Another early adopter of the Genealogical Adam

I just came across this anonymous Christian blog, who in 2014 posted his/her interpretation of Adam and Eve which is basically the GAE idea.

At this point it’s important to remember what the Bible does NOT say about Adam and Eve. These are common but unfounded assumptions that people often read into the story, assumptions which in fact cannot be true based on our understanding of history and science. So: the Bible does NOT say they were the first members of the species Homo sapiens sapiens . That is a designation that did not even exist until modern taxonomy, and it would be ridiculous to use it in our interpretation of Genesis. The Bible also does NOT say that they were the only anatomically modern humans God created. It actually often hints at the existence of other humans outside their family. The Bible only says that Adam and Eve were the ones to be created in the image of God. I am here making a very clear distinction between biological humans and spiritual human beings. Biological humans evolved around 200,000 years ago, according to our current best estimates, but Adam and Eve lived around 6,000 to 12,000 years ago, depending on how you interpret the genealogies. Adam and Eve were not the first biological humans or the only ones that lived in their time, but they were the first spiritual human beings - full, biological humans who were also ensouled bearers of the image of God.

Sometimes he sounds eerily like Josh!

But how could Adam and Eve be ancestors to all the humans alive, if they only lived 6,000 to 12,000 years ago? Isn’t this all rather contrived? Not at all. It is actually perfectly natural for a population to have a relatively recent common ancestor. It would be contrived if such a common ancestor did not exist - That would basically mean that the “population” was in fact two or more populations. And the scientific time estimates for the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for all humans is shockingly recent - possibly as little as 2,000 to 4000 years ago by some estimates. Needless to say, this timeframe agrees remarkably well with the biblical timeframe for Adam and Eve.

Lastly, there is the question of when, exactly, Adam and Eve became the common ancestor to the whole world. As I mentioned above, I believe that every person in the Bible, and everyone that we have a written historical record of, is a descendant of Adam and Eve. This means that their descendants had to spread to each of the major civilizations before it began to flourish, and probably spread out to nearly everywhere by the time of Christ. This is a strong constriction which forces back the lastest possible date for the common ancestor. An important reason that the MRCA of humans living today lived so recently is the relative ease with which we could travel to, colonize, conquer, and trade with the people living in far off places. This mixes the people of different lineages and allows quicker divergence from the MRCA. But the MRCA of the people living in the first century might have lived quite a bit further in the past, as the starting point is pushed back 2000 years, and travel was more difficult. But I believe that even under these constraints, Adam are Eve are sufficiently old enough to be the ancestors to all of humanity.

He even makes a genealogical diagram similar to the one in Josh’s article in PSCF.

He also talks about the people outside the Garden:

You may object that I have divided the human race into two classes: “spiritual human beings” and mere “biological humans”, which I suppose can be termed “mere animals” if one were in an inflammatory mood. I will come back to this point later, but for now, it is of little practical importance. Everyone you meet, every individual you’ve read about, everyone that appears in the Bible or in history, and every person that you’ve ever felt a human connection to, are all descendants of Adam and Eve, and all spiritual human beings. This distinction therefore cannot be used to justify any kind of discrimination or oppression.

A little contrast to Josh, though, is that he emphasizes that in his opinion the image of God spread through humanity through family relationships:

This is clearly spelled out in John 1:13. Being the “children of God” does not depend on “natural descent” or a human parent’s biological decision. Now, there can be some hair-splitting of the difference between “children of God” and “image of God”, but overall I believe that this is fairly convincing evidence that biological heredity is not essential for our spiritual identity.

All these things suggests that the image of God is transmitted, not through purely biological means, but through relationships - in particular, the kind of nurturing, mentoring, teaching, and influencing relationship that a father would have with his son, born out of love. This most often happens between parents and their biological children, but the biology only exists to serve the relationship. God, as the one from whom all fatherhood on heaven and on earth derives its name, saw fit to design our biology to enable the relationship, so that we could better understand and draw near to him.

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Invite him here and post a link to one of the blog posts on it.

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If only someone could tell us what that means.

I wish people would stop saying “the ancestors” when they mean “among the ancestors”. As Joshua has mentioned, everyone living at that time who had descendants is probably among the ancestors of all humanity.

Could it legitimately have been used to justify oppression in the past, before Adam’s ancestry had spread to everyone? What would those non-Adamic people have been like? How would they have been different from spiritual people?

What about all those orphans and others who never experience this parental — sorry, it seems exclusively paternal — relationship? That seems a problem.

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@John_Harshman,

Even undefined, the Biblical groundwork is sufficient to defend Genealogical Adam even as it stands undefined.

This is a great quote from the article linked above:

“All these possible difficulties and implications, along with one major modification to this model that I have not yet mentioned, will be elaborated on in the next few posts. But for now, this is the skeleton outline of my model:”

“Adam and Eve were recent common ancestors to all the humans that lived at the time of Jesus.”

" Thereafter, all of us - all humanity - are their descendants. We inherit our spiritual condition from them, both the image of God and the effects of the original sin."

“Big Bang and human evolution all took place, but they happened far before Adam and Eve. I believe that, with the modifications that I’ll discuss next week, my model squares with all the relevant scientific, historic, and biblical facts.”

“In fact the the agreement between the biblical date for Adam and Eve, and the historical/ scientific dates for recent common ancestors, is quite good.”

This is the big problem I see there:

It’s hard to make any sense of it, given the uncertainty in what “inherit”, “image of God”, and “effects of the original sin” might all mean. Take that statement away, and it’s just a recognition of the rate at which genealogical ancestry diffuses, with zero theological import.

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I’m a bit confused, since you’ve read parts of Josh’s draft on the GAE, which includes discussions of the image of God, yet you claim that you can’t make sense of any of it. For example, there are several different interpretations of what “image of God” means, e.g.

  • Structural: being in the image of God means having some combination of biological and spiritual properties, such as higher-level cognition, rationality, capacity to use language, and ability to commune with God
  • Vocational: being in the image of God means having been given a certain calling by God, e.g. to become his representatives on Earth, and thus having stewardship over the rest of creation. The practical implication of this is that we have authority over the Earth but also have to exercise good stewardship over it.

I understand you don’t believe any of the above, as you are not a Christian and don’t believe in God, but I don’t understand how you think it literally doesn’t mean anything.

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Neither the structural nor the vocational meaning makes any sense if the image of god is supposed to be something that Adam and Eve added to the world and those outside the garden lacked. If other members of H. sapiens lacked the structural image of god, then mating with them would be bestiality, and it would be difficult to explain the evidence of complex cultures before 4000 BC. If other members lacked the vocational image of god, then what are they doing domesticating animals and plants before 4000 BC? You could of course decide that A&E were much older than 4000 BC, but that conflicts with one of the main reasons to propose GAE.

Indeed, that is why some commentators have speculated as follows:

  1. Genesis 6:1-4, the account of the interbreeding of the sons of God and the daughters of men to produce the Nephilim, is the basis for the Noahic Flood events which follow.

  2. This interbreeding is described in a decidedly negative context—in the view of thus commentators. (Others passionately disagree and caution against drawing too much from the adjacency of the pericopes.) Genesis 6:5 says: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”

  3. There are various traditional interpretations of the sons of God and the daughters of men, such as the intermarriage of Seth’s descendants and Cain’s descendants, or the interbreeding of fallen angels with Adam’s descendants. Nevertheless, based on what I know from Classical Hebrew, comparative linguistics, and anthropology, I lean toward the sons of God referring to a larger-statured, more formidable tribe and the daughters of men referred to the descendants of HAADAM/Adam. (It is not unusual for a people group to refer to a larger and/or more fearsome neighboring tribe as being spawned by a deity. Consider Greek and Roman mythology where powerful heroes like Hercules were described as the result of a god mating with a human female.) Notice that the Genesis text implies that the Nephilim were the result of that “tribal interbreeding”. It also implies that those Nephilim were legendary heroes, probably from being large and powerful warriors. Indeed, some commentators think that spies from the Children of Israel saw such Nephilim (describing them as giants) when initially explored the Promised Land before the conquest.

I could write far more about these interpretations—and the many counter-arguments published to refute them. I just wanted to establish that regardless of whether one finds the word bestiality appropriate, the aforementioned interbreeding was clearly a big deal in the Genesis text.

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I’m going to doubt that anyone else here agrees with your interpretation, which creates major problems for the GA hypothesis. I don’t think it holds up biblically either. And it still doesn’t tell us what “image of God” etc. means.

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  1. Those who hold a structural view such as Kemp tend to place A&E further back in time such as 20-200 kya for similar reasons.
  2. Yes, the fact that bestiality occurred might seem inconveniens, but there is no clear reason why it would be detrimental to the plausibility of this view. After all, the Bible clearly records sin happening throughout human history after the fall. (Not to mention that the “rules” might have been different - see, for example, YECs and some sole-genetic-progenitor advocates having incest in their models.)

Am I understanding you correctly? Just because you disagree with a certain interpretation of the Bible, doesn’t mean that the interpretation is meaningless. What part of the structural or vocational definition of the Image of God don’t you understand, such that it makes it meaningless?

No. It’s not that I disagree. It’s that all this needs to be considered in the GA context. Neither of those definitions fits the model. Besides, in the GA model, the people outside the garden are those created on the 6th day, i.e. evolved, and those were created in the image of God. The models you propose leave them out. And there are other problems with bestiality that you have not considered.

How do any of your objections make the image of God “meaningless”? I just want to clear that up first. There is no use for us to continue debating biblical interpretation and theology if you covertly believe that all of the words I’m writing are literally meaningless to you. I want the meaninglessness objection cleared out first.

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OK. Meaningless might be the wrong word, and I would be happy to abandon it. I mean that these ideas don’t work in the GA context we’re trying to fit them into, for many reasons. Also, the major supporters of GA are currently unwilling to discuss the matter. Not sure if you’re going with GA or not.

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First, this “interpretation” is simply standard Genesis textbook description. Many centuries of rabbinical as well as Christian commentators have considered the aforementioned intermarriage/interbreeding described in the Genesis 6 text as a big deal (as I casually chose to word it in my post.) Many have described it as a significant negative situation while many others have considered it a significant positive situation—because the Nephilim were called “men of renown”. Either way, I don’t see how you can get around the “interpretation” that intermarriage/interbreeding in Genesis 6 is something of major significance to the author(s).

Secondly, I would be extremely surprised if the vast majority of the Jewish and Christian participants on this forum do not also consider intermarriage/interbreeding a big deal to the Genesis author(s).

What “major problems” would the Genesis 6 intermarriage/interbreeding create for a GA hypothesis?

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Hello! Glad to find people discussing my work!

I’d encourage people to read the rest of the series on the interpretation of Genesis, or at least the few posts surrounding it. A lot of the questions brought up here have been already answered.

From the next post in the series:

So, that settles the question of these “merely biological humans” once and for all. At no point in time or space is there ever a justification for using the distinction between “merely biological humans” and “descendants of Adam and Eve” for oppression or exploitation. Since the image of God is propagated through any archetypal father-son relationship, where one person shapes the identity of the other in love, the proper response by the descendants of Adam and Eve would have always been to love and grow the “merely biological humans”, to thereby impart the image of God upon them.

Let’s look at a specific scenario: what would happen if a full human adopted a biological human as their child? Say that Adam and Eve came across a lost baby and took him in as their own, out of compassion and pity. Would this child then be fully human? Would God grant him a soul, and would he bear the image of God?

So yes, a merely biological human child adopted by Adam and Eve would inherit the image of God, and become a full human being. In fact, I believe that any relationship born of love, where one person shapes the identity of the other through that love, can serve as a conduit for propagating the image of God. As I said, this most often happens between parents and their biological children, but it can also happen between parents and an adopted child, a teacher and a student, a master and an apprentice, a commander and his soldiers, or between spouses, depending on the circumstances. Through all relationships of this kind, the image of God propagated throughout the human race over time.

As for other theological issues related to terms like “image of God” and “spiritual death”, here’s some verse which I consider in the context of my model, from a few posts later.

As for the passages outside of Genesis, my model is in harmony with all of them. There are many passages which briefly describes how God created the world (Jeremiah 10:12, Isaiah 45:18, Hebrews 11:3, etc.), all of which my model affirms. My model also agrees with Acts 17:26 that he created every nation from one origin, as we’re all descendants of Adam and Eve. My model furthermore agrees with all the verses that use creation order arguments to discuss doctrinal matters, such as Matthew 19:4, Mark 10:6, 1 Timothy 2:13-14, and 1 Corinthians 11:8-9. With a historic Adam and Eve, along with generic humans being created as male and female during the sixth “day” in the Genesis prologue, my model fits all these verses. Additionally my model is in harmony with verses which talk about the flood (1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 3:5-6), as a historical event through which some humans were saved. And, because my model is compatible with mainstream science, it is also in harmony with all the verse that describe science.

Lastly, my model is in perfect harmony with the important verses that describe our salvation, 1 Corinthians 15:22 and Romans 5:12-21. My model affirms a historical Adam, who became the ancestor to all humans, whose sin therefore infects all humanity, which results in spiritual death.

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There is not just one uniformly-defined GA model. From what I’ve observed on this forum, some consider most or even all hominids “created in the Image of God” and some reserve that description much more narrowly, even solely to the descendants of HAADAM.

I’d be interested in hearing them described. Some commentators, for example, claim that it is anachronistic to apply that sort of “bestiality taboo” backward in time and to a “inter-hominid context” to an era long before the specific ban in the Torah Law of Moses.
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Furthermore, one must keep in mind that a term like bestiality in English has a much broader semantic domain than an ancient term which might be applied to interbreeding among hominids. When people say, “That’s bestiality!”—with connotations and emotional-implications of human-and-sheep mating, for example—that doesn’t necessarily make sense in an ancient context where the context is varieties of hominids or even tribes differing solely in Imago Dei attributes. So I have to throw down a linguistic penalty flag on this one. It is mixing apples and oranges, pun only slightly intended.)

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Have you seen this?

http://peacefulscience.org/genealogical-rapprochement/.

Welcome too! If you can tell me about yourself a bit, I might be able to cite you in my book. Introduce yourself? :slight_smile:

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I’m going to doubt that too. What textbooks are we talking about here?

But would they have made the proper response? After all, they were sinful. This does not seem to be a reliable form of transmission.

It would be best to clarify your model, then. If only true humans are capable of reason, what would you think of marrying a person who was incapable of reason? In fact, incapable of consent.

John, I wonder if we are talking past each other here. Are you saying that you doubt that any university-level textbook on the Pentateuch has described the intermarriage/interbreeding pericope of Genesis as an important introduction and even primary rationale of the Noahic judgement (as one of the traditional interpretations?)