soil…isn’t that as problematic as God making Adam from a neanderthal?” Second, you present a negative view of the natural sciences, so I assume others like myself are wanting to know what criteria you use for rejecting or accepting the finding of science. Does it boil down to whether or not the natural sciences contradict the worldview you find in Scripture? Do you reject this particular avenue because you think the evidence for human evolution is weak, but if it was stronger you might change? Thoughts?
As a respectful rebuttal, consider this:
1) In Romans, Paul says God built entropy into His creation and it awaits our resurrection to be liberated from THAT. That wasn’t a result of sin or evil, it says God built it into His creation. I assume to “keep humanity on it’s toes” in hopes of a psychological dependence on God(total guess).
2) It just makes sense that God making the sacrifice He did for humanity and all creation, that the restoration would reflect that sacrifice. For example, Adam didn’t have an imperishable resurrection body and his creation was said to be “very good”. We all will eventually though.
To your view, it is laudable and possibly accurate and I would agree I do not have a proper appreciation for it. The view Paul had “I saw things unmentionable” and “Man has not seen nor ear heard what God has in store for us” is enough for me. I just wonder about these other issues is all.
Yes, I think being created in the image of God, in Christ, presents theological problems, to my mind, for affirming the macro-evolutionary development of humanity in general. But I am still thinking this through. I think the other BIG problem here, though, is the problem of evil; the Bible reports that man was created in a situation that was ‘good’, and that evil was introduced into this world system post creation of humanity. For macro evolution, by definition, to be real; it needs decay and death, in order for mutations to emerge and re-emerge as new species etc. This seems, still, to me, like a huge dilemma for Christians who want to somehow affirm macro-evolution as the mechanism, at least, used to create humanity (my thinking on a Christ-conditioned humanity not withstanding … which I think, at best, might only provide some sort of suggestive argument against the mechanism of macro-evolution for creating humanity).
I would think the issue isn’t whether Adam was created from soil or a neanderthal, but whether or not the system which presupposes a neanderthal is viable or not to begin with. That would somewhat seem to be a circular point. With God all things are possible, but that doesn’t mean all things are probable.
I don’t have a negative view of the natural sciences, per se; I am just “critical” of what counts as the natural scientists in mass today. There are scientists who are critical of the natural sciences today as well. My concern is with metaphysical materialism that funds various world-views, so to speak. I know how folk try to separate the metaphysical from the physical (even TF Torrance does this in a very creative way, one I am in general a fan of); but then I still find it hard when people assert “science studies the physical and theology the metaphysical, But I believe God used the physical (the way that contemporary theory understands this as macro evolution) to create.” So now they have just coalesced the very things they say are distinct. I think atheism is a much more consistent position to hold if one wants to affirm macro-evolution as the mechanism for the creation of the natural world; since the atheist self-consciously supposes upon a metaphysic of materialism, and thus all of reality can be reduced to natural reality.
The theological problem (the problem of evil), ultimately, stands in the way of me being able to affirm evolution as God’s mechanism for creating humanity in his image.
I guess the way around this, for Christians (like Enns et al), is to simply annex the creation story as poetic-myth (the Bible’s story itself); and renarrate (what I would consider another myth) another story about human origins (the naturalist one).
Patrick, (your rebuttal was most respectful),
still, where in Romans do you believe Paul says God built entropy into His creation? Though I haven’t personally seen this, I’m curious to. Even so, If God build creation and saw that it was good, do you think he could have done better (without exhibiting different standards of good)?
How do we know that Adam didn’t have a body imperishable (before the first sin)? I agree he didn’t have a ‘resurrection body’ because at the point death had not entered the world; he hadn’t sinned so he hadn’t died, nor was he consigned to death. It isn’t clear that a resurrection body is any different than the immortal one God gave him initially. It could be that a resurrection body is the restoration of an original body pre-sin.
except that Paul’s argument draws a correlation between the first Adam second Adam, and demonstrates how the second Adam is greater than the first, just as the incorruptible is greater than the corruptible. Plus. theologically, if Jesus wasn’t always the intention of creation, to bring it to its consummate form, and Jesus came because of sin; then Jesus’ identity becomes contingent upon sin. So to think theo-logically requires a thesis that argues that Jesus always intended to incarnate, and that Adam-Eve were originally created with this intention in mind (towards a consummate fulcrum and realization being brought into the inner sanctum of God’s life … which is a much different picture than what was originally painted of God simply walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden … there is an intensification of creation in Christ … and this is required by thinking from within the revelation of Christ … doing exegesis of Col 1 helps too)
I don’t know if you have had a chance to read John H. Walton’s works on Genesis 1, but he argues (fairly well, though I am processing it) that this passage isn’t about material origins, but “functional” origins, i.e. God giving purpose and place to sun, stars, fish, cows, humans, et al. So tov isn’t a metaphysical claim, per se, but it means, essentially, humans “function” as God created them to function. This seems like it could open the door the reading Genesis 1 as speaking about humans not being ontologically “good,” but functionally good. Thoughts?
I’ve listened to Walton, once, give a lecture on the contents of his book; it’s been awhile. I think, in a way, this is moving from within a kind of post-metaphysical approach (like Barth is known for, but Barth is obviously has qualified it in specific ways through his doctrine of election); nevertheless, there does seem to be this move (to try and get away from metaphysics) amongst biblical theology advocates and exegetes. How does he distinguish ontologically good from functionally good. The Apostle Paul, esp. in Rom 3 seems to develop a theme (quoting the OT) that sees our ‘hearts’ (or what it means to be human in a fallen state … so ontological impact) as evil and wicked (and so does Ezekiel 36 cf II Cor 3 for that matter). How might Walton fit this into his ontological V. functional; do you know?
Bobby, who do you think was walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden? Wasn’t it Christ? The intent from very early on appears to be man was to enjoy the presence of their creator. Jesus WAS the intent of creation whether or not we had sinned (he was the firstborn of creation before we had sinned, so Christ’s role and purpose is not contingent upon our sin). I don’t think we can say God’s intent for Adam and Eve was sin. God abhors sin.
Of course the second Adam (Christ) is superior to the first Adam – and that is as true before Adam sinned as after, and will be again post resurrection – so again nothing’s changed. The second Adam (Christ) created and restored creation and is the source of all life, whereas the first Adam marred creation and is the source of all death. None of this implies creation as it was before sin is less perfect than what it will be again.
(Incidentally, I called Christ the ‘second’ Adam, and Adam the ‘first’ Adam, but if truth be known it is really the other way around; Christ existed before Adam and just as Perez and Terah struggled in the womb such that the ‘eldest’ was born second, so with Christ and Adam, the eldest was born second [Gen 38:27-30]).
I don’t think that Walton denies an overall ontological evil. Rather, he doesn’t find it grounded in Genesis 1 either way. The “good” of Genesis 1 is proper function in God’s creation–i.e. oversight and reproduction for humans. Of course, I haven’t read any thing from him on Genesis 3, so I don’t know where he grounds ontological evil’s introduction to humanity.
I follow the Scotist Thesis, I won’t explain that here; if you don’t know what that is, look it up some time.
His usage of “good” sounds a lot like speaking in terms of Aristotle’s ideas on causation; and his functional ‘good’ sounds like a secondary cause that God built into creation; which I would reject this kind of thinking, even if Walton’s is only tenuously related to something like I am suggesting.
Actually Walton argues very strongly that God is directly involved in creation, even quoting the psalm about God putting together a child in a mother’s womb to argue that God’s role as Creator and Sustainer is much closer than we think. His main point is that Genesis 1 simply doesn’t address the concept of material origins, but rather functional origins, though God is directly involved in that process.
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