I have been doing a blog series on the “historicity” (or lack thereof) of the biblical Adam. In my last post Bobby Grow asked where I stand at this juncture. It is a fair question, so this is the answer I gave:
“I’d be honest and I’d admit that I live with cognitive disconnect here. On the one hand, I think Adam is more important to the biblical narrative than some people insinuate. It is evident that ancient Israel, Second Temple Jews, and people like the Apostle Paul affirmed his historicity. Jesus’ allusion to the creation of gender and the murder of Abel make it very hard to argue that Jesus saw these people as ahistorical (honestly, this is what makes me pause the most before denying Adam’s existence). On the other hand, I admit that there does not seem to be scientific evidence for this. I am not scientist, but those that have given their lives to this work (like Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project) know far more about these things than I do. I don’t feel like I have the ability to denounce their findings and conclusions. Rather, I rest in the reality that scientist are not epistomologically infinite and therefore it is quite possible that there is a blind spot in their findings that may someday allow for us to reconcile the biblical claim of a first man with the genetic evidence. Unfortunately, the bridge between the findings of scientists and the claims of Scripture awaits to be built though (I know many are trying).
“So my answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ On some days I think a first human had to exist because it has become imbedded deeply into my worldview. On other days I don’t know how I can say Adam existed with much confidence because I recognize my inferiority in matters of science, human genetics, and the study of origins.”
In a later comment I admitted:
“My guess is that I am a few years and much reading, thinking, and praying away from coming to any solid conclusions.”
I should make a few points of clarification: this isn’t about so-called inerrancy or anything like that. I don’t lose sleep over whether Scripture has errors, especially historical or scientific ones. I see Scripture as being Christocentric. That is how I understand its inspiration. It is useful to teaching, correction, and so forth, but I would argue that this function is Christocentric as well.
I am a bit more hesitant when it comes to “big themes.” Adam seems like an important figure, so I want to make sure I understand how Adam “works” in Scripture. As I said above, my main concern is that it appeared that Jesus himself affirmed a historical Adam. That is far more problematic for me that Paul’s affirmation of a historical Adam. I confess a high Christology, so I need to be sure that I understand what I am affirming as relates to the person of Christ if I conclude that Adam is ahistorical.
Also, I am woefully ignorant of the science of human origins. I won’t pretend like I can pick up a few books and suddenly become an expert. But I do need to read more on this topic. This is why I admit that I am a few years away from reaching a conclusion on this matter.