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I’m a Christian & I Live in the Real World, Thinking Through Ethics – The Historicity of Adam

09 Jul

This was part #7 (and the final) to a series on ethics given during the Sunday PM services at Howick Baptist Church. A full PDF along with related links and an MP3 download of the talk can be found here.

Were Adam & Eve Real People & Why it Matters

When one approaches the subject of science and the Bible, one is opening a Pandora’s Box to be sure. Even when simply looking at the first three chapters of Genesis there are more issues to investigate than one initially imagines. We could ask: What type of literature is Genesis 1? Is there a gap between chapter 1 verse 1 and 2 or maybe verse 3? How long are the days in Genesis 1? What type of literature is Genesis 2? What does it mean when it states “everything was very good”? What is the purpose of Genesis 1 – 3? Are they recording history, science, theology, something else or is more than one possible at the same time?

All of those questions are important and carry with them implications on how one approaches Genesis 1 – 3 (or even Genesis 1 – 11 and the rest of Scripture). However, this article is going to focus on one issue that arises from a study of Genesis 1 – 3. What is the origin of man and what are the implications to one’s claim regarding this origin?

What Does the Bible Say About the Origin of Man

  1. Genesis states God created man unique from all of the other parts of creation – including animals. Genesis 1:27 states man was created in the image of God. Genesis 2:7 states God formed man from the “dust of the ground.” The text gives no hint that man evolved from a previous life form.[1]
  2. Genesis 3:20 states Adam gave the first woman her name, “Eve” because “she was the mother of all living.” Paul states in Acts 17:26 “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth”
  3. Genesis 2:22 and 1 Corinthians 11:8 state God created woman from man. Eve did not have biological parents any more than Adam did. Both the original man and woman where specially created by God.
  4. Two key genealogies given in Scripture identify Adam as the first man with Luke calling Adam the “son of God.” (1 Chronicles 1-9; Luke 3:38)
  5. Paul draws from Genesis 2:7 in 1 Corinthians 15:45 when he identifies Adam as the first man.
  6. Christ Himself identifies Adam and Eve from Genesis 2 as being the first people created as male and female “in the beginning.” (Mathew 19:4-6)
  7. Paul states that since the creation of the world God’s “invisible attributes” have been clearly perceived by man. (Romans 1:19,20) Man has been here since the beginning and capable of observing God’s invisible attributes from creation.
  8. The New Testament clearly understands Adam and Eve to be historical figures (Luke 3:38; Acts 17:26; 1 Cor. 11:8-9; 1 Tim. 2:13-14) along with their sons, Cain (Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11) and Able (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51; Heb. 11:4; 12:24).

What Does the Bible Say About the Death of Man

If Adam was not the first human uniquely created by God, but simply evolved from other life forms (which we see above is in direct contradiction to Scripture) what happened to these pre-human life forms? They died obviously!

 

  1. Romans 5:12-15 states that death entered the world through sin. That sin being the sin of the first man Adam. Death did not reign on the Earth killing off countless pre-human organisms until finally man evolved.
  2. God’s stated consequence for Adam’s sin would have been pointless if death was already a mass occurrence. (Genesis 2:17)
  3. Paul states that all of creation now groans and suffers since the first sin. (Romans 8:19-22) It is not just human death that resulted from the Fall, but death, suffering, and futility itself in all creation.

 

What are the Theological Implications to Accepting an Evolutionary View of the Creation of Man?

 

It is undeniable that you can find examples of evangelical theologians holding a variety of views on many of the questions listed that the beginning of this article. However, it is not at all insignificant that when it comes to the origin of man and the historicity of Genesis 2 and 3 we find significant consensus among theologians and exegetes of Scripture. Even when they admit they are unsure how to reconcile the apparent age of the Earth with the six day creation story, the following theologians do not in any way hold to a view where Adam is claimed to have evolved from another life form: Robert Reymond, Robert Duncan Culver, John Frame, Norman Geisler, RC Sproul, Charles Hodge, John Calvin, Herman Bavinck, Lewis Sperry Chafer, Wayne Grudem, Louis Berkhof, and Millard Erickson.

 

Why? Why is there such a consensus on the origin of man when there is still wide divergence on some of the other questions regarding Genesis 1 – 2? I would suggest the following reasons:

 

  1. “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. While there are sincerely held differences on that question among some Christians with respect to the plant and animal kingdoms, these texts [Gen. 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 begins are the result of a long evolutionary process. This is because when Scripture says that the Lord “formed man of the dust from the ground” (Gen. 2:7), it does not seem possible to understand that to mean that he did it over a process that took millions of year and employed the random development of thousands of increasingly complex organisms. 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). But on a purely evolutionary view, this would not be possible, for even the first female “human being” would have descended from some nearly human creature that was still an animal.”[2] The trustworthiness of Scripture is at stake when one questions to historicity of Scripture’s account of the origin of man.
  2. “Paul clearly believed that there had been a single first pair, whose male, Adam, had been given a commandment and had broken it. Paul was, we may be sure, aware of what we would call mythical or metaphorical dimensions to the story, but he would not have regarded these as throwing doubt on the existence, and primal sin, of the first historical pair.”[3]
  3. “If Adam was not a historical figure and the Fall is not historical, then the typology of Christ as the last Adam (Rom 5:12–14; 1 Cor 15:22, 45–49) becomes meaningless, as do the doctrines of redemption, atonement, and justification. Furthermore Paul specifically related the historicity of Adam to the historicity of Christ’s resurrection, thereby laying a basis for the believer’s hope in the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor 15:12–23). The lynchpin of the gospel (Christ’s resurrection) is anchored in the historicity of Adam and the Fall.”[4]
  4. “It is a fundamental presupposition of our evangelical understanding of the atonement, such that if the sin-death causality be undermined the efficacy and indeed the rationale of blood atonement is destroyed. The idea in Genesis is clearly that, as created, as perfect, man was not liable to death. He was made, potentially, immortal…. It is also doubtless that the “death” with which he was threatened and finally cursed, should be understood to mean more than simply “physical” death. But it is impossible that it should mean anything less than physical death, on simply exegetical grounds; for example God’s concern lest Adam “take also of the tree of life and live forever” (Gen 3:22).”[5]
  5. “The integrity of our Lord’s own teaching is at stake, for in Matthew 19:4-5 and Mark 10:6-8 he refers to the creation of man in such a way that it is beyond question (1) that he had Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in mind, and (2) that he viewed these so-called two diverse accounts of creation as a trustworthy record of what took place at the beginning of human history. He also refers to the “blood of Able” (Matt. 23:35), and to the Genesis flood (Matt. 24:37-39). To question the basic historical authenticity and integrity of Genesis 1-11 is to assault the integrity of Christ’s own teaching.”[6]

 

Conclusion

Is the theory proposed by Neo-Darwinian Evolution, the concept that man evolved over an incredibly long period of time in an unguided fashion through a process of natural selection, compatible with the Bible’s teaching on the origin of man? It seems not.

Again there may be a number of questions which we can discuss, debate, and even agree to disagree on, but we cannot ignore the implications to our view. An evolutionary view of the origin of man (even a theistic evolutionary view – i.e. evolution which is guided by God) has significant implications to one’s view of Scripture, the nature of sin, the effects of the Fall, the need and purpose for the death of Christ, and our hope of a final resurrected stated where we will live for eternity with Christ in human bodily form – like Him.

To deny the historicity of the Genesis account of Adam, the uniqueness of his creation, the historical account of the Fall, the theological implications of the penalty of death as a result of sin is to deny the teachings of Jesus, the purpose of His life, the necessity of His death and the hope of His resurrection.

 

May God strengthen us according to His Word.

 

Ethical Implications:

 

  1. The reliability, trustworthiness, and authority of Scripture. If the Scripture’s unified claims in an historical Adam are incorrect, how can we trust other claims (i.e. basis for morality, accounts of Jesus’ birth, life, death, & resurrection, etc.)
  2. The uniqueness of mankind’s creation in God’s image forms the basis for our ethical commitment to the sanctity of human life.
    1. Murder
    2. Abortion
    3. Euthanasia
    4. Care for the mentally/physically disabled
    5. The biblical account of man’s creation as uniquely male/female and their union in marriage forms the basis for our ethical commitment to marriage as defined by God and human sexuality as an expression of the marriage covenant.


[1] See Center for Science and Culture/Discovery Institute, “Summary: The Scientific Controversy Over Whether Microevolution Can Account for Macroevolution,” http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=118 (16 September 2008), Center for Science and Culture/Discovery Institute, “The Scientific Controversy Over the Cambrian Explosion,” http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=119 (16 September 2008), and Center for Science and Culture/Discovery Institute, “Survival of the Fakest,” http://www.discovery.org/articleFiles/PDFs/survivalOfTheFakest.pdf (16 September 2008).

[2] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press and Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 265.

[3] Wright, N.T. Romans, The New Interpreter’s Bible, 10:526.

[4] Lane, David. “Theological Problems with Theistic Evolution” BSac 151:602 (Apr 94): 162.

[5] Cameron Cameron, Nigel M. de S. Evolution and the Authority of the Bible. (Exeter [Devon]: Paternoster Press, 1983), 52.

[6] Reymond, Robert L. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. (Nashville: T. Nelson, 2001), 118.

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