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Evolution and Adam, Part II

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

If evolution is true, the Gospel is unmoored from any historical Adam as recorded in Genesis.

The Gospel message of redemption through Jesus Christ, the second Adam, requires as coherently necessary a message of the sin and fall of the first Adam. The Gospel requires that both the first Adam and the second Adam be true historical figures.

The apostle Paul makes this abundantly clear in his first letter to the Corinthian church. Consider the apostle’s words as set forth by John MacArthur in making the case for the historical first Adam:

Paul contrasts Adam and Jesus several times in 1 Corinthians 15: For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor. 15:22) Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45) The first man [Adam] was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man [Jesus] is from heaven. (1 Cor. 15:47) Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Cor. 15:49) John MacArthur, The First Adam, the Last Adam, and the Gospel

Note the emphasis of scripture: the first man Adam, who was created by God, became a living being. That is, according to scripture a very real Adam was the first man created on earth, and by definition that man was a living soul, which is what “being” means. And man’s soul comes from God alone.

But if evolution is true, whoever the first human was, he or she was certainly not created by God; God had no role in the process. And he or she was not a living soul; there is no such thing as an immaterial soul as a product of a natural evolutionary processes.

But what if you could have your cake and eat it too?

Cake and eating, evolution of humans and creation of Adam, what could be better? Problem solved. If only we could do so!

A recent article by Tyler O’Neil at Fox News discusses the latest effort at cake and eating in a review of a book by S. Joshua Swamidass entitled, The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry. We reproduce for discussion the main gist of Swamidass’ work, as related in the Fox News article.

The quotes below outline Swamidass’ general take on his theory, with underline emphasis added in each quote. Here is the first quote we wish to consider:

Swamidass’ model of a Genealogical Adam and Eve (GAE) claims that biological humans may still share a common ancestor with apes according to the theory of evolution, but God could have created Adam and Eve from the dust and a rib, without parents, and these two became the ancestors of all humans by 1 A.D. Swamidass claims that Genesis appears to require biological humans outside of Adam and Eve’s family line because after Cain murders Abel and leaves his parents, he fears that he will be killed, he acquires a wife, and he builds a city. See article linked above.

Swamidass believes this theory clears up the problems of reconciling evolution as indicated in the second quote:

Even if Adam and Eve lived as recently as just 6,000 years ago, they would be the genealogical ancestors of everyone across the globe by AD 1. They could even have been created de novo, from the dust and a rib. Of course, at the same time, we would also descend from people outside the Garden, others whom God created by a providentially governed process of evolution. See article linked above.

And finally from the Fox News article, again with underline emphasis added, we include this third quote:

“It turns out that the theological questions are about genealogical ancestry, not genetics. In this paradigm shift, we are finding a better way forward, a better story to tell.” See article linked above.

At Creation Reformation we are all about out-of-the-box thinking. And we applaud the effort to bring new thoughts to the debate over our human origins.

But does Swamidass solve the problem? Let’s consider a few of issues that might require a bit more thoughtfulness.

From the first quote we are to take that there is some theological comfort to be had in believing that “biological humans may still share a common ancestor with apes according to the theory of evolution, but “God could have created Adam and Eve from the dust and a rib, without parents, and these two became the ancestors of all humans by 1 A.D.

On what basis are we to be assured of our ancestry from Adam and Eve? To become ancestors of all humans is no particularly mean feat. Did you know that virtually every European is likely a descendant of Charlemagne? And did you know that you need go back a relatively few generations to find that probabilistically one of your ancestors is a common ancestor of every person alive today? Check out the fascinating explanation here.

So there have been many, many common ancestors throughout history. But on what basis are we to be assured that Adam and Eve was one of them?

Considering the second quote we see a subtle sleight of word in Swamidass’ theory that cannot be coherently maintained as a solution to the human origins debate. Note that in addition to Adam and Eve, according to Swamidass there may have been “others whom God created by a providentially governed process of evolution. But there is no scientific theory of a “providentially governed process of evolution“. And there is no Biblical narrative consistent with any kind of evolution. How can one claim to have solved the incompatibility of “science” and “religion” with a theory that is neither scientific nor Biblical? The theory amounts to an invented “third way” that renders the other two superfluous if true.

But here is the bigger problem with Swamidass’ model, and it is a problem that goes to the heart of the Gospel: It is the problem of sin.

The reason the first Adam is memorialized in scripture as the first Adam is because he was the first human soul on earth to sin. Without sin entering into all the human race there would be no need to have the second Adam, Jesus, to redeem the souls of all the human race. Adam and Eve may in some way be our “ancestors” by genetics according to Swamidass, but was Adam the “first Adam” with regard to the sin that entered the world through him?

What of these people who Swamidass says may have descended outside the Garden by the process of [providentially governed] evolution. Did they sin? Were they the first to sin of all human beings? If so, in what way did they sin? Cain killed Abel and we all agree that murder is a sin. But what of those human beings descending outside the garden by evolution? Is murder a sin for them? How can it be? Murder of the weaker by the stronger (or letting the less fit starve to death) is the driving force of the evolutionary machine and the necessary triumph of every surviving animal. So just exactly how could the evolved humans have sinned to be under the penalty of death requiring the redemption of Jesus Christ?

Finally, with respect to the third quote above, undoubtedly Swamidass is proposing a “paradigm shift.” But we question if it is “a better way forward,” and we are highly suspicious that it is “a better story to tell.”

A better story to tell? A better story than what?

Think about it.


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