Hello again! I wanted Amazon to post my review (it can take a few days) before I posted it here along with the consolidation of previous posts, so that I can announce it all in a single thread. But thanks for taking the initiative and finding it on your own! It looks like Amazon posted it too, so this is fine.
So, of course, I recommend the book highly, and I actually got a bunch of copies and handed them out as Christmas presents. Not everyone that I gave it to has read it yet, but the general reaction from those who had was basically ‘he’s obviously right’. Like I said in my review, the idea of GAE is so compelling that it’s hard to even remember how I could have thought otherwise.
@jongarvey, I’m also looking forward to your book! Please give me the details here (title, release date, where to buy, etc.)! As for some of my thoughts on your comments:
On Interpreting Genesis through John, I’m really glad that you liked this comparison. It honestly boggles my mind that John 1 isn’t the immediate text that we all jump to when we ask ‘how should we interpret Genesis 1?’ I mean, it’s, like, literally the perfect passage for that.
But the major topic that I think we all can do a lot more work on is the key idea of the “image of God”. This is the question really being asked when we bring up potential ‘non-Adamic’ people. This is at the heart of the ‘Tasmanian question’ and the analogy of the salvation status of unreached people groups.
My view, partially expressed in my blog posts and some other posts in this forum (Another early adopter of the Genealogical Adam), is that God imparts some of his image on everything he creates. C.S. Lewis says as much in Mere Christianity, explaining that even empty space is like God in its hugeness. Above and beyond that, I think certain physical things have a certain structural potential to bear the image of God. So, for instance, empty space is mostly lacking this potential, while a pen and paper have more potential, and a computer program greater potential still. A complete human being has the greatest potential for bearing the image of God: in fact, we know that it’s perfectly sufficient, because it was made specifically for that purpose: to bear not just any image of God, but God himself, in the Incarnation.
Now, as God’s image bearers, we all have a duty to be like him, to the extent that we are able. So like God, we are responsible to emit the image of God to all that we create, influence, or beget, to the fullness of the recipient’s potential.
Of course, all that is pretty speculative, but I think it gives us an excellent guiding principle - not just for the question on non-Adamic people, but for all kinds of questions we may encounter in the future.
So: can we exploit non-Adamic people? Absolutely not. They are fully capable of receiving the image of God, and we have a moral duty to impart it to them.
Can we exploit farm animals, for food, materials, or labor? Well, they are not capable of receiving the full image of God - but even to them, we are to impart it to the extent that we are able, to the limits of their capacity. This prohibits senseless cruelty or needless slaughter of such animals, but it allows for them to be sacrificed for our sustenance, to better preserve something like the ‘total image of God in the system’. Meanwhile, we are to look for ways to better understand and care for the animals under our control, reduce their suffering, and increase their overall capability - but of course, such things have to be constantly balanced against other things we can do with our finite capacity, like respecting the image of God in a fellow human who’s going hungry.
What happens if we develop ‘true AI’, whatever that means? Or what if we meet space aliens who seem at least as intelligent as we are? The answer is the same: impart to them the image of God, to the extent that we are able and they are capable of receiving. We then prioritize the total system to maximize this image of God.
In Isaiah’s vision (Isa. 6), the seraphim that stand around God’s throne call out to EACH OTHER, and say, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”. Meaning (I think), they’re constantly revealing and receiving the image of God to and from one another, in a way that each individual is uniquely capable of revealing and receiving.
Now, admittedly I didn’t think of the possibility that the “people outside the garden” also had the image of God. That is one thing I realized upon reading Joshua’s book. But with the above scheme in mind, I think it’s clear that:
- they have the image of God to some extent,
- they’re capable of receiving it to the full extent,
- yet compared to Adam, they’re missing some part of the full image of God,
- so they’re also missing Adam’s sin - that particular marring of the image of God that resulted from his original sin.
But overall, I agree with Jon that the more work needs to be done, and that the question of how to treat any such “non-Adamic” people needs stronger answers. In fact, I don’t think there’s a limit to how strong we can make the case to love, respect, and uplift such people, hypothetical though they may be. To me, this is VERY closely related to what Christ did for us, and how we are to preach the Gospel.
Anyways, all that is the thoughts of a non-theologian, at the start of what I think will be a new era in these questions. We will surely have lots to talk about!