A YEC and an OEC Walk Into Peaceful Science

Continuing the discussion from A Genealogical Book Title:

@deuteroKJ and @Patrick, this is a real exchange I recently had on facebook recently. @Zachary_Ardern participated too. I’m reproducing it here with names removed.

A Summary of a Real Exchange

OEC: (paraphrased) I’m not interested in the Genealogical Adam because I’m paying attention to both the philosophy and theology. You are not. I don’t see any reason to give any details or capitulate to science.

Swamidass: I’m not subject to your view of philosophy. I’m subject to Scripture. You appear to reject mainstream science on human orgins. That is not a small price to pay. You talk about me paying attention to your philosophy. I wonder when you will pay attention to the science here. You aren’t subject to science, so you can believe what you like.

OEC: I just want to be clear that we can affirm an old earth while rejecting evolution. The two do not come together.

Swamidass: Yes, you are right that one can reject evolution while affirming an old earth. Many (most?) are not comfortable with the hash this makes of theological anthropology, and exegesis. That is a bridge to far for me, and I’ve been working with RTB to find some better models for them. As for you, do you take Gaugers’ Homo erectus Adam or Rana’s 150 kya Adam that interbreeds with Neanderthal beasts?

OEC: I would laugh but it seems like you are serious. But…what?

YEC: Swamidass, glad to see there is something we can agree with on this subject, re: theological/hermeneutical problems with OEC proposals. Sorry, Mr. OEC.

YEC: As for the challenges, I am pretty well aware of the challenges to all the different views. I’ve been studying evolution since I was a kid back in the 1960s and much more seriously starting in high school in the late 70s. And science has been my main hobby since that time. My primary expertise, however, is as a Biblical scholar and theologian. And I find the Biblical and theological problems with the other views to be insurmountable. As for the age of the earth, I am agnostic. I can see interpretation of both the scientific and Biblical data being interpreted both ways. But when it comes to Adam, the Scriptures are very explicit that he was created without ancestors less than 7000 ya. The genealogical records of Genesis are too mathematically precise to allow for the kind of wiggle room demanded by other views. And the other views are also completely incompatible with the Biblical record about who Adam is.

Swamidass: Good news though, we made a mistake on how the evolutionary science presses on the Biblical account. turns out that Adam and Eve, ancestors of us all, could have been created without ancestors 7000 years ago, and this would all be 100% consistent with evolutionary science. This is a NEW finding, just about 1.5 years since became public, and no book yet. It changes the calculus. Maybe both are true, the YEC reading of Scripture, and evolution. There is no contradiction.

YEC: That is an interesting idea that I would be willing to explore more fully. But if it somehow involves another line of humans as you indicated, that is torturing the Biblical text and full of theological problems. I would be glad to hear you out on it, but I honestly cannot imagine a scenario in which those problems disappear given the basic problem.

Swamidass: It isn’t just the science. All it requires us is to read the (hebrew) text more carefully, paying attention to traditional interpretations, and theology. It is almost like one of those 3d dot diagrams. I’m working on a book (or at least I should be). It will be out with IVP. Hopefully that will explain more clearly.

(OEC blocks Swamidass on FaceBook.)

What Does This Mean?

YEC’s might be more open that you might imagine on this. Perhaps they have a view of Scripture that prevents them from moving towards OEC, but also pushes them towards the GA.


There really are serious problems with placing Adam and Eve at 7kya…
Not only do we have to assume a line of humans coexisting with them… but they are a line of humans with agriculture and even small cities spread across the world. For example the Harappan civilization is dated at 8000 years old.

Besides there is a genuine possibility of gaps in the genealogy. Though pushing Adam to 100s of thousands of years earlier would be stretching it. Perhaps a more flexible timeline like between 10000 and 20000 years ago would solve some of the problems.

Besides another issue is the long lifespans from Adam to Noah. The length of a generation is large… if you don’t hold to such long lifespans as being feasible, then the 6000 or 7000 years history of humanity would become shorter.

Edit: One real possibility is that the rules of nature were not uniform throughout history. In which case everything goes for a toss.
This is especially possible because of the strange water cycle that was going on in Noah’s time before the flood.
It could be that extrapolations into history based on current data just does not work.

@swamidass seeks to provide a flexible scenario.

If you and/or a denomination are more inclined to 12,000 yrs than 6,000 yrs, there is no rule that requires 2 camps to be identical.

And no doubt some OECs will be more open to the general ideas than some YECs.


I am agnostic about when Adam existed because I don’t see the Bible teaching that clearly.
As to my denomination. I attend assemblies of God in India. The denomination gives a lot of leeway to individual churches with respect to theology.
You will find people of all three views among AOG ministers. I had come across a study claiming around the same no: believe in a young earth as those who believe in an old one (approx 30-35%)… and around 16% in evolutionary creationism.

AOG, USA, has a position paper on creation. They hold to a literal Adam and reject the common descent of Adam. I don’t thing they will have much of an issue with GA.
pls note, AOG-USA, does not speak for Assemblies of God India… though I find myself in agreement with pretty much all their position papers (atleast the one I have come across).
If you are interested, I am attaching their position paper.

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One thing though, is many, perhaps most (not all) churches that believe in YEC also believe in Dispensationalist eschatology. This is virtually every fundamentalist church and many churches that are Evangelical (in the American sense of the word). It is a pretty good bet that if you picked a non-denominational Evangelical church at random and asked, you would find that it teaches dispensationalism.

What does this have to do with YEC? The usual dispensationalist timeline, which many such churches believe in, puts the earth from creation until the end in a span of exactly 7,000 years. This belief system began around 200 years ago and many people place their hope in this supposedly Biblical timeline. This timeline is treated like a creed. These churches eagerly welcomed the modern YEC movement (YEC gives “scientific” validation to their timeline). I think this is why it is extra hard for some to entertain even the idea of an old earth.


Sure, the folks can take a vote as to where they want GA to be. :sunglasses:



So how would that group react to literal Adam via Special Creation, with common descent for the rest of humanity?


If Adam is created 6000 yrs ago … with dispensation clock ringing the bell after 7000 years… we have almost a 1000 years to teach Old Earth PLUS 7000 yrs since Adam.

I agree. That is what I have observed. @Rogero is AOG. What do . you thinK?

5 posts were split to a new topic: Dispensations and the Genealogical Adam

Don’t know. If you read the position paper, you would find they emphasize on a real historical Adam and his special creation. The impression I get is that they are sticking to the main points in the text without promoting any particular views.
The challenge as I see it would be in how Adam can be the first human if humanity already existed through common descent.

It all depends how you define “humanity” in theology. That solves the problem when you realize that Genesis doesn’t even include the word “Human”.

I understand your perspective on this. I am not sure everyone will agree with you on this. I was speculating in the post above about some issues someone from an AIG perspective might raise.
Like I have said before, I see it as problem. Till now, Adam defined what it means to be human. And Eve’s children are all human (and those not born of Eve are not human).
The GA perspective seems to change Adams uniqueness from his being “human” or even in “God’s image” to something else… perhaps a vocation or a covenant relationship.(and theological humanity would be defined based on things like covenant or vocation from God. I am not sure it’s scriptural).
As of now, humanity in theology is defined the same as its defined in general. Changing such a view can be really harmful.

This turns out not to be correct @Ashwin_s, on several levels. Your theological history is not correct here.

Perhaps you can elaborate. What would be the “theological definition of humanity” in the GA perspective.
I wwasnt really speaking in a historical perspective. But I would love to understand where you are coming from.

I’m just gonna have to ask you to be patient. I you can wait 1 month, there will be much to share with you here.



You wondered: “… how Adam can be the first human if humanity already existed through common descent.”

Why is it important for Adam to be the First Human? @swamidass has given you Adam as an historical person on a platter. What further metaphysical prize is denied by Adam merely being a universal ancestor of all humans alive at the time of Jesus?

It all matters what you mean by “human” here @gbrooks9. If you mean biological human, I’m with you. If you mean the “humans” of theology and Scripture, I am not.


@swamidass ,

You write: “It all matters what you mean by “human” here @gbrooks9. If you mean biological human, I’m with you.” And indeed I do mean biologically human. Now, how do you explain this to @Ashwin_s ? @Ashwin_S wonders: “… how Adam can be the first human if humanity already existed through common descent.”

@swamidass has said that he will address this topic after some time and has things to share on this at a later date.
So i suggest we wait.