Capturing Christianity: Live Interview on The Genealogical Adam and Eve (Jan 14, 2020)

Capturing Christianity is doing a live interview with me on January 14th, at 2pm CST.

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Did you listen in? What did you think?

The rescheduling put it right in the middle of my band practice, so I’ve only just watched it. Otherwise maybe I’d have asked you an impossible question under an assumed name! :slightly_smiling_face:

Great presentation of the paradigm (and on your book), which has now been seen (as I write) by well over 4K people. Very few disliked it. Let’s hope for many more views.

Just one point I note (because it came right at the end) was an example of the confluence of ideas. You mentioned your inability to find India in the Table of Nations as a kid, and that’s a point I make at length in Generations of Heaven and Earth, even though the Indus Valley civilisation was well known both in Mesopotamia and Israel from an early date.

Now, you’ve seen my manuscript, so probably said an “Amen” if you read that, but I didn’t get it from you, but from stumbling across something on the trade relationship between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. But it shows how, once you ask the right questions, the same anomalies show themselves both demanding, and providing, answers.

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Just watched the whole thing. I thought it was a great discussion that addressed many of the big topics/questions about GAE.

@swamidass, do you have a page somewhere that lists the videos you’re doing for the book? I’d be especially interested in videos I could send to my students as they read through the book this semester. This one is really good, but maybe a bit more geared towards people already in the conversation rather than people who have minimal background knowledge about the debate/issue/questions.

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Look at the interview section here: Press on The Genealogical Adam and Eve. If needed, we will start doing finer level categorization (e.g., which ones are video?), but right now it isn’t too hard to figure out.

Already over 5K. They also want to have me back. Here are some of the comments:

One of the best episodes of CC ever. Gonna grab that book!

We need to have these conversations. This is a hot topic, and as a Christian I am certainly not afraid of controversy. I was sorry to not have been able to be here when it was live - so please invite Dr. Swamidass back soon. One thing which really surprised me is that science does not have a way to define what is human, maybe this is the area where philosophy needs to step in. Thanks, good conversation.

I gotta be honest. While I don’t agree with everything said, I have to admit that it was hard for to deny many of the arguments said. Im not a biologist but im quite modest in the Philosophy of Science. I’ll check out the book. Im not a theist but I do need something new to read.

@John_Rood Yes! I’ve often thought Dr. Swamidass’ view deserved more consideration in conversations about Adam and it is splendid to see him on this channel!

In reading some of these comments, I can see why Dr. Swamidass in other conversations says that he has received more ad hominen attacks from Christians than secular scientists. I think the overall tone that Swamidass presents is being missed. His goal is to open up the dialogue of possibilities for the proper interpretation of Scripture. He completely affirms the Genesis account of Adam and Eve. He is humble enough to understand that his thesis should be critically assessed and changed as warranted.

Additionally, please note that the beautiful part of his work means that how evolution can be viewed in light of Scripture is an IN HOUSE discussion. That is, evolution and Christianity are NOT in conflict and should not be used as an obstacle for faith in Christianity (this goes for non-theists and Christians alike). As a Christian, when speaking with non-believers, one should always concede that God could have used the process Swamidass offers and move on to Jesus. In my opinion, a Christian should not argue evolution and Christianity with those outside the church because it is a non-essential.

And one negative person to balance the crowd…

Get over it; Fossil and DNA evidence prove evolution to be a fact whether you like it or not. The Adam&Eve story was made up out of arguments from ignorance by the early confused folks to soothe their discomfort with their ignorance. Today, they can’t be blamed, but you my friend should really be ashamed of yourself for having the same intellect as them.

Okay, one more:

However, the idea of evolution goes completely against the entire grain of what God is accomplishing in the Gospel. The scriptures teach that death is part of the curse which God placed on Creation as a consequence of Adams sin. Through the death of Christ the curse of death will be removed as Christ deals with the problem of sin. However, if evolution is true, death precedes sin, in fact, God is responsible for death and used it as a means by which He would create living things (using evolution). There is a significant gospel conflict here which fundamentally undermines what Christ accomplished at the cross and also brings the character of God into question. If evolution is true God is the author of death… would be happy to discus further.

This seems to be the single most serious theological objection positively entailing the YEC position. Ironically I findit to be more principled and worth responding to than the “Get over it you bronze age halfwits” of the “brights.”

In God’s Good Earth I spent some paragraphs showing the impossibility of the physical (scripturally “perishable”) world operating without death, the lack of any biblical evidence that the core nature of the world has changed, and of course the central theme of the book, the fact that historically the Church from the Fathers until the Reformation restricted the curse of death for sin to humanity.

It has to be a problem when, to maintain a central theological truth, you have to strike through not just evolution, but the entire body of historical sciences.

But since that theme has come up three times this week for me, from serious Christians including academics, there’s an argument to be made against it on purely exegetical grounds. I’ll try and do a post on it at The Hump today, and post a link here, since it may help YECs willing to re-examine their presuppositions when they encounter GAE.

OK - that post is up on The Hump now. I think it may prove useful in discussion about GAE with Young Earthers.

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Jon, As a former YEC, death before Adam & Eve has definitely been one of the more challenging things to re-think without a YEC filter of interpretation. Particularity in light of how death in general relates to Jesus death on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. I’ve appreciated your book in helping me start to wrap my mind around some of this. My biggest questions still remain around death in the population of humans outside the garden who may / may not (I’m still unsure) be made in God’s image.

I was just looking at your post on “The Hump” and the following paragraph caught my eye.

" To which the only reply I can think of from the YEC critic is that of course Paul does not mean plant death, but only animal death. But on what warrant, having been forced to give ground on the universal meaning of “death” in Romans 5-6, does the YEC arbitrarily exclude plants but include animals within Paul’s restricted meaning, when (as I have shown) the context is clearly about the linkage between human sin and human death?"

From a non-scientist / non-biologist perspective, i.e. a member of the general public, I make a large distinction between plants and animals, and their death. In fact, ignoring the element of a human soul/spirit, I tend to see death of animals and humans more closely related than the death of plants and animals. I would tend to associate thought, emotions, feelings with animals but not with plants. I realize the reality doesn’t really reflect the reality biologically, but it’s something to keep in mind when using the death of plants as part of this argument, as I suspect my gut instinct about this this distinction is fairly common in the general public. (Your post forced me to go read a bit to actually figure out what is different about plants and animals, so I’ve learn’t something new already today).

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Hi @cdods

Thanks for comments. Amongst creationists “in the pew,” what they feel about plants, animals and humans may explain why they stick with their views. But by the same token, they might feel that Romans 5 clearly excludes animal death before the Fall. They might feel it must be true because they were taught it in Sunday School. They might have been abused in the classroom by an atheist. Or they might (like one of the posters on Josh’s blog and a few who have addressed me at the Hump) simply believe that any other view is a satanic deception. None of those is a good reason to establish Christian doctrine.

My post was, specifically, addressed to those thinking Creationists who are less interested in how they feel, and more in what the Bible actually teaches, and my point was that the key passage (Rom 5:12) cannot be taken as all-inclusive regarding death, because Paul’s audience did feel it was proper to talk about vegetables dying, and cannot legitimately be taken to mean “men and animals, but not plants” without making assumptions that are not supported by the text (nor by any other, actually). And if the text doesn’t support it, people should ditch it as they would indulgences or manifest sons teaching.

Remember that the position, to be considered Christian teaching, cannot simply be “I think animal death is an evil, and so it couldn’t have happened before the Fall.” It has to arise from, and be established by, from Scripture. And it helps if it corresponds to reality, too!

More specifically to your point, Scripture too distinguishes animals from plants - there is teaching on kindness to animals, but not on kindness to plants (unless you include that passage that forbids scorched earth warfare because you are not at war with the trees!). And of course, the text of Genesis 1 essentially designates plants as “food provision” and animals (including mankind) as “consumers.” But how does that map to “animals were exempt from death at the beginning”?

But that neither says that animals were not subject to death, nor does it justify linking Romans 5’s teaching about human death as a consequence of sin with that idea. Does that make sense?

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Thanks Jon, I do think your argument is clear, and scripturally based.

My comment was more of a general reminder how one part of the argument might be received by the general YEC population. As someone who is surround by YEC’s in my Christian community, I think it’s key to keep in mind that many of the have not considered other possibilities, simply because they see their view as so self-evidently right that there’s no point thinking about other options (much like I can’t be bothered exploring alternatives to our earth being round and orbiting the sun).

Some of them are deep thinkers but the push to get them to think about this has to be very gentle and not run up against too hard against their gut feel, or the alternative is rejected by them before even they even consider exploring it.

I appreciate that fact (though here in the UK views on creation are less ghettoized). At the end of the day, though, it is the duty of Christians to be Bereans and check out their doctrine critically. I remember being challenged as a newly converted teenager, in around 1967, by my tent-leader (who went on to become a senior army officer) to explain not only what I believed, but why I believed it. It’s stuck with me.

The difference between not thinking about creation doctrine, and not considering flat-earthism or geocentrism, is that nobody with any integrity either in the church or the wider society promotes the latter. But creation has been a live issue for 200 years - which is why I started digging into it seriously after I retired 10 years ago.

That said, in the USA in particular (and in the UK largely by the import of US materials), cultural polarisation has often meant that what opposes unjustifiable literalism is unjustifiable doctrinal wooliness in some kind of coalition with secularism. That of course was my problem for years with the Open Theism, etc, then prominent at BioLogos, and why GAE is a return to the old standard of intellectual and theological integrity that seems to have largely disappeared from evangelicalism.

Incidentally, uncritical assumptions about ones doctrine are also what encourages heresies to flourish and destroy churches: remember that the Middle East and North Africa were once solidly Christian.