Story Three: Recent Sole-Genealogical Progenitor Adam

You might enjoy Dr. Hugh Ross’ book on that subject, “Why the Universe is the Way it Is.”

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@TaylorS

THESE are the questions this group was intended to discuss.

The nature of the moral laboratory described in the texts on Eden is very specific. Adam and Eve are tested EVEN WITHOUT any knowledge of Good vs. Evil.

Some say it was all necessary to create the machinery of REDEMPTION. I like that approach to the solution.

Eusebaeus described the situation and sin in those terms!

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Welcome @TaylorS. Thanks for the thoughtful questions and welcome to the forum. I’ve been thinking about some of them too.

Before we dive in can you tell us more about yourself and what draws you to this conversation and these questions?

Hi! Sure. I am a theology student at SEBTS and I run the young adult ministry at my church. I teach Sunday School also and they have been asking lots of apologetic questions lately. I just joined CAA group on Facebook and have been reading lots of the posts there. I really like the things you shared and followed the links to Peaceful Science. My students want to learn how to answer questions from atheists and are looking to me for help. I am an OEC girl, and interested in your genealogical Adam rapprochement ideas. But, I know my students will be wanting more of a theological response than just science answers. I don’t know where the best place is to ask questions is, so I took a gamble and asked on your forum. Thanks!

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I actually read Hugh Ross’ book. It is right there on the science, wonderfully described. Very factual and current. Hugh Ross stays on top of the latest findings in astronomy and cosmology. Given that astronomy and cosmology are now precision measured sciences and are neutral on the God hypothesis, you can just delete them from Hugh Ross’ book and have a real good textbook for a high school or lower undergraduate astronomy / cosmology class.

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That’s really helpful context. Thanks.

I was just at SEBTS this last April, at Ken Keathley’s invitation, and engaged with several scholars there on the Genealogical Adam. You might want to reach out some of them to discuss more too.

Now to get to your questions…

First off, most of the work I’ve published so far is exclusively on the what science allows. Not much is out there on the theology. Informally, we have been exploring the question here, for example: Does De Novo Adam in an Evolved Population Make Sense?.

I did present a paper at the Dabar Conference (Ken Keathley: Notes from Dabar and a Baptist's Hope), where I did discuss a theological model to make sense of this. Would you like to confidentially see the Dabar paper I presented? That might begin to answer some of your questions.

Also, @jongarvey has been doing work building up the theology too, and has several excellent posts on his blog: http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.uk/category/genealogical-adam/. Of note, he draws heavily on Sailhammer, who was an exegete at SEBTS. You might appreciate his work. This thread has some the key posts from this series: The Genealogical Adam as Israel. @deuteroKJ has been a regular here too, and we are considering putting together a ETS session for 2019.

A question of “why” or “coherence”?

You asked “why” God would do it this way. I think a better way to approach the question might be “is this theologically coherent?” The reason why is that we already know God does very surprising things, such as give His only Son to suffer and die for us. Why did He doe it this way? Difficulty answering this question is unavoidable. The difficulty however is just because God’s ways are not our ways. There is thing called the “Scandal of Particularity” which brings this to the forefront too (perhaps @Philosurfer can elaborate) https://richardlfloyd.com/2009/12/17/“why-mary”-c-s-lewis-on-the-scandal-of-particularity/. Suffice to say that God often does surprising things.

Rather than rejecting surprising things that are at first non-intuitive, a better strategy in this case is to ask if this model could be theologically coherent.

Theological coherence

I think there is a coherent way to think about this that preserves traditional theology of Adam. The Dabar paper explains my take, and I’m building into a book right now. Ken Keathley explains:

I can summarize the basic idea here:

God creates all mankind outside the garden, and then creates Adam in different way (parallel to how Jesus enters the world in a different way) in order to support a special purpose for him. He is to function as a good and sinless ruler to invite all mankind into the death-free Garden. Then He falls, and his original purpose is distorted into original sin. This telling has some positive qualities. For me, it makes sense of the passage in the NT about The Second Adam: Choosing vs. Refurbishment vs. De Novo. It tightens the typological connection between Adam and Jesus, and also makes sense of what is happening outside the Garden in Genesis 2. Mankind outside the Garden, the way I see it, is in God’s Image too, just not fallen into transgression and original sin.

You can see some of our discussion on this here: The Theological Signifance of Descent From Adam and Adam and adams, not Adamites and Which Scenarios of Adam Will be Helpful? and Suarez and Swamidass on Original Sin.

Other ways

Of course, this is not the only way to think of this.

We had an exchange on A Catholic Approach to the Genealogical Adam. The first theological book on a Genealogical Adam is likely going to hit print before mine, and is by @Andrew_Loke. Other theologians I expect to be writing up their own models. The question will be whether or not any of these is sufficiently coherent for the Church. I am guessing that there will be several ways to make this coherent, and it might be more defined by denominational considerations than science or Scripture. There is just an immense amount of new possibilities opening up now, so its hard to know for sure how the dust will settle.

If you are theology student, it is a great time to get in the mix. One from TEDS, I know, is about to publish an extended engagement with one of the theological questions raised by this work. If you are looking for a good topic, I’d love to hear more about your interests. There might be some interesting connection points. The way I see it, questions about human origins bring us to the grand question: What does it mean to be Human? This is a central nexus of just about everything including theology and science. We want to support the work of theologians like you as you get interested here.

So, I hope that is a helpful start @TaylorS. Let me know if you’d like to see a copy of my Dabar paper, or be a reader on the manuscript I’m working on: Starting My Book. Welcome to the conversation too. I’m looking forward to learning from you.

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Wow, @swamidass… nice details in the post above!

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Wow! This is great information! Thank you so much for taking the time. I would love to see your Dabar paper if you are willing to share. I’m going to look at all the links you shared too.

I like the idea of Adam being created in a special way, just as Jesus was, tightening the typology. You are opening my eyes.

I have reading to do! Thanks!

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Possibly naive question: If Adam and Eve were created de novo, without connection to the prior human population, doesn’t that result in the deceptive God scenario?

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Great question, that comes up periodically. The answer is “no”, because this is just a proposal of material facts, not of divine intent to deceive us.

These material facts, however, do raise a question. Why? Why would He do this? Answers should be judged on whether they are theologically coherent, within the context of both Scripture and theology. If we say that “God did it to deceive us”, then yes, your objection apples, because that is not theologically coherent. So the question is really, could there be any theologically coherent reasons for God to do this? There are at least two classes of answers others have put forward in this specific case:

  1. The first answer is to appeal to mystery and paradox, emphasizing that we know God’s character (he is truthful in this case) better than we know the precise details. In this case, we can just say we do not know why, but posit that God has some reason He has not told us. This is always a valid response, in my view, and should end facile objections to the scenario. Of course, we want to know the full picture, but we do not need to know the full picture to know that God is not deceptive. This answer remains true, even as we consider the second class, and might be enough for some people.

  2. The second answer it to posit a particular purpose other than deceit to give an account for this feature of the world. We might judge these answers both by the degree they account for the details of the model, and the degree the comport with theology and Scripture.

Now, going to answers in the second class, I’ve considered three answers, all of which are versions of “natural theology,” where inferences are made from nature (as proposed in this model) that are hopefully consistent revelation and theology:

  1. John Sanford (who does not accept interbreeding) suggested a concept of “Designed Ambiguity”, where God wants for our character development for the evidence in nature to be ambiguous. I imagine that Todd Woods might agree, as would most honest YECs. I like this approach because it at least acknowledges there is validity to scientists saying that life appears like it shares common ancestry (rather than that absurd dismissiveness we typically see). While this might be coherent with theology (in my view), it is certainly not coherent with AIG’s version of YEC that wants’ to claim they are obviously correct and there is no validity to evolution.

  2. I suggested that God might want to be ambiguous in nature (in this sense it is a Designed Ambiguity concept too) because he does not want to distract from the One Sign by which He reveals Himself to all people, the death and Resurrection of Jesus (http://www.veritas.org/evidence-easter-scientists-list/). Contra Sanford, I’m saying here that God wants to make it easier for us to avoid the idolatry of scientific YEC, rather than harder to find the truth for the purpose of character building. Suffice to say that most professional YECs and ID dislike this suggestion, but many Lutherans (@Philosurfer, @CPArand) say this perfect sense to them.

  3. My current response, however, is that if God did this (de novo Adam reproductively compatible to other population), then we can reliably infer that God originally intended Adam’s lineage to interbreed with those outside the Garden. I say “originally” because with the Fall (and in the test of Genesis 6) it seems that God should not want his lineage to interbreed. So this speaks to God’s original intent for Adam’s lineage. That is de novo created but biologically compatible. Why would that be necessary? We infer that original purpose too. God original intent was for Adam’s lineage to welcome everyone into the Garden and for Adam to be a truly good (free of sin) leader of a Gardened humanity (perhaps a good civilization). His task was, then, to expand the Garden. In the fall, this is corrupts the original intended blessing into a curse (perhaps an evil civilization).

This last only makes sense if there is interbreeding, and also undercuts any notion that this is “beastiality”. It clearly is not the case, because God intended it from the beginning. This means it is not consistent with the current RTB model, which has not yet explained why Sapiens and Neandertals can interbreed. It is also not consistent with the official YEC models (Sanford, AIG, Woods, etc), however it is compatible with how many YECs in the pew think about the story.

In this last answer, I’ve answered the original question, and several follow up question that arise, in a way that appears to be theologically coherent, does not infer deceit, and also makes sense of many strange details of the narrative. I won’t explain fully here, but it also provides possible resolutions to several long standing paradoxes in theology. Moreover, I can show how the traditional understand of Adam and Eve is still correct, but just not complete. I’m not calling for a revision of theology, but an extension of it that increases its coherence.

For these reasons, if all those claims are correct, we can objectively say it has very high coherence. That is why it is getting play, even within very conservative theological circles. I also think the second answer (about putting focus on Jesus) is also true, but (oddly) there is more resistance here among Christian scholars (go figure). So this is less emphasized by me.

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@TaylorS, you might appreciate my answer above to this question:

Let us know how people are responding to what we’ve shared with you. I’m curious!

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One final piece of this is to remember the original context of the deceptive God objection.

It arises as a response to the Omphalos Hypothesis that God created the world to look old for the purpose of deceiving us. It is not that the appearance of age implied deception, but that deception was actually part of the proposal.

In this case, we do not have an appearance of evolution without common descent. It looks like we share common ancestors with the great apes, and we do. So the appearance is not even out of line with the truth. It is much harder to see how the “deception” argument applies in this context.

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I was thinking about this the other day (forgive me / point me elsewhere if this has been discussed elsewhere or if there is a better thread for it) … Rather than treat the Gen 1 and 2 creation stories as more or less equally metaphorical, on the one hand, or shoehorning Gen 2 into day 6 of gen 1, on the other hand, would this approach essentially view the creation of “male and female” humanity in Gen 1 as the general creation of human beings, and then view Gen 2 as the subsequent de novo creation of Adam and Eve, thus actually maintaining (in some specific aspects, at least) more of a “literal” interpretation of both chapters then even the YEC crowd?

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I think the question here is if de novo Adam and Eve’s genetics would be similar enough to the rest of humanity to make them “deceptively appear” to have been commonly descended from the rest of humanity. In keeping with the tightening of Adam-and-Jesus theology, this raises in my mind an interesting question of whether Jesus as a human being would have “deceptively appeared”, on a genetic basis only, to be “merely” a commonly descended human being. There are differences, of course, but at first glance I suspect a satisfactory answer to the second question would have bearing on a satisfactory answer to the first.

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@joshuahedlund

I think you’ve captured the sense of what is intended.

Two kinds of human creation… Genesis 1 for one and Genesis 2 for Special Creation.

Lacking any preserved genetic material, this question is unanswerable empirically. But it could be interesting in an angels-on-pinheads way to ask what Jesus’s genetics would have looked like. Where would the paternal half of his genome have come from? Fiat creation, in which case it could be anything? Parthenogensis by Mary, in which case his presumptive Y chromosome would still need explanation? Is there in fact a theological viewpoint on this?

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This too is confusing. If you took as much care in your responses here as you presumably do in your scientific papers, discussion would run more smoothly. In the first sentence you contend that the idea of a deceptive God is a response to the Omphalos hypothesis, but later in that sentence and in the next sentence you say that deception is central to the Omphalos hypothesis itself. I can’t tell which you mean. The latter is certainly not true; Gosse presented appearance of age as non-deceptive. The former is true, but it makes the claim of deception external to Omphalos, which falsifies your point.

This has been said before, but Gosse’s greatest failure (aside from the belief that his idea would satisfy anyone) is that he fails to distinguish necessary appearance of age, required for some kind of function, with unnecessary appearance of age, which can have no other purpose than deception. There really isn’t a lot of necessary appearance of age. Tree rings, for example, have no function. So that’s the real question: is some feature of the reconciliation of the Adam story with the evidence functionally necessary, or is it just there to render creation undistinguishable from evolution? If the former, no deception is implied. If the latter, we should properly conclude that the hypothesis entails deception.

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You make a good point. I had the history wrong on Omphalos. It was not part of the original argument, but that is how it was received. Thanks for catching that error. I do appreciate your help in refining my language.

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There are several ways to take this. Here are a few:

  1. Gen 1 and 2 sequential, like Walton describes. This appeals to many people here, like @Revealed_Cosmology and @Guy_Coe.

  2. Gen 1 and 2 recapitulatory, with Gen 1 including creation of many people, and Gen 2 zooms in on Adam. This is an intermediate position.

  3. Gen 1 and 2 recapitulatory, with both referring to Adam and Eve, and remaning totally silent on those outside the Garden. This matches the current YEC reading.

It is honestly hard to resolve which one it could be, from my point of view. All of them work in this model, though an early draft of my Dabar paper (i.e. the one that @TaylorS recieved) focused in on #1.

Who is looking at their genetics? They would appear as if they were the same biological kind, and this would be true.

I agree with the final point. Essentially there is no guarantee that things are what they initially seem to be. Both theology and science are profoundly non-intuitive. It is not really a valid objection to worry about appearance of genetic evidence in these cases, because it is not as any ever saw their genomes. It never appeared to anyone.

Great to see you @joshuahedlund. Stay a while.

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There’s nothing intermediary about position two; it’s a claim of recapitulation rather than of sequentialism. It’s not a “compromise” position, but, to my mind a less coherent option by far.
It doesn’t solve the many problems position one points out, nor does it explain why Christians should favor monogenism with those from outside the garden, who ARE, BTW, mentioned in early Genesis, without any explanation offered as to their origins other than the one supplied by a sequential reading.
Sorry to be so contrary, but that’s the simple truth. Position one counts on Genesis 1 as happening completely before the fall takes place.
You can even have a de novo Adam in position 1, but I don’t personally see the textual warrant for it. That man was “formed of dust” is used in Job to simply describe his mortality, while not denying his normal conception, embryological development, and birth. It is a reminder that, although “created in God’s image,” man is still a contingent, mortal, created being. As such it lays the groundwork to avoid the pagan misappropriation of those ideas.

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