Gauger: Meetings on Adam and Eve: Stretching the Boundaries

Excellent piece by our PS friend and colleague @Agauger


Excellent article @Agauger. Great job. I’ll have some questions for you after thinking about it some.

Her summary of our goals is spot on here:

The debate over faith and science has become so acrimonious, so poisoned on all sides, in particular concerning origins, that it is nearly impossible to communicate meaningfully with others with different opinions. This can be true even among those who one would think were natural allies. Enter Swamidass. He is trying to create a space where people of all opinions can talk honestly about why they believe as they do, and come to see others as genuine human beings with reasons for their beliefs and not caricatures. This is not easy, I can attest. It takes unlearning bad attitudes and it takes some thick skin and perseverance. Above all, it takes honesty and eventually, the building of a level of trust. The website where this is supposed to happen is called Peaceful Science .


Good article, @Agauger! Like you, I just keep on keeping on, here, and occasionally am treated like I might have something to say worth hearing. Kudos!


Question: what’s the cost?



Any word on where Craig’s thoughts currently are on this?

My guess is he’ll probably very tentatively affirm @Agauger or RTB’s position (only after you’re done with your work on whether it works when allowing for interbreeding) while allowing for common ancestry. And he’ll say that if that’s not right, Adam could be a literary figure and Paul’s citation of Adam could be a literary one but he’s not going to go there unless these other positions completely fail.

My guess is, though, in debates, he’ll probably more or less advocate for the no-Adam position, or at least insist that one can be a Christian and not believe in the existence of Adam.

I would love for him and Tremper Longman to team up, but their views might be too different at this point.


Anything I’d say on this would be speculation.


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Yep! We’ll see if I’m right when he actually makes some statements on this.

Well in that sense I am an advocate for the no-Adam view. One does not need to believe in Adam to be a Christian. I’m sure @agauger and Craig would agree too. Our faith is grounded in Jesus, not Adam.

It is up in the air. He could honestly land anywhere.


And then change his mind as he often does like we all do.

Shoe on the other foot. Is there any good reason to “disbelieve” in Adam --that is, not to take the story of Adam as true historically? It would seem that Paul thought not, nor did Jesus.
It’s because I believe in Jesus that I agree with him about Adam’s actual and paradigmatic role and historical existence.

I always took it that Paul and Jesus were making literary allusions rather than referring to history.



I sort of see it as somewhere in between. Jesus and Paul believed they were talking about real people, but the the points they make with their references would work whether or not they were making literary or historical references.

I doubt that Jesus in his human nature, or Paul in his 2 temple jewish milieu would have known of the Atrahasis or Gilgamesh myths. But say we spoke with them today, and said, “so it turns out that Genesis 1-11 wasn’t meant to be taken literally. What do we do with all your references to that?” They might get a bit exasperated, roll their eyes and say, “look, my main point still stands even though we now now the proper literary genre of Genesis 1-11. Whether or not Adam and Eve were literary characters, death through Adam still makes a striking point about life through Christ, and they still represent God’s original intention for creation (“male and female,” “one flesh”). It’s OK people.”

I don’t know about Christ but Paul might have believed in a literal Adam.

I say ‘might’ because first century Jewish reading of the Hebrew Bible is much more nuanced than literalists would like to think.

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But that’s my point. The proper literary genre of early Genesis is not mythical or allegorical, but historical (presenting a particular theological view of prehistory or protohistory). See Kenneth Kitchen’s “On the Reliability of the Old Testament” or, more accessibly, Iain Provan, et. al. “A Biblical History of Israel” A Biblical History of Israel: Iain Provan, V. Philips Long, Tremper Longman III: 9780664220907: Books

Or, check out John Oswalt’s “The Bible Among the Myths” for a true comparative look at the radical differences, rather just a superficial hijacking based on the similarities, of the biblical accounts to the other known ANE accounts.

What would force a choice between these two things?

I don’t have that ability to read minds.

I can talk about Sherlock Holmes as if he were real. But you cannot determine what I believe from that. Literary allusion is often talk as-if living within the story.

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Why would a choice be needed?

Here, where a false choice is argued.
I would be happy to have merely misread you, however. If the Bible is literature presenting a particular view of history, no such implied choice is necessary.