One of the important questions being discussed by theologians today is what we should do with Genesis 1 and 2. Were Adam and Eve actual people, or were they meant to be archetypes of sort?
Before 1859, the year Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species was published, this was a discussion in which few people engaged. The biblical account was taken at face value by most in the West. But now, with an increasing number of Christians viewing evolution as an established fact of Science, many are grappling over how to make sense of Genesis 1 and 2, which clearly depict Adam and Eve as literal historical people.
Must Adam & Eve Be Historical?
The question I would like to address is must they be historical?
Popular blogger Albert Mohler argues that the entire story of the Bible does not make sense if Adam and Eve were not historical figures. He writes,
“If Adam was not a historical figure, and thus if there was no Fall into sin and all humanity did not thus sin in Adam, then Paul’s telling of the Gospel is wrong.”
On the other hand popular theologian N.T. Wright recently argued in his book Surprised By Scripture that Adam and Eve could have been two hominids that God chose after millions of years of evolution (an argument popularized by C.S. Lewis and others). In an interview with Religion New Service’s Jonathan Merritt, Wright states,
“The way I see it is that there were many hominids or similar creatures, part of the long slow process of God’s good creation. And at a particular time God called a particular pair for a particular task: to look after his creation and make it flourish in a whole new way. Actually, this fits with the scientific evidence according to which there were some significant changes in the hominid population and lifestyle around 6000 years ago, though I wouldn’t myself put too much weight on that.”
My thought: I’m not sure if Adam and Eve must be historical to keep the biblical story from breaking down. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I don’t think you have to believe in the literal creation story to become a Christian (though I do). For that you simply need to believe Jesus died for your sins.
I must admit, however, that I’m not comfortable with disbelieving the biblical story either, especially when paleontologists change theories on evolution faster than 15-year-old girls adopt fashion trends.
Who Has Disproved Adam & Eve?
To me the historicity of the biblical creation story remains on as much solid footing as ever.
It has not been disproved.
There are no historical documents which prove otherwise.
At best a historian can say it was unlikely to have occurred, but one cannot say it has been disproven. No one can claim that.
What if we discover much larger and older remains of human ancestors than anything previously found? Would we then have to go back and rethink Genesis 1 and 2 all over again, after adopting an evolution-friendly understanding of Adam and Eve?
I am much more comfortable saying I believe it as it was written, which I do, but allow for the fact that some in the community of faith disagree, without doubting the sincerity of their Christian walk.
To me this is a much better position to take than constantly revising our beliefs based on the latest “findings” of popular theologians and/or paleontologists so as not to appear stupid or two steps removed from cavemen ourselves.
I believe Adam and Eve were two actual human beings that were created by God to become the progenitors of the human race.
I believe they were much smaller, a bit hairier, less developed intellectually, and in need of a really good shower. Sort of like many of today’s Nascar fans.
But they were two actual, historical, created human beings with no evolutionary ancestors.
I believe this because it has strong scientific support.
But most important I believe this because the Bible says this is the case.
What do you believe?