Theological Consequences of an Evolved Adam

This is the fourth post in a series of posts looking at the theological significance of Adam.

Theological Consequences of an Evolved Adam

It is often said that the best way to interpret the bible is to let the bible interpret itself. However this does not mean that we cannot or should not use extra-biblical resources and discoveries in or about our world to help us better understand biblical text when applicable.

One of the most debated topics today is concerning the creation of the universe and our world. For this, science has done much in the last 200 years to bring about much conversation and debate regarding how living beings, and for our purposes humans, came to exist. “There is no conflict between Christianity and science itself. This is because the Christian worldview, which believes that God create the world with natural ‘laws’ and orderliness, is what undergirds the entire scientific enterprise.[1]

Beliefs and interpretations of scientific data may be problematic or incorrect, but not (correct) scientific data in and of itself. While there is much to be said on the scientific side of this topic, our concern here is primarily the theological one; does it matter if Adam came about by macro-evolution, or was he specially created by God more spontaneously? To say it does not matter how Adam came to be, or that he is merely a story representing the fact that all humans sin, is to either not understand the importance of the Christian account of creation, or to simply not care. What cannot be said is that it does not matter.

Wayne Grudem writes, “Christians differ on the extent to which evolutionary developments may have occurred after creation, perhaps (according to some) leading to the development of more and more complex organisms. [2]” Regardless of one’s views regarding evolutionary science, our focus here is on how Adam came to be created. Grudem continues, “While there are sincerely held differences on that question among some Christians with respect to the plant and animal kingdoms, these texts (Genesis 2:7, 21-23) are so explicit that it would be very difficult for someone to hold to the complete truthfulness of Scripture and still hold that human beings are the result of a long evolutionary process.”[3]

We must not allow human perception on things to form doctrine and beliefs that the bible is clear on, and while the bible certainly does not give us a step-by-step guide to how everything was created (that was not the goal of Genesis), there are certain truths that we can ascertain. “Even more impossible to reconcile with an evolutionary view is the fact that this narrative clearly portrays Eve as having no female parent: she was created directly from Adam’s rib while Adam slept (Gen. 2:21).[4]

The fact remains that it is difficult to reconcile (macro) evolution into the biblical account without having to twist or come up with alternative interpretations of the text that bring up even more questions. “All four of the theistic positions examined above (theistic evolution, the gap theory, the day/age theory, and progressive creation) ultimately ask Christians to either place more faith in the opinions of man that the Word of God or to compartmentalize their faith.[5]” Proposing scenarios where macroevolution occurs and trying to fit them into the biblical account of creation by Christians “create more problems than they resolve, even if their motivation is sincere.[6]

Did God create a world with death and pain existed originally and yet still call it “good?” The implications that the evolutionary model has on the origin of evil are often not given a mention in alternative creation possibilities. Also, if those living in Genesis 1-11 (Adam-Noah) are fictitious, as Genesis 1-11 is seen more as a story that is trying to make a point than actual events by those holding to some sort of evolutionist prospective, at what point to biblical characters become real? These are some of the biggest questions Adam and Eve literalist have, yet are often not addressed.

Daniel C. Harlow also argues that because we take no other near-Eastern mythologies serious we should also do the same to Genesis 1-11. However, if we applied that logic to the rest of the Bible, how should we then view things like the virgin birth or Christ’s resurrection from the dead? Variations of these teachings are found in other mythologies as well. Because of the lack of adequate answers to these and other questions, those holding to a position of a more literal reading of the creation account in Genesis are left unconvinced that alternative creation theories are theologically sound enough to believe.

Other posts in this series:

[1] Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (re: Lit) (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2010), 80.

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1994), 265.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Karl Payne, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics ed. By Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 157.

[6] Ibid.


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