McCall: Will The Real Adam Please Stand Up? The Surprising Theology Of Universal Ancestry

So how should we receive this book? First, I think that we should take it as a kind of cautionary tale. It seems to me that in some cases we have had theologians moving quickly to revise major doctrines at the behest of scientists who brought in the “assured conclusions” of science as the final word.

We’ve been told – repeatedly and sometimes forcefully – that the genetic science that was said to decisively rule out the very possibility of a historical Adam was lock-tight. Eager to keep up with science, biblical scholars and theologians have been willing to make fairly radical changes to Christian doctrine, and they have done so rather quickly. It turns out, in light of Swamidass’s work, that these revisions were done rather too quickly .

At the same time, many “conservative” biblical scholars and theologians have been willing to reject an evolutionary account on the grounds that it is inconsistent with belief in a historical Adam and Eve. It turns out, in light of this book, that perhaps those rejections were also a bit too hasty.


McCall has an important thread I aim to pick up soon too:

Recently, some thoughtful Christians have issued a plea to take seriously the possibility of a “mere theistic evolution” (MTE).[2] The proponents of MTE urge Christians to separate the positions held by prominent theistic evolutionists – positions which often make significant theological revisions – from what is actually explicitly demanded or entailed by the acceptance of evolution. Conversations over the MTE proposal are ongoing, and the future is less than clear.

[2] Michael Murray and John Churchill.

Remember this paper from here? Murray and Churchill: Mere Theistic Evolution

Note as well, WLC’s response:

I think it is high time that I write my own response to the MTE idea that Murray puts forward, highlighting Christian that Affirms the Science of Evolution (CASE) and Christian who affirms Evolutionary Science and CAES (citing @dga471 of course).


It seems to me that Grudem’s main argument can be summarized along these lines:

(1) Evolution entails conclusions that are inconsistent with any claims that there was an initial human couple from which all other humans descend;

(2) Any biblically-faithful theological anthropology will include the affirmation that there was an initial human couple (the “Historical Adam and Eve”) from whom all other humans descend, and whose actions adversely affect all humans (the “Doctrine of Original Sin”);

(3) Therefore, evolution entails conclusions that are inconsistent with any biblically-faithful theological anthropology.[4]

Defenders of (1) deploy an impressive array of arguments for their view…In more recent years, studies in human genetics have provided evidence of an ancestry that is shared in common with other primates as well as evidence that the initial human population would have had to emerge as several thousand breeding pairs. On the basis of such evidence, many theistic evolutionists accept (1) and reject (2). They argue that science demonstrates the “impossibility” of a historical Adam and Eve, and then they often argue that the Bible as properly understood (that is, within the relevant contexts of the ancient Near East, Second Temple Judaism, and the first century Greco-Roman world) really does not demand a historical Adam and Eve anyway. As we can see, the argument from (1)-(3) purports to show the incompatibility of evolution and a properly biblical theological anthropology. To avoid the conclusion, many theistic evolutionists accept (1) and reject (2).

Within this context, GAE unsettles the conclusions of both those who wield Grudem-style arguments against evolution and the theistic evolutionists who accept (1) but then try to block the conclusion of Grudem-style arguments by arguing against (2). For Swamidass’s argument stands as a direct challenge to (1). It counters the notion – shared by many defenders and many detractors of theistic evolution alike – that a historical Adam created de novo is ruled out by contemporary evolutionary science.

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I also really appreciated how McCall was able to set the stage for the GAE hypothesis, and why it could be so important in the science/faith dialogue.

The BioLogos Forum thread did not have any discussion of McCall’s essay, but I cite it here, for any who might be interested in reading it:

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Perhaps start a new thread on it. His article was strongest of all three.