Ken Keathley: Notes from Dabar and a Baptist's Hope

To my knowledge, none of the three (including @anon46279830 , here) of us has charged a recapitulatory reading as “unorthodox,” just maybe as missing some of the textual nuance. Either reading has to account for the same facts, textually.

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Sorry, @anon46279830, I lumped you in with the"wrong" crowd, though the point about “missing textual nuances” still applies. :. )

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7 posts were merged into an existing topic: Side Comments on Ken Keathley

The poverty of too facile “labeling” is such an easy thing to fall victim to. Thanks for straightening this out, @anon46279830 . I would eschew the label myself, were it not for the fact that I posit a significant time duration as having elapsed between the first and second stories, which the text does not make explicit. But then, laying out a strict chronology is a particularly “modern” concern, and rightfully so. God, in His Providence, has included all the elements we need to discover, or at least explore, such nuances.
BTW, Dr. Keathley, I attended a Conservative Baptist Church all through high school, after having become a Christian my freshman year. They properly taught me to question even my own pastor, and go to the text, and the best scholarship, before coming to too easy agreement. Paul obviously respected his Bereans, and I admire the same kinds of values I see in your own scholarship. Dr. Averbeck would also be a wonderful guest contributor here.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Side Comments on Ken Keathley

On this, I’m becoming more convinced you are right.

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Ah - if we’re citing Baptist credentials, I’m an elder in one that dates from 1650. Though that may indicate something different in the UK than the US.


@kkeathley legitimizes this critique more than I have.

How do you all respond to the “ad hoc” critique? I know @jongarvey has some thoughts here. This, for example, is a favorite objection of a BioLogos moderator. I’ve heard similar objections fairly regularly from that camp.

The very real issue a sequential reading addresses is the “requirement” to posit an Adam and Eve so far back in history as to render the Genesis 5 genealogies as utterly mangled.
Josh speaks of the “cave art,” and all the distinctive cultural artifacts we’ve discovered, as forcing us into an unnecessary ad hoc conception, in order to save our favorite versions of the Biblical model.
I have no such tension, under a sequential reading.

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@rcohlers, when you do show up, I was hoping you could share why you are excited about this new angle. You were one of the first to pick up on the significance a genealogical Adam last summer. What do you find attractive about this way forward? And perhaps what you observed at Dabar?

Hi Jon, I enjoy reading your blog. Your question is spot on. If I understand correctly, most OEC proponents place Adam from 50K to 200K years ago. This approach affirms the humanity of those who left cave paintings and other artifacts, but creates the other challenges you mention. Joshua’s approach avoids those challenges, but faces the theological issue of those outside the Garden. This is why the discussion is so intense, and still ongoing.


Hello from the Faith and Science Collaborative Research Forum located at the University of Hong Kong. Since it is rather late here, I’ll keep this brief for the moment. What struck me as extremely important in @swamidass 's analysis both last summer and again at Dabar this year was primarily two things – let me call them patterns of correction – that seem to recur in the history of science and Christianity. The first is that a scientific discovery and its seeming implications are treated as settled science and demands are made for a radical departure from recognizable Christian theology. The second is the appearance of a more sober corrective that recognizes the legitimacy of the discovery, but clarifies the real implications and in so doing provides breathing room for real theological reflection, development, and genuine intellectual progress. This second pattern is what I see Joshua’s analysis contributing, what made it so significant then, and why it generated such energy and engagement at the Dabar conference.


Geez, it seems everyone in the theological world reads @jongarvey’s blog. Someone is going to have to grant him an honorary doctorate at some point.

So I want to push back on this and get your response @kkeathley. I see the situation differently. Also, to fix the discussion, I’m going to reference the current RTB model (Engaging the Zoo of RTB Models), which includes interbreeding between Sapiens (whom descend from Adam) Neanderthals, (whom do not descend from Adam).

First of all, let’s look at the similarities (that are relevant here).

  1. They BOTH affirm the “humanity of those who left cave paintings and other artifacts.”
  2. They BOTH assert there were “those outside the Garden.”
  3. They BOTH affirm sole-progenitorship in a genealogical sense.
  4. They BOTH agree we all include DNA that did not originate with Adam and Eve.
  5. NEITHER are sole-genetic progenitor models, because both include “those outside the Garden,” and we all have DNA from them in addition to DNA originating from Adam.

Then the differences,

  1. The RTB model gives up on the Biblical timeline, but a recent GA does not.
  2. The RTB model explains the interbreeding between Adam’s offspring and others as bestiality, but the GA sees interbreeding as originally intended by God.
  3. The RTB model has most of us with Adam and Eve’s DNA (because interbreeding was rare and they are ancient), but the GA has most of us without Adam and Eve’s DNA.

Of course there are more similarities and differences, but how exactly is GA facing any new challenges that aren’t already in the RTB model? It seems to me that it reduces the challenges all around, and deals with the issue of interbreeding head on, rather than as a footnote. The directness with the challenge of interbreeding, it seems to me, shouldn’t be seen as a disadvantage, but one of its merits.

The same question arises already in the RTB model, so it is not as if this is a trade off between the two approaches. Rather, it seems that this largely resolves several longstanding problems with the “antiquity of man,” but draws new emphases to the specific question of interbreeding with those outside the Garden, which has always been lurking in the shadows, but never taken a prominent role in conversations.

Do you agree with that @kkeathley, or am I missing something?

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Great to hear from you @rcohlers. Looking forward to our conversation on Divine Action next week too: Clinton Ohlers: Two Parables on Divine Action.

Thanks for joining this conversation too. I had two question for you.

First off, can you explain what you mean by “energy and engagement”? You were there, and so were @kkeathley and myself, but most those listening in were not. You’ve also been to Dabar three times now. What type of energy and engagement did you see? How would you explain it to someone who wasn’t there?

By last summer, you are referring to my Sapientia article. I still remember our exchange in the comments of that article.

So here comes my second question. You are a historian of intellectual thought (and I hope you meet @TWReynolds soon, an aspiring historian), and mention “patterns” in history. What are the historical analogues you are thinking of? On what topics did this happen before? How who were the key people who instigated the “second” approach of a more sober analysis in the past? What can we learn from them now?

I’m gonna ask you this again next week, so you might as well get to answering this one @rcohlers :smile:. And not to distract from @kkeathley, what are your thoughts here too?


Once again I’m flattered that you read my blog.

I don’t see quite how a 50-200K Adam solves the “non-gardener” problem: if you take the “Great Leap Forward” as signifying the point of Adam, then if you step back in time 1 year the leap hasn’t happened, and the tools you find are just that much less advanced. And all those non-Adams are still, presumably, in existence a year later - unless one postulates a mass-change, in which case it’s no longer a historical Adam scenario.


Can you define “others” here? It seems to me that there is a difference between what God allows and what God intends. Was the interbreeding you are referring to Neanderthals and Denisovans or to a human population outside the garden, or do yo see no difference? Yes, Neanderthal human hybrids were possible but there also seem to have been barriers to fertility. And of course by the time Adam and Eve came nature had mostly sorted that out. So I don’t think that believing that there was a pre-Adam human population in the world obligates one to accept the humanity of Neanderthals or Denisovans.

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Reproductively compatible beings with whom Adam’s offspring eventually interbreed.

Yes, that is a distinction between the RTB and a GA.

The RTB position seems self-contradictory, especially because they think Adam and Eve were specially created. If God had done that, there is every reason to believe he could have created them in such a way that they could not interbreed with Denisovans and Neanderthals. He did not. Why not? There is no really good reason for that, and it is going to come again soon elsewhere: A Science Fiction Riddle. The fact that the can interbreed (and the barriers to interbreeding are debatable regardless) seems like de facto evidence that God wanted them to interbreed. That leads to some deep incoherence in the RTB position.

@vjtorley somewhat avoids this problem by saying Adam and Eve were not specially created. So it is a hang over from common descent that allows them to interbreed. Still God could have made them infertile, but He didn’t. Why not? I’m not sure there is a good reason.

GA just goes the other direction, making a natural theology argument that if they can interbreed, then God originally intended it. That seems to be the most coherent theological position, at least to me.

Notice, all cases include interbreeding. In all cases, there are people outside the garden. We are just theologically thinking about it in different ways. And, I would add, GA is doing it head on, but RTB is treating it like a footnote. The fact that they don’t announce interbreeding up front does not some how reduce the significance of the fact that they include it in their model.

Hmmm…depends on what you mean by “shake out.” If you mean “for the representative factions to interact with it,” then probably over the next year or two.

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Thank you Guy! I enjoyed my time with RTB this January. They were wonderful hosts.

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Yes, to his credit, Fuz acknowledges this in the 2nd edition of his Who Was Adam book. If I understand him correctly, at this point he argues (tentatively) that if they interbred then this was indeed bestiality. If that is so, then that raises questions about “humans” and “nonhumans” having the ability to interbreed. I get your point that, if this is the case, then the RTB model also has the problem of non-adamic “others”.