Samuel Emadi: Triaging the Doctrine of Creation

Great article.

  1. God created the world ex nihilo .
  2. God is distinct from his creation (Creator/creature distinction).
  3. God created the world good.
  4. God created the world for his glory.
  5. God specially created Adam and Eve who both bear God’s image.
  6. Adam and Eve are humanity’s first parents.
  7. Adam and Eve are historical figures who really did disobey God in time and space history in the Garden of Eden.

All these points are affirmed in the GAE.


Without the special creation of humanity as God’s image-bearers (Point 5) we lose our sense of worth and identity, not to mention the foundation of theological anthropology. Without the doctrine of humanity’s shared parentage (Point 6) we lose the notion that every human, regardless of race, ethnicity, or social rank, is a fellow image-bearer (Acts 17:26)—a brother or sister in the human community. Without the historical fall of Adam (Point 7) we lose the doctrine of original sin and we also lose the most essential building block of biblical theology—the Adam-Christ typology (Rom. 5:12–21).

Even though I am sympathetic to the GAE model which tends towards affirming all these points, as Josh pointed out, some observations:

  1. Emadi doesn’t define what special creation mean - whether it has to constitute de novo creation, or some sort of spiritual refurbishment would suffice. However, it seems to me that he is referring to some sort of special intervention from God in history.
  2. Emadi seems to make the image of God dependent on the act of special creation (point 5). But why? This seems to make the image dependent on a historical act, instead of being tied to some specific property that humans have. Thus, even if humans have this property (e.g. being able to have a relationship with God), they are not considered made in the image of God if God didn’t specially intervene to give them that ability. This needs to be spelled out more.
  3. Emadi makes a similar point with regards to the Fall - it has to be historical. This one I am able to understand better. But this doesn’t require special intervention. The Fall could have happened “naturalistically”, so to speak.

Note that none of my comments should be understood as trying to poke holes in Emadi’s views, only trying to work out their implications.


We know he means to exclude a mere refurbishment. His concerns echo those of @kkeathley and Keller. He, in fact, is at the same seminary as Keathley. If you can find his contact info, send him a note and invite him here!

This is an under considered point in theology. I allow for the Image of God to originate with Adam and Eve, even though I default to before them.

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I think this is because of the reference in Genesis to how Adam became a “living Soul” when God breathed on Him.
Properties such as the ability to have a relationship with God are connected to the Spiritual nature of human beings. Fallen man does not have the intrinsic ability to have a relationship with God apart from the grace derived from the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit.
As I understand it, the image of God in human beings is a product of God’s grace upon them more than just an physical capability such as intelligence. This is further reinforced by the idea that Angels who are smarter and more glorious than human beings are not mentioned as carrying the image of God.

Hi Ashwin. Biblically, Our physical and spiritual existence so to speak are both sanctified by God. If you steer away from the physical aspect, you turn the thought train towards gnosticism. I dont believe that this is what you intend by any stretch.

Can you explain how Adam and Eve are humanity’s first parents when procreation occurred when the lineage from Adam and Eve occurred when sexual interaction with humans who were outside of the garden? Were those outside the garden sort of pre human who were sexually compatible enough to mate w Adam and Eves kin which then launched their children into true humanity made in God’s image? I may be completely misunderstanding and thankyou for bearing with me here.


I was not referring to what part of our existence is sanctified by God, but rather was saying that Sanctification involves God’s grace.

Ok. That makes sense. I am having a hard time digesting GAE because it suggests that human’s physical aspect as created and sanctified by God and His grace are capable of procreating with a human form evolved from some sort of pre ape. This circumvents scriptural principle that Adam and Eve were the first humans because the ability to procreate with others has to define them as also human. Many may look at this as a deceitful model and spin to save the faith as defined by God from the overpowering clutches of naturalism which science depends upon to make its accessments.

I applaud Swamidass for attempting this model where he obviously is trying to conscienciously be an honest scientist and fair to Scripture. However, we need to ask does Scripture warrant this approach in the explanation of life? I believe the answer to that is a resounding “no” In fact, i see Scripture suggest that it is the ones wise in their own eyes that will be more inept for truest understanding of Gods ways. I believe God has given us the ability to use logic for understanding. But this logic must submit itself to an understanding of Scripture about a God WHO EXISTS and who transcends the natural which our humanity is interwined with every day of our lives. Biblical faith chooses to logically trust a big powerful God described in Scripture who transcends nature so much so that when He declares something unreasonable to an earthly logic, this faith sides with that God of Scripture says and away from the science of man. GAE needs to evolve more towards Scripture or people will see through the smoke screens which will cause abandonment of the entire rest of Scripture, the gospel included which depends upon Gen 1-11

Yes I can explain! My book will explain this in more detail. The key thing I want you to know is that the key things important to you can be preserved alongside evolutionary science.


Greg – thanks for your questions on the earlier thread about my article.

Simply put, YEC is not good theology. It is thoroughly bad theology. So I don’t think that affirming the reality and consensus of science is going to pull people away from good theology, because YEC isn’t good theology.


Not all of it is bad theology, but some of it certainly is.


Why do you think Adam/Eve had sanctified bodies? The bible teaches they have mortal bodies like ours… (1cor 15:35-55)
Rather, it’s only in the ressurection that we look forward to a “sanctified” body.

I agree with you here… if those Adam and Eves children procreated with were biologically the same as them, I don’t see how Adam and Eve would be the first "humans"in any sense other than by defining the quality of being human as a being a descendant of Adam/Eve.
And such a definition of being “human” is problematic in my view.

Inquisitive minds can disagree on the particulars of its qualitative and quantitative badness.

To the OP – even the most liberal sort of evolutionary creationist would still be able to affirm 1-4, though likely utilizing definitions too broad for YECs to countenance. I’d agree they are essential (or nearly so) for a robust theology, though again perhaps more broadly than YECs expect.

As for 5-7…the historicity of Adam and Eve and the fall feature very prominently in the soteriology and even eschatology of historic evangelical protestantism, but that is primarily a consequence of how those theologies evolved since the reformation. The history of the church includes many different views on original sin, atonement, imputation, and a host of other concepts. One of my first steps toward a healthier view of theology was realizing that modern evangelicalism very possibly could have misstepped in diverging from a lot of the older traditions. It’s a scary thought, because evangelical theology (particularly in its reformed version) presents a very tightly-held, interlinked set of doctrines, and you feel like questioning anything is going to upset the whole apple-cart. But it’s a worthy exercise.


This turns out not to be historically accurate, sorry.

That is a true, but tradition has usually affirmed 5-7 and 5-7 are not in conflict with science.

Perhaps rephrasing will help. To be sure, tradition has usually affirmed 5-7, but the level of dependency on 5-7 for specific theologies has varied wildly. Just because two different theologians affirm 5-7 doesn’t mean that their respective doctrinal positions have the same degree of dependence on 5-7. For example, there are views of original sin which absolutely require a historical Fall, and there are views of original sin which are not based on a historical Fall at all.


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